A successful aliyah is largely dependent on your ability to adapt to change, and I admit it took some time to get my head around a new language, an entirely different culture, and driving on the wrong side of the road.
Coming to terms with having a one day weekend has proved to be that much harder, however. It's for this reason that I never schedule cooking classes for a Sunday, and instead choose to ease into the week in the company of likeminded friends who form a part of our official Sunday morning breakfast club.
Over time we've explored practically every coffee shop in the Sharon region, and have had ample opportunity to compile a collection of 'only in Israel' stories that constantly give us reason to smile at the lack of pretense and typically Israeli habit of expressing an opinion whether it's asked for or not.
One of my favorite of these stories relates to a breakfast we enjoyed recently on a nearby moshav where diners gather in a rustic, stone cottage restaurant set in the midst of vegetable fields, and eat under the watchful eye of a donkey which nibbles amongst the carrots while chickens scuttle around in the dirt parking lot.
Portion sizes are huge - dishes are made with organic produce from the moshav and they are very generous - and so on this occasion we asked our eager, young waiter to bring us four full breakfasts which we planned to share amongst the seven of us.
He dutifully headed off with our order...only to return to our table a few minutes later.
"I'm sorry," he stammered "but the kitchen staff are worried that you will still be hungry and so they recommend you order another dish."
Did the cook stick his head around the door and decide that we were a hefty bunch who clearly needed more sustenance?
We obediently agreed to this suggestion – obliging little English speakers that we are – and as a result all ended up leaving with brown bags of leftovers.
We felt it was worth paying a few extra shekels for the good giggle, however, and regularly have a laugh as we recall the day the kitchen refused to take our order.
These simply delicious nutty fruit and oat bars don't feature on the breakfast menu at this health-conscious restaurant but they certainly should. Perhaps I'll have a word with the owner about this when next I'm there.
Speaking your mind is clearly contagious!
NUTTY FRUIT & OAT BARS
2 cups oat flakes
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup pumpkin/sunflower seeds
Handful of dried fruit and nuts
175 grams butter
2 heaped tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1. Mix oats, sugar, flour, coconut, seeds and dried fruit and nuts.
2. Melt butter on the stove or in the microwave and stir in syrup, then bicarbonate of soda.
3. Stir syrup mixture into dry ingredients, mix well and then press into a medium sized baking tray or foil dish.
4. Bake at 180 C for 15 minutes or till lightly browned then cut into squares and allow to cool before removing from tin.
Cook's notes: I prefer the large oat flakes - available in health stores and some supermarkets - to the fine Quaker oats but both will work. You can also add a handful of linseed - available from health stores - to the mix. I combine both pumpkin and sunflower seeds and I also include chopped, dried apricot, dried cranberries and slivered almonds or chopped walnuts.
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