Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Holidays are special and we are responsible for creating the mood and success of it all. Today many people find themselves with a different picture. There are homes where loved ones are in service, far away, there are homes with economic stress and many families endure illness, members who do not cope with life and situation that demand extra care and compassion.
Remember the first rule. Every holiday can be made simpler, convenient for the people involved and need a careful plan for it to be joyful and fun.
Firstly decide on what the focal point will be. Is it in the home, garden, destination place or a mountain hike or beach scene? This will enable you to plan the meal, when to give the gifts, who should take the photos, how to plan sleep overs and baby nap corners and a bed for older folks to rest. Now plan the meal.
I usually go backwards here. I feel we have more people to cope with and a longer time of entertaining. So I plan the desserts, cakes, coffee and teas . First I bake the cakes and cookies.Cookies and cakes last longer and dessert puddings can be frozen.Nuts, dried fruits, marzipan, nougat, halva, and fun nash and energy bars
can be placed in appropriate plates unopened and on the day empty them onto the plates. I make a table ready with self service cool drinks, cups, straws, ice cream cones and serviettes. Then another corner close to an electric point with coffee, teas, hot water and the milk, sugar and serviettes . It is there all day as a self service corner..
Some guests walk in and ask for a drink. A young mother who spent three hours with the kids in the car, a husband who drove with all that noise, might need a cup of coffee.
Then I plan the table and décor. I make a menu that has some items related to the festival and a great main dish. Have the right vegetables for kids and older folks. Not everyone likes cooked carrots. Go for the popular items. Make heaps of roast potatoes and yams. Have large bowls of rice and vegetables. Nothing goes to waste as it can be eaten the next day or converted into something else. Make bowls of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and other salad ingredients separately and only combine them when you need them. The salad dressing can be made ahead and kept in the fridge.
Decide on the soup item. Make it a basic vegetable or minestrone. If your family like tomato, pumpkin or exotic soups, you can make those ahead too.

Wrap a little chocolate for each guest with a bow and leave it with the serviette. It screams Welcome and everyone feels special.

Buy practical gifts as the situation needs sober thinking. Cutting back, means more thinking, careful shopping and less money spent. IT CAN BE DONE WITH EASE,
I love writing paper, small notebooks, a CD, DVD, a few magazines, a novel or a box of chocolate. You can give your grand children a subscription for National Geographic. It is inexpensive and they receive a magazine that features the best photography and articles for the whole family. A gift voucher for your parents to eat out once a week is fun, a voucher to a sports club, or massage, or a video at home is a fun gift.
Candles, soaps, towels, face cloths and men's toiletries are great gifts. Gourmet cooks love new gadgets and these are easy to find, Wrap it in a dish cloth and tie it with a bunch of herbs.A basket of herbs , a garden fork and gloves is a welcome gift. Kids love card games, books on magic and new computer games. Mom might like a voucher for the coffee shop around the corner where she could meet her friends, or a bunch of flowers that ariives once a month. Dad might appreciate a new wine opener or a foot stool at the TV chair. A glass that is chilled in the freezer is great for his beer.
foot stool is a good idea and a beer glass that is chilled in the freezer.

You could ask grandpa to chat into a recorder every day and tell the family the story of his and grandmas life. This keeps him busy and gives you a precious record of people you love and times gone by.

People ask how we can help others. Take every new item out of your closet. Wrap it in see through paper and give it to a charity to share with others. Your helper in the home, the service people who pop in to your home, the guy at the garage who helps you, the lady at the dry cleaner, all like a card or packet of cookies given with a smile and thanks.

Thanks for reading my blog. I love the feed back I receive and I plan to give you many healthy, easy ideas in the coming year. I have a booklet ready on TOFU and one for PASSOVER. These can be posted to you.

Have a good Holiday. Let light fill our homes, love fill our hearts and let us care to be gentle to each other. The world around us needs compassion and respect for each other. Love the earth, appreciate what we have and find time to think about tomorrow.
Love and light from the faraway, nearby

Monday, December 22, 2008



Dates are a great fruit and food that has been around for years. There are different types, but they are all a great sugar substitute, have potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins B1 and B2.
They originate from the Persian Gulf from the date palm and are shipped all over the world. They can be used fresh, cooked, baked and in food.

Ways to use them
Dates can be washed and dried and used as a sweetener in cookies, cakes and rice dishes.
I use them in curries and cut them into a stew or slow cooking dish.
I stuff them with cottage cheese and crushed walnuts for cocktails snacks.
I drop two cut up with garlic cloves into a salad dressing.
I fill cored apples with them, and I bake them.
I chop them up and mix them with pomegranate pips in a fresh spinach salad.
I use them in date loaves and muffins.
I add them to lentils with a variety of vegetables.
I use them in fritters with a batter and drop them in hot oil. Dust with sugar and cinnamon.
Dates are great chopped with a few pine kernels in a fruit salad.
I chop them with onions, carrots, red peppers and make a marinade with soya sauce, chopped parsley and a cup of miso broth. Let cubed tofu stand in this for a few hours and bake. Serve with rice .
You can stuff them with almond paste or marzipan. Just drizzle apple juice over them and bake for five minutes in a medium oven. Serve with drinks or on a bed of cous cous as a starter to a meal.

1 PACKET Marie Biscuits. 1 lb finely chopped dates.
1/2 lb butter 1/4 cup crushed nuts. Coconut.

Blend all the ingredients together, except the coconut.
Sprinkle some of the coconut on the bottom of a flat Pyrex dish and press the mixture evenly over this. Sprinkle the rest of the coconut over the mixture and place in the fridge.
Chill and then cut into fingers. This lasts well.

DATE LOAF. You can see this recipe in my article in TEA TIME on the 18th October.2008.

DATE BALLS. This is features in the article SCHOOL BOX of 18th August 2008..

DATE STEW WITH LENTILS. see the article of 1st September 2008. This is a great meal for a winter's night. You can make and freeze it. Just warm up in the oven and make a quick cous cous or rice. Serve with some side dishes of raisins, chutney, cut up bananas, a bowl of desiccated coconut and a great green salad with a dressing of lemon , olive oil and chopped dates, salt and pepper.

2 Cups whole wheat flour.
4 teaspoons baking powder.
1 cup chopped dates.
2 tablespoons butter.
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 egg and add water and milk to equal one cup.

Blend the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter, Add the egg and milk mixture. Mix lightly.
Pat and cut out with a glass, into rounds. Grease a baking dish and bake them in a medium oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve with butter or cream. This is also good to serve with a salad lunch or in the kids school box.

DATES are the ideal gift for a visit to an elderly friend, a hospital visit, for any occasion. Keep one or two wrapped and ready. If you suddenly have guests, just arrange them on a plate with cut up fruit and they make a great natural accompaniment to tea or coffee.

ENJOY DATES, "DATES" AND REMEMBER THEY ARE THE BEST THING IN A PICNIC BOX OR ON A TREK UP THE MOUNTAINS. There is always some one who is thirsty, has a low sugar level, needs a nosh or some sugar……………..give a date.

Have a great Chanukah and place dates into the Doughnuts.
Have Happy Holidays and put dates with cut up fruit on the candy tray.

Love and light, warmth and sweetness to all of you. Rona

Saturday, December 13, 2008

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We all love light and candles, a flame with a flicker of all the colors of warmth, candles to light up the dark, the soft glow of a few candles, a memorial candle….and of course the joy of candles on a Birthday cake. Chanukah, the Festival of Dedication, is the time when we light candles nightly and celebrate with songs, stories and eating foods made in oil. The symbolic part of the Chanukah is the history of a people, the challenges they faced and the dedication they had . to overcome all obstacles and believe in themselves..

In Israel we eat Doughnuts for the week. There are of course rehearsals as the bakers make them ahead of time……it is amazing how many doughnuts they sell before the Chanukah week. And then when all the calories, sugar and jam has been devoured, we vow no more until next year. They are so yummy….


Working with hot oil can be dangerous, so be careful;.
Prepare all the mixtures before you heat the oil.
3. Fill the saucepan , only half way. Test heat of oil. Drop a square of bread into it. If it browns quickly, it is hot enough.
4. Lower the food SLOWLY into the pot.
5.Only do a few at a time . It makes turning easier.
6. Do not have kiddies near the stove.
7.In event of a fire, turn flame off. Cover with lid. Do not pour water on the flames. You can smother the flames with a damp towel. I do not like to be negative, but one needs to be careful.
8. Finally, focus on what you are making, not the phone and the doorbell. If you do have to turn away, switch off the heat and remove the pot to the back of the stove out of danger to kiddies.


These are so easy and take ten minutes to make.
350grams of Self raising flour.
2cups of yogurt.
2 dessertspoons of sugar. I use brown sugar.
1 teaspoon vanilla essence.
A dash of salt.
Mix all well . Use a deep saucepan and let the oil fill it half way. Deep enough for the doughnuts to be submerged. Use a spoon to drop them carefully into the hot oil. Deep fry and have a strainer lined with absorbent paper. The doughnuts can be spooned onto this carefully.. This gets rid of excess oil. Have a teaspoon of jam ready .to inject into the doughnut and roll them into a bowl of sugar powder. Drain again on paper. …You can drizzle chocolate or carob sauce on the doughnut.


These are a change from doughnuts.
Use 2eggs, 2 Tablespoons milk, and a cup of water. Beat all together
Add the following: 1 teaspoon Baking Powder, half a cup of brown sugar, 2 cups flour, pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of vanilla essence.

.Slice 3 peeled Granny Smith apples. Slice thinly and add raisins and pecan nuts. Mix well. Heat the oil and fry the fritter. Simply use a large soup size spoon and drop carefully into the oil. Drain. These take a few minutes. Serve with pureed cooked applesauce, honey and cinnamon sugar. Leave all in little bowls and people can choose their favorite. Some people like it with ice cream or custard.


4 Potatoes
1 tsp baking powder.
Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 chopped medium size onions.
Half a cup of flour
Pinch of ginger or nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste and oil for frying.

Peel and grate the potatoes. Sprinkle with the soda and squeeze out the excess liquid. To avoid discoloring you can add a teaspoon of vinegar. Mix with the other ingredients.
Drop the batter by spoonfuls into deep oil and fry until the pancakes are crisp on the outside. Drain on paper and serve hot with apple sauce . These can also be part of a main meal.


These are fun and easy to serve as a cocktail snack.
3/4 cup corn. 1/4 cup cornmeal. 1/2 cup flour.
1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt.' 1/2 teaspoon curry powder.
1 beaten egg. 1/2 cup chopped onions.
1/2 cup milk. (soya milk for parave)
Mix all the ingredients well and drop by teaspoonfuls into a frying pan of hot oil. Turn once and drain. Serve with a cocktail stick, sliced cucumbers and olives.

If you make ready packaged latkes, drain them well and keep ready to reheat in the oven.
, I often use use the Gremslach mixture , that we use at Passover and serve these with a pineapple sauce or fried mushrooms and onions.

2 eggs.
2 cups water.
2 tablespoon of oil.
Salt to taste.
Matzo meal.
Meat the eggs, add oil and beat well.
Pour in the water and seasoning. Add the matzo meal slowly. It needs to be a loose mixture. Let it stand for two hours. Mix in three tablespoons of crushed walnuts or pecan
nuts. Make balls and press them flat. Fry in hot oil. Drain. Serve with a cocktail stick.

Finally, have a theme for the evening. Let the Menorah be the focus of the table. Use blue, silver and gold for serviettes and yellow flowers. Let the wrappings and cards reflect the theme of Chanukah, candles and lit flames. Kids love chocolates and chocolate sauce to add to the doughnuts. Have a choice of fun edibles for them to enjoy. The money coins made for the festival are a great decoration all over the table. Print the prayer and a few songs for each person. That way everyone feels good to participate. Take photos of each family next to the candles and you can use them next year for an email card. If you look at the photos over the years, they are a great memory of a joyous occasion.

Wishing you fun, light and meaningful togetherness.
Love and lots of light

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

meditation, well being and a healthy body


Last week I had the privilege of attending the Meditation Conference in Eilat. The joy of being with people who are on the same wave length, having similar vision and feel a sense of wellness, is a special pleasure.

I find that we all need time to think and put priorities into proportion.. We have a space within each of us that is unique. Daily lives, full of duties, expectations, time frames, deadlines to meet, burdens of juggling everything daily, is stressful to the body.
Where we live, what we do, the conditions at work, family, friends, the environment around us and what we eat a a vital part of how we feel. You cannot expect a body that has no rest, inadequate sleep and lacks exercise ,is fed on junk and devitalized foods, to function well.

You are responsible for your good health. You cannot blame your Mom, the wife, the café on the corner full of temptations, the latte and cream that spill over in the coffee or the bad shopping due to clever advertising. You are the one person that can change your life.

We are at the start of a New Year . Make resolutions that will be responsible, wise and give you health, smiles and joy each day.. The perfect balance is PHYSICAL, MENTAL and SPIRITUAL harmony. Decide you want, what is good for you and the idea is to prevent the useless and bad ways of life.

There are no short cuts. Operations that curb appetites, cut out parts of the stomach and all the rest………………… still remain as you are. You need to harness your will power, determination and learn to be aware that only you can do what is necessary. .
Look after your body, ensure that you will create a body that is comfortable and can give you years of good living.

Take time to make a list to see how you spend your week. Do you sleep adequately?
Find time to exercise, swim, walk and tone the body a few times a week.
Walk the dog, stroll with the grand children, sit in the shade and dream.
Find time to smile and laugh more. Laugh with people, not at them.
Feel compassion for people who are less lucky than you.
Volunteer to share the tools you have, a language, math skills and reading and writing.
Remember you could change another person's life…………..
Focus on the positive around you and share time with people who feel good about themselves.
Do make time for listening to music, seeing good films and enjoying theatre
Radio and TV have a lot to offer so be selective.
Garden, have fresh flowers and crystals in your home.
Feed the body with good, healthy food.
Eat what is in SEASON and LOCALLY GROWN.
Cut out excess salt, caffeine, condiments, smoked foods and tinned meals.
Go for basics. Eggs, Grains, Rice, Pastas, Cheeses, Good Breads and muffins, Dried fruits and nuts, Honey, Peanut Butter, olive oil, Wheat Germ, Bran, Granola and wholesome foods
Use milk products that are uncomplicated .Milk, Cottage cheese, cream cheese, Buttermilk, Butter and Yogurt. They do not really need a million colors, added delights, choc bits, spicy stuff……………you know what I mean. Just go for the product as it is.

Fruit and Vegetables that are in SEASON are the best. They will be fresh and suit your needs Here it is winter and we have VIT C in oranges, mandarins and grape fruits.
Skip sugary drinks, caffeine all day, condiments and ready sauces.
Stevia is the best replacement for sugar.
Drink adequate water for your individual needs..
Salt can be replaced with Herb ,vegetable salt and natural herbs.
Eat chocolate occasionally and enjoy treats in moderation.
Nobody needs alcohol to have a lift….just play with a child for half an hour and you will feel terrific. We live in world of temptation….grow up and understand what is good for you,
.You are responsible for your well being, health and joy every day.



Monday, December 8, 2008



Cucumbers in season are the most refreshing, tasty, versatile and amazing vegetable. Everyone likes them and you can eat them as they are, with all kinds of salads and create
Stir fry dishes, using them cooked, or pickled in all kinds of ways.

Cucumbers as cosmetics are wonderful cleaners, terrific as a tonic and soothing as pads over tired eyes. I always used grated cucumbers, skins and all, with a little cooled boiled water, in a blender as a face cleaner for teenagers. . It cleanses blocked pores and infected pimples and black heads. Keep it in a bottle in the fridge for a day. When you lie down for a nap, use a thick piece of cucumber skin over the eye area and rest for ten minutes. The eyes will feel cool, relaxed and refreshed. I use grated cucumber mixed with a teaspoon of yeast and a few drops of water, as a face mask. Great and the skin
feels fresh and cleansed.

CUCUMBER, CARROT, TOMATO, KOLRABI AND RED PEPPERS….FUN SALAD Take two of each and wash and cube all into tiny squares with that fancy chopper. You only have to peel the kohlrabi. I put this into a bowl and add two tablespoons of sunflower seeds and a generous dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
It is a filling and a fresh bowl of goodness. You can grate goat or feta cheese on it and crushed pecans and walnuts on the salad.


This is instant and easy. Take one yogurt per person. You need a cucumber, salt, pepper, mint leaves and chopped dill.. Place all in a blender and serve in a soup bowl with mint leaves on top and a few chopped bits of red pepper on it. Great with a slice of toast for a quick meal.


1 Wash and slice the cucumbers the thickness of a cracker. Use as a base for snacks. You can put a slice of boiled egg on it with a sprig of mint and peppers.
2. Cucumber with a slice of yellow cheese, chopped olives and sprinkle crushed walnuts on it.
3 Cucumber slices ,cut up asparagus and a bit of mustard on it with a sprig of dill as décor.
4. Cucumber slices and cottage cheese, crushed walnuts, and slices of pineapple or a sweet fruit like a strawberry or persimmon slices on it.

5 Cucumber slice with chutney, grated apple and coconut spread on top. Decorate with a raisin or date.

6 .Cucumber slices with a sliced melon on it, cheddar cheese and a little mint leaf as décor.

All these ideas are great for weight watchers.

Take cucumbers to work and to school to eat with yogurt and snack with a slice of apple and cheese. It packs easily and lasts well
For a picnic meal, use cucumbers, carrots, dill, parsley and oranges or mandarins. Pack into a dish and add two tablespoons of sunflower seeds when you eat it. You can even make it into a large salad by adding cooked chickpeas, sliced asparagus and some green beans. Use techina as a dressing.

Have a great week and from the" faraway, nearby," Love and light Rona,