Friday, June 18, 2010

Outsmarting telecomm

To all who do not know yet - Uri, Or and I are coming to Israel!!!

Are we returning home and ending our American adventure or is this just a visit?

The frustrating answer is that we don't know. While in Israel I'll look for a job both in Israel and in the US and we'll see what happens.
The one question that we're avoiding is what will happen when (note: not if) companies want me to come in to interview. We'll deal with that when we have too.
Meanwhile, I was worried about how companies could reach me via phone to my cellphone in Israel. The key word here being WAS. Here is what I did:
Preliminary steps:
(a) Get a Google voice account
(b) Set up a Jajah account
Then, to out-smart international calling:
(1) Enter your Google voice number as one of your phone numbers in Jajah.
(2) Find the Jajah Direct number of the international number you want people to reach you at.
(3) Go to your Google voice account and enter the number you got in step 2
(4) This step is vital: In the "call" tab in you Google voice account turn call screening off and select to display your Google voice number in your incoming caller ID.

Voila! Now when someone calls your Google voice number, Google voice calls your Jajah direct number and Jajah connects the caller to your international cell phone!

After I got it to work, I was so proud of myself! I felt I had to let someone at Google know, but then I thought that if I did that, they would somehow find a way to block it. So, if anyone that works at Google is reading this, SHHH!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Internet ponderings

Luck would have it that right when I log in to write a new post about web related stuff, Google comes out with its new Blogger template design tool and let's me change how Muchentuchen looks. The tool, btw, is really cool: It gives the user a whole bunch of options and is very easy to use. So what do you think?

Another side note: I wonder how many of the posts I've written over the last two years have started with "so" or "anyway". I'm sitting here wanting to get to the point of what I wanted to share, and those are the only two ways I can think of starting. Anyway... :)

Post graduation, I've been re thinking my aversion to facebook. Yes, the apps that were so prevalent when facebook got to Israel (hot potatoes, IQ quizzes etc) are still annoying, but with your friends all around the world, it is such an easy way to "keep in touch". SO now I make a point to log on to facebook at least once a day to see what's what.
The quotation marks in the paragraph above are because that now that I've started using facebook again, I've noticed that more than it allows you to stay in touch with people, it allows you to keep tabs on them. I see what's going on with my friends/ acquaintances, but I don't always comment about whatever it is they are doing, and when I do, those friends don't always reply. Bottom line is that rarely can I say that I'm engaged in a conversation with my friends in a conversation about their lives.
Another facebook inspired thought is on the dilution facebook has caused to the greeting "happy birthday". It used to be that you had to make an effort to remember your friends' birth-dates and then make another effort to connect with them on that day to with them a happy birthday. Now via facebook that whole process has become much easier, so much so that people send birthday greeting to people that they only marginally know. As someone who has always believed that birthdays should be celebrated (because everyone deserves a special day of their own and not everyone can have a notional holiday) I'm a bit aggravated by this whole thing, and yet a few days ago I too sent a Happy Birthday message to someone who I might of only talked to twice at most in my two years at JGSM.

I've also been giving a lot of thought lately to my internet personality, that is - if someone were to Google search me and only see me as I put myself out there on the web (via LinkedIn, facebook, this blog, etc.) what would they think of me? More importantly, if that person was a recruiter or a hiring manager at a company I want to work for, would they perceive me as the insightful marketer/ strategic thinker I think I am.
To that end, one of the things I'm doing is maintaining my LinkIn profile and being active in the groups I'm in there. This requires me to stay even more informed with what is going on in the industries I'm interested in. So my Google-Reader is working overtime (and here's an interesting piece about why sharing matters), and I am spending a whole lot of time just on reading what other people are saying about stuff. The problem is that all that staying informed takes up so much time, that I don't find the time to do things like write here!

What to do? What to do?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back and pie

Without real ability to take maternity from school, and since I initially didn’t get around to posting updates, I decided to take an official maternity leave from blogging.
Now Or is 3.5 months old, so I guess it’s time.

What has been happening with our lives since my last post? Well... not much:
• We did a ton of cooking and baking. Highlights include 2 Cook’s illustrated recipes: tomato pesto and super chewy brownies (recipes to come) and Uri’s become a pro at cooking fish in a variety of ways.
• I finished my MBA. That is, I’m done with all my classes/ assignments/ finals. I still have two tiny things left… commencement (i.e. graduation ceremony) and finding a job (minor detail).
• And, of course, we had the cutest baby in the world!
Today is special not just because of this come-back post. It’s also Shavuot, which means it’s the anniversary of Uri and I first meeting. More precisely – it’s our 10 year anniversary. We aren’t doing much in the way of celebrating (we’re waiting for my parents to come next week and babysit, and then we’ll do something romantic, like go to an action flick with a bunch of friends). But we are going to try to have a nice dinner in the shape of a Quiche Lorraine with a nice salad on the side. The recipe is from a book I got last year called “Ratio”, about the ratios of baking. It includes 2 ratios: The first for the crust and the second for the custard that goes inside.
Crust - 3 parts flour: 2 parts fat: 1 part water
This is fairly simple:
1. In a mixer you mix 300 gr (or 12 oz) flour a pinch of salt and some sugar and any other spices you want to flavor your crust – I used half regular flour and half whole wheat.
2. Pulse in 200 gr (8 oz = 2 sticks) of cold butter cut into cubes.
3. Pulse in liquid – start with a couple of table spoons and add as needed until a dough is formed. This could be substituted wholly or partly with 1 egg or yogurt/ buttermilk/ sour cream
4. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Then roll the dough out, fit inside your tart/ pie pan and stick in the freezer. Pre-bake (aka “blind bake” for 10-12 minutes in a 180C (375F) oven . Take out and cool

Custard - 2 part liquid: 1 part egg
1. Sauté whatever filling you want in the quiche – in my case, a fried some bacon, and used part of the fat from the bacon to sauté 3 large leeks. I also toasted some pecans in the oven. Let everything cool.
2. With a hand blender blend 1 cup cream, 2 cups milk and 6 eggs.
3. Place the filling into the pre-baked crust, pour the custard mixture in. The book suggests doing this in two stages, ie – filling, custard, filling custard reblending the custard in-between. I doubt this actually makes a difference.
4. Bake at 170C (325F) for 1 hour (the book says it can take up to 2 hours) until the custard almost sets, which means it’s still wiggly in the center of the quiche.

After the fact –Or chose this night to have a hard time falling asleep and it took us about an hour to put her to bed. By that time we weren’t really in the mood for calmly sitting down for a meal … the quiche was still good… but the celebration not so much.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No news is good news

To start with the things you’re probably wondering about:
1. I am still pregnant, and have yet to go into labor.
2. My mom is here with us. She is doing well, and we are all doing fine, mostly looking at my stomach and trying to guilt the baby into coming out.
3. Given (2) and the fact that temperatures here have been ranging from -2C to -21C, the house has never been cleaner.
On to less frustrating things – I think I found my perfect carrot cake recipe. Despite the fact that I love carrot cake, and that I’ve made plenty of carrot cakes from plenty of recipes, until now I didn’t find a recipe that made me think I can stop searching for a new one. Some of them were really good – but still… But this one… I really don’t think I have a reason to try another recipe again (note: I didn’t right “ever again”, because that would be way to final).
The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking from my home to yours”. The original is a three layer cake with cream cheese frosting. With only 2 cake pans and no really need to consume large amounts of sweetened cream cheese, I made my cake in a rectangular Pyrex pan and planned to put just a bit of frosting, but once the cake was done and I tasted a little bit, I decided that the frosting is purely optional. Oh… one last thing, because of (2) above I changed the spices in the recipe just a bit. The original had 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and nothing else, my version you’ll find below.
So here it is – the recipe:
My perfect carrot cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking power
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardomon
½ teaspoon ground English pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ teaspoons salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 US sized carrots)
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup moist raisins
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 325F
2. Wisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices
3. In a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the chunky ingredients.
4. Pour the batter into a large pan and bake for 50 minutes, rotating the pan at the half way point. The cake is ready when a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bon Appetit

Finally, the last of 3… I know that last time I promised shots of the process, and used that as an excuse to why I wasn't posting the Danish recipe. I was all set up to take those pictures too. But then I realized that I had actually already done the complicated part of the recipe (not really complicated, more complicated to explain). Not that it really matters; you can see the entire thing online…
Wait, let me start at the beginning. I started watching “Baking with Julia” on PBS on Saturday mornings. Once of the PBS channels we have has a great run of cooking shows on the weekend. Julia Child is just one of many. When I saw it the first time, it was more because it amused me to be watching a Julia Child show. As I watched I imagined my mom watching it when it originally aired in the 80s.
Last week there was a fantastic show about Danish pastries (you can see it here). The woman who was baking with Julia, Beatrice Ojakangas, looked super-professional, a true baker (for example, one tell-tale sign of a baker vs. a cook is that a baker knows that when you need to pulse something is a mixer, it means that you need to have it on in short bursts, and not just let it go on the “pulse” setting for a minute. The latter is something I saw Emril do...).
Back to the Danish – there were two very impressive things that convinced me to go ahead and try the recipe. The first is that the dough looked really manageable, and didn’t require any folding of butter anywhere. The second, even more impressive is that woman made pastry cream in the microwave!
So I went ahead and made it. It was Uri’s birthday morning breakfast. I think he’s very happy I gave it a try.
So without further ado, here is the recipe:

Danish Pastry Dough
¼ cup warm water
1 pack (1/4 oz) active yeast
½ cup milk
1 large egg
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp salt

2.5 cups flour
2 sticks (226 grams) butter

1. Wisk water, yeast, milk, egg, sugar and salt in a medium sized bowl
2. In a food processor fitted with a steal blade, pulse flour and butter 8-10 times. Pieces of butter should be a bit bigger than they would be if you were making shortbread
3. Gently fold flour and butter into liquid mixture to make a rough dough. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8-24 hours.
4. Dust work surface with flour, and roll out the dough, fold sides inward to make a rectangle of fairly consistent moistness (initially outside might be drier than center).
5. Roll dough out to a long rectangle. Fold in and envelop fold (left 1/3 to center, and then right 1/3 on top). Roll out lengthwise, and fold again. Repeat another 2 times, for a total of 3 rolls and folds. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
6. Roll out again , cut in to equal squares, fill and let sit for 30 minutes. Brush with egg white and bake in an oven, preheated to 400 F about 10 minutes

Super easy microwave Crème Patisser
1 cup cream/ half & half/ milk*
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a microwave safe bowl, whisk cream, cornstarch and sugar
2. Microwave for a total of 3 minutes, stopping to re-whisk every minute. The first 2 minutes the mixture will still be very liquid, but after the third it will become thick and creamy.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolk and vanilla. Pour 3-4 tbsp of the cream mixture into the egg, stirring vigorously and bringing the temperature of the egg mixture up (this is called tempering). Fold all of egg mixture to the rest of the cream mixture.
*If you use milk, up the cornstarch to 2 tablespoons, and you might need to also add an additional minute in the microwave.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I’ve been putting off posting the last of my 3 promised baking posts because in a few days I’ll be making another batch and I plan to try to take some pictures of the process (since a picture is worth a thousand words and all). In the meantime, nothing too exciting is going on, but still we’ve had some post-worthy happenings (sort of).

Still on the food front – Uri’s been making lots of yummy stuff.

For example – he made some super-delicious risotto with green beans and edamame and equally good panko encrusted mahi-mahi fillet. It was our first time eating/ making this fish, but since it was really good and not very expensive, I think it won’t be our last. As for the risotto, I think I’ve never eaten risotto as good as Uri’s in any restaurant I’ve been in.

On the baby front – We’ve now accumulated lots and lots of baby stuff (baby still not here).
The latest is our super cool stroller (picture to right).

Inspired by the stroller, a brand called B.O.B Revolution, we decided to call the super huge teddy bear you see in the stroller Bob.
Bob has been modeling baby stuff for us for a while. Here he is trying out the car seat:

The only unfortunate thing about Bob is that because he is so big, a lot of the baby stuff doesn’t fit him – but it’s ok, he has friends who help him. Like here, where Tiger is helping him model the cute Bundle Me hat that we got to keep the baby’s head warm when we take her outside:

Friday, January 15, 2010

The bread maker in our house

Recently the question of “what counts as food” has been on our minds. It started with an interview Michael Pollan gave on The Daily Show. Pollan is the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma as well as In Defense of Food and Food Rules. His basic thesis is that most of what Americans eat isn’t real food, but actually food like substance, mostly corn based and with an unreasonable shelf life. As such, he promotes people moving away from mass produced foods to sustainably grown produce and meat. All this isn’t new, but it just brought the topic top of mind again.
It was top of mind for Uri when he was looking at for bread crumbs. To his surprise, all the breadcrumbs he found included corn syrup as one of the top 3 products. With that, I decided to start making bread from scratch – something I’ve been promising myself for a while now.
To ease myself into the whole thing, I decided to start with the famed “No Knead Bread”, or more precisely, Cook’s Illustrated version of it – “Almost No-Knead Bread”.
One final anecdote before the full recipe. The bread itself is baked in a Dutch oven (ie a large heavy pot with a lid). It calls for pre-heating the pot in the oven at 500 F. Before doing so, the thought crossed my mind – will this China made plastic handle survive 500 degrees Fahrenheit? Luckily, Uri stepped into the kitchen at that moment – so I asked him, and he assured me that it will.
20 minutes into the preheat process the smell of burned plastic filled the house, followed by a "pop” sound. So, baker beware - take the knob off before starting!

Almost no-knead bread
Makes 1 large round loaf. Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.