Come on Over!

March 2, 2014 § 1 Comment

I am not sure if all my aricooks subscribers have been getting the feed from my new bog The Dreamy Day. If you have had any problems signing up for e-mail updates, please let me know so I can work out the kinks.

Thanks, and here are a few of the posts I’ve been sharing lately:

הירמוך 28

שפת אמת

With 

Blue Jasmine, among others 

See you there

February 1, 2014 § 3 Comments

Yafo, 2011

Yafo, 2011

Hey All,

We are on the cusp of another major transition: In five months we will be moving back Stateside. Where exactly is still undecided (oh, how I love the suspense) but there are many preparations underway and not a small amount of apprehension, excitement and anxiety. Meanwhile, the time has come to say goodbye to new posts on Ari Cooks! I am not taking down the blog as it definitely still draws activity and is very useful to me as a reference (I will still be moderating comments here as well), but after 4+ years of blogging here I am ready to change the tone and focus of my writing just a bit.

I hope you will visit my new blog, The Dreamy Day where there will still be recipes, but also posts about life, motherhood, Israeli-Americaness and certainly our adventures in our new Home-to-be.

Thank you all for reading, commenting, and encouraging my blogging-efforts!

Lots of Love, Ari

The Absurdity

December 25, 2013 § 3 Comments

My big girl in the aftermath of the recent Jerusalem snowstorm

My big girl in the aftermath of the recent Jerusalem snowstorm

Every day is an adventure

The days are long but the years are short

Parenthood is the hardest job you will ever do

Enjoy them while they are young, because they will hate you later

These are things that I hear, as well as say (with the exception of the last one)  to parents of young children who, like me, are in the throes of a very trying time that they will somehow later look back on with nostalgia, affection, and even longing. It’s not pretty when you’re in it, in fact sometimes it’s quite the shitshow, but our human brains continue to mystify in their ability to remember things ever-so-selectively. Right now, I am in the trenches. Our little baby, who just weeks ago amazed all of our friends with her easy-going and adorable demeanor, is in full-teething mode and my older daughter is going through some kind of emotional somethingorother, most likely related to being a new big sister.

During moments of hopeful clarity, I think that I will figure out how to organize my non-existent free time better, so that we can still eat a varied menu full of things that my older daughter will be willing to try and that will not feel like ‘kid-food’ to my husband and me. The joke’s on me, since it’s usually all I can do to eat anything at all besides rice cakes dipped into the peanut butter jar and bowls of granola doused in rice milk. Yeasted saffron-butter cakes and persian rice pilafs continue to taunt me in my facebook newsfeed, along with my food-blogger friends’ instagram pictures of noodle hot pots in New York City and stuffed savory pastries for breakfast in Istanbul.

Someday.

Right now  I am not [too] ashamed to say that we eat a lot of pasta and tomato sauce, which I do manage to make with tomatoes I buy at the shuk on Sunday or Monday- the best days to get cooking tomatoes leftover from the pre-Shabbat shopping rush. We also eat tofu, tofu and more tofu, lightly sauteed or baked in a combo of soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and olive oil. Endless omelettes (I am going to brag here– I make a really good egg, folks), and sometimes vegetable soup, if we are getting really fancy.

Happy depths-of-winter to you all, with love and a little madness, from Nachlaot, Jerusalem, Israel.

What happens next

November 27, 2013 § 2 Comments

I remember last Channuka well. My friend Sharon Kitchens asked me to submit a few paragraphs about the holiday for her blog, based out of Maine, to give readers a feel for the winter season here in Israel. Mustering all the positive feelings I could regarding the cold and rain that had recently befallen us, I wrote what I hoped was a cozy little piece , that more or less summed up the ambiance ’round the festival of lights in my neck of the woods.

This year, with Channuka arriving a bit early (coinciding with Thanksgiving) and with the weather today upwards of 80°F, the holiday took me a bit by surprise. For the first time in years, we did not greet the first candle with potato latkes (though I did make these earlier in the week) and tomorrow we will be eating pumpkin pie rather than jelly doughnuts.
I won’t pretend to be such an Israeli that I don’t feel twinges of nostalgia and longing for the sharp sun and crisp air of New England’s November days, but since this is our last Channuka in Israel for the foreseeable future, I feel it less than I have in past years.
This year is all about the ‘last this and that’, as we are obligated to return to North America in July so that Jeff can fulfill his teaching commitment for his educator’s/master’s program. Honestly, though I am trying very hard to live in the moment (and our moments are full of wonderful friends, meals, the colors of the shuk, Jerusalem at sunset…) it is extremely difficult not to wonder what next year will be like. I am already heartsick for this place and for the life we have built here, even as I struggle through mundane tasks (laundry, school pick-ups, list-making, etc). Additionally, we are different people than we were when we returned to Israel in 2010 and I am anticipating a pretty intense re-integration into American life.
With all that in mind, I hope to spend a little more time between now and July documenting our [food] life here on my blog. Each place we’ve lived has shaped me as a cook and shaped our family’s eating-style in a unique way, and none more than our time in Nachlaot. The DIY culture of this neighborhood (and of Israeli society in general) as well as the incredibly rich cultural influences around us every day, help me keep in mind why I’ve always been so drawn to the kitchen and to food as the great connector, comforter, and equalizer.
Happy Channuka to All!
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What’s Been Cookin’

September 11, 2013 § 2 Comments

Hi there.

Here’s what’s been cooking at the casa de Amshalem

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That there is Alma Sarah at 3 weeks or so- She is now 7 weeks old and an adorably chunky 12+ pounds.

Amazingly, I have still been finding time to cook, bake and sew, although some days I feel burnt out from trying to be productive in the free moments. Nevertheless, I will say that mothering a baby is a thousand times easier the second time around, without all the new-mom anxieties and uncertainties. Also, knock on wood, Alma is an wonderfully happy baby, who has been fairly calm and content since the moment she entered the world.

Late pregnancy and the time that follows are not a time to experiment with new recipes, so we’ve been relying on some comforting, not-too-complex recipes of late. Other than my usual granola, tomato sauce & moussaka, carrot muffins, and challah, we’ve also been eating the following dishes quite a bit:

Zucchini Pashtida (quiche-meets-fritatta)

Spelt Honey Bread

Jerusalem Kugel (I like Liz’s recipe, but add the noodles INTO the caramelized sugar, instead of the other way around- I find that there is less caramel-clumps that way.)

Vegetable Tagine 

 

I wish you all a Shana Tova and happy Fall! And as always, I love to chat about food/cooking/recipes, so feel free to contact me with questions about the above recipes, or anything you’ve been cooking!

 

The rest

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

Loquat (shesek) tree hangs over our balcony

It’s May in Jerusalem and nothing could be more delightful. The days are warm, the evenings are breezy, and our loquat tree is bursting with fruit. The old ladies that wander the shuk with their backyard-offerings are selling a variety of basil that lasts for weeks in a glass of water set out on our table (it even starts to root), and smells amazing. My fruit and vegetable guy had organic lettuce this week, grown by his teenage neighbor, and bright, sweet cherries, also grown without pesticides. I know that the heavy, sticky heat is imminent and I am enjoying every second of this season.

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I’ve been making a pitcher of my favorite iced tea every few days, which is basically just a fruity tea mix with berries, apples and hibiscus, sometimes mixed with a little white or mild green tea, steeped in a litre of just-boiled water for a few minutes, cooled, chilled and served over ice. Sometimes I mix it with bought or homemade lemonade and sprigs of fresh mint and verbena.

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And after our five week stay in Boston this winter reminded ever more how lucky I am to have access to cheap lemons (80 cents a piece at the markets in Boston!!) I have been also been using them in everything from salad dressing, to dips, to this lovely tea cake adapted from The New York Times Cookbook:

Simple Lemon Cake

1.5 cups flour – I used 50-50 white and whole wheat (you could also use part spelt)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 lb butter (~125 grams)

2 large eggs, at room temp

3/4 cup sugar

6 Tbs milk

2-3 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice

2-3 Tbs lemon zest

tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F/180C, grease and flour a loaf pan (English cake pan)

Add a little of the lemon juice to the milk to curdle it.

Sift flours, baking soda, powder and salt together in a bowl, set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, and then beat in lemon zest and vanilla.

Alternately beat in flour mixture and liquids. Beginning with flour, then adding a bit of the milk and lemon juice etc, ending with flour. Do not overmix.

Spread batter into loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes on the center oven rack.

Happy Spring, listen to this if you haven’t yet (or even if you have).

Mirroring

January 11, 2013 § 3 Comments

I know it is the tendency of every parent to see elements of themselves in their children. I certainly expected that my child would be like me, both physically and otherwise. But on the days when Auralee is so much like me that I feel as though I am looking in the mirror or hearing a voice recording of myself, I feel a unique mix of utter delight and paralyzing terror. My daughter – as nearly everyone who knows us well, points out – is not “like me”, she is me, only small. She makes the same sarcastic/silly/surprised faces I make, we have the same sense of humor (which is not saying something particularly flattering or sophisticated about me, sharing my sense of humor with a 5 year-old), and we both get ridiculously silly and hyper right before bedtime. We both love goat cheese, and ginger cookies and watching youtube videos of Swan Lake and baby animals doing funny things. We both stomp. A lot. And feel a great sense of injustice over the denial of our basic desires, like having a cat or being able to teleport ourselves to Boston whenever we want. And like me, Auralee excels at creative endeavors, such as arranging my cookie cutters and pastry equipment to resemble a city or a forest, and drawing pictures of flowers, houses, animals and trees.

The joy in this is seeing the funny, quirky, whimsical parts of myself, embodied in an adorable person , while the terror comes from knowing that there is often an inevitable and drastic mood change lurking beyond the next moment. Seeing my own perfectionism, controlling tendencies, and inconsistent (and sometimes, volatile) reactions to basic, every day  life tasks, makes me worry and fear for this little-me, and for the future of our relationship. These are normal, parental feelings and I know that I follow in the footsteps of millions of mothers before me, but no amount of that knowing, or of watching others, can better inform my relationship with Auralee, beyond the simple fact that I am not alone.

In conclusion, there is no conclusion. Just the patient, wonderful, difficult, maddening, amazing process of building a relationship with my daughter (and by extension, myself). And all the learning and failing and sometimes succeeding.

And with the cold weather, and unusually terrible rain, sleet and wind, Auralee and I are spending many hours in close quarters, tucked into our little living room, which we have curtained off from the rest of the drafty apartment. Huddled close to the space heater, we tell stories, draw, play Candy Land, and watch endless episodes of her favorite show, Redwall. When I do leave our blanket pile, it is to turn on the oven, or the stove, and cook or bake. And since there is only so much soup a person can eat (though many of my friends have tried to convince me that endless cups of soup are bound to improve my mood this winter), I am posting a recipe for a black bean quinoa dish that is laughably simple, but very tasty, and a baked tofu recipe with honey mustard sauce. Enjoy!

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Ari’s Black Bean Quinoa

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1.5 cups cooked (or canned) black beans

3 Tbs chopped chives

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 small cucumber, finely chopped

3-4 Tbs red wine vinegar

olive oil

salt and pepper

chili flakes (optional)

Rinse quinoa very well (it has a bitter coating on it that must be washed off) and put in a pot with 2 cups water, a little olive oil and salt. Bring to boil, then simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed ~15 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix quinoa, black beans, chives, cucumbers and cilantro. Whisk red wine vinegar and olive oil together with salt and pepper and chili flakes. Pour over quinoa and mix. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed. Serve warm!

Baked Tofu with honey mustard sauce

Tofu, sliced into thin rectangles, enough to cover the bottom of a 9-inch square pan (or you can double the recipe and use a lasagna-size pan)

2-3 Tbs mustard (not grainy)

Tbs honey/sugar/agave

tamari or soy sauce as needed

water/sesame oil

Whisk together mustard and honey and add enough soy sauce to make it into a dressing-like consistency. Taste, and if it is too salty, or no thick enough to pour over tofu add a little water or same oil.

Bake at 375°F/180°C for 20-25 minutes, until the tofu has absorbed the sauce and is a bit brown.

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