Sunday, June 1, 2008

Food is Love

I grew up in a household where food = love. You know the type, when you were 6 and you broke your wrist and the Dr. had to twist it back in - without anesthesia - to set it and you screamed your head off and almost fainted in pain, your Dad took you straight to Baskin and Robbins for a double scoop treat. Or, when you scored really high on the GRE, you parents decided to take the whole family out to a big celebratory dinner at your favorite kosher restaurant. And, you ordered everything you ever wanted from the menu. What about when you were feeling down about the crappy dates you'd be out on lately, and your Mom looked the other way when you reached for a box of chocolate donuts and then handed you a pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream to instantly make you feel better. Or that first Shabbos back home from the awful Zionistic sleep over summer camp and your Mom cooked you your absolute favorite Shabbos foods and then Grandma popped over with her famous potato kugel that she only makes on special occasions.

Yeah, that's the home I grew up in. Well, as I got older and my waistline expanded, I realized that maybe I didn't have the best relationship with food. So, I decided to try to get control and ask for hugs instead of bags of Hershey hugs when I needed emotional comfort. Its been working well, thankfully, and I'm doing my best not to perpetuate what I learned at home into our new home. That being said, I'm not always successful. We joke about how food=love, especially when Pidgeon comes home from a long day and I immediately ask him what I can give him for dinner. I give him a hug first, so he recognizes the difference, and then I make him a fantastic meal. But, on Friday, I realized that Pidgeon needed more of a pick me up than my wimpy little arms could provide. And so, I decided to bake him a surprise batch of vegan brownies.

But wait, you might be asking, since when are you vegan? We're not. I could never be a vegan or a vegetarian. I love meat. But, we are on a big time budget and when I rummaged through the fridge looking for the 2 eggs needed for my brownie recipe, I discovered a lone egg and no applesauce to substitute. So, I hit the internet and found a recipe for vegan brownies that called for maple syrup instead of eggs. I decided, since we had a huge bottle of maple syrup that I wasn't planning on using any time soon (no pancakes for this preggo), to try out the recipe. I shooed Pidgeon out of the kitchen and told him I was making him a surprise for Shabbos kiddush. He was curious and excited and happily went to his room to do some work. By the time the brownies were baking, the fabulous scent drew Pidgeon out of his room and into the kitchen. He was thrilled and the brownies were delicious! I warned him that this was a pick-me-up that I won't constantly resort to, but I knew that he would really enjoy his treat. He really did.

Sometimes, folks, a brownie is exactly what the Dr. ordered for some much needed mood elevation.

Shabbos was very quiet and relaxing. We ate Friday night dinner at Pidgeon's parents home and for the first time, I had to give myself the shot away from our apartment (well, except when we were at my parents, but that doesn't count). It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, especially since everyone was lingering over dessert and we were able to slip downstairs to his bedroom quite easily. We walked home around Midnight and the streets were much more crowded that usual, which really means that the summer is here, and it was nice to get home and not have to do a shot before going to bed. With the AC humming softly, we both fell into a nice sleep.

Shabbos day we were home by ourselves, which is exactly how I like it sometimes. I still don't understand how we manage to have 2 1/2 hour lunches, but it was a lot of fun. I had to read Abraham Cahan's Yekl for class this week and, since I'm a huge Cahan fan, I really enjoyed the story. After a quick nap, we decided to escape the artificial air and sit on the back porch.

It was so nostalgic for me. In Queens, on a long Shabbos afternoon, I would wake up from my nap and join my Mom on the front porch to read, gossip, watch the people going up the block to the two shul's in our vicinity, and just relax. We wouldn't go inside until dusk and the bugs started to bite, or if our stomachs growled for some Shalosh Seudot. Pidgeon didn't grow up sitting on the front porch Shabbos afternoon, he was usually fast asleep with the latest SciFi thrilled next to his pillow, although his parents do have a beautiful garden that they entertain in.  I think he enjoyed the hour and a half we spent outdoors, if for no other reason than there was a fantastic breeze and the fabulous scent of fresh flowers growing in the air. When Shabbos was over, I was a little sad since it had been so enjoyable, but was looking forward to the start of a new week.

We also decided, as our Saturday night activity, not to see Sex and the City but the head over to the Mamilla mall which is right outside the Old City walls. We hadn't been there yet, but the buzz is strong and positive, and we thought it would be a fun evening. Little did we know that the rest of Jerusalem thought the same way! It took 30 minutes to just drive down the block and into the parking lot. I was shocked by the lines of cars, in both directions, that seemed to stretch for miles. We also had an alternative reason for going to the Mall; I had a 300 shekel gift card to Mac that I wanted to redeem and figured now was as good a time as any to get me some fun stuff. 

We parked and quickly made our way to the shopping center. We hadn't realized that the Mall was basically an outdoor one, and on such a beautiful evening, it was perfect! We passed restaurants that had long waits and were bursting at the seams! We saw a Rolodin, Aroma, Cafe Cafe and a Cafe Rimon. For some reason, the line at Cafe Cafe was the longest. We noted upscale retailers like Tommy Hillfiger, Bebe, and H Stern and of course the requisite Michal Negrin store. The shopping was a tourists dream! Imagine, you could go to the kotel, walk back through the Old City, and stop at the Mamilla mall to get anything you would have gotten in the center of Town. Pretty soon, Ben Yehuda might become obsolete! 

Well, we went to Mac and it turned out that my card expired in February. I was a little upset, as that gave me only 4 months from my birthday to redeem the card and I was told I had a year. The woman was very helpful and got on the phone with HQ to see what they could do. We decided to check out the other shops while she was on the phone and we stopped into the Body Shop so I could buy myself some nice bubble bath. I hope it does what I'm looking for, because sometimes you just want to spend a few hours soaking in a hot tub, with a glass of apple juice, some scented candles and your Nora Jones CD. Afterwards, the hunger bug struck and we hopped into Aroma for some take out sandwiches. We were fighting the clock as I had to be home for the 11:00 a.m. shot and it was getting precariously close to the time we needed to leave. We stopped back at Mac and the woman told us that I could redeem the card but could spend no less than 300 shekel. I ended up getting a palette of 4 eyeshadows, a pencil sharpener and 2 sponges for 316. Fortunately, the extra 16 shekel didn't break the bank. We then quickly stopped into the Steimatzky, which was GORGEOUS, and didn't find the book Pidgeon is desperately looking for. Anyone who knows where we can buy a Brandon Sanderson novel in Israel, please let me know! It would make Pidgeon so happy to have!

We made it home with 2 minutes to spare and then, after the shot, enjoyed a lovely midnight snack with some CSI: Miami.

Today, Pidgeon is off helping his Uncle move offices and I'm home working on one of my thesis stories. I hope to get the bulk of it down today so I can have at least something else written that I can edit into shape. 

If you're in America, here's hoping you're spending the day at The Salute to Israel Day Parade. Show your pride and wear blue and white! We here in Baka appreciate it!

Yom Tov!

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