Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew


tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Recent Recipes

A little late, but as promised… recipes! The lasagna recipe is modified from one I saw on Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian. Her version called for a whole lot of cheese and dairy and pancetta. For obvious reasons, my version had to change. The second recipe is one of my own creations for lemon pie. Enjoy!

Asparagus Lasagna
Lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
2 or 3 bunches of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1 bunch basil
1 tbsp Parmasan cheese, grated
1 container (15oz) light ricotta
1 package of Lightlife’s Smart Bacon (vegan), diced.
salt and pepper

In a food processor, make a pesto out of the sun dried tomatoes (use some of the oil from the jar, but discard most), basil, and Parmesan.

Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until golden.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanche the asparagus pieces, drain, put back in the pot. Add the onion and garlic. Stir in the ricotta, a dash of salt and pepper.

Spread half of the pesto in the bottom of your lasagna dish. Add two tablespoons of water, spread around. Put down one layer of noodles (about 3 noodles). Spread half of the asparagus mixture on top of the noodles. Sprinkle half of the bacon on top. Add a layer of noodles. Spread remaining half of asparagus, then bacon. Add a layer of noodles. Cover top with the remaining pesto. Optional: sprinkle cheese on top. (I didn’t do that.) Bake at 375F until bubbling, about 20 minutes.

The feedback was that we were all rather surprised to be eating “bacon” on Shabbos (myself included), even though we all knew it was a vegan product. The saltiness of the bacon went really well with the asparagus. It’s not a saucy lasagna, but still works.

Lemon Slice Pie
4 lemons
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Using a mandolin, slice the lemons as thin as possible. (Including the rind; try to remove the pips as you spot them.) Put in a bowl; try to include as much of the juice as possible. Add the two sugars and vanilla to the bowl. Cover, refrigerate 24 hours, stirring once or twice.

I ran out of time, so I bought frozen pie shells. Which you can too, or make your own pie shells. You want a top and bottom crust on this pie. If using frozen pie shells, you can use one as the top. Read the instructions on the package for doing this, or ask me if you get stuck.

Put the lemon mixture in the bottom shell, filling it up high. Put the top shell/dough on top. Cut a slit/X in the middle for steam to escape, and seal it with the bottom crust by pressing a fork all the way around. Place the pie on a baking sheet, then bake for 45 minutes as 375F. (Top will look golden and yummy.) (The sheet is needed as excess lemon juice might bubble out.)

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to help cut the tartness of the pie.

The feedback on the pie was that half thought it was perfectly tart, while a couple thought it was too tart, and a couple thought it wasn’t tart enough. With one exception, everyone liked the texture.


Filed under: good eats, recipes

How To Avoid Dying (and other mishegas)

First, cross-posted from Jewschool is a short piece on the power of prayer:

“A study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that regular attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20%. The findings, published in Psychology and Health, were based on data drawn from participants who spanned numerous religious denominations.

“To evaluate the impact of religiosity on mortality and morbidity, the investigators looked at variables including self-report of religious affiliation, frequency of religious service attendance, and religious strength as well as comfort, in relation to coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. It is important to note that the study did not attempt to measure spirituality; rather, it examined self-report religiosity measures (irrespective of the participant’s religion).

“Those attending religious services at least once per week showed a 20% mortality risk reduction mark compared with those not attending services at all. These findings corroborate prior studies that have shown up to a 25% reduction in such risk.” [Read more.]

I would like to thank the various independent minyanim that I attend on a regular basis for existing as, it seems, they’re to thank for my recent “got off easy” car accident. (What? I’m not properly understanding the conclusions?)

And for some more random fun, highlights from the RSS reader. (I’ve had a lot of time to catch up on the blogs these past couple days…)

Filed under: america, health, homophobia, judaism, politics, queers, random, recipes, wtf?


Things that were good this week:

  • Hearing “The Electric Slide” loudly wafting up from the schoolyard across the street, I looked out the window to see all the classes, with their teachers, dancing out in the yard. Some were doing the electric slide, others the macarena, still other classes doing dances in slight formation/lines, while plenty of kids were just running all over dancing in congo lines. It was pretty great to watch at 10:15 on a weekday morning.
  • Seeing Sex and the City with my good friend S. Better still, having pre-SatC cocktails, and sipping some more during the film. It was surprisingly funny and, despite the negative reviews, we both enjoyed it. I also quite enjoyed the fashionistas dressing to the nines, for a matinée screening: cocktail dresses, strapless mini dresses, gay guys in SatC pink (as if that’s its own shade now), and the “Carrie wore it in one episode so it must be okay” men’s shirt with a belt and flip-flops. As funny as the movie was, and as sophisticated as the NY audience thought we were, it should be noted that the biggest, longest, and heartiest laugh came midway through the film at a poo joke. We might as well have been watching an Adam Sandler movie.
  • Also great, seeing your friend drunk by 1:30 in the afternoon. (Seriously, I love you. Thanks for going with me.)
  • The sun, the blue skies, and reading up on the roof.
  • A great Shabbos last weekend, and another amazing Shabbos rolling in in a few hours.

Drink: throw blueberries, fresh mint, lime wedges, and simple syrup into a pitcher. Mottle. Add ice cubes, tonic, and vodka. Stir. Enjoy. No, really, enjoy. Let’s call it… Benjamin’s Sprimmer Cocktail.

Filed under: friends, recipes, teevee/movies

It tastes like Vancouver

Another great thing about living (and eating) in Israel? The availability of hecshered (kosher) Asian food. And for cheap! Which means I’m able to enjoy one of my favourite make-in-advance and enjoy as a snack or meal foods: sushi salad.

Super simple: prepare sushi rice with sushi-zu (a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt), then let it chill in the fridge. Also rehydrate and marinate shiitake mushrooms, julienne your oshinko, and julienne some tofu and fry it with sesame oil. In North America, I usually also have tuna or fake crab with it, and avocado too, but it’s not avocado season in Israel, and the store was out of fake crab. When it’s time to eat, put a portion of rice in a bowl, load on some toppings, garnish with some pickled ginger, et voila, sushi salad (or, sushi in a bowl). Delicious and cheap.

The oshinko costs $2CDN, the giant bag of shiitake was $2CDN as well, the huge block of tofu was $3CDN, and the rice vinegar and soy sauce were cheaper than anything kosher I could find in Montreal. Amazing. A taste of Vancouver in Israel.

Thanks to EAR for turning me on to the Asian market on Agripas, near the shuk.

Filed under: good eats, israel, recipes

When all else fails, cook and bake!

What do you do the evening of the morning that the paper which you haven’t yet started was due?

a) Write the paper so that it’ll only be a day late
b) Attend to the much needed grocery shopping
c) Make calzone

If you answered b, as a means to c… you’re right!

IMG_5748.JPGThey’re really easy to make, and are great portable meals. (Take them to school, work, or play for a lunch or snack. They can be eaten cold, or reheated. And they freeze well.) Plus, they’re healthy, and come in an almost endless variety of flavours.

My usual “I don’t measure when I bake” rules apply, so consider yourself warned.

The dough:
On a clean, dry surface, make a small hill out of 5 cups of whole wheat flour. [Optional: add herbs to the flour.] Make a small well in the middle; make sure the flour “walls” are thick and “sturdy” as you’re going to need them to hold water in the well.

Pour 1 cup of tepid water into the well. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1tbsp salt into the water. Mix the water with a fork, being careful to leave the flour walls in tact.

Slowly start pulling the walls into the well, mixing with the water. You’ll get about half mixed in, then you’ll need to add more water. Add water a bit at a time, mixing as much four in as you can, until you have a nice, not-too-sticky dough. (You’ll probably have given up on using the fork, and will be using your hands to mix it.)

You want to start kneading the dough at this point, adding a bit more flour if your dough’s too sticky. Keep working the dough for 4-5 minutes until it’s nice and smooth.

Work it into a ball and put it in a bowl. Cover the bowl with saranwrap and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes, until it’s doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling:
I like to sauté vegetables instead of putting in raw ones. For tonight’s calzones, I used one large white onion (chopped), three small zucchinis (sliced), and about 20 mushrooms (sliced). As they softened in the wok, I added seasoning (garlic, basil, paprika, fennel, oregano, lemon zest, black pepper, ginger, thyme, and a few drops of lemon juice). In my experience, calzones need a lot of flavouring, so don’t worry about over-seasoning.

You can really use any vegetable… or anything you would normally enjoy on a pizza, or in a sandwhich. I’ve also made curry calzones, breakfast calzones (crack an egg on the dough [it cooks while you bake it], add some meat or faux meat or tofu or cheese or whatever, some spinach and/or tomatoes), and many many many different varieties of toppings.

IMG_5750.JPGPreheat your oven to 350ºF.

Back to the dough:
Punch down the dough, and knead it a little more. Break off a small fist-sized amount of dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a circle-esque shape. (You’ll want to keep the rolling pin and surface floured.)

Take the rolled dough and put it onto a baking sheet. Add your toppings, cheese, a little tomato sauce… whatever you want. But the key is to only put topping on half of the dough, and do not overfill!!!

Prepare the seal: dip your fingers in a bowl of water, and wet the edge of the dough, all the way around. Fold the dough over, and press down to “seal” it up. You’ll then want to fold-and-pinch the seal all the way around the calzone and/or fold-and-fork it. (You’re trying to make a good seal so that the toppings, sauce, or any liquids don’t escape during baking. But, as you don’t want them to explode during baking either, with a fork, make venting holes on top of your calzone.

Repeat until you’ve filled your baking sheet. You’ve made enough dough to make two baking sheet-fulls.

Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. If you’re freezing them, I recommend wrapping them individually in saranwrap or a ziplock bag after they’ve cooled. (Then you can take them out of the freezer the night before you’ll want them, put the bagged/wrapped calzone in your bag, and they’re thawed by lunch!)


And now, to eat… and start considering the writing of the paper that was due 12.5 hours ago…

Filed under: good eats, recipes, school


The best thing about making muffins is that they’re easy to make. And just as easy to make up a recipe for. The basic idea you want to work with is a 2:1 ratio of dry to wet ingredients. Aside from that, there’s plenty of room to play.

Today’s muffins shall be named Oatmeal Fruit Muffins, as they were inspired by my want to bake with the yummy dried fruit I bought at Trader Joe’s.

Preheat the over to 350ºF.

In a bowl, mix 4 cups of oat flour*, with 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, and a pinch of cinnamon. I also added 2-3 tbsp of flax seeds, plus another about 2 tbsp of ground flax seed.

Add a cup of dried blueberries, and another cup of orange flavoured cranberries. Mix into the flour mixture. (This will “dredge” the berries, so that they won’t clump together once the liquids are added to the batter.)

Make a well in the middle of your flour and fruit mixture. Beat an egg in a small bowl then pour it into the well. (I crack it directly into the well then mix it there.) Then add a cup of milk and 1 tbsp honey to the well. Mix the liquids into the flour. Don’t over mix!

Scoop the batter into a slightly greased muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


*Oat flour is easy to make, if you don’t want to buy it. Simply put oat flakes/rolled oats in a blender, and whirl it up until it’s finely ground. I like baking with oat flour as it keeps the baked goods moist.

Filed under: good eats, photos, recipes

How to bake challah

Watch Liz school us on bakin’ challah!

Filed under: friends, good eats, judaism, recipes

If you build it…

Despite being sick (my gastrointestinal system decided to deflect to another team), I cooked up a storm Thursday night. I didn’t taste anything as I went along, so I was a little weary come Friday’s dinner to serve to my guests. But, as 9 of us sat in my sukkah, I was complimented on the food. Dinner included a spinach salad with lemon vinaigrette, apricot couscous, carrot and apple kugel, and a butternut squash soup. There were also the two lovely challahs that one_in_progress brought, and dessert: my chocolate mousse pies, rugelleh, raisins, fresh dates, pomegranates, and booze. Aside from the kugel and challah, the meal was vegan. I tried to cook things that would reflect the harvest, fall vegetables, and be hearty enough to keep us warm while we ate outside.

It was Shabbat, so we don’t shake the lulav. Except that I grew up Reform which meant one day of holidays that are celebrated for 2 days in the Diaspora. load bearing chairPlus a mitzvah that’s joyous doesn’t negate the prohibition to work on Shabbat… Minus a wall, plus a cold, square the mean age of kittens trying to escape from the sukkah to freedom and…. A few people shook the lulav before leaving Friday night. I shook it on Saturday morning, after dovening in the sukkah, and eating brunch in there. And it’s a good thing too: This morning I woke to find one of the walls had blown down. (It seems that the load-bearing chair wasn’t heavy enough to resist the wind.)

So I dovened to the sound of flapping, whacking, banging tarps and wood this morning, then took that wall down completely.

Also, a tip: when a newly white coated doctor-to-be declares that she’s not contagious, only sip from the same kiddush cup as her if you want to have a cold by havdallah.

Some more sukkah photos are here.

All recipes are my own. If you use them, please give me some credit. Thanks!

Apple Carrot Kugel
2 lb bag of carrots, peeled and grated
6 empire apples, grated
1 sweet potato, greated
4 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 cup matzah meal (or flour)

Grease a 3L (13×9) baking pan. Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, combine the carrots, apples, and potato. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs; mix in the salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Add the egg mixture to the veggies, mix to make sure they’re coated well. Add the matzah meal/flour and mix well. Pour into the pan. Bake for ~50mins, until nicely browned on top, and there isn’t any liquid left inside.

Butternut Squash Soup
3 butternut squashes
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
enough veggie stock to cover (about 2 litres)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper

Prepare the squash by peeling, scooping out the seeds; cut into chunks, and arrange in a pan. Cook in the over for 1 hour, until softened, at 325F.

In a large pot, heat up oil. Add squash and onions. Cook until onions have softened. Add cinnamon, salt, pepper, and ginger; mix and cook another few minutes. Add stock. Bring to a boil then simmer, with the lid on, for a long time (I think I let mine go for 2 hours). Adjust seasoning as needed. with an immersion blender, purée the soup. (If you don’t have one, let the soup cool, then pour, in batches, into a blender. Remember: if it’s still warm, don’t put the lid on (steam needs to escape), instead hold a clean tea towel over the top to prevent the soup from escaping.)

You might want to add more stock when you’re done to get a thinner soup; I liked it really thick.

Chocolate Mousse Pie
Either buy chocolate wafer crumbs or graham cracker crumbs, or buy wafers and crush them yourself. Melt margarine. Combine with crumbs. Push moistened crumbs into a pie tin. Put in the fridge for the crust to harden/set.

Filling: Put a banana and a pack of silken tofu (or, dessert tofu) in a blender. Give it a whirl until it’s smooth. In a double boiler, melt some bitter-sweet chocolate. Add melted chocolate to the blender. Whirl. Add more chocolate if you find the taste of the tofu too noticeable. Pour the blender contents into the pie crust. Put back in the fridge for the mousse to set. Yum!

Optional: Put berries (I find raspberries are quite nice) into the mousse (don’t blend though!) or spread them out on top. Quite yummy.

Filed under: diy, friends, good eats, health, judaism, recipes, seasons

Strawberry Salad

I made a salad for Shabbat dinner that went over swimmingly. The key, I think, was the strawberry dressing.

6 strawberries
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more, to taste)
1 teasp honey
salt, pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and give a whirl. Chill until needed.

Salad: spinach; oranges (peeled and chunked); strawberries (halved); mango (chunked); asparagus (steamed, halved, and cooled); avocado (chunked).

Toss with dressing, serve. Yum!

Filed under: good eats, recipes, seasons

Sangria and/or Mingling Manischewitz Mixtures

I spent Friday evening, pre-Shabbat, sitting on a terrasse, in the drizzling rain, drinking sangria with visiting friends (in town from NY for their wedding anniversary).

Shabbat dinner was lovely, with great people and great food. (I am so making rosemary challah!)

Today was spent playing tour guide to the visiting friends, drinking more pichets de sangria or terrasses.

Then, Manischewitz magic. Last night, at Shabbat dinner, as I was introduced to my new “sweet and bubbly” kosher wine, plans were hatched for a Manischewtitz party. And tonight, we executed those plans. I made Mingling Manischewitz Mixtures. So tasty, you should make some right now!

  • In a blender, pour in Manischewitz wine. (If this were “Hebrew Hammer,” I’d tell you to use the “black label” stuff, but what we used was the blackberry wine.)
  • Add frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.)
  • Blend.
  • Taste.
  • Realise that it is *really* sweet.
  • Add Cointreau to counter the sweet.
  • Blend.
  • Pour into wine glasses, for that extra touch of class.
  • Drink!

(Variations: add Wilde’s strawberry passionfruit juice.)
Please note: This is best done in batches, using up 1.5 bottles of Manischewitz.

Along with the drinks, we felt that drinking Mingling Manischewitz Mixtures called for a couple episodes of Sex and The City. (The one where Harry and Charlotte get back together, and then their wedding episode, because, really, who doesn’t love hora puns?) And then they wanted something else, and no one had seen the Hebrew Hammer, and the sugar from the Mingling Manischewitz Madness was racing through our bloodstreams, so we watched, and laughed, and laughed some more. Excellent.

Tomorrow? Free museum day, playing tour guide some more, and hopefully more sangria.

Filed under: friends, good eats, judaism, parties, recipes, teevee/movies