a mensch on a bench






-VS-         elf on the shelf


This is the first year I have ever heard of the Mensch on The Bench or the Elf on The Shelf. I didn’t give either a second thought until just now reading Rabbi Jill Crimmings’ wonderful article at

I am a person who loves decorations and have always felt the empty hole of a lack of a Chanukah symbol. But now I see that perhaps we are better off without it. I, for one, would not like to see our kids think that they get gifts for anything they did that was good or bad. I always saw getting Chanukah presents as payment for the kids of past times finding the oil that led to the miracle of Chanukah. That it was to celebrate the miracle that kids got Chanukah presents. To have someone or something sit in judgment of Jewish kids at Chanukah time leaves me cold. Now, if someone could come up with something like a Macabee freedom something or other as a symbol, that would be truly wonderful. If it could be colorful that would be even more wonderful. I don’t know, perhaps adopt a whale because of the whale blubber…I don’t know. And why isn’t there a Judith Macabee doll? She was a part of the miracle after all. Why can’t we come up with our own unique cookie? Why does everything have to be blue and white? I think we can adopt more color into our celebration. I am also appalled at the lack of Jewish crafts for our holidays, the lack of poetry and cannot understand why there are no adult Chanukah stories. Why don’t Jewish composers and singers such as Neil Diamond and Bob Dylan write songs and or sing songs for the Jewish holidays? Ok, yes, we have Adam Sandler and his Chanukah Song and all its versions. Truthfully, that just doesn’t cut it for me. I applaud The Bare Naked Ladies for their efforts on our behalf. Are all of you Jewish entertainers ashamed of your Jewishness? I have always admired Mandy Patinkin for embracing Judaism and making Jewish albums. We need more of it. We need more up-to-date Jewish music and art literature. I seem to read more Jewish novels from writers hailing from the British Isles than from the US. Why is that? Am I missing something?

Perhaps we need to create a niche for this type of thing? Is it the lack of a market? Is it the lack of money in the market? How do we solve this problem? Or is it just me? What do all of you think. What do you feel is lacking in the Jewish arts?

Speaking of British-Jewish novels, I am now reading “The Marrying of Chani Kaufman” by Eve Harris. This is Ms. Harris’ debut novel and came out in 2013. It is a wonderful book with a very real storyline. Chani is standing under the chupah (the Jewish wedding canopy) with her groom, Baruch. They are very young (Chani is just 19 years old) ultra religious people who both come from ultra religious families. They have only met four times prior to their wedding. They are both innocent in the ways of the opposite sex and in many ways the world around them. They are scared. What is the wedding night going to be like? Will I have more freedom to be me in our marriage than I do under my parents’ roof? Will he/she love me? Do I love him/her? What will we talk about? How many children will we have? To complicate things even more, they are to set out for Israel where Baruch will study to become a Rabbi. What will this move mean? These are some of many things this couple is wondering about, just like many couples, the difference being more poignant due to the fact that they don’t know one another. While they are contemplating their lives, their Rabbi and his wife are contemplating their lives and their marriage. Their marriage seems to be falling apart. Their beginnings were so different from Chani and Baruch’s. The Rabbi and his Rabbitzin (Rabbi’s wife) met and fell in love in Israel. The Rabbitzin had a secular upbringing and life prior to marrying the Rabbi. She was more worldly than either Chani or Baruch, and after many years of marriage and motherhood, she is questioning her life as a wife, mother and member of the Orthodox Jewish community of London. I am loving this book. It is well written and the characters are wonderful. I look forward to more books by Ms. Harris.

I got some writing done on my book after a week off. I now have 8 ¼ pages completed. I introduced one of the antagonists. I’m not sure if I really like introducing her so early. It was not my original plan. And I’m not sure how it will play off in this chapter, but we shall see. I know how I want to color this character. It is much clearer in my mind than the other characters. But, I am not sure why. I am having the most trouble seeing the male protagonist and the male antagonist clearly. I need to work on them a lot more.

I had to interupt this post to join my mother for a day of girly fun. We went to have manicures and pedicures and lunch, then shopping at Sam’s for prescriptions and printer ink. Then I dropped her off, picked up Paul and we took Chanukah-themed pasta, meatballs and meat sauce that Paul worked all day making over to mom’s apartment and had dinner with her. It’s almost 10 p.m. And I have so much to do. I apologize for having not posted this sooner and cutting this post short. I am not sure if I will be able to post tomorrow. If I can, it will be late too. We have last minutes errands to run tomorrow.

Here’s today’s recipe: This is in honor of my hubby who is a Brooklyn boy. He has had many egg creams in his life and claims to have come up with the idea of adding an egg to it! So, my darling, here’s to you!


Made with Brooklyn Boys & Girls in mind.

Made with Brooklyn Boys & Girls in mind.



Home Cookin Chapter: CAKES 2013-2014



ACTIVE TIME: 50 mins.

TOTAL TIME: 1 hr. 20 mins.

YIELD: 6 cupcakes



1/4 cup UNSWEETENED Cocoa Powder

1/4 cup Chocolate Syrup

2/3 cup All-Purpose Flour

1/3 cup Granulated Sugar

1/4 tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/4 cup Vegetable Oil


2 tbsps. Whole Milk

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract


1 oz. MILK Chocolate


1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 cups Confectioners’ Sugar

1/4 cup Whole Milk

2 tbsps. UNSWEETENED Cocoa Powder

2 pinches of Salt

2 tbsps. Malted Milk Powder

Mini Pretzel Rods; FOR TOPPING


“Try this fun frosting trick: Put two different kinds of frosting

in separate disposable pastry bags, then position both bags in a

larger pastry bag fitted with a star tip. When you pipe, the

frosting will come out swirled!”


1. Make the cupcakes:



Whisk the cocoa powder with 1/3 cup HOT WATER i a MEDIUM bowl

UNTIL dissolved. Whisk in the chocolate syrup UNTIL smooth; LET


In a LARGE bowl, whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda,

baking powder and salt.

2. Whisk the vegetable oil, egg, milk and vanilla extract into

the cocoa mixture UNTIL smooth, then fold into the flour mixture

UNTIL JUST COMBINED. Divide among the PREPARED muffin cups. Bake

UNTIL a toothpick comes out clean, 18-20 mins. LET COOL FOR 10

MIS. IN THE PAN, then REMOVE to a rack to cool completely.


Chop the chocolate AND place in a MICROWAVE-SAFE BOWL; MISCROWAVE

ON 70% POWER in 30-second intervals; STIRRING UNTIL MELTED. LET

COOL SLIGHTLY. Cut the butter into pieces, beat the butter,

vanilla extract and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl with a mixer on

MEDIUM-HIGH speed UNTIL fluffy. Add 3 tbsps. milk and beat UNTIL

smooth, 3 mins. REMOVE HALF OF THE FROSTING to a separate bowl,

add the cocoa powder, melted chocolate and a pinch of salt and

beat until FLUFFY, 2 mins. Mix the remaining 1 tbsp. milk and the

malted milk powder in a cup, then add to the plain frosting; add a

pinch of salt AND beat until fluffy, about 2 mins. IF THE



4. Put the 2 frosting in SEPARATE PASTRY BAGS and snip off the

tops (or put in separate zip-top bags ad snip off a corner of


BAG FITTED WITH A LARGE STAR TIP. Pipe the frosting onto the

cupcakes in a spiral motion to create a swirl. Put a mini-pretzel

rod upright into the top of the swirl so it stands securely to

look like a straw (you want it a bit tilted but not too tilted).

SOURCE: food network magazine’s “Sweet, Our Best Cupcakes,

Cookies, Candy and More” cookbook, pg. 25.

Servings: 0

Exported from Home Cookin 8.59 (


NOTE:  This post was written while I was still without a connection to the internet.





I am sorry that I have not posted but I have been having trouble connecting to the internet. For some reason my wireless connection died, so I am waiting for a new unit to arrive and it won’t arrive till tomorrow or Tuesday. So, I stopped writing posts, but today decided that was just plain silly. I could still use my computer for some things, and one of those things is word processing. So, here I am.

I took my the opportunity of my “off-time” to work on my novel, cleaned it up a bit, still only have six pages written. I let my hubby read what I have done. This is the first time he’s seen it. He said it was too descriptive and he almost fell asleep. I was afraid of that. That is why I gave it to him to read. So I reworked it and I think it is much better now. I changed the opening sentence and am much happier with it. No, that was not his suggestion. It was something I’d been thinking about. Now I am taking the day off from writing that book. It’s given me a headache.

I started yet another something…not sure what it is going to be, but I think Flash Fiction. However, truthfully, I have no idea what that means, so it may be a short story, a novel or a trilogy. Also, I’m not quite sure if it is going to be fantasy for adults or children. But I love how it is flowing. I have one page written for that. I let hubby read that to. I have one descriptive paragraph in the story about a city that may or may not exist. Hubby thought that it was too like Brigadoon. He found it to be a turn-off. Would you agree? What would be wrong with a Brigadoonish story? I hadn’t envisoned such a story, truthfully, I just wanted to come up with a fairy-tale city that may or may not be the final destination for my characters. I like the dialogue between the two main characters and I like how the story begins. I’m just going to let it flow and see where it takes me.

This morning I told my sister that I was writing a book. She informed me she is too, although her book will be non-fiction. She told me her brother-in-law and his ex-wife have each written excellent books and have contacts in the publishing world, but have not been able to get their books published. I was disheartened by this news. I know her brother-in-law is a very talented man and if he can’t get published, how can there be hope for me? Then I thought well, there are hundreds of authors who get published, so who knows, maybe I will be one of the lucky ones. But first, I have to write that book!

I have to talk about not being connected to the internet though. It is driving me crazy. I can’t do any research because I’d not connected. I can’t do my thing on Pinterest and Facebook which is my relaxation. I can’t print out the holiday cards I worked hard on creating because the stupid program I use requires you to be on the internet to work with it. I can’t read “Auntie Mame” because that is on’s Kindle app. And for some unknown reason I can’t download the books onto my harddrive, which I used to be able to, so I need to be connected to read all my books, which also means I cannot read my “how to write” books. If that isn’t enough, I can’t play my games or download new games to play. Can you feel my frustration?

Luckily, I just got a shipment of paperbacks that I ordered from Amazon, so I began reading Barbara Ross’ book, “Boiled Over,” which is the second book in her Maine Clambake series. I loved her first book, “Clammed Up,” so much, that I had to get the second book when I found out it was out. I just finished reading “Boiled Over.” Barbara did not disappoint me at all. In fact, I found this book even better. It seems to me that there are more plot twists in this book than in “Clammed Up.” Barbara Ross’ characters are well drawn and the picture she paints of Busman’s Harbor makes you want to pack up and drive there. Of course, I wouldn’t want to go till spring or summertime, because they, like us here in Rochester, get snow in the fall and winter. I’d rather go to Myrtle Beach for the fall and winter months. If only I could. Anyhow, I do recommend Barabara’s books. They are great cozy mysteries.

Now I am going to begin reading a book called “The UnHaggadah: How To Keep The Conversation & Wine Flowing At Your Seder” by Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg. To me it is never to early to begin thinking about Passover. The holiday fascinates me and I strive to find ways to make the seders more interesting. But, it is too early for me to start writing about that holiday. I skimmed through the book last night and it looked fascinating. I think it may turn out to be the most stimulating book of Seder how-tos that I have read. I collect them. Well, actually, I buy them for my husband to collect them, but it turns out that I’m the one who actually reads the books and then tells him what I found interesting that we should incorporate. More about that in March or April.

I thought I would write another Chanukah poem today for your enjoyment:





by Marilyn Sultar


Latkes I could eat for 8 days straight,

If only I wasn’t afraid of what they would do to me.

I can eat a dozen at one sitting, couldn’t you?

I find it hard to stop at only three.


The taste, the texture, the smell too,

Like a magnet draw me to them.

Don’t they do that to you?


I know that Chanukah is supposed to celebrate the

miracle of the oil and freedom too,

But it’s the taste of the latkes that I celebrate.

How about you?



In honor of my poem and my love of latkes, here is another recipe for them:





Home Cookin Chapter: LATKES & KUGELS

Latkes: Cheese, Judith’s #1 – Dairy


3 Eggs; well beaten

1 c Milk

1 c Dry Pot Cheese

1 c Flour

1 ts Baking Powder

1/2 ts Salt


To the beaten eggs, add milk and cheese. Sift the dry

ingredients together and stir into the eggs. Blend to

smoothness. Drop by spoonfuls into hot fat in the frying pan.

Cook to delicate brown on both sides. Serve with syrup or jam.

I have not tried this recipe. It comes from “The Jewish

Festival Cookbook” by Fannie Engle and Gertrude Blair.

Note: The Judith referred to in the recipe title is Judith

Maccabee, the courageous daughter of the Judah Maccabee. It is in her

honor that we eat dairy products during chanukah.

Servings: 0

Exported from Home Cookin 8.59 (




Quill and Paper clip art – unknown source

Latke clip art – by Gail Copple got from

2nd Latke clip art – source unknown