Alte Zachen? Not Quite Yet!‎

PicMonkey CollageJACK
Meet Jack: always on the right

It has been my experience that bikers, specifically mountain bikers, are ‎a very down to earth and friendly crowd. I cannot recall meeting a ‎‎“MTBer” (mountain biker) that I did not feel an affinity for. It was my ‎great pleasure to meet Jack, our bed and breakfast host, on our recent ‎vacation.‎

I was mesmerized by him; this charming Scottish bloke who was once ‎a biker himself (a "roadie" no less but we loved him all the same). In a heartbeat I would have adopted him into our ‎family.‎..

Hot days have been my playground of late.

The heat is all ‎encompassing. I can’t seem to shake it off of my trail. My travels have ‎taken me to The Pacific Northwest, The Okanogan Valley, The Big ‎Apple and back home again to my little corner in The Middle East: ‎home sweat home. Did I ever tell you that I was never one to sweat a ‎lot…‎

Not so dry these days…‎

I landed in Seattle on the tail end of an atypical heatwave. When we ‎travelled north to Vancouver for the unveiling of my mother’s ‎headstone, we were met by severe lawn sprinkling regulations. By the ‎next day the restrictions read: ‎

‎“Due to unseasonably dry and hot weather, and record low inflows to ‎our reservoirs, Metro Vancouver has further restricted water use. ALL ‎LAWN SPRINKLING IS NOW PROHIBITED.” ‎

An evergreen final resting place

Seattle and Vancouver are my old stomping grounds. They are ‎celebrated as evergreen gems. Hey everyone knows that: ‎‎“Vancouverites don't tan; they rust.” Surreal it was to hear about the ‎water restrictions.‎

When will this horrific heat release its hold on us?‎

We took some vacation time to play in the Okanogan Valley. It is a hot ‎and dry area with weather similar to that of Israel. We made our first ‎stop at a visitor’s information center and were accosted by a vacuum ‎of stifling red HOT air as we opened our car door. Every day we ‎learned of yet another forest fire. There too, the pine needles needed ‎little encouragement to flame up.‎

The crème de la crème awaited us in the steam baths of New York City. ‎We were fortunate this trip. On the eve of our travels to N.Y. a ‎thunderstorm blew in and out of the area, cleaning the air in its path. ‎We were graced with an unusually hot but dry New York summer ‎heat.‎

At the airport, while waiting for our flight back home, we caught a ‎weather report on the television screen. We saw a map of The United ‎States in full color. From east to west and from north to south it was ‎shocking hot red!‎

Back at home and still fighting jet lag, I was in the saddle again and ‎ready to take on the heat. We meant to leave at the crack of dawn ‎but I only managed to pull myself out the door at 7:30 am.‎

This week was laced with unusually brutal temperatures: I barely left ‎my air conditioned fortress. This day I knew that leaving the house at ‎a later time would paralyze any ability I had to deal with the elements ‎awaiting outside of our doorstep.‎

Not the first time I left with a cloud of dread. ‎
Yes, I was going to pay dearly for this …‎

Saturday’s ride we broke from habit and chose to ride with a group. ‎Hubby and I joined a band of close to ten testosterone dominant ‎bombers and little ol’ me…‎

I will be the first to admit that my stead is first rate; my mountain ‎biking skills are good and I am generally fit. On this day, however, my ‎form was decrepitly alte zachen (from the Yiddish: old things)! ‎

SMS, SOS – Save Me Swiftly!

As we inched closer to our mid braking recalibration point, I plotted to ‎call in for help and evacuate the premises. I was feeling ever so dizzy ‎and nauseous: surely not omens of good fortune… Although I am ‎usually one to tough it out, on this occasion I was fully content with ‎my decision to leave the pack behind.‎

Our break was well welcomed indeed, not so much by the distance we ‎travelled but by the oppressive biking conditions. Blessed were we to ‎come and rest at the foothills of the ancient Zippori ruins and the ‎Zippori Stream complete with its own pool of water which seemed to ‎be calling my name: “Come home to me baby…” ‎

Our haven awaits

At moments like these there is no hesitation, no self-consciousness ‎and little regard for the invested threads. There is no time to wade; it ‎is an all or nothing matter. Complete submersion and submission from ‎head to toe it was. No time or thoughts to remove any clothing. In I ‎went: I plopped straight down to the pool’s floor.‎

It's a pool party

I cannot begin to do justice to the feelings of joy and gratitude that ‎flooded my very being. From the clutches of Hells Gate freefalling into ‎temperatures well below 20 degrees Celsius, there was a God in ‎Heaven! Halleluiah! ‎

Heaven on Earth

I splashed water over myself again and again with childlike glee. We ‎shared homemade treats with one another and lingered more than ‎usual. With reluctance but rejuvenated, I dunked my “Buff” (head ‎covering) one last time and mounted my stead, joining our group for ‎the return ride.‎

Although surely the temperatures had risen higher, we had our own ‎personal air conditioning units from head to toe. The hot summer heat ‎filtered through our wet clothing, treating us to an unexpected cool ‎breeze of bliss.‎

Certain I was that I would call in a tow truck to save my battered ‎bones and I was ok with that. Gone are my superwoman days; I need ‎not pace myself to the speed of others.‎

To be bold is allowing yourself to not always be first.‎
To be bold is knowing when to break and recalibrate.‎
To be bold is nothing less than knowing when to stop and backtrack.‎

To be bold is doing what is right for you at any given moment.‎

To be bold is to venture and taste what life has to offer. ‎

Some time ago I took a healthy cooking class with a vibrant woman by ‎the name of Tziona Melman. One of the most important tools which ‎she gave me was the power to venture in the kitchen. I am happy to ‎confess that I have been on a gastronomic adventure ever since. ‎Thank you Tziona for your marvelous gift.‎

For some time I have been cooking up creations in my beautiful blue ‎ceramic crock pot. It is handmade by the talented Laurie Sartani from ‎Merchavia. I love using it on the weekend as a slow cooker. This frees ‎me and allows me to mountain bike, dance or play with family and ‎friends. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is to come home ‎after a long day of play and have a hot scrumptious meal ready at ‎hand.‎

Healthy, Delicious & Easy

In general, slow cooking is not only healthier but it bears the gift of ‎savory tender flavors. There are multiple advantages to slow cooking:‎

♦ Lower temperatures better preserve nutrient integrity.‎
♦ Provides richer and fuller flavors.‎
♦ A good vessel will conserve heat and is conveniently mobile.‎
♦ Prevents formation of carcinogenic compounds of HCA and PAH ‎when cooking meat.‎
♦ Can be used as a convenient and healthy alternative to fast food.‎
♦ The meal is concentrated in one container. It is an easy cleanup.‎

I am bestowing you with my recipe for this week’s Saturday lunch.‎

I invite you to discover the art of improvisation in the kitchen. Please ‎substitute and add in to please your taste buds and palate. Feel free to ‎share your creations here.‎

In a Crock Pot – Slow Cooked Vegan Casserole

Easy steps from left to right

To Soak:

‎2 c dried chick peas
‎2 c whole risotto (round) rice
‎1 c dried apricot‎

To Blend:‎

‎1 peeled and cubed sweet potato
‎1 cubed zucchini
‎3 cloves of garlic‎
‎2 c water (can use water from soaked apricots)‎
‎1‎‏½‏‎ T whole cumin seed
‎1‎‏½‏‎ T saffron
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

Vegetables To Add In:

‎2 cubed onions (can lightly sauté) ‎
‎8 carrots cut to preference‎
‎~ 6 cabbage leaves‎

+1 T coconut oil to add in to mixture‎

Soak the rice and chick peas overnight+. I recommend soaking in ‎warm water with a bit of apple cider added to the water. They are ‎soaked to remove phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. The ‎phytic acid ‎will inhibit mineral absorption. Soaking can increase ‎mineral ‎absorption tenfold or more. The apple cider will facilitate this ‎process. It is important to rinse the rice and chick peas well after they ‎have been soaked. The dried apricots should be soaked in the ‎refrigerator. The left over water from the apricots may be used for the ‎mixture in the blender for a slightly sweater taste.‎

In the blender add the sweet potato and zucchini to the water and ‎spices and blend.‎
Add the blended mixture to a large bowl with the rice, chick peas, ‎apricot, vegetables and coconut oil.‎

Mix well and add to greased crock pot.‎

I like to cover my casserole with cabbage leaves. This retains the ‎moisture and prevents the rice and legumes from drying out. Should ‎you wish to prepare meat in your crock pot as well, you may lay the ‎meat on top of the cabbage leaves. This will provide a barrier and ‎absorb much of the meat’s fat.‎

I like to use risotto rice but any kind of whole rice will work well. Of ‎course, you may choose to work with other legumes as well. Just ‎remember to soak them. Similarly, you may choose to add or replace ‎vegetables. You may try sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, potatoes, beets and ‎even cauliflower, although that will cook to be very soft.‎

Changing the content of your casserole will require you to rethink the ‎amount of liquids that you are adding to the pot.‎

Cook at an oven temperature of 100 degrees Celsius or 210 degrees ‎Fahrenheit for about 6.5 hours.‎

Bon Appétit! ‎