As the number of COVID – 19 patients continues to fall, Israel is gradually moving out of lockdown. I wish I could be sure that the decrease in new cases was not merely due to a drop in the number of people being tested. However, more importantly perhaps, the number of seriously ill continues to fall and for the last two days (or possibly three), no new deaths from the virus have been recorded. If all goes well, many of the remaining restrictions will be removed after Shavuot (Pentecost), which falls this Friday, May 29th – and by the middle of June, theatres and concert halls will also be able to open. However, the social distancing restrictions (face masks, 2 metres distance) are expected to remain in place for a while yet. And, of course, in common with all the rest of the world, a second wave of the disease is predicted later in the year. So I still hesitate about getting back to “normal” – whatever that may mean.
Truth to tell, there seems to be a considerable amount of confusion as to what is allowed now and what is not. Some of the government regulations appear to contradict others.
Nor is that the only area where confusion reigns. The weather, too, seems to be confused as to what season it is 😉 . Last week’s sharav, with temperatures throughout the country averaging around 40 degrees C, might have convinced Israelis that summer was here at last, but over the weekend, the sharav broke, temperatures plummeted and Sunday (yesterday) brought pouring rains and unseasonably cool weather (about 16 C here in Jerusalem).
I, myself, despite my hesitation, gave in last week and had a haircut. I had planned on waiting a couple of weeks more, until June, but I feared that if I waited any longer, it would require a machete to hack through my unruly locks. Besides which, the soaring temperatures made it unbearably uncomfortable. The hairdresser complained that it was hard to work while sticking to the Ministry of Health directives (face mask, latex gloves and a visor), and claimed that there was a loss of sensitivity in his fingers which made the job of cutting and styling that much harder. Nor did he seem impressed when I pointed out that surgeons manage to perform the most delicate of operations wearing surgical gloves. However, he managed to do a pretty good job, nonetheless.
I also attended the Pidyon Haben ceremony for my nephew’s firstborn son. This is a fairly rare event in Judaism, and for me, it was a first. It was also my first social engagement since the relaxation of lockdown restrictions. I wore a face-mask but the ceremony was preceded by light refreshments (quite a lot of them, actually) and, of course, one cannot eat with a mask on. So I suppose I shall spend the next 14 days in trepidation, hoping I didn’t catch anything…
Meanwhile, I continued my quest to become a master-chef and now have two more cake recipes under my belt (in more ways than one). 😉
The first is for a Yoghurt and Lemon Cake, the recipe for which, I found on YouTube.
There were several recipes for this type of cake there and I chose this particular one because it requires only two eggs. You may recall that I mentioned, in previous posts, the on-and-off egg shortage which seems to be afflicting us (or not, as the case may be). I, personally, have not experienced any difficulty in purchasing eggs but since not a few of my friends apparently have, I preferred to err on the side of caution and use no more than I have to. I suppose it’s selfish of me, but when anyone other than family and close friends ask if I know where eggs can be found, I reply that this is classified information and if I were to tell them, I would have to kill them 😉 .
I should just mention that I used a slightly greater amount of yoghurt than in the video-clip, as yoghurt is generally sold in Israel in 150 gram tubs. However, since the yoghurt container is afterwards used as a measuring cup, all the other ingredients were increased proportionately, so no harm was done.
The second cake was one which I have made several times before, but was never really satisfied with the result. I mentioned it in my previous post – a dried-fruit and nut loaf. Now, it just so happens that a friend of mine recently shared with me her brother’s recipe for what she calls “a boozy fruit loaf”. I haven’t yet got round to making it, as it requires several ingredients which I don’t have, but it did give me an idea of how I might “tweak” my own dried-fruit and nut loaf, simply by soaking the dried fruit overnight in alcohol. So I gave it a try and found that it vastly improved my own recipe. I should explain that the much richer recipe Amanda sent me uses margarine and three eggs, whereas my recipe uses no margarine and only two eggs. My tweaked recipe turned out much better than my previous attempts. Clearly, the alcohol made a world of difference 😉 .
So, here is my Fruit Cocktail Loaf:
And for those who’d like to try making it, here is the recipe:
Shimona’s Fruit Cocktail Loaf
6 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 grams chopped walnuts/pecans/hazelnuts/almonds (*that means 100 grams altogether. You can use any or all of these kinds)
100 grams raisins/sultanas/dried cranberries (*see note on nuts)
6 – 8 dried fruits (I used apricots and prunes. You can also use dates)
- Cut the dried fruits into small cubes.
- Soak the raisins and other dried fruits overnight in cherry brandy.
- Whisk the eggs (no need to separate the whites and the yolks) in a bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and sugar).
- Add the chopped nuts.
- Add the (now not so dry) fruit. But drain off the excess alcohol first. (What to do with it, I leave to your own ingenuity. I’m sure you can think of something. 😉 )
- Pour the mixture into an oblong loaf tin (what we, in Israel, call an “English cake” tin).
- Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees Celsius.
(You need to keep an eye on this. Every oven is different. I baked it for only 30 minutes this time. )
That’s all there is to it. Good luck!
Before I go, as this Friday is Shavuot, when we celebrate the Giving of the Torah to the Children of Israel, let me wish you all Chag Sameach (חג שמח).
It sounds delish. I would have to buy cherry brandy. How much does one use? You may have included that info but somehow I missed it.
I used cherry brandy because that’s what I happened to have available, but I imagine you could use whatever is your preferred liqueur. As to the quantity, you need enough to cover all the raisins and dried fruits while they soak overnight. So really, that depends on the size – or rather, the depth – of the bowl in which you are soaking them.