Spice Up Your Havdallah!

This past summer, I helped coordinate a Northern California Shabbaton for Shluchim. It was a most incredible three days of camaraderie and unity, complete with delicious food, pampering details and inspiring workshops.

An aromatic addition to Havdallah at the end of Shabbos were these personalized ‘bsomim’ (spice packages). In fact, this was so simple and easy to make, I would definitely consider using this idea for our community events and programs on a Motzei Shabbos.

All you need is the beautiful Harney and Sons tea bag (sold in bulk online here ). The flavor to choose is the Hot Cinnamon Spice which has cloves and cinnamon in it. The tea bags are beautiful and can be used as a take home favor after Havdallah for a delicious hot cup of comfort!

You can stick any label to the end of the string with your personal message!

The ones I used were small round labels from http://www.evermine.com. Simply place two labels back to back over the end of the string.

Wishing everyone a Good Shabbos!

Delicious Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread!

Yesterday was one of those cozy rainy days where all I wanted to do was bake, filling my home with the incredible smells of delicious comfort foods.

I have been looking for a healthy whole wheat sandwich bread that is easy and relatively quick to make, so yesterday when I found this recipe from http://www.smittenkitchen.com I knew it would be a good one.

Below is the recipe with my notes to share, and all I can say is that you will definitely be making this one again. It’s perfect for toasting and then topping with peanut butter or keep it fresh with slices of avocado and tomato. It’s the perfect canvas for all sandwich creativity!

Oat and Wheat Sandwich Bread

Smitten Kitchen: Link to original recipe
Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

The dough is quite forgiving; use more water if you want to skip the milk, or use a soy milk. Use more sugar or salt, use less. Forget what you’re doing and it will forgive you if it rises a little too long. Accidentally leave it in the fridge for the better part of a week and it will taste even better than if you’d baked it on the first day, growing more flavorful with age.

Yield: 2 standard sandwich bread loaves

5 cups (635 grams) whole-wheat flour
2 cups (160 grams) rolled oats (smitten kitchen used quick-cooking for the least noticable texture, however I used regular old fashioned oats).
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse salt (I used kosher)
3 tablespoons raw or brown sugar, honey or agave nectar (I used brown sugar)
1 large egg
1/4 cup (55 grams grams) vegetable or olive oil, plus a little more to coat bowl (I used canola oil)
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk, any kind (I used coconut milk from the carton, not canned)
1 1/2 tablespoons (about 14 grams) instant yeast

Make bread dough: In the bottom of large mixing bowl, combine water, milk and sugar or honey, then stir in yeast. Add egg and oil and whisk until combined. Add flour, oats and salt and if mixing with a machine, combine with paddle attachment at the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute. The dough will be wet and coarse; do not fret. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

If using a mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix the dough on medium-low for 2 more minutes. By hand, do the same with your spoon. The dough will seem firm and more smooth, ideally supple and sticky, but if it’s still very wet, add a bit more flour, a spoonful at a time. If it seems excessively stiff, add a little more water, a spoonful at a time. Continue to mix with dough hook or by hand for 4 minutes.

Scrape dough out onto lightly floured counter. Knead a few times, then form the dough into a ball. Oil your empty mixing bowl and return dough to it. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature for 60 to 70 minutes, or until doubled in buik or transfer to the fridge and let it ferment overnight or up to 5 days. If proofing in the fridge, remove the dough before the fridge about 3 hours before you plan to bake it.

Form loaves: [Edited to add:] Lightly coat two standard loaf pans with oil, butter or a nonstick spray. Turn dough onto a floured counter and divide it into two equal pieces. Press each gently into a rough rectangle-ish shape. Fold in sides so that the first dough is roughly the width of your prepared bread loaf pan (about 9 inches). Roll from bottom to top and then put this log into your bread loaf pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough. Let proof at room temperature for about an hour, or until the dough has crowned 1 inch above the rim of the baking pan. Halfway through, heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake bread: For 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans once for even color. A cooked loaf of bread will sound a bit hollow when tapped and the internal temperature should read 190 degrees F. Remove loaves from tins and let cool on a rack. If you’re planning to freeze bread, I like to let it cool completely before slicing it, then sliding the sliced loaf into freezer bags.


Are There Blog Posts Up in Heaven?

Tonight marks the 9th Yartzeit (anniversary of passing) of my dear father Shmuel Tzvi ben Yosef a”h. This blog was lovingly created in his memory. May all the creativity in these pages bring him much nachas, as shluchim around the world, bring their communities close to yiddishkeit (Judaism) through meaningful, creative experiences full of laughter, love and chayus. IN LOVING MEMORY – a tribute to the father I love with all my heart and soul. (This photo was taken about 14 years ago, holding my daughter Chaya, age 2)

There is so much more I want to share with you, as every day turns to night…

and every night turns to dawn.

The ache in my heart has only become more painful and I am now certain that ‘time’ does not heal.

I want to talk to you. I want to laugh with you.

And mostly I want to live life with you.

The memories mix into my day…ingredients that I cannot live without.

I can pour milk into a bowl of cereal and the tears well up in my eyes.

Just like that. Soggy cheerios and salty tears. All at once.

I know you would love to see my kids now…you would so much enjoy their smiles, laughs and their budding personalities…

And it stings…

so badly.

I talk to you all day…but it’s lonely with your silent reply.

I day dream of sunny days in my yard with you sipping a cup of black tea…

just watching the kids play.

I think of how much you would enjoy chatting with all of us and I imagine what it would be like if you wouldn’t have died.

I wonder.

And I remember.

I flip through pages and pages of what we call ‘time’ in the album of life.

The moments and memories become a collage, and that becomes my day.

Photos of nostalgia plaster my page all while living in the moment.

Embellished with sounds, scents, laughter and living.

Recognizing the emptiness and filling it with as much comfort as I can gather, and with as much strength as I can muster.

Loving more, living more, being grateful for.

A testimony to how you raised me with that sparkle in your eye.

And on this day I have not buried you.

I never did. And never will.

Alive in every part of my life.

Soggy cheerios and salty tears.

And all.


Dear Friends,

I know it has been a while. A very long while. In fact it has been over six months since my last post, sharing the exciting news of the birth of our new baby.

I am grateful for all that has transpired in these past few months, the laughter, the spills, the mess, the sleepless nights, the piles of laundry and the incredible beauty that a new baby adds to the family and home.

I am also grateful to share with you another ‘addition’ to our family that just opened up a mere four weeks ago.

BROOKLYN – A Project of Chabad of Mill Valley.

We have moved into a retail space to host our programs and classes while at the same time we have filled a need in the community and have combined this Chabad space with a high end Judaica Boutique store – the first of it’s kind!

Above are just a few photos that showcase how we designed the space, a large dining table for classes with plenty room to add tables and chairs. The ‘Shabbos table’ is my demo table, set to show some of our products for sale and inspire others to bring a taste of Shabbos into their own home.

The shelves that hold our products are set up according to color so that the ‘look’ is neat and clean and pleasing to look at.

We have a full coffee and tea bar with a couch nearby to relax and enjoy a Jewish book or conversation…we wanted to create a sense of warmth and community…

As we say…this is not just a store…but rather a story. A story about building community.

We have a gift wrap bar cart to make gift giving beautiful with our unique packaging…and yes…this was one of my favorite parts of designing BROOKLYN!

And the name…. BROOKLYN…..you may wonder why, but the answer is quite simple.

BROOKLYN  is a city everyone knows. And everyone either loves someone or something in BROOKLYN. Either an old sweet Bubby, a friendly Zeidy, a slice of Babka or a NY style Deli Sandwich….

The list is endless and so too at BROOKLYN.

Chabad – the place you can find it all.

So, welcome to a new page in our chapter…

Where creativity takes on a whole new look.

I can’t wait to share it all with you!




Welcome to our family, beautiful new baby boy Levi!

Three weeks old today, and happily sleep deprived, I seem to be craving all things caffeinated!

So here is an incredibly delicious cake I baked this morning, definitely a keeper and definitely a perfect addition to any dessert table.

Baby in arms, coffee cake at hand and a latte on the side…

It’s a perfect moment in time.

What could be more delicious?

Coffee and Cardamom Pound Cake (By Yotam Ottolenghi from his cookbook: “Sweet”)

Serves 10 -12

6 Tbsp. whole milk, and room temp. plus 1 1/2 Tbsp for the coffee. (I used coconut milk to keep this recipe parve)

6 large eggs, at room temp.

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 self rising flour (I made my own by adding 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to 1 cup of all purpose flour – I did this twice to get enough ‘self rising’ flour)

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups sugar (I used a little bit less of sugar)

1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance margarine to keep cake parve) softened slightly and diced.

1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom (I used already ground)

1 1/2 Tbsp. instant ground coffee granules

2 tsp. dutch processed cocoa powder (I omitted).


1 1/2 Tbsp. instant coffee granules

3 Tbsp whole milk, warmed (I used coconut milk)

2 Cups confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temp. (I used Earth Balance)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degree. Grease and flour a 9″ bundt pan (I used pam spray)
  2. Place the milk, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk lightly, just to combine.
  3. Sift both flours and the salt directly into the bowl of an electric mixer with then paddle attachment in place, then add the sugar and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and half the egg mixture and continue to mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated. increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, making sure the first batch is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and divide the mixture among two bowls. (I found that the Earth Balance margarine had not incorporated very well so I poured the batter into my vitamin to get rid of the lumps by pulsing it a few times). Add the ground cardamom to one bowl and fold to combine. Warm the 1 1/2 Tbsp milk in a small saucepan, then place in small bowl with the coffee granules and cocoa powder. Stir until the coffee dissolves and the consistency is that of thick pourable milk. Combine this with the cake mixture in the second bowl.
  5. Spoon the two mixtures into the prepared pan in four alternate blocks, two of each color. Then , use a skewer or small knife to make a zigzag shaped swirl once through the mix to make a marble effect. (Do not overdo the swirling).
  6. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes,(check it at 30 minutes) or until a skewer inserted into he center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes. The cake sometimes tends to dome in the oven, so if you want a perfectly flat base, just slice off the top to flatten it out before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. (mine did not dome, as I used a larger bundt pan).
  7. To make the icing: combine the coffee and warm milk in a small mixing bowl. Add the confectioners sugar and butter and whisk until smooth and thick. (I had to add a bit of hot water to make it a better pourable consistency).
  8. Spoon the icing all over the cooled cake, so that it drips unevenly down the sides. Allow the icing to set slightly before serving.


Without icing the cake, it can be kept at room temp. for up to 3 days, covered in plastic wrap. It can also be frozen for up to three months. Once iced, it is best eaten on the same day.

Purim at the Campgrounds! (Mishloach Manos)

A super fun and easy Purim theme!

While the weather did not quite hold up for hosting the event outdoors with scattered tents and a fire pit in our backyard, it was still cozy and fun camping indoors (with a few adjustments:)!

Here’s what we did:

Mishloach Manos Packages were brown cardboard boxes 4″ x 4″ x 4″ purchased from http://www.evermine.com (look in their packaging section) and filled with brown craft paper scrunched up and neatly packaged “twigs” (pretzel sticks) , “Rocks” (chocolate rock candy purchased from Munchies in LA and Hamantashen! (I packaged the food items in adhesive clear packets from http://www.papermart.com – you can choose your sized based on how much you wish to pack and give out.)

To decoarte, I printed labels and tags from http://www.evermine.com  and tied the tag with divine twine. I also added a cute little compass attached with a glue dot to pull the theme together! (The compass is from HERE.)

We personalized some pins for guests to wear to get into the Happy Camper (and Happy Purim! ) spirit!

Our Purim postcard information included the following….

Hope you all had a most beautiful Purim!


Dutch Apple Pie!

Simply delicious and a definite winter comfort food!


(Recipe by http://www.smittenkitchen.com)


  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
  • 2 1/3 cups (300 grams) flour
  • 14 tablespoons (200 grams) butter, diced, no need to soften
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water


  • 3 1/3 pounds (1500 grams or about 5 large apples) peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • About 1/2 cup (70 grams) raisins
  • 4 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 large egg, beaten, to finish

Make your dough: In the bottom of a large bowl, ( I used my kitchenmaid mixer with the paddle attachment) combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the diced butter and using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal, with the largest pieces the size of small peas. Add the egg, vanilla, and water, and if using a pastry blender, use that to work them into the butter-flour mixture, or if not, use a fork to work it in. Reach hands into bowl and lightly knead the mixture together into a single mass. Transfer to a piece of parchment or waxed paper or plastic wrap, and wrap it tightly. Chill in fridge until firm, at least 60 minutes.At some point during this hour, make the filling: Combine apples, lemon, cinnamon, sugar and raisins in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Assemble crust: Coat a 9- to 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) diameter springform pan lightly with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Remove chilled dough from fridge and cut it roughly into thirds. On a well-floured counter, roll the first third to a circle the diameter your pan and fit it into the bottom. Roll out the second third of the dough and cut it into strips the height of your springform pan (usually 3 inches). Patch them up the inner sides of the springform. Use your fingertips to press and seal the sides and base together. If any holes form or there are spots you’re worried aren’t sealed well, patch in another pinch of dough.

Heat your oven: To 350°F (175°C).

Assemble pie: Sprinkle the bottom of the pie crust with breadcrumbs.(I omitted this). Pour the apple-raisin mixture on top. Roll the last third of the dough into a large round and cut into thin strips. (Mine were about 1/2-inch wide.) Space them in a lattice pattern over the filling, either by arranging half in one direction and the second half in the other direction on top, or by getting cute and weaving them together. Trim the overhang so that the latticed top meets the walls of the crust, and press/pinch them together to seal it. Brush beaten egg over top crust.

Bake: For 60 to 70 minutes, until you can see filling bubbling slightly up between the latticed strips (use this to determine doneness, and the baking time as just an estimate), and crust is a deep golden brown. Let cool in springform on rack for 45 minutes or so before running a knife around the outside of the crust to ensure it isn’t sticking to the pan in any place, and opening the ring to serve it with an abundance of softly whipped, barely sweetened cream or ice-cream.