Tuesday, December 30, 2014

14% off at IWooT!

sponsored post


2014 is ending, and IWoot's got a 14% off coupon code for you!

Check out their unique collection of products! They have some really great gift ideas! And affordable international shipping, which always makes me happy.

To get your 14% off the whole site, be sure to use code END2014
Code valid until midnight 31st December

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Culinary Tour with Susie Fishbein!

sponsored post

click to register
I just heard about the second annual Susie Fishbein Culinary Tour to Israel, and it sounds like a really wonderful opportunity for everyone I can think of!

If you love foods of the world and local culture while traveling, this is the trip for you to take to Israel this winter!

This trip with Susie Fishbein will take place from Feb 12-19, 2015, and the itinerary is packed with hand-picked experiences, including a halva workshop, wine tastings, shuk tours, humus workshop, goat cheese workshop, sessions with top chefs, and so much more! Please check out the full itinerary - it's truly impressive!

The trip is fully kosher, but is open to everyone. The main point is to bring together a group of people who love good, local food on this amazing trip!

If you plan to join, please be sure to include "kosherfrugal.com" in the space provided on your registration form. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Did you know that SOMETIMES an Israeli car rental agent can actually get you a decent deal on a car rental overseas?

So if you're traveling, why not check out a "blue and white" car rental agency and see how they compare?

It's worth a try! Please let me know if this works out well for you!

*this post contains affiliate links

Shimrit brand yeast recall

Recall Alert: "Shimrit" brand yeast packets

The affected product is 50g packets of fresh yeast granules, and packets of fresh yeast granules sold together with a dough conditioner

Use by dates of the recalled packets are: 26/12/2014, 29/12/2014, 30/12/2014, 1/01/2015, 2/02/2015, and 3/01/2015

The recalled products have an off smell, and consumers are requested to err on the side of caution and NOT use them.

The company is removing the products from store shelves.

Anyone who has already bought either of these products with the above dates stamped on them is asked to call the company at 1-800-263-888 to arrange for a replacement.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Thinking of a Tami 4 water bar?

Click this picture for more details!

Thinking of getting a Tami 4 for your family?
Check out their sale! 
As you know, sometimes you may want to splurge, but it's always better to find a sale!

*this post contains affiliate links

Cinnamon & Nut Coffee Cake

Ok, you know who you are.
YOU asked for this recipe.

I thought I'd posted it before but I cannot find it on my blog, so I guess I hadn't.

So here it is!
(This is the cake that FLEW at the kiddush, by the way, and also the one that got people to ask me if they could order cakes for Shabbat from me.)
I have no pictures because it was so crazy here and I forgot to take a picture before Shabbat!

Makes one 9 x 13 inch baking pan, or 2-3 loaf pans

2 eggs (or 4 tablespoons flaxseed mixed with 1/2 cup hot water, allowed to cool for 10 min)
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk OR water + 1 tsp vinegar (I made it with water and vinegar)
3 1/3 cups flour (I mixed white and whole wheat)
pinch of salt
3 tsp baking powder

150g walnuts, crushed coarsley
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

mix together eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, and milk/water-vinegar mixture. Combine flour with salt and baking powder. Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Mix well to combine.

Pour half the batter into 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Sprinkle half the nut/cinnamon/sugar mixture over batter. Cover with remaining batter. Cover the top of cake with remaining nut/cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Bake for about 1 hour at 175 C (check with toothpick to make sure it's done)

Allow to cool before cutting.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Black Bean Cholent (vegan)

A lot of you have asked how I make my black bean cholent.

I hope not to disappoint you, in case this wasn't clear to you, this is a vegetarian/vegan cholent.

It's quite tasty, but if you were hoping for beef, you won't find it here. I think the last time I ate beef I was about 20 or 21 years old (nope, not saying what year that was, use your imagination)!

If you're looking for a Gluten Free Vegan Cholent, click here!

Here's what I do:

1-2 large onions, chopped coarsely
6 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 medium sized potatoes, cut into chunks
500g whole grain barley (not pearl barley), soaked in cold water overnight
2 cups black beans, already soaked (overnight) and drained, can also use 2 cups cooked black beans
spices: salt (1 tablespoon or so), black pepper (1/2 tsp or more), cayenne pepper (a pinch or 2), smoked paprika (2 tablespoons) - be generous with the seasonings! If cayenne is too hot for you - you can safely leave it out.
water to fill the pot

Place everything in the crock pot and let the pot do its magic!

Just before Shabbat starts, I add frozen vegan kishke to the pot. This is the perfect Shabbat morning cholent accompaniment! 

Barley and Black Beans waiting on my pantry shelf

Shabbat Menu!

It's that time again, when I try to come up with my Shabbat menu, and then I fall back on all my old stand-bys (my family isn't feeling adventurous these days).

So I made sure to have the basics in the house - but I don't have much for a green or Israeli salad yet. I assume I can rectify that situation soon.

So here's the plan:

Friday night: Us plus several guests

Whole Wheat and Oat Bran Challot
Vegetable Soup
Salads: Purple cabbage salad, roasted eggplant and peppers, lentil salad with persimmons and craisins, (and hopefully green salad with honey-cinnamon oranges or an Israeli salad)
Spicy Roast chicken
Potato Kugel
Butternut Squash (not sure yet what recipe)
Black Bean "meatballs" with sweet and sour sauce (for the vegetarian)
Apple Crisp

Dessert will be chocolate cake and tea

Shabbat lunch:

Black bean cholent
Baked shnitzel
Potato Kugel

Now that I know what I have to make, I really ought to get to work. So far all I've done is put the black beans up to soak and pull some chicken out of the freezer to defrost. 

I think it's going to be a long night ahead of me.
What about you?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Promotion: Chanukah Q&A from Mi Yodeya

Hi, it's Ester's son again. I must have had so much fun writing this other post that i came back for another. :)

Over the past year, i've been active in the online community Mi Yodeya. Mi Yodeya (MY for short) is part of the Stack Exchange Q&A network. MY is Q&A about Judaism. It's totally free, anyone can come in and ask or answer.

For this Chanukah, some of Mi Yodeya's active users decided to put together a treat for you (everyone) -- a special Q&A booklet with Chanukah questions -- real questions, from real people, shared on MY.

Click this picture to get to the download!

It has 8 two-sided pages, one for each night of Chanukah. You can print it out, or read it digitally. We've included something for everyone in there, so that it can be enjoyed by little children and learned rabbis, each on their own level.

By now, you must be desperate to find out where you can get it. So, you can click on the picture above, or type in the short link or CLICK s.tk/miyodeya to go right to it. It's a quick dowload.

And of course, don't forget to check out Mi Yodeya itself for even more Judaism Q&A! Short link: mi.yodeya.com

profile for Scimonster at Mi Yodeya, Q&A for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more
^ My user profile

Monday, December 8, 2014

Menu for the week

Here's my thrown-together menu for the week, based loosely on staples I know I have in the house. I'm going to have to assume I can manage to get some decently priced fruits and vegetables Monday or Tuesday...

Breakfast will be oatmeal, toast, whatever
Lunches will be sandwiches or leftovers from the previous night.

Here are the Suppers:

Sunday: Fresh Whole Wheat Dinner rolls, Black Bean and Tomato Soup, Scrambled eggs, Cut veggies

Monday: Embellished Shabbat Leftovers

Tuesday: Split Pea Soup, Baked Ziti, Cut veggies

Wednesday: Tomato-Rice Soup, Lentil Patties on fresh rolls, veggies

Thursday: Soup? Oven fries, tuna patties? really not sure about this meal, actually! (feel free to share ideas!)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

IWOOT - sneak preview sale!

Looking for a great gift, or special item for yourself?

IWOOT is such a fun place to look!

Haven't checked it out yet? Well, you are in luck, because right now there is a GREAT Preview Sale going on - IWOOT is having Black Friday Part II "declining sale" tomorrow, (the % discount will decrease throughout the day!) and instead of waiting, you can get 20% off right now, at the sneak preview sale!

Make sure to use code PREDECLINE

Valid from 6pm 4th December – 6am 5th December (Times are London Time, I believe)

this post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Evaluating My Overseas Shopping Habit

Now that the dollar - shekel exchange rate has gone all the way up again (it's about 3.9 today, you can check the current rate on XE or The Bank of Israel) it's time for me to re-evaluate my strategy of ordering certain items from overseas.

Not only is the dollar exchange rate prompting me to do this, but iHerb's announcement of higher international shipping rates REALLY made me think. (They have instituted weight based shipping rates, but give 50% off shipping for orders of $20+, now. Here are the new shipping rates for international orders: Up to 1 pound = $4.45; from 1 pound to 2 pounds = $8.90; from 2 pounds to 3 pounds = $13.35; from 3 pounds to 4 pounds = $17.80)

So let's take a look at some products I know people buy from abroad but have started to become more available here.

Product                        iHerb price             Vitacost Price               Local Price

Coconut Sugar (454g)   $5.09/19.97nis        $4.99/19.58nis            19.90 - for 500g

Coconut Oil (946ml)      $14.35/56.30nis      $17.89/70.18nis          74.90 - for 1liter

Pink Salt (909g)             $9.96/39.08nis        $9.79/38.40nis           32.50 for 1kg

Grey Sea Salt (454g)       $4.48/17.58nis        $5.00/19.62               12.90 for 1kg!

Maple Syrup (946ml)        $24.98/98.04          $22.19/87.09              98.70 for 1080ml

Vitamin B12 (250-1000mcg) $20.60/80.76nis     $20.60/80.76             75.40 for 240   

I could go on all night comparing products like this, but I think you can see a pattern here. Now that the exchange rate is so much higher than it had been, ordering from abroad may not be saving us money. The prices listed above do not even take shipping charges into account!

Of course, there will always be that special item you just cannot get here. And for those, I am grateful for international shipping! But I for, one, will likely be waiting for a LOT fewer packages to arrive, at least for right now. (But I will still order my fragrance free shampoo, I don't have any other way to get it!)

Although if I am going to be realistic, now that I’ve discovered AliExpress.com, I don’t know if I really will be waiting for fewer packages overall!

If you STILL want to order from iHerb or Vitacost, go ahead! And be sure to take advantage of iHerb's first time customer discount, and sign up for $10 off your first order at Vitacost, too!

this post contains affiliate links

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Menu for the Week

It's that time of the week again - you know, when I realize that if I don't plan out certain things, we'll just get STUCK!

Among all the other things requiring my attention is our menu planning.

So here' what we're having this week:

Breakfasts: muffins, oatmeal, toast, cereal, fruit

Lunches: Soups, sandwiches, random leftovers

Suppers: Sunday: Shabbat leftovers
Monday: Vegetable-Barley Soup, Fresh whole wheat dinner rolls with butter
Tuesday: Split Pea Soup, ??
Wednesday: Baked Ziti, Salad
Thursday: Spicy Potatoes, Scrambled Eggs, Salad

Of course, this menu is subject to change according to my mood!

What's your menu for the week look like?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Save $ with Educents!

Do you buy curriculum or learning supplements for your children, grandchildren, or even your students?

Have you checked out Educents yet?

It's a great way to buy discounted curriculum and educational supplies in small quantities at great discounts!

And right now, you can use code Educents10Free to get an EXTRA 10% off + FREE Shipping on all orders (no minimum purchase required)! This is on top of the already AMAZING savings that are built into all of the Educents deals!

So don't wait, because these deals are going to end at 11:59PM PST on 12/1/14

(Some products only ship within the US, but some deals are for online programs or downloadable materials, which are usually available anywhere in the world!)

this post contains affiliate links 

Crock Pot Lentil Soup (Vegan)

This Shabbat I decided NOT to make my usual cholent.

Instead, I made this Crock Pot Lentil Soup which was a really great way for us to warm up at lunch! And it was so simple to make!

And, since we were just 3 for lunch, we have plenty of leftover soup for Melave Malka after Shabbat!

Here's the recipe:

Crock Pot Lentil Soup

1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small potato, diced
1 cup whole barley grains, soaked if possible, drained, and rinsed
500g whole red lentils, picked over and rinsed
water to fill the pot
salt and pepper to taste

Fill Crock-Pot with all the above ingredients. Cook on high for a couple of hours, then switch to low till lunchtime, or at least 5 more hours (although my low setting is not working well - it's TOO low, so I left it on high and it was perfect for lunch!)
Note: My crock pot is a 6 or 6.5L crock pot, like this one:


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Electrical Appliance Cost Calculator

This calculator was updated to reflect the current rate (effective January 15, 2018)


After writing that blog post about appliances and how much electricity you can expect to be using when you run them (see the Electric Bills post), I decided to make it even easier for you to determine how much your electrical appliances are costing you when you use them , and I am SO excited to reveal the first Web App I've ever hosted on this blog!

I'm sure you'll find it really easy to use, and I really hope it helps you keep your electric bills in check!

Simply choose which appliance you want to calculate, choose how long you'll be running it, and then the app (below) will tell you how much this particular appliance is costing you to run! This app is specifically designed using the IEC's current tarriffs, including VAT (this is for people who pay the same rate 24 hrs/day, who have a residential contract with the IEC). If the IEC rates change, we will update this app! (NOTE: On January 15, 2018, the IEC lowered electricity rates. Current cost of electricity is approx 54 ag per kWh including VAT.)

So bookmark this page, and be sure to share it with anyone in Israel who will find this information useful!

Please let me know what you think!

Electrical Appliance Cost Calculator:

Choose an appliance and note its "usage unit" in parantheses after it. Choose how many units you would be using it for (for example, a fridge has day for its usage unit, a dryer has 1 load for its usage unit, and a hair dryer has 10 minutes for its usage unit), then click "calculate my cost" to find out how much that appliance costs you to run for the time you plan to run it!
If your appliance doesn't appear on this list, you can find its kilowatt rating on it somewhere. Multiply kw/H by number of hours used by the current price for a kilowatt of electricity (0.55nis) to find out how much it costs you to run it!

Select an appliance:
Number of usage units:

Range: 0.00 ₪ — 0.00(depends on your model)

About the Web App Developer:
I'm Ester's son and resident tech guy.
If you need some tech help, you can email me at scimonster1 (at) gmail (dot) com. I'm happy to work at reasonable prices.
Also, i answer questions on StackOverflow, the #1 programming Q&A site:
profile for Scimonster at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Food Recall (Israel)!

The Ministry of Health issued the following RECALL today:

Maadanei Hataleh brand Stuffed Boneless Chicken Thighs (with onions and mushrooms)

Barcode # 2410874, sold in 2 packs (frozen) with a use by date of 14.10.2015 are being recalled from store shelves because of a possible listeria contamination.

Consumers who have purchased this product are being asked NOT to eat it, and to call the company's customer service line at 08-624-6000 

Please share this recall with anyone else who may have purchased this product!

Stay up to date - find me on Facebook!

Electric Bills

It's rainy and chilly - Israeli winter - and for many of us that means this is the season we have the highest electric bills of the year!

It's darker for more hours of the day, so we use more lighting in our homes, the sun is not warming our water well (most of us have  a "dud shemesh" - a solar powered water heater - that gives us plentiful hot water when it's sunny out), so we have to use the electric water heater. We tend to eat and drink more hot foods and drinks in the winter, so we use our ovens, stoves, and kettles more often. AND we also run our various heating devices in the winter to combat the chill that seeps into our homes...

Just like you are, I'm trying to lower my electricity bill, so I decided to research a bit and see where it's all going.

I'm not doing so well this week with that, though. Just yesterday I turned on my oven and then got distracted. Then I changed my food plan, and never did the baking. About FOUR hours later (ouch!) I remembered I had turned on the oven!!

These things happen. But I'll try not to make a habit of it.

Anyhow, in an effort to figure out effective ways to bring my electric bill down, I decided to figure out how much each appliance I have costs to run.
I started with the information sheets on the Israel Electric Company Website, so I could get a general idea of the typical energy consumption of home appliances.

(This information will help you in the summer, as well, by the way, so be sure to bookmark this page!) 

Here's what the IEC lists as the typical power usage of most appliances:

Frost-Free refrigerator:  0.55 - 4.1 kWh per day

Frost Free freezer - range in size 98-479L:  0.8-2.73 kWh per day (mine is actually larger than this)

Dishwasher - range 1-2.2 kWh per cycle

Electric Burner - 0.75 kWh for 50 minutes of cooking

Oven - 1.5-2.2 kWh for normal cooking tasks

Microwave - 0.03 -0.05 kWh for 2 min of reheating

Toaster Oven - 0.12-0.45 kWh for 15 min of reheating

Shabbat Platta - 8.6-10.4 kWh per 26hr period

Space heater 0.5-3.5 kWh per hour

Wall Unit (heater/a/c)- 1-5.2 kWh per hour

Under -Floor Heating - 0.1-0.16 kWh per hour

Washing machine (4-5kg machine) 1.4-3.0 kWh per load
(mine is actually larger than this)

Dryer (4.5-5kg) 2.7-3.7 kWh per load (mine is actually larger than this)

TV - 0.04-0.15 kWh per hour of use

Stereo system - 0.03-0.15 kWh per hour of use

Vacuum cleaner - 0.13-0.2 kWh per 10 min of use

Hair Dryer - 0.06- 0.2 kWh per 10 min of use

Electric Sheets - 0.05 - 0.8 kWh per hour of use

Electric Kettle - 0.1 kWh per use

Food Processor - 0.05 - 0.2 kWh per 15 min of use

Computer - 0.11-0.15 kWh per hour of use

Iron - 0.3 kWh for 45 min on high

Fan - 0.04-0.1 kWh per hour of use

Hot Water Heaters - completely depends on the size and age and condition of your "dud", as well as the amount of insulation around it. There are far too many factors to go into here in this post.

Light bulbs - there are a wide variety of light bulbs with various energy ratings, it's too much to include every variation here. We try to use compact flourescent bulbs whenever possible to save electricity.

Once you can guesstimate how much energy a given appliance is using, you can figure out how much it costs to run it by multiplying the kWh per "unit of use" (see information above, could be 10 minutes, one hour, or a full day, or anything in between) by the number of "units of use" by the current electricity rate (the current rate is 55.29 agurot, including 17% VAT - updated January, 2017).

So, to find out how much I am spending to boil water in my electric kettle, assuming I boil water 4 times per day (in the winter we drink lots of hot drinks):

0.1 X 4 X 63.76 = 25.5 agurot per day (old electric rate)

To find out how much my dryer costs me to run per load (although I have a larger dryer than the one the IEC assumes we have, so this is going to be inaccurate for me)

3.7 X 1 X 63.76 = 2.36 NIS per load (old electric rate)

UPDATE: Please use my Handy Electrical Appliance Cost Calculator to help you figure out your appliance running costs! These estimates are based on the rate plan that most of us have - the "home" rate that doesn't vary by time of day. If you have a "smart meter" that calculates your electric costs based upon lower rates at off-peak times and higher rates at peak times, you'll have to do different calculations. It's rare for a home to have a smart meter, though.

I can use all the information here to guesstimate how much each electrical appliance I'm running costs me, and make adjustments whenever I can based upon this information. (And you can too!)

I hope this helps all of us gain a better understanding of our electricity usage, costs, and ways to lower our expenses if we want to!

For example, I know it's only a tiny amount to run my electric kettle a few times per day. BUT my kids will often EACH decide to boil water for a hot drink multiple times per day, so I started filling up a thermal caraffe for them to use during the day when I boil water in the morning. This also gives them hot drinks without having them handle a boiling hot kettle full of water (it cools off slightly in the caraffe), so it not only saves me a couple of shekels per day, but it also makes me feel a tiny bit safer.

I hope you can use this information to help you manage your electricity usage! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shabbat Menu

Time to plan my Shabbat menu! I think I need a cup of coffee and then I can do most of the work tonight.

Here's what I came up with after surveying what's in the house, since there is really no way I'll be going to a store tomorrow (do you go shopping on Friday, ever? If so, how do you make it all work?):

Fresh Whole Wheat and Oat Bran Challot

Vegetable Soup with noodles

Black Bean Cholent (for lunch)

Oven Fried Shnitzel

Potato Kugel

Spicy Roast Sweet Potatoes

Purple Cabbage Salad 

Israeli Salad

Also making Banana-Coconut Breakfast Cake, and my favorite Coffee Cake. If I don't run out of time, I might make some Chocolate Chip cookies, too. It's a long Friday night, and sometimes we need a snack besides popcorn!

At least, that's what I plan to make!

Hoping I can stay awake to cook now.
What are you making this Shabbat?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Of Tov" coupons (printable coupons - Israel)

Get some printable coupons!

Those of you who buy Of Tov products will be very happy to find these coupons today!
Please be sure to check that your supermarket is on the list of stores that honor these coupons.
Please note these coupons expire on December 31, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Special Socks, anyone?

Looking for special socks?
Look what I stumbled across - free international shipping right now!


I don't think they have super bargain prices, but they are known for quality and selection!

So if there's a special kind of sock on your shopping list, now you know where to go!

(And you know what to do about international orders and the new personal important regulations, right?
If not, be sure to check it out here!)

New Import (a.k.a. online shopping) Regulations (Israel)

my latest package from purchases made abroad - tax free!

Maybe you've heard that now we (Israelis) can import items for personal use tax-free up to $500 (the previous limit was $325). This was done to encourage Israeli consumers to shop around and help "open" the marketplace in our small country.

This is good news, but I thought it would be helpful for everyone to know what to expect when you make purchases from abroad to be shipped here.

Here's the rundown (the full regulations can be found on the Israel tax authority's site)

Purchases up to $75 - no taxes

Purchases above $75 up to $500 - no customs taxes, but VAT and Purchase Tax may apply

Purchases over $500 - subject to all taxes  

Calcalist also points out that purchases of up to $75 will be subject to customs clearance fees if they arrive using an EMS service* (about 35 shekels), and if the value of the purchase is higher, the customs clearance fee can be higher as well.

Please be aware that the purchase price only (not purchase + shipping) will determine whether an item will be taxed. Once it is found to be taxable, however, applicable taxes will be calculated on the purchase price + the shipping price.

One more important point: If you order multiple orders from the same seller and they arrive within 72 hours of each other, customs will combine the orders and treat them as one purchase for tax purposes.

Some of these regulations are different from what we'd gotten used to, so please refer back to this guide if you are about to place an order and you're not sure what to expect from the tax-man.

If you're not sure where to start shopping online, I've compiled a list of websites that offer low cost shipping to Israel! Please be sure to check it out! Let's help open Israel's marketplace and bring down our cost of living without bringing down our standard of living!

Some of my favorite websites to shop from are:

BetterWorldBooks.com ~ iHerb ~ My Habit ~ AliExpress 

Be sure to check out the whole list

*Examples of EMS services - Express Mail, Fedex, UPS and other express delivery services. Sometimes DHL is EMS and sometimes it is not.