Monthly Archives: November 2011

One of those mornings…

What a morning!

I woke up at 7:30 am, and the house was quiet.  Not a good sign, since the kids need to be up, dressed, fed, and out by 8 am.  I had been up with ds2 quite a bit, so I decided since the littles were all still sleeping, to let them stay home this morning.  Fifteen minutes later, I heard ds5 wake up and dd15 was telling him she’d help him find clothes to wear, so as soon as I heard that I quickly got up to help get them all ready to go.  In that short fifteen minutes, all five of the kids who hadn’t yet left to school managed to get dressed and pack lunches, while I quickly fried some eggs in butter, wrapped them in napkins, and put them in baggies for them as a breakfast replacement, in addition to the food we packed for the 10 am meal at school.  Not ideal, but much better than letting them go to school hungry.

It was pouring outside, and right after ds9 and dd11 left with ds4 and ds5 (they take them to school in the morning), I saw one of the two umbrellas had been left behind. I ran out to the porch in time to throw it down to them, so that they’d each be able to stay dry with one little next to them.

I went inside, and not even two minutes later saw that the littles’ boots were still lined up against the wall!  Apparently in the rush, they had each put their sneakers on by themselves.  Usually that’s fine, but in the heavy rain and with a fifteen minute walk to school, that wasn’t good at all.

Ds2 was feeling under the weather (that’s why I woke up so late this morning, since I kept waking up with him during the night), so I held him while I logged on to check my emails after sending the kids off to school.  I was surprised to see responses to a post on vaccines that I hadn’t even intended to send out, since it needed some extensive editing.  (If you commented and don’t see your responses, they were automatically deleted by the system when the post was deleted.)  I had been doing my computer work the night before holding ds, and it seems I pressed ‘publish’ instead of ‘save draft’.  Not the first time it’s happened, but still a rare situation.  I quickly deleted the post.

I was interrupted by a call from ds5’s teacher.  He had just gotten to school and was shivering and his lips were blue, and he needed dry clothes.  Could I please bring him some?  Of course!  So off I go in the rain (which thankfully lessened while I was walking there since I had no rain gear), getting thoroughly splattered by a bus driving by.  When I got to ds5’s school, I saw ds was dry except for the bottom inch of his pants, socks, and shoes, but when your feet are wet, all of you will be cold. I put on dry socks and boots, and he was right away nice and toasty.

I had taken along a set of dry clothes for ds4 as well, assuming that if ds5 gotten so wet on the way, ds4 probably also had.  So I went into his school with dry clothes for him, and the teacher told me he was drenched when he got to school, and what was I thinking to send him dressed like that?  Sometimes you have to make a conscious effort not to feel defensive when questions are posed in that way!  I told her that I thought between his lined rain resistant windbreaker and being under an older sibling’s umbrella, he’d be fine.  Doesn’t that seem reasonable on a rainy fall day?  I exchanged his wet shoes and socks for boots (otherwise he was totally dry), gave him an extra sweatshirt for warmth, and headed home.

When I got home, partially dry but slightly shivering, ds2 wanted to be held some more, so I looked at my emails again while I held him.  Then I read an annoyed sounding message from someone who had sent me the first message at 1:30 in the morning, wanting me to take care of something ASAP.  I asked dh if he could soak some barley while I took care of that issue, and a few minutes later, he came in to show me that the barley was crawling with bugs – really infested.  Yuck.

So that was all thrown away, I went to prepare some more barley for a thick stew for lunch (since I was out of coconut milk for the planned meal), when I saw that I was out of onions.  And someone had used the little  shopping cart filled with apples waiting to be made into applesauce as a step stool, apparently, because some ripe apples were smushed all over the floor.  And the cloth shopping cart material was all ripped and the flimsy metal frame broken.  Oh, well.  This is an example of the costs in having a big family – things that you might think would last a while are closer to disposable!

I made some soup, cleaned up the kitchen, swept up the house, noted with dismay at the clothes on the clothesline that hadn’t been taken in last night when they were dry, then got online to let those of you who saw the deleted post know why it was gone.  And then saw that somehow, it wasn’t deleted the first time.  So I deleted it again – I hope. :)

Some mornings are just like that, but I have still have hours ahead of me to enjoy a wonderful day!


Pattern block activities for kids

When we first started homeschooling over eleven years ago, one of my first purchases was a set of pattern blocks.  Even though it was purchased retail at a specialty store (read: it was overpriced), I’ve counted it as one of the best purchases for the kids that I ever made.

When our oldest was about 8, pattern blocks became a regular activity in our home, as every Friday evening the kids would sit together on the floor, making independent patterns and designs.  I love how pattern blocks can be used in sophisticated and simple ways, for designs that adults have fun with, or something even a two year old likes.

Not only are they great for making designs with, but they’re also a super math manipulative.  A couple of days ago I was using them with ds9 to explain some fraction concepts – demonstrating math concepts to kids using hands on manipulatives greatly enhances their understanding of numbers, so that math doesn’t remain abstract and theoretical.

We’ve had a long stretch, though, that the pattern blocks have been sitting on the shelf, rarely used for spontaneous fun.  The middles need the reminder that they’re there, and the littles are so young that they need guidance when using pattern blocks, which means me sitting down with them and showing them how to play with them.  So that’s what I did.

I have a book of patterns for pattern blocks, but thought to reintroduce the blocks as something new and fun, and to expand on what we currently have, by accessing the internet.  This week I pulled up some pattern block designs online, slanted the laptop screen towards where the kids were sitting, and ds5 and ds4 (with my help) copied one pattern after another. I let the kids choose what patterns they were interested in doing.  (Ds2.5 did his own thing, stacking all the similar shaped blocks and proudly showing me what he made.  :))  Here’s a link I found that had samples of pattern block patterns – you can do what I did by looking at it online while playing, or print them out, laminate them, and keep them to use repeatedly.

Don’t have any pattern blocks?  Don’t despair – make your own!   Here’s a link to a site where you can print out the block patterns onto colored cardstock, then cut them out.  It’s not the same as using wooden blocks, but you can still enjoy fun and learning!


How to make olive leaf tincture

I firmly believe that in every locale, there are potentially medicinal plants that will be of value to you.  However, it means letting go of thinking there are certain herbs that you must have – for example, in the US I had easy access to plantain, dandelion, and burdock, and it’s a mental shift for me to not feel like I need them when those were well within my comfort zone.

Here in Israel, there are olive trees all over.  And I already knew that olive leaves were good for you, since I bought them a couple of years ago as part of a big herb order.  Seeing the abundance of olive trees here on our very first day prompted me to learn more about how I could include this in my natural medicine chest.

First of all,a little about olive leaves (the following is from the Bulk Herb Store website, where I ordered my herbs from):  Olive leaf is a natural antibiotic and antioxidant that can help or prevent many diseases. The active compounds have been reported to act as an anti-microbial agent, which slows invaders enough for the body’s natural immune system to react. It exhibits powerful anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties that fight over one hundred viral and bacterial conditions. The result is a natural antibiotic and antioxidant with similar effects to garlic and onions… It also works to lower high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, improve respiratory response, improve skin health, heart disease and fatigue. Olive leaf can rejuvenate your vitality and energy, enhance your immune system, supports your cardiovascular system and promote general health and well-being.

An easy way to use olive leaves is by making tea with them – just brew the leaves with some water, mix in a little sweetener, and drink up!  I also used a concentrated olive leaf tea to wash down ds12’s foot when he had cellulitis.  Be warned that the effective ingredient in the olive leaf is bitter, which is why I suggested sweetener!

So that’s one way to use it, but I like something even faster – having a big family means that I have to find ways to accomplish what I need to as effectively as possible.  There’s also a limit to how much tea you can drink, and when you’re really under the weather, it’s likely you’d like something that will be powerful and effective, without leaving you bloating and running to empty your bladder every fifteen minutes.

Enter olive leaf tincture.  (Read here to learn how amazing olive leaves are – I felt so lucky after learning all about them that I can easily harvest them for free here.)  Making a tincture means that you draw out the medicinal qualities of the herb, and simultaneously preserve it for long term use.  Ideally this can be done with alcohol, though in the past I’ve chosen to use vinegar and glycerin to make tinctures, since I thought my kids would prefer those flavors.  Alcohol stores the best, though.

The instructions for making olive leaf extract/tincture are ridiculously easy:

1) Wash the leaves well, chop finely or shred in a food processor, then  place in a glass jar.

2) Cover with 80% proof vodka.  (A funny story – I asked dh to pick up some vodka at the store for me to make this.  When he went to get it, an elderly Russian man approvingly commented to my husband, who tried to explain that he was getting it for medicinal purposes.  I had also asked dh to pick up some lemon juice for salads, and when a little later in the store the same elderly man saw dh holding the bottles of vodka and lemon juice, the man smiled knowingly and smirked, “Right, medicinal.” )

If you’re using fresh leaves, then the ration of leaves to vodka is 1:2 or 3; ie, if you’re using 8 ounces of leaves, then you’d need to cover them with 16 – 24 oz of vodka.  If you’re using dried leaves, the ratio is 1 leaves: 5 vodka.

3) Seal the glass, and let it sit in a dark place for at least two weeks, but up to six weeks.  (Mine was ‘brewing’ for almost four weeks.)  Shake it every once in a while and make sure the leaves are all covered by liquid; add more vodka if you need to.

4) After two weeks, you can now strain it out.  If you have those wonderful amber colored dropper bottles (like I did, but gave away before we moved, sniff!), then pour it in there for easy use.

5) Use your tincture!  Here’s a good site with information about how to determine your dosage.


(This post is part of Monday ManiaHomestead Barn Hop, Traditional Tuesdays, and Real Food Wednesday.)

Weekly menu plan

Here’s our menu for the week:

Shabbos (Sabbath) – dinner: challah, chicken soup, sweet and sour cabbage, roast potatoes, carrot apple bake, cinnamon buns, chunky applesauce, apple pie

lunch – challah, hummus, techina, carrot salad, savory beet salad, baked barbeque chicken, marinated chickpeas, potato kugel, sweet potato casserole, orange fennel salad, coleslaw, chocolate cake, bon bon cookies, oatmeal cookies

Sunday – breakfast – eggs, avocado, sliced yellow peppers; lunch – hearty vegetable soup; dinner – potatoes, meat sauce, coleslaw

Monday – b – oatmeal; l – chicken pot pie (doubled this when I made it last week), beet salad; d – French cabbage soup (double for following night)

Tuesday – b – polenta; l – butternut squash and chicken bake, rice, fennel salad; French cabbage soup

Wednesday – b – oatmeal; l – chicken spaghetti, carrot salad; d – hummous, chickpeas, fresh vegetable platter

Thursday – b – eggs; l – apple and lentil bake; d – Russian borscht (beet soup)


Reflecting on my birthday

Did you know that every nineteen years, the lunar and Gregorian calendars line up?  Not a well-known piece of information, but one of interest to me today.  Today is my birthday, and the third time in my life my lunar and Gregorian birthdays fall out on exactly the same day – and the first time since I learned about this factoid several years ago.

So yep, that means I’m now 38 years old!  I don’t have any plans to celebrate today in any special way – I feel very content and grateful for my amazingly normal and wonderful life, surrounded by people I love.  Here’s an excerpt from the lovely message my husband wrote for my birthday (I asked if he minded if I shared it here first), who I feel so blessed to be married to for almost two decades:

“Thank you for being such an understanding, accepting and loving wife.  Thank you for running our home with dedication, positive energy and joy.  Thank you for being a loving mother to our children.”

I feel almost overwhelmed at how quickly what seemed like an impossibly unreachable dream of moving with our entire family to Israel happened, when just a year ago, I was feeling so grateful that I would be able to make a short trip to visit my daughter who was studying here, something I didn’t think would be financially or logistically in our reach.  It wasn’t until March 2011 that we decided we’d like to make the move, and a few months later, here we were!  Sometimes I feel like pinching myself that we actually live here, and it’s just normal for us to be here.

This morning I was looking at an affirmation that I copied down a while back, and thinking how nice it is that it’s not just something I want to have in my life, but something I feel is my life right now (here’s part of it):

“Life is wonderful and I have lots of time to experience it fully….I love looking out of my windows at the beautiful environment.  I have a spectacular view, which continually inspires me.  I am so grateful for all of the beautiful riches that are continually overflowing my life!”

It’s not easy starting all over in a new country, new language, new everything at any stage, and with nine kids who have to make the adjustment, too, it’s really not simple.  I feel very grateful that we are are getting to know people and starting to feel like part of the community.  On Thursday afternoon, I passed a few mothers chatting, and one of them called after me (I didn’t turn around because I didn’t think anyone would be calling me!) and then followed after me to let me know that she and several other parents were having a kiddush in shul (synagogue) this week and wanted to be sure I knew about it and was invited to come.  I was so appreciative – a little thing like that makes a big difference when you’re new, that someone thinks of you enough to do that.

And when I actually was there on Shabbos morning at the kiddush, my kids had what used to be a familiar experience – being ready to leave, and having to wait for me repeatedly since I kept stopping to talk with someone else.  Do you know how nice it is, to be here less than three months, and already have so many people I can talk to, and not feel like a wallflower standing to the side?

No, my life isn’t perfect – I have challenges and frustrations that I deal with on a daily basis, like everyone.  But seeing how fast the years go by, I really try to fully enjoy and appreciate all that I have on a daily basis, and not take it for granted.

Since on his/her birthday, a person has a special power to bless others, and it’s well-known that words do have power to influence things, I’d like to use this opportunity to wish for every single one of you peace, health, love, meaning, and an abundance of everything good.  And also to bless you that you are able to see and appreciate all the wonderful things that are already in your life, and to bring joy to those around you by sharing some of what is beautiful in our amazing world with them.



Enjoying our multinational guests

Last night I was giving the kids a rundown of who will be hosting for the next three weeks, and one of them commented that since moving here, we’ve had guests from a lot of different countries!

I hadn’t really thought about it, and then realized he’s right!  Since beginning to host people about six or seven weeks ago, we’ve had guests from Poland, France, Tunisia, Switzerland, Australia, Ukraine, Germany, Brazil, and of course, the US and Israel.  Next week we’ll be having someone from Vancouver BC (we met years ago when we were living in Seattle, and now we’re all living in Israel!), the next week we’ll have friends from Baltimore, and just a few weeks after that, one of my blog readers from Germany will be visiting!

We have a number of people we’d like to invite but have to wait a couple of weeks until our schedule clears – the first time we have guests, we prefer to have them on their own so we get to know them, and then later on, will have them with other guests.  We also like to keep the Shabbos (Sabbath/ Friday) night meal for our family only, and mostly have guests during the day (Saturday), but there are not infrequently exceptions to that.

A few weeks ago, we discovered one of our guests shared some common history with us, but didn’t recognize him at all when he came with his family.  Years ago, I was a young working mother, pregnant with two small children, and my husband had been hospitalized.   It was less than ten days before Pesach (Passover), and a friend who knew I was spending hours every afternoon after work traveling to and from the hospital knew I didn’t have any help, time, or energy after all I was doing, called the post high school yeshiva I worked at and asked the the head of the yeshiva to send some young men to help out. It was a busy time for everyone and the guys were already on vacation,  but one young man volunteered and came to my house for two or three hours to help me clean – the only time I’ve ever had cleaning help (outside of my immediate family)!  And now, over fifteen years later, he appears at my house, married, bearded, and with three kids – and I had invited his wife and didn’t even know his first name until the end of the meal, when he mentioned his child was named after the head of the yeshiva I worked at, and from there we simultaneously realized who the other was.  He remembered my 2.5 year old (my oldest), who was sitting right next to him during the meal and is now 18, the age that he was when he came to my house.  It was a very interesting feeling.

The world is a very small place, and with Israel being the tiny melting pot country that it is, we’ve been discovering that first hand!


Making pillows

Yesterday dh and I needed to go to an office at the bottom of Karmiel, and while we were there, did a little bit of shopping in the area.  We saw some pillows marked at 30% off, and looked to see how much they were – just 70 shekels each after the discount!

To buy ten pillows for our family, this would have cost us a hefty 700 shekels.  And this reminded me that I didn’t share with you about my pillow making adventure.

For about seven weeks after arriving here in Israel, we didn’t have pillows.  Everyone used some item of clothing pushed into a pile under his head at night, and though it wasn’t ideal, it was manageable.  I wanted to buy some, but the choices I found weren’t great: the second hand store had cheap pillows for just 5 shekels each, but I had no desire to let any of my family members rest their heads on the majority of the pillows there (I did find two good ones, though).  Then I saw some new pillows that were just 15 shekels each at the bargain store, but were so flat that I knew after using them for a night we’d hardly feel there was anything under our heads!  And lastly are the higher quality pillows like those we saw on sale yesterday, which is really the kind of pillow I wanted.

Dh isn’t yet working, and we have to be conservative about our expenditures, so spending hundreds of shekels on something like pillows, that are nice but you can’t really call them essential, didn’t seem prudent.

Right around the time I was checking out the pillow purchasing options, I passed a leather couch set out on the curb that was being given away.  The cushions you would sit on were ripped, but the back pillows were in perfect condition.  I passed it, thinking it was too bad there was nothing I could do with them.  And passed the same couch a second time a little later that day, and then the third time I passed it the same day, a light went off in my head!

Since the cushion covers were leather, it was safe to assume that no one had drooled on the inner cushion, wet it, or done anything else that would make it disgusting.  I realized I could use the inner cushion to make pillows with – they were good quality cushions with good quality stuffing.

Here's one of the cushions

Dd10 and ds9 were with me, so each of us grabbed one – two large ones from the back of the sofa, and one smaller one from the side of the sofa.  (I didn’t take the second small one because the zipper was opened a couple of inches, and I didn’t want to worry if anything could have gotten in.)  When we got home, I saw that they were constructed differently than I had anticipated, and my first idea for recreating them wouldn’t be as easy as I thought.

I found a couple of sheets we had been given that were in the give away bag, and started cutting, using the material in a way to minimize the sewing I’d need to do (ie the fold of the sheet became the length of the pillowcase on one side).  One was a crib sheet, which I turned into two matching pillow cases.  A twin sheet yielded four matching pillowcases, and the inner casing from the original couch cushions became the remaining three pillow cases.  I unfortunately couldn’t bring my sewing machine along when we moved, which would have made this project super fast.  But I compensated by doing a running stitch by hand to quickly sew the material together, and I was able to do this with the kids around while interacting with them, so though it took some time, it wasn’t a big time sink.

Once I had a case closed on three sides, I let the littles fill them with foam. They had fun with this, though their enthusiasm did lead to an extra mess!  After we stuffed in the amount we wanted, I sewed each pillow shut.  It’s especially nice that since this is industrial quality stuffing, it’s soft but denser than what I’ve seen in craft store so these pillows won’t turn into flat pancakes anytime soon!

Some of the pillows, looking a little lumpy before being smoothed down

By reclaiming and recycling materials that were available to us, and equally importantly, by looking at those materials with the willingness to think creatively, “What can I do with this?”, we now have nine new pillows that didn’t cost us a penny.  Not only that, I saved the inconvenience of traveling on the bus to get them and bring them home, which would have been significant with the amount of pillows we needed.


(This is part of Make Your Own Monday and Frugal Friday.)

Teaching older kids to respond nicely

>>I wanted to ask you for a reminder of how you respond to sassy comments or responses from a 10 y.o. who is generally pleasant until asked to do something he doesn’t like. Thanks!<<

This is a common situation, since when our kids are basically pleasant, we don’t want to be overbearing and feel like we’re asking too much of them to require them to always be pleasant.   We feel like we’re being unreasonable to ask that of them.  But at the same time, it’s really unpleasant to deal with them when they’re balking at what you’re requesting, or doing it with attitude.

I think it’s important that kids learn that they need to do as their parents tell them with a good attitude, not because they feel like it or agree with it, but because honoring one’s parents necessitates that.  And as a parent, I feel it’s my job to teach them to be respectful of me even if they don’t want to be (and even if I don’t care or think it’s a priority).  Remembering that it’s my responsibility as a parent keeps me from thinking that I’m being self-serving in teaching these behaviors.

There are two aspects of how to deal with this, but I’m going to address the first very superficially, and will deal with the the second one in more depth.

Firstly, you should be respectful of your child, and try to be a person they can respect.  Don’t put too many stumbling blocks in their way by being an irrational, unreasonable, overemotional witch on a daily basis (once in a while is normal, lol!), and then demanding that they treat you like a queen. And even if you’re being a basically nice parent, don’t ask them to do things from morning until night.  Even when you get compliance, their hearts aren’t going to be with you, and external compliance is of limited value if your kids can’t stand you.  But at the same time, don’t worry that you have to be perfect before you can expect your children to act respectfully, since if that was the case, no one alive would be deserving of respect from their children!

On to the second aspect, of technically teaching them to do things with a good attitude.  In recent months, I let my middles get away with doing things begrudgingly, with grumpy faces, or even sometimes with verbal responses that weren’t acceptable.  To remedy this now (and in the past, when the oldest three were at just this stage – 9, 11, 12), here’s what I did.

To jumpstart this reteaching aspect, I first let them know that when I ask them to do something, it would no longer be enough to just do it.  It had to be done with a reasonably good attitude – they don’t have to jump up and tell me how happy they are to fulfill my every wish, but they have to show what I consider willingness –  no negativity allowed.  No rolling of eyes, exaggerated sighs, arguing, questioning (although respectful discussion is okay), or pretending not to hear.  Smiling (or at least having a pleasant demeanor – a smile isn’t necessary) and doing it promptly is appropriate.

Then, I insisted on their responses being in line with the above.  And of course, at the beginning they never were.  So I modeled it for them, and then had them repeat it.  And I didn’t stop there.  They had to respond appropriately, and then once they got the tone down, I’d replay the entire scenario with them again, and again.  (I do this with the littles, too.)

Here’s an example: Me – “Please clear off the plates from the table and put them next to the sink.”  Child – “Why do I have to?  I did it last time.  You never ask (another sibling).”  Or they do it, grumbling under their breath.  Me – “Hmm, that doesn’t sound so respectful.  I’d like to hear you respond pleasantly, ‘Okay, Mommy’, and then do it.”  Child (annoyed and trying to get it over with, in an annoyed voice): “Okay, Mommy.”

Me – “Well, the words are right, but the tone needs some improvement.  This is what it should sound like (I demonstrate).  I’m going to make the same request now, and I’d like to hear you respond appropriately.”  Child: “Okay, Mommy” (some improvement, but still you can tell they’re inwardly rolling their eyes).  Me – “Better, but let’s try it again.”  (Replay scenario.)  Child then responds, “Okay, Mommy” and this time gets the tone right.  Me – “Great, that was just right.  Now let’s practice that three (or five, or whatever seems appropriate at that time) more times to be sure you’ve got it down.”

You might be thinking your kids would go crazy if you did this, but by the end of the role playing session, they’re usually in a better mood than when they started.  I do this with a smile and pleasantly, not in a mean and hostile way.  But they get the message that this is the standard that’s expected, and they’ll be held to it. And every time after that there’s a response that doesn’t meet the standards of our home, I’ll have them repeat themselves until they get it right.  And I’ll stand there for thirty minutes doing this with them if I have to (sometimes kids think they can outlast you and you’ll give up if they’re resistant enough, but they quickly learn that it’s not worth it if you consisently show you are willing to see the issue through).

If a child isn’t respectful or doesn’t do what he’s told, he goes nowhere and does nothing until that’s corrected.  (Well, not literally – they can still get drinks of water and go to the bathroom, but that’s about it.)  No books, phone calls, etc.  This doesn’t happen often – actually, it’s really, really rare – but it’s still a point worth mentioning, since your child has to see that you have staying power and you really mean what you say.

I’m not looking just for a forced verbal response; I want them to practice responding kindly and lovingly, because what we say and do changes who we are.  (For example, when you smile, it makes you feel more upbeat, and when you feel out of sorts, acting as if you were happy will help you shift to actually feeling happy.)  This is a process of retraining their minds, literally recreating new pathways in their brains, and it takes time and consistency.  You can’t sometimes insist on this and sometimes let them get away with being inappropriate, or you’ll end up having to struggle with this issue out on a regular basis.


Viking Stew

This recipe is so easy, and so inexpensive!  It’s hearty and filling, perfect for cold autumn and winter days.

Viking Stew

  • 1 large head of green cabbage, chunked
  • a few sweet potatoes or winter squash, peeled and chunked
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 – 2 lb meat chunks (chicken or turkey chunks are also good)
  • 2 – 3 fresh sprigs rosemary
  •  salt to taste
Mix all of the above ingredients in a roasting pan, and cover.  Bake for two hours at 350 degrees.  Then eat and enjoy!I currently am paying 2 shekel a kilo (about .35 lb) for cabbages and onions.  This makes it the cheapest vegetable currently being sold here.  We bought three cases of butternut squash last week for 15 shekel, and I have yams that we were given.  For the meat chunks, I used diced giblets (also called gizzards, but I dislike how that sounds), which I bought for 5 shekels a kilo (about .75 lb).  And since rosemary grows all over Karmiel, I send one of the kids to go out and pick some fresh when I need it.   (As I mentioned in yesterday’s menu planning post, I make a menu based on what I have on hand – this is a big part of why my food budget stays so low.)


This post is part of Melt in your Mouth MondayTuesdays at the Table, Fat Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday and Frugal Food Thursday.)

Weekly menu plan

The menu below integrates planned leftovers (I purposely double ingredients when cooking so I don’t do double the work – eg, when cooking chickpeas for Shabbos, I made lots so I’d have some cooked for stew on Sunday).  And during the week if I have a bit of something left over from one meal to the next, I either repurpose into something else (eg some cooked veggies will end up being added to a stew), or eaten in addition to the meal itself as a side dish if there’s enough of it.  My goal is to get to the end of the week with a minimum of food storage contIf I link to a recipe with ingredients you wouldn’t think I’d use, then I’ve taken the basic idea and then adapted it. :)  There are very few recipes I use as is, but it’s easier to link and adapt than pay attention to the measurements I use and post my own version.

Shabbos (Sabbath) – night – challah, chicken soup, roast chicken, ratatouille, sauteed cabbage, roast squash and yams, cinnamon rolls, stewed pears

lunch – challah, techina, Moroccan carrot salad, pepper salad, marinated chickpeas, baba ganoush, eggplant and red pepper dip, savory beet salad, cabbage/lettuce salad (I have to think of a good name for this, since it’s really good!), squash pudding, potato kugel, onion quiche, chicken, lemon squares, rugelach

Sunday – breakfast – fruit; lunch – chickpea eggplant stew, rice (make double for breakfast on Weds), carrot salad; dinner – potato soup, cabbage salad

Monday – b – polenta; l – Viking stew, beet salad; d – butternut squash soup with dumplings

Tuesday – b – oatmeal; l – chicken with red lentils; d- Viking stew

Wednesday – b – rice pancakes; l – chicken with sesame noodles; d – lentil barley stew

Thursday – b –  fried eggs, pepper strips; l – chicken pot pie; d – CORN (clean out refrigerator night)

Friday – b – oatmeal; l – lentil barley stew

On Friday afternoon, dh went shopping for vegetables, and since I didn’t have a chance to unpack them all that day, I spent part of this morning organizing my pantry.  Though I don’t have the space to store foods bought in large quantities, I have made enough space to be able to take advantage of good sales, so I usually have vegetables left from one week’s purchase to another.  That means putting the older vegetables in the front so they get used right away; otherwise, bargains can easily turn into losses if they spoil before they are used.  And then I take a look at what I have in my pantry and fridge, and plan my menu for the week based on that.

I started a big batch (4 gallons) of curried carrot sauerkraut on Friday (well, let me be honest – I delegated this to ds12), but still need to add some onions, garlic, and purple cabbage to it.  Right now it’s just green cabbage and carrots – but it’s a lot of it!  Fortunately, you can add vegetables to a ferment after it begins fermenting.

This morning, I started a pot of chicken broth to use for the next couple of days. It goes really fast around here, and I miss the free turkey carcasses I used to be able to get, that allowed me to constantly make huge pots of broth for pennies a pot.  What I’m doing now is buying whole chickens, which is the cheapest kind of chicken here (aside from giblets and wings), cut it up and debone it.  Then I put the bones in one bag in the freezer for broth making, and the other parts in another bag.  (I try to keep the white meat separate, since it dries out if I cook it with the dark meat, but is excellent when cooked well.)

With the cold weather coming up, everyone will enjoy hot soups, and I like to use broth as the base for all my soups – it not only adds lots of nutritional value, but it makes a regular soup really, really good.  (I sent a thick potato soup to a neighbor a few months ago, and her husband kept exclaiming over how amazing it was – based on the ingredients in it, he couldn’t figure out why it was so delicious!   Broth, a cook’s best friend.  :) )

(As always, feel free to request a recipe if you see it listed and there’s no link.)

Have a great week!