Monday, December 31, 2012

#15 Teach a Challah Making Class


I did it! I taught a challah making class. In fact I taught two.

I think the first thing to do is explain why this was one of my 30 things. The truth is, I do not have an answer. Mostly, I love to make challah, enjoy eating challah and think everyone around me should have the same pleasures. True, my waistline may not agree with my love for making and therefore consuming challah in large quantities’, but it is comfort food, and it surely comforts me.


When I first posted my list of 30 things I wanted to do, my friend, who is a Rabbi at a large synagogue here in Brookline, decided to jump on the opportunity to have a program at her shul. So I was “hired” to teach an open class on challah making. Let me be clear, this was a class on the dough and kneading, not braiding or fancy designs to do with the dough.  In fact, if you have ever been to my house for Friday night dinner you know that I make rolls because it is easier and faster then braiding (AND in my mind helps with portion control).

Well the experience of teaching the class was fun. I did a small one for 3 friends at my house before embarking on teaching a public class at the synagogue. I do not have much to say about the one I did for friends in my own home. We hung out, made challah, drank wine, and finally ate challah. Sounds like a great night if you ask me.

The class at the synagogue was a more interesting experience. It was small. There are 5 people total. One women came in, she was older, and told me she was just there to observe – she knew how to make challah and did not need me to tell her how to do it. While I wondered why she came, I closed my mouth and moved on. I was proud of myself for that. Before long she was getting her hands dirty making dough and persisted to tell me what I did wrong. Robyn was there and did question why she was there if she as just going to tell the “teacher” how to do it. Of course, when Robyn did this it was in a polite manner and it did help me teach the class how I planned.

It was fun to teach the class and watch people indulge in my favorite food, challah. Want the recipe? Well that my secret – you will have to come to my next class.  

Anyways, I did it.  I can cross # 15 off the list. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Can't Imagine...



While I am behind on recipe posts, ballet journies, and teaching a challah making class - I had to take a step back to reflect on the Mass Shooting in Newtown, CT and how it forces me to struggle with becoming or not becoming an American. 

As a Canadian, I don't remember sitting watching news of mass school shootings. I remember hearing about them as something that happened in the US, not in my home. My memories of major tragedy as a child are associated with the assassination of President Yitzhak Rabin and the tragic death of Princess Diana, but a school shootings was a foreign concept.  


I was living in Montreal in September of 2006 when there was a school shooting at Dawson College.  I was a student at a neighboring University. One victim died and 19 were injured. I remember the entire city in a standstill, a gloomy feeling; it felt as though an entire city was numb. The feelings loomed for a few days and slowly the city pieced itself back together and found the strength to move on. 


While the shooting in Montreal was something I lived through, it is certainly not my only memory of a mass school shooting.  I remember April 20, 1999 when two students opened fire at Columbine High School in Colorado, killing 12 classmates, a teacher and leaving 26 wounded.  I remember April 16, 2007 when a 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech.  How can I forget? 


And now I live here in the United States and in my just over 3 years living here I feel like every time I turn on the news there is a devastating story which breaks my heart and puts into question - why do I live in a country unable to protect our children?  From the Sikh Temple in Wisconisn, to Aurora Colorado, the devastation remains and the lack of changes to Mental Health treatment and gun control are stagnant. 


So here I am an Alien (I just parked my UFO in the garage) living in the United States. I have a wonderful husband, amazing friends, and a great life in Boston. But, there is always a lingering feeling of wanting to go back to Canada and the struggle I have about wanting or mostly NOT wanting to become an American citizen. The events of the past week of made this struggle even more real for me.  I consider myself an outsider looking in and here are a few of my thoughts. 


I want to want to be an American but I can't. 


I can’t imagine becoming a parent while living here and going through self-doubt every day when I send my future kids to school. I can’t imagine thinking that my neighbors could purchase a gun just as easily as they could buy a pack of cigarettes and that school hallways can become there targets. 


I can’t imagine being an American Citizen because I can’t imagine telling my (future) kids I love them and holding them so tight every time they leave the house because I am unaware of all those around me who have access to guns. 


I can’t imagine raising a family in a country where mental health is a taboo topic and any act that leaves people dead and injured is associated with autism and other personality disorders. What about the fact that some people may just not be good people and that some of the most amazing people I know have autism, depression, or ADD – which doesn’t define them or make them bad people. It makes them who they are – amazing, caring, and smart individuals. 


I can’t imagine being a citizen of a country that uses the word Autism as though it’s evil.


And why, why is it that the murderer becomes a celebrity? We hear his name so often that it becomes ingrained in our memories, but try and remember the names of the victims and we fall blank. I can’t imagine being a citizen of a country where the most googled name is that of a killer and not the hero’s. 


I can’t imagine being a citizen of a country that doesn’t do everything in its will to protect my future children.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recipe 10 of 100


I am very behind in my blogging, but what can you do. It’s a busy time of year with holiday parties, wrapping up the semester and trying to spend time with friends and family.
It was my birthday over a month ago and I decided to host a birthday and housewarming party (we also moved at the end of October). I wanted to do all finger foods and small bites.  I made 7 layer dips in individual cups , bite size caprese salads, and bite size Mac n Cheese.
If you do not own mini muffin tins I recommened getting them.  Amazon sells them for under $10.00. Making bites size treats is always great at a party and guests always find it so fun and different.
Here it the recipe for bite Size Mac n’ Cheese -- worth every calorie! They are best out of the over, but you can always pre bake them and reheat them in the over before a party/dinner. You can also fill the cups with the mixture and refrigerate until you are ready to make them or even overnight.
 Mini Mac ‘n Cheese Bites
Adapted from Food & Wine
               1/2 pound elbow macaroni
               1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
               1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
               2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
               3/4 cup milk
               4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
               4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
               1 large egg yolk
               1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
               1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
               salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water. Brush mini muffin tins with butter or spray with Pam. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; try not to get any on the outside of the tin – it will burn.
In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and spices.  Fold in the macaroni.
Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle Parmigiano on top. Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Recipe 9 of 100



This year was the first year since my big move to the USA that B and I did do all the cooking for Thanksgiving. While we were certainly sad about it, I think there was also a small sense of relief, it made things a lot less stressful. I did however take some time to bake - and the results were delish!  I made a Choclate Pumpkin cake with a vanilla and Cinnamon glaze. I brought the cake to our "friendsgiving” dinner on Friday night and it was a hit. I also made a batch of them as cupcakes so B’s Grandma could have people over for tea and she would not have to worry about making a mess by cutting a cake. Grandma said everyone in her home loved them and people didn't want to leave. 

This recipe, is also incredibly easy. One bowl for the cake batter, one bowl for the glaze. Any baking that has less dishes to do at the end is my kind of baking.

The Cake Batter:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp of nutmeg
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add chocolate chips. Grease a bundt pan and pour in batter. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. If you make them as in muffin tins just adjust the cooking time check after 30 minutes. 

The glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk (I made this Pareve so I used Vanilla Soy Milk)

Mix 4 ingredients to make the glaze while cake is baking. If you find it to thick just add a  bit of the milk to make thinner.
Let the cake cool completely. Drizzle with glaze.

Enjoy the week! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Avi and Robert Photo Shoot


Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of photographing a beautiful couple as they anxiously await the arrival of their first child. Avi and Robert were wonderful and so fun to photograph. I could feel the excitement as they prepare to become parents for the first time and the love they have for each other. While the day was a bit gloomy Avi and Robert were all smiles.  







I can't wait to meet the baby in the next few weeks - - I know there are a lot of people waiting for the call that baby Killip has arrived!

If you are interested in helping me put together my portfolio please e-mail me at leorackimmel@gmail.com or comment below.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Getting Back in the Game!


I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. I have certainly been neglecting my blog the past few weeks but I have a lot to report. 

First thing - something not from my list, but non the less AWESOME.

I ran the Spartan Race last week. It was a 3 Mile run with 15 obstacles at Fenway Park (for my Canadian Friends that is where the Red Sox play…it’s Baseball). I ran every stair in the park, carried 30 pound sand bags, rowed, climbed walls, crawled under walls and so much more. It was an amazing experience. One of the things I really liked about it was I never got bored. I often struggle  with boredom while running, especially as the cold weather moves in which takes my running inside. Physically, I can keep going. Mentally I stop.  This race did make me realize that I have it in me and seriously can do anything. 

Over the next few days I can’t wait to share some new recipes including; macaroni and cheese bites, and pumpkin chocolate cake with a vanilla cinnamon glaze, tell you about my trip to the ballet, and share a sneak peak of a photo shoot I did with an amazing couple expecting there first baby in just a few weeks.  Stay tuned and stay warm. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Two Years to GO...



Today marks exactly 2 years to fulfill my 30 before 30 list. While it seems like a long time I think I am a little overwhelmed with everything I will have to accomplish in two years. I am going to try and focus on the ones that cost little to no money in the coming weeks and as I begin to write my final paper for school that will get the business plan off the list as well.  

Cheers to a year of fulfilling these goals, relaxing, smiling and having fun!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The First of MANY?


Warning: This blog post does not have anything to do with my 30 before 30 BUT it is exciting. Well at least for me!

As I begin to look for more creative outlets I have began to really take my photography more seriously. One of the things I have started to work on is putting together a portfolio. In order to do this I am asking friends and family to “hire” me to do family photos, maternity photos, fun photos, engagement parties, ect. I put hire in quotes because for now I am doing this for no charge on the hope that word of mouth will get my name out and I will be able to do this on the side.  (Yes, I still want to complete number 17 on my list and write my own business plan to start my own event planning company)

This week Ben’s very dear friend M invited me into her home to do some family photos. The kids were being silly, having fun in the hippo ball pit and being overly cute! It was also nice to get a few pictures of M and her Husband E.

Here are a few of my favorites from the shoot. 











If you are interested in helping me put together my portfolio please e-mail me at leorackimmel@gmail.com or comment below.  

Thank you to all my readers for your support as I begin the photography journey, or at least as I enjoy the creative outlet that it provides! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

# 4 Reconnecting


I wanted to write about number 4 on my list. Reconnecting. Most of the things I have put on my list of things to accomplish before I am 30 are tangible; I can clearly tell you if it has been accomplishment. In fact you could tell me if I succeeded or not. But reconnecting it not one of them. It is something only I will be able to judge and in fact if I accomplished it or not is entirely subjective. It is not the only personal/intangible thing I want to accomplish before I am 30, but it is something I really want to focus on.
So I want to reconnect. I mean this in so many ways. Reconnect with friends who still mean so much to me but who are not a part of my life in a way that I would want to. I want to find ways to spend weekends with friends and stop being so concerned with being home for the weekend. I need to find ways to schedule time in my day-to-day life to talk to my old friends in so many ways influenced who I am today.

As I get ready to move this weekend I have found so many old pictures. The memories that surfaced for me were so vivid, I truly felt like I was living through them again. I miss the people in the pictures who made me laugh, cry and helped me create life long memories. 

I also want to reconnect with B. You see as I wrote about on my anniversary, marriage is not easy. B and I had have had some major ups and major downs in our 3 years of marriage. We have lived in two states, changes jobs, I started grad-school, we went through the loss of a parent, 2 surgeries and even more- and we disconnected! 

This year, I am going to focus on making sure we are creating positive memories, choosing happiness, and living our lives to the fullest.  I want to find things for us to enjoy doing together while still remaining independent and going along with my own routine. I want us to find a balance. I know we will. We are pretty awesome when we put our mind to something.  

And lastly, I want to reconnect with myself. I want to spend time truly reflecting on what I want to do with my life. Where do I see myself professionally? How am I going to get there?

I want to laugh more and find new creative outlets for myself. I want to focus on happiness and living in the present. I can’t stress about the past and I surely can’t predict the future. I need to remember that. I will ALWAYS make time to take care of MYSELF. I realize that I cannot give what I do not have. I will focus on taking life on step at a time. Life is a journey and I need to start embracing it.

So there you have it. Its time to reconnect!




Happy Anniversary! 3 Years WOW


Today B and I celebrate 3 years of marriage. Yay Us! 


If anyone tells you that marriage is easy they are lying. It is a wonderful and amazing thing, but easy it is not. I see it as an accomplishment that we have been married for 3 years and when we fight we can still crawl into bed together. It’s a sign of strong love, devotion and commitment. We have had our own share of ups and down but as we move this weekend (literally) I truly believe this year will bring freshness and a new sense of calmness and happiness in our lives. We continue to learn from each other every single today. I love you always and forever! 




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Recipe 8 of 100 - Peanut Butter Cookie Sticks


The same lovely evening that I made the amazing Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies I made these amazing Peanut Butter Cookie Sticks. Friends have been asking for this recipe and I have been very slow in the posting, my apologies.
To say that these were delicious is the ultimate understatement. They were ABSOLUTLEY fabulous! The smooth peanut butter flavor with the rich chocolate is just mouth watering. Here is the thing, make them if you have somewhere to bring them or people to feed them to. They are addictive.
If you get to make these please let me know how you enjoyed!
Peanut Butter Cookie Sticks
Ingredients:
1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups Gold Medal all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt
(or sea salt)
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
 OR Heath Bar chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oil, peanut butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and mix until well combined. Fold in the peanut butter chips and divide dough in half.
3. On the lined baking sheet, shape each portion into a 15-in. x 3-in. rectangle about 3 in. apart. Sprinkle with chocolate chips; pressing them lightly into the dough.(OKay really just split the dough into two parts and pat them out)
4. Bake in preheated oven for 7-9 minutes. (longer minutes for crispier cookies.) Cool for about 10 minutes. Cut with a serrated knife into 1-in. strips; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
They are amazing with a hot cup of coffee. I imagine that if you are a milk drinker these would be great dipped in a cold class of milk. 

ENJOY!