Saturday, December 24, 2011

aligadget

if you have a problem with tomatoes, cucumbers, or lemon juice, you'd have a hard time finding something to eat in israel.
the 'israeli salad' is a staple here and is pretty much served in one form or another with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at restaurants and homes alike. there's no escaping this.
i myself think it's great, and healthy to boot. but i've previously written about the patience it takes to construct a traditional version of this salad. diced tiny.
well, that was until i saw this incredible gadget at my great-aunt's house. the one she was rocking is called 'the alligator', but further product research uncovered a lot of 'sold-outedness' of that particular brand and lots of 'this-is-just-as-good' of other, similar products.
my apartment, replete with kitchen things and roommates, is home to one of these 'just as good' varieties. and it is! i used it the other day to make breakfast and let out some aggression. with one strong smack of the lid, a halved tomato turns into beautifully uniform salad components. add some cucumber and red pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, s&p, and you have yourselves an actual salad. amaze.
obviously the caveat is having to clean the salad genie after. a bigger challenge than running a knife under some hot water. but as my roommate says, (in my loose translation), there is no substitute for salad work.

alligator? crocodile.
typical.

Monday, December 19, 2011

feed the world

honestly, if it weren't for vh1 classic running a short segment of back-to-back christmas songs, i would have hardly noticed that there is less than a week to go until the 2-month old abscess of consumerist frenzy bursts into the new year. 
it ain't all bad though, the best part of christmas is approaching! the part where people get to spend time with their family, eat giant meals, and play scrabble. or if you're a jew; get to spend time with your adoptive christian family, eat giant meals, and play scrabble.  i can't believe i'm missing turkey and ck's lemon squares this year!
anyway, gifts are nice and all, but if you despise the whole shopping hysteria, and you want to give something straight from the heart/kitchen, then i've got something for you. (martha stewart probably has a million more, but i'm aiming for quality).
GRANOLA! i made some today, and just as an afterthought realized it's the cutest and most useful gift ever. ever.
right, so, you will need: rolled oats, raw nuts (hazel, brazil, macadamia, pecans, almonds...), seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin...) , dried fruit (cran, raisins, figs, apricots, apple, pineapple, papaya...), vanilla extract, shredded coconut, maple syrup or brown sugar or honey, canola oil, some juice, cinnamon. annnd an adorable container (glass or tin).
i made apple chips in the oven: thinly sliced apples with lemon juice on a baking tray at 200C for about 30 minutes. you can also do this with pears, or bananas...easy enough, but you can also buy them.
in a large bowl mix 3 or 4 cups of oats with 2 cups of shredded coconut. add 1 tbsp of vanilla, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp juice, 2 tbsp sugar/honey/syrup. and then all the bite-sized fruit and nuts and seeds your heart desires. you can personalize these things for each recipient, and in the card, write just how much you think they are mango-currant-hemp. you're very welcome.
mixy mixy, spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30ish minutes at 300C. every 10 minutes, give the granoles a good stir. the mixture should turn golden. it will become dry in the oven, but will crunch up even more when it cools. 

cran-apple-brazil-hazelnut. because that's how i roll(ed oats).
and how cute is this tin? i think it used to house chocolates.




Thursday, December 15, 2011

crunch time

so...croutons.
yeah i know, whoa! what? croutons!!? exciting!

but seriously next week i'm moving into an apartment (with 2 roommates-yiiikes!) and also a fully equipped kitchen i can call my own 3-way shared kitchen. so please excuse the lameness of this dinner item, but know that there is an important message behind this post and it has something to do with not wasting bread, but i'm too tired to be cute and clever about it. don't throw out your old bread, yo. make croutons.
fact: croutons you buy at the store are somehow a cajillion times more fattening and expensive and less tasty than croutons you make at home. 
so cut old bread into bite sized cubes. roll cubes on a baking sheet in olive oil, coarse salt, and any and all spices/herbs: thyme, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder...whatev flaves you like in your soup/salad accompaniment. spread bread cubes flat on the baking sheet and bake at 275C for 10 or so minutes while jiggling (not the word i want, but the word i'll nonetheless use) the cubes around for even baking.
watch those crouton cubes like they are a newborn infant: DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED!
they will burn. fast. see what happened to mine? almost burnt because of a text message.
ok, so i'll see you next week?


Sunday, December 4, 2011

spelled backwards

i love spelling. a little obsessively much. and this obsession is turning into an impediment for my hebrew literacy skills improvement. the hebrew alphabet is such, that several of the letters make more than one sound, and also many different letters make the same sound as one another, and this is bound to confuse me forever and stop me from attempting to write anything in fear that i will very likely spell it wrong. 
in english, on top of the type of sheer genius possessed by grade three spelling bee champions, i have a litany of tricks, rhymes, phrases, and silly sayings that help discourage mistakes (i before e, except after c...) whose hebrew counterparts i guess i better start learning.
one such helpful adage is fun as it incorporates the spelling of 3 different words in a wry nudge at sweet-toothed weight gain: desserts is stressed spelled backwards
1. dessert(s) 2. stressed, and 3. desert (by virtue of not being dessert). 
and with that absolutely painful introduction, here are two desserts that i made without any spelling mistakes, right here in israel.

exhibit a is a pavlova with chopped almond, dried fig and apricot, butterscotch brittle. broken on top of whipped cream, which was layered on top of my unsuccessful, but still pretty tasty, meringue. topped with more broken pieces of meringue, whipped cream, and then strawberries and mint. next door, in the glass bowl, is a guava mousse. made with the yolks of the meringued* egg whites, sugar, and steamed then pureed guava. topped with slices of persimmon. 
gosh, it's fun to have all these exotic fruits be not so exotic!
*when it comes to the spelling of made up words, it's first come first...makes up the spelling.



exhibit b is a triple chocolate birthday cake. standard chocolate cake (flour, sugar, eggs, 60% cocoa content chocolate melted in water, cocoa powder, butter, vanilla, salt, sugar, baking soda), chocolate frosting (cocoa powder, icing sugar, butter, milk) and a chocolate whipped cream centre (whipping cream, cocoa powder, sugar)...all tastefully decorated with candies and sprinkles to celebrate a quarter of a century in style.

eat dessert. don't stress.