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Hot, Sweet, Salty and Sticky Chicken Wings

Posted on October 17, 2010

Just like all young men who have attended American universities, I ate hundreds, if not thousands of chicken wings. The deliciousness of Frank’s hot sauce mixed with vinegar and butter tossed with the burning flesh of deep fried chicken wings is a taste like no other. It’s distinctly American and if it ain’t done right, it ain’t a buffalo wing. Chicken wings in Israel are an ubiquitous menu item these days. They are often described as “buffalo wings” though they are as far from any buffalo wing I have ever tasted. They are rarely fried and American hot sauce is never used. Instead they are drenched with Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce. This is crime against both Buffalo and Thailand. I wouldn’t dare to try to replicate authentic Buffalo wings for several reasons. The most important being that I’m not so into deep frying since I’m no longer twenty one (it was a very good year) and my metabolism isn’t what it once was. These “oven fried” wings are hot, sweet, salty and sticky and are about as foreign to Buffalo as Guam.

How to pickle carrots and kohlrabi

Posted on October 15, 2010

I’ve had a life long love affair with carrots, but my relationship with kohlrabi only goes back 13 years. My first taste of kohlrabi was either at Mordoch, a small Kurdish lunch joint near Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s open air market or possibly at the now defunct Korea House in Jerusalem’s city center. What was this small white incredibly crunchy vegetable before me? Is it a radish? Can’t be, it tastes sort of like cabbage. I asked what it was and was told kohlrabi. I assumed that kohlrabi was a Hebrew word since it sounded silly and had never heard of it. I was further confused when I couldn’t find it in my English-Hebrew dictionary. I don’t recall how I finally figured everything out but soon after kohlrabi became a household winter staple.

Building a DIY children’s play kitchen in 30 easy steps. Maybe. Part V

Posted on October 2, 2010

Gripes! This kitchen is taking forever. It’s been over a year (!) since I first started this project. Yes, a year. Don’t blame me. Blame work, chronic pain, socializing and, most importantly, the birth of our second daughter. She’s OK with the delay as she understands that she will reap the benefits of this kitchen in a couple of years. Tons of progress has been made since I published Part IV and the end is oh so near.

Join me, won’t you?

Building a DIY children’s play kitchen in 30 easy steps. Maybe. Part IV

Posted on July 9, 2010

Things are finally moving along a bit faster. And it’s almost time to hand over the reigns to the beautiful and talented Ziva, my wonderful wife with fantastic design skills. She’ll be handling the decorating and accessorizing of the kitchen once I complete the construction. We last left off putting together the faucet and taps and attaching them to the kitchen. We are really trying to keep to our objective of using recycled materials as much as possible. For not only environmental reasons, but financial as well. Good non-plastic play kitchens are very expensive and by using materials that we have had sitting around the house or found on the street, we are easily able to keep the price low. Whenever I see a bunch of junk on the curb I scour without shame which has helped us managed to keep this project within a very low budget. Really low.

Optimizing my Garden

Posted on June 19, 2010

One of the things that endeared us to the apartment we purchased here in Modi’in back in 2003 (wow, have I been living in suburbia for that long?) was the lovely garden. I didn’t know at the time but I was quite delusional about my ability to give the garden the attention it needed to avoid it turning into a jungle.

We have what you call a “high maintenance” garden. Combine that with “time management issues,” one member of the household who deals with “chronic pain” (that would be me) and “not enough money to spend on a gardener to come every two weeks to weed” and you are headed for a garden disaster.

Sure, I can mow the lawn every week, it’s not a big deal, takes a relatively small amount of effort and about twenty minutes. However, we have a two different areas where we have various trees, bushes and plants surrounded by dirt. Without weeding these areas frequently, they quickly become overrun. It got to a point where we simply could not enjoy being outside and frankly, I was somewhat embarrassed for guests to see its condition.

We needed a solution. And that solution was volcanic tuff. I envisioned the two problematic areas covered with a layer of plastic to keep the weeds out and layered with copious amounts of ubiquitous reddish tuff. It’s aesthetically pleasing and I would only have to pull out the rare weed that was strong enough to break through the plastic. Luckily, the gardener I brought in for an estimate agreed with me.

Building a DIY children’s play kitchen in 30 easy steps. Maybe. Part III

Posted on June 19, 2010

Now that the base of the play kitchen is complete it’s time to do some work on the “special features.” You might recall that the first step in building this play kitchen was shortening the legs of the Ikea night tables using my much treasured jigsaw. I held on to the excess wood thinking that the pieces would come in handy at some point of this project. And come in handy they did. I played around with them a bit and figured out a sequence that would look pretty good for the sink faucet and taps.

Step 7: I measured and marked the center of the piece of wood and using several different sizes of spade bits, drilled, starting small and worked my way up until the hole was big enough to fit the faucet nice and snug.

Drill baby, Drill.

I purchased very basic (and very cheap) faucet and taps at a local hardware store. Here’s my little munchkin modeling it for you. I told her to put it on her head.

Step 8: I then took another scrap piece of the night table leg and using the spade bit drilled holes for the taps. Both the faucet and the taps fit quite well.

Step 9: Using a strong adhesive I attached the wood holding the faucet to the piece with the taps and added another spare piece to use as the base.

Step 10: And finally, I attached the completed faucet and taps to the kitchen using the adhesive.

And there you have it. A completed sink.

8 plastic wheels: $6:00
MDF Board: $15.00
Metal Bowl for sink: $5.00
Shelving brackets: $5.00
Faucet and taps: $10.00

Total: $41.00

Recycled materials used:
Night tables: Purchased nine years ago
Wood planks found on the street

Building a DIY children’s play kitchen in 30 easy steps. Part I

Building a DIY children’s play kitchen in 30 easy steps. Part 2

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Building a DIY children’s play kitchen in 30 easy steps. Maybe. Part II

Posted on October 26, 2009

Several weeks have gone by and we’ve been itching to make some progress on the play kitchen. Our social life has taken precedence and the past few weekends have been filled with copious amounts of visits, trips to the zoo and lunch guests. This hasn’t left a lot of time to move forward with the play kitchen. We finally had a respite from the more social aspects of ours lives (I’m generally an introvert) and took huge advantage of a quiet Saturday and we made an incredible amount of progress. It’s starting to take shape and another couple of weeks it will be ready to be handed over to my collaborator, the lovely Ziva for further design and decoration.

Step 4: We found some nice thick treated wood planks that once belonged to a closet or something lying on the curb outside our apartment. The first piece I cut to size (using a lot of patience and my trusty jigsaw) and attached it with four brackets to the two night tables for both support and to work as a bottom shelf.

Bottom shelf of DIY play kitchen

Step 5: It was now time to get the sink on. So that is exactly what I did. I got the sink on. Aw yeah. I thought this was going to be the most challenging action to get right but it proved to be much easier than I anticipated. I purchased a piece of MDF from a local store (this was one of my only purchases for the unit up until now), cut it to the proper length so it would fit nice and snug between the two night tables and had my trusty collaborator Ziva guesstimate the circumference of the sink and then drilled a hole smack in the middle of the circle. Several holes actually. I then meticulously cut out a circle in the mdf board. I purposefully cut less than I needed to for several reasons. First, I’m very inexperienced with the jigsaw and second – I only had one shot to get this right. Luckily, Ziva’s measuring skills were spot on (at least in this case) and I am apparently naturally talented when it comes to the jigsaw. After some trial and error and a lot of tweaking, I managed to get the bowl to fit in the hole nicely. The lips rest perfectly on the counter – which is now a sink.

Cutting a hole for the sink

A perfect hole!

Tzofi admiring the sink

Step 6: I firmly attached the sink (!) to the unit with brackets which brought even more stability.

I then stood back, smiled and called it a day.

Sink attached

Costs so far:

8 plastic wheels: $6:00
MDF Board: $15.00
Metal Bowl for sink: $5.00
Shelving brackets: $5.00

Total: $31.00

Recycled materials used:
Night tables: Purchased nine years ago
Wood planks found on the street

Next step: Figuring out how to properly attach the sink to the wood so Tzofi can’t just lift it out.

tzofi opening the sink

Building a DIY children’s play kitchen in 30 easy steps. Part I

You should follow me on twitter here.

Building a children’s play kitchen in 30 easy steps. Maybe. Part I

Posted on September 26, 2009

What is my parenting philosophy? Making life as awesome as possible for my daughter. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Cooking has long been a passion of mine and whenever I can I try to involve Tzofi. She showed an interest early on, so about a year ago Ziva (my wife for those new to this blog) built an awesome kitchen for Tzofi made from almost all recycled materials (cardboard boxes, old desk files, bottle caps and more).

We decided the time was ripe for an upgrade and purchasing a new bedroom set and getting rid of our old Ikea night stands afforded us an opportunity to get the brain wheels churning and to design Tzofi a kick ass solid kitchen she can play with for the next few years. And one that won’t put us in debt. We also recently renovated our walk in closet space and have a few old bookshelves which are in pretty bad condition so we have even more raw materials to work with.

This is a pretty big project with many steps involved and we still aren’t 100 percent sure how it’s going to turn out. I plan on documenting this DIY project here as we move forward. Today we made major progress and I got to use my new jigsaw for the first time. I like tools. Power.

These are the night tables we are dealing with:

Ikea Night Stands

Step 1

The first step was to measure the legs and decide just how much we wanted to cut off. Ziva meticulously measured the height, marked it off and I sawed off the legs with much pleasure. I even wore safety goggles which was also enjoyable.

Leonard Cohen delivers in Tel Aviv

Posted on September 26, 2009

My first introduction to the music of Leonard Cohen was in 1991. I was a DJ at my high school radio station which sat comfortably at the left of the dial. Big props to WPOB 88.5! I came across I’m Your Fan in 1991, a compilation of Cohen covers by the likes of R.E.M., The Pixies, James, Nick Cave and The House of Love. I was taken by both The Pixies cover of “I Can’t Forget” and James cover of “So Long, Marianne” and immediately sought out Leonard Cohen’s music. To be honest, it wasn’t for me. Simply not loud enough. I loved the melody, but I don’t think I was mature enough for the lyrics. It was only years later during my dark years of college while listening in the lonely, cold hours of the night did I truly learn to appreciate the poetry of Leonard Cohen.

Hallelujah. Now that’s a song I’ve heard hundreds and hundreds of times. Whether it be the original Cohen version or one of the numerous covers by Jeff Buckley, John Cale, Rufus Wainwright and even American Idol participant Jason Castro (horrid IMHO). Let’s just say that the emotional resonance of the song has long warn off. While it is arguably once of the greatest song of the past 30 years, for a long time now, it’s just been another song to me. However last night during Cohen’s performance as 50,000 Israelis sang along with him and he took his hat to chest and closed his eyes to take in the moment I couldn’t help but get enveloped by the strong emotions that clearly everyone in the stadium was feeling. I’ve seen hundreds of concerts in my day and it’s hard to say that I have experienced such a powerful moment during a musical performance. Cohen’s performance of Hallelujah completely transcended what I anticipated to be the pinnacle of cheese. He managed to achieve an intimacy in his performance that I didn’t think was possible in a stadium of 50,000 people.

I’m not sure what Mr. Cohen is like when he is not performing, but on stage he was full of class. During his 3 hour plus performance, Cohen often removed his signature fedora during solos by his band and granted them his full attention as a signature of both respect and awe. Clearly enamored by the incredible backing band he introduced them more than once and even brought his crew on the stage at the end to thank them and all involved with the tour.

As he was just about to step off the stage after his third encore Cohen recited Birkat Cohanim (the priestly blessing) which clearly moved the audience.

“They shall place My name upon the children of Israel, and I Myself shall bless them.”