Tuesday, June 23, 2009


On Sunday, R and I had my dad and his girlfriend over for Father's Day. We took them for a bike ride at one of our favourite spots and then cooked them a barbecue dinner: Mengal style! We made skewered chicken, Israeli salad, and (of course) fresh hummus.

I'll admit that R took care of almost everything this time around. I tried to help, but he's become the barbecue expert in our household. It's just one of those stereotypical male roles, I guess. I plan on learning more about how to prepare the shish-kebabs (or, as the Israelis call them: shishleek), because the marinade looks really simple and they taste delicious.

Today I've got a recipe for hummus to share with you. I love warm hummus with pita bread! It's the perfect snack when you're too lazy to make a real dinner (which is pretty often during the summer). It also tastes great as a dip for those shishleek I was talking about.

Homemade Hummus

Juice of 1 whole lemon
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
2 cups cooked chick peas with a bit of their water*
1 cup tahina
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper

1. Drop everything in the food processor and blend until creamy.
2. Enjoy. Best served warm with a pool of olive oil in the middle and paprika sprinkled 'round the outside.

*Canned chickpeas work for this too, but we've just started cooking dried ones in our slow cooker and it's a cinch. Just put 2 cups of dried chickpeas in 6 cups of water and heat on low overnight or all day (about 8 hours). No soaking required.

My first interview!

Lex, the brains behind the new online store Uptown Avenue, recently interviewed me for her blog. Check it out HERE. There are lots of cute things in her store too, so don't forget to take a look around! Don't you just love this adorable USB hub?:

I've got a great recipe for hummus coming up this week, so check back soon. R has been recipe testing for weeks and finally made the perfect batch!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lychee cupcakes with coconut glaze

Lychee cupcakes with coconut glaze

Yes! I baked last night! It was a good feeling. It's been a long time since the Kitchenaid mixer and I have bonded.

A while ago I bought Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World for one simple reason: Vegan=pareve! This is a book of dairy free cupcakes that can be brought to any dinner without worrying about whether or not the host is serving meat as the main course. Brilliant!

Yesterday I found canned lychees AND canned coconut on sale! Then I got inspired and decided to give my own spin to the lychee cupcake recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World:

Pareve Lychee Coconut Cupcakes

2 cups cake flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
4 ounces (1 can) lychee fruit, drained and chopped, syrup reserved
1/4 cup lychee syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
3. In a separate medium bowl, beat eggs. Add oil, coconut milk, chopped lychees, and lychee nectar to the eggs and mix to combine.
4. Add wet mixture to the dry ingredients, mix to combine. Fill cupcake liners full.
5. Bake 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Coconut glaze (optional):
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk

Mix powdered sugar and coconut milk until smooth. Drizzle over completely cooled cupcakes.

Note: Malee Brand Canned Lychee In Syrup is OK Kosher certified. If you can't find a kosher can of lychee, substitute 4 ounces of fresh lychee and 1/4 cup of lychee juice or nectar. If you can't find kosher coconut milk, there are directions here for making your own.

Friday, June 5, 2009

“...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away...” (Job 1:21)

So, how was the Hold Land? Everybody has been asking us since we returned and I'm faced with a difficult decision every time they do.

Do I tell them the most interesting (and disappointing) part? Or do I focus on the good things and leave that bit out?

The truth is that while we were in Israel, at noon on our 3rd day in the country, all of our luggage and bags were stolen from the trunk of our rented hatchback car. We went to see the ruins in Caesaria on our way from Tel Aviv up to the Golan and when we returned to the parking lot everything was missing, but there wasn't even a scratch on the car itself! The thieves were clearly experts. They jimmied the lock very carefully and took off with our bags without leaving more than a few fingerprints for the cops to use to find them. The only thing they left was our bag of dirty laundry. We were left with nothing but that bag and the clothes on our backs. I had my camera with me of course, so that wasn't stolen either. But my laptop, my wallet, and my passport were all in the backpack that we had decided to leave in the car (after all, we were only going to be gone for an hour). So they were all gone. We had to spend the rest of that day filing a police report, and all of the next day at the Canadian consulate in Tel Aviv to apply for a replacement passport for myself. I learned quickly that the Hebrew word for passport is "darkon".

I tried really hard to enjoy the trip anyway. We bought new clothes and carried on as if everything was fine. We stayed in Rosh Pina for 3 nights. The couple who owned the guest house were so sweet. We told them what happened and they offered to make us dinner that night, then gave me a pair of shoes (I was wearing sandals the day our luggage was stolen) and gave R one of their son's old army t-shirts. They offered to wash our dirty laundry for us so that we could have clean underwear. The day that we left they gave us one of their old suitcases.

Everybody who heard our story offered to give us something or help us out. The police officer who filed our report gave us a hat from a special even that he attended - It has the Israeli police logo on it and R wore it hiking so it was put to good use. The officer even offered to put us up for the night in his parents' house if we didn't have a place to stay (but we did). The security guard at the Canadian consulate offered to make tea for me while I was waiting to apply for my passport. Complete strangers let us use their cell phones and laptops. It made us feel so much better, after everything that had happened, to know that people cared about us and wanted to help.

Now that we're home everything is more or less back to normal. I have shoes and underwear again! We filed a claim for insurance and now we're just waiting to find out how we can get our things replaced. I haven't had a laptop for a month now. This is the longest I've been without my own computer since I was 17!

So is that a good reason for not updating at all in May? I sure hope so. I'm hoping to do some more cooking and baking soon, but in the mean time here are a few photos that you might enjoy:

The western wall at night.
The Western Wall at night.

Jerusalem at night.
Jerusalem at night, from the Hebrew U campus.

Marching to the Western Wall
A group of kids were following behind these drummers, chanting in Hebrew. It was an emotionally exhilarating trip to the Western Wall with these people behind us!

Richard, looking down the Snake Path up Masada.
The snake path, which we took to the top of Masada at 4am to catch the sunrise.

Sunset in Tzfat
Sunset in Tzfat (Safed).

I'll post about the good bits of our trip next, because there really were some great things about Israel, and it was a very different experience this time because I'm so close to being finished my conversion to Judaism. I'm working on a recipe for shakshuka (a great tomato/egg thing that they make in Israel for breakfast), so when I get a chance I'll share that too!