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Fancy challah without braiding? Testing out the “dad hack”

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After however-many hundreds of years, it's not often that you come across a NEW way of making challah.

So when Seth Brandes shared his "dad hack" for making challah "without messing with braiding the dough," I passed it on earlier this week. (Why isn't anything moms do in the kitchen considered a hack?)

I also decided to try it out.  Instead of my usual portioning, balling, rolling, snaking, and braiding steps, I formed the dough into elongated ovals and got ready to go to town.

The most yummy coleslaw–even for people who hate coleslaw

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How do you feel about coleslaw???

I’ll be honest – I’ve always hated it.  I just found it bland and uninspiring.  Of course, I was used to the KFC style of coleslaw, which is essentially pureed or finely chopped-up cabbage with a ton of mayonnaise.  Just not much to get excited about there.

This one’s from Popeye’s, not KFC, but I’m sure you get the idea:

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One more complicating factor in our coleslaw lives was this:  one of our kids hates mayonnaise with a passion.  Cannot stand to be

The taste of fall: Easy homemade apple cider without a juicer!

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Here in Israel, we miss lots of the familiar tastes of the seasons, but mostly, we get by.  We adapt and learn to enjoy new flavours, like the way Naomi Rivka will stash a few fresh dates in the freezer for a couple of hours and then take them out and mash them into “sorbet.”  Or like chummus – NOT!

One of the things I love in the sukkah, besides a cool breeze (since there’s no hope for that where we are) is real apple cider.  We drink it, but it’s also a crucial ingredient in my Yom Tov Squash Soup.  Or at least it WAS, before we moved to Israel.

There really is no substitute for cider.  If you’re from the Northeast or some other fall-colours, cool-weather kind of place, hopefully you’ll agree.  They sell alcoholic cider in the liquor stores here, but it’s more like bubbly-sweet apple juice than anything I would call cider.  Apple juice is kids’ stuff, but cider has sass – it’s all grown up.  It’s sweet but spicy; spunkier than apple juice and fuller in body and texture.

And since we came here, it’s been impossible to obtain. 
Oh, sure, there may be some kind of health-food store in the centre of the country that stocks a nice, cloudy apple juice.  But – repeat after me – it’s Not The Same.  And I didn’t know

Baking in Israel? Beware of FAKE condensed milk

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If you didn’t know any better – like I didn’t when we first came here – you’d probably assume, with good reason, that both of these tins contained condensed milk:

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But that’s where you’d be wrong.  Sure, at least at first glance, the Hebrew text is exactly the same: חלב מרוכז וממותק / chalav merukaz umemutak / concentrated sweetened milk.  But the English is different, and therein lies the key difference between the two – the one on the right is FAKE.

Here are the ingredients of the real thing (on the left):

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Milk (55%), sugar (45%).  That’s it.  Pure and simple.

Now, here are the ingredients

Kanafe כנאפה Knafe Kunafe Knaffe Kanafa كنافة - A sweet bonus for Rosh Hashanah (with video)

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Sick of pareve desserts for yom tov?  Ready for something a little less ho-hum? 

I love my classic Second Helpings cookbook honey cake to death and look forward to it almost all year (it has a cup of sugar, 1 1/4 cups of honey, and a cup of coffee – what’s NOT to love????).  But sometimes… you just want something creamy.  Usually, my grandmother’s Neapolitan Cake fits the bill very, very nicely, and I totally recommend it if you haven’t tried it already.

Usually, a few of our Rosh Hashanah meals are dairy, because especially when it’s bumped right up against Shabbos like it is this year, it’s just TOO MUCH MEAT.  The fact that we can have dairy desserts is a totally wonderful bonus.  While there are a couple of specialized ingredients in this dish (kadaif noodles – see below; rose water) but beyond that, this super-special Israeli dairy dessert is also super-easy to throw together.

Here’s a dessert that was new to me before we came to Israel which plays on this region’s love of filo (phyllo)-pastry desserts (and its disdain for cakey European desserts).  It uses kadaif noodles, which are finely-shredded angel-hair phyllo (Wikipedia says they’re actually made of threads drizzled onto very hot baking sheets…).

Here’s knaffeh in its native habitat in the shuk:

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Photo credit © Tracy Hunter via Flickr

Here’s a video

Easy, tender, and affordable roast in Israel… yes, it IS possible!

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I wasn’t a big meat cook in Canada.  We ate a lot of chicken, but I was kind of shy about beef.  Still, I managed to make some acceptable roasts from time to time – meat that was tender enough and tasty enough that we could enjoy it together on special occasions.

All that changed when we moved to Israel, where all the meat cuts are different from what I was used to and nothing, it seemed, was tender and tasty except the most expensive bits, like steak (which always seems to turn out tough when we make it at home, but we don’t mind because it’s delicious).

But some of the English speakers here were chatting on our WhatsApp group last week about roasting beef, and it made me really want to try it again –even after having been burned numerous times. 

So on Thursday evening, we bought a nice little #6 roast, which according to this indispensible meat chart is called Fillet Medumeh (פילה מדומה), petit tender, or foreshank.  The page's owner, Marc Gottlieb, says it’s good for “Grilling, stovetop, quick roast,” but horrible past experience has taught me that we don’t have enough steak knives for anything other than LOW AND SLOW cooking.  I always forget which cuts of meat we’ve had success with in the past, but I picked this one because it seemed like a nice modest size and it wasn’t very expensive.

My plan was to pop the frozen meat hunk in our crock pot overnight and have perfectly “roasted” beef in the morning that I could cool all day until Shabbos.

Then this happened:

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This is the burnt-out mafseik reishi (main circuit breaker) from our electrical panel, which apparently caught fire for no reason at all. (Yes, this scares the bejeepers out of me!!!)

So instead of putting the crock pot on at 11 p.m.,

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