Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Night, May 31, 2011

No time to write today, so here's the menu:

Pita Crisps

Creamy tomato soup (saute onions and garlic in olive oil, add diced tomatoes and water or soup stock. bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 min. puree. add salt and pepper, honey (optional), and 1/4 tsp baking soda. add optional milk or cream and reheat gently)

Broccoli "burgers" - I had some odds and ends lying around. I put the following ingredients in my food processor: broccoli, walnuts, sesame seeds, oats, sauteed onions, process. transfer to a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 - 1/2 c. hot water. mix well and let sit for 5 minutes. form patties and fry in cast iron frying pan. (I made these early in the day!)

Homemade French Fries


Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Night, May 30, 2011

Many of you are BBQ'ing for Memorial Day, I'm sure. So, I wasn't sure if I would post my ever-so-mundane menu.
I will anyhow, just to get myself back in the habit of posting...

Here's my simple plan:

Quesadilla-style pitot (I just split open the pitot and fill with shredded cheese, put the top back on and toast it. I then call these concoctions quesadillas, even though they are definitely not. we just pretend they are.)

Tomatoes & Cucumbers


Sunday, May 29, 2011


I was not the most favorite Eema  tonight. I served LEFTOVERS. I did not even try to disguise them, I just said, "deal with it, everyone eats leftovers sometimes!" and asked for my kids to be less kvetchy.

What is it about leftovers that makes so many people turn up their noses? The food hasn't really changed. Ok, so maybe it's "boring" but sometimes life is boring, so what is the BIG DEAL?

Please help me understand.

And for all those people out there - the ones I envy - who do once-a-month cooking, how do you get the family to eat "leftovers" all the time (my kids think anything that was previously frozen is "leftover")?

I'm really hoping to move over to OAMC next year, and I need some advice and inspiration.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Frugal Potato Chips?

Snacks like potato chips are not only pretty unhealthy, they can also put a HUGE dent in our food budget. So I rarely buy them.
Of course, that doesn't mean my kids don't ever ask for them!
I was about to peel some potatoes and cook them (to make mashed potatoes), when I had an epiphany! Instead of throwing out the peels (I don't put potato peels in my soup stock veggies), I could save them and make potato peel crisps!
So I scrubbed the potatoes, and peeled them right into my pyrex baking pan. Then I mixed the peelings with about 1 T. of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, and baked them in my toaster oven at 400 - 425 F, until they are all brown and crisp! And they taste very yummy!
Have you ever done this?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tuesday Night, May 24, 2011

It's pasta night! While I still haven't found a really great place to buy whole wheat pasta now that my Yesh stopped carrying it (your advice is appreciated!), I did buy some anyway...

Here's the menu:

Pasta with a choice of sauce: homemade tomato sauce or cheese sauce. Perhaps I'll add pesto into that equation - a bit of splurge, though.

make your own salad - lettuce, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese (yay for kimat chinam's cheese counter sales!), carrots, purple cabbage - assuming I get around to washing and chopping it all...

fruit salad (i have a few lone fruits in the fridge, so we'll throw it all together!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Monday Night, May 23, 2011

I hope everyone had a great Lag Ba'omer! It's a fun holiday, but not so much fun for asthmatics. My inhaler got a lot of use, unfortunately...

But, Sunday is now over, and Monday is approaching. Time to plan!

Here's what's on our menu:

Sloppy Sams (tofu sloppy joes) with Pitot

Make your own salad (we have lettuce, purple cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and whatever else I discover)


Keeping it simple - there's a lot going on here lately and every day is BUSY!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday night - May 18, 2011

Wow! Once again, I don't have to cook this Shabbat! 2 weeks in a row, quite unusual around here.

So, that means I want to skip my usual Wednesday grocery run. And looking thru my fridge/freezer and pantry, I think this means we'll have some sort of "shmorgasbord" dinner tonight. Let's use up some of my ridiculous odds and ends! (Actually, when I do this, my kids ALL find at least one food they are happy with, so I think it works out ok in the end)

Here's what I found: beets, lettuce, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, kishuim (like zucchini),eggplant, melon, apples, overripe bananas, eggs, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, yogurt, milk, 2 grapefruits, phyllo dough, "corn pie" (polenta with veggies and cheese), assorted packages of leftover this or that, barley, rice, oatmeal, whole wheat flour, couscous, etc

Here's what we'll have:

Vegetable soup with barley (in my crock pot)

Corn Pie, Broccoli Quiche, and assorted odds and ends from the freezer

Baked Potatoes

Banana Bread

Make your own salad

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tuesday Night, May 17, 2011

I can feel myself becoming less inspired to cook as every day passes. I just wish that I could hang out with the kids, doing whatever we feel like doing, and come home at dinnertime to - dinner! However, I just don't think my dream of having a personal chef will ever come true.

So, it's back to reality, and needing to make a dinner plan... sigh.

Here's what I'm making, using foods I have in the house:

Green Pea Soup (saute onion, garlic in olive oil. add frozen peas, water or soup stock, and salt and pepper to taste. bring to a boil, lower flame, and simmer for 10 min. Puree. add milk (you can use soy or rice milk, if you prefer). gently reheat, and serve)

Couscous with lentils (remixing some leftovers!)

Make your own salad (we have lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow peppers, green onions, and green olives that need to be used!)

Eggplant & Zucchini non-Parmesan (just layer breaded eggplant and zucchini with some homemade tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese - no parmesan for so many reasons.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Monday Night, May 17, 2011

So, what's this Healthy Eema going to do? I'd been buying whole wheat pasta at Yesh for about 4.50 NIS per package, and it's a lot more expensive in other places. But now it seems Yesh isn't carrying whole wheat pasta anymore! And I don't think my family will just give up their macaroni and cheese addiction, and I am not switching back to white pasta. So - please, dear readers, if you are in Israel, please tell me which supermarket chain carries whole wheat pasta for under 5 NIS per package (500 g package, that is)!

In the meantime, we have to have a pasta-free menu...

So, Monday night's menu will be:

Vegetable soup (leftover from last night)

Lentils - prepared very simply so reflux girl will eat something

Artichokes - I think I've mentioned how psyched my younger children are about artichokes, and I found them for 4 NIS/kilo today...

Eggplant baked with a creamy-smoked cheese sauce

Tomatoes with basil and olive oil

And something else that the kids will eat instead of eggplant (usually it would be macaroni and cheese) but I don't know what that will be... wish me luck and creativity!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

While it's really nice to get away sometimes for Shabbat, and have someone else (a hotel!) responsible for all the cooking and dishwashing, it's also really great to be back home. And my kids decided that after eating catered foods, they would stop complaining and start appreciating Eema's home-cooked foods. They all said they like my food better than the hotel food... (It took a lot of convincing to get them to try the foods that were served!)

So, on tonight's menu - it's slim pickings in my house right now since I didn't shop and cook before Shabbat. We'll make do with:

Vegetable soup with noodles

Cucumber and Carrot sticks with Ranch-style dip

Embellished Grilled Cheese sandwiches (optional additions: red peppers, olives, tomatoes, onions)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thursday night, May 12, 2011

This week is flying by! I can hardly believe tomorrow is Thursday already. There is still so much to do, it's actually a REALLY good thing that I don't have to cook for Shabbat this week! (Yes, you read that right, I won't be posting my Shabbat menu, since I am not making one! Of course, this is good, and this is bad. I do not trust other people's cooking. There, I said it. You see, I am skeptical about other people's ingredients - what kind of oils do they use, do they use whole grains, do they use soup mix with MSG?!)

Anyhow, it's Thursday night, which in our house ALWAYS means pizza night. And since we still have so many cucumbers, we'll be eating those! Oh, and perhaps we'll make some home-fries (homemade french fries, cut thick, with the peels left on...) because my children love the junky combination of pizza and french fries, and perhaps I'll indulge them. Or maybe not, since after all, they'll likely eat junky food all of Shabbat... I can't decide. What would you do?:

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, and more Tomatoes!

I bought a lot of tomatoes. (GREAT prices on tomatoes right now - ranging from under half a shekel/kilo up to about 1.89 NIS/kilo!)

Here are some of the ways we've used them:

Fresh tomato and basil salad (add chick peas or mozzarella cheese. We love it both ways, but use chick peas most often because mozzarella cheese is far pricier)

Homemade tomato puree to use as a base for all of your tomato sauce variations

Roasted vegetables

Tomato, Lentil, and Black bean soup

Minestrone Soup

Fresh tomatoes on our sandwiches

Creamy Tomato Soup

What do you do with an abundance of tomatoes?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wednesday night - May 11, 2011

Wow, what a week. I am EXHAUSTED. And exhilarated. This was our first post-aliyah Yom Ha'atzmaut (well, at least for the rest of the family, I DID have a few of those after the time I made aliyah almost 20 yrs ago...). It's so great to be able to celebrate Israel's independence here in Israel!

But now it's back to regular life. Homeschooling is obviously never QUITE ordinary - there are so many things that happen on the spur of the moment (think science experiments and outside-of-the-box art projects all over my kitchen) - but still, we'll say tomorrow will be an ordinary Wednesday... (although that's Art Day, so, there will be mess...)

I feel like I need to plan tomorrow night's supper right now, or we'll end up eating cereal.

On the way to the table:

Black Bean, Tomato, and Lentil Soup (don't forget to soak the black beans overnight first! And if you add ginger to the pot of soup, it helps with the digestive issues beans sometimes cause) - this is going in the crock pot - chopped onion, diced garlic, diced celery, 1/2 c. black beans, 1/2 c. lentils, 5-6 chopped tomatoes, soup stock, ginger, salt, and pepper)

Crustless Broccoli Quiche (I have a bag of broccoli in my freezer from the time I found them on a buy 2 get one free sale)

Roasted Tomatoes, Peppers, and Mushrooms (just toss them with olive oil and roast them in the oven) - using the produce that's hanging out in my fridge - this will be heavy on the tomatoes this time since I bought a ton of tomatoes at 45 agurot/kilo...

Couscous (whole wheat of course) - what could be easier than boiling some water, adding some couscous and seasonings, cover and turn off the flame. let stand for about 5 min...?

Melon - I am so tempted by the peaches and nectarines and all those summer fruits (I keep eyeing those starfruits) coming in, but at 12 NIS/kilo and up (grapes are 30!), I opted for the melon that was 2.89/kilo.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shabbat Parashat Emor

It was really hot today and there was tons of traffic between Teverya and Haifa. We were late for my daughter's dance class. I had gotten slightly dehydrated. I ran into the supermarket WITHOUT MY LIST. What a recipe for disaster!

I ended up spending about 250 NIS more than I had planned. Those sales and impulse purchases really added up. I have to remind myself to never go shopping without a list again!

So, we're having a few guests for Shabbat. Does that mean I needed to buy 4 (yes, you read that right, 4) bags of pretzels? I hadn't planned to buy any. I had planned to pop a bunch of popcorn in the air popper...

But I digress. I'm here to plan my Shabbat menu...

Here's what we're having this Shabbat:

Vegetarian "liver" (I make one using peas, green beans, and nuts, among other ingredients.)

Chick pea and Tomato Salad with fresh Basil

Vegetable soup with noodles (Friday night)

Mushroom Barley Stew (Lunch)

Corn-flake crumb chicken

Carrot Kugel

Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Oven Roasted Zucchini

Make your own salad (we have baby spinach (total impulse purchase!), cucumbers, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, nuts, cinnamon-honey'd oranges, and whatever else I discover while chopping up veggies!)

Pan-fried tofu for my favorite 12 yr old vegetarian

Hopefully I will get around to making a dessert. If not, we'll have some fresh fruit.

Shabbat Shalom! Let me know what you're making for Shabbat.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Places I get inspiration

I have been interested in living super-frugally for many years. This started long before I had children, when I was sharing an apartment in an expensive city with another single friend. Rent was high, and I just needed to figure out how to make it all work. That was child's play, though, as I was working and had no family to think of.

Now, many years later, my husband and I decided that I would be a stay at home mother to our children, homeschooling them and running our household. This means we have only one paycheck earner, which goes against the trend here in Israel, where everyone works and sends their children to long hours of daycare beginning at very young ages...

Sometimes it's really hard to be doing so many things differently. We are American Olim, which makes us different from most people around us (we currently live in the northern city of Teverya, which really doesn't have a strong Anglo community). We are American Olim who do not live in the Jerusalem, Modi'in, or Ra'anana area, which makes us different from most American Olim. We homeschool our kids (clearly, being part of a group of only an estimated total of 500 families in the entire country makes us different from those around us). We eat natural foods. We use car seats (even extended rear facing, which is really unheard of here) for our children EVERY time they go in a car (how unfathomable in this country!). I breastfed all of my children till they were 2 or older. We have asthma and allergies, and avoid all manner of synthetic fragrances. The list goes on and on. We are, simply put, DIFFERENT.

So, when no one around is really like you, you have to draw inspiration from the global community. Here are some of my favorites:

A Time of the Signs 
I love to read my friend Toby's blog because every English speaking oleh in this country just needs to know that someone else sees how ludicrous some things can be...

Budgets and Bargains
Most of this blog is completely irrelevant to life in Israel, but I still love the frugal ideas. You just never know when something will translate perfectly to life here...

Chez Cayenne
Fun to read other people's vegetarian recipes (we eat mostly vegetarian, did I forget to mention that?). Even though we have some reflux issues, and I can't use all the spicy combinations in this blog, I love getting inspired. And I love the pictures. One day I will be organized enough to put pictures on my blog!

Cooking Outside the Box
Lots of creative cooking ideas! And I like the fact that now I know I am not the only person who doesn't like to use Teflon. I prefer my stainless steel and enameled cast iron pots. There's a really handy evaluation of your teflon-free options on this blog!

Dati Leumi Mom: Lost in Chul
I just discovered this blog, and what can I say, the title got me. That was ME for 12 years. That's how long we did our lost in Chu"l stint. Now I am so happy to be back in Israel!

This is an Environmental Working Group blog. They keep me up to date about lots of issues that I care about: clean air, clean water, healthy food, avoiding chemical exposure, and the latest environmental research. Check them out, you will find a wealth of knowledge there!

Flowing With My Ducklings
Here's a blog written by one of my online homeschooling friends. It's so great to hear another homeschooling mother's perspectives, ideas, and more. And maybe one day we'll actually meet in person! Wouldn't that be great?

Frugal Family Fun
I read this blog to get inspired - mostly for her easy to do, budget minded crafts. We've tried a whole bunch, and usually they are frugal, fun, and not too overwhelming...

There are many more, but this is a start. I hope you enjoy checking out some of the places I get inspiration. Feel free to post a comment with blog or website links you think I should check out! (or your own blog!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wednesday night - May 4, 2011

For some reason, Wednesday is looking like it will be a busy day. I have a bunch of errands to take care of...

The kids have been keeping me very busy. It was really hard to find enough time on Tuesday to make the homemade flatbread, but we did it. My little girls are so amazed that we can take flour and water and turn it into a bread!

I decided that Wednesday's menu has to be simpler, so we'll go with my go-to dinner for a busy night: breakfast foods! Now that I'm thinking about this, maybe I can avoid the supermarket still... (the question is, do I need to do any shopping before cooking for Shabbat? I know I don't want to make the mistake of going to the supermarket on Thursday night. That is just NEVER fun in this country, unless your idea of fun includes checkout lines an hour long...)

We'll be serving:

Grapefruit and Pomelit (I have both of those lurking in my fridge and it is HIGH time we finished them)

French Toast

Scrambled Eggs 

Cottage Cheese

Squash bread (from the freezer) - it's made with butternut squash and tastes a lot like pumpkin bread

Tuesday Night, May 3, 2011

Today I am looking for ways to feed the family with only whatever is already in the house, despite the fact that originally I planned to run some errands and pick up some tofu for sloppy sams. In the end, I'm delaying the errands till tomorrow or the next day, since being a one-car family can complicate matters somewhat (and waiting for a paycheck can do that too)!

Here's the plan:

Broccoli, Potato and Cheese Soup - I plan to remake the leftover potato dish from yesterday into a creamy-style blended soup (trying to get more creative with leftovers, please help!)

Rice and Lentils  (Brown Rice, dry lentils (rinsed and checked for stones), chopped onions, vegetable stock, and spices)

Homemade Flatbreads (see the homemade alternatives page)

Cut vegetables and dips


Monday, May 2, 2011

Inspired Leftovers?

What do you do when you make too much of something you KNOW will not get eaten as leftovers?

Today, I made a pot of oatmeal for breakfast, but one of the children refused to eat oatmeal this morning, so there was a nice-sized serving left. Needless to say, nobody really eats it after it's been stored and reheated. I've tried turning leftover oatmeal into cookies, but the results were far from impressive. I racked my brain, and finally decided to make a quick bread out of it.

Here's what went into it:

1 - 1.5 c. cooked oatmeal (mine was cooked with milk, plus extra dry milk powder for a nutritional boost and a shake of salt)
1 egg
1/3 c. oil
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. whole wheat flour (sifted, as is the custom here in Israel, despite my custom of keeping all flour in the freezer)
1 tsp. baking powder
chopped walnuts
1/4 t. cinnamon.

Combine all ingredients, wet first. Mix well, but don't overmix. Pour into loaf pan(s) and bake at 350 F for about an hour.

My children loved it as a treat this evening. And I made enough that they can have it again tomorrow!

Monday Night, May 2, 2011

Today we commemorate Yom HaShoah. It is a day dedicated to the memory and heroism of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. We pledge to never forget; to never allow history to repeat itself. We speak with our children about our history, and pledge with them to keep the memories alive.

We speak of people starving, being starved, being treated as subhuman. We pledge to treat all people with dignity and respect. Lessons we all want our children to learn.

We spend each day learning, but the solemnity of this day required that I say something particular. We learn, read, and more, and I plan our dinner. Nothing fancy, but enough to nourish.

Here's the menu:

Pita crisps
Minestrone soup (made with homemade pureed tomatoes. This time I roasted them in the oven before pureeing. yum)
Baked potatoes topped with broccoli and cheese
Make your own salad