Thursday, September 5, 2013

Epilogue: Banana Bread Back in Boston

I got back to Boston like 2 weeks ago. Up until now, I haven't had the time to do some real baking back in my humongous kitchen.

I've been busy organizing some things with my fraternity, choosing my classes and settling in my new room. I even built my own bed (with my roommate's help), set up an AC in my room and hang up my posters.

Classes at MIT have already started. I'm starting my Junior year with two math classes, one CS course, one course in Economics and freshman biology.

The high Jewish holidays are here as well. Rosh HaShana was last night. Shana tova everyone!

Today, after six hours of classes and meetings with professors, I had the honor of organizing the first cider night of my fraternity. I'm a bit out of practice and some of the loafs came out a bit burnt. But some of the other ones came really well. Here's some pictures.

This is a loaf with some chocolate chips.
Delicious Banana Bread.
Some life updates: I want to start running. I recently watched Blue Jasmine (it's pretty good!). I've been biking a lot. I started reading "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. I just got a new UROP job this afternoon.

More importantly, I'm considering extending this blog somehow. Excitement everywhere!

I'm super exhausted.

Friday, August 23, 2013

This is the End

My trip to Israel is almost over, and so is this blog. As much as I'd like this to turn into the next "Julie and Julia" film (in which case I'd like Paul Giammati to play me), I don't think that my story is that interesting and I will probably delete this blog (whatever that means) sometime around December.

I spent the last three months in Israel exploring the culture through its food (in and out of this blog), its scenic routes and, above all, its people.

But this blog is about my culinary experience and what I made of it. Israeli food is certainly very different from (my experience of) American cuisine. It is probably healthier (although you have got to keep an eye on those carbs) and uses more vegetables and less meat (but Israelis do love meat, don't get me wrong). It is also interesting to see how here lettuce doesn't play a central role in salads.

I managed to surprise myself (and others) from time to time with some of the recipes, most of which I will try to incorporate in my everyday life. I came across ingredients I didn't even know existed and learned new ways to use some I've known for a while.

I discovered that eating is also about cooking and enjoying the process. On my way back from work everyday, I would ask myself 'what do you want to eat tonight?'. This certainly helped me reduce my anxiety towards dinner. Having the change to take some time off my day to prepare dinner and think about stuff was nice. I wish I had that time on my college life.

Cooking is also a great opportunity to socialize and meet new people. More often than not leaving the door of my kitchen open attracted people into whatever I was making. People would come in, ask about the recipes or the dishes and maybe even stay for dinner. There were also a couple of debates about how to make a great shakshuka. Discussing these things with people helped me learn more about them and about the dishes, too.

But ultimately, this whole experience was about showing to myself that I am capable of appropriately feeding myself (even on a tight-ish budget) and sharing this experience with my family and friends. So, thanks to all of you for following my adventures this summer (we hit almost a 1000 views!) and for supporting me all along this experiment, where I made a big deal about silly things like salads and sandwiches and pita pizzas.

It's been delicious!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Hardest Omelette. Ever.

Today I faced my second biggest culinary fear: the omelette (the first being the challah, ugh). The first time I tried to make it, I failed miserably and ever since I just turned all my breakfast egg projects into scrambled eggs.

I overcame this fear last night with a fantastic omelette. First, I googled 'simple omelette recipe'. This took a lot of courage as you can imagine. Then, I carefully read this recipe and made sure that I had all the necessary ingredients. As I was cooking it, I realized that the pan I was using was sticky, and that the egg was starting to get stuck to the pan. I freaked out and thought of breaking the whole thing up and making the omelette a scrambled egg, but I contained this feeling and skillfully unstuck the egg off the pan.

As my fillings I used tomatoes, sautéed onions, olives and freshly grated gruyere cheese. In hindsight, I may have had too much filling, which made it hard for the omelet to fold.

The final result was a fluffy, thick, delicious and healthy omelette. Here's a picture.
As I said, the filling was a bit too much and the egg broke a bit. But it was still pretty good.

The end of this culinary project is near, and I'm running out of ideas. 

Until the next post! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sausage Sauce over Spaghetti

For the first time in the summer, I made a non-vegetarian (aka normal) meal. I got some (simple) chicken sausages from the super market and decided to make something delicious. So, I googled sausage spaghetti and found this recipe.

Naturally, I didn't posses Italian sausages and Italian dressing, but I still made it work.
This was the whole meal. My salad has become extremely awesome and fundamental.

It was a bit tricky to get the sausages to cook uniformly, but I feel like I did a good job. I managed to prepare the entire thing in about 20-25 minutes. However, multitasking took its toll: I didn't simmer the pasta enough, and some spaghettis got stuck together. 

The sausages got brownish, but not uniformly.
Nonetheless, the meal was good, and it was nice to get some protein for dinner. I still have plenty of sausages, so I'll be using them frequently for the next couple of days. We'll see what I can do with them. 

This whole blog is sort of to coming to an end. I'm starting to reflect upon the things I've learned this summer about myself through cooking. I'll make a post of it sometime soon. 

Until the next post! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pasta Carbonara

As you may have noticed, pasta and veggie recipes are amongst my usual dinning options. Tired of the three pasta  recipes that I've done multiple times in the last couple of weeks, I decided to try something new.

So I googled 'spaghetti eggs' or something along those lines. I was trying to make something like Chinese rice but with pasta. Eventually, I came across this recipe. Pasta carbonara is pretty easy to make, takes close to no time and comes out great.
That was one hell of a meal.

Here are some pointers based on my experience:
  • don't make too much pasta. I made a lot, and it was way too much food. 
  • make sure that you don't overcook the eggs. This almost happened to me. 
  • throw in some olives there, too. Why not? 
  • don't hurl the butter at the frying pan. It will spit hot oil at your hands. This happened to me.
I sprinkled the dish with some fresh parmesan I got at the supermarket. Again, that's a super advanced pro chef move.
 I also made pancakes this morning, just because.
Yes, I wear socks and sandals. I know. That's extremely lame.

Until the next post! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shakshouka reloaded

A couple of weeks ago (weeks? wow), I posted about shakshouka. That time I used actual tomatoes to prepare this dish. Now, if I had a working stove, the tomatoes would have broken down and the shakshouka would have been saucier. This was not the case and the recipe came a bit more solid than expected.

This week I looked for recipes that used crushed tomatoes instead. Given the benefits I discovered from using crushed tomatoes over tomatoes to make pasta sauce, I figured the same would happen with shakshouka. The result: a much more shakshouka looking shakshouka. The recipe is here. I would like to highlight an interesting comment in the recipe. As you're cooking the egg, you should try to get the egg white to mix up a bit with the tomato sauce. This makes the dish more solid as well.

Saucier shakshouka.
Also, the pan I used last time was bigger. This time I was making shakshouka for 1, so I used a smaller pan.

I think this marks the end of the whole crushed tomatoes chapter.

Until the next post.

Monday, July 29, 2013

One for the Road

I spent this weekend with my sister, who lives in Modi'in. The plan was to do a (short) road trip through some parts of the north of Israel. Modi'in is closer to the center, so we had to leave around 11ish (in the morning).

In order to avoid stopping for lunch and losing time, my sister had the wonderful idea of making empanadas on Friday afternoon. An empanada is a kind of stuffed salty pastry usually filled with meat, egg or vegetables, and cooked either fried or baked.

So she got all the ingredients. We didn't exactly follow a recipe, so I'll just explain what we used (but I'm unsure about amounts). You should use about 1 onion, 1 boiled egg, half a cup of olives, some (??) ground beef, and the empanada disks. You will also need egg yolk for the end. Depending on whether you fry it or not, you'll need oil. The yield for this is about two dozens.

The recipe goes as follows. Chop up the onion into very small and thin pieces. I tried doing this, but just started crying in the middle of it. It was just too much. I have to say that I found newly earned respect for my brother in law for doing this without blinking. After you've manned up and chopped the onions, fry them until their transparent. Then throw in the ground beef (with some salt, sugar and paprika) until it is cooked.
This is sort of what it should look like.
Afterwards, let it cool down for a minute. Throw in the olives and the chopped up boiled egg. Then taste this. It should taste pretty awesome. 

Now, here's the tricky part. Take a empanada thingy, put some stuffing in it, and fold it. I don't know how. This is what it should look like (my sister did this one, mine looked terrible). 
Doing this is way harder than what it looks like.  
Afterwards, brush them with egg yolks. Then put them in the oven until they're golden or brownish. This is what it should look like. 

Some people like them fried better. I include myself amongst these, but my sister insisted in baking them. 

I wanted to make some here, in my dorm. However, I couldn't find the disks in my local supermarket. Maybe I'll get some from my sister's place and bring them back. 

In any case, I'm digressing a bit from the whole 'Israeli-cuisine' idea of this blog, but that's ok. Until the next post. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Olive Tomato Sauce

This is a spin-off from the last post, where I made basil (read: parsley) tomato sauce. This time I felt like having olives in my pasta. So, I literally googled 'olive tomato sauce' and came across this recipe.

I did not compare it to the last recipe, but my guess is that it is not that much different. The addition of onions was good. The olives themselves were great because olives in this country are just awesome. I even grated some cheese that I had. Unfortunately, I didn't have Parmesan, and grating a single slice of cheese is kinda hard. However, again, it worked out just fine. 
I concentrated all of the sauce in the center for artistic purposes.
I still have some crushed tomatoes, but am quite unsure of what to make. I'm considering bologense sauce, but that would require me to get ground meat.

I also made cookies later that day. I finally got the hang of how my stupid toaster oven works. They came out fantastic, perfect timing and all.
This is just one of many batches of cookies that I made. The people living in my dorm certainly appreciated them.
Until the next post!

Monday, July 22, 2013


I think that the ingredient of the week (or the next few recipes?) (it's an official title now) is going to be crushed tomatoes. Apparently, this is sold. It saves a shit ton of time when you're trying to make pasta sauce. It brings down cooking time from like 2 hours to 20 minutes. It's amazing.

So all of this leads to this weeks experiment, basil tomato pasta sauce over 8-grain spaghetti. The recipe is here. It's extremely simple and convenient to do if you're doing something in the background (like, say, this). I also replaced the basil with parsley, because parsley rocks. Basil is cool too, but I just don't have any.

This was the end result. It was pretty tasty. 
I think I'll be experimenting with the crushed tomatoes a bit more this week, and see what else I can come up with.

Until the next post!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Challah bread and a lesson from Science

The eruption of the Pompeii. The Storm of the Century. Apollo 13. Paraguay's 2014 World Cup Qualifier campaign. Windows Vista. These are some tragedies of science and engineering. Today, we can add to this list whatever it was I tried to do in my kitchen.

If there's something that I've learned from science (SCIENCE!) is that we are not always right. Scientists have wrong hypothesis and make a lot of mistakes. Every now and then, scientific discoveries break whatever grounds we were standing on and introduce new perspectives. Today I learned that this can happen in the kitchen, too.

The idea was simple: make challah bread for a nice family dinner. The theory was simple: the recipe is here. The execution was nearly perfect. Look at the before and after pictures.

This is what it looked like before.

This is what it looked like after. Disastrous. This is what it should've looked like. 
So, the moral of the story is shit happens. I'll try again and repost later or update this post. Shabbat shalom.

Until the next post!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Onion Rings and the Google of Cooking

It's been a while since my last entry. I've been rather busy or out of town lately, and I apologize for this. I apologize to you, my beloved followers, who refreshed their windows 75 times a minute waiting for me to upload new things. However, now I'm back with more cooking and embarrassing myself.

Lately I've been somewhat uninspired in terms of cooking and making food. I've been remaking plenty of the dishes that I've already posted about (the pomodoro eggplant sauce is a true winner in those nights when I just come back exhausted) and improving them.

Today, I accidentally run into the most awesome website in the history of mankind. This is going to be my new homepage. Here's how it works. Type in what ingredients you have in your kitchen, get awesome recipes that use exactly what you have. Boom.

So, after carefully thinking about the few things I have, I came across some onion rings recipes. My brain was like "awesome idea! Totally go for it!". So, as I was skimming through the recipes, I noticed that most of them require a deep fryer, which I don't have. So then, I went to the actual google of things (Google) and came across this baked onion rings recipe.

It is easy to make and not as bad for your health as the deep fried version. The meal was completed with the usual side dish: salad and pita.
They look awesome. Tip: use cooking spray. I didn't have any so I dipped them in oil, sort of.

This just had to happen.
I'll try to post tomorrow to make up for some of the lost time. Until the next post!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Postcards from the Edge

I haven't been able to make anything new this week. I've been mostly out of town or out for dinner. Therefore, I decided to post some pictures of places I've been to recently.

Weizmann Institute Tour. 

As part of our program, we recently had a tour of the Weizmann Institute. The campus is rather spread and large, and the tour was long and exhausting. However, the history of the institute is very rich and interesting.

The first stop was the Seiff Laboratory, which was the first building devoted for research. This was done before the Weizmann Institute even existed. There, Chaim Weizmann himself conducted his experiments and research. They have turned his laboratory into a small museum.

Weizmann's Laboratories in the Seiff Building.
 We also had a nice view of the (old) particle accelerator in the Physics department. We did not go there.
Particle accelerator.
 And finally we went to the Garden of Science, which is an outdoors science museum open to the public (but not for free). It features a lot of fun and cool experiments that are easily explained by well-known scientific facts. Most of them related to either optics or physics in general. Nonetheless, it's worth a walk.
Entrance to the Garden of Science.
Paper Festival, Rehovot.

For some reason, Rehovot decided to host a paper festival this year. The festival took place on a big public park near the main shopping mall of the city. It featured many artists that presented their works on paper. Naturally, this exhibition was for them to showcase the products they sell. It also had some entertainment for little kids.

A big fish made out of paper. There were plenty of animals like this out there.

An Israeli Flag made of paper

Alice, from Alice in Wonderland

A giant paper flower embedded on an actual tree.

Mitzpe Ramon.
Mitzpe Ramon is a small city in the south of Israel.

What is so special about it? It has a unique natural crater. That is to say, a crater that was formed by the Earth's geological processes.

It is also in the middle of the desert and offers many hiking routes for those who are adventurous and fearless.

In addition, it has the largest alpaca farm in the world outside of South America. Basically, they exported alpacas from Peru and somehow got them to adapt to the different weather.

Finally, it also has a small museum dedicated to the memory of the first Israeli Astronaut, Ilan Ramon. Unfortunately, he passed away (along with six other American astronauts) during the landing of the Columbia expedition. Interestingly enough, he changed his last name to Ramon because he really loved the desert and the crater in Mitzpe Ramon. So that's part of the reason they have a museum there.

I will just finish the post with a collection of pictures from the landscapes in the desert. Here they are:

A view form the top of the crater.
A camel, kneeling down.

A view from the top of a small hill we climbed on our Friday hike.

A view  from this place called 'the carpentry' in the middle of the crater.

Until the next post (with pictures of food, hopefully)!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hummus Tuna Melt

(This happened a couple of days ago, but just forgot to publish it. Now I have some time on my laptop)

I just realized that it would have been really fun if every post had a math reference for a title. Just for the record, the one for this post would have been "The Substitution Rule".

Today I spent about an hour and a half playing Ultimate with some people from the Weizmann. The game was a lot of fun, and made me realize that I have to get in shape. When I got back here I was exhausted from all the running, so I looked for a quick recipe that would satisfy me.

I really only had tuna, hummus, veggies and bread. So there weren't a whole lot of options. I googled "hummus tuna" and came across the following tuna melt recipe. Melts are sandwiches made of some made ingredient and cheese. The basic concept is that you put the two things together, plus some other stuff and then put it in the oven or grill until the cheese has molten. This recipe though suggests to make the sandwich open faced (i.e., use only one bread).

I made some salad while the thing was getting cooked. It has palm hearts. HA!

Fine. So making the sandwich and everything is super easy and simple. Now, why would I have called this post "The Substitution Rule"? This is how I saw the list of ingredients: 

·        15 oz of tuna in water, drained

·         ¼ cup finely chopped red green pepper

·         1 shallot, chopped

·         ¼ cup chopped parsley

·         2 Tb drained capers

·         ¾ cup hummus

·         2 Tb Dijon mustard

·         Juice of ½ lemon

·         Salt and pepper to taste

·         8 slices of rye bread

·         16 small slices of tomato

·         8 pieces Dill Havarti cheese
I also threw in some olives. Also, the tuna I got was weird. It was like a tuna cream. It had the color of salmon and it smelled and tasted like tuna, but it was weird. 
 I finished it all with a whole lot of watermelon, which is awesome in this country and not-surprisingly refreshing.

Until the next post.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Shakshouka, the wildcard dish.

Today I prepared another very Israeli dish: shakshouka. 

(Disclaimer: Again, when I mean Israeli I mean as in 'frequently consumed by Israelis'. Shakshouka is believed to be from Tunisia, according to its wikipedia entry.)

Shakshouka is a dished that is based on tomatoes, eggs, peppers, onions and spices. It is very simple to make, and also extremely delicious. 

Now, why is shakshouka so awesome? Well, there's multiple reasons. As I mentioned earlier, it is super easy to make. Secondly, as the title of the post suggests, the dish is a wildcard. You can insert it into any meal of the day and it works well. It's eaten here as breakfast, lunch and even (light) dinner. Thirdly, it is vegetarian, pareve (i.e. not dairy or meaty) and gluten-free. That is to say, it can be eaten with anything (and even during Passover) and it will probably please most of your diners (unless your diners are vegans or allergic to eggs). 

The recipe can be found here. So, the one I made doesn't look as awesome and I didn't have a lot of fancy spices. Actually, whenever I see something like that on a recipe I just think of it as 'optional'. Or replace the expression 'olive oil' by 'whatever oil I have bought'.

But nonetheless here are some picture of the process and the result. 
This is what the veggie mix looks like. It's in the process of cooking. 

That thing on the side is breaded eggplant. That was last weeks find.

This is the finished dish. We just served ourselves straight from the pan. I think that is how you do it.
This was a bit of what the finished dish looked like. There was plenty more of each, and I had seconds of everything.
Thus far I have to admit that I am very impressed about the quality of my cooking. This is becoming a very rewarding and pleasant experience. I will try my best to take these lessons with me back to Boston. 

Until the next post.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Surprise

My passion for baking has taken me to make banana bread, a recipe that I am very familiar and comfortable with since I do it regularly in Boston. I will not share the recipe with you this time, since its a secret recipe that I am not allowed to talk about. I can only tell you it uses bananas. That's why it's banana bread.

In contrast to Boston, here I lack a lot of nice things that would make baking much easier. Nonetheless, here is the banana bread:

This is what the bread looked like after one hour of baking in our modest toaster oven. 
I haven't tried it yet because it is a surprise for a friend's birthday party. I'll edit this post later in order to update on the taste, but last night it smelled pretty great.

EDIT: It was pretty delicious. If I had told you the recipe, I would give some useful input here on how to make it better. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Eggplant Ultimatum

All good things come in threes. So now I present you the last part of my eggplant trilogy: the parmesan breaded eggplant.

This was a rather complicated recipe because I was not aware of how to do breaded things. The recipes that I found online all seemed super different from what I expected. They all mentioned this weird things called bread crumbs. I had no idea what bread crumbs are, where they were sold, how to get them and why I would need them.

But on my biweekly (as in twice a week) supermarket run I ran across a bag labelled "golden bread crumbs" (or something along these lines).

As soon as I got back, I stared cooking this recipe. It is fairly easy to follow. The parmesan looks really cool. Also, it will get messy so don't even try keeping your hands clean. This is what the eggplant looked like after the entire process:
This is what the eggplant looks like 
 You should fry until it looks golden, like the recipe suggests. I added an extra slice of cheese on top and fried it with the eggplant too. It looks awesome.

That's a lot of eggplant!
I added some marinara sauce and (the mandatory) parsley. It was a great meal. As usual, hummus and salad on the side. The salad was actually too much and I had to pack some of it for tomorrow. But this was a great meal, very fulfilling and entertaining to prepare.

I could not finish all that. But it was delicious. The marinara sauce makes a huge difference.
So that is the end of my eggplant period. Looking back, all three recipes were good, easy and cheap. I would say this last one was the best. I will probably be remaking some of these recipes until I ran out of eggplant. If there are any important updates to any of them, I'll edit the original posts.

I haven't made many meat recipes yet, mainly because I haven't bought any meat. DON'T THINK THAT I AM BECOMING VEGETARIAN. I will eat meat (or chicken, actually) sometime tomorrow, hopefully for dinner. 

Until the next post!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Return of the Eggplant

A couple of days ago, I made my first eggplant post. Here comes part two of a series of eggplant dishes. This time I made something that can be considered an entree, eggplant pomodoro pasta. The original recipe can be found here (the website is even called 'eating well'. How fitting, right?).

First, a quick overview of pomodoro sauce in general. If you know a the first thing about Italian, you probably know that pomodoro means tomato. This will be a key ingredient in preparing the sauce. Pomodoro sauce usually refers to a light, quick sauce that uses tomato (well, duh), olives, basil and some other stuff.

It did not take long to prepare this recipe. It was a bit of a struggle to cook the pasta on my stove because it can barely heat water. However, I managed to prepare the sauce and keep track of the pasta in parallel. I did not take pictures of the cooking process this time because I was mostly taking care of things like chopping this or measuring that or heating this, etc. However, this is a picture of the final product.

I put the parsley in the end, at the top. Only pros do that kinda thing. It's some super advanced cooking. 

I definitely made too much (I still managed to eat it all though). You should cook about 1 cup of pasta per person, and try to stick to the proportions of the original recipe.

Next on my list of eggplant ideas is breaded eggplant, which I love. However, I think I'll be posting less regularly from now on (certainly not during the weekends). I can't buy random ingredients all the time, so I need to sort of figure what I can do with what I have. And I don't have all that much.

Until the next post!

EDIT: This was lunch, not dinner. I was alone in my place for lunch so cooked for one. Other than that one brunch time, I haven't cooked with other people, really.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I finally made cookies today for the first time in about a month (basically, since I left Boston for Israel). It makes me so happy to make cookies. They came out great, yes. 

So my sister has been reading my blog and I decided to come to her apartment today for a live demonstration. She happens to live in a city near Rehovot. Also, she has an actual oven where I can bake things (as opposed to the miserable toaster oven back in Rehovot). She got all the (correct) ingredients and helped me bake the cookies. 

The recipe that I've been using all this time (for those of you who've had my cookies before) is here. The difference in quality comes mainly from the quality of the sugar, the butter and the chocolate chips. My sister decided to get dark chocolate, which I love. 

Some things to watch out with the recipe: make sure that you chop the butter into small pieces so that its easy to mix with the sugars. Also, and this surprised my sister a bit, you have to take the cookies out of the oven before they get brown. Like, at most leave them for a minute or two more than what the recipe says. Then let them cool down for at least two minutes or so. Then enjoy deliciousness. 

Some pictures, for the non-believers: 

Plenty cookies were made. 

Some got a bit stuck. You should spray some oil or something to prevent this.

So, I know what you are all thinking there behind your screens. What happened with the whole eating well and healthy? To be honest, I think that cooking is about enjoying and sharing, and eating well is about being happy with what you eat. I am not going to eat all of these by myself (my friends in Rehovot would kill me if the saw the post and didn't get cookies).

Ultimately, I think that cooking is very filling: both in spirit and in stomach!

So, here's to cookies.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Eggplant Begins

This is the first (of hopefully many) eggplant recipes in this blog. I haven't really been feeling super hungry at nights, so most of the dishes that I've cooked (including this one) are either side dishes or appetizers. Nonetheless, they are delicious and, with the right serving size, very satisfying. 

As I may have mentioned multiple times by now eggplants (hatzilim, in hebrew) are awesome in this country. From the places around the world that I've been to, I feel like Mediterranean cuisine is the one that integrates eggplants the most. In Israel it is probably something that people (at least I do) eat it on a regular basis. 

This following recipe is super simple. The original version can be found here. However, I made some changes since this is a one-person supper. First, I did only half of it. So, anything you see you should divide by half. I also just used a pan instead of a grill, due to the lack of stuff in my kitchen. Also, I suck at measuring things (who knows what 1/4 of an inch is anyways), so I may have sliced the eggplant too thick. Finally, I added some parsley to the eggplant. It was a great decision and it enhanced the taste of the dish. 

The servings are small so you should make 3-4 if you're having it as a main dish. You sort of can't tell, but now I got my actual camera to work again, so ha! No more bad pictures.

I chopped up some lettuce and used some extra tomatoes for a quick salad. As always, pita and hummus on the side. 
Gradually I'm trying to elevate the complexity (such a computer science term, ugh) of the recipes that I do. It's like training wheels for bicycles. I need to get some confidence before I go about doing tiramisu. 

Until the next post! 

P.S.: I might even re-do this dish sometime later this week. It's really good and I love eggplant. Maybe I should use more/thicker cheese. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pita Pizza

So, this week should be rather 'normal', and by normal I mean that I will spend more time in Rehovot than outside Rehovot. Also, it's a Sunday and I had to go to work today.

I just prepared this very quick pita pizza. Pre-heat the oven at about 175-200 C. Grab a pita and put tomato sauce on one side. Try to get as much surface covered as possible. Next, place your favorite slice of cheese on top. Add some olives, mushrooms, parsley (which are all awesome in Israel) and place in oven (or toaster-oven if there's no oven). Take it out when the cheese has melted. 

While the pizza was getting cooked, I also prepared some israeli salad (also known as salad here). This time I threw in some parsley and onions, too. As always, this was a good side. 

I don't know why the picture looks so funny, but the food was good.
As much as I'd like to get away from fast, college-like cooking I don't have the time or resources to actually do something super awesome. However, Israeli food is pretty good and healthy in general.

Until the next post!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Brunch: or how Scrambled eggs are just failed Omelettes

Fridays are like Saturdays in Israel. This is the case because for Judaism, the main religion in Israel, the time to rest is from sunset on Fridays to sunset on Saturdays. This has a lot of implications for general life.

1. Work goes from Sunday to Thursday, usually. People rarely go to their offices/labs a Friday morning.
2. Most stores will be closed during the Sabbath: supermarkets, grocery stores, restaurants, cafes and so on. This is in accordance to Jewish law and observance of the Sabbath.
3. The same applies for public transportation: after 3-4 pm, there are no buses, trains or cabs (maybe some cabs) until Saturday night. So, if you don't have a car, you're stuck wherever you are a Friday afternoon.

This last reason is why I am going to Tel Aviv now to meet some friends and crash in their apartment.

But this will be explained on a later post. This morning I met with Perla and Meena, two other MIT students at Weizmann, and we went shopping for food supplies. We were on a quest to get the ingredients to make pancakes. I know, it's so American and cliched, but people rarely do pancakes from scratch these days. We saw pancake mix at the store, but I insisted on making them from scratch.

So we got sugar, flour, baking powder, chocolate chips (!!), and some other stuff. The recipe for the pancakes is right here. We got back to the tiny kitchen in my suite and split in two teams: Meena and Perla would make the pancake mix and I was going to make scrambled eggs (originally supposed to be an omellete, but our stove is so bad). Here's some pictures of the food. The scrambled eggs have olives, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and salt. First you chop them up, heat up a pan and add oil, and fry all the veggies. Then you add some eggs and stir the pan until the eggs look cooked.

We were also trying to make fun things with the chocolate chips on the pancakes.

That's Meena and her mini happy face pancake. 

I guess this picture isn't really good, but if you squint a little bit, it should say MIT. Tilt your head 90 degrees to the left and try to read it.

We also had cereal, yogurt, coffee, milk and fruit making it overall a very satisfying Friday brunch. We were all very full after the meal. It took us about an hour to make all these things, mainly because the stove in our kitchen is really bad. 

So I'm out for the weekend. Until the next post!

EDIT: By the way, Meena has an actual cooking blog (unlike mine-ish). She has some very legit recipes and pictures here. You should totally check it out! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Math Retreat - Part 2 (plus a quick tuna sandwich)

We spent the night at the Acre Beach Hotel. Guess what: it's actually next to the beach. This was the view from the entrance to the hotel:
So we got up, had breakfast and had checked out of the hotel by 8 am. We drove to the Montfort castle, which was once a Crusader Castle but is now in ruins. We then split in two groups: people that wanted to hike to the castle, and people that wanted to go to some other places and walk around the beach. It is enough to say that I ended up in the group of people with the elder professors.

We ended up going to a couple of different memorial places and natural parks around the area, whose names I forget or never heard. The guide we had spoke the entire time in Hebrew, and it was only fair because I was probably the only one who didn't understand Hebrew. So instead, I'll show some pics.

Afterwards we met the larger group at a Kosher Mehadrin (super kosher) Steakhouse. The food was good, but their hummus was very bland. We split again in two groups: one would go to Rosh Hanikra, the other would go to Tornado boats (whatever that was). 

I ended up going to Rosh Hanikra, these beautiful caves way way up in the north. They are literally in the border with Lebanon. You don't believe me? 

That is not me on the picture. 
And some pictures from above, outside and inside of the caves.
A view from right outside the caves. 

A view from the top. We went down using a cable car. 

A picture from inside the cave. 

So that was essentially the Math Department's retreat. I also had the chance to talk to some people, but didn't really make any friends. It's a bit hard with the language barrier. It was a lot of fun. I had to pay a grand total of zero shekels to got and visited places that I never went to (with the exception of the last, which I *thought* I never went to).

Finally, I got back to my dorm pretty exhausted at around 7:30 and decided that it was time to try something new. On my first shopping trip, I bought a small jar with pesto sauce. Eager to try it, I found an online recipe for pesto tuna sandwich. It was from the Martha Stewart website, so you can imagine how fancy it was. I managed with what I had and did my own take on it. I didn't think that tuna and pesto would go well together, but it was an ok meal. Maybe if I had a different kind of bread it would have been a bit better.

The sandwich is basically as simple as its name. You should mix in three tablespoons of pesto sauce with a bit less than a can of tuna. Then slice some cucumbers, onions or some other veggies you want to throw in there and put it all together. Toasting the bread made it a bit crunchier, too. I would recommend a bread that's thinner than the one in the picture. 

Tomorrow is Friday, which is like a Saturday in the rest of the world. I don't have any plans, but I expect to be in Tel Aviv with some friends at some point tomorrow. There will be some cooking in the morning, so stay tuned for that. 

Until next time.