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One little dude I know is all ready for Shabbat!

As for the rest of the house, well, we’re still working on that.  May you all have a restful Sabbath!

It’s the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and we are having a great time eating matzot.  We love the stuff.  This year I got some new cookbooks, and one that features matzah bread, perfect for Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread cooking.  One of our favorite recipes so far, however, has been one for Matzah Bark, that I found online.  I’ll share this one, just because it’s really very good and you just gotta try it.  Really.

Chocolate Matzah Bark
From the kitchen of: Rhona Backler

½ lb butter
½ cup sugar
2 cups (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
matzah ( ½  lb – ¾ lb)
slivered almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a saucepan, melt butter and sugar together, bring to a boil.
Line an edged cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place matzah sheets on pan in a single layer.

1. Drizzle butter and sugar mixture over matzah.*
2. Bake 10 minutes
3. Turn oven off
4. sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over crackers
5. return to oven to melt – 2 minutes
6. remove from oven and spread chocolate (I use the back of a spoon)
7. sprinkle with almonds.**
8. Cool – place in freezer
9. Break into bite-sized pieces and store in an airtight container.

Notes:
*I brushed it on in a thick layer instead of drizzling it.
** I used chopped walnuts and chopped slivered almonds to coat the matzot.  Both are great.  Try also just letting the butter/sugar mixture dry or topping only that with the nuts.  Yumm!

I have to be realistic with myself.  This year my house will not be spic and span clean.  I wish I could say it would be, but if I’m honest with myself, it’ll be hard enough just to be rid of chametz (grains, leavening and anything already leavened) in the house.

whole wheat breads with different grains/seeds on top

So, first things first, right?  I have to use up my flours (lots of it, for some reason!), baking soda, baking powder, yeast and anything in the pantry that might be leavened.  That’s a lot of work right there!  Do you know how often I check my pantry?  Not as often as I ought to, I suppose.  Sometimes I find things I bought last year, or canned a really long time ago.  Like apple butter.  There’s still a few jars of that around.  I’m not even sure those are safe anymore.  Thankfully, there’s also things that come in handy, like passover things I didn’t use last year.  Noodles and some matzah meal and stuff like that.  So I’ll have to go in-depth in my pantry and clean it out.  I can take that time to wipe down the shelves, too.

If I can do all that and keep up with the regular house cleaning and chores before passover, I’ll give myself a passing grade.  Things I hope I will accomplish before passover: cleaning the windows from the outside, cleaning the light fixtures and ceiling fans and the top of the door frames in the house.  I know this doesn’t seem like a very extensive list, but I just don’t know how I could add cleaning closets and shoe soles and every drawer to my already seemingly overwhelming list of to-dos.  I just don’t think I can handle it all.  I wonder how orthodox wives and new mommies and mommies with lots of kiddos do it.  With help, surely.

So now, I’m off to do some serious baking.

whole wheat pitas

Anyone need some bread?

Hanukkah Sameach!  Happy Hanukkah!  Erev Shabbat candles.

Friday night was the first night of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Dedication or the Festival of Lights.  Did you know Yeshua celebrated Hanukkah?  He not only celebrated it, he made a special trip to Jerusalem for the festival, according to John 10:22-23.  So what is this festival all about?  It’s about the preservation of a remnant of faithful Jews, at a time when many were assimilating with the Greeks.

There was a ruler at the time, Antiochus IV who called himself Epiphanes “God Manifest”,  whose goal was to Hellenize all the Jews.  He didn’t like it that they worshiped only their own G-d and that they had a special diet.  His plan to Hellenize them included building a gymnasium by the Temple, then desecrating the Temple and erecting a pagan god in there.  They were also forced to sacrifice pigs daily on the altar.  Antiochus’ army went from town to town forcing the Jews to renounce their G-d and to eat non-kosher meat and bow down to the Greek pantheon.  Many were willing to do it for the sake of not losing their lives, and “keeping the peace”, however there was a small band of faithful Jews who would not , regardless the cost.  There are stories of some famous martyrs, including a woman who watched her seven sons die and was killed herself for not renouncing their faith.  These mere 4,000 Jews fought Antiochus’ huge army of over 40,000 for three years, and in the end they won back Jerusalem, including the Temple.  It was a miracle by the hand of G-d.  They may have been few, but G-d always manifests his power through the faithful few.  Remember the story of Gideon?

So anyway, the faithful Jews entered the Temple, cleaned it out and wanted to rededicate it to G-d.  They only found one bottle of holy oil that was untampered with for the Menorah, which would only last one day, but they went ahead and used it anyway, even though they needed it lit for eight full days.  They story goes that the oil lasted the full eight days, yet another miracle by G-d.  This is why it is also called the Festival of Lights.  So the festival is observed for eight days every year beginning on Kislev 25.

As we celebrate this holiday, we are remembering and recalling G-d’s faithful hand in preserving His people, we are remembering the importance in not allowing the little things of the world to turn us away from G-d’s ways, we are remembering the martyrs of our faith, and we are remembering our role in society today.  Afterall, Yeshua said we are to be the light of the world and that our light should not be hidden.

Latkes!

As is usually the case with Jewish festivals, there are many fun ways to celebrate this holiday.  There is food, of course, which is usually fried food to remind us of the miracle of the oil.  Traditional are latkes, or potato pancakes, and sufganyot, or jelly-filled doughnuts.  Chocolate gelt, or coins, is also traditional.

Second night of Hanukkah

There is the 9-branched menorah called the Hanukkiah, with a branch for each of the eight nights, plus the middle branch, which is for the shamash, or servant candle.  It is interesting to note that the hanukkiah would not be lit if it weren’t for the servant candle, for it is this candle that gives its light to the rest of the candles on the hanukkiah.  Just so, it is through Yeshua’s light that we can be the light of the world, and it is through the servant that we can have light.

There is also a game the children enjoy playing which retells the story of Hanukkah.  It’s called dreidel, and it’s a four-sided top with a letter on each side for each word of the hebrew phrase “A Great Miracle Happened There.”

Since it’s only me who keeps the holidays here, I made us a fine dinner of roasted chicken and roasted veggies, latkes and beet salad.  Then I had vanilla ice cream topped with vegan peanut butter cookie crumbles.  Delicious!  The hubby always enjoys the latkes and has been asking for latkes since I made them last year during Hanukkah.  Maybe next year we will celebrate the festival together as a family, or with other families.

The holiday weekend was nice.  I had Friday off so I finally got around to cleaning the house.  I swept and mopped like a maniac, and cleaned the kitchen ’till it sparkled.  Then I cooked up some chickpea curry and rice for lunch and made a TON of potato salad for the potlucks – one that evening and one the following evening.  While the potatoes were cooking I decided to shave the dog, then bathe her.  Of course, after that I had to bathe myself.  I knew I would be late to my potluck that evening, but I just had to finish up my chores.  My legs and lower back were hurting from all the activity, but I just had to keep going.  I finally made it to the potluck where I got to sit for a little while.  I noticed every time I got up or sat down the pain would intensify in my lower back. 

Before sundown I headed back home, eager to get into bed and relax.  When I finally did get to bed, I just didn’t want to get up.  The pain was so intense that I could hardly move.  I knew we had some ointment in the bathroom so I forced myself to sit up, then slowly to get up.  I could barely stand.  I was crouched over holding on to the bed, the dresser, the door, anything that would hold my weight so my legs wouldn’t buckle underneath me because of the pain.  I knew I wasn’t in very good shape.  I finally made it to the bathroom, grabbed the ointment, then painfully dragged my pained self back to bed where I quickly slathered on as much as I could possibly put on myself. 

Eventually the heat from the ointment helped soothe my muscles and by the time hubby got home, I could almost stand.  He helped me to the bathroom and back, then massaged some more ointment on my lower back.  Thankfully, the following day was all Sabbath so I could rest as much as needed.  There was plenty of food and snacks so I knew I wouldn’t need to lift a finger. 

I spent the day either in bed or on the couch, except when I had to stand for prayer.  The relaxing day really helped my back feel better so by the time I went to the other potluck my back was almost pain-free.  Although my potato salad had been a big hit at the first potluck, it was overlooked due to the overabundance of food this night.  I ended up taking most of it back home with me.  That was okay, though; I had a nice time and even went to see the fireworks display with some friends after havdalah.

Would you like to see some pictures now?  Of course you would. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been a beautiful day here in western Oregon.  I hope you’ve having a fine day, too.  I’m glad we have some sun again, as that’s been a tremendous help  energizing me to actually DO stuff.  I really need that.

Shabbatt is upon me and after work I still have to grab a few things from the store before I can start making dinner.  Think I’ll make it before candle-lighting time?

We’ll see.

my very simple havdallah stuff.

my very simple havdalah stuff.

Maybe one day I will get a fancy havdalah set. 

See you after havdalah!

I have not dropped off the face of the earth.  I’m sorry.  I’m here.  I promise.

What have I been up to, then?  Good question.  Unfortunately, the answer is not quite so good:  I have no idea.  Time flies.  Have you heard that?  It’s quite true, you know. 

I had a lovely Passover at home with the pets as my dear hubby was working that night.  I did get to see him before going to bed, though, and he had some matzo ball soup and I think I made a goat dish that night.  And rice.  And potatoes, and I think there was a salad, too.  Maybe coconut milk ice “cream” as well…?  Can’t remember.  It’s been over 48 hours and my mind usually draws a blank about then.

I ran out of Matzos half-way through the week.  Did you know that grocery stores don’t carry Kosher for Passover matzos past Passover?  It’s like they don’t even know about the whole week after Passover!  Come to think of it, they probably don’t.  Okay, mental note: Next year get too many boxes of matzo bread.  Better safe than sorry, right?  Turns out, I finally did find a couple boxes of matzo bread but they were egg matzos.  I’m not technically elderly or infirm, but it was better than nothing.  They’re good, too!

At some point, in the last week we went to the forest for a walk.  It might have been good friday as we had that day off as a company holiday.

Forest Man

Forest Man

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I cheated.

I went to the Hallmark store and bought five of their like 8 remanining Passover cards.  I just now finished them and when the mailman comes, they’ll be off to their respective sides of the country.  Late, but better than never, right?

Wanna peek at what my cards say?  I’m not a brilliant writer, but I tried to write what is in my heart.  I hope it makes sense: Read the rest of this entry »

Applying The Blood

Preparing For Passover

And what have I done?  Not as much as I ought to in order to finish on time!

I will grant myself the fact that I am new at this and that I was sick last week, but other than that, I did have plenty of time to clean & prepare meal plans so really, what’s my excuse?

I have yet to clean my whole house of hametz (it’s actually not very big), check car and office desk for hametz, go grocery shopping and wash my new Passover silverware (a timely gift from my lovely mother-in-law).  I wish I could have found some china to use on this special night, but I know that is not essential and maybe next year I will have special china.  I also have to find a good use for the leaven in my house and get rid of the rest.  I’m thinking Sunday will be a big baking day.  I hope I have it in me to bake that much for that long.  The neighbors will be very happy, methinks.   :)

Read the rest of this entry »

On Monday afternoon I found out my dear little grandmother from Peru had passed away.  I had been meaning to fly out there and see her and my grandpa soon, but I guess I didn’t make it in time.  I haven’t seen this lady since I was about five years old, when my mom and sister and I took a trip there to visit them before coming to the States.  I’m glad I got to see her at least once in my life, but I was really hoping to see her again before her passing.  She and my grandfather have been wanting to see me for a long time, since they have already seen my brother (went out there for Thanksgiving this past year) and my sister (who has been there a time or two) I am the only one left they have yet to see again.  I think they have even seen my mom again. 

My dad flew out there the summer before he passed away to see his dad who was sick in the hospital.  He thought his dad would pass away and couldn’t allow it to happen without making amends and speaking to him about Messiah.  Turns out, grandpa is alive and well now but it was my dad’s time on this earth that was cut short.  Thankfully, grandpa came to know Messiah during my dad’s time out there and they made amends.  It was my grandma (who is actually my dad’s step-mom) who urged my dad to go to church when he was just a young boy, and took very good care of him throughout his youth.  It was through his stepmom (my grandma) that my dad came to know Messiah.  

As a way to honor my dad, I lit a candle for my grandma.  I hope this honors them both. I am very, very sad that I didn’t get to see her before she passed.  There would have been so very much I would have asked her and spoken to her about had I had the chance.  I also said the prayer for tragic news:  Blessed are you, HaShem our G-d, King of the universe, the True Judge.  This acknowledges His sovereignty in all aspects of life, even death.

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