Book & Cook
"Chicken Without a Head"
Israel's history with a flavored palette
The loud noise of the rain muffled the sound of the bell, and then, just like magic, the rain stopped. I remembered very well what Mother told me that morning: "Now don't forget, Sonny. Don't leave school if it rains, but as soon as it stops, rush home."
Lucky me, the rain stopped right on time. Now all I had to do was run home as fast as I could. I grabbed all my books, stuffed them in my school bag, picked up my chair, dropped it on the desk, and without realizing that it had fallen right back on the floor, zipped through the door. Looking up toward the sky for a glimpse just made me run faster. The sky was black, and it was only five after twelve. We always finished school at five after twelve. My house was just half a mile from school. I had to go through the nursery school, and the Drop of Milk Center for the Mother and Child. There I had to be very careful not to slide and fall into the puddle of chamra -- That's what the Arabs called the red and slippery dirt. Go down the hill, look to the left, to the right, and to the left again, and only then, when I'm sure that no cars are close by, cross the road. Pass the sand dunes where I always stop to play, (sometimes I forget that lunch is getting cold,) go up the hill, and turn left to our new paved street. See the house of Gadi on the left, Moshiko on the right, Yona, the dirty boy, on the left next to the old lady that is in front of the dead man's house. Skip over the empty trash can that Yosi and Yoram didn't put back in its place yet. They come home from school at one. Both of them are older than I, and they go to the orthodox school. On Wednesday they come home at two because they have music lessons, Yoram plays the darbuka, an Arab drum, and Yosi plays the mandolin, I always liked to visit them when they play together. They're very good. After I passed their house, I would enter our yard and walk on the old pavement, careful not to trip over the crooked tile, step up the two steps, and enter the house.
Well, this time I ran very fast. I passed the nursery school, and just next to the Drop of Milk, where the “chamra” is, I tried to run around the puddle. But it was so large it passed the fence of the Drop of Milk, and I was forced to go through the puddle. I could not stop now because everything came too fast. Before I knew what happened, I found myself face down in the middle of the “chamra,” my school backpack opened, and the books flying above my head into the red mush.
I tried to get up and slid again right on my face. I had to crawl on all fours to collect all my books, dirt and all, and put them back in the bag. After falling two more times, I finally managed to get up and walk home. When I passed next to the house of Yona, the dirty boy, I wondered if he ever got to be so dirty with this red Indian color, and if so, could he wash it off?
"Did you stop to play at the dunes again?" Mom yelled from the kitchen when I opened the door. "How many times did I tell you to rush home when it's rai... " She stopped right there when she came to see if I shook the sand off before I entered the house.
"What happened? You look like you went swimming in chocolate."
"Chocolate?" The voice of my little brother came from the bed room. "Chocolate, I want chocolate! I want chocolate!..." We never heard the end of it.
The silence in the class room was suddenly erupted into a roaring applause and cheer. I was stunned. Being the smallest child in the 7th grade I wasn’t very popular. Most of the time, I was the subject of ridicule and torment by the bigger boys and even girls. Yet here when I finished reading to the class my first composition even the teacher was surprised. She was wondering if I wrote the story all by my self.
“What do you mean?” I asked; “Who else could have written it?” It didn’t look like anything special to me it was just something that happened to me a few years ago. The impact on the rest of the class was like a shot of adrenalin to me. I decided to try writing more, but being a kid like most kids it didn’t happen until I was at my 30s, and even now almost 50 I am still taking my time writing them. Stick around maybe you would like my next stories too.
For my second birthday, Uncle Rone gave me a big toy gun. Then the next day he took me with him to the army camp. It was his last day in the army, so he and his friend, Uncle Simon, decided to take me with them to Tel Aviv to celebrate their discharge and my birthday.
We drove in Uncle Simon's new car a second hand Studebaker. I know because Uncle Simon let me drive. I sat on his lap and held the wheel all the way from Beer Sheva to Tel Aviv. (I am a good driver. I can drive and eat at the same time. Sometimes I let go of the wheel and the car drives straight without my help.) Uncle Ronny bought me a “choco” drink and “Yoffy Yoffy”, delicious fried dough dipped in sugar, and I love it.
On the way, (which was a long way, because we left when the small hand was on 9 and the big hand was on 12, and we got to Tel Aviv when the small hand was at 11 and the big hand was at 9) we saw the new Moshavs, new farm settlements with small white houses and big backyards. They were scattered all along the dry land. I saw the tall sprinklers spraying water, chik, chik, chik, chik, thrrrrr, to wet the land. I saw the farmers planting fruit trees that will give fruit in five years. (I don't know if I could wait so long.)
"Look at the ducks," I said.
"You look at the road when you drive!" Uncle Rone said jokingly.
They were so cute, a mother duck and many baby duckies walking behind her in a long line, all waddling from side to side. (I wish we had ducks. All we had were chickens, but Uncle Robert had ducks, and sometimes, he let me play with them when I went to visit Meme (grandma) Julie.)
Then we saw the Bedouins. Now these are interesting people. They live in tents which they move anywhere they go. They fold the tents and load them on their tall camels, and then they go to a new grazing ground for their goats and sheep. You can tell a Bedouin by his clothing. The men wear “galabia”, - a long robe and a “caffia” on their head with a black rope around it to hold it down. They call it “aggal”. The women wear black dresses covering them from head to toe. I don't know how they see anything through that.
When we arrived in Tel Aviv, we stopped for falafel, fried chickpea balls. I was a good boy and ate the whole half pita. Then we went to the army camp.
At the camp I saw the big army trucks, a cannon, and a very big tank.
"They're only for display" explained Uncle Ronny. "This is not a fighting camp. We come here to register or to be dismissed."
We entered a big room where I saw many solders waiting on lines, long lines.
"Uncle Rone," I said in French.
"When are we going home?"
"Soon, after those three people, then it'll be our turn and we can go."
"But I have to go to the bathroom."
"You're a big boy now. You can go by yourself. It's right at the end of the hall."
So I went, like a big boy, by myself. But when I entered the bathroom, I didn't know what to do. The toilet seat was not there. Instead there was an odd - looking porcelain plate with a hole in the back and two raised ovals, one on each side. It was all dirty and scary. I couldn't go there, and I just remembered that I didn't exactly know how to wipe. It was always Mom that I returned to my uncle and said in French, "I can't go there. It's dirty, and I'm afraid I'll fall in the hole."
Now Uncle Rone was next in line, and he didn't want to lose the spot so he said, "Why don't you ask Uncle Simon to go with you? He's done now and he can do it."
Uncle Simon didn't speak French, so I had to tell him in Hebrew. "Uncle Simon," I said. By now my stomach really hurt and I felt that if I didn't hurry I'd go in my pants. "You have to come with me now to the bathroom to clean it and help me out because I have to go right now. Come on, let's go, please, I can't hold it any more." I guess I said it pretty loud because I saw everybody turning to look at us.
Uncle Simon was very embarrassed and said, "Shshh, not too loud. Everybody is listening."
Well, if you think that Uncle Simon was embarrassed, you don't know what embarrassed is! I couldn't hold it anymore and I had that terrible accident.
Uncle Simon not only had to clean the bathroom, he had to help get me cleaned, and Uncle Rone had to buy me a new pair of underwear.
The original “Falafel”, as i found out from many sources was made with Fava beans (Fool). Israel, a country with people from all over the world, had to change the ingredients to accommodate the people from central asia, like Iraq, whom are deadly allergic to beans. in most restaurant or the kiosks you will find that the Falafel is made from Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans). I love Fava beans and there fore my recipe includes them too. Feel free to change it to the same amount of chick peas if you like.
1 cup of Chick Peas
1/2 a cup of Fava beans
(let them sit in deep bowl of water with a tea spoon of salt over night. make sure they are covered completely with about an inch of water on top)
1/2 a cup of freshly diced onion
1/4 cup of chopped celery
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 a cup of chopped Parsley
1 chopped clove of garlic
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of ginger
1TBSP of olive oil
5 heaping TBSPs of Flower
Most people use the peas and beans right after they were sitting in water all night. I like to to cook them for about an hour in fresh water on low heat (after bringing the water to a boil). It gives the final product some fluffiness. Drain the water and mix all the ingredient in a food processor or use a hand blender (my favorite toy) until you get an even, light brown, mixture. let it sit for about 2 hours in the fridge.
Pour vegetable oil in a deep frying pan (at least 2″ deep) and add one tsp of salt to the oil and bring it to boil (you can tell it’s ready when you see the oil actually moving around) i like to defuse the flavor of the deep frying oil by adding about a TBSP of olive oil to the frying pen.
You could use an ice cream scoop to create small, 1″ size, balls (i like to use 2 spoons technique) and drop the balls one at a time into the hot oil (if the oil is deep enough they will flip once they are fried on one side) the falafel balls will turn golden brown. make sure that they are even color on all sides and scoop them out onto paper towel to dry. Taste one to make sure they are not too fluffy (empty in the center) or if they fall apart in the frying oil. If so, add an other TBSP of flower (i even added one egg white one and it was just fine). play with it – cooking, in my opinion, isn’t an exact science (like my spelling).
The poor people’s dessert. This recipe is one of the simplest i have ever tried, yet it is so good that it is also fattening. So we will be making only a small portion to feed 2 people.
1 Cup of flour
2/3 Cup of water
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of yeast
Pour the floour in a bowl and create a small hill with a volcano indent at the top. pour the 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of yeast in the crater. Add a Tbsp of water and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Slowly add the 2/3 cup of water and fold in the mixture and knead the dough with wet hands. The dough should feel sticky and pull like chewing gum. Keep kneading for about 5 minutes and let it sit under a wet towel for about 2 hours. I will rise a little.
Heat up 2 cups of vegetable oil in a 4 quart pot. when you see the oil start to move slowly in the pot, pull small (about 1″ size) balls and stretch them to a flat circle and dunk them in the hot oil, about 3 or 4 each time. Let it fry for 5 minutes until you see the dough turn golden brown. pull them out and let it dry a few moments and sprinkle confection sugar.
I have a little twist to the way I fry. I found it to be a boost to the flavor. I ad rough salt to the frying oil.
Meme Mili, Grandma on Dad's side, and Tata Beya, her older sister, took me to the hospital today. No, I am not sick. Mom is there to get the new baby. It was hot and dry and the wind was blowing strong. (I don't like the wind. It picks up the light dirt and swirls it around like a small tornado. Sometimes I see it coming toward me, and I'm afraid that it will pick me up, too.) Last night I didn't sleep well. The doctor said that I shouldn't live in Be’er-Sheva because of the dust and the dry weather.
"He is allergic to dust," the doctor would say," you should move north near the sea."
Dad was in Netanya learning a new job so we could move there soon. Meme Mili said that he would come this afternoon. Both Meme Mili and Tata Beya spoke only Arabic; they had lived in Israel only six years. Their Hebrew was very poor, so I had to speak Arabic with them.
The hospital was a long building one floor high, and a green waiting bench had been placed in front of it.
"Look who's coming," Tata Beya said. "It's Meme Julie. "Meme, Meme," I jumped off my seat and ran toward her.
"Don't run," she said in French. "You might fall and hurt yourself."
I stopped running and walked saying, in French,
"Mom is getting me a baby. Mom is getting me a baby."
"Yes, I know," she answered. "What do you think it will be?"
"I don't know," I said when the door in front of us opened, and the nurse came out announcing,
"It's a boy. Come dear. Mom wants to see you."
Mom was in bed holding my new brother. He was light skinned like Mom, not dark like dad and me.
"You see," she said to the doctor. "This is my first boy. He looks like his father, and this one looks like me. Come Nanou, kiss your brother."
He was so cute, a chubby little baby. He didn't even cry and his cheeks were puffy and round. I have a brother.
In a deep pasta pan, fry until brown in 5 spoons of olive oil - 1 spoon of salt, 2 spoons of sugar and one cut onion.
Add meat and brown it (best is an ox tail but you can use anything with a bone and some fat -- not too much meat - it's a poor people dish - we use it just for the flavor). Take it off the fire and add 1 small can of tomato paste and 10 cups of water.
Mix well until all looks even.
Add 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 lb of wheat, 4 eggs (whole), 1 large potato cut into 4 pieces, 1 tsp paprika, and a 1/4 tsp black pepper.
Add the secret ingredient "koogla" (see below), top with 1 can of diced tomatoes, cover with thick tin foil and bake in the oven at 225 degrees.
Secret ingredient "Koogla":
In a bowl, break an egg and add 3 spoons of olive oil, 1 spoon full of fresh crushed mint, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp of salt, a pinch of pepper and 1/4 stick of diced margarine. Mix it well and slowly add farina until it becomes thick and easy to manage – it should make about one cup. Form it into small balls and drop them in the dish before adding the crushed tomatoes.
Despite the unfortunate incident at the army camp, Uncle Rone always liked taking me places.
"You're the only one that is fun to be with," he used to say. I had other cousins on my father's side, you see. Most of them were older than I. Aunt Rosette had three kids, Yvet, Avraham, and Judah. Aunt Fortune had two kids, Haim and Moshe, and one on the way. You see, she was eating a lot to make another one. It looked that way. She was very big like Mom when she was eating a lot to bring Avi. My cousins spoke Hebrew and very little Arabic. I was the only one that spoke all three languages well.
"You're so smart!" everyone used to say to me. I know that, they don't have to rub it in all the time.
Anyway, Uncle Rone took me to the beach in Ashkelon. Dad was in the Navy, and he told me a lot about the sea. He loved the sea, and so did Uncle Rony. I will love the sea, too, I promised myself. You know what? I did, and I still do, even after what happened to me that first time.
It was a long way to the sea, from Be’er-Sheva to Ashkelon. Be’er-Sheva doesn't have a coast, the town is in the north side of the desert. The seacoast was beautiful. I'd never seen anything like it before. There was the sand, the white sand that spread for miles like a huge sand box that lasted for ever. Then there was the water, so much water you couldn't see the end of it. Or maybe it was the end of it when you looked at the edge of the horizon.
"Is there a waterfall at the end there?" I asked. "Can we go see it? I've never seen a waterfall."
"No," Uncle Rone said, "It's the horizon.” (That's when I heard the word horizon.) “The world is round, and that's how far we can see. O.K., now take your shirt off. We are going to play in the water." And so we did. We built a sand castle right where the water touched the sand. Uncle Rone showed me how to decorate the castle with mud drops, and he helped me make a channel around the castle. Uncle Rone is a very good swimmer. He took me in his arms and laid me on top of the water and showed me how to swim. Once in a while he took his arms off, and some times I would sink and swallow water. It didn't taste good and I coughed a little, but I didn't cry, I'm a big boy now, I have a little brother, he cries.
The sun was hot and strong and I loved it. The water was warm, and I wanted to stay there forever.
This was the first time that I was exposed to the sun for such a long time. We both had so much fun that we didn't realize what was happening. I was getting red, very red, too red. By the time I got home my skin was bubbling and it hurt to touch. Mom put lots of creams, yogurt, and water on me. I couldn't wear a shirt. For two days I had a very hard time sleeping. I don't know how I did it. It was very difficult lying down.
After three days, when all the pain was gone, I realized that I looked different. I was brown. I was like chocolate all over my body, my face, my back, my belly, my legs, even my feet. But, wait a minute, "Look at your tush," Dad said to me in the shower,
"It's white!" From that day on I acquired a new name, "White tush."
Mix in this order
½ Cup Margarine (Oil, Butter)
¾ Cup Brown Sugar
¾ Cup White Sugar (½ Confection Sugar)
Pinch Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Coconut Extract
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Baking Soda
1 Cup Flour
2 Cups Oatmeal
2 Cups Unsweetened Coconut
Drop Spoon full onto oiled baking tray and bake for 12 minutes in 350°f (300°f in convection oven).
“We have to go see the doctor”, Mom told me when I woke up on a cold winter day. I had a terrible night, wheezing and coughing for hours. They had to call the doctor at the middle of the night and he gave me a shot to help me breath. It wasn’t fun.
Mom helped me dress, put Avi in the carriage and we all went to the doctor’s office. It was very cold outside, but it didn’t rain. You see, it is very dry in Be’er Sheva – the desert’s capital. It gets very cold but it hardly rains. Instead we have wind, very strong wind. It picks up the dusty earth and blows it around, forming little tornado like swirls.
“Your Son is allergic to the dust here,” said the doctor. “As I told you before, you must move to the north if you don’t want your son to develop asthma.”
Yes I know,” mom answered, “my husband is in Netanya looking for a place to move. He already found a job.”
“Good!” said the Doctor. “Meanwhile, give him this twice a day.” He gave mom a reaccept of medication to get from the pharmacist.
Not long after we were ready to move. I had to say good bye to my little dog Lassy. We gave it to Uncle David. Dad and Uncle Simon (Remember him? From the trip to Tel Aviv) loaded the small truck with our belonging and off we went. Dad went with in the truck with Uncle Simon. Mom Avi and I went by taxi. I slept all the way, dreaming that Mom was walking away from me and no matter how loud I would try to yell for her, she didn’t hear me. My voice simply wouldn’t come out. It was like a silent cry – it was awful, I felt helpless and when I woke up all sweaty from fear we were in Netanya.
Netanya was a small new town on the sandy beach of the Mediterranean Sea. The clear blue water was a sight that I’ll never forget. It stretched for miles and miles, all calm and soothing. Our new home was a small wooden shack that dad rented from the department of new comers. One large room with a kitchen corner, the bathroom was outside and so was the shower with its kerosene water heater called “Primus”.
“We won’t stay here long,” dad promised, “the department of new comers promised me a two bedroom unit as soon as one becomes available.”
You see, we were very lucky, life wasn’t easy in Israel. The war in Sinai was just over and it was very difficult to find a job. Dad lucked up finding the job he did. The food raisons were skimpy, mom had a privilege – she was nursing a baby, so she got a bit more then most people. We were allowed to buy two eggs per day, half a chicken per week and a quart of milk each day. There were no limitations on fruit and vegetables but they were expensive. Avi and I had to share an apple for desert. I helped dad planting vegetables and water melons in our back yard so we could have some more to eat in the summer. This was the best summer yet. I got to go to the beach every day with mom and Avi. We would play in the sand and in the shallow water until dad came and we would eat sandwiches for dinner at the beach while sitting in the warm water looking at the sun setting in the west.
Cutup Cucumber to ¼” Strips
put in a zip lock with Sea Salt
Freshly Squeezed Lemon
Refrigerate for 2 hours and serve cold.
Do you remember my Uncle Rone? You know, the one that took me to Tel Aviv and gave me too much to eat, and you know what happened later. Uncle Ronny is my father's younger brother. Dad is the oldest, then came Aunt Rosette, Aunt Fortune, Uncle Ronny, and the youngest is Uncle Claud. Uncle Ronny is getting married. He is marrying my Aunt Claudine, or in Hebrew, Rachael, my mom's younger sister.
Aunt Rachael is very beautiful. She is slim with big smiling eyes and long black hair that fall straight down her tall back. Aunt Rachael is a secretary for the union. Sometimes she takes me to work with her. She lets me play with the paper clips, and I make long colorful necklaces, attaching the clips together, wrapping magazine paper around each one of them and gluing it together. This is a gift for Mom, I would say, and Aunt Rachael would answer,
"And it is very pretty."
I like to be with Aunt Rachel, and Aunt Rachael likes to be with me. We are good friends. When Mom was sick and I was little, before Avi was born, Aunt Rachael used to help me go to the bath room. Now sometimes when she goes to the bath room at work and I need to go too, she takes me to the ladies room with her. She can't take me to the men's room.
I was with Mom and her older sister, Aunt Marie, in the ladies room helping Aunt Rachael get ready for the wedding. Mom would help her with the makeup, Aunt Marie would help her with the hair, and I would hold the hair pins and brush. Aunt Rachael looked so beautiful. Her long black hair was arranged like a tower on her head and long curls came down her soft cheek. Mom called those curls bottles, I don't know why, they didn't look anything like bottles.
"O, oh," said Aunt Rachel. "Can you believe this? All day I've been trying to go to the bathroom and couldn't. Now that I'm all dressed and made up I have to go, and I don't think I can hold it."
"It couldn't be so," Mom said. "What are you going to do?" "We'll have to help her," Aunt Marie said. "You! Young boy. Go open the toilet's door and hold it open! Ida," she said to my Mom, "hold the bottom of her dress on the left side. I'll hold the right. When I say go we'll both pick up the dress above her head. Carefully, not to ruin the hair do. Claudine, you walk backward to the stall and do your thing."
"O.K." Aunt Rachael said, "I'm done. Now what do we do?"
Again it was Aunt Marie who came to the rescue.
"Up," she said. "Come forward. young boy!" She always called me that. "Pull a long strip of toilet paper and come over here. Give it to me!" she commanded when I looked at her, opening my eyes big, like asking, what am I going to do with it?
"Over here, hold this," she pointed to the dress where she was holding. I rushed to her with the paper and tried to hold the dress where she asked me, but she is taller than me. I held the dress underneath her and the rest of it fell on my head covering practically all my body. "It's better that way" Mom said. "This way he can't see what is going on down there."
3-4 Ripe Tomatoes
4 Sweet Peppers
4 Hot Green Peppers
8-10 Cloves of Garlic
½ Cup Oil
1 TBSP Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Salt
1 TBSP Tomato Paste
Roast Pepper and Peel,
Peel Tomatoes and Chop them
Cook Tomatoes 5 – 10 minutes add all ingredients except for tomato paste.
Cook for 2 hours, Add Tomato Paste and cook for 30m Minutes.
"So you see," Meme Mili said, "you're named after my husband - your grandpa Nani."
I stayed at Meme's house while Mom was at the doctor's office’
"Tell me more, Meme," I asked. "What happened to him?"
"It all started many years ago," Meme told me. "I was very young when my parents died. My mother was a maid for a rich family, and after she died, they brought me up to be their maid. My older sisters were already married and lived out of town. I washed floors and dishes, I dusted, I did the laundry, I did everything around the house. One day a gentleman came and asked my keepers to let me go so he could marry me, and so he did. This gentleman was your grandfather. He was a divorced man who had a daughter from his previous marriage. His daughter stayed with her mother. Your grandpa was a merchant, so every morning I would prepare his lunch, and he'd go to his store and return late in the afternoon. It was nice not to work anymore. Not long after your father was born, and then his sister, Rosete, then his other sister, Fortune, his brother, Rone, and last, but not least, his youngest brother Claude, who is a story himself. I'll tell you later.
“One afternoon my husband came back from work and said, I don't feel well, dear. He looked very pale and weak. I put him to bed and went to get the doctor. The doctor checked his temperature, gave him something to lower it, and left. The next morning my husband was dead. I didn't know what to do, I was lost. My oldest son, your dad, was only 11, and my youngest was two years old. I didn't know how to read or to write, and I didn't have a job to support my family. All I knew how to do was to be a maid. That wasn't enough for a woman and five children. Your father had to help to support the family. The town's rabbi advised me to have him Bar mitzvah at an early age because he would have to take a lot of responsibilities for a young boy. The following week we went to the synagogue and your father read the Torah at the age of 11.
“The first trade he tried to learn was carpentry. The old carpenter gave your father sandpaper and a table top and told him to smooth it up. Your dad took the sandpaper and started to work. After an hour or so he called his boss and showed him his progress.
'No good, the boss replied, it's not smooth yet'.
“Again your dad rubbed and rubbed for another hour. But the boss wasn't satisfied.
“'How long should I do this?' asked your dad, eager to finish this boring job.
“'Till you smell onion!” Answered his boss jokingly'.
“At lunch time your father ran home, took a big onion, and ran back to work. Fifteen minutes later he called his boss.
“'Look', he said, 'it's ready, I can smell the onion.'
“The boss was in shock. He didn't know what to say. The fine wood was ruined. It was all covered with onion juice. Of course your father had to look for another job. He tried the tailor, the cook, the blacksmith and so on. He was just too young for anything. At last, after a long time he found a job he liked. This job had artistic challenges. He became a jeweler's apprentice. At that same time my oldest sister who just lost her entire family moved in to live with us. We both found jobs with the same rich family who raised me. Life was difficult, but we managed well and nine years later we started our travel to Israel.
“Now it's time for your lunch and a nap. Next time I'll tell you about your Uncles Rone and Claude."
Tomatos (round and pretty) Cut the top and Scoop the inside
Mix in a bowl:
Crushed Poched Egg (or soft boiled)
tsp Minced Sweet Onion
1 Small Crushed Garlic Clove
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Black Pepper
Pinch of Cayanne Pepper
Stuff the mixture into the tomato and cover. Broil for 10 minutes.
Toast slices of bread and cut a round circle in the middle for the tomato to sit in.
Dice a Cucumber, tsp of Sweet onion, the inside of the tomato. mix in a bowl with 1/4 Lemon, a pinch of Salt, TBSP of Olive oil. Pour on top of grilled tomato and serve warm or cold.
“Mommy, Mommy! Come look who’s coming.” I rushed into the house yelling. “Come Ima it’s Uncle Robert, he came with a big army truck.”
Everyone in our family knows; Mom is a great cook. In every opportunity they have they would stop by for lunch or dinner. On the other hand, I could never figure out why. I didn’t like her food. It just didn’t tasted good to me. Most of the time, it was too spicy. Anyway, Uncle Robert had a pass for the afternoon and he came with his army truck for a short visit. Both Avi and I loved it when relatives serving the army came to visit. They always had something for us. Chocolate bars or chocolate covered waffles from the army cantina. Uncle Robert was a truck driver in the army. This time he came with a huge truck and he parked it in front of our shack on the sand dunes.
It was Friday afternoon and Mom made her usual “Couscous” with chicken vegetable soup. Uncle Robert loved it.
“So, what’s new?” He asked.
“Oh, nothing much” Said Mom. “I’m starting to work soon. Eli offered to teach me the trade of diamond cutting. He is very good at that, you know. I’ll be working half a day. So we can save some money.”
“That’s nice,” said Uncle Robert. “But, what about the children?”
“Oh, I found a solution to that.” Mom replied. Nanou is going to the nursery school and Yaffa the teacher there has a daughter Avi’s age. She asked if I could bring Avi too so they can play together. All I have to do is to pick Avi when I pick Nanou after my work. It turns out great. Yaffa gets to keep her job teaching and I get to go to work for half a day without worrying about a baby sitter.”
All that time while Uncle Robert was having lunch Avi was playing with some of his friends around the army truck.
“look in here!” said Yosi the red head kid. “It’s a dead porcupine; your uncle killed it with his truck”
“No He didn’t!” I said when I walked out hearing the conversation. “It was there before, and you shouldn’t be playing with it, anyway.”
The kids didn’t listen to me and kept playing with the dead porcupine. It was laying there for two days now waiting to be picked up by the town’s service. The kids were poking it with long sticks now, trying to make it move, revive it, or god knows what. They kept playing with it until Uncle Robert came out with Mom to say good bye to us.
This good bye was the longest good bye I ever saw. You see, Uncle Robert Started his truck and about to drive away but he couldn’t. His truck got stuck in the deep sand dune. No matter how much he tried he just dug himself deeper in. before too long, all the men in the neighborhood were there, trying to push the truck out of the sand. After 3 hours finally they succeeded pushing it on top of wood planks and out of the sand. Uncle Robert said good bye again and this time drove away waving from the distance.
The next morning Avi was rushed to the hospital with high fever. He caught “typhus”. Probably was stung by a mosquito or a tick that carried the virus, from the dead porcupine. He had to spend a month in the hospital with such high fever; we didn’t think he would make it. To our delight Avi cam back home after a month stronger then ever and his tales I will tell you later.
Couscous is what we ate every Friday night, some Saturdays, for lunch and dad loved to eat on tuesdays for lunch if there were left overs. I will not attempt to explain to you how to make it. it is a long process and you need special tools; like steamer pots and a special net with the right size holes for sifting farina once it has soaked all the steam, mixing it with oil and salt. Maybe some other time. meanwhile you can buy ready made couscous.
The soup has to have very soft content so they can be mixed with the couscous once you serve it.
1 medium size onin
some add a tomato too
2 legs and 2 thighs of well salted chicken
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of paprica
1/4 tsp of black pepper
1 TBSP of olive oil
Peal the Vegetables and cut them into the size of 1 or 2 inches. Pour the table spoon of oil in a deep pot and add the cutup vegetables, place it on a low heat and sprinkle the tea spoon of salt on top. cover and let it sit until the vegetables start to shrink in size, for about 1/4 of the original size) You might want to stir it every so often to prevent them from sticking to the bottom (incase that the heat is too high or the pot is too thin). Add the spices and stir once more before placing the chicken on top. Pour in water to cover about twice of the hight of the content. bring to boil and lower the heat to simmer for 2 hours, covering the pot but in an angle so some of the steam can escape. You want the chicken practically falling of the bones and the vegetables soft and mushy. Let it sit for at least 3 hours and reheat before serving. You may sprinkle some chopped fresh parcely on top before serving. The traditional way to serve it is in a small bawl next to the plate of kooskoos and use a spoon to transfer some from the bawl to the plate mixing a little at a time as you eat.
Dad has a new friend. His name is Tuvya. Tuvya works with Dad. He cuts the diamonds to give them a round shape. Dad polishes the diamonds and gives them their facets and brilliance.
"How old are you, young man?" he asked me the first time we met. I like it when people call me "young man." It makes me feel important.
"Four," I said, "I will be four at the end of the summer. On Rosh Hashana."
"Oh yes?" he replied, "I have a daughter who is almost your age. Her name is Anat, and she is three and a half. Would you like to meet her?"
"Yes" I said. I was very pleased to be able to meet his daughter. You see, don't tell anybody, but I love playing with girls. They don't fight as much as boys, and they let me play daddy when we play house.
"I also have a son," he said. "He's two years old."
"That's like my brother. What's his name?"
"Yuval, and you will have the chance to meet them both very soon. We are going on a vacation together next weekend."
"All right!" I replied happily and rushed to tell my brother the news.
That morning I woke up very early, even before Mom and Dad turned on the radio with the musical clock program. Every morning they would wake up at 6:00, turn on the radio, and the classical music program would wake me up. This time I couldn't sleep late. I was thinking about the trip all the time at the kindergarten. That afternoon as soon as Dad came home, Mom packed all the suitcases and sandwiches for the road.
Anat had long black hair and big brown eyes. She was, unlike her brother, very polite and gentle. Yuval, her brother, had a bad mouth and bad manners. It was very difficult to hear any thing when he talked because he didn't talk. He yelled and screamed and cursed and what not.
I sat in the back seat of the big car with Anat. We played games, sang songs, and had fun for most of the ride; that is, when Yuval was not interrupting.
We drove north on the new shore highway. The sea was on our left and the orange orchards on out right. That time of year the orange flowers were blooming and their strong smell cast a spell. We stopped at Caesaria and saw the Roman ruins. We passed near the prehistoric cavemen digs and the banana fields. For dinner, we stopped at a forest park near Haifa.
It was getting dark when we started to climb the high mountain of Kibbutz Idmit.
"We will spend the night here," Tuvya announced. "They have nice accommodations, and we can eat breakfast at the kibbutz's dining room."
A kibbutz is a communal village. All the people who live in the kibbutz work in the fields, in the kibbutz's schools,in the kitchen, or they are housekeepers. They don't get paid but they get a house and food, clothing, and all their needs are provided for. The income from their work is shared by all the kibbutz members - comrades. The children in this kibbutz live in the children's dorms, and their parents live in the adults' living quaters. There are no poor or rich people in the kibbutz; everyone is equal. If the kibbutz is rich, every one in the commune is rich. If the kibbutz is poor, no one is rich in the kibbutz.
Avi and I got a room for ourselves next to Mom and Dad's room, and in front of Tuvya's children's room.
"Be nice to your brother," mom said before she left for her room. Like I planned to be mean to him; it was always him that started those fights.
"Remember you're the older."
"O.K., good night!" I replied.
The loud shot woke me shortly after I fell asleep.The commotion outside the door intrigued my curiosity, and I opened the door.
"Go back to your room!" someone ordered.
I hate it when some adults think that we children should not be allowed to know anything. I closed the door and waited for the noise to pass.
I heard someone mentioning poachers, but we were not that close to the border, and we were very high on top of one of the steepest mountain in Israel. You see, there were poachers that snuck across the border, Syria or Jordan, to steal food or livestock. Sometimes, they got caught, and sometimes they committed murder.
I opened the door again, peeking to see if any body saw me. The door in front of me opened slowly and the long black hair of Anat was the first thing I saw coming out.
"Poacher?" she asked softly.
"No, there are no poachers in this area," I tried to calm her fear. "Let's go see."
"Can I hold your hand?" she asked. "I'm afraid a little".
"Of course," I said. "I'm not afraid, I'll protect you"
We walked out the door of the building into the darkness. The people were gathering at the far side of the kibbutz. We heard them talking about the Arab shepherd that lived next to the kibbutz. He had an old rifle. They were thinking maybe it was he who shot the gun. It had come from his direction. Hiding from the adults, we slowly walked toward the crowd. Then we heard the weirdest noise. It was like a cry, like something we never heard before.
"Leopard, leopard," someone yelled.
"Bring a net," someone else yelled
Someone ran back to the kibbutz's center and shortly after returned with a wide net. We heard before about people who had seen leopards, but it was very rare. Leopards are extinct animals in Israel, and this one could be the last leopard. That is why they wanted to catch him alive.
The crowd surrounded the wounded leopard, and someone threw the net on it. It didn't take long for the crowd to disperse, and we found ourselves alone. It was only then that we saw where we really were.
The kibbutz Idmit was located on a very high mountain. The view was of all the Galil, the northern part of Israel.
"Look how beautiful this is," Anat said squeezing my hand gently. "What is there?"
"Haifa," I said proudly. We just learned in the kindergarten about Haifa, the port city of Israel.
"Nahariya I think"
We sat on a rock looking at the lights of all the towns and villages around us flickering, holding hands, and listening to the sound of the wounded leopard crying in the dark.
Ingredients: ½ Chopped Onion
1 Cup Chickpeas (soaked in water over night)
2 Potatoes (cut to small cubes)
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 Crushed and Chopped Cloves of Garlic
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Crushed Fresh Ginger
¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Celery
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Turmeric
1 TBSP Tchina
Pinch Black Pepper
Preparation: Sautes Onion in Oil with ¼ tsp Salt until golden. Add the Potatoes, Garlic, and Ginger and Stir. Add the Chickpeas. Spices, Tchina and water to cover the ingredients. Boil and lower the heat to simmer for ½ hour. Blend lightly with a blender but leave some chunks and peas. Keep simmering for another ½ hour. Serve hot.
"The Taktok, the Taktok is here. The Taktok is here!" Avi rushed in yelling, "Come. Let's play outside and see the Taktok." Avi was just three years old, he didn't speak very well. Taktok is a tractor in Avi's language.
"Look what you did!" Tata Beya yelled at him in Arabic. (Remember? She speaks only Arabic.) "You brought all the dirt in the house. You always do this! You rush in, and you forget to wipe your feet."
Avi looked at her very seriously and listened patiently ‘til she finished. Then he yelled back, "Blah, blah, blah, blah!" and ran outside. You see, Avi does not speak or understand Arabic.
Tata Beya is staying with us for the summer. We just moved from the house in Havatselet to this bigger place in a Yemenite neighborhood.
"The rent is higher," Dad said, "but the place is bigger and we are closer to downtown. And besides, Mom can now go to work for half a day. This summer Tata Beya will stay with us, and I expect the best behavior from you guys. Nanou, you will translate for her and Avi, so I don't expect any problems."
Sure, no problems. Avi never had the patience to listen either to our old aunt or to my translations. Besides, she spoke Arabic so fast that I didn't have a chance to translate before Avi made his usual remark, which most of the time was "Blah, blah, blah," and ran out.
The new house is not new. It is a small single family house in our landlord's back yard. Our landlord, Mr. Okev, just like the rest of our neighbors, is from Yemen, a small country in the south of Saudi Arabia. They came to Israel in the early years of the state's development.
The Yemenite Jews are the closest to our ancient ancestors. They preserved their traditions and way of life as much as possible. Even the pronunciation of the Hebrew language is ancient, and whenever I went to the synagogue with them, I had a hard time sitting there. Because of their different accent, I could never understand. Mr. Okev came to Israel on the Magic Carpet Operation. He walked for two hundred miles to the airport with his family and all of his belongings, in order to fly to Israel. For the Yemenites it was the first time that they had seen a plane. For them it was a magic flying carpet. He promised God that when, and if, he reached Israel, he would build a house of worship, and so he did.
Mr. Okev was from a very rich family in Yemen. He left all the land that he owned and his business so he could come back to the Promised Land. When he came to Israel he sold the jewelry that he had collected and built the house he is living in. Now he was ready to build the synagogue he had promised. It just happened that at the same time the town of Natanya was developing this neighborhood and the big land movers were paving a new road to make a modern street.
For us kids it was a new playground and an amusement park. We would play in the freshly uncovered dirt, build sand towers, and throw dirt rocks at each other that would explode when they hit their target without causing any damage to the skin. This was our favorite war game.
Mr.Okev had three daughters. The oldest one was married to Mr. Gamil, the milk man who worked in the small moshav, Avichail. Every night I would go to their house (also in the Okev's back yard) to fetch the milk for Mom. They had two sons, Itay and Gabi. Mrs. Gamil was pregnant, and they were hoping to have a girl. Itay was my age, but he went to the orthodox preschool, and the only time we met to play was after school or on vacations, like now. Gabi was Avi's age and was home all the time. He played with Avi whenever he wanted. Mr. Okev's other two daughters lived at home with him. The young one, Tova, was engaged to be married, and the middle one, Ester, was working with Mom and Dad at the diamond polishing plant.
Next to the Okev's yard was the Macollet. That's what we call the little grocery store. It means a store that has everything. Saadya, the owner of the Macollet, had an orange orchard in his backyard, Naval oranges. They start to ripen at the end of the summer, and Mom bought them from him every week. Saadya had two daughters and a son. The young son was in the army. The middle daughter was working in the bank, and the oldest daughter, the pretty one, was a stewardess on the Israeli airline, El Al. Shoshana was her name, and she thought that I was the cutest boy she had ever seen. So, every time I came to the store, she would ask, "How is my favorite boyfriend doing today?" Unfortunately, she wasn't there all the time. She had to fly around the world. But when she was there, she would sing songs to me and tell stories about the places she visited in her travels.
"I can't take it any more," said Tata Beya, "Your brother is driving me up the walls. Go and tell him that I'll report everything to your mom when she comes home, and he will regret it for a long time."
The problem with Avi was that you couldn't teach him a lesson. He had a mind of his own. When Mom punished him he didn't care. Even when Mom smacked his little tush, he didn't cry. He would yell, "It doesn't hurt! It doesn't hurt!" Mom's hand would start to hurt and he just laughed and didn't cry.
I walked out to look for him, but he wasn't in our yard. He wasn't in the street playing with Gabi, either.
"He went to Saadya's," said Itay when he saw me looking for my lost brother. There was Avi in the orange orchard playing with a big rake. It was two feet taller than he was. Avi lifted the rake up above his head and dropped it in front of him yelling, "I'm a Taktok, I'm a Taktok."
"Put that rake down," I ordered and went toward him. "That's not how you use it. You should just pull it and rake the leaves, not dig with it!"
You might think he listened, but no, not Avi. He just picked it up and dropped it down again and again.
"Stop!" I yelled coming closer to him. "You might hurt yourself. Put it d..."
I never had the chance to finish my sentence. Avi turned toward me and dropped the rake on my head.
Ingredients: 1 Cup of dry Chickpeas soaked over night in water (or a can)
Juice of ½ Lemon
2 Crushed Garlic cloves
1 tsp Salt
2 Green Olives
2 TBSP Raw Tehina (sesame paste)
2 Green Olives
2 TBSP Olive Oil
Preparation: Boil the chickpeas for about 20 minutes. Drain and save the water. Blend all with emersion blender while the chickpeas are still hot (add a little of the hot water if you want it to be smoother). Serve and consume the same day, best if served warm, in a pita or in a plate with olive oil and sprinkled smoked paprika, fresh parsley, and or toasted pine nuts.
Some may use roughly crushed chick peas or beans in the mix.
“Nanou! Nanou, wake up!”
“What?” I complained half a sleep.
“I need to go to the bathroom”
“So go” I said and turned over.
Avi didn’t let go. We were left alone in the house while mom and dad went to the movies.
“You are a big boy now, you are five years old and you can take care of your brother. Mom and dad are going to the movies so don’t fight or mess up the house. Just stay in bed and go to sleep. By the time you wake up we will be back home.”
“Yes I know” I said to Mom “I am a big boy.”
It was all fine until Avi decided to wake me up.
“You have to come with me,” he cried. “I can’t reach the door latch.”
It was a big lie. Avi even being two years younger then me looked almost bigger then me- he was definitely heavier, and the same height as me. Avi was afraid of the dark. He wanted me to get up with him and go to the bathroom with him. Now, why should I? I was perfectly comfortable sleeping in my bed and really didn’t need to get up just so he can go to the bathroom. I knew he could open the door – I saw him do it before.
“I am not getting up” I said firmly. “You can open the door by yourself – you are a big boy”
“No!” he cried. “You are the big boy, Mom said so.” You have to open the door for me. I can’t reach.”
“Yes you can! I saw you do it before, you are just a chicken and you are afraid of the dark”
“No I’m not!”
“Yes you are!”
“Then prove it to me,” I said. “Show me that you aren’t afraid and go by yourself like the big boy that you are.”
“But you are the big boy!” Avi insisted. “Come open the door for me.
“Big boy or not, I don’t care” I said, rolling over to face him now. “I am not getting up and I don’t care if you make in your pants.”
Avi didn’t make in his pants, nor did he go to the bathroom. He simply took his pants off and made right next to my bed on the floor.
I couldn’t fall a sleep. The smell was horrible and I had to hear him snoring in his bed now across the room.
When Mom and Dad came back they weren't sure what to do first, laugh or yell at me and Avi. They ended up cleaning it up and going to bed.
1-1/2 cups chopped dates
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (if you want no nuts, I would add some spices - cinnamon, maybe ginger, nutmeg, cloves etc. just the spices you like, or maybe some dry fruit, like cranberries, apricots, cherries - just to give it another dimension)
2/3 cup butter, softened (I used parve margarine to make it lactose free)
1-2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I use less some times ~1/4)
1 Combine the dates, sugar and water (spices), cook and stir over medium heat until thick. (add other chopped dry fruit towards the end)
Add lightly tosted nuts (if using), cool. (you may put it to the freezer for 10 -15 min - it should be cold)
2 Cream butter (margarine) and sugar, add eggs, one at the time, beating well after each addition
3 Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture. (I just sift all dry to the egg mix at once) Divide in half
(I highly recommend to chill the dough at this point, if you don't have much time, just put it to the freezer for 10-20 min, it is too soft to work with)
4 On floured surface (very well floured!!!!), roll out the portions of dough into a 1/4 in.-thick rectangle. Spread with half of the filling. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with the long side. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap, refrigerate overnight (I did not have time to go over night, so I put the rolls into freezer for 1 hour or maybe little longer, until they became firm to touch. One more thing - the rolls where too soft so I kept them on a baking sheet in a freezer, so they will be straight)
5 Unwrap dough, cup 1/2 in. slices. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets (I use parchment paper). Bake at 375F for 10-12 min.
"Aunt Marie will be here this afternoon for the weekend," my mother announced today when I came home from school. I don't like Aunt Marie very much. She always calls me "young boy" with this commanding tone of hers, and then tells me what to do or not to do. But I like Vivi her older son, Ines the daughter, Avram, and little dumb Motke.
Vivi is three years older than me. He is strong, and he knows things that old people know. Ines is one year older than me. She is very pretty, and she tells scary stories at night after Mom shuts the lights. Avram is Avi's age. He is nice. And little dumb Motke is only two-and-a half years old.
One day when they came to visit us, Aunt Marie put Motke in an orange crate to play, (we didn't have a crib for him, and he was little anyway), and Avi gave him peanuts. The poor thing almost choked. He stuffed them all in his mouth and didn't know what to do with them. Luckily for him, Aunt Marie walked in the door and saw him with his full cheeks ready to die. What a dummy! She jumped toward him, shoved a finger in his mouth, and pulled all the peanuts out.
"Don't you know not to feed babies peanuts?" she asked with her angry voice. But how should Avi know? He was only three then, and Vivi didn't say anything. He just sat there and laughed.
"What are you laughing for?" Aunt Marie continued yelling. "Shut up, Vivi! I expected better from you!"
Saturday afternoon when we all came back from the beach, we washed, ate, and went to my room to rest, but we couldn't sleep. Only Avi and little dumb Motke fell asleep. Ines was reading one of her scary books. Avram was playing with my blocks. (They're Avi's now; I'm too old for them.) Vivi was staring at the air and thinking I don't know what. I decided that it was not fair that only Mom and Dad should have a radio. We should have one, too. You see, last Thursday I had checked it out and had seen what it was made of.
It was so simple. It was a box with an opening in the front covered with cloth. It had two buttons in front, one on each side of the opening. The back had one cord that was plugged into the wall. I know, because Dad told me, that it was connected to the electricity cables that were stretched outside. Those cables go to Tel Aviv where the radio station is. The radio, probably, works like the stretched-thread-and-two-cans telephone we made last year in the kindergarten. I thought that the man in Tel Aviv had a can that he could speak to, and it was connected to all the houses that had a radio.
Well, a box is not a problem. I have that new shoe box that came with my new shoes for the holidays. I took a piece of cloth from Mom's sewing box and two bottle caps. I made glue from flour and water. With mom's scissors, that Mom told me to be careful with, I cut a hole in the box. Then I cut the cloth to fit the hole. The problem was: How do I stretch a thread from the hole in the wall to my radio box? The thread is too flimsy. I looked all through Mom's sewing box, and then in her extra material pile and even in her knitting bag. There was no thread that could stretch from the hole in the wall to my radio box. I decided to sneak into my parents' room and check the radio out one more time.
They were both asleep. I walked on my tippy toes and looked at the back of the radio.
"What are you doing here?" Mom asked quietly, so as not to wake anybody. But she made me jump. I always forget that Mom is a very light sleeper, and I could never sneak up on her.
"Nothing," I said, "I'm looking at the radio. I want to know how it is made."
"O.K.," she said "just don't take it apart like you did grandma's clock."
"O.K." I said and left the room.
It was so simple. It had an electric cord like I saw yesterday when Dad was fixing the light. I went to Dad's tool drawer. It was in the back of the kitchen. I opened it, and there it was, an electrical wire. This one was not even flimsy. It was hard, and it had a copper cord on the inside. I took dad's cutter, and with both hands cut a long piece. I put everything back in place. Dad doesn't like it when I don't put things back where I got them.
Back in my room, Vivi was still looking at the air, only this time he was following a fly that was bothering his younger sister.
I took the wire, pushed it in the back of the box, and made a knot on the inside like we did with the can phone so it wouldn't fall out. I straightened the wire. It will be better then mom's radio because it is straight like my can phone. Now, all I have to do is to plug it in.
The hole in the wall was too high for me to reach. I got a chair from the kitchen, stood on it, and plugged the straight wire in while I put the box next to my ear. The sound I heard was not the sound of Mom's radio nor was it even close. This sound had power! It was vibrating so strongly that it shook me up and threw me across the room yelling "whaaaaw". I fell on Ines's back, and she jumped up screaming.
Mom, Dad, and Aunt Marie rushed into the room.
"What happened? What happened?" they asked, and just before Dad grabbed the radio from me I heard Aunt Marie saying,
"Shut up, Vivi! What are you laughing about?"
1/2 Head of Cauliflower
2 Garlic Cloves
1 tsp Salt
3 TBSP Olive Oil
Roast the Cauliflower and the Garrlic until soft and lightly brown.
Blend all ingredients until soft
Serve warm or cold with diping vegetables.