Leave a comment

Double Rich Brownies

By Joan Gross

These brownies takes minutes to make and the brown sugar give it an unusual and rich, crunchy taste.

1/2 Cup butter

4-6 Squares of baking chocolate

1/2 Cup white sugar

1/2 Cup brown sugar

1-1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs well beaten

1 Teaspoon vanilla

3/4 Cup flour

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1/2 Cup chopped pecans

Melt butter or margarine and chocolate together in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.

Pour into a greased 8 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

As a variation, you can cut the pecans in half, put them on the bottom of the pan and pour the batter over them. When you take the brownies out, the pecans will give the brownies a decorative touch.

Leave a comment

The Other Bahai Gardens

By: Joan Gross

The Gardens in Haifa are deservedly better known. They regally step up the mountain side, with measured plateaus boasting  gurgling fountains and beautiful walkways.  They are far more grandiose and opulent. That said, a visit to the “other” Bahai Gardens in Akko are definitely worth it.

The Akko Bahai Gardens (which are really between Akko and Naharyia, are flat and straight forward. Visitors have more access because other than the rule of staying on the walkways, you are allowed to walk through the entire garden, whereas the Haifa gardens allow entry only on the plateaus.

Along the walkway are flowering shrubs.


The shrine is a rectangular building constructed around a tree-lined, plant filled, courtyard. On three sides are prayer rooms with lush carpets over rattan on the floors and narrow, smaller carpets on the walls. The hushed atmosphere is reinforced by the Bahai Garden policies: take your shoes off before coming inside, do not speak and turn off your cell phones.

In the Garden, every flower and bush are nuanced. Gardeners pull off dead flowers, the grass and bushes are trimmed as carefully as a king’s servant shaving his highness under the threat of death if he draws blood. The beauty is photographed below:




The visitors to the Gardens were as interesting a mix as the flowers. There were Arabs, the men dressed in American style clothing (jeans and a polo) and the women in tight jeans, fitted tops, and head coverings; there were Americans (one young lady brought two large scarves with her–one to cover her legs and one her shoulders), and a young Israeli couple, obviously in love and oblivious to everyone else.

On the way back to the bus stop I saw a lone Israeli soldier going to see the site. He was in his early twenties and was reading the newspaper as he walked.

The quietness of the garden, the aura and aroma of the flowers, and the variety of people there, radiated the thoughts that beauty and peace are a remarkable and desired state of mind to obtain on the visit and to retain upon your return to the real world.

Leave a comment

Turkey meatballs in plum sauce

1  Pound of Ground Turkey

3  Overripe plums

1/2 Cup of spicy BBQ sauce

1/2 Cup orange juice

1  Small onion

1/2 Cup ground corn flakes

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Mix ground beef with diced onion and ground corn flakes. Saute meatballs. Put the meatballs into a pot along with all the other ingredients, removing pit from plum before or after cooking. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Leave a comment

Joan’s Fruit Soup

6 Plums (over ripe)

1 Large peach (over ripe)

1/2  Small Cantaloupe

1 Large cinnamon stick

1/3 Cup sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Squeeze pits out of plums and peach. Put it all in one pot with about 1 cup of water and cook slowly for about an hour. Take out the cinnamon stick and then let it cool. You can either then put it through a food processor or put an immersion blender in the pot. Serve cold. Great on hot days.

Leave a comment

The Visitor

God is all around us generously giving clues that he is involved with our lives.

By: Joan Gross

We never have unannounced visitors. Today was a day for two.

My office in Israel is our living room couch. Inevitably a glass of tea sits on the floor next to my feet, and a laptop is perched on my lap, I am working on a logo for a new family business. After a three hour walk in the 95 degree heat , 80% humdity, I have little energy for anything else. We had been seeking out a stone cutter that two Anglo residents of our Naharyia town had recommended to us. Not finding him, we asked a worker in a nearby business if he knew of the stone cutter. In his broken English, and in our extremely (to the nth degree) limited Hebrew vocabulary, we departed with the understanding that the stone cutter had money problems and went to the U.S. six to eight months ago—or maybe he is coming back in six to eight months.

There was a knock on the door and I summoned up my strength to answer it. A tall, thin young man in a white dress shirt and thin red tie stood there. Across the hallway, my neighbor was framed in her doorway. She probably just had an encounter with this same young man. She summoned my attention, and let me tell you, this woman has the face of an angel but the voice of a drill sergeant and when she addresses me I snap too immediately, especially when she beams me a cherubic smile. We exchange greetings. She asks me how I am in Hebrew and I put my hand on my stomach and answer, “Lo tov” (not good). “My husband is at the doctor now. His stomach is also ‘Lo tov’.” What she understood, who knows, as her English is equal to my Hebrew.

The neighbor wishes me well and closes her door. Now I am ready for the young man. “Do you speak English?” I ask. He does. He then queries, “Do you have a TV?”  I answer “no” and the young man leaves, no longer having any interest in me or my other possessions.

Several hours later my husband returns home. The doctor was Russian. My husband was only able to report that the doctor gave him a popular antibiotic, that he reported to him that his wife was also sick, but he still received enough pills for one.

My husband settled in to his computer across the room when there was a second knock on the door. “Mick, please answer the door.” After all, I thought to myself, we never have unannounced visitors and since this is the second in one day, it is his turn to answer the door. My husband expressed surprise. “You think that knock is for us.” “Absolutely,” I answered.

Outlined in the dark hallway was a young Chassidic man with a long black coat, a tall, velvet, black hat and a scraggly beard. His multi-layers of clothing over an obviously underfed body, made me hotter and more tired.  “Come in, come in.” my husband urged. “Do you speak English? Can we help you?”

The man walked in and said “Tzdaka.” “Tzdaka,” Mick explained, “We all know the meaning of that word.” I quickly got up and told my husband that I would take care of it. I reached for my purse and assembled a donation which I handed to Mick and went back to the couch. I asked the visitor what Chassidic group he belongs to and he answered, “Belz.”

The man said he wanted to give us a bracha* and motioned that I should come over. He put his hands over my head and asked what I wanted a bracha for. First I answered, “Parnassa” (livelihood) but on second thought I said, in a mishmash of English and Hebrew, that my children and grandchildren should learn Torah. Mick had requested a blessing for livelihood but then also wanted a bracha for his children to learn Torah. Now the man seemed puzzled. Settled once again on the couch I explained that we were married only two years and we each have our own children. He then asked if we had a “get” (Jewish legal divorce). We answered him yes without going into the details that one of my ex-husbands had refused to give me a “get” from our halachly non-kosher union, but had conveniently died several days before I married Mick.

Then the man summoned us over again. I was puzzled. He had his tzdaka. We had our blessings. What more could he want? Mick had given him a chair and he sat down. I asked him in Hebrew if he would like something to drink. He answered “Mayim” (water). Mick quickly fetched him a glass of water in a paper cup. The man said the blessing over the water, drank the entire cup, and then said the after blessing.

He handed the empty cup back to Mick and pointed to our stomachs. “Open.” And then he covered his eyes. Mick obligingly, lifted his shirt. I held my two shirts out, away from my body, without lifting them. “Open?” he asked. “Yes,” we told him. He then gave us a blessing for our stomachs, wished us well and departed.

As Mick closed the door, I asked him, “Is your hair standing up? How can you explain that he knew we have stomach problems?” Mick echoed reflected my bewilderment, but we were surprisingly calm. After all, this is Israel. Here, in this land of miracles, we have learned to expect the unexpected.

Leave a comment

Spelt Flour Challah

By Guest Writer Sarah Samuel

2.5 lbs of better for bread flour
1 bag of spelt flour (from the gourmet baking section)
2 lbs of whole wheat flour
4 egg yolks
three packages of yeast
1 1/4 c honey
3 tbs kosher salt
7 c warm water
3/4 cup canola oil

Mix well, and knead until incorporated. Place in a warm spot with a towel over the bowl. Cover in a sealed plastic garbage bag. Let rest for 1 hour. Punch down. Replace the towel and place back in the garbage bag, placing in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Punch down. Replace the towel and place back in garbage bag, placing in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Pre heat oven to 375.

Punch down. Take challah with the bracha. Use 10 7″ round tins. Using a 1/4 c measure to measure the dough, make round balls from the dough, squeezing out the air bubbles. Place one ball in the center of the pan. Place 6 balls around it. It should make 9 tins. There will be some leftover dough. Place that in a shape in the tenth tin.

cool water
1 egg
seasame seeds
poppy seeds

Mix the cool water with one beaten egg. Brush over the bread. (to do this I use a sandwich bag over my hand dipped in the egg mixture) Sprinkle with seasame seed and poppy seeds.

Place tins into hot oven for about 40 minutes.

Cool & enjoy!