Friday, April 30, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


One day some years ago our son Yaron came home from a trip to town. He said to me: "Open your hands," and as I did he put a small tiny bundle of a kitten in them. It was very miserable, full of tics and flees, but also so sweet. He had been in a coffee house called 'Luna', (that's how she got her name), and found her there outside, motherless and crying. We took her to the vet and cared for her, and she developed into a beautiful cat. Luna is always busy cleaning herself. She is very dear, and has a wonderful, loving personality. She gives us plenty of joy and pleasure and is dearly loved by us all!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


330 gr. self rising flour (or just flour and a tsp. of baking powder)
1 small bottle or can (300cc) of malt beer (malt, not regular beer)
1 cup of nuts (any nuts, or a mixture of nuts, or sunflower seeds, or sesame, whatever!)
1 bunch of dill, just cut up coarsely (not fine)
a lot of garlic, crunched (8 or nine pieces, almost half a head)
1/2 tsp salt
Throw everything together in a bowl, mix well with a wooden spoon - it stays moist and 'mushy'  - pour it in an English cake pan (I use disposable aluminum pans), lightly oiled, put it in the preheated oven (200 degree) and bake for an hour - then  take the bread out of its form, it is usually still moist at the bottom, and put it back in the oven, without the pan for another five minutes or so, till the bottom is dry. 
Now, the good thing with this easy to make and so tasty bread is, that you can experiment with the ingredients:  exchange the nuts with a cup of dry fried onions, instead of dill use parsley, or basil, or oregano, or rosemary, skip the garlic and use caraway seeds, or KEZACH (you remember? if you don't, scroll down some posts), or any other spice you like. You can put cubes of salami or pastrami in it, or sun dried tomatoes (!!), or cubes of salty white cheese (skip the salt), whatever tickles your fancy! Try! Fresh out of the oven, with some butter melted on it you can easily finish half of a loaf just so! And it requires only about 10 minutes of work!

Here I doubled the ingredients and made two loaves (I used 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup sesame):


Sunday, April 25, 2010


I love the American writer Alice Walker and I like especially her novel 'The Color Purple' which was made into a beautiful film. And I do like many of her poems as well. One of them I admire so much that one day, some time ago I made a vest for my daughter Tanja as a birthday gift,  and wrote the poem  with bleach on the back:

A woman is not a potted Plant 
her roots bound
to the confines
of  her house

a woman is not
a potted plant
her leaves trimmed
to the contours
of her sex

a woman is not
a potted plant
her branches
against the fences
of her race
her country
her mother
her man

her trained blossom
this way
& that
to follow
the sun
of whoever feeds
and waters

a woman
is wilderness
holding the future
between each breath
walking the earth
only because
she is free
and not creepervine
or tree.

Nor even honeysuckle
or bee.

My daughter does not wear this vest any more, but she still loves it and will keep it forever! (Won't you Tani?)

Monday, April 19, 2010


What does this all have in common?
When I saw this picture of a plant my husband photographed at the Carmel mountain it immediately reminded me of something. I had seen those leaves before! And surely I remembered: it was at a Yemenite Wedding celebration, during which the bride is bedecked with jewelry and wears the traditional wedding costume of Yemenite Jews. The bride really was dressed lavishly, her fingers and wrists decorated with heavy silver rings and bracelets. The aunt of the groom who owned the entire outfit came to dress the bride for the event. The elaborate tall headdress in triangular shape was decorated with paper flowers and RUE leaves, which are believed to ward off evil and protect the bride from evil eye.  

But then I remembered something else: Among the childhood stories my husband had told me, there was one about growing butterflies. He would grow the Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly in boxes on RUE leaves.  

Rue, Pegam פיגם in Hebrew (Ruta chalepensis) is a shrub which can be found throughout Israel. Its small bluish leaves are shaped like an open hand, which is the 'chamsa' in Arabic, thus explaining the believe that the plant can be used against the evil eye. Rue was once even used as a spice, but because it is so bitter, it is much less used today. But it still appears in some liquors, the most known and famous liquor containing rue is an Italian brandy called 'grappa con ruta'.

By the way - the lovely bride is my daughter Carmen!

All photos by me Yael Eshkar.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


and they are most beautiful too, with very special and sweet handles!
My friend Jill from New York has an Internet store called 
She is a potter at heart and soul and her ceramic pieces are artful and functional (all microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe), very pretty and always with the most amazing glazes in stunning colors!
Her newest creations are very large coffee mugs, they hold 28 ounces which is about 0,8 l  - that amount of coffee will last you all morning!! Now if there would be such a little ceramic utensil, glazed as gorgeous as well, with cutouts and some top to put the mug on, then we could put a candle inside to hold that coffee warm (flash of genius for you Jill)... :-)

Be sure to have a look at Jill's shop, you will be surprised with a lot of great items! And do visit her blog too where she talks with great love and affection about her ceramics, and other interesting matters!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


so are on my bags...


but there are tigers on my bags...
 till I ran out of tiger fabric...

Monday, April 5, 2010

ROCKROSE - Rimonit HaLotem - רימונית ילוטם

I just cannot resist to write about another plant we found yesterday at the Lower Galilean region. Why? Because it is very interesting, special and beautiful.

Its scientific name is CYTINIUS HYPOCISTIS. In Hebrew it is called RIMONIT HA'LOTEM, רימונית הלוטם and it belongs to the Cytinaceae family. 
It is a very small plant, only about 4cm in height, with the flowers at ground level. It is a rootless, stemless and leafless annual parasite, that is only visible in spring, during the flowering period, when it rises from the host tissues. It does not produce chlorophyll at all, relying fully on his host plant which in the Mediterranean area is mostly Cistus, called Lotem,  לוטם in Hebrew.

A 'rimon' is a grenade, and if you look at this plant you can understand why its  Hebrew name is Rimonit HaLotem. The flower buds are a bright hot red and open into an ivory colored bloom. There are distinct female flowers and male flowers growing in the same cluster. The plant depends on insects for seed production, mostly the pollination is carried out by ants.
Those little wonders are not easily visible. They are hiding under the bushes of their host plants, which are very beautiful by themselves, and you have to bend down and look carefully to find them.

The gorgeous host plant Lotem:

All photos taken by my husband Uri.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

NIGELLA CILIARIS - Kezach risani - קצח ריסני

A week ago my husband came home from a trip to the Shomron with beautiful photos of Israeli wild spring flowers. One bright yellow flower was very special. I never saw it before and its beauty captured my eye and my senses. Wow, what kind of flower is this? - I asked him. Kezach, he said. Hm, I do know Kezach, I have it on my spice rack and I sprinkle it on bread. You mean THAT Kezach? Those black little seeds? He explained to me that this flower is indeed a sister of NIGELLA SATIVA, from where the black spice seeds come.

I did some research on the Internet and this is what I found: Both plants are from the RANUNCULACEAE (buttercup) family. Nigella derives from the latin word 'niger' which means black and refers to the black seeds. Ciliaris comes from cilium, eyelash and eyelid, aris is pertaining to, together it means: fringed with hair. 'Risim' in Hebrew are eyelashes!

This link is to a very informative site on the spice plant Nigella Sativa - sativa is latin and means: cultivated.

Black Seed (it is called many names, as you can read in the above link) is used as a spice in bread, sauces, cakes, pastries, cheeses and more.  Did you ever have Naan Bread in an Indian Restaurant?  That black stuff, looking like sesame, sprinkled on it? This is Black Seed, Kezach. It is even used in soap making. It is also used for medicinal purposes and according to the Islam Black Seed is regarded as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available, Mohammad himself stated that Black Seed can heal every disease, except death!

I found a recipe for bread with Black Seed on the Internet:

X-posted from Sustainable Apple Pie, an exploration with Israeli black cumin:
Kezach bread 2
2 cups water
1 package of dry yeast
1 (heaping) tbs. brown sugar
1.5 cups wheat semolina
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbs. olive oil
3 tbs. black cumin
1 tbs. kosher salt
  1. Combine water (warm it up first), brown sugar, and yeast in mixing bowl. Let sit for five minutes or until all yeast is dissolved and there is a foamy coating on the surface.
  2. Add wheat semolina, whole wheat flour, and cumin seeds. Mix well.
  3. Cover with damp dishtowel and let rise for one hour.
  4. Uncover after an hour and knead dough (if it is too gooey, add some extra whole wheat flour). Return it to bowl, cover, and let rise for 30 more minutes.
  5. Uncover and knead again, this time shaping it into a log-like form that fits your bread pan.
  6. Top with a sprinkling of kosher salt and cumin seeds, let rise for 30 more minutes while your oven heats up.
  7. Bake in oven at about 180 degrees Celsius until golden brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped.
Serve warm or cold, tastes great with butter, cottage, cream cheese, and more. Also great toasted.