Having fun with the grandkids – nothing better! Painting, Making Bread and more

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 Watching our identical twin grandsons grow up is such a joy. They are  sweet and smart – and love hanging out at the farm. Always chores to do and baking and cooking with grandma. Here they are making bread with me one Friday some weeks ago. It was one of those amazing California weekends when the temperature was 85 degrees! We painted bird houses for the humming birds that populate our farm ( the ones we chose were too small for the cockatiels and parakeets in our aviary – where we have 200 birds) .

And here is the recipe for making Challah Bread – easy but time consuming! 

How To Make Challah Bread

 Ingredients

2 Tbsp active dry or instant yeast

1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water

9-9.5 cups  all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 Tbsp salt

4 large eggs plus one for painting on the challah before baking

1/2 cup  Canola vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast: Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a small bowl, and add a teaspoon of sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast and let stand for 10 minutes until you see a thin frothy layer across the top. This means that the yeast is active and ready to use. (If you do not see this or if your yeast won’t dissolve, it has likely expired and you’ll need to purchase new yeast.)
  2. Mix the dry ingredients: Whisk together 9 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand).
  3. Add the eggs and oil which you have beaten together: Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs and oil. Whisk these together to form a slurry, pulling in a little flour from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Mix to form a shaggy dough using a wooden spoon: Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry. Mix the yeast, eggs, and flour with a long-handled spoon until you form a shaggy dough that is difficult to mix.
  5. Knead the dough for 15 minutes by turning out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand- this is REALLY GOOD EXERCISE! If the dough seems very sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky, but no longer like bubblegum. The dough has finished kneading when it is soft, smooth, and holds a ball-shape.
  6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl ( turn it over a few times so that the oil coats all of it) , cover with plastic wrap and towels, and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 – 3 hours.
  7. Separate the dough into six equal pieces, depending on the type of braid you’d like to do. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope roughly 1-inch thick and 16 inches long. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten and then try again.
  8. Gather 3 of the ropes and squeeze them together at the very top to make a 3-stranded challah, braid the ropes together like braiding hair or yarn and squeeze the ends together when complete. 
  9. Spray a baking sheet with spray ( or pour a little oil onto it a spread it around smoothly) and lift the loaf on top. Sprinkle the loaf with a little flour and drape it with a clean dishcloth. Place the pan somewhere warm and away from drafts and let it rise until puffed and pillowy, about an hour.
  10. About 20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 350°F. When ready to bake, whisk the last egg and brush it all over the challah. Be sure to get in the cracks and down the sides of the loaf.
  11. Slide the challah into the oven on its baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes,  The challah is done when it is browned. This recipe will make TWO large challahs ( you have six ropes so have to braid two challahs of 3 braids each)
  12. Cool the challah: Let the challah cool on a cooling rack until just barely warm. Slice and eat.
  13. Making a 6-Stranded Challah Braid

    The name of the game here is "over two, under one, over two." Carry the right-most rope over the two ropes beside it, slip it under the middle rope, and then carry it over the last two ropes. Lay the rope down parallel to the other ropes; it is now the furthest-left strand. Repeat this pattern until you reach the end of the loaf. Try to make your braid as tight as possible. Your braid will start listing to the left as you go; it’s ok to lift it up and recenter the loaf if you need to. Once you reach the end, squeeze the ends of the ropes together and tuck them under the loaf.

    At this point, your loaf is fairly long and skinny. If you’d like to make a celebration ring, stretch the loaf a little longer and pull the ends toward each other to create a circle. You can either squeeze the ends together, or if you’re feeling adventurous, braid them into a continuous circle.

    If you’re making a regular loaf you need to "plump" it a little to tighten the ropes into more of a loaf shape. Place your left palm at the end of the braid and your right palm at the top, and gently push the two ends toward each other, just like plumping a pillow in slow motion. Then slip your fingers under the dough along either side and gently lift the dough while cupping it downwards. 

    For the grandsons below, I divided the dough into two smaller pieces and one larger one. I made the larger one into one large Challah for the Friday night dinner for the family while the smaller ones were divided into ropes of three each by the children and braided into individual Challahs as you see pictured below. Great excitement and happiness all around!

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Finding an easy fast comfort food dish that the whole family will LOVE! Here it is!

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 What is the kind of food that your family considers to be COMFORT FOOD? We have a number of dishes that come from our heritage in South Africa – and a few that we picked up  along the way. One I particularly love is home made hummus. It is a food that more folks are familiar with since Sabra started distributing worldwide and their products are SOOO good. However making your own Hummus is so easy and satisfying that I do it myself. Here is my favorite starter or snack recipe – with more to come in future blogs.

Homemade Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of chickpeas – drained
  • 1 cup of olive oil ( or less) to taste
  • 1/2 cup of Tahini – make sure you get the liquid part as well as the denser part of the product
  • One clove of Garlic chopped fine or minced
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Paprika and chopped Italian Parsley for finishing

Directions

  1. Puree the drained chickpeas in your Cuisinart until smooth
  2. Add Tahini and half the olive oil and the juice of one lemon
  3. Add salt to taste
  4. If the mixture is too thick or dense, add more olive oil.
  5. I found that  I needed to add olive oil until it tasted ‘right’ – right may be different for different folks – I like it smooth and with that olive oil texture – so I did add about 3/4 of a cup of olive oil.
  6. Put into a serving dish.
  7. Make a depression in the top of the hummus and then used the 1/4 cup to drizzle into the depression and around the sides of the dish
  8. Sprinkle some paprika  (optional: and chopped Italian parsley) over the hummus to give it color ( optional).
  9. Serve with hot pita or crackers

easy-and-smooth-hummus-recipe-1

 

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Butternut Squash soup is an old favorite – with a twist of rosemary adds a wonderful flavor

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We LOVE butternut squash soup but I tried something different this season and it worked out really well! Hope you like it!

INGREDIENTS:

  •  2 lbs of butternut squash cut in half
  • 4 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • 2 pints of Better than Bouillon Vegetable stock ( for vegetarian) or Chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp of chopped chives
  • 4 Tbsp of Non Fat Plain Yogurt

 

 Directions:

  1. Cut the squash in half and place into a roasting pan 
  2. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil over the squash and then place a rosemary sprig onto each one
  3. Roast at 400 Degrees C until soft and slightly caramelized – remove the rosemary and discard and skin and seed the squash preserving the flesh of the vegetable.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute first the garlic and then the onion until translucent.
  5. Add the squash, stock and seasoning to taste.
  6. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes
  7. Puree in a blender or Cuisinart and test for seasoning again ( salt particularly)
  8. Serve in bowls with a dollop of yogurt with chives sprinkled over. YUM!butternut-squash-roasting-with-rosemary butternut-squashButtternutfrying-onions-to-make-soup

 

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Piano Recitals – love the focus! Such good brain work for children and adults! Do you play the piano?

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Two of our grandsons are learning to play the piano. It is a great family tradition — my late father Jack Wolfowitz, lost his father at the age of 14. He and his entire family were musically talented – his sisters and mother taught piano to local children – and he was a fabulous musician. So he started a band to help support the family, and then had a number of bands which played at various nightclubs where he was too young to be a patron but not too young to be a musician! He became one of the most well known general surgeons in South Africa but never forgot the joy of music. Growing up, every weekend my home was full of music – my dad played the piano and friends of my parents joined in by singing and dancing – every Sunday night was a party. I learned too – taught by my aunt Essie – but  after 10 years of playing didn’t keep it up – I still play by ear – but not much. Such wonderful happy memories. Our oldest grandson Jack is named after my father and he and his brother Jonah are beginner players. Here they are all dressed up for a Halloween concert – Jonah is running for president  – who knows maybe one day he will – and Jack is the mad scientist. Fun to watch – and fills me with memories.jonah-playing-piano-recital-nov-2016 jack-playing-piano-recital-nov-2016

 

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Passing the California Bar Exam – such an Achievement !! Two of our scholars took it and two of them passed it!

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 WOMEN OF EXCELLENCE!  Two of our Larraine Segil Scholars took the California Bar Exam and both of them passed it! AMAZING – we are so proud of them!

Here is Tania Gonzalez getting the Bar results  – first in her family to finish high school, go to college, go to graduate school – and now she is a lawyer! And she was the little girl who FOUGHT with the school system when they insisted that she stay in English as a  Second Language classes ( ESL) and after her father begged the school over and over to let her test for mainstream English classes – finally took the test and never looked back. We chose her as our 2015 scholar from Southwestern Law School knowing that whatever she strove for – would happen for her – she is THAT determined. So proud of our Tania!

https://www.facebook.com/gonzalez.tania/videos/10210947921639473/

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And then Hindi Stohl – mother of 6, OBGYN, Religious School teacher as well as Associate Professor of OBGYN at UCLA and Head of Maternal Fetal Health at Harbor UCLA Hospital – Woman Extraordinaire – Hindi passed the California bar which she took just a month or two after giving birth to her 6th little boy!  We are so very proud of Hindi and know that she is on her way to change the world, affecting positively the lives of women and their babies daily. We chose Hindi as our 2014 scholar knowing that she would succeed at whatever she did. Here she is below – and then below that – the picture of her graduating with her 6 boys -the oldest is holding the baby ( 3 weeks old). MD, OBGYN, Specialist in Maternal Fetal Health, and now JD! AMAZING!

hindi-stohlhindi-graduating-with-6-baby-boys-may-2016

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Our Larraine Segil Scholars Holiday Party -Women of Excellence!

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 We held our Larraine Segil Scholars Holiday party for 2016. What a fabulous group of women – all but three of the USA based women were there – and of course we missed our two South African scholars.

Check out our website: www.larrainesegilscholar.com

Here we are – accompanied by some of our families!

lss-holiday-party-2016

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The best part about the election is that it is over! YAY! And now we can focus on great recipes!

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 So relieved that the election is over – now to focus on some really great recipes!

I was longing for some lamb stew – so I took pieces of lamb already cut into bite sizes, and made a really delicious mixture in my slow cooker – and voila – the next morning it was ready to go! Truly delicious – enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of stew lamb cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large red onion sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 large can of roasted tomatoes in juice
  • 1 large can of white pinto beans
  • I can of kidney beans
  • 1 pint of water or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp of paprika
  • 2 Tbsp of curry powder
  • Lemon pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Saute the onions until translucent in the olive oil. Remove and put into the slow cooker which is on high
  2. Saute the lamb in the same pan until browned on all sides.
  3. Add the contents of a large can of roasted tomatoes in sauce to the pan and mix well scraping all the pieces off the pan into the mixture.
  4. Remove all and put into the slow cooker.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients
  6. Turn the slow cooker onto low if at night before you turn in – or onto high if you are cooking in the afternoon and want the dish for dinner.
  7. I like to do this dish at night – then turn it off the next morning or onto warm – and it will be ready for dinner when you come home from work!
  8. Serve with basmati rice ( throw that into the rice cooker and it will be ready when you are – brown rice works well too!)
  9. Add a green salad with cherry tomatoes and a light lemon juice and olive oil dressing.
  10. I like to add chutney ( Mrs. Balls Mango chutney is a family favorite!)

lamb-pieces-for-curry

 

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Birthday cakes made by Grandma – a Vampire cake and a Lego one – for our twins who turned 5!

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 This year was a challenging cake year! Noah was very specific – he wanted a vampire cake with teeth and a vampire figure on it – and blood! It had to be chocolate with chocolate frosting. Sigh. Then his twin Gabriel was also very specific. He wanted a lego man cake – yes in the shape of a lego man – with a lego character on the top and a lego truck. Sign. He wanted vanilla frosting but the cake had to be rainbow colors!
OK – I was on it! The planning began weeks before  – my son helped by directing me to various sites and toys that fit the bill – then I printed out pictures and the design process began. After two days of baking – there were going to be 26 kids and 26 parents – so I reckoned four cakes – two each -and that the Vampire cake had to be a double double chocolate layer cake, and the lego man had to sit on another cake – both to be rainbow – it was a 7am till 9pm process – on two consecutive days.

Here are the results! BTW I let Gabe make the truck ( bought him a lego box) and of course had an extra one hidden for Noah – and they both held their respective toys ( Count Dracula for Noah and Lego Man for Gabe ) all day long. So much fun – lucky boys and lucky me!

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Enjoying the early fall weather – gorgeous time of year!

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The California Drought Continues. We worry a lot about our water bill which is HUGE and getting larger. We get no release for being an agricultural property. And we recycle, and reclaim etc etc. But the bill keeps going up. Very very concerning.

The good news is that the early fall weather here is truly wonderful – warm with a tinge of coolness in the air especially at night. And we love living in California. Traffic is awful but having traveled worldwide I have discovered it’s awful everywhere!

Its time for soups, slow cookers, dutch ovens and pies! Here is a great recipe we enjoy!

Beef Tagine in a Dutch Oven 

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (1-pound) beef shoulder roast or petite tender roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shallots, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add beef; toss well to coat.

 

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven  ( or an actual Tagine) over medium-high heat. Add beef and shallots; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Add squash; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Sprinkle with cilantro.

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Good looking family!

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A beautiful picture of our grandkids and their parents! We are all so blessed! The twins wanted suits – the vests, ties  – the whole thing! SOOO Cute! But Gabriel is still willing to snuggle…Grandma is in HEAVEN!

james-donne-jack-jonah-noah-gabe-yom-kippur-2016-before-shulgrandma-loving-gabriel-big-boy-in-a-suit-but-still-willing-to-cuddle-yom-kippur-2016

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