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Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts with Quince Cardamom Preserve

For years now, Chanuka has been synonymous with doughnuts. While gentiles are stringing up their lights, saddling up reindeer, and racking up huge electricity bills, we Jews are probably more focused on our usual preoccupation: food. Yes – miracles and wonders, olive oil, lights, transcending the physical too, but mainly food – deep fried food. We’re imaging the crispy and salty latkes and the moist creamy doughnuts. Many years ago, some clever person had the great idea to connect every single Jewish holiday to different foods, and these foods have become rituals in their own right. The whole idea at it’s core is pure outreach (so I guess a Lubavitcher thought of it?): the lost Jewish soul comes back to his grandparents’ Shabbos table with one good bowl of chicken soup.

The only thing that really connects doughnuts with Chanuka is the fact that doughnuts are deep fried, which is supposed to remind us of the miracle of the oil in the Temple. Considering the recipe I’m about to give you is for baked doughnuts, not fried ones, which might seem sacrilege to some, let me just defend myself in advance; I would never choose to deep-fry something if I could make it just as good another way. Deep-frying is messy, costly and when it’s all over, the smell lingers, and someone needs a facial.

If you’re thinking that you’d be better off just buying doughnuts, then yes, you have a point. It would be so much simpler if I could just bite into a commercial doughnut and taste good quality jam or REAL custard filling, but anyone who eats discerningly knows that most of the time, food you buy just isn’t all that great. It’s one of the big reasons I bother to cook at all (unless you thought it was the calluses and burns!).

If you make your own doughnuts and fillings this year, no matter which recipe you use, let your mind wander back to the story of Chanuka, and add some personal meaning to your own recipe. Think about the heroes of the story: The Maccabim, the people that physically cleaned the desecrated Temple, and the heroine Yehudit who seduced the Syrian-Greek general Holofernes with cheese and wine before beheading him. Deep fried food? We can be more creative than that – just the same way we are probably capable of deep-frying anything, I am almost certain we are capable of attributing connection and meaning to absolutely anything.

The idea of ‘transcending the physical’ stems from the fact that the miracle of Chanuka features the number 8. To explain; a 7-day week is the norm, and the bane of our existence, but the miracle of the oil burning lasted for a full eight days. Eight is not just any random number, it is just one more than seven. 8 teachers us to try and go beyond our comfort zones and our natural state of being.

So, as this Chanuka approaches, ask yourself, “do I want another average doughnut from an average bakery, or am I going to go beyond my usual limitations and make it myself?”

For the Doughnuts (adapted from 101 Cookbooks):

  • 1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees (divided)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (I use a blend of whole wheat and white or whole spelt)
  • A pinch or two of nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions: place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Be sure your milk isn’t too hot or it will kill the yeast. Stir the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt – just until the flour is incorporated. With the dough hook attachment of your mixer beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. This is where you are going to need to make adjustments – if your dough is overly sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add more milk a bit at a time. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead just a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.

Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop. Use an upside down small drinking glass or a 2-3 inch cookie cutter to make circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes – start checking around 8. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a bowl and the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl, plate or ziploc bag.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven and using a pastry brush (or you can actually dip the doughnut into the bowl of butter) brush butter over each doughnut, then a quick toss in the sugar. Depending on how many you’re making, you can just throw all the doughnuts together in the ziploc bag and give it a shake. When I’m making a ton of these I spread the sugar mixture onto a baking tray and after brushing the butter, I turn the doughnuts around once to get coated.

Makes 1 1/2 – 2 dozen medium doughnuts.

For the Quince Cardamom Preserve:

  • 3-5 quinces, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 apples and/or pears, chopped (no need to peel if you plan on blending).
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean cut lengthwise
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods.

Here’s how: add everything to a heavy-bottomed pot. (Don’t mess around with the numbers of the spices unless you have a really good memory! Remember, whatever you put in, must come out so this way you have 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5…). Add enough water to barely cover the fruit, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Stir often, keep reducing the liquid and be careful not to let it burn. Some people use a crock pot and cook the fruit overnight and you can do that, but you can also just let it bubble for as little as an hour. The longer you let it cook, the thicker it will be. When enough is enough, remove all the spices (1, 2, 3, 4!) and blend if you prefer a smoother consistency.

You can preserve the fruit by doing the whole mason-jar 10 minute hot water bath but don’t bother with that right now. When the fruit has cooled, just slice ⅓ of the way through the doughnut and spread the fruit with a knife. You can also inject it like I did one year, getting very sticky hands and wasting a lot of time.

An Optional Glaze (rather than the cinnamon and sugar):

  •  1 cup unfiltered apple juice (“cider”)
  • 2, 1 inch pieces ginger
  • 1 cup powdered/icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Like this: put the apple juice and the ginger into a small pot and boil. Keep reducing until less than half is left. When cooled, prepare the icing by combining the sugar and cinnamon and slowly add tablespoons of the reduced apple ginger mixture. Whisk until smooth. Place a wire cooling rack over a piece of parchment paper. When doughnuts are cool, dip tops into the glaze and let them rest on a wire rack until the glaze hardens.

Happy Chanukah!




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Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I asked one of my frequent writers to share her story on HG, being that it is all over social media due to Kate Middleton‘s current Hospitalization. We had a discussion about this on the forum (see thread here) when someone posted “The View”‘s reaction to Kate’s news (see below), which was disgraceful to say the least. It occurred to me that too many women are simply unaware as to what HG is, and this is a good opportunity to raise awareness. Please share this with your lady friends.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum. A.K.A. Puking your guts out while pregnant.

For those of you that don’t know what HG is, I envy you. What it is: Although 90% of women suffer some amount of morning sickness, HG only affects around 1 in 200 women. Symptoms include severe nausea and vomiting, food aversions, significant weight loss, dehydration, fainting, and malnutrition. It is serious, and without the proper care, can result in life threatening complications to both mother and baby. This is Morning Sickness vs. Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

Morning Sickness:

  • You lose little if any weight.
  • Nausea and vomiting do not interfere with your ability to eat or drink enough each day.
  • You vomit infrequently and the nausea is episodic but not severe. It may cause discomfort and misery.
  • Dietary and/or lifestyle changes are enough to help you feel better most of the time.
  • Typically, you will improve after the first trimester at a gradual pace but may be a little queasy at times during the remainder of your pregnancy.
  • You will be able to work most days and care for your family.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum:

  • You lose more than 5% of your body weight.
  • Nausea and vomiting cause you to eat nothing or very little and causes dehydration.
  • You vomit often and may vomit bile or blood if not treated. Nausea is usually moderate to severe and constant.
  • You will probably require fluid hydration through a vein and/or medications to stop the vomiting.
  • You usually feel somewhat better by mid-pregnancy, but you may continue to be nauseous and/or vomit until late pregnancy.
  • You will likely be unable to work for weeks or months, and may need help caring for yourself.

My story, pregnancy #1: Husband and I find out I am pregnant; we are thrilled like any clueless first time parents are. I feel great, and I naively think I will love being pregnant, just like my mother. It shouldn’t be surprising, my mother and I are nothing alike, but I get sick at 8 weeks pregnant.

The first 3 months are spent with my head in the toilet. I throw up an average of 30-40 times a day. Occasionally, I don’t throw up at all, and that results in me momentarily blacking out. I lie in bed all day, fantasize about taking a shower standing up.

I don’t cook supper, and I don’t let my husband cook supper. The smell of the sun gets me sick, my husband tries smelling it and can’t. We go on vacation when I’m five months pregnant and I black out after standing out in the heat for ten minutes. I sit under a tree while my husband gets me water, and a bunch of people are staring at me. I laugh, thinking it’s no big deal, this happens all the time, but it hits me: This is not normal.

Baby is monitored constantly throughout the pregnancy, baby is growing well. At nine months pregnant, I weigh less than I did at my wedding. After a long labor, I give birth to a huge, healthy baby. A little while later, I eat a peanut butter sandwich, followed by meatballs and spaghetti.

Pregnancy #2: My mind tricks me into thinking I can handle a second HG pregnancy. Once again, we are thrilled and clueless like any second time parents. I get sick sooner this time, at 6 weeks, and it is more severe. My vision of a normal pregnancy is gone, and is replaced with the reality of popping 25 pills a day.

This time, the sun does not have a smell, but water does. Husband does not agree. I don’t drive, I don’t bathe my son. I don’t cook, clean, or work. I rarely leave the house and I often make my husband skip work to stay home and help me do absolutely nothing.

I am unable to physically care for my son, so I send him to daycare, and it breaks my heart. Its déjà-vu this time, so I do not freak out when I black out. The pills work, I do not throw up so much. Instead, when I do, it is very sudden so I throw up on my bed, in the sink and on the floor, unable to make it to the toilet. Pros: We finally have a reason to dry clean our blankets.

I am now a little over five months pregnant. I am over the worst, but still going through it. I throw up once in a while usually accompanied by a brief black out. Based on my first pregnancy, I will most likely feel this way until I give birth. I cannot wait until my babies are older so I can tell them what I went through and make them feel bad. Just kidding, I would never do that.

I am lucky. I never stayed overnight at a hospital and managed to avoid an IV. My story is not one the really bad ones, you don’t want to read those, they are crazy. Kate Middleton is pregnant, and I can definitely relate to what she is going through. I feel reassured that HG will finally get the awareness it needs so people stop telling me, “Just try ginger, it helps wonders with nausea.”

Here is a great article that explains HG along with the authors personal story, and a funny, but useful guide for husbands of women suffering from HG. I know I’m not alone in wanting to raise awareness, Ashli Foshee McCall just published her story on the “Washington Post”. She is the author of the children’s book, “Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While)”. 



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Tri-coloured Cauliflower with Fresh Oregano

Cauliflower is one of the more versatile stars of the vegetable kingdom. It’s delicious raw, marinated or pickled, but when cooked, cauliflower takes on an almost meaty flavour. When baked with cheese, it’s so hearty and satisfying that it’s easy to forget you’re eating a vegetable at all. Aesthetically, it’s a cousin of broccoli, but beyond that, completely different. Roasted until brown and very colourful in this recipe, cauliflower takes on a new enticing dimension. Serve with a rich fatty fish like salmon, or with brisket and lightly steamed leafy greens.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 3 heads of cauliflower, cut or broken into florets (If you can get a variety, available right now in the New York area, it will look gorgeous, I’ve seen purple, orange, green and romanesco.)
  • 1 small bunch fresh oregano
  • 1 cup chopped parsley (optional)
  • Soft butter or/and oil (¼ cup approximately)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 red chilli or habanero peppers

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F or 205 C. Line two large baking trays or cookie sheets with parchment or baking paper. Place florets into a large mixing bowl. Strip the leaves off five oregano sprigs and throw them over the cauliflower. Discard the stems. Throw the rest of the oregano sprigs over the cauliflower as well. Put two sprigs aside for presentation. Pour the oil into the bowl or add the butter (or both). Sprinkle the salt, about two tablespoons, but err on the side of less because you can always add more later. Grind a bunch of black pepper, maybe six grinds total. Throw in the peppers whole. Toss the veggies and the herbs well. Spread in a single layer over both baking sheets and roast until “al dente”, soft, but with a bite, about 20 minutes.

Chef’s tip: If you need more space either roast in shifts or get another tray. If you pile up the cauliflower, it will steam instead of roasting.

Photograph by Itta Werdiger Roth



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Yours, Mine, and Our Judaism

I asked one of my frequent writers to consider the objections some people (examples here and here) have to some certain topics on Balaboostas. Some people on the discussion forum were worried the knowledge that other Frum women get different Psakim would be too threatening to their Judaism and that’s why the forum is dangerous. Ilana strongly disagreed.

I had a teacher in seminary who said that everyone has to have a “Baal Teshuvah” moment at some point in their life. She recommended to my fellow frum-frum-birth classmates (I was only one of a few Baal-Teshuvahs) that if this hadn’t happened yet, seminary was a good time for it to occur. What she meant by this was that at some point, in order to be a fully functional, happy adult, your way of life has to be a conscious choice. Indeed, the Tanya, a Sefer that is very important to my life and my take on Judaism, speaks extensively about Mitzvos that are done by route, or by habit. Although this is better than not doing Mitzvos at all, it is by no way the way Judaism is meant to be practiced. It is supposed to be an alive, precious thing that incorporates our hearts and intellects fully.

This involves more of an emphasis on the individual than we are accustomed to in day-to-day frum life, which focuses on the communal or family good rather than the individual good. However, what I have learned as a Baal Teshuvah is that individual life is at least as important as communal life. One cannot be a member of the community and contribute their unique G-dly spark to the world if they haven’t realized themselves as individuals. And most importantly, one’s connection to G-d must be personalized and personally confirmed. This is why we Daven Shemoneh Esrei alone, even while standing among a Minyan. My individual journey to Judaism, what made me devoted and committed to a Torah way of life, are necessary parts of my daily observance. Because what connects me is real and internal, I remain committed and engaged throughout all the different cycles of my life’s journey. The experiences I went through are personal, and actually don’t involve anyone but my own self. There’s not really some fantastic story with a plot and a happy, neat ending I can tell at farbrengens for high school girls.

So it puzzles me when people seem to encourage others to go through life, not to mention committed observant life, without the introspection necessary to make it meaningful and real. How is that a permanent solution to people who struggle because they never decided to be religious but are repeating habits that were ingrained in them? All of this applies, by the way, to the Derech one chooses within Judaism. If it is not one that resonates with you, and if your Rav is not someone whose opinion and knowledge you respect above all other temptations of laxity or freedom, then what are you doing in your Derech of Judaism? It is a dangerous question to ask, but the answers will inspire growth, like a jog where you run just a little faster than you think you can manage or do a math problem slightly above your level of comprehension. It is something hard, and something scary, but something so worth doing that it might not be worth long-term halachic observance without these questions being broached. Is it better than completely abandoning Halacha? Sure! But it’s no place in which to feel secure and complacent.

In light of this view on life and religion, I don’t understand in the least why someone would think a discussion group about how different people within Halachic Judaism practice or Pasken. If the way other Jews live makes someone feel malcontent or disrupts their Shalom Bayis, what was their Judaism and Shalom Bayis about besides for their habits? Was it ever something they chose and feel committed to beyond the call of inertia? If it isn’t, well, it’s time to Chozer B’teshuvah.



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After the Kallah Class – The Turnout with Photos

By Devorah Ascher

The first official event, “After the Kallah Class“, took place Thursday evening in the Crown Heights community. It was a lecture on intimacy by psychotherapist, Rivka Sidorsky, LCSW-C. The crowd of 70 women listened on intently, as she spoke about issues and topics that concern married Jewish women.

The sensitive and crucial topic of intimacy was discussed from a psychological, as well as a physiological standpoint. Starting out with basic information on healthy intimacy, and ending with frequently asked questions in the Frum community, Rivka Sidorsky was engaging and comfortable to listen to. After an hour and half of lecturing, women got to ask questions, discuss, and mingle around the refreshment table. “The lecture was conducted in such a modest manner. For the subject content, that was really impressive”, said some women who attended. “There should definitely be more events like this!”, others added.

“This was an exciting moment for the Balaboostas community. For its first official event, the feedback from the women who attended was superb and it was a great success! I hope that this is a start of many more in the future”, said Bracha Bard-Wigdor, creator of Introducing the event was Mrs. Fraidy Yanover, a certified LifeCoach and it was hosted in the Gutnick residence.

For the readers who want to attend the next lecture, you can subscribe to the emails on main page to be notified on future blogposts and events.

Photographs by Chana Lewis

*As promised, photos of attendants are not included for privacy protection.

This article was also published on COLlive and



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Blue-Grey Eyeshadow

The look I have for you today is inspired by the rainy/snowy weather we have been experiencing, here on the East Coast. It is dark, smoky, and really beautiful, perfect for a night out!

The blue eye shadow goes perfectly for those of you with brown eyes. If your eyes are green, switch the blue for a dark maroon/purple. If your eyes are blue, switch the blue for a dark brown.


  1. After priming your eyelids, apply a bright silver eye shadow to the inner corner of your eyes.
  2. Apply shiny gray eye shadow to the middle part of your eyelids.
  3. Apply a dark blue eye shadow to the outer corners of your eyes. Use a small precise brush to do steps 1-3.
  4. Apply a light neutral eye shadow (foundation powder) under your eyebrows and right above the crease. You can use a bigger, softer brush for this.
  5. Apply black eyeliner in your waterline and wing it out. I used a gel eyeliner and a thin eyeliner brush for this.
  6. Finish off the eyes by applying mascara. You are now finished your eyes!

I kept the rest of the face very neutral, without even applying any foundation or blush, and applied some natural lip gloss on my lips.

Stay warm and enjoy your night out in the town!



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After the Kallah Class

First official Balaboostas event has finally arrived! Don’t miss out on this crucial topic. You can RSVP on Facebook, or comment on this blog post or message me here. Space is limited, so if you would like to bring friends, please let me know as soon as possible (but they can just show up too).  Looking forward to meeting you!

Flyer by Miriam Hammer Designs



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Autumn Borscht

There are more versions of borscht than I can list or even know about, most of the recipes originating from various Eastern European countries. Hot or cold, as a drink or as a soup over hot potatoes, or as a warm meaty stew, borscht is one of the most argued-over dishes. People are often consumed with the question of “what is the REAL original recipe?”, so here’s what I think: I’m a cook, not an archaeologist, and I couldn’t care less whether Russians would use caraway seeds in borscht! This recipe is delicious and very autumnal; enjoy!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 Tablespoons of grape-seed oil (or/and butter)
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 head of garlic, thinly sliced/minced
  • Generous pinch of caraway seeds
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 yukon potatoes, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch red beets, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups water (approximately)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 of a squeezed lemon (juice)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped parsley and/or dill & beet greens
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt to serve

Directions: heat the oil in a large stock pot. Add the onions, and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and caraway seeds and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes and beets. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables have started to soften. Add the water, salt, sugar, vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Stir in the greens and lemon juice, simmer for a minute, and then add black pepper to taste.
Serve warm with fresh dill and sour cream.

Chef’s tips: Please feel comfortable to measure very approximately. This is a rustic village-style dish and exactness is not necessary. You can make it more soupy or more stew-like depending on how much water you add. This recipe can easily be adapted to be made with beef (Jews: without the sour cream of course!). You can brown small pieces of beef stew on the side and throw them in at the same time as you add the beets.

Serves 4 as main course, 6 as an appetizer

Photograph by Itta Werdiger Roth



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Unforgotten Soldier

This poem is being published as a tribute to all of the Israeli soldiers that are fighting for Israel. As Israel takes a stand and retaliates against Hamas and the terror that they unleash on a daily basis to the citizens of Israel, we pray for our Jewish Chayalim to be protected and for the safety of the Holy Land during these trying times. If you live anywhere in or near the danger zone, we are sending thoughts and prayers your way. Three causalities are three too many.  Hashem Yikom Damam. To all those who are reading this, if a chapter of Psalms can be said or simply a good deed done, that would mean a whole lot. Please share and be safe.

Written by: Lieba Bard-Wigdor

From the city of Tel Aviv
He walks to the door
Gradually turns around
And kneels on the floor

Aba, please don’t leave me
We need you right here
The child sounds so desperate
His voice is filled with fear

Our Jewish brothers need me
My son, please understand
This is what I must do
To protect our holy land

Wherever Elokim takes me
My son, I want you to know
You will be with me always
But now I really must go

He watches his father leave
As a tear rolls down his cheek
He waves the soldier goodbye
For he can no longer speak

Many years pass on by
Since that very last day
His father’s final departure
And forever taken away

He looks into the mirror
He sees his father’s face
It brings back memories
Of a familiar time and place

From the city of Tel Aviv
He walks to the door
Gradually turns around
And kneels on the floor

Aba, please don’t leave me
Your father did the same
I do not want to lose you
To be another forgotten name

My son, Saba is remembered
Although we may be apart
He’s been watching over me
As he is always in my heart

Now I will watch over you
As my father did the same
I love you, B’ni Hayakar
I won’t be a forgotten name

Stay strong, my dear son
I will be okay, don’t cry
For this land is ours forever
B’ni, Am Yisrael Chai



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The Grouchy Ladybug

“At five o’clock in the morning the sun came up. A friendly ladybug flew in from the left. It saw a leaf with aphids on it…”

Eric Carle has a great collection of books for kids with a distinct look. His illustrations are a collage of hand painted paper. His book, “The Grouchy Ladybug”, is an intriguing book with a surprise on each page. Unlike many books, he does not restrict himself to the typical rectangular pages of many children’s books.

The grouchy ladybug and friendly ladybug both found a leaf with aphids on it. The friendly critter wanted to share but the grouchy ladybug did not. “Want to fight?” the grouchy bug dared, then switched its mind and looked for someone bigger to fight. Throughout the day the grouchy ladybug dared a yellow jacket, stag beetle and bigger, until he dared a whale to fight. Needless to say, this experience changes the grouch’s attitude.

Each page features a clock as a way to familiarize children with the time. The child-friendly pictures and flaps make this book a good read for any time of day, and would be great for kids of ages five to seven.  Since this book is aimed for preschool aged kids, it is better to get the paperback book then the board book version.

Which Eric Carle book is your favorite?