Posted on

A Tale of Two Cities – Let’s Remember

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

Many of us who have graduated from an orthodox Jewish high school have to supplement our classical reading a bit after the fact. The reason that a classic stays popular enough for us to want to read it for fun, is because there are immortal themes that any generation can relate to.

Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a book that we all have heard of and many have read. As a typical Dickens book, it is longwinded and emotional. The story revolves around a cast of characters that are deeply affected by the French Revolution. As a historical fiction, it is easier to identify with, since we are not expected to know the historical background of Dickens.


The book portrays the revolution against aristocrats as a ruthless senseless movement. They did not care that the protagonist Charles Darnay is not a typical aristocrat. They did not care that he rejected the cruel ways of his uncle. It did not matter that he was a good man. They did not stop the tirade against him, even though he had a family who relied on him. Innocence did not matter.

The most moving part of the story is the unbelievable sacrifice of Sydney Carton, the man who allowed Darnay to run away to live his life in peace. He takes Darnay’s place in prison, and goes to the guillotine without once regretting his selfless act. We are reminded that people like Sydney Carton are the people who need to be remembered, the people who will never have children to carry on their name for them.

Think of a person who has sacrificed their life for another. Think of a person who went against senseless violence, or senseless hatred. Think of someone whose name should be remembered. Share the name with us so that we can remember them together.



Posted on

A Moment of Silence

Exactly one week has passed since the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre. As the world continues to mourn the loss of 26 innocent souls, we hope and we pray for comfort and clarity during this painful time. This poem is in loving memory of Noah Pozner, the youngest and the only Jewish victim. It is also in dedication of the other 25 lives that were lost. Noah, please beseech our father in heaven to free the world of evil and darkness. “May G-d comfort your family, together with all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”. Thanks to the Galenas, your Taco dream is becoming a reality.

In their final moments
Inhaling their last breath
They did not hear silence
Facing the angel of death

They heard sounds of gunfire
Piercing the once innocent air
The gut-wrenching cries of children
Mourning a world they thought was fair

When the bullets stopped flying
Wailing sirens took its place
Sheer terror and utter havoc
On every survivor’s face

TVs and radios cackle
More opinions and banter
Asking the one big question
Though there will never be an answer

Shots, sirens, cries, no silence
The world yammers on and on
How? Why? Who? Still no silence
People are hurting, children are gone

Little smiles lost forever, be silent
Grieving parents’ arms left open and bare
Brave teachers now angels, keep silent
Our world needs a moment to hear….

Please join in on this “Random Acts of Kindness” campaign to bring more goodness and love into this world. Let us remember: Charlotte Bacon – Daniel Barden – Rachel Davino – Olivia Engel – Josephine Gay – Ana M. Marquez-Greene – Dylan Hockley – Dawn Hochsprung – Madeleine F. Hsu – Catherine V. Hubbard – Chase Kowalski – Jesse Lewis – James Mattioli – Grace McDonnell – Anne Marie Murphy – Emilie Parker – Jack Pinto – Noah Pozner – Caroline Previdi – Jessica Rekos – Avielle Richman – Lauren Rousseau – Mary Sherlach – Victoria Soto – Benjamin Wheeler – Allison N. Wyatt 



Posted on

Savory Garlic Greens – Kale

If you are looking for a nutritional bang for your buck, kale is where it’s at! This beautiful winter-hardy vegetable is currently in season, and it’s one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can eat! There are many different ways to enjoy kale, but here I will share with you my go-to recipe for delicious and savory dark-leafy greens.


A one-cup serving of kale provides 180 percent of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for Vitamin A, 200 percent for Vitamin C, 1,020 percent RDA for Vitamin K, as well as 5 grams of fiber- with only 36 calories and 0 grams of fat! Per calorie, mineral-rich kale has more iron content than beef, and more calcium than milk. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its high fiber content. It’s also high in antioxidants, folate and magnesium. Kale even contains omega-3 fatty acids (10% RDA in a 1 cup serving)! It’s really worth the effort to add this great-tasting and nutrient-rich vegetable to your diet!

Here’s what you will need to cook up some savory garlic greens:

  • 1 big bunch of kale (or any dark leafy greens of your choice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tsp tamari soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp 
olive oil

Directions: wash greens well and check for any bugs. De-stem the greens, then chop the leaves into thin strips. Coarsely chop the garlic, then coat your frying pan with olive oil and turn onto medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is just starting to brown, about 1 minute. Add in the greens and sprinkle the tamari on top, then stir to coat the greens with the olive oil and tamari. Sauté on medium heat for about 3 minutes, until the greens have wilted, then cover and turn off the heat. Let the greens sit in the hot pan covered for 3-5 minutes. Even with the heat turned off, the greens will continue to steam and become more tender if left covered. These savory greens make a great side dish for most meals, and can be served over basmati rice or any whole grain of your choice.

Yield: 3-4 servings

I hope you enjoy your greens!

Do you want more ideas? See this current thread where Balaboostas members share their favorite kale recipes. They include soups, salads, and even kale chips! Yum. 



Posted on

Silverstein: The Author and the Artist

“Tell me I’m clever,
Tell me I’m kind,
Tell me I’m talented,
Tell me I’m cute,
Tell me I’m sensitive,
Graceful and Wise
Tell me I’m perfect–
But tell me the TRUTH.” 

Sheldon Allan Silverstein, known as Shel Silverstein, was born in Chicago in 1932.  Apart from children’s books, he wrote a popular songs for performers like Johnny Cash, Dr. Hook, and Waylon Jennings. He passed away at his home in Florida on May 9, 1999, affecting many young readers, including myself.

Since his death more of his work has been published, including “Runny Babbit” and another poetry anthology Everything On It. Every time I see another of his books, it reminds me how dedicated he was to his art.

Silverstein illustrated his own stories and poems with his own quirky black and white drawings. His illustrations are in ink and the cartoon-like style appears as if a child drew it.

In the book Where the Sidewalk Ends, the illustrations really help explain the poem as well as make the poems even more humorous. Some of the poems refer to something, and without the illustration, the humor would be lost, such as in the poem Melinda Mae. Throughout the book the pictures add wit and emphasize on the absurdities of the text. Since the media is in ink and no color, the pictures are not overly stressed, placing most of the importance on the wording.

This is not so in The Giving Tree. Here, the drawings are more emphasized, not by adding color, but by taking up most of the pages in simple and evocative illustrations. In the beginning, the boy is young and the tree is full and healthy looking. The boy grows into a man while the tree deteriorates. If not for these pictures, the emotions would not be as strong at the end of the book.

One illustration in specific, touched me. It shows an old wrinkly man sitting on the stump of a tree with the initials of M.E. and T. that he carved so long ago. This picture accompanies the words “Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest. And the boy did.” The picture and words together wrench the readers’ heart out and leaves them with a bittersweet sadness.

This illustration is simple, and would not be necessarily considered a piece of art, but the reader can see and feel the love put into this story by looking at the picture.

I feel that although the pictures are not as beautiful as those in other books, the feeling that they emit are more raw and therefore more appropriate for this book. In general I love looking through all of Silverstein’s books and laughing, or crying. His books will be cherished forever, and the power of his illustration, always felt.



Posted on

Pumpkin Sage Quiche

Fresh sage adds an irresistible flavour to this quiche. Come join The Hester’s event this Thursday, to get a taste of this fabulous food.

For the Pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole grain pastry flour
  • good pinch salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water – or as much as you need for the dough to come together
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions: place the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse several times, until the mixture is uniform and resembles coarse meal. (If you don’t have a food processor, use a pastry cutter or 2 forks instead).

Transfer the crumbled almost-pastry to a mixing bowl and using a spatula, add the water one tablespoon at a time while working it in to the mixture until it comes together, forming into a dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gather it gently into a ball.

Roll the dough into a circle 11 inches or so in diameter (slightly bigger than a 10-inch round). Lift the dough and ease it into a 9-inch pie pan or 10-inch springform tart pan, nudging it gently into the corners. Form a generous, even edge all the way around the sides. Cover with plastic and refrigerate (or freeze) until ready to use.

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and large caps sliced
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded raw pumpkin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • ¾ cup shredded tasty cheese (cheddar, muenster, gouda etc.)
  • 2-3 cups sour cream
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions: preheat the oven to 350°. In a very large skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and sage cook over high heat, stirring, until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the grated pumpkin, reduce the heat to moderate. Add the butter, onion and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.

Scatter half the cheese on the prepared crust. Beat the eggs with the sour cream. Add the vegetable mixture and pour it over the cheese. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top.

Bake the quiche for about 1 1/2 hours, or until richly browned on top and the custard is barely set in the center. Enjoy!



Posted on

He Lives in This House Too

This post is inspired by a current (and ongoing) thread on feminism, where members battle out the pros and cons of pre and post modern era and its effect on women. Read more here, it is called “The War on Men“.

It used to be that upon getting married, a girl would put her years of practice in her mother’s home to good use in her own. From the moment that the glass breaks under the chuppah, the (usually) young lad becomes the man of the house. What he said was what went down. The wife had to clean, cook, scrub and serve without so much of a break… Well, perhaps a break to give birth and then before a blink of an eye, she gets right back into it all. If the husband wanted chicken, he got the whole chunk of it and if he wanted fish, he got it plated up by the time he came home from work. The working or learning man would come home in the evening to fresh supper, a clean house, warmed up slippers, and a quiet room to relax.

Fast forward to my home in 2012. I roll out of bed at 8 am, when my husband wakes me up to tell me that he is leaving for work after making my son a bottle and putting him to play  and often, changing his pamper too. I shower, dress myself and my son, and then we eat breakfast. After a morning rush of supper preparations and a quick wipe down, we rush off to babysitter/work. At 6 pm, we run home to be greeted by my just-arrived-home husband. He takes the baby while I hastily finish the supper that was supposed to be done in the morning. If I am lucky, it is in the crock pot, and if I am lazy I just make pasta and cheese. Then, together we eat, feed the baby, bathe him and put him to sleep. At this point, we are supposed to clean up, wash up and do any folding/washing that is waiting for us. More often than not, we chill out until late at night and then hurriedly, we do a quick clean up and head to bed – to repeat the whole cycle again the next day.

So it is no wonder I dream for a cleaner to do the ‘nitty gritty’ things for me, as my stove and my oven need more tender loving care than I have to give them. After all, I have a husband and a son, don’t they deserve the love more?

I ask my husband, my brother in law, my father and my cousin, do they really wish it was like the good ole’ days? When all they had to do was sit, work, sleep and be waited on hand and foot at all times?

Of course there was the joking, “yes if only I could relax” remarks. However, ironically, they all agreed that they would be bored. Yes. Bored. Sometimes I guilt myself for making him work too hard, at other times, I think I am not working him hard enough. It is then that I say that we are a couple and we are in this together, so let him get down and join me in scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees – yeah as if ;).



Posted on

Secondary Infertility


I’m pained, saddened, and heartbroken. I can’t stop crying. My face is soaked with tears, my heart is throbbing in pain, and my body is shaking from weakness. I keep on asking myself, “How did this sudden turnover from excitement to misery happen?” I wish I could’ve held on, I wish the fetus could’ve stuck to me healthily. At my sibling’s wedding, everyone wanted to know if I was pregnant, even had the audacity to approach me and ask me straight out, to which I abruptly responded, “I prefer to keep these matters private.”

My story goes way back to the delivery room of my first and only child. After an extremely longs stretch of days filled with excruciating labor, I was rushed in to the operating room due to the baby’s dropping heart rate. I was immediately gassed out and then given general anesthesia. The C-section took over two hours of pulling out my child. The first time I held him, he was over 12 hours old. I cried out of excitement, joy. Every day with him is a great gift from heaven that I have never taken for granted.

We tried for another as soon as we got the go-ahead from my OB. I was thrilled to find out that I was pregnant. I came in at 12 weeks for an ultrasound that showed a 7 week old fetus without a heartbeat. I was disappointed, but remained positive. I had a D&C at a Doctor’s office and felt better almost soon after.

I was told to keep trying. I got pregnant again almost immediately. This time, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I decided that I’m not taking a home pregnancy test. Finally, 2 weeks passed my missed period; I took a home pregnancy test. It was clearly positive. That night, I woke up in excruciating pain; almost worse than the contractions I experienced at my son’s birth. My husband helped me breathe, and calmed me down that everything will be okay. I began light spotting the next morning, and then eventually passed the fetus.

It was horrifically traumatic. I felt as though the picture from the book of a forming fetus was getting flushed down the toilet. I felt as though I was a destroyer, not a creator. I was miserable. I fell into a deep hidden depression. On the outside I acted well; however, in the inside I was hurting. I gained a lot of weight and ate away to cover up my emotions. Then, I decided that I won’t give up…I’ll hold on tight, and try again.

This time I was pregnant. Everything was going well. I even made it in to the second trimester. Until my first ultra sound where there was no heartbeat. The baby measured a week less only at 15 weeks. I was sent to a special ultra sound where they confirmed it. I was scheduled for surgery Erev Succos morning. I was put under general anesthesia where they dilated my cervix and contracted my uterus to take out the fetus. My recovery was slow and steady.

This time it took me a year to begin thinking about trying again. On our first try, I was pregnant, but it only lasted two weeks. I bled everything out. All along I’ve been seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist, Hematologist, Endocrinologist and my OB, and none had any solutions. The fetuses have been sent for genetic and viral testing, everything was negative.

The doctor said to keep on trying, so we listened. I got pregnant again almost immediately. All my numbers were good, the HCG and progesterone levels were just as expected. I let myself get excited and I began dreaming about holding my newborn just in time for the month of May. I pinned my favorite baby clothing and items that I dreamed of onto my private Pinterest board. I signed up to the baby magazine. I had my eyes set on the stroller that I dreamed of. I already planned spending time with my newborn in May, June, July, and August.

Until I received the phone call with my blood results. My heart sank. Those painful words were too familiar. “Oh, honey, it’s Nurse ________at Dr. __________ office calling. I have bad news…the HCG levels are dropping. You should expect cramping and bleeding very soon. If you soak through more than a pad an hour go to your local emergency room.” I began sobbing uncontrollably. This time, I kept all my thoughts positive, hoping everything would remain positive. I felt like G-d is slapping me in the face! Why? What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?

I have been diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility. I often find myself crying. I cry from joy and appreciation of being so thankful for my beautiful, healthy child, while crying and praying for another healthy baby. For those of you suffering from infertility I feel your pain, I know your pain, and I cry from the same pain that you are experiencing. I hope and pray that very soon we all cry from the same feelings of happiness, as we hold our precious newborn in our arms.

Chanukah is a holiday of warmth and light. As we gather around family and we talk about the open miracle that G-D showed our ancestors, we speak of their triumph against the darkness. As they prevailed, may all of my sisters out there suffering from infertility see open miracles and overcome the pain and the struggles. As we all light the last candle, I am requesting that you bear us in mind and that your prayers reach the heavenly throne. May the Chanukah light continue to illuminate your home and your future.



Posted on

Root Vegetable Latkes with Lemon-Saffron Yogurt

Two nights left to cook = Two Way Latkes!!

Beet Latkes with Lemon Saffron Yogurt & Rutabaga Latkes with Horseradish Taramosalata

I’ll be the first to admit that potato latkes are really the best kind of latkes! Especially when they’re made well – crispy, thin and fresh out of the fry pan. Here are a couple of recipes using an assortment of other vegetables you can use to perhaps boost your intake of vitamins and minerals, and to add some variation, colour and seasonal freshness to your plate.


  • 1lb mixed raw root vegetables such as rutabaga, golden beets, red beets and parsnip (other turnips, celeriac and carrots are also fine, although I haven’t tried them) peeled and shredded by hand or using a food processor.
  • 1 small or ½ a red onion, minced
  • 2-3 eggs
  • ¼ c flour (almost any flour, all-purpose, whole wheat, spelt and probably many gluten free flours are also fine)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or just a pinch of salt if using mostly beets, too much salt will stifle their natural sweetness)
  • 3 grinds black pepper
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ C peanut or grapeseed oil, (approximately) for frying

For the Beet Latkes: 1 bunch lightly cooked beet greens, squeezed and chopped, 2 tablespoons of fresh mint and parsley, zest of ½ lemon,1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp tahini.

For the Rutabaga Latkes: 1 tsp caraway seeds toasted over the fry pan before you start your frying, 2 tablespoons dill and/or parsley.

Lemon Saffron Yogurt Sauce for the Beet Latkes courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi


  • 1 big pinch saffron threads
  • 250g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt

First make the sauce. Soak the saffron in two teaspoons of hot water for five minutes. Transfer this to a bowl, add the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste, and stir to combine. The sauce will keep well in the fridge.

Horseradish Taramosalata for the Rutabaga Latkes


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish
  • 2 tablespoon freshly chopped dill
  • 3 tablespoons carp roe or salmon caviar (vegetarians, just leave out. The dip is great either way).
  • Zest and juice from ½ a lemon (only if using the roe or caviar).
  • Salt
  • Combine everything and refrigerated until needed.

To make the latkes: Place all your ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. I put disposable gloves on and get down and dirty. I use three eggs; the resulting mixture is lighter, fluffier, and will give you crispier latkes, but it will work fine with fewer eggs, or egg whites if cholesterol levels are a concern. Heat a fry pan with a good amount of oil on a medium flame, and drop spoonfuls of the latke mixture, flattening them with a spatula. When you jiggle the pan and the latke loosens and seems to hold its shape, it’s ready to be flipped. I like to press them thin and cook them quickly on a higher flame.

When deciding what vegetable to use with which sauce, the answer is that it doesn’t really matter. You could use the exact same mixture of root vegetables for either the “beet” or “rutabaga” latkes, and as long as you pair the right herbs and spices with the sauces, they’ll taste great.

A Freilachen Chanukah



Posted on

Working on Faith

“I am in love with Hope.”

Instead of traditional flowers for Shabbat, my husband brings me books. Last week it was “Have a Little Faith.” Very often I find that my religion is strengthened by books such as this. Mitch Albom wrote this book about the religious men in his life, Reb and Henry. He wrote their stories and their struggles. Each had a unique relationship with God, and helped raise a community.

The conflict about religion is raging in many of us. We are brought up taught to believe in certain things, to believe in a way of life. Some of us find enough of a reason to cling, and some, like Albom, run away from our past and heritage. But like many, Albom came back and shared his story.

I have known many rabbis in my life. I knew one who helped nudge my family into going to Shul (synagogue) weekly, convinced my parents to send me to a Chabad school. I lived across the street from another rabbi; he had a daughter who is like a sister to me, he took me in when I ran away from home, gave advice when I needed it. I have rabbis I call for ruling on Halacha (Jewish Law) and rabbis with whom I argue about spirituality and what God really wants. I had rabbis who taught me in school say Sheva Brachot at my wedding, and now teach their daughters. Every one has made me question my way of life.

Questioning is a good thing. It is part of having a relationship with God. Why things are the way they are. Why I am how I am. Does He really care? And looking for the answers is what brings us close to Him.



Posted on

Organic Gluten Free Latkes

Are you looking for a perfect gluten free latke recipe for your family or guests? Look no further! These mini latkes have a classic taste and texture, and make a great appetizer for your Chanukah parties. These latkes are made extra small for an appealing presentation, and look beautiful when served with a big green salad and a side of organic applesauce!

Why make organic latkes?

Did you know that potatoes are one of the top 12 pesticide-contaminated foods? These top 12 most contaminated foods are known as “the dirty dozen” and include the fruits and vegetables that are most heavily laden with potentially harmful pesticide residue. The following is a list of the 12 most contaminated foods, followed by list of the 12 least contaminated foods. For those of us on a tight budget, simply substitute organic for the most contaminated foods whenever possible, and when buying conventional produce, stick to the least contaminated foods.

12 Most Contaminated:

▪ Peaches
▪ Apples
▪ Sweet Bell Peppers
▪ Celery
▪ Nectarines
▪ Strawberries
▪ Cherries
▪ Pears
▪ Grapes (Imported)
▪ Spinach
▪ Lettuce
▪ Potatoes

12 Least Contaminated:

▪ Onions
▪ Avocado
▪ Sweet Corn (Frozen)
▪ Pineapples
▪ Mango
▪ Asparagus
▪ Sweet Peas (Frozen)
▪ Kiwi Fruit
▪ Bananas
▪ Cabbage
▪ Broccoli
▪ Papaya

Now back to the latkes!  Here is what you will need to make your golden crispy gluten free latkes:

  • 2 pounds organic Yukon gold or Russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup olive oil

Yield:  14-18 latkes

Directions: Peel your potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water. Using the grating disc of a food processor, grate the potatoes and place into a bowl. Using a cheesecloth, cloth napkin, or a strainer, squeeze as much liquid out of the potatoes as possible, reserving the potato liquid in a separate bowl. Let the liquid settle for five minutes, (your gluten free potato starch will settle to the bottom of the bowl). While the potato liquid settles, process the onion until smooth in the food processor and add to the grated potato. Slowly pour off the liquid from your bowl of potato liquid, and add the remaining potato starch to your grated potato mixture. Add in the egg and the salt and stir well.

Once your batter is ready, coat your frying pan with about 1/4 inch of olive oil, then turn up the heat. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into the oil at a time, and flatten them slightly with your spatula.  Fry latkes until golden on the bottom- about 3 minutes on medium-high heat- then flip and fry until golden on the other side. When they are crispy and golden brown, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels if desired. Continue frying until all the batter is used up, adding in more oil to the pan as needed. Serve with organic applesauce and generous helping of your favorite green salad – and enjoy your delicious gluten free meal!

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Chanukah!