Health, self improvement

WHILE THE COFFEE PERKS

WHILE THE COFFEE PERKS

My phone and technology is getting to me. It has been for quite sometime and I fantasize regularly about discontinuing it completely. Before you start throwing your belief systems at me, “You own a business!! How will your son get in touch with you? !!” and the many other memes that have been planted in our brains by Big Tech I am fully aware that the notion of even contemplating this seems unrealistic, even radical these days. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

What I know about all of this technology and I am speaking for me here in my quiet little corner of the world, is that it does not serve my sense of inner connection. I feel at times on the inside like the fuzzy screen on my grandparents old Zenith console when there was nothing on television because it was one in the morning. My insides feel a little sizzly, fragmented, hot, and not in a good way. It is like a disconnect with my spirit and these time sucking instruments I find myself checking regularly for no apparent reason are the culprit. It used to be television that I thought was the great time waster, sitting on the couch watching mindless shows. The Boob Tube we used to call it back when that was the only form of technology that had the potential for the incredible waste of our days. Like George Orwell predicted in 1983, Big Tech is our version of Big Brother as every single movement from the time we wake up until the time we lie down is tracked and recorded. I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist, I am not at all. We consumers have created this condition by our love and zest for new and shiny and all things tech. Our behaviors have changed with the times, like Pavlov’s dog and here we are. As I write this very piece, I am fully aware that my car is running so that I may enter a warm cushy space because of an app on my phone. I am writing on the very technology I complain about. I post on a site that allows an audience for my writing making it much easier to communicate my love of writing to more people than I certainly could if I were typing on one of my 27 newly collected typewriters.

But my insides have not been feeling the calm joyful peace I crave. I miss that feeling that is like a velvet quilt on a cold day with the fire going and a fresh hot cup of tea by my side. When I was visiting my grandfather a few weeks back, we went to temple and as I was singing next to him, he said to me, “You seem to love coming so much, why don’t you attend services at home then?” My reply was quick. “I don’t have anyone to go with and it is kind of a bummer always being solo at synagogue.” But he planted that seed and I realized I haven’t been purposeful in connecting with my spirituality. Deliberate and conscious connection with my higher power is something that always brings me the AHHH I know is necessary to move through my busy life. Why do I step away when it usually brings me such joy? I guess this is the perpetual quest. Like exercise and eating right, saving money, meditating, creating, reading, writing, learning, all these elements that feed my personal soul, I wonder why I step away when they all make me feel so enlightened and happy?

I decided for a change rather than overwhelm myself with some new hard and fast rule that I would most definitely break and then feel like a failure, I would pull out of my box of quotes, ONE DAY AT A TIME. I never really understood this mantra until I applied it to each day, ONE DAY AT A TIME. So last week, I decided to get back to conscious meditating, but without some long term plan where I would start doing meditation classes and offer it to the world resulting in no meditating as usual. Instead I put my coffee on and decided that I was worthy of the time it took to completely brew the pot to sit down cross legged facing a beautiful pastel my brother drew of a sun before he died and close my eyes and just breathe. While the coffee perked. For the entire pot. My coffee pot beeps when it is finished which in the past I considered a silly extra feature, but in this case, it was a helpful reminder that I could stop. I think the whole pot brewing took about seven minutes but it may as well been five hours because I had a really hard time adjusting, sitting cross legged, breathing, staying focused on my breath. It pretty much sucked. But I felt better when I got up, soothed, relaxed. So I did it the next day and it still sucked, my brain was spinning, I couldn’t get a deep breath, my heart felt racy, my hips were tight and I was uncomfortable. But I felt better when the pot beeped again and I got up. So I did it again. And it was easier to breathe deeply, to sit to come back to breath every time my mind spun and took me away from it, and when the pot beeped I stayed put enjoying the velvet vibe. I stretched for a few minutes some downward dog, some cat cows, some rising up and breathing in.

And I felt better. I could take a deep breath. My heart slowed. My mind calmed. And I did it again the next day and the day after. ONE DAY AT A TIME. And I went to temple and sang with my tribe and I felt better. All because I have a coffee pot that beeps. All because my 101 year old grandfather reminded me that my joy is as important as work and that my religion and culture and its freedoms are a gift that I take for granted without even having to say it aloud. And I feel better. And it’s free. Seven minutes of coffee perking, I deserve the time. Technology will be there later, back to my present moment for today anyway.

peace indeed
recipes

POTATO LATKES

POTATO LATKES

Dearest Michael,

My dear love. For me, one of the greatest pleasures since you came into our lives is including Judaism as part of it. We have never been religious Jews, but certainly cultural ones and of course this is where food comes into the story. The traditions of Jewish holidays were always important to me. Knowing that you have four sets of Great Great Grandparents who escaped Russian pogroms for both opportunity in America, but also religious freedom has been an important enough reason to be sure to keep the tradition of our history alive. The way this has translated besides Hebrew School, your Bar Mitzvah and your first trip to Israel has been to celebrate the holidays. I have not always been super consistent with all things Jewish for sure. But knowing that I made a mark and exposed you to the values and rituals from the time you were born has been enough for me and hopefully for you too. It has not been an easy task to keep the traditions alive raising you in a primarily Catholic community, but this is the part of Judaism that many Jews struggle with so we march forth. I hope that as you make your way through your twenties, Judaism is part of your essence and your guide. I love that I was raised Jewish and I have deep memories of this connection. Of course food has been a centerpiece that has surrounded the experience and has added to the delight.

One of the ways I have tried to keep tradition alive has been to have Holiday parties, Passover Seders, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and of course Hanukkah have all been part of your life and inviting friends to be a part of this has added to the fun. Your great grandmother Isabelle made some delicious food for the Jewish Holidays. I have already listed her BRISKET and ISABELLE’S CHICKEN in previous entries. Since Hanukkah is on its way, I thought it would be apropos to include her delicious Latke recipe. This is not really “her” recipe because pretty much every basic LATKE recipe is this one, but since she was the one who taught me how to make these, I give her the shoutout. This recipe is one of your favorites and since I only make them once a year, they are even more special to those tastebuds of yours.

I hope that you will try to make these sometime in your life when you have your own apartment; for now though, you can count on me at least once a year.

Love Mom

POTATO LATKES

I only make these once a year mainly because they are time consuming, but also because they really make your house smell like onions for a few days. I make a gigantic batch and freeze them. I usually quadruple this recipe.

The food processor is your friend here, I know there are purists who use a regular box grater, but I have never done that. I always use the shredding attachment to the Cuisinart.

4–6 Russet Potatoes, peeled and shredded

2 onions, shredded

1–2 eggs

Matzo meal or flour (I always use matzo meal)

Salt and pepper

Peanut oil

Grate the potatoes and onions and put in a large strainer lined with a clean dishcloth

You will need to strain as much liquid out as possible so don’t be impatient with this. Keep squeezing out the liquid, you cannot do this too much, it will be your friend when you form them.

Get a large frying pan out and put a generous amount of peanut oil and turn the stove on to the higher side of medium. The pan needs to be super hot.

Once you get most of the moisture out, place into the bowl and add the egg and generous amounts of salt and pepper, mix with your hands until well blended. The mixture should be on the moist side but not over liquidy, add the next egg if your instinct tells you to.

Begin adding matzo meal (or flour) to get everything to stick together so that you will easily be able to shape into small thin patties. You will be tempted to make the patties bigger than necessary. Go small and flatter. They will cook better and get the crispy edges that make these delicious.

Once they are formed place in the very hot pan (they should sizzle) and press flat. Be patient. Don’t play with them, just let them fry.

Flip when super brown and crispy.

Place on a long rectangle pan lined with paper towels and cook all of them layering them in the pan layered with paper towels.

If you decide to freeze, allow to cool and layer between wax paper and wrap tightly. When you take them out of the freezer, place in an oven that is about 325 and cook until crispy and heated again.

Serve with applesauce and sour cream and remember to give the dreidel a spin too!

I LOVE YOU.