Vegan Crunchy Bites

I’ve been recovering from a planned mastectomy for the last few weeks which means that at the moment, I can’t do some of the most simple things in the kitchen. I can’t cut vegetables easily, stir things properly or reach most of the shelves in the kitchen. Clearly, this means that my ability to cook is somewhat restricted but I decided to try anyway and this was the result.

I’m calling it Vegan Crunchy Bites but I guess you could also name it vegan popcorn ‘chicken’ or similar if you preferred! As a vegetarian, it has never been my preference to name vegetarian meals as if they were meat. They are a treat in themselves!

If you have read any of my previous ‘recipes’ then you will know that weighing and measuring really isn’t my thing. This concoction was no exception.

The bites are made from the humble TVP (soya) chunk. “Oh gross” I hear you murmur because if you have only ever encountered the TVP chunk in a boring sloppy dish where it had no flavour at all then I can quite understand your reaction.  This, however, is the way to deal with them. TVP is actually a great food as it is high in complete protein, has no fat, is incredibly cheap (never buy it branded, it is exactly the same thing!) and it is full of lots of other things that we are supposed to eat lots of!

The first step was to soak some chunks in hot water with a little flavour in it. Today I used a garlic clove and a little vegan garlic dressing but you can use absolutely any dried or fresh flavouring that you want to try. Marmite works brilliantly at this stage as would any type of soup stock or a stock cube.

After the chunks had soaked for about 30 mins I popped them into a clean tea towel and squeezed as much of the liquid out as possible. I didn’t go mad but made sure they weren’t dripping wet anymore and much of the liquid had been removed.

The key to this recipe is to coat the chunks in some type of spiced flour mix, then to drop them into some type of liquid mix, to coat them in another type if spiced flour mix and then to fry them until crispy and mouthwateringly good. I vary the way I do this pretty much every time according to what I have but today’s effort worked quite well so I’ll tell you about that!

First, I coated the chunks in red lentil flour (full of flavour and protein) and salt, pepper and curry powder. I did this on the plastic plate in the photo. Instead of the lentil flour you could use cornflour but actually, this worked much better and I think I will stick with it.

Secondly, I made up a dipping liquid of tahini (Wow more protein!), garlic powder and water. You could use any liquid here, of course, this was just today’s choice.

Thirdly, after clearing the plate to use again, I made a coating of polenta, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and garlic powder ready for coating the chunks. You could use any flour or crumb or substitute here too of course.

I think quickly dropped batches of the chunks into the liquid, then into the polenta coating and popped them straight into the frying pan.

The result – mouthwateringly yummy, moreish, crunchy vegan bites.

Today’s batch is accompanied by some HP Brown Sauce because although I live in Israel, comfort food has to have my tastes of Britain, my birthplace, for them to really comfort me. Its served on plastic because I can’t do the washing up easily either!

How do you make yours?

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Add a Favourite in Waze

 

Waze is invaluable when you need directions.  You type in where you want to go, pick from a route, press go and you are ready to drive.  Sometimes, however, you want to have a location ready for use at a later time. You can add a location as a favourite and select it from a list when you want to use it.

It’s really simple to add a favourite in Waze . For Android just follow these simple steps;

 

  • Open Waze by tapping the Waze icon.

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  • Tap the magnifying glass in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.

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  • Under your name and any waiting messages, you will see 3 titles – ‘Recent’, ‘Favourites’ and ‘Planned’. Tap ‘Favourites’.

 

  • Tap on ‘Add new favourite’, next to the plus sign.

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  • Type in the address that you want to add and press the magnifying glass in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to search for it.

 

  • Choose the place you want, from the list presented to you, by tapping it.

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  • A box will pop up with ‘Give it a name’. You can keep the name that it gives you or name it something that is easier to remember and search for. When you are happy with the name, tap ‘Done’.

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Dawn Approaches

Dawn approaches was written on July 11th, 2016. Two years have passed since I wrote it.  I can still remember being frozen still at the airport as the words flooded into my head and I decided to write them down. My brother died 6 days later.

Dawn Approaches.

Dawn approaches. The light is breaking through.
All around me weary but excited travelers are waiting to board their flights.
The noise of happy chatter is deafening.
I can barely hear my thoughts but this is a blessing.
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Everyone here seems excited with anticipation for what awaits them upon landing.
Some are traveling for work.
Most are traveling for pleasure.
A few perhaps for new beginnings.
My heart is breaking because I am traveling for an ending.
To be there at the end.
I’m terrified someone will ask me why I am flying for fear that I may have to speak the words. “My brother is dying.”
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Everyone is praying for a miracle.
In my heart, I know that the miracle has been the last ten months.
Now it is time for a different type of miracle.
The miracle of a peaceful end and our lives continuing.
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In the next few days, there will be a new dawn.
It will be a less rich dawn and we will have to learn to live again.
Life without a brother and a brother in law, a son and a son in law, a husband, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin and a friend.
Dawn approaches.
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We are still learning to live again. I think perhaps we always will be. More about our journey can be read about here Life is for Living.
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Enjoying Evernote

Why I love Evernote

When it comes to software I am pretty savvy but this doesn’t mean I don’t want something to be user-friendly. When I choose software I want it to be intuitive, simple, organic and easy to use. I don’t think that is too much to ask but it’s amazing just how many programs don’t hit the mark.

For those of you that haven’t used it or heard of it, Evernote is basically a filing system, It’s a filing system that is very easy to use, has intuitive methods of information entry and sophisticated methods of search and retrieval.  Some people use it at work and some at home and in my case, I use it for just about everything.

I can have everything at my fingertips in one place. I can use tags, notes, notebooks and the search facility and I can find anything that I want in a couple of seconds, even when I have put it in the ‘wrong’ place. Actually, that is really one the amazing things about Evernote. Although you can have a notebook and note structure (and I do – a sample can be seen below)  there isn’t really a need to do that apart from making it pleasing to the eye. You can throw items anywhere as long as they are labeled properly and they will be found quickly anyway.

I can email straight to Evernote. I have a personal Evernote email address and I can both forward and compose emails and have them drop straight into my Evernote ‘inbox’. I have no need to lose things or to keep them hanging around in my emails either.

Capture

There is a Web Clipper extension that means I can clip anything I want from the web and that also pops straight where I want it. I can clip exactly what I want, when I want, send it to exactly where I want and tag it for easy retrieval at the same time without even leaving my browser.

 

 

 

 

I can even record audio notes and text notes straight from my phone’s home screen and have those pop straight in too!

The most important aspect of Evernote is that I can access it on any device at all – even one that isn’t mine via a web browser. I never need to worry about leaving the information that I needed at home.

Great Uses for Evernote

Research

As a genealogist, I am always researching numerous areas of interest and often have dozens of work in progress research on the go at the same time.  My research may be for my personal tree or I may be working on other genealogical projects.  Although I use fantastic Genealogy software to record my verified findings and sources,  I prefer to use Evernote to keep track of my ongoing research.  I letter the notebooks so that they are pleasing to my eye in this view and I can keep track of them easily but the actual notes within the notebooks are tagged for easy of access and retrieval. Evernote makes this very easy.  The search facility is incredible too. When it comes to research of any type, Evernote is a powerful workhorse!

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Learning

I am always learning.  There is just so much to learn. I haven’t got the best short-term memory though so I like to keep everything written down and close to hand. If I find something I need to learn or remember, in it pops to Evernote.

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I have been learning HTML, CSS, and Javascript and I am finding Evernote invaluable for saving links, infographics, code snippets, articles, videos and more. Once again tagging and search facility mean that I can always find the note that I am looking for with just a couple of clicks, even when I have thousands of notes.

I also use it to keep track of my spoken language learning.

Paperless Filing

I am always going to have paper filing. I’m just a self-confessed hoarder and the more I get rid of the more I seem to accumulate. I have, however, got the intention of at some point in the future being completely paperless. Any filing that I receive by email I send straight along to my Evernote email address and in it pops, straight to where it needs to be. This is great and I would be lost without the function! I have a fabulous mobile scanner which has allowed me to easily scan items straight into Evernote too.  Bit by bit I am killing paper files and in time, I will get there (I hope).

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Planning  Trips

I love to use Evernote for planning, especially planning trips. I can keep records of travel and accommodation arrangements, places to visit, people to see, language and currency information too. Pretty much anything that I may want to have at my fingertips before and during the trip, will be stored in Evernote. I’m currently planning a trip to Poland so my travel notebooks are filling up fast. I love the ability to save to Evernote straight from a webpage. It saves me time and it keeps me organised.

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Saving Recipes and Planning Parties

Let’s not forget the food (as if I could). I use Evernote to save recipes straight from websites all the time. I use it to plan meals when I entertain. I use it to store recipes that I invent too. If I want to cook something and want an idea, I pop straight to my food files and start searching by the ingredients that I have. Saving articles straight from the web using the web clipper means that I have really attractive photos too.

 

What do you use Evernote for and Why do you Like it?

Dal Makhani

Sometimes I just need comfort food and my go-to comfort food is usually something Indian. I love Indian food and as a vegetarian, it offers me lots of fantastic options. No one is ever going to miss the meat or fish in an Indian meal because there are just too many warming satisfying tastes and textures going on.

As I had soaked and cooked a huge batch of black lentils and had them sat in the fridge already, Dal Makhani was just begging to be made. It would have been rude not to I think.

I’m not a great one for following a recipe and I tend to make it up as I go along but today’s batch went something like this;

Ingredients

  • The remainder of a large pack of black lentils, cooked and ready to go.
  • A good dash of vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped quite finely
  • A large tin of tomatoes (and the same amount of water using the tin)
  • A small tub of tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

 

Method

Well, it really couldn’t be simpler which is great because I am a lazy cook. It’s a hot country and I don’t want to be stood in the kitchen longer than I have to be, much as I love to cook.

  • Fry the onions in the oil until they smell great and soften a little
  • Add the ginger and garlic and stir
  • Add everything else
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes

This version is actually vegan.

If you want to make it creamy, you can add a little butter/margarine, yogurt/vegan yogurt, milk/almond milk or cream/cream substitute. I added just a little butter and milk to mine in the bowl so that I could keep the pan-ful vegan and it can be eaten by any of my guests and with anything that I want to serve it with.  Right now though, it’s just an indulgent bowlful for me. It would go well with rice or any type of bread but it’s just perfect on its own which is precisely how I am currently enjoying it

I think that this type of food is pretty forgiving so if you fancy giving it a go but don’t have an ingredient, fear not, make a substitution or two and see what happens. I suspect it will still be wonderful and filling. Let me know how you get on!

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Home Made Sesame Sticks

As a child, one of my favourite yummy items were the crunchy sesame snacks that my grandma used to buy for me at the supermarket. As time went on, most shops in the UK stopped selling them in bags on their own but it was still possible to get them mixed in with other savoury snacks. By the time I was an adult, I had stopped seeing them anywhere at all.

I always remembered the sesame snacks with fondness but thought that they were probably a snack of a bye-gone era for me.

That was until I saw something very similar in a Trader Joe’s Store in Boston, Massachusetts in the USA when I was there for a conference 4 years ago. I bought three 1kg bags, ate one during my 10 days there and brought the other two back home to Israel.

The taste, texture, and smell of these divine snacks brought back memories of my grandma and my childhood and they were wonderful as were the memories they evoked. There was now a problem. How would I get more?

I realised that I was going to have to find a recipe for them and try and make them at home but I wasn’t sure how good they would be. In the end, I found a few recipes, added a little bit of my own flair and hey presto, here are today’s homemade sesame sticks.

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The Birth of a Facebook Group.

I originally wrote this article for publication in a local newsletter Modiinlife.  This shortened version has been abstracted from the original and edited so that it is timely and appropriate.

When and Why

In June 2015 I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I was hurting, had little energy and I was feeling low. I was sat on the sofa browsing the Internet and Facebook which was my way of being ‘out in the world’ without having to leave my home. It was my way to connect with people when I couldn’t really do it in a face to face way. Facebook is a really great way to stay in touch with people when you can’t actually see them in person and this applies locally as well as for overseas friends and relatives of course. Having a chat in a Facebook group about a common interest is a great way to stay in touch with the local community.

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I wanted to ask a question to English Speakers in the city of Modi’in in Israel.  It occurred to me that there wasn’t really a good place to post my question. There were some English speaking Facebook groups but none of them were quite what I was looking for. What there didn’t seem to be was a group aimed at English speakers where people could chat, ask questions, help each other and get to know each other, that was aimed at men and women, of any religion or none and covered the whole city. Somewhere that wasn’t flooded with adverts and spam. Somewhere friendly and helpful where people got answers to their questions. Somewhere where people wanted to be.

I had a look at the two English speaking ladies’ neighbourhood groups that I knew about. Both of these groups were and still are, well run and moderated. The idea of them was that local women could post and ask questions as a resource and place to meet. What I noticed is that in addition to the posts I expected to see in these groups there were also posts that had no relevance to the local neighbourhood and those that had no reason to be for women only.

It struck me that it was strange that these posts were in the groups. Then it hit me! There wasn’t anywhere else to put them. People were using these groups for the purpose that they were set up for but also because there wasn’t a city-wide any gender group they were posting everything else there too!

I knew what I had to do.

There was no time like the present.

On the 9th June 2015 Our Modi’in was born.

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Our Modi’in was Born

Although fairly computer savvy it was time to learn how to use social media properly. I have learned a lot since then! I quickly learned how to set up a Facebook Group and decided upon a name. I asked Kineret Rifkind, a local photographer if she had an appropriate photograph that could be used for group and she supplied the wonderful photograph that is now associated with the group and heads this blog post and has been there since day one.

I had a long think about the group description and rules. These have evolved a little since inception but in principle remain the same. The idea for the group was to have a friendly English speaking group where we could meet new friends, ask questions, organise get-togethers, promote small businesses, offer recommendations and learn about each other and about our area, whilst feeling comfortable speaking English.

Our Modi’in is Thriving

From the beginning, it was my wish for the group that it would be a friendly and helpful place. A place without hatred. A place without judgment. A place without spam and dozens of inappropriate adverts. My aim was that if people asked a question, answers would be forthcoming. I wanted people to want to help and participate. The group isn’t for politics or property listings from agents. There are plenty of other groups for these.  Adverts from locals are limited to once a month because free advertising is something I can offer to local businesses but no one wants the group flooded with adverts or spam and it is my intention to keep the group useful and relevant at all times. It is also worth noting that although of course, the vast majority of the group’s members are Jewish due to Modi’in’s location, not all are, and it is in no way a criterion. In addition, although the majority of the members are native English speakers, for many it is not their first language. I am delighted to offer this service in English to anyone who wishes participate passively or actively, in English.

I often get asked why I won’t allow people to post only in Hebrew in the group. I get a lot of messages trying to explain to me that people should ‘try’ in Hebrew. I explain to these people that if you are comfortable reading understanding and writing in Hebrew there are places to do that. Some people in Our Modi’in have no Hebrew at all, some are fluent Hebrew speakers and some, like me, are somewhere in between. I want the group to be 100% accessible to even those with not one word of Hebrew and this is why I am strict about writing only in English in the group. Hebrew adverts and posters are welcome with full English annotation. The rule is that if the post isn’t 100% accessible in English, then it will be taken down.

The Members

Today, Our Modi’in has over 2800 members. Thanks to the new screening questions that are available on Facebook, when someone asks to join they are asked three questions. If I am happy with the answers, I accept them into the group. There are usually about 400 people who haven’t answered any questions and are waiting to join, so if you ask to join, please check your messages. I am waiting to accept you but if I can’t tell from your profile that you live here or what your interest is and you haven’t answered the questions, I can’t accept you. The group has local residents and people that work or study here, people interested in moving here from within Israel or overseas. It also allows people who offer a specific service in Modi’in. As a side note, I also have rather a lot of requests to join from India thanks to Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister.

I am proud to say that the members of Our Modi’in have allowed the group to flourish and today it is the ‘go to’ place for information about Modi’in.  The Modi’inApp lists Our Modi’in at the top of the page of Facebook Groups above 42 other groups, most of which are Hebrew groups. The Absorption Department now gives out the group info for people considering making Aliyah to Modi’in. People in the group are able to help incoming olim  (immigrants) as there is so much experience ready to share and people generally love to help when given the opportunity.

An Achievement

The group is my baby and I run it alone. I have been lucky enough to have two guest moderators for short periods where I was unable to do this and they did a great job! I am proud of what I have built.

The Future

I look forward to the steady growth of the group and active members giving and receiving information.in a friendly manner.  I am very proud of both the inception, moderation and continued success of the group.