Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pie, Cheese Cake, and Walks

    One of the dishes I traditionally make for the Sukkot holiday is pumpkin pie. Maybe it's because my mom often made pumpkin pie this time of the year… I'm not sure. But one year I made it, and ever since, it has been almost a tradition. This year I also made one, but with a smaller number of guests around, the leftovers also stick around longer to tempt me. So late this afternoon a tempting idea hit me: "Go take an hour or hour-and-a-half walk, and you'll be able to have some pie now, and still have your regular once-a-week snack of cheesecake late tonight." Simply put, I could walk off the calories of a small piece of pie. 
    But early today I had already taken a good walk, and I really wanted to rest and read. But on the other hand, I was afraid that if I DIDN'T take a walk, I would have the cake anyway. Not only has it been holiday season here (and I am a bit lenient with myself as regards food during the holidays), but the pumpkin pie will not stay good indefinitely, and I wouldn't want it to spoil. [Note: Halachaikly (by Jewish law), I should definitely put my health before the mitzvah  (commandment) not to waste food, but who's being rational here??] I mean, a lot of work went into making that pie.
   But then, my common sense finally kicked in: "When you are 80 are you also going to be able to take TWO walks a day? --  Do you REALLY want to give in to indulging yourself? The holiday officially ended Thursday. - -  Do you want to get yourself re-used to eating several pieces of cake, like you USED to? You KNOW what the results will be."

   So I stayed home and read. And had pumpkin pie tonight instead of cheesecake (the cheesecake is frozen, and will keep very well until next week).

   Oh, and I pulled it off by getting BUSY tonight (taking down the decorations from the sukkah-booth. Nothing like activity to help beat cravings……..

PS. Here is the recipe:

- for a Pyrex rectangle tray, about 25X 39 cm. size
half this amount is good for a regular pie tin

5 cups sifted flour
2t. salt
2t. sugar
300 grams  (cup and a half) margarine (my Mom uses shortening, if you can get it kosher)
10-13 Tabl. COLD water

Combine dry ingredients, then add the margarine. In end add the water gradually until you have pliable, but non-sticky dough. Use a little water as needed..
If possible, refrigerate for a while before using.

Cook in mildly salted water about 3 kilos of pumpkin. (Minus seeds of course)
Strain WELL (save water for soup!). Mash pumpkin well, and separate about 7 cups of cooked pumpkin. Add to this:
6 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
Cinnamon (teaspoon?)
Pinch or 2 of ginger, cloves.
Add to this if you want a bit of evaporated milk or Rich creamer. (about 1/2 cup)

Roll out the crust (keep it thin-- you can patch it up if it tears.)and place in greased pie pan (rectangle) (If you are using the rectangle, you will have dough leftover). 
Pierce a few places all around with a fork.
Pour filling on top

 Bake 10 minutes at 200 degrees, then at 150 (centigrade, obviously) until filling is well set and has a slight baked tinge, and crust is lightly browned.(Total baking time about 50-60 minutes usually.) (Can stick a knife into the center, and it should come out clean)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Barriers (Both and Neither)

    Dave Hingsburger, a noted speaker on disabilities, talks in his blog about  barriers which people with physical disabilities erect in their mind after repeated disappointments. [The blog is HERE, go ahead and read it. My blog will wait a moment.]

    However, it is not only those with disabilities that do this. We all do it.

----The inner voice that says "Why diet, I'll never stick with it, I have no willpower."

----The feeling of hopelessness before Yom Kippur: "Why repent for yelling at my kids… I'll never change…."

----Or a feeling that try as you will, you can never make peace with your mother-in-law, your Aunt Celia, you cousin …..

    But on the other side, don't we also see a lot of people who claim that they CAN make a change… when the day comes that they decide to do so? (The alcoholic who claims that he could quit drinking when he wants to, and the like.)

So who is right?
Both… and neither.

   The person who believes he can change is correct… our sages tell us that as long as a person lives, he can change. HOWEVER, just deciding to change is very rarely ever enough.  To truly change, he will need to work out a livable, usable strategy. He will need to tackle whatever issues are holding him back.

  And the person who feels that he can not change realizes, correctly, that he must make a major internal overhaul in order to change. But what he does not realize is once he will start, like an exercised muscle which gains strength, the going will become much more manageable.

  Making a lasting change includes delving to the roots and reasons of our behavior, and correcting them, not just the behavior itself.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Quick Update

I had a LOVELY first three days of the holiday, and am in a good, upbeat mood. DESPITE all that I overate.
 Yes I overate. I did. I'll live with that. It is a holiday.

But enough is enough.
Back to watchfulness.

Yes. Now. Right away.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Simchat Torah… Nachas VS. True Celebration

[ BTW, a former post with pictures about the upcoming Succah (Sukkot) holiday which starts this Wednesday evening, and runs through the middle of next week, is HERE. Simchat Torah follows the day after the end of the Sukkot holiday.]
     Simchat Torah used to be one of my favorite holidays.

   For those not familiar with the holiday, I quote selected sections of Wikipedia:
   "Simchat Torah is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle....The main celebration of Simchat Torah takes place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. …..In the morning, the last parashah[Torah reading] of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of Genesis are read in the synagogue. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, all the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with all the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that often lasts for several hours and more. ….In Orthodox synagogues, the dancing is mainly carried out by men and boys; very young girls may also be sent in to dance on their fathers' shoulders. Women and older girls…. look on from the other side of a mechitza (partition) in accordance with the rules of tzniut (modesty).
The morning service is also uniquely characterized by the calling up of each male member of the congregation for an aliyah, as well as a special aliyah for all the children in attendance."

    It used to be that for me, Simchat Torah meant hours in the synagogue, lovingly watching my children , and in later years, grandchildren, dance below. I enjoyed walking to synagogue with little children in tow, as they carried their special "degelim" (paper flags), or a fake stuffed "Torah scroll" of their own to prance around with.  When Ricki was a teen, I would often watch her watching the dancing below, gratefully noticing the teenage girls in the synagogue making space for her at the VERY overcrowded mechitza (separation window between the men and women's sections of the synagogue).

    But I wrote above: " Simchat Torah used to be one of my favorite holidays. "
    What happened????

Ricki died.
My husband is too ill to go to synagogue. And if he did, he certainly would not be dancing.
My youngest son, who is not religious, will NOT go to synagogue.
My married children prefer to stay in their own communities for the holiday, as is very common.

   So I have no one to watch in synagogue, and my husband and son will not want the meal hours and hours late just so that I can sit in the women's section of the synagogue. (They WOULD understand the delay for the sake of one of their older siblings with their children.)

   So suddenly Simchat Torah has become a holiday that "means" little more than a festive meal, robbed of its original connection to our Torah.
  I admit that originally I was rather upset with my children, who have not managed to set up a "rotation" system, where each year a different one would forgo being in their own community for the holiday. That would be easy, no?

   Well, maybe not. Do I REALLY know why no one is coming? There may be reasons that they do not share with me. Maybe their spouses parents would be alone if they did not go to THEM. Maybe there are other reasons that they need to be at home. And besides, would I REALLY want a son and daughter-in-law to come begrudgingly?????
   And why in G-d's name am I feeling sorry for myself? Are there not people in the hospital for the holiday? Women with NO kids to EVER watch dancing beneath the women's balcony?  Women with NO husband at all to say a Torah thought?
   And I myself not demeaning the holiday with MY attitude? Is Simchat Torah really about getting nachas (pleasure) from my kids and grandchildren, or is it about really celebrating the receiving of the Torah? Can I relish the gift of G-d's holy scrolls despite whatever tribulations G-d has thrown my way?
     I simply have to find a way to make the holiday meaningful to me, in another way.   

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Cream-Bo Saga

[image: vanilla and mocha-flavored creambos.]

   I was doing some grocery shopping for the upcoming holidays when I noticed the typical cardboard cartons that herald the coming of fall in Israel: carton of Cream-Bo treats.[I havewritten a post about these confections before, including a definition.] 

  I personally thought, considering the heat outside, that it is a bit early in the year for cream-bos, however, I was sure that my grandchildren would have no scruples about eating some during the upcoming sukkah holiday, and I bought a box. But I was sure to purchase the mocha flavor, it being a bit less sweet than the more prevent white vanilla ones.
   Later that evening when the delivery from the supermarket arrived, soldier-son "Y" happened to be home, and was opening the boxes for me. When he opened the delivery box containing the carton of cream-bos his eyes lit up…. And he quickly stuffed the entire box in the freezer--- we believing, in our family, that cream-bos are tastier frozen. (As he was doing this I thought to myself "So much for having any left in two weeks for the holidays….." ) Friday both he and my husband sampled one each, but I decided that  since they are a really empty 115 calories, I would wait until Saturday night, after the Yom-Kippur fast, when I would have plenty of calories to "spare".

     So a few hours after the fast (having first ingested much healthier things like vegetable soup), I decided that a cream-bo treat was in order. After two bites I told my son—"I'm sorry, but I just can't finish it. I don't like it. It is TOO sweet." No more cream-bos for me. That easy. That simple. My tastes have changed. I have gone from liking cream-bos, to preferring salads (see  above referral to previous post), to not being able to finish one. Even after a fast day.