Tuesday, December 12, 2017

First Night

It's traditional to light your candles outside so that everyone can see them.

Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah. We were invited to friends for candle lighting and dinner. It was really lovely. Great company, lots of children, lots of presents, lots of food and lots of fancy doughnuts. If you've never tasted lime and coconut cream doughnuts from a French patisserie you've not lived. Though I have to say that the berries and cream doughnut was also something special. We cut them into quarters and had a tasting fest.

Thank you Sally-Ann!

The amazing doughnuts!

Lots of friends!

You light a taper candle and one extra each day for 8 days.

Playing Dreidels
Painting iced biscuits.
Each biscuit came with a paint brush and four colours.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits #49 - A Tweenager Is Born

Now I am 9 I'm as clever as clever.
(With apologies to AA Milne)
DD and I climbed into bed together for a story. We're almost finished reading The Wouldbegoods and I wanted to press on with it. DD had found her book from the Natural History Museum two years ago. She asked me to read the section about dinosaurs to her. I started but it was soooo boring. After two pages I was tired and couldn't be bothered with it.

Me: I'm not reading any more of this. It's too boring.
DD: Well that's rude.

DD: Mummy why did you come to live here?
Me: Because this is where Jewish people live.
DD: Wait a minute. Are we Jewish!?
Me: Of course we are. What did you think?
DD: I didn't know we were Jewish.
Me: Do you know it in Hebrew that anachnu Yehudim (we're Jewish).
DD: Ohhhh, why didn't you say so?

Answering questions on a reading comprehension for English homework.
DD: What is the relationship between the two girls? Mummy! How do you write 'best friends'?
Me: Write 'best' how it sounds.
DD: Doesn't matter. I wrote BFF.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Vegan Meat Patties

Vegan meat patties
Quite by chance and by accident I have made vegan patties that look and taste like meat. I think I shall have to name them Serendipity Patties. (Btw, hands up who first learned the word serendipity from Dr Who circa 1970?)

Here's how it happened. I went shopping this morning while DD was at school. Included in my weekly shop full of healthy fruit, vegetables and whole grains of course (well mostly - some of the grains aren't wholely whole tbh), were DD's crisps. I came home, unpacked the shopping and sat down at the computer with a cup of tea, to work.

I tried eating a bowl of porridge with banana. Then I finished the cold pasta in the fridge with salad vegetables and a tahina dressing. Then I had another cup of tea. And finally I succumbed to the crisps. (I should have just eaten the crisps first and bypassed all the other calories.) This was over a four hour period but still, I ate her crisps.

DD goes to club straight from school on Friday and one of the leaders comes to the school to walk a group of them over to the club house at 11.45. Yes Stupid Friday school finishes at 11.45. It was my turn to pick her up with her friend, at 1.15. We walked the friend home and then just had time to pop back into the local supermarket for a replacement bag of crisps.

The shops here close at 2pm on Fridays in the winter and don't open at all on Saturday. There was a pile of reduced perishable items by the check out. I was drawn by a designer loaf of bread and a pack of two whole-wheat challah rolls in the 2 for 12 shekels basket. I bought them and the sliced loaf went straight into the freezer for toast. I fancied a challah sandwich for supper.

However, when I took the challot (pl) out of the bag they were dry and sort of crumbled in my hands. I was angry initially but there was nothing I could do about it except resolve never to buy food on offer from that shop again. I've said this before but I keep forgetting.

Ever industrious in the kitchen, I crumbled the challot into a bowl, added a finely chopped onion, a jar of pasta tomato sauce, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and a shlug of olive oil. I would have added some soy or Worcester sauce but I didn't have any. I mixed it all up and spooned patty sized mounds of the mixture onto a baking tray. Into the oven for - umm - until they started to smell done, flipped them over and back into the oven for another 10 minutes. Oh yes, the oven was hot  - about 200 degrees.

They were still a bit moist and floppy when I put them onto a plate to cool but became much firmer as they rested. I had about 25 (now only 21) and they really do taste meaty. I think next time I'll make them bigger like burgers.

I packed them into a plastic box and into the fridge for the week. In a prime example of bloggerfail, I'd forgotten to take a photo. So the photo after the fact is not very Martha Stewart but at least I remembered before they were all eaten. Don't they look good for vegan?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

R2BC - The Surprise Party

Top Bunk!
She's pretending to be asleep for this photo, I can see her smiling. 
The working week is over for me on Thursday afternoon (I go back to school on Sunday morning), apart from all the work I have to do at home, and the shopping, and the cooking, and the cleaning. But apart from all that.... Seriously though, if I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn and get us both out of the house before 7.30 am, I don't count it as working. Here are my reasons 2B cheerful for this past week. The linky has moved back to Becky's Lakes Single Mum for December and I'm on it as usual.

DD turned nine on Monday. She had a lovely birthday and actually, she ended up with three different celebrations.

I'm still getting my head around the fact that nine years have gone by since she was born. As I'm an older mother, I'd had over 20 years of total independence. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. All I had to do was make my arrangements for myself and lock my front door behind me. I didn't even have to leave a note for anyone. Now I've had nine years of not making a move without factoring DD into the equation - where will she be? Who will she be with? What will she do? What will she eat? Will she be happy? Will she be bored? Will she be too tired? Will she be warm enough?

I know all mothers live with multiple lives to consider, and some of them do it for decades if they have large families, but for me it was a new experience. It's complicated sometimes but I like it.

On Tuesday I had to be in school from 4 to 8pm for parent-teacher meetings. The day was a study in logistic planning from reorganising my college timetable to making arrangements for DD so that she could go to club, be taken to Sarit's house, stay overnight with Sarit, be taken to school in the morning with a classmate, and not have to schlep her clarinet everywhere with her after the clarinet lesson on Tuesday morning.

My first R2BC is that it all went like clockwork. Thank you team!

I knew that Sarit was going to have a cake and candles for DD as Tuesday was the day after her birthday. And I knew that she had a gift for her. So I'm sitting at school, bored stiff because only 15 parents came to see me in four hours! And it was not one family every 15 minutes. It was more like 10 families in the first hour and a half and another five families spread over the remaining two and a half hours. Anyhoo, I suddenly see Whatsapp messages coming through with photos of a proper birthday party happening at Sarit's place.

She had invited the rest of our 'created family' group (we are five mothers and five children but one family is away atm) for tea and birthday celebrations. I was really touched as it was a total surprise. DD was so happy. The only negative thing was that I couldn't be there.

This one is DD's. She got the top bunk for the night at Sarit's. Her first time on a top bunk. She was thrilled.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Such Is Life

Sunset over Jerusalem.
The sun doesn't go down, it's the world that keeps on turning.
We live on the third floor of an apartment building. Directly below us on the second floor are a young family who just welcomed their third daughter into the world. And on the first floor, directly below them, are a couple in their late 50s with grown up children and baby grandchildren.

On DD's birthday, as we went downstairs to go to school in the morning, we noticed a big colourful poster on the door of the family on the second floor. WELCOME HOME TO MUMMY AND OUR BABY SISTER! We smiled and said that we must go in and visit next week and take a gift.

We left the building and outside in the parking area we saw a small marquee with the sign 'Sukkat Avelim'. It means 'Mourners' Shelter'. I looked to see where the electric cable from the roof of the marquee went into the building and saw that it was attached via the balcony of the couple on the first floor.

My heart sank as I understood what had happened. Although there were no notices up yet I had met the wife in the supermarket last week and she told me her son was in hospital. Had an elderly grandparent died, they would have not have needed a tent. But when a young man with a family of his own dies, there are more mourners and more friends who come to visit and comfort during the week of shiva.

By the time I got home from school and was rushing out to collect DD and her friends for the birthday supper, the notices were up. I had been right. Michael was was a young family man with four babies - two sets of twins all under four years old.

The funeral had been in the morning and the street around our building was full of tearful friends and family. My neighbour came out of the tent. I hugged her, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," was all I could say. We all assumed he would be ok. He was young, there are babies, he was in the hospital, the hospital makes you better doesn't it?

I popped into their apartment on my way upstairs to say a few words to her husband and then ran up to dump my bag and do a quick change of clothes. On my way back out I met the new father on the second floor. I wished him Mazal Tov and we walked out together, through the mourners to the street.

He drove off to collect his wife and new baby from the hospital and I went to celebrate DD's birthday. Such is life.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A More Sophisticated Birthday

Fancy shmancy doughnuts. They don't come fancier than this. 
The birthday started last Friday when DD celebrated her birthday in school along with the other December birthdays. One of the mothers made a fabulous cake, I bought a gift from the three of them to the class (a picture atlas if you're interested), and the other friend bought a small present for each of the birthday children.

The real birthday day, yesterday, started with me waking DD with a full throttle rendition of "Happy Birthday to you..." in two languages.

DD: Stop that racket! It's a regular school day!
Me: But its your birthday!
DD: Don't be weird. (Turns over and goes back to sleep).

So much for that. We eventually got moving. I found some Whatsapp messages for DD on my phone and an e-card on the computer. I related the messages to DD and she watched the card. #postmillenialgeneration

Me: O (my friend's son aged 7) wishes you lots of presents and sweets.
DD: Amen!

Perusing the menu.
There were only 4 options on the kids' menu but they studied them seriously.
We both went off to our separate schools. The celebrations were going to be after school.

DD didn't want a party but she did want to do something for her birthday and so did I. So we invited a friend to come out for supper and a fancy doughnut.

A word about the doughnuts. Fried food is traditional for the festival of Hanukkah. Specifically latkes and doughnuts. Like Christmas, Hanukkah starts early in the shops and in recent years the competition to produce the fanciest doughnuts has become fierce. In the exit poles Roladin Cafe usually comes in the top 3 so that's where we went. Also because there is a branch five minutes walk from our house.

By the time we got to the actual event, DD had invited another two friends. I was desperately trying to play it down as there is a school policy of inviting the whole class, or at least all the girls or all the boys to birthday parties. I kept saying, it's not a party, it's not a party. In the end it was great that  we had three guests because it made it more of a party. I know, it's complicated, but you can get away with it if you keep it low profile.

More fancy doughnuts
I collected the girls from school at 4pm and we walked up the road to Roladin. The menu was perfect as they have a kids' selection with four options - pizza, pasta with tomato or cream sauce, cheese toast, or a breakfast type egg, cheese, salad and bread roll platter. They mostly wanted the pizza. And they got a drink of their choice included with the meal. I had a salad.

After ordering, DD opened her presents. They are very sweet here about giving birthday blessings and each child wished DD something lovely for the coming year. And then she thanked them each with a hug.

Then they ran about for a bit outside. Then they chose and ate doughnuts (not me of course). Then I paid and we left. No stress. No mess to clear up. Much cheaper than a party And DD said said that it was her best birthday so far. Result!

The obligatory silly photo with tongues sticking out.
I will never understand why tongues out means we're having lots of fun.  
We walked our guests home. One of them lived further along the Bethlehem Road than we thought. I almost expected to arrive in Bethlehem before we got to her house but we eventually got there before leaving Jerusalem. We ended up doing an hour's round trip to take her home and then walk home again. Yes we could have taken the bus or a taxi back but actually it was a lovely mild evening and the walk was fun.

At home DD played with her presents for a bit, we had an argument about bedtime versus time on You Tube, and the day was over with a kiss and a cuddle.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Perfect Diet?

Today we had a vegan lunch. Tomorrow - who knows.
Back in July I wrote this post about the Ketogenic diet versus a Vegan Diet. At that time I came down decidedly on the side of the keto diet because I was convinced by the carbs turning to glucose argument. I was, and am still, in favour of intermittent  fasting. However, I can't get the vegan factors out of my head. And, to make it all more complicated, I like history, nostalgia and tradition so what are you supposed to do about baking with real butter, chicken soup with kneidlech, shepherd's pie, Cornish pasties, and all other meat and potato pies?

I've spent hours on You Tube watching documentaries and testimonies form every camp. They all claim to solve the world-wide obesity crisis, reverse type 2 diabetes, reverse even stage 4 cancers, eradicate heart disease, eradicate strokes, eradicate dementia, eradicate almost everything including old age! Grown men and women shouting at each other with passionate anger that they have found the secret to universal good health.

Confused? I totally am. This is what I've found out about all the different ways of eating. Maybe if I write it all down we can see some helpful patterns.

1. What Grandma used to make.
It sounds sensible because who could be more sensible about food than Grandma. She cooked the family through the war (if  you're old enough, otherwise think Great-Grandma) and the nation have never been so healthy as they were then.

But if you're going to do it you need to do it like Grandma (or Great-Grandma) did it. They ate a little of everything, there was no (or very little) processed food, they did not eat between meals, they ate much smaller portions than we are used to now, sugar was rationed.

You also have to take into account that the wheat, vegetables, and especially the meat, that we buy nowadays is not as nutritionally sound as it was back then. The wheat has been modified, the vegetables are sprayed, the soil is depleted, the animals are fed antibiotics (and maybe hormones) to keep them alive and growing. And don't let's start on the spiritual notion that their stress and suffering in some way taints the meat, dairy and eggs. Ok, let's include that because we're not dismissing anything here and I sort of do believe it.

2. The Ketogenic Diet.
No carbohydrates except those occurring in salad and crusiferous vegetables. No sugar, flour, root vegetables, fruit (except berries), alcohol, grains, or milk. On the other hand you can have cheese, cream, butter, meat, fish, eggs, avocados and berries. They advise moderate amounts of protein so it's not Atkins. The perfect keto meal is a moderate portion of protein with loads of vegetables.

The science they claim is that carbs are just glucose waiting to happen, and that glucose is what leads to too much insulin, fatty livers, and all the other diseases mentioned above. Once you eliminate the carbs, your body has to use your stored fat for energy and you go into a state of ketosis and lose weight.

I don't dispute any of this. I've seen amazing transformations from obese and nearly dead couch potatoes to healthy, fit, exercising people with abundant energy and sparkles in their eyes. They have indeed reversed many of the dreaded diseases of middle-age and it shows on their blood tests.

3. Whole Food, Plant Based, Vegan.
I'm skipping vegetarian here because vegetarian makes no sense. The dairy cows and the laying hens are kept in the same conditions as the meat animals. Milk and eggs have the same fat, hormones, and antibiotics. Dairy and meat cows eat the same amount of grain (that could be used to feed hungry people) and give of the same the amount of gas. So if you're vegetarian but not vegan you're kidding yourself.

Vegan on its own is also not enough if we're looking for a healthy diet. Crisps, jelly beans, and all sorts of processed sugary snacks are vegan, You could live off them and still be vegan. So I'm only talking about whole food plant based vegan here.

The WFPB camp are about animal suffering, the planet, and our health. I agree with them about the animals. It's not like it was in olden times when you knew the farmer and the animals frolicked in the fields until their eventual demise. Despite the pictures of happy cows and hens on the packaging, all our meat comes from animals living suffering in factory conditions.

I agree with them about the planet. I have to take their word for it on the gas emissions being the biggest cause of greenhouse gas and therefore global warming. I do understand, however, that the enormous amount of grain fed to animals gives way less food than the grain would have given had it by-passed the fat and protein machine (i.e. the animal).

It only gets complicated when we look at the health benefits. Every amazing transformation and healing miracle I've seen from keto people, I've seen the exact same incredible results from the WFPB vegans. They say you can get enough protein from plants, avocados are super-foods, beans are the key to eternal good health, and you can reverse or prevent all the diseases we fear whilst simultaneously saving the planet and stopping animal suffering.

I also kinda have to agree that it doesn't make sense to be afraid of a potato (although you should be afraid of the vegetable oil in crisps and chips) or a piece of fruit. So again you have to be selective - a healthy WFPB vegan diet does not include sugar, vegetable oils, or any processed foods (including highly refined grains). You also need to eat the whole fruit and not just the juice as this leads to drinking the sugar from 10 oranges instead of the whole fruit and fibre of one orange.

The vegan doctors say they see clogged arteries full of animal fat and it's nothing to do with glucose. They advise high carb, low fat. I'm not a doctor.

4. One Ingredient Shopping.
You can have what you like as long as you buy only foods that consist of one ingredient. Meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts. I like this concept and you would necessarily eat less if you had to make everything from scratch. I just included this because it's a simple solution although it doesn't solve the carbs versus animals dilemma.

5. Intermittent Fasting.
This works with any diet and you can do it without any big dietary changes. The theory is that you leave time for your body to use up all the energy from the previous meal and get a chance to use some of your body fat for energy. It seems to be another way to get into ketosis.

People say that once they are using stored fat they have abundant energy whilst losing weight. Dr Jason Fung explains that your body tries to slow metabolism when it feels it's running out of food but once you go into ketosis there is a load of fat to burn so you don't slow down at all. He advises to eat low carb, high fat, and drink lots of water. (Actually everyone advises lots of water.)

Intermittent fasting can be as little as no eating between meals, skipping one meal a day, only eating one meal a day, fasting for 16 hours and eating only in an 8 hour window each day (or 18:6, or 20:4). It can be fasting for 2 days a week, or 3, or an extended water fast of several days. Or you could do an extended fast a number of times a year (after Xmas and after your summer holiday?). The beauty of it is that anyone can do it: you travel - don't eat, you have erratic schedules - don't eat, you have food allergies - don't eat, you can't afford a special diet - don't eat, you eat kosher/hallal - don't eat, you're vegan - don't eat, you're in keto - don't eat. Cute eh? I didn't make up that speech, Jason Fung says it. (Obviously some specific medical conditions mean that some people are not advised to fast.)

And, yes, all the amazing, incredible results seen on both keto diet and the WFPB vegan diet are also documented and available all over You Tube for intermittent fasting. Same. Same diseases cured, same conditions reversed, same healthy new lives for people who were almost dead. Go figure.

My Conclusions.
*If you want to save the planet and be kind to animals you need to be vegan.
*If you want good health and to save the planet and be kind to animals, you need to be WFPB vegan.
*If you want to lose weight quickly you could go Keto but some doctors swear that they see all that animal fat in the arteries. So you might be way more healthy and active than if you were obese and this might be why you have good blood work and fewer chronic conditions.
*If you work from home or part time, and have a garden, you could try buying (and growing) only one-ingredient food, cooking like Grandma, and eating like they did in the 1940s. I have no doubt that this would be healthy. It would also take up your whole life.
*Intermittent fasting works for most people on whatever level they want to do it. Many people find it easier not to eat at all than to restrict portions and types of food.
* Whatever works for you is better than eating junk, fast, processed, and sugary foods.

**** EVERYBODY AGREES that you should eat loads of vegetables and drink lots of water.
****EVERYBODY AGREES that you should avoid processed foods, sugar, vegetable oils and trans-fats.