The great turkey experiment of 2013

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m a dreamer in theory and a traditionalist in practice. I spend the first weeks of November imagining all kinds of possibilities, and this year at least, filing them on Pinterest.

But when it comes down to the day-of, I stick to what I know which is what we all know from way back when – the cornbread, the sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and the big ole Norman Rockwell turkey.

Spoiler: it all came out awesome.

That’s where things went differently this year: the turkey. After doing this the expat way for years here in Israel, we discussed trying something new. Our Thanksgiving dinner invitation list has shrunk since the kids, and we end up wasting much of the turkey – namely, dark meat.

This year, we ordered the whole turkey – which is expensive in Israel, no ‘free turkey with your purchase!’ – but hacked off the thighs, legs and wings before preparing. They went straight into the freezer to be used for soups (mmm… winter’s coming).

I was a little worried it would affect flavor, but with the white meat still on the frame, I was promised by the internet it would be ok. While I was at it, I figured, my disfigured turkey may as well cook flipped – breast down – which I never normally do for the classic turkey effect.

Result? Totally. Worth it. No basting required – though I did once out of habit. It cooked for about 3 hours down in its own bed of olive oil, water, celery, onion, garlic and spice juice, and then another 40 minutes breast-up to brown it.

If you can get past looks, you can make yourself a kick-ass white meat turkey and later on, some kick-ass turkey-based soup.

By the way, I’m taking a percentage of credit for, after 4 or 5 years, finally influencing the acceptance that people in my neighborhood order whole turkeys from our supermarket enough to require a sign:

Made doughnuts. Ate doughnuts. Feeling appropriately smug.

I’ve felt a need to make doughnuts for the last month. I guess chodesh Kislev will do that to ya.

Kept it simple though… after spending too much time drooling on Pinterest, I googled ‘simple doughnut recipe’ and found this: Applesauce Doughnuts.

They were actually super easy to make. The lesson learned was not to have the oil heat too quickly. The outsides fried so fast that for a few of the doughnuts, the insides were still raw when we broke them open.

I would totally do this again. The recipe made about two dozen of these guys, and they are small enough to eat one or two and not feel horrible about yourself.

Driving in Israel meets the belly card.

Driving to gan pickup last week, I officially became that person. The person who looks down for a split second and looks back up to realize you’re a microsecond from hitting the stopped car in front of you. The person who, despite braking, hits the car in front of you.

I’ve been here nearly nine years and pride myself on two driving-related things: never getting a speeding ticket and never hitting anyone. Driving in Israel has definitely worked to repair my former young, stupid, New York driver self. Not that I’m by any means perfect but I’d say the improvement is noticeable to me.

Anyway, I’m copping to this: I hit the back of this car. It wasn’t major by any means, it was a residential road to start with, but it shook me up. I stopped, got out, and watched the older crew-cut-clad, Israeli-dye job woman driver come out, all puffed up and ready to attack.

I guess I attacked first. “Are you ok? I’m so sorry!” I said, with the requisite body language to back up my claim.

I watched her mouth close back up. “Oh -”

“Yes, this is on me. Are you ok?” I stepped closer to her and put an arm out. I noticed her husband (?) had gotten out too and I looked at him and moved closer in his direction. “Are you ok?”

“Yes, we’re fine,” said the woman, kind of taken aback. They both bent over to look at their bumper.

“Is there anything there?” I asked.

“No, no. It’s fine. It’s just -”

“Yes, good. I’m sorry.”

“What about your car?” The man started to examine my front bumper.

“My car is fine, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re ok.”

I think they were looking at me like I was some kind of alien. Could I have been from around these parts?

She asked me if I’m ok and I said yes, I’m fine. She said “ok, well be careful,” and they both got back in the car and drove off before I even sat in my driver’s seat.

I was totally dumbstruck.

Ownership, accountability – is that so rare that they’d be so caught off guard by an incident so obviously my fault?

I turned my car back on and drove off, trying to not look back at the line of cars waiting behind us. Maybe this type of thing just happens so often, people are used to it. Expect it once in a while. I’ve certainly watched my fair share of bumper bumping exchanges at traffic lights, intersections, and residential roads.

It was when I had arrived at my destination and started shifting out of my seat to get out of the car when it hit me.

The belly. 

Her face, when she had looked me up and down while I was apologizing. Yes, it made sense now.

The pregnancy card.

Being pregnant might have hit me, literally, on a new level that day.

Now I’m just surprised she didn’t go nuclear savta and say anything about that as she left.

Or maybe it really was the accountability that threw them off.

Either way… that’s a new one for me.

The time I hacked together chocolate crinkle caramel cream cookies.

This post is clearly brought to you by the letter C.

Here’s what I was trying to make:

Right?! ‘Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

WhatEVER fancy cookie bakers. Here’s what actually happened.

I got swept away in the need to make these cookies right now. The problem with that is you tend to lack 1. ingredients and 2. time. The one thing I needed was the caramel chews (also the course sea salt but I figured I could live without it the first time even if it sounds DELICIOUS). I did not have any handy and neither did my local supermarket, so I bought caramel cream; the kind of crap that they stuff sufganiyot with. It had to do.

Also, the lack of time, had to deal. I knew I wouldn’t be able to put the batter, if sticky, in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour as instructed. With that information handy and totally ignored, I got started.

As far as ingredients, here’s the list:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – yep
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa powder – yep
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder – yep
  • 1/4 tsp salt – yep
  • 10 tbsp salted butter, softened – yep
  • 1 cup granulated sugar – yep
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar – yep
  • 2 large eggs – yep
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract – yep
  • 2 dozen caramels (such as Kraft) or Rolos, unwrapped – NOPE.
  • coarse sea salt – NOPE.
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar – yep

It makes a ton of batter – the original recipe says two dozen cutie crinkle cookies! The original recipe, which you should definitely check out, also gives a lot of info about being smart when making these cookies.

However, since my batter turned out sticky, I didn’t have time, and only attempted a 15-minute freezer break, I just went for it.

Which meant I ended up with these globs of chocolate caramel goo:

Extremely unattractive. But they had potential, I promise. I sprinkled some powdered sugar in a flurried hurry and shoved them in the oven:

Unbaked cookie batter versions may appear MUCH SMALLER than they actually were.

And then a funny thing happened. THEY CAME OUT ENORMOUS:

You see the texture on that baby?

And then when I opened one, here’s how that went down (my face):

Well, it’s alright. I was close enough in that I did indeed stuff them in my mouth as fast as possible.

Thank you, Cooking Classy bakestress!

Note: One thing about using caramel cream instead of caramels is that it doesn’t harden after baked. So there’s an advantage to consider. 

#Dinovember?! You bet your assaurus!

dinovember!Are you waking up in the morning to find your kids’ toy dinosaurs have taken over the bathroom? Poured themselves breakfast? Set up a book club in the living room?

It seems your household is temporarily afflicted with Dinovember and that is freakin’ awesome!

Here’s a quick how-to on Dinovember:

Step 1: November. Is it November? Yes.

Step 2: Dinosaurs.

Step 3: After your kids go to bed, release their toy dinosaurs from their pent up state and arrange them in some scene around the house.

Step 3a: Have fun with it.

Step 4: Keep your ear out for when your kids wake up and discover what the dinosaurs did last night.

Step 5: Repeat.

When I heard that a mom and dad in Kansas City started this, I was immediately signed up. Since I was only introduced to Dinovember last week, I got a late start. But let’s waste no more time… Before and after dino pics – here we go!

Day 1:  the dinosaurs make their escape. how far will they get? will they reach the stairs? stay tuned…

Dinovember

First morning. The kids don’t cop to what they saw. They jump right in. 
‘Whatchya doin?’ 
‘It’s dinosaur gan! some of them are in gan and some are dead.’ 
‘Um.’ 
‘And this one is the mefaked.’

Day 2: they spot an alternate mode of transport, and a water source. suddenly travel becomes simpler.

Dinovember

Second morning. I come downstairs first. 
‘WHOA!’ 
They follow. ‘We didn’t do that!!’ 
We check it out. I address the dinosaurs directly asking how they did that. 
S says, ‘But… but… dinosaurs don’t have ears. Firetrucks don’t have ears.’ 
‘Is that so?’
‘And… toys don’t… move…?!’
We’re getting somewhere…

Dinovember

Day 3: With a roll of paper they found, the dinos make their way up a plateau offering a somewhat edible corn-based food substance. it’s more suitable for the herbivores but the carnivores manage a basic, temporary level of satisfaction.

Dinovember

Third morning. “Now dinosaurs, you going to need to roll it back up, and put it back in the bathroom, and also go back into your jar.”

Dinovember

Third evening. After another day to consider what’s happening, and perhaps being asked by a few of momma’s friends, my son brings it up before bed. 
‘Will they come out again?’
‘I don’t know… what do you think?’
“I hid them very deep…’
‘So maybe they won’t be able to get out.’
‘…I think they’ll be able to get out.’ 

Day 4. The dinosaurs have arrived for tea. the brontosaurus has fallen in love.

dinovember

Fourth morning. First time he asked me to check what the dinosaurs did today. We came down and saw the open jar, but no dinos. Checked another room and found the giddy party.
‘But where is all the stuff?’
‘What stuff?’
‘The bag.’ 
‘You mean… teabags?’

Since he came down first before his sister woke up, we went back upstairs because he wanted to show her. She had just started climbing out of bed and immediately followed when he told her what waited. 
‘But close your eyes…’ he instructed.
‘When you get to the bottom of the stairs,’ I responded.

dinovember

Day 5. A collective feeling of remorse has begun to spread throughout the herd. Tonight, instead of wrecking, they choose to build.

Fifth morning. Note: There is a preexisting condition of Lego possessiveness in our household.
‘This is אסור! I מחליט that.’
‘Why can’t the dinosaurs play too?’
‘I’m going to clean it up.’
A few seconds later, upon sitting down next to it for closer examination…
‘Ok, I know. We can play with the Lego together.’

Day 6: They decide to kick off binational holiday season a week early. Everyone agrees, with pterodactyl and turkey arm-in-arm and a dinocopia present, world peace is truly possible.

Sixth morning. “Woooooooow!”

Day 7.* The dinosaurs got a head-start in getting their Sabbath morning prayer on. Still compensating for not checking Noah’s voicemail message.

*Sabbath reenactment. I slept in so the kids set it up for me again so I could see it for myself.

Side note: I think it’s really cute that my kid tries to challenge the dinosaurs each night by making it harder for them to get out… usually by burying the jar deeper and deeper, and tonight it seems he closed the whole toy chest…

Day 8: It’s back to work tomorrow, and the dinos know it. They’re ready to click their way through this week’s electronic mails, TPS reports, CRM data and other forms of office jargon.

Eighth morning: 
Me: ‘oh boy, maybe they did my work for me!’
Him: ‘I don’t think so, the screen is black.’

He came down and was all, ‘but I closed the chest!’ 

After, he said he understood how *she* got up on top of the monitor bec she can fly, but asked how *he*, the dino that can’t fly, got on top of the monitor. I asked how he knew dinosaur gender. ‘Dunno.’

Day 9: The dinosaurs are hungry, and work together to get into the fridge. Ten out of ten herbivores agree this was best for everyone involved.

Ninth morning: 

After a confused search – the dinos’ jar was open but no dinos in sight – he pondered at how funny it would be if they were in the fridge.

‘Hahahaha, yes, maybe,’ I said.

After the initial laughter wore down, he switched to concern – ‘maybe they want breakfast. But they still need to brush their teeth.’

Day 10: While the world ponders, negotiates, disappoints… the dinos take matters of strategy into their own tiny hands. Well, the sore loser does, anyway.

Tenth morning. At the very least, I’m pleased the children have been exposed to the fundamentals of Battleship: peg patterns.

Day 11: The dinosaurs hit the road. where will a midnight joyride take them? Next stop: somewhere with a heatwave in November…

Eleventh morning. *THERE* they are!!!

Day 12: But they worked so hard… What do you mean it’s the wrong year for a Chanukah bush?

Day 13: It’s a… dinosaur! Welcome to the world tricerobebe. Now hold still…

Thirteenth morning. ‘No, Grandma didn’t do it. She went to bed and then they came out.’

Day 14: what if you walked into your mom’s room one morning, and she had *become* the dinosaur?

Dinomom’s note: there might be something ridic about you if the best reaction of the morning was your huz: “you can’t commit to a movie, you can’t commit to what kind of dinner you want, but you can commit to wearing that dino hat all night.”

Dinovember finale: 
As the calendar strikes one,
The dinos end their fun.
While the rest of us venture… 
What will come alive in December?
 

The Color Run, Israel: A rainbow of running happiness (kinda)

Milestone accomplished! As in, the ‘doing an activity you love with your kid who expressed interest’ milestone!

On Friday, Koala and I ‘ran’ our first race together. I was so  pumped because after the Jerusalem marathon last year, he told me he wanted to run with me one time.

We got our chance with the first-time-in- Israel Running With Color – NATAL’s Run for PTSD in Tel Aviv.

UPDATE (18/11/13): I just became aware that this run was not related to the official The Color Run organization… this whole time I was under a totally different impression, which is probably a PR problem somewhere. So below is what I was expecting, and might explain why I was disappointed. 

The Color Run is ‘the happiest 5k on the planet!’ – a branded global organized run where you get to run a moderate distance for the sake of having totally colorful fun while doing it. Are they coming to your city? Check out this video to get super pumped about it:

The idea is you run through the course in white, while at several points you have ‘paint’ (in our case corn flour and food coloring) tossed on you in happy rainbow clouds.

So Koala and I had been counting down from a month before. I signed us up for the 1.5km ‘Fun Run’ track. We ‘practiced’ on the way to gan in the morning. We cheered when we got our cute white shirts.

He’s a 4 and a half year old boy, so I knew he might get put off by the color-being-thrown-at-you aspect. And he was, because he didn’t like the idea of someone slapping it on, but ‘lo nora’ – he walked around the paint stations and watched me tutu dance my way through the colors.

My color run self!

Here’s what I loved about the rainbow unicorn happiness run:

  • I got to run with my kid! There were so many kids. A great opp to get yours into running.
  • Themed runs are a nice break from the sporty ones… well, at least now at the moment when I can’t do the major sporty ones.
  • Lots of people got really into it! I made tutus for Koala and I to wear; he didn’t wear his in the end but I wore mine. A few other adults/kids wore tutus too and I think we made a lot of folks warm and fuzzy!
  • Tzahal got really into it, which makes sense given the cause (Natal). Actually, all three male winners of the 5k were Tzahal guys. There was also a big Yachad contingent.

A ‘color run’ or ‘running with color’ is an awesome idea. The problem was, in this case, there wasn’t much color… Here’s what I want the organizers to keep in mind for next year:

  • MORE PAINT.
  • Were they supposed to be tossing it on us like in the video, or slapping us on the back with a handful?
  • Maybe less apathetic paint throwing staff?
  • MORE PAINT STATIONS. The whole 1.5km had three, two close to each other at the end. The whole 5km had more but there were long stretches with nothing to keep you going… maybe more signs, music, cheering crowds might have been more the atmosphere you’d expect?
  • The 1.5 was so incredibly anticlimactic that my brother and I joined the 5k starting right after to get our fill. Maybe that’s our problem for being ‘real’ runners trying to make a kid happy, but still… it wasn’t as exciting as it coulda been.
  • Granted I was towards the end of the 5k as I walked half of it, but lots of people ended up rolling on the floors of the paint stations to actually get some color, and many had to take the paint from the buckets for themselves… Maybe having those shakers like in the video would have given more of the cloud effect we expected?

Here are some more alternative views of the event…

The hair:

The hand:

The victory:

The token Israeli flag among Tzahal runners:

The car:

All in all, I’m happy Koala and I did it. I told him after there is an occasional Tzur Hadassah race… he was immediately interested and asking “Ima when are we doing the Tzur Hadassah run?!”

To be continued…

Here are more pictures from the רצים בצבע site and lots more on Facebook.