Four Years Gone but Never Forgotten

grandmaFour years ago, today, my heart broke. The light inside of me died a little.

I lost my grandmother.

I’m not sure how your grandparents are but mine are my world. My grandparents helped raise me. My grandparents are my rock.

I was so shaken by my grandmother’s death that I shut myself off from the world. The only blog post I wrote that month had to do with strange airport sightings. A year later, it was still hard to put my feelings into words. I tried, and I came up with reasons to be grateful.

This year, it doesn’t feel any different. It feels like she just passed away. It’s not surprising to me that I woke up with a giant headache this morning. Bubba’s health declined due to a massive stroke.

So far, I’ve lost 3/5 grandparents and I miss them all very differently. I could never call my Bubba and ask her for advice but I could call my Papa and voice my concerns to him. Bubba always called on Shabbat to wish us a Good Shabbos – Bubbie called to say ‘hi’ but not very often and it was usually when I could hear loneliness in her voice.

I miss them all but today, I miss Bubba the most. I’ve been trying to find a way to pay homage to her. I can’t visit the cemetery (bad ju-ju for pregnant Jews), I’m too tired to cook a huge Shabbos meal (I have no idea how she did it week-after-week), and the only thing I can think of is to spend time with my husband and son. Our lives are about to get a lot more complicated in the next few weeks, so spending time as just the three of us seems like a good way to remember her.

Shavuot … and Dairy… my two loves.

“Wake up in the morning feelin’ like P-Diddy…” What does P Diddy feel like in the morning? This morning I woke up feeling like my head exploded. I’m not really sure why but I couldn’t put my engagement ring on because my fingers were too swollen…YUCK! Anyway, I promise today’s post will NOT be a nasty one.

This past weekend we celebrated Craig’s 26th birthday (I feel old). Our friends came over and we ate a ton of baked goods. The upside to all the cooking? I FINALLY got to use half of the stuff we registered for! I can *officially* say I may have too many measuring cups. It IS entirely possible to have too many.

The past few weeks have been rough for us. School. Work. New jobs (his, not mine). School. Papers. School. (School takes up A LOT of our time). The upside? Wednesday is considered a vacation day. Every year, g-d sets aside a day or two for a holiday called Shavuot. There’s biblical significance for this holiday but if you ask my aunt, the holiday is really intended as a day to enjoy dairy (unless you’re lactos intolerant). The holiday is FILLED with yummy foods including cheese cake, cheese blintzes, farmer’s salad with cottage cheese, watermelon with bulgarian cheese… OK, there’s a lot of cheese going on.

The purpose of Shavuot is not to derail my diet (although it may happen in the process) but instead to celebrates the harvest season in Israel. It’s also the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.Whew! But seriously, folks, let’s be honest – it’s a darn good excuse to eat the most phenomenal dairy foods you’ve ever had. No one does this holiday like the Israelis. Specifically, my aunt’s family.

Here are a few recipes enjoyed by my family. You don’t need to be Jewish to try them – I promise.

Syrian Cucumber-Mint Soup & Zucchini Soufflé

  • 3 small cucumbers
  • 3 (8-ounce) containers plain lowfat yogurt
  • 4 ounces fat-free soft white cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped, or 11/2 tablespoons dried

Garnish: a few extra mint leaves.
Peel cucumbers, cut into tiny pieces and set aside. In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon, combine the yogurt, cheese, salt, garlic, pepper and mint. Add the prepared cucumbers. Mix and correct seasoning. Garnish with more mint.
Nutrition Facts: Serving size (cup) 1 (oz) 6 (g) 180 Calories 60 Protein (g) 6.3 Carbs (g) 3.3 Fat (g) 0.3 Sat. Fat (g) 0 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Sodium (mg) 278 Calcium (mg) 170 Fiber (g) 1 Exchanges: Lean protein/milk 1 Free vegetable 1/2

Zucchini Soufflé

Zucchini Soufflé
This is a great side dish and almost “free.”
Yield: 9 servings

  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 6 large zucchini, peeled
  • 2 whole eggs plus 3 egg whites, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons soy or regular flour
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1 (8-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with baking paper. Chop onion with knife attachment in food processor until very fine. Switch to the grating disc and grate the zucchinis. Squeeze well in a colander to drain all excess water. Transfer to a mixing bowl. By hand, mix in the beaten eggs, flour and mayonnaise. Combine. Add the mushrooms and dill. Season with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spray the top with non-stick spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until top begins to turn golden. Lower heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 40-60 minutes, until firm.
Variation: Substitute frozen broccoli or cauliflower for the zucchini. First defrost and squeeze out excess water. These vegetables can then be chopped with the onion. Transfer to a mixing bowl and continue as above. With this variation, the mushroom and the dill are optional.

Glee – a propsal

Earlier last year, when we started watching “Glee” I noticed a lot of conservative bloggers slamming the show because there is homosexuality and teen pregnancy front-and-center on the show. It’s taken me months to counter-argue why they won’t let their kids watch the show.

This week’s episode featured a plot surrounding individuality and what it’s like to get made fun of at school just for being who you are. My high school years were not terrible but I got made fun of a lot. I was called a Lesbian my freshman year because I was opinionated. When I was on the high school newspaper, I covered the first ever Gay/Lesbian/Straight Alliance meeting at the school. My teacher asked me to use my initials at the end of the story so I didn’t face ridicule in school. I refused and used my full name. Once again, I was labeled a Lesbian. By 17 years old, I stopped caring about the names. I didn’t dress the best, I didn’t have the best clothing and I tried to dress like everyone else so I could fit in… just a little.

I made friends in my Jewish youth group that made me feel like I belonged. It gave me an outlet and the friends I made, I made for life. I came crying to one of the girls in my chapter because someone in my class called me fat and ugly. The next day, word got around that someone called me these nasty words because my friend blabbed that this couldn’t tolerated. She was older than me by 2 years and could see how much I was hurting. Some of the boys in our youth group caught wind of it and threatened the guy who called me fat and ugly.

Glee is a great, GREAT show! It’s all about individuality and coming together as a team. They cover the challenges most kids face in high school and ways to deal with it. In my opinion, Kurt is one of the strongest characters because he doesn’t care WHO knows he’s gay and he’s not afraid to be himself. He tried to be someone else and it didn’t work.

The issue of teen pregnancy may not fit in every high school but it’s something that’s REAL! You can teach your kids not to have sex until they are older or until they are married but not every kid listens (Bristol Palin) and it’s a consequence of not teaching your kids to protect themselves when having sex. Abstinence is great but hormones rage and without the knowledge to use a condom or use other forms of contraception, kids are left to their own devices. Girls are left thinking that having sex once without a condom won’t have consequences. The story of Quinn is a great portrayal of that.

I know this is long but all I’m saying is – some of this is reality. You can’t hide your kids from it forever. Exposing them to the ‘real’ world is early is not necessarily a bad idea. It teaches them to be more tolerant. Tolerance is GREAT! They may not support gays or teenaged pregnancy BUT they don’t need to hate on people.

Just my thoughts.