Thursday, October 30, 2014

Shabbat menu!

This week's Shabbat menu is here!

We're out for lunch, and this is the first short Shabbat of the season. I'm hoping Friday doesn't turn into a crazy day, but it obviously will. My kids have things to do - and that means I need to go with them - and I forgot to buy milk today, so I will have to brave a store tomorrow for that as well!

Here's the plan (so glad I got a LOT of cheap vegetables this week, I really had plenty of options to consider!), assuming I manage to get the cooking done. I was going to cook most of it tonight, but I got thrown a wrench and haven't gotten much done...

Fresh challot
Vegetable soup
Chicken with rice
plain rice for the vegetarian
Potato Kugel
Carrot Kugel
Roasted Cauliflower
Make your own salad

Bringing with us for lunch: 
Vegetable kugel
Potato Kugel

Also making: 
Banana-Coconut Chocolate Chip Cake
Apple muffins

Can you wait to fill up you car?

Gas prices are going down on Saturday nite at midnight!

According to Calcalist, the new maximum price will be 7.05/liter for self service, and 7.24/liter for full service.

Prices in Eilat are much lower - 5.98/liter for self service and 6.14/liter for full service.

This is an improvement over what had been, but we still have a long way to go before filling up the car doesn't really hurt so much!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dishwasher Detergent Substitute!

I was running low on dishwasher detergent.

Normally, I use Ecover Dishwashing Tablets (I buy them locally when there's a sale, or I order them from iherb when there's a sale), and I'm generally pleased with them. But it works out to something around a shekel per tablet even with a sale.

So I decided that maybe I could cut back the cost.

I experimented a little, and now I use 1/2 a tablet per load, and it really works just as well as a whole tablet. In fact, I think it may work better!

Overall, I was really pleased with this discovery. It allows me to buy less detergent and use up fewer of those little plastic wrapped tablets. (Each one is individually wrapped, which irks me, since Ecover is supposed to be an environmentally friendly company. I'm not sure it makes sense to wrap them like this from an ecological viewpoint, but I digress...)

But now I was running low, as I didn't stock up enough the last time there was a sale. So, it became experiment time again!

I tried all sorts of combinations - baking soda, citric acid, regular dishwashing detergent (only a drop), washing soda, etc. In the end, I have found a formula that works just about as well in my dishwasher as the Ecover half-tablets do!

I'm so happy to report that all I have to do is put a small amount of 2 ingredients in my dishwasher detergent container and we are good to go!

Yes - I just used baking soda and a bit of fruit and vegetable cleaner! The one I last bought has a spray bottle and I just spray two little spurts on top of 2 tablespoons (give or take) of baking soda. Really simple and I don't have to measure carefully! And best of all, it so simple and it WORKED!

Have you ever found a successful hack for a common household cleaner you were out of?
I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cellphone buying

I've been looking into replacing my phone with something sort of like a smartphone, but I haven't jumped on that bandwagon just yet.

But I thought I would share some of my research with you.

#1. Phone in Israel are way overpriced

#2. Second hand cellphones are risky, they often don't work right, or have little battery life, etc

#3. People have been buying no name phones from Aliexpress and having them shipped here via regular mail, and paying just a fraction of the local price for similar phones!


 I don't know if I'll actually buy something right now, but I'd love to hear if any of you decide to order a new phone. Please tell me the best deal you've found!

*this post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vegan Black Bean Crumbles (Ground Beef Substitute) or "meatballs"

I used to buy the soy-based ground "meat" substitute to make all sorts of things - and one of my favorites was a pasta sauce that we could top with cheese.

I stopped buying that stuff for a number of reasons, but today I wanted to make that "meaty" tomato sauce.

So here's what I did:

2 cups cooked black beans, drained
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
salt, pepper, dried parsley flakes to taste

Heat olive oil in a frying pan, and saute onion, red pepper and garlic, till fragrant and beginning to brown.

Combine all ingredients in food processor bowl, and pulse till you have a relatively smooth paste (you can do this in a mixing bowl with an immersion blender if you don't have a food processor).

Spray olive oil on an 8" baking pan, then spread black bean mixture in the pan.

Bake for 25 min at 200C (about 425F)

Allow to cool. When cool, crumble the mixture into tomato sauce, heat, and serve over pasta or rice. This can be used to make a taco filling or sloppy joes too. It's really versatile!

Note: You can also shape these into "meatballs" or patties for "burgers". Just shape them and place them on a cookie tray (greased or lined) and bake at 200 C for about 15-20 min, but watch them to be sure your oven isn't faster than mine!

I'll try to take a picture next time I make this! I didn't have the camera handy today, sorry.

UPDATE: Here's a picture of this recipe, made as meatballs:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Menu for the week!

Now that the Chagim - Holidays - are behind us, it's time to get back to a normal schedule.

So, first things first, I need to plan my menu for the week, because for some reason, we all get cranky when we don't eat. And Thank G-d my house is more-or-less well stocked with the essentials!

So here's the plan for suppers this week, although veggies are mostly still an unknown, since I need to replenish soon:

Sunday night: Garlic bread, Pasta?, and a big salad

Monday night: Grilled Cheese sandwiches and Tomato Soup with rice

Tuesday night: Red Lentil Soup, Scrambled eggs, Stuffed Baked potatoes

Wednesday night: Black Bean "meatballs" with sweet and sour sauce, Brown Rice, veggies (?) 

Thursday night: Homemade Pizza, salad, and french fries (not so healthy, sorry)

What's your menu for the week look like?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sug Bet Rack Today

Today, as I walked past the makolet, I decided to check the sug bet rack again. The last week or so it has not been so great, and today i was greeted by truly rotten pumpkins and eggplants (such overwhelmingly rotten pumpkins, I nearly left). 

But I decided to look further, and here is what I found that was worthwhile for me!
I skipped the turnips, my family will NOT touch them (I don't really blame them).

But here's what I got for 11.60NIS:

kishuim (summer squash)
white cabbage
purple cabbage
an interesting looking citrus fruit
1 bunch of herbs (looks like parsley)

These sug bet rack purchases are really hit or miss! So glad today was a hit!
Please share your favorite finds!

Cooking for chag

It's that time of year, when every week there is a special Jewish holiday, requiring lots of food preparation. Not to mention the other preparations of getting a lulav/etrog set (or 3!), and building a sukkah! And decorating a sukkah, which requires lots of patience and creativity...

I'll try to post about our decorations later, but for now, I will write about my food prep plan.

I'm cooking today for my sukkah building crew plus a family with a new baby.

Chag is us plus some guests.


Garlic Foccacia Breads (making it the Quick Bread way
Pasta two ways (with tomato sauce, veggies, and cheese, and with macaroni and cheese style) 
cut veggies - we have cucumbers, carrots, kohlrabi, peppers... 

Planning to make enough to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow too. (Just how many bags of pasta do I need to have enough for a total of 18 people...?)

For Chag:

Vegetable Soup
Vegetarian Chopped Liver
Roast chicken with rice
Tofu lo mein for the vegetarian
Potato Kugel 
Apple Crisp
Salads (whatever I manage to pull together)
Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'd love to hear how all of your holiday preparations are going!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Save if you need to fill up your car!

TEN gas stations is running an October special now!

Mondays from 6a.m. to 10p.m., you can fill up your car for 6.99 NIS/liter, but not in all their stations.

This deal is available at the following locations:

Hadera, Beer Sheva, Rishon, Beer Tuvia, Nesher, and Yavne

Hope this helps some of you!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pre-Fast Menu

Here's what we're having for our pre-fast meal!
I always have a huge debate about what to serve for the pre-fast meal. This year we're going with Shabbat food because Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat.

Whole Wheat Challah Rolls
Split Pea Soup
Chicken (not sure what kind, seems likely it will be whatever I find in the freezer )
Steamed Broccoli (found a bag of broccoli in the back of the freezer, may as well use it!)

For our post-fast meal, we'll be a little less formal.

We'll start with some juice and fruit, maybe the honey cake.
Then we'll have the leftover soup, and if anyone wants a sandwich or some pasta, that will be available too.

Wishing everyone an easy fast, and a gmar chatimah tovah.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Egg-free Honey Cake for a Crowd!

I decided to try out baking a large batch of honey cake, as I was taking one to an event and then another to another event the next day.

It worked out really well, even though some people say making large batches of cake isn't the best idea.

WARNING: this cake is not exactly healthy, and not exactly frugal either. But it certainly is festive and appropriate for the season, so I figured I'd share!


Honey Cake for a Crowd, Egg-free
makes 2 9"X12" pans

4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1.5 cups hot water
1/2 cup oil (I used this palm oil, but you can use any oil you like - neutral flavors work best)
2 cups honey
2 cups demerara sugar, or other dark sugar
1.5 cups warm (not hot) coffee (can be decaf!)
2 tablespoons orange juice
4 cups whole wheat flour (this recipe works fine with white flour, I just don't keep any in the house and I like to pretend my cakes are healthy)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
dash of ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Note: if you are mixing this by hand, you'll need two bowls. If you are using a mixer, one bowl is fine!

Mix together flaxseed and hot water and oil, and let sit for 10 minutes
Add the other liquid ingredients to the flaxseed mixture.
If using two bowls, combine all the dry ingredients in the second bowl, and make a well in the center.
Slowly add liquids to the dry ingredients, and mix very well to combine.
Pour into two 9"X12" baking pans
Bake at 180C for 1 hr, 15 min.
Allow to cool completely before covering tightly, it is best served the next day. 

Wishing you all a Gmar Chatimah Tovah!