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Monday, March 26, 2012

Panty Hose and Incontinence

Okay, so it’s time for my annual Spring Pre-Passover rant session.  Normally at this time, I spend a few qualitative moments discussing (okay, ranting) about Passover food prices, or the store manager’s lack of education regarding kosher for Passover fare.  I mean, really, why do people think that tea biscuits, cream soda and kichel are typical Jewish holiday essentials? Yet, I see them on the shelf in all of their NOT for kosher Passover glory. 


 No, I have chosen to move on from Passover, the money is spent, the items are expensive, the work is daunting, the cleaning is a pain in the tuchus, but that’s neither here nor there because today’s rant is far more important.  Today I have chosen to rag on CVS, because, well, I can.
My sordid tale begins with the innocent search for a pair of panty hose. I needed a nice, very sheer pair that provided Spanx like control without having to mortgage my house.  Now, here’s the deal, while I don’t like to admit that “truss hose” are an important essential , they nonetheless are and I have come to accept the fact, that when dressing for a formal affair, they really do provide the smoothness and control one needs.  After extensive research (Google), I came to understand that no self respecting celebrity walks the red carpet without a good pair of Spanx, so I began to feel better. After all, if Gwyneth, Jessica Alba, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Garner need Spanx to pour skinny their little selves into hip hugging couture, then there is no shame, NO SHAME, in buying a $5 knock off to smooth out whatever needs smoothing on my not- so- perfect body.  After all, self acceptance is an important thing!


I found the panty hose. I found the color, size, and control I looked for, RIGHT NEXT TO THE ADULT DIAPER SECTION…A.K.A. THE INCONTINENCE AISLE.   Seriously CVS?  You couldn’t put the hose in a different section or daresay move the incontinent section elsewhere like, closer to the soda aisle?  It was like looking at my present and my formidable future all at once and it definitely annoyed me.  It’s one thing to accept a flawed body, it’s quite another to accept a flawed bladder accompanied by the shadow of old age.  Sigh.


This isn’t my first gripe over product placement. Should I even mention how they placed the “planned parenthood” section smack dab in front of the pharmacy?  Yeah, truly appreciative that my precocious 7 year old with a third grade reading level wants to know what a lubricant is, or begins to sound out the word con-dom.  “Hey, Mom, what’s a condom, and why is there a horse on the box?”  Lovely.  Who knew that waiting for your asthma inhaler could be so educational and informative?  I’m so “grateful” to CVS for providing an open forum opportunity to talk to my 7 year old about safe sex.   Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who complained, because they eventually moved that section. Now, it’s next to the Tums and other assorted indigestion meds…hmmmmm.  Now what kind of message is that?









Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This ain’t Your Traditional Hamantashen


Here it is…the allergy free, awesome, delicious, contemporary flavored hamantshen recipe just in time for this weeks holiday of Purim. You asked for it and I delivered (albeit a little late).  I decided to go a little funky on the flavors this year. It’s not that I don’t love a good ole apricot triangular pastry, it’s just that, I wanted something a little more contemporary, new, refreshing and I instantly thought of chocolate and lemon.  They go well together, and they taste great separately, so roll up your sleeves, here we go…

PS...though not pictured here, take your hamentaschen to a new level and use some melted chocolate for dipping (creating a black and white look)or drizzling over the top (creating a zebra effect).
 

Lemon Hamantashen

½ block silken tofu (don’t be afraid, trust me, you’ll never know)

1-cup sugar (I use organic crystals)

2 tsp good quality vanilla (not the stuff with corn syrup in it)

2-4 drops lemon extract

 1 tsp. lemon zest

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tsp. baking powder

1 TBSP soymilk

¼ tsp. salt

2 ½ cups flour (with a little extra for kneading)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.     Drain tofu in a strainer for about 10 minutes, lightly pressing on it to get out the excess water.

2.   Cut tofu in half (use the other half for the chocolate hamentashen, later) and cut into smaller pieces and place in the food processor.

3.   Add the sugar, oil, vanilla, soymilk, zest, and lemon extract.

4.   Pulse until it is smooth and creamy.  Make sure there are no bits of tofu lying at the bottom or on the sides.

5.    Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl

6.    Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix.  As it becomes more difficult, use your hands to work the dough. It will eventually become  soft, pliable dough. If it is too sticky, add more flour.

7.   Once dough is smooth and elastic, wrap it in a ziploc bad and place in the freezer for about an hour.

8.   When you are ready to roll out the dough, work with what you need and keep the rest in the fridger. The dough softens rather quickly and is delicate so you have to keep it cold and work fast.

9.   Place the dough on a floured surface (I usually cut a gallon size Ziploc bag in half and place the dough between the two sheets with a little flour, I find that the dough doesn’t stick to the bags as much.

10. Roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness and use a round cookie cutter to make rounds. I actually use a small juice glass that is 2 ½ inches round. You can make them bigger if you so desire.

11. Fill the hamantashen with a ¼ to ½ tsp. of filling. You can use fruit preserves, jellies, chocolate ganache, plain old chocolate chips (use mini chips for mini hamantashen because they don’t tear the dough), or my favorite…Israeli chocolate spread.

12. Bring the sides up over the filling and press into a triangular shape. Pinch the seams closed so the filling doesn’t ooze out.

13. Space the hamantashen out about an inch apart on your baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remember, if you want them crunchy like a cookie; keep them in for the full 15 minutes. If you are a cakey hamantashen lover, then begin checking them at around 13 minutes to see how well cooked they are.

Remove and cool for about 1 minute on baking tray, then transfer to a cookie rack.

A Word about Tofu

Tofu is very easy and versatile. In fact, I use it in many baking recipes for various holidays. Below are a few tofu pointers.

  • It comes in different consistencies. For this recipe, soft, silken tofu is best. Drain the tofu for a few minutes to remove any excess water.
  • Tofu comes in a vacuum-packed box in the refrigerator section of your grocery store (usually in the produce section).
  • Cut along the dotted lines at the top and the tofu will easily slide out, just gently guide it into the strainer.
  • After draining, cut the block in half.
  • Before placing it in the food processor, cut the ½-block piece into smaller pieces to distribute it more thoroughly in the food processor.

Fillings:

You can use raspberry, apricot, as they go well with lemon.  I used all of these (Polaner All Natural Fruit Spread) and a chocolate ganache.  The only problem with the ganache is that it takes a while to cool down and thicken, so if you are in a rush, you can just use mini chips, frosting, or I like Israeli chocolate spread (which is made in a nut free facility)!



Ganache recipe-From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

4 oz. chocolate ( I use Enjoy Life mini chips

2 TBSP maple syrup (the real stuff)

¼ cup soymilk

Place the soymilk in a pot and bring to a boil. Immediately take off the flame and dump the chips and syrup into the pot and mix until smooth.

That’s it! Of course, you need to wait for it to be room temperature, where it will thicken a bit. 
 
Chocolate Brownie Hamantashen (OMG)!

½ block tofu

1 cup sugar

2tsp. good quality vanilla

1/3 cup canola oil

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking poweder

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 ¾ cups unbleached flour (you may need up to ¼ cup extra if the dough is sticky)

Directions

They are pretty much the same as the lemon hamentashen. Though, they take a few minutes longer to bake.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, blend the tofu, oil and sugar until ingredients are smooth and creamy. Make sure to scrape down the sides in order to get all the little bits of tofu blended.
  3. Add the vanilla and blend again.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Combine the liquid ingredients with the dry and mix. You will have to switch to using your hands until it becomes dough. The dough will be sticky. If it is too sticky, just sprinkle with some more flour while you work it into smooth dough.
  6. Place the dough into a Ziploc bag, or wrap in saran wrap and chill in the freezer for an hour.
  7. When you are ready to roll out the dough, work with what you need and keep the rest in the freezer. The dough softens rather quickly and is delicate so you have to keep it cold and work fast.
  8. Place the dough on a floured surface (I usually cut a gallon size Ziploc bag in half and place the dough between the two sheets with a little flour, I find that the dough doesn’t stick to the bags as much.
  9. Roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness and use a round cookie cutter to make rounds. I actually use a small juice glass that is 2 ½ inches round. You can make them bigger if you so desire.
  10. Fill the hamantashen with a ¼ to ½ tsp. of filling. You can use fruit preserves, jellies, chocolate ganache, plain old chocolate chips (use mini chips for mini hamantashen because they don’t tear the dough), or my favorite…Israeli chocolate spread.
  11. Bring the sides up over the filling and press into a triangular shape. Pinch the seams closed so the filling doesn’t ooze out.
  12. Space the hamantashen out about an inch apart on your baking sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes. Remember, if you want them crunchy like a cookie; keep them in longer than 15 minutes. If you are a cakey hamantashen lover, then begin checking them at around 13 minutes to see how well cooked they are.
  13. Remove and cool for about 1 minute on baking tray, then transfer to a cookie rack.