Classified: In need of better ice cream in Israel

I made my own ice cream last night.

I did this out of despair.

I do not like store bought Israeli ice cream. It’s awful. Even the halavi (dairy) ice cream (as opposed to the soy-based parve) is gross.

A complete waste of calories, if you care about that kind of thing.

I don’t.

I just want some decent ice cream every now and again.

For a while, I would splurge on the Ben & Jerry’s you can find occasionally in the supermarket, but the last five times I bought it, I opened the carton to find the ice cream melted and refrozen into an icy gelatinous mess. So, in addition to having no ice cream to satisfy my already salivating glands, I had to plan a trip to Shufersal to get my 48 shekels back.

Not easy when you live in the middle of nowhere.

Grrrr.

I exaggerate. I live in the outskirts, but Israel is not a third world nation.

We do have high-falutin “Italian ice cream parlors.” However, I have no taste for Leggenda or Dr. Lek (which is spelled the same as Dr. Lick, but is apparently pronounced Dr. Lek, go figure) or any of these gelato type places that charge you 18 shekels for a cone (that’s $5, my US friends).

Even if they didn’t charge so much, I can’t go there with my nut allergic kid.  I found a peanut in my vanilla ice cream there just the other day, which successfully proved my  theory in the company of my husband that ice cream parlors are not at all safe for nut allergic kids.

So last night, for about 6 -7 shekels (the cost of cream, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla), I made a pint of my own vanilla ice cream following these instructions and using this recipe which totally worked.

homemade ice cream

The recipe is super easy, and while a bit time consuming, does not require an ice cream maker.

Which is quite a relief.

There’s nothing more infuriating than searching like mad for a recipe on Google, finding one, only to realize it requires some expensive piece of equipment or a brand of soup mix only found in New Zealand.

Quite the opposite with this recipe, I had everything I needed  … even the ice (which was the hardest of all the ingredients to come by in Israel).

So, finally, one ice cream discontent in Israel may now be content.

Until the container is finished.

The beet goes on

I thought the most interesting thing about today would be the beet.

I pulled four beets from the vegetable drawer because I knew if I didn’t do something with them today they’d go bad tomorrow.

I have a strange relationship with beets.

I want to love them.

I want to savor them like my friend Allison, who once said to me,

“Mmmm…I love beets.”

But I can’t. I just can’t. At best, I can tolerate beets when they’re roasted just so and soaked in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

But beets are so incredibly beautiful that I will wash them and peel them and slice them and stand over them in wonderous amazement even if I won’t eat them.

dancing beet

The red pink of beets should not exist in nature.

It should be synthetic, it is so beautiful.

The spiral designs inside a beet, however, should exist in nature.

Beet innards are exactly the kinds of puzzles that nature produces and we call God.

I love beets, but I can’t eat them.

After the beets, I tried to take a nap.

Two of my kids were sleeping: one sprawled on the couch in a beet-colored dress with wrinkled flowers on the strap and the other with his head hanging off the bottom bunk.

He fell asleep in the middle of a tantrum while I tried to soothe him with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapter 1, page 1.

There was a knock at the door.

It was Nachum.

Looking for my son.

I knew it was Nachum because I heard his fingers drumming on the metal railing outside.

I liked that I knew it was Nachum and didn’t mind so much that he was rousing me from my almost nap.

My son was not at home. He was at a basketball game with his dad.

I told this to Nachum. He turned around and left as quickly as he came.

I tried to take a nap.

There was a knock at the door.

It was not Nachum, but a man whose name should have been Nachum.

He was in a rumpled white button down shirt and black pants.

He had a long black beard, too.

He might have had a black yarmulke but I didn’t notice when he turned to walk away.

I was too busy remembering his smile.

I gave him 20 shekels and he was happy.

I was happy, too.

So happy, I stopped trying to take a nap.

= = =

(This post was written in less than 15 minutes. Wanna take on the Friday 15-minute challenge? Write today for 15 minutes and leave a link to your post in the comments below and tag your post 15-minute Friday.)

Writing prompts change the world

A few years ago, I took a brief, but fantastic memoir writing course with poet and writing professor, Chloe Yelena Miller. It was in this course I was first introduced to the concept of writing from a prompt.

Wow, how I loved this exercise.

Not all writing prompts work for all people —  and it could be the ones that Chloe chose resonated with me personally — but, regardless, I had a lot a fun with them.

I wrote one piece about my childhood stuffed dog/bear, Floppy.

I wrote one piece about my ex-boyfriend’s family beach house.

I wrote another about a long-kept secret.

What exactly do I love about writing prompts? I’m not sure.

But I think it has to do with looking at life differently. From a different angle. Upside down. Inside out.

To see people and things in a way they’ve never been observed before. To imagine them in a purpose or a place they’re unused to.

Today, my writing prompt was Mr. Mushroom Butt.

mushroom butt

While slicing vegetables for my breakfast stir fry, I couldn’t help but notice the cute little butt in one of my deformed mushrooms.

In an instant, I could imagine the yellow peppers as arms and legs. And hurried to arrange them and photograph the scene before it disappeared from my imagination or I got too hungry not to eat it.

The Sad and Sorry End to Mushroom Butt was born from my breakfast.

A story was born …  a character, a fractured fairytale. And who knows what else? A film? A line of toys? A breakfast cereal?

One morning, I birthed Mushroom Butt . And now he exists.

This is what’s amazing about writing prompts.

And about writing.

This ability to birth something or someone anew.

There are writing prompts everywhere masquerading as boring nothingness.

But once you name them as writing prompts, someone or something exists where there was previously nothing and no one.

And the list of possibilities for their adventures becomes endless…

 

Israel creamed me

For three years before I moved to Israel, I was dairy free.

And not just, “No thank you, I won’t have extra parmesan on top of my fettuccine alfredo” dairy free.

I was hard core, no dairy, no way, not even a lick from the spoon after making my kids Mac and Cheese, dairy free.

Why?

Because I realized about a decade ago the connection between what I ate and how I felt, both physically and emotionally.

On top of that, my kids were all diagnosed with food allergies and our home became food-focused and poop-focused.

(There’s a lot you can tell about your health by being poop-focused, don’t ya know? Good poop. Good times.)

The best I ever felt in my entire life — physically and emotionally– was when I was dairy free, wheat free and sugar free.

I carried on like this for a good year or so. And despite the inconvenience to my family and my book club, I felt AMAZING.

Practically everything I ever thought was going to kill me one day (stomach pain, gas, anxiety, asthma, eczema, migraines) practically up and disappeared when I stopped eating those foods.

Since moving to Israel, however, I no longer cut the cheese.

The cheese cuts me.

cream

I tried to stay away from it. And succeeded for a while.

Until Shavuout.

Damn you, Shavuout.

Shavuout 2011 was my downfall.

Quiche, lasagna, blintzes, cheesecake, chocolate mousse.

After that, I totally I cheesed out.

Started with goat cheese. I was one of those girls who was all like “I’m so totally healthy because, like, I only eat organic, locally-grown Feta now.”

But cheese is cheese.

For me, at least.

Before long, Feta became mozzarella became butter became sour cream became homemade whipped cream three times a week became

OUT OF CONTROL.

And I am pretty sure my body has suffered because of it.

True, I’m getting old. And true, I live on a kibbutz — home to every environmental allergen imaginable.

But I have to believe that the dairy (and the sugar!) are playing a big role in how downhill my physical health seems to have gone in the past two years. (I’ll spare you the details.)

So, in honor of Shavuout this year, in honor of the dietary laws passed down from generation to generation, I am pledging to not pass anything this year. Nothing foul at least.

I’m giving up dairy again.

It won’t be easy. I’ve grown really fond of homemade whipped cream.

And this guy.

goat cheese guy

* * * *

(Follow my last hurrah on Instagram )