Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book - not for dummies, really

The first time I checked out a "For Dummies" book at the library, I was actually a little embarrassed. I mean, seriously, I am NOT a dummy, and I didn't want my fellow library patrons thinking I am one, and certainly not the librarian! Especially not the one who used to point out books she thought I'd want to buy that were for sale in the "Friends of the Library" corner. I mean seriously, my kids and I would check out about 45 books every week.

Dummy, I think not.

But I got over it, and checked out a few over the years.

Here's one I think could be very helpful for people who are looking to reduce their spending, and are not sure where to start...

Let me know what you think!

Frugal Living for Dummies

Friday, June 29, 2012

Freezer Cleanout Shabbat

I have all sorts of packages lurking in my freezer.

Time to use them up!

So... we'll be having a freezer surprise Shabbat.

Wish me luck.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shopping for Free

I love iHerb rewards! Thanks to those of you who used my code for $5 off your first order, I just got a free order. It included:

Organic extra virgin coconut oil

Aluminum free baking powder (16 oz bag! that will last a while)

Fake bac'n bits so certain family members will eat salad happily (ok it's not the healthiest, but we use only a little at a time)

Banana flavoring (i use it in smoothies/yogurt, my kids HATE chunks of fruit in their kefir and yogurt)

Castille soap with peppermint and shea butter

If you've never ordered from them, give it a try! For $5 off your first order use code QEJ101. Then you'll get your OWN code to give to friends, so you can get rewards and free orders too!

FYI shipping weight limits apply, so read their FAQs!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lentil Salad

I know lots of people serve lentils. All the time. Green ones, Red ones, Almost Black ones...

One of my favorite ways of serving lentils in the summer is this salad:

1 onion, diced
2-3 red/yellow/orange peppers, diced (the key is COLOR)
3 cloves garlic crushed
Any other vegetables you feel like (you could dice some eggplant, for example)
Pan-roast these veggies, one at a time, in some olive oil in a cast iron pan (onion and garlic can be done together, and it's extra-good to add a generous amount of oregano when cooking the onion and garlic)
Cook the amount of lentils you want (I use either French lentils - the tiny dark ones, or regular green ones for this recipe. Red ones get too mushy), in water or soup stock, till they are soft but not mushy.

Chill all ingredients.

Combine right before serving. Add salt and pepper if you want, but you don't need to.

Very yummy....

Sorry I don't have a picture today. I am actually out of lentils at the moment, but I promised the recipe... so here it is, even though I didn't cook it today!

Kika is Going out of Business

Kika Israel will be closing its for good in the next couple of weeks and they have announced further reductions - it's major inventory liquidation sale!
Go get 'em, if you are brave enough for the crowds that will probably show up!

Meals today

It's deceptively cool out right now. And cloudy. But I have learned that these cloudy mornings often morph into scorchers very quickly. So before my head gets all messed up by the heat of the day, here's the plan for supper:

Spaghetti with tomato sauce and cheese
Carrot sticks

Nothing fancy, but now I know what I am making later. I love making simple food right now. Just trying to figure out the cheese situation. My family loves cheese, and it is such a huge expense...

Time to do a major grocery budget evaluation.
I want to get my spending back on track for July (vacation can set you back), and increase the amount of money I spend on cheese, so I can keep my kids happier. They all like cheese-laden foods so much better! So my goal is: get them to complain less, by buying more cheese, but spend less overall. ?? Not sure I'll manage but I am sure going to try!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I am having trouble with food this summer! Everyone still needs to eat, but I sure don't feel like cooking.

Here's what I made today:

Homemade Garlic and Olive Oil Mini-Foccacia Breads (recipe some other time) (from the freezer, I made a large batch one day)
Red lentil soup with roasted red peppers and tomatoes (yes, it was served hot, and the kids complained. How would it work served cold? Maybe with some sour cream or something it would work? What do you think?)
Sliced Watermelon
Those who were still hungry ate seconds, or supplemented this meal with cottage cheese.

Soup recipe:
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large red pepper, diced
Saute above ingredients in olive oil (over medium heat) till the peppers begin to carmelize.
Add 1 diced tomato (large)
Cook, stirring frequently
Add: 2 cups red lentils (sorted and rinsed)
water or soup stock to fill the pot
salt, pepper to taste
Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 min - until the lentils are fully cooked and soft.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baby gifts

I have to shop for some baby gifts. So I did a quick search. If I want to buy a high quality toy in Israel, I need to be prepared to spend a lot of money. But I never do that if I can avoid it!

I used to stock up at TJMaxx, Marshalls, Ross, etc - I'd buy great toys (on clearance, whenever possibel) by Melissa and Doug and other quality companies, and keep them hanging around till someone needed a gift. Sometimes we even stocked up at Target, Kmart, or the thrift shop (you'd be surprised at the number of new, still shrink-wrapped toys I found at Goodwill!)...

So I wanted to get a Melissa and Doug toy.

Here's an example.

Take this Melissa and Doug Fishing Puzzle Game (I happen to already own this - picked it up at Ross one day, I believe, and ended up giving it to one of my own children!)

It's really cute, and perfect for the younger set.

I checked around, and here in an Israeli store, it costs 69 ILS + 14.90 for delivery. That's 83.90 to have it delivered.

On Fishpond, the Magnetic Fishing Game costs $14.95, including shipping. Today that is about 59 ILS. For the exact same product.

Why are we Israeli customers expected to pay so much more? Isn't time to stop allowing "them" to take advantage of "us"?

Re-evaluating our groceries

I actually shopped at a couple of "shvakim" - that is plural for "shuk"- over the last couple of weeks. And it hit me. If I shop at the shuk, I can get the basics for around the same price I'm paying right now. But some of the foods I consider "luxury" (red peppers, artichokes, avocados, seasonal fruits) are actually far cheaper at the shuk than in the stores. Carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, onions.... those you can get at "shuk" prices in supermarkets. But buying cherries and grapes and not feeling like I had overindulged? Well, that was amazing.

This was true in Machane Yehuda (thankfully I found myself in the Holy City - my real home that I don't live in - for almost a week), both times I shopped there last week, and in the shuk in Teverya the week before...

So the question is, how can I get to a shuk more often? Do I make a Teverya day once a week? Go to Migdal He'Emek once a week (anyone know anything about location and prices at the the shuk there?)? Go to Afula once a week?

I must figure this out...

Ideas welcome.

Printable Coupon! (Israel)

Quick! Print out your coupon for Shufersal's private label granola bars.

Get a box of 5 for 8.99, valid thru July 9, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

laundry detergent...

I got a free sample of Rock'n Green Hard Rock Laundry Detergent. It is specially formulated for use with hard water.

I was a little nervous to try it out, as I've had allergic reactions in the past to laundry detergent, even "natural" ones, even ones formulated for sensitive skin...

The sample is their fragrance free ("bare naked babies") version. I read many reviews, and really only encountered positive ones. I couldn't find any people saying they or their baby had broken out in hives!

So I gave it a try.

It is AWESOME. My clothes are clean and fresh, even with hard water. I'm going to have to order a whole bag, which will nearly fill up my next iherb order (max order is 4 lbs, this product weighs 3.31 lbs)!

If you've never ordered from iherb before, you can use referral code QEJ101 to get $5 off your first order (of any size). Shipping in the US is free for orders over $20, and international shipping can be as low as $4. I usually pay $6 to have my order shipped to Israel...

(I cannot make any guarantees about your order. Read up on iherb's international shipping info before you place your order so you can be an informed customer. I have been extremely satisfied...)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shabbat Menu planning

Keeping it simple this Shabbat. I am so not in the mood to be in the kitchen all day Friday!

So... quick! What's in my freezer stash?
Here's what we're having, serving the same thing for Friday night and for Shabbat Lunch

(I might even buy challot, just cuz life is so busy right now! All good, don't worry)
Chicken with onions, garlic, ginger, and pineapple juice (from freezer)
Rice with mushrooms (from freezer)
Vegetable-noodle kugel (from freezer)
Carrot kugel (from freezer)
Roasted kishuim (making fresh)
make your own salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, avocado, and whatever else I find

Cherries (got some for a decent price, finally!) and other fruit for dessert

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kosher Cooking Carnival (KCC) Tammuz edition

I'm pleased to announce the Tammuz 5772 edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival! This is my first time hosting, and I am so happy to be able to join in!

Check out all these great (kosher) blogs! Although not all of these blog posts have recipes, they are all related to Kosher food, and that usually makes for good reading!


Healthy Food
Batya writes about baked vegetables and changing to healthier eating habits in Who Said It's Hard to Eat Healthy?

Emily shares a really intriguing recipe for Vegan Turkish Kofta Kebabs

Chaviva shares her Healthy Mac & Cheese recipe

Yosefa shares her Vegan Eggplant Parmesan (Yum! Need I say more?) 

Yosef shares a vegan Warm Polenta and Chick Pea Salad (that I am going to have to try one day soon, but of course, with homemade polenta, and home-prepared chick peas!) 

And of course, my post for this carnival: Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Crackers, these have been a really big hit at my house this month! Give 'em a try!

Jennifer shares her recipe for Pareve Pink Fluff (ok, so not anything I would make. But to each her own)

Mrs. S. shares her recipe for Genache Covered Brownies (very decadent!)

Jennifer at Adventures in Breadland shares PIECAKEN. (A sugar laden creation that will not be entering my home, so don't get too excited everybody)

Homemade Bread
Jennifer gives some tips about making homemade hamburger buns in Nice (burger) buns!

Stretching food
Pesky Settler shares her recipe for chicken pot pie in Being chicken

Something Different
Yosef recommends Green Shakshuka (and I admit, shakshuka has never called me, but green shakshuka looks good!)

Miriyummy shares her recipe for Baked Goat Cheese and Pine Nut Blintzes.

Anything Kosher!
Marc shares some of the "secret" science of cooking in Citric Acid and The Science of Meringue

Amital shares her strategies for getting through Shabbat when an unexpected emergency gets in the way, in Emergency Shabbat meals kit (freezer/cupboard version)

Batya shares her thoughts about whether the origin of a food should impact its kashrut status in Kashrut Politics, Not Very Kosher and Not Always Healthy

Don't miss out! Have your post included in next month's KCC, hosted by Cooking Outside the Box 

Please submit your posts using the blog carnival submission form or email your links to

If you would like to host, contact Batya or join the KCC Facebook group

Monday, June 18, 2012

For Vacationers

Planning a trip to New York this summer?

Maybe you've been scrimping and saving so you could travel this summer?

I know some of you are. Whether you are headed to the States for the summer or part of it, or you are there, still preparing for your Aliyah, you may find yourself in NYC!

If you are planning to do any sightseeing, consider purchasing a discounted New York Pass . It will save you money if you plan to do lots of tourist-y things there!

New York City Pass

They also have a Philadelphia pass option, for those of you planning to spend some time there!

And for those of you traveling to London, get your London Pass!

Free Entry to over 55 London attractions

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Shabbat Menu planning

It is supposed to be so hot this Shabbat, so please be careful, everyone. Drink a lot, and put on the A/C if you can!

Here's my plan for this hot Shabbat!

Fruit Salad
Baked "Fried" chicken? or maybe some other kind, depends on my mood tonight when I cook
Vegetable Noodle Kugel (it was a hit)
Lentil Salad with sauteed onions and peppers
Carrot Kugel (my 4 yr old went nuts when I skipped it one week!)
Fresh, cut vegetables - I have celery, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes
Rice with mushrooms and onions

Also making banana muffins and chocolate chip cake

Seudah Shlishit will be sandwiches and fruit and vegetables... maybe popsicles?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Price Wars at the Supermarket!

The media, and many people from the Maaleh Adumim and Bet Shemesh areas, have been reporting price wars going on at their local supermarkets. Namely, Shufersal is trying to undercut Rami Levy in Maaleh Adumim, and the new Osher Ad in Bet Shemesh. But other stores seem to be getting in on it too. Any nearby store would have to compete!

Shoppers are thrilled. Prices like 3 NIS/kg for chickens have been reported. Produce can be found for half a shekel per kilo in some cases. 5 NIS for a bottle of oil...

Who wouldn't stock up? (Well, for us, it wouldn't make sense. All that gas and Kvish 6 tolls would wipe out any savings, for sure. But for those in the area....??)

I was part of an online discussion about this. Some customers were immensely happy, sharing their "scores" at the store. Then, there was the voice of dissent. The opinion expressed was that everyone should NOT take advantage of these sales, because in the long run they would lead to losses for Shufersal's competitors, who would struggle to stay open and would not be able to offer "low" prices anymore.

The argument was that the price war is a tactic that Shufersal can afford, but that Rami Levy and Osher Ad could not. Therefore, purchasing discounted groceries would be a bad move, as in the end, Shufersal would gain market share and jack up their prices...

I personally am not an economist. I don't understand all the ins and outs of a business. But my feeling is that the price wars will fade, and customers will shop at the stores they like to shop in. Some go to the same store every week. Others shop around, looking for deals. My gut tells me that neither Osher Ad nor Rami Levy will go out of business over a few weeks of price reductions.

And my hope is that a new reality will settle in: one in which the Israeli consumer can spend a lower percentage of income on food. Let's hope the economic realities will settle in, and Israelis will start to bargain hunt. My gut tells me that food prices can be lowered. Someone is getting VERY WEALTHY off of inflated prices...

I'm waiting for price wars here! When they come, you betcha I'm stocking up. I'll fill my freezer to the max! And I'll try to report how - some things I'll cook, and some things, I'll just freeze for later use!
Can't wait!

Printable Coupon! (Israel)

New coupon available for 10 NIS off your purchase of Tival brand low fat Broccoli Shnitzels. Coupon expires at the end of July, and is redeemable at Shufersal Sheli and Shufersal Deal.

This is an authentic printable coupon, from the manufacturer, not a scanned version.

So print it out and share this post with your friends!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shopping Habits

I just evaluated our grocery purchases over the past month and discovered that I overbought some things (that's ok, they are dry goods and will last) and underbought others.

Like rice. I totally ran out of rice a week before I thought I would.
And black beans. Same thing.
But I have 2 extra kg of red lentils...

So now, it is time to re-work the staples list, so next time I can plan better!

Do you have a "monthly staples" list?

Mine has been in my head for a while. But I think it may be time to write it down, and keep track of our actual usage...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Keeping Cool

I really need to figure out a way to feed my family this summer using minimal heat. I don't mind running the oven - that's down in my laundry room so it really doesn't heat up the house much. But my stove? It is HOT over the stove!

I am going to try to get my kids to agree to eat more food that are served cold, and preferably with minimal preparation, and that don't cost a lot of money!! I'm still debating the crock pot vs. stovetop thing. I am convinced my crock pot doesn't heat up the kitchen as much, and according to some resources I've seen it really does use a lot less energy than a gas stove, even taking the longer cooking time into consideration...

Ideas welcome!

I only just started a list:
Gezpacho - but some vegetables are very pricey, so we'll have to be creative
Sandwiches (although baking bread does involve some time investment, I don't see myself getting out of this one)
Fresh fruit
Fresh vegetables
Foods I can make in the crock pot

Please share your ideas for summer eating! I'd love it if the focus was on inexpensive ingredients, as well!

Looking forward to hearing your ideas

Friday, June 8, 2012

Free ebooks!

Don't forget to check out free eBooks at Fishpond, like

The War of the Worlds [Online]

There's a world of free ebooks out there!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shoes, shoes, shoes!

So this is not about food, but it is about getting a good value for your money. Sometimes you have no choice, you may actually need to buy a necessity...

I took a chance, and I ordered Jumping Jacks shoes from

They are leather, make all sorts of claims about orthopedically correct fit, have a removable insert to allow for a bit of extra growth, and were an excellent value, compared to local shoe prices. Not to mention shipping was super fast and very affordable! ($10 for the order, free shipping for orders over $125, and since they ship each pair separately, that works out fine customs-wise!)

I was also pretty confident that they would fit my children, as they make all sorts of "school shoes" that are required as part of a uniform in certain types of schools - like the schools that require certain types of shoes. They have to be made to accommodate all sorts of feet in order to become an official uniform shoe!

Well, I cannot be happier. The shoes we got are wonderful. They have lived up to all their claims, and even my super-sensitive boys who HATE, positively hate, getting new shoes are happy to have them!

Next time my girls need new shoes, we will probably try out Jumping Jacks for girls! (This time we chose Stride Rite , and we're thrilled. But I can see that Jumping Jacks are made better than these Stride Rites, when comparing the shoes my boys have to the shoes my girls have...)

We like this style:

Shabbat Menu planning

I must get a move on my cooking!
It's time to make Shabbat, again!
Here goes:

Fruit Salad

Baked-Fried Chicken

Cholent (for Lunch)

Roasted Kishuim (summer squash)

Vegetable-Noodle Kugel - whole wheat egg noodles, cooked and drained. Mix with whatever shredded veggies you want - I have summer squash and carrots, and a tiny amount of frozen spinach. Also planning to add in pan-roasted diced onion. The add 3 eggs, salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings you love best. Bake in a deep casserole dish for about 1 hour at 190 C

Some undetermined Potato dish

Make your own Salad

Homemade Challot

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Molasses Cookies

Banana Bread (with coconut or maybe not...)

What am I forgetting?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Asthma and Air Conditioning

How do you deal with the heat on Shabbat?
I'm almost at my breaking point - it's so humid, I may just have to put on the A/C, special for Shabbat. So not frugal, I know...

But we used to run the A/C at a near-constant 78 degrees Fahrenheit when we lived in Florida. We kept the windows closed to keep pollen and pollution out, and I rarely had an asthma attack. And my kid with asthma rarely had any flare-ups too.

But here, we don't run the A/C like that. If we did, we'd be broke. Seriously.

I have refrained from putting it on, except for a couple of nights in my boys' room when my younger son was having a serious asthma problem. The doctor got him onto some different medications, and he's using the nebulizer a lot now, but he is breathing again, so we're back to using fans and open windows.

But all 4 of my children and I have had issues with asthma since we made aliyah, and I believe it's because of the lack of A/C. We used to use a HEPA filter in the A/C system and it kept our air a lot cleaner than what we're breathing in right now. But here, we don't have a central air system, so we can't just put in a whole house HEPA filter. And the other ones, like the small HEPA air purifier I used to have in the U.S. that we used when we weren't running the A/C? There it cost me about $60. Here - 500 NIS or more, so I haven't gone out to buy one yet. Sigh.

Maybe I should look into ordering one from Amazon UK...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Printable Coupon! (Israel)

Do you use Cetaphil?
There's a new printable coupon for it!
Just print it out, and use it at Super-Pharm, New-Pharm, or private pharmacies.

Coupon! (Israel)

Right now, sign up for a coupon (it will come in the mail) for 25% off your purchase of Danacol Yogurts!

Whole Wheat (or other grain) and Flaxseed Crackers (vegan)

I haven't been buying crackers. My cracker standards are high, meaning I expect a good cracker to be all natural, made of whole grains, and free of trans-fats. I can't find any affordable crackers that meet these requirements. I had been bending the requirements for a while, but lately I decided it just wasn't a good decision. Expensive AND unhealthy.

So I stopped buying crackers.

And the complaints haven't stopped. I didn't realize just how often my boys were eating crackers dipped in or shmeared with something.

I had to fix the problem, just because I was sick of hearing, "there's nothing to snack on!"
I don't want to hear it anymore...

So we tried making homemade pretzels. Delicious! But a lot of work. Too much for me, in fact.

The cracker requests haven't stopped, but I was intimidated by all the cracker recipes I found. It seemed they had to be unhealthy and a lot of work in order to taste good. And then, I discovered this recipe, that made it sound like healthy crackers could be easy!

So of course I changed the recipe a bit, as I can't get whole wheat pastry flour here. And it seemed like it was missing something. And I wanted to cut back on the oil... In other words, I totally changed the recipe!

Here's what we did:

2 cups stoneground whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup water
somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 cup olive oil

Mix well, but not for a long time. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough out thinly to cover (I made 2 pans with this recipe) baking sheet and cut into squares/whatever shape you want with a knife. Bake at 190 C for about 12-15 min.
My oven baked them slightly unevenly. Oops

But they were delicious. We'll be making more!
Tip: You can use other kinds of flour, they work really well with spelt flour, or with a mix of various grain flours together! Find your favorite and let me know what you do!

Shared with the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop on June 5, 2012

Printable Coupon! (Israel)

Mega stores are offering lots of printable coupons for You card holders!
Just sign up and they'll email you a printable document, full of coupons!
Just look before you print - you'll waste a lot of ink if you don't end up using them.
Valid thru 16.6.2012.
Sorry, no rainchecks, as far as I can tell!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kosher Cooking Carnival coming up!

I'm happy to announce that I'll be hosting the upcoming Kosher Cooking Blog Carnival!

I'm really looking forward to seeing all sorts of new-to-me blogs, and finding out about all things Kosher Cooking Related!

The Carnival is scheduled for Rosh Chodesh Tammuz (June 20th), so please submit your posts soon!

You can submit your posts thru the widget below, clicking here or email:


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Meal Plan for the week

I ran into all sorts of issues last week, since there was plenty of food  in the house, but nothing ready to eat, and I had no cooking plan.

So if I plan well this week, hopefully we won't get stuck.

This plan is only a supper plan, and I am making it assuming that I won't be doing any grocery shopping until Thursday. So I'm just working with whatever is left in the house from the humungous grocery shopping 2 weeks ago and a quick run to Mega to get a couple of odds and ends (including tons of carrots) .

Breakfasts will be oatmeal if the kids don't kvetch that it's too hot, muffins, or ??
Lunches will be bagels/sandwiches (assuming I bake some bread as I plan), and supper leftovers


Sunday: we'll stretch the Shabbat leftovers and add some sliced tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers, and we'll see what else.
Monday: Whole wheat-oatmeal-flaxseed dinner rolls, red lentil sloppy sams, raw carrot sticks
Tuesday: Pasta and cheese with broccoli (broccoli is in my freezer from a sale a while back), roasted kishuim, sliced kohlrabi and carrots
Wednesday: Rice, lentil "meatballs" with sweet and sour sauce, roasted carrots
Thursday: Pizza, salad, homemade french fries (the baked version)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Grocery Shopping

Looking for a good deal on eggs?
Till Wed., get a 30 count tray of eggs for 20 NIS at Kimat Chinam stores!
There are other deals to be had as well...

Blogger is not letting me upload any pictures to this blog, though.

There are 2 NIS/kg produce deals - on watermelon, onions, cabbage, beets, and carrots.
Canola oil/Sunflower oil 3/20 NIS (bottle sizes may vary)
Rice 4 kg/10 NIS

And more...

Happy Bargain Hunting!

Shabbat Menu planning

I must write down what I'm making for Shabbat!

Keeping it simple:

Challot from the freezer
My kids' favorite Asian style vegetable soup with noodles
Some sort of roasted chicken
Spicy Roast Potatoes
Kohlrabi, Cucumbers, Carrots, and Tomatoes
Cholent for lunch

Seudah Shlishit will be PB&J, whatever fruits and veggies we scrounge up

I'll make a chocolate cake, and banana muffins

Now I hope that is not too much, as I have other things to take care of tomorrow. Not to mention a sick little boy. And a little girl who had fever tonight. Hoping for a very quick recovery. Sick 4 yr olds don't usually let me get ANYTHING done...