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!