Monday, November 16, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Pereg Gourmet Goodies

EDIT: In an attempt to take a night off from cooking dinner and cleaning up afterward, I asked the husband to make dinner. He did, making a nice tuna bake, but he took the fusilli pasta out of the giveaway box. Sigh. Husbands. Sorry, it'll be two boxes of the macaroni/elbow-style pasta.

If you've ever heard of KosherFest, you know that it is the biggest event where you can get the most amazing kosher food samples on the planet. But if you've ever tried to go, you probably also know that it's an industry event and you have to be media or a buyer/seller to get there. Well, lucky for you, even though I didn't go this year, I did get some delicious samples from Pereg Gourmet's gluten-free line to try and give away!

The products I received (and that one lucky winner will also receive) are:

  • Quinoa with Lemon & Herbs
  • Quinoa: Southern Style
  • Quinoa Pasta: fusilli
  • Quinoa Pasta: Elbow/Macaroni x 2
  • Pistachio Mix (topping for salads, mashed potatoes, and more)
The quinoa mixes could use a bit more salt and pepper, but that's an easy fix and I tend to be a bit of a salt fiend. The pastas are really impressive and hold up well with cooking and reheating, even. I was really happy with them. The pistachio mix is also really versatile, and it was delicious on top of mashed potatoes (which I've been eating a lot of lately for some reason). I had also requested a box of their new quinoa-based gluten-free cereal, but, unfortunately, they never sent it so I didn't get to enjoy it. I have to assume it's pretty delicious, however. 

All you have to do to enter is COMMENT on this blog post, letting me know what your favorite Pereg Gourmet product is or which product you'd most love to try. 

One lucky winner will receive all the goodies in the picture and list above. Just comment by 11:59 MST on Thursday, November 19, 2015. 


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I Fell Into a Black Hole, And?

Sweet holy Moses where have I been? It's like I'm stuck in a wormhole ... make that a workhole! Yes, the past month has had me travel to California twice (once for a week, boy oh boy did I miss my boys), leading up to the hugely awesome launch of the world's first intelligent tea infusion machine: Teforia!

Now? Well, now I'm just riding the wave and trying not to have my head explode in the process. I've neglected the blog hardcore, which has me feeling both guilty and upset. There's a lot going on that is worthy of talking about, but unfortunately I don't have the koach (strength, energy) for that at the moment.

What I will say is that I'm knee deep in reading The Secret of Chabad by David Eliezrie, and I'm absolutely loving it. It's got some fascinating tidbits about Chabad that I hadn't learned about in the other books I've written, with a really intense look at the Russian efforts of the movement.

I attempted to crochet a cozy for my mason jar tea infuser, and I failed, so I bought one on Etsy instead. I just wasn't cut out for this kind of stuff. I clearly missed the gene, because my mother is an amazing crocheter of all things.

I've got some goodies from Pereg Gourmet to giveaway. It's going to be a Chanukah giveaway, of course, because who wouldn't want some free food for the next Jewish holiday in the lineup, right? The best part, it's all gluten free, too!

What else what else? Asher is becoming quite the little man, Mr. T is finding his place as a Mr. Do It All here in Denver, and ... yeah, that's that.

What's new with you?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Being Jewish, Being Israeli

Six years ago, my converting rabbi sent me the official Manhattan RCA Beth Din conversion application via email. A month later, I had my first meeting, and 1.5 months after that, I had my Orthodox conversion and became a certified Jew. Now, my Reform conversion years earlier made me just as Jewish in the eyes of most of the (non-Jewish) world. Hitler wouldn't have hesitated in murdering me, and neither would anyone else out to murder, with malicious intent, the Jewish people.

Three years ago, I boarded a plane to New York and then on to Israel. After years of mulling it about in my head, I finally took the dive and became more than just a Jew, I became an Israeli. A proud member of the only nation in the world where Jews are allowed to live Jewishly, religiously, without persecution or fear of death and violence perpetrated by individuals who believe in ages-old myths and legends and religiously fueled ideas that Jews are the surge of the world, responsible for all of the world's ills economically, socially, and religiously.

Oh wait. No, no. That's not true. That was Herzl's ideal, but since its inception in the modern period, Israel has never been a safe haven for Jews. Not really. And I feel like the event of the past week make that more aggressively, depressingly obvious.

I suppose, in truth, there has never been a land in which the Jews, the Israelites, have lived in complete peace without fear of persecution. I think about other minor peoples over time, and I feel like, for the most part, threats are of the natural variety. Disease, the food chain, self-destruction. But the Jewish state, the Israelis and Jews that live there ... we could pray for our only destruction to come from disease and natural causes, but it would never be a reality.

The malicious murders and stabbings that have taken place by random Arabs and Palestinians over the past week in Israel -- not just Jerusalem but Raanana, Tel Aviv, and other "modern" areas of Israel -- have me torn. On the one side, I'm desperate to return to Israel and stand my ground as a proud Jew and Israeli, to show those who would see our -- my -- destruction as a win in the war against the Jewish people that we're not going anywhere. On the other side, I see my toddler, who was born an Israeli and who will someday be conscripted to fight and defend Israel in the IDF and I'm terrified. How I raise my child is vital. He's growing up in a terrifying world and an environment where who he is is the problem. Not what he believes or says or thinks, just who he is. And that terrifies me.

First Jew, then Israeli, and now? Now I'm just a target. All Jews are, from England to France to Dubai to Israel to New York and beyond. We're all just someone's target.

When I stepped out of the mikvah five and a half years ago, I didn't know that this would be the reality. But like a marriage, I took it all -- the good, the bad, the ugly, the absolutely terrifying.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Yom Kippur at Last

This Yom Kippur, I'm simply happy and blessed that I'm not spending at home, alone, with a crying baby. I have a husband who is here with us, and that is a gift.

I'm reprinting this from 2011 because that year, like this year, was one of epic changes for me. Just a few weeks out from a divorce, I was reflective. This year, I'm feeling quite the same.


On a whim, while failing to fall asleep the other night, I decided to read one of the portions of the Yom Kippur reading: Isaiah 57:15-58:14. I was struck by the following, because I think it makes aware something that we probably don't consider when it comes to fasting.

In this portion, from 58:14, Isaiah is sharing G-d's words.
Call with a full voice, do not spare, like a shofar raise your voice and relate to My people their transgression, and to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily and they wish to know My ways, like a nation that performed righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of its G-d: they ask Me ordinances of righteousness; they desire nearness to G-d.
And the people ask: "Why have we fasted, and You did not see; we have afflicted our soul and You do not know?" And HaShem answers with a question about how we fast and why we fast.
Behold, for quarrel and strife you fast, and to strike with a fist of wickedness. Do not fast like this day, to make your voice heard on high. Will such be the fast I will choose, a day of man's afflicting his soul? Is it to bend his head like a fishhook and spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is this not the fast I will choose? To undo the fetters of wickedness, to untie the bands of perverseness, and to let out the oppressed free, and all perverseness you shall eliminate. Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and moaning poor you shall bring home; when you see a naked one, you shall clothe him, and from your flesh you shall not hide?
HaShem says not to bow your head and afflict yourself so much as to open your eyes to the true reason we fast, to acknowledge the wickedness and neglect of our people that we pursue day in and day out.
Then your light shall break forth as the dawn, and your healing shall quickly sprout, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall gather you in. Then you shall call and the Lord shall answer, you shall cry and He shall say, "Here I am," if you remove perverseness from your midst, putting forth the finger and speaking wickedness. And you draw out your soul to the hungry, and an afflicted soul you sate, then your light shall shine in the darkness, and your darkness shall be like noon. And the Lord shall always lead you, and He shall satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; and you shall be like a well-watered garden and like a spring of water whose water does not fail.
And this part I really like, because it says exactly what we need to do; HaShem doesn't mince words. He's not mealymouthed about what is expected of us.

And [those coming] from you shall build ancient ruins, foundations of generations you shall erect, and you shall be called the repairer of the breaches, restorer of the paths, to dwell in. If you restrain your foot because of the Sabbath, from performing your affairs on My holy day, and you call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord honored, and you honor it by not doing your wonted ways, by not pursuing your affairs and speaking words. Then, you shall delight with the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the land, and I will give you to eat the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
It's easy as pie. So often we look to fast days as a means of pain and suffering for our own souls, for our own being. But the truth is that Yom Kippur and its fast are a means of taking our inward obsession outward and to acknowledge the indifference we have to those around us, to the hungry and empty souls that need to be sated, to observe the Sabbath and to make for ourselves a path of repair.

I want to wish you all a tzom qal (easy fast), which doesn't mean I hope it's a walk in the park for you, but that I wish that you all have come to a point of inner reflection over these Days of Awe so that when it comes to standing before HaShem and asking to be sealed in the book of life that it means something and that it is more than mere words and wishes, that it is based on introspection and action, so that for HaShem it is easy -- easy to seal you eternally in the Book of Life and to the House of Jacob.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Shanah Tovah: It's Time for a 5776 Calendar Giveaway!

Well, it's a brand new year in the Jewish world, which means it's a brand new start in my world. So far, so good, and it's only been a few days! Did you know? Right now, we're in the midst of the 10 Days of Repentance between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, which is a particularly meaningful and potent time for prayer. (Read more ...)

It being a new year, I figured what a better way to start off 5776 than with a clever calendar giveaway, thanks to the amazingly creative and crafty folks at They sent me a few products to check out, and a few products to give away -- it's a win-win for you and me!

First up is an 11x17" 5776 Jewish holiday calendar printed on white cotton, linen paper. This colorful calendar includes all of the major Jewish holidays in bold on the calendar with the days and dates listed at the bottom of the calendar.

Then there's the 28x28" 100% cotton natural flour sack 5776 calendar tea towel with the calendar printed in an 8.5x11" size. Made in Atlanta, the image was heat pressed onto the towel so it can withstand hundreds of washes (no bleach, please) and is incredibly absorbent.

The design of the calendar is simple, but modern and super colorful, which is sure to brighten any room -- from the kitchen to the den. I can't wait to see who wins these! And if these aren't your style, there's always the ever-popular (and seriously awesome) Nice Jewish Guys Calendar. Come on, who doesn't want that? Also, check out their big Rosh HaShanah Sale for some goodies for next year!

There will be two winners -- one will receive the wall calendar, the other will receive the tea towel, which, honestly, you could easily frame or hang like a regular wall calendar, too! Good luck, everyone. This giveaway is open to the U.S. only (sorry international readers).

a Rafflecopter giveaway