It’s taken me about 2 weeks to write this post. Two weeks plus boxes and grade books and calendars and everything else that gets in the way of me doing what I want to do rather than what I have to do.  But, of course, those are all excuses because if we really and truly want to get something done, we do it, right? So as I sit here trying to write this post, I realize that the reason it’s taken me so long to sit down and write it is because I just didn’t want to do it.

Three weeks ago I attended my first and only BlogHer Food Conference.  I took a day off work, paid $200, begged and cajoled to be allowed to purchase a one day ticket as Shabbat prevented me from attending the whole thing.  I had been looking forward to it for weeks–my first food blogger conference (cough, cough, geek, cough cough)! I envisioned all the fellow bloggers I’d meet (bloggers whose work I had admired for years) and hopefully connect with.  I envisioned the Instgramming that would occur and the freebies I’d get.  It was all very exciting, nerdy, but exciting.

Home from BlogHer, loaded with swag.

Home from BlogHer, loaded with swag.

And then the big day came. I got up VERY early in the morning. I put on my favorite little Anthropologie number, made extremely strong coffee and made the trek to downtown Miami. After spending what felt like hours trying to figure out how to get to the actual conference room, I found myself over caffeinated and seated at the front of the room closest to the stage and the presenters (I’ve always had that slight hint of Tracy Flick), eagerly awaiting the presenters.  Within 45 minutes of the first presentation, after the speaker asked for a show of hands of those in attendance who employed folks to help them run their blog, I realized this was not for me. What followed was about 3 hours of reflection and introspection and, finally, a realization.  The time has come to take a hiatus on the hustle of food blogging.  This realization is probably the exact opposite of what the creators of the BlogHer Food Conference wants for their attendees, but it is what it is.

I sit here writing this, 3 weeks from entering a highly anticipated and emotionally-charged next phase in my life and I’m allowing myself a little forgiveness; a little break.  I used to carve out time for blogging.  I’ve sacrificed entire Sunday afternoons with my family to create, style and photograph a recipe.  Then there were the 2-3 hours (at minimum) of editing and actual writing just to get one post done a week.  One time I actually asked a dear friend to come over with her daughter just so I’d have something for my kiddo to do while I spent hours slaving over a post. I was barely able to spend time with my beloved best friend and her family, who were in town from Chicago for one day only, just because I HAD to get  a post done.  No one was telling me I had to get the post done except for me. I did this to myself.

Just me and this crazy kid.

Just me and this crazy kid.

Over the past year this blog has seen incredible success and I have no shame in patting myself on the back for that. I co-authored a cookbook! I had posts appear on Cosmopolitan.com and recipes and photographs accepted by Tastespotting.com and Foodgawker.com. These are huge accomplishments for a girl who once made potato salad but forgot to boil the potatoes beforehand. I’ve been blessed to be able to connect with highly creative and inspiring people from all walks of life.  It’s been amazing.  But all of that has come at the expense of quality time with the people I love not to mention a certain level of self-imposed stress, exhaustion and anxiety.  And now, as I prepare to spend the next year in a new city, with a new job and raising my daughter without the constant support of my beloved  husband, who will still be in Miami finishing his PhD, I have to just own the fact that this blog will have to take a backseat.  This doesn’t mean that I’m leaving it entirely, but I’m certainly not going to see it as a second or even third job, as I have the past year and a half. I hope you’ll stick around and join me as I chronicle this next phase in my journey. Sometimes I’ll have recipes and sometimes I’ll just have pictures and updates.  We’ll probably be in LA when you hear from me next—living life as the real life Beverly Hillbillies.  Thanks for your support and come back soon.

So long Miami.  Thanks for the memories!

So long Miami. Thanks for the memories!

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kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

Well, it’s happening.  The kid is asking for pink.  She wants pink EVERYTHING.  She had a fit last week because the pants she wore for the day weren’t pink enough.  They were of a fabric that were light pink with dark pink hearts and THAT wasn’t pink enough!?  Good Lord.

kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

The all-in-one-kinda-goodness

 kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

After the blend

If you know me, you’ll know that I try to fight against gender roles.  I fight it so hard that I assigned my bestie, Jackie, the special task of making sure that if anyone wanted to generously give us a gift for the impending birth of our kid, that said gift should not, pretty please, have the words “princess”, “precious”, “cutie” or anything like that on it.  It should also not be pink. It’s not that I have anything against pink.  Heck, I like pink . . . a lot (have you SEEN this website?) it’s just that I don’t want to shove it down her throat, you know? But then she started daycare at 5 months of age and you can’t fight the 8 hours a day that she’s called “princessa” or told by her daycare employees that she’s cute or given purses and tiaras to play with.  You can try to balance that, but you can’t necessarily fight it.  I’m also tired and I’m not sure it’s a fight I’m willing to fight anymore.

Sometimes I feel like Bill Murray’s character in Rushmore.  His character, Herman Blume, is this serious intellectual.  He’s an educator and prides himself on his intellect.  There’s this great scene were he’s picking up his teenage twin sons.  Bill’s in the driver seat and the guys are coming back from wrestling practice, all sweaty and stereotypical ‘jock’-like, and they jump into the back of the car.  At one point Bill’s character kinda gives this roll of the eye like, “How’d my kids end up like this when I’m so that”.  I picture that scene every time Siona gives a “PINK!” request.  It’s not to say that if she should grow up to be the girliest of girly girls, I’d be annoyed.  I just want to give her every opportunity to like whatever you wants to like, as long as what she likes is healthy (like if she’s super into razor blades, I’d have an issue).  I want it to be her choice.

 

kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

In social work school, I had this professor who taught my sex therapy class. She was/is extremely fascinating.  She had these friends who gave birth to a baby.  Both parents were social scientists and they were determined not to put gender roles onto their newborn.  They wanted to give their child and their family the opportunity to love their child and get to know him or her without that added layer of gender-based comments/assumptions.  You know, those instant comments folks say as soon as they see a baby boy, “Oh, he looks so strong”, or “What a prince!” Or for a baby girl, “She’s so beautiful”, or “What a little princess”.  They were so steadfast and determined in their experiment that they wouldn’t let anyone change the baby’s diaper expect for themselves.  Even their own parents didn’t know the gender of the baby.  But this kind of thing isn’t sustainable and by the time the child was 6 months old, they told their family the gender.  That story stuck with me on multiple levels but the thing I could never really stop thinking about is, well, how do you know? You have no basis of comparison, right?  Like, who knows who that child would have become if folks knew the gender.  It all fascinates the hell outta me (#nerdalert). But anyway, long story short, she’ll be 2 in August, my little girl. TWO! She’s quickly becoming her own person. She has likes and dislikes (and don’t think she’s not willing to tell what they are) and it’s blowing my mind.

kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

A kiss of lime.

One of her likes is sugar.  I mean, she is her father’s daughter.  I absolutely try to limit this kid’s sugar intake but, I’m a firm believer in balance so, she’s been known to meal on a cookie or cupcake from time-to-time.  One thing I’m gonna start doing this summer is make her healthy, but delicious homemade popsicles.  Basically a Kalicious on a stick.  But before we get to that uber-healthy thing, I wanted to inaugurate my super cute popsicle holders (they have tails. They’re so cute its bordering obnoxious) with a tasty Shavuot-friendly recipe so I made my favorite cheesecake, complete with butter graham cracker crust, into a convenient popsicle.  The best part about this recipe is that it’s just so stinkin’ easy.

kosher cheesecake popsicles key lime food blog

 

Key Lime Cheesecake Popsicles

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tsp. lime zest
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 standard sized graham crackers
  • 4 tbs melted butter

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients from the cream cheese through the vanilla into a food processor and pulse to combine (until smooth). Clean for later use.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, leaving about 1 inch of the top empty for the crust.
  3. Tap the molds gently on the counter to remove air bubbles.
  4. Add the graham crackers to the food processor and process until only crumbs remain.
  5. While food processor is running, add the melted butter in a slow stream until the mixture resembles wet sand.
  6. Divide the crust evenly between the popsicles, press down gently to compact. Insert popsicle sticks, freeze for at least 8 hours (makes about 4 popsicles).
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(as seen on my Istagram feed like 3 weeks ago -- I finally decided to post).

(as seen on my Istagram feed like 3 weeks ago — I finally decided to post).

It was 2007 and I was living in Jerusalem.  I had moved there for the year so that I could better my Jewish education as well as kinda reassess where my life was going.  I landed in Jerusalem in May of 2007.  As of June that same year, I had met the man I would eventually marry.  I won’t bore you with the story of our meeting again, but I thought I’d share the story of meeting his parents . . . The Fisches.

I met the Fisches about 7 months after I started dating their youngest son.  They only knew the following about me:

1. 6 years older than their son

2. Non-Jewish dad

3. Born and raised in the Reform movement in Atlanta, GA

4. Currently attending yeshiva

5. Name is Whitney (what kind of Jewish name is ‘Whitney’?!).

Oy. Vey. For a traditional family from  Modern Orthodox Teaneck, New Jersey, my stats weren’t super promising.  My only saving grace was that I was in Israel and I was currently enrolled in a yeshiva (Jewish educational institution).  I’m positive they had mental images of this giant, Southern girl coming to steal their sweet Jersey boy away.  I’m positive because that’s what my soon-to-be-husband told me after he finally told his parents about me.  To be fair, it was really his Jewish mama who had the biggest concerns.  And I get it.  As a Jewish mama myself, I get the expectations and envisioning your future for your child.  I’ve already envisioned my daughter as a powerful (yet kind) Executive Director of some sort of human rights NGO so yes, I get it. It’s just harder on the other side, knowing that you are not the person your future spouses’ parents envisioned for their beloved son.

Some of your players

Some of your players

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That being said, the time eventually came for me to meet the parents.  I ended up suggesting one of my favorite cafes in the neighborhood of Talpiot where I was living.  I didn’t have a lot of money to throw around when I was living in Israel so there wasn’t a lot eating out.  However, when I did, I always tried to go to Kahlo.  Kahlo, named for Frida Kahlo, was small, busy, and delicious.  The coffee was strong and the food was traditional Israeli but with a modern twist.  Every time I went I ordered the same thing—–the green shakshuka.  I have enjoyed traditional shakshuka all over Israel but this was the first time (and only time) I saw green shakshuka on the menu.  Once I tried it, I was hooked.

But I digress.  Let’s get back to the story.  The day had come for my meeting of the parents.  I made sure to leave my apartment early enough so that I could walk there and still have 20 minutes to spare.  Parents hate waiting, right? Sadly, they were already there when I arrived (I say ‘sadly’ because my idea of winning them over with my punctuality was subsequently squelched).  This only exacerbated my nervousness about meeting them.  I then hugged them.  BIG. MISTAKE.  I have since learned that you NEVER hug Modern Orthodox Jewish men. NEVER.  But I couldn’t help it! I’m Southern.  I hug! I’m a hugger! Damnit! OK, so there was mistake number 2.  I was really doing a great job (insert eye-roll here).  After an awkward exchange of names and introductions, we were then led to our tiny table in the corner.  I remember making eye-contact with my man on the way to the table and attempting to have a mental conversation. “They hate me, don’t they?”, I tried to say with my eyes. “No, no, you’re doing great!”, is what I was hoping to read from his eyes but instead all I got was, well, nothing. We had to work on our mental conversations.  So there we were, just four peas in a pod.  Well, three peas and me.  And then something awesome happened. My future father-in-law made a joke.  I can’t remember how the subject came up but we were talking about their last name and how to spell it–Fisch–when my future father-in-law looked at me and said, “It’s like I always tell people, you can’t have ‘Fisch’ without the ‘C’. Get it? Fish. Sea.  Genius.  I laughed.  Out loud. A real laugh.  It wasn’t a ‘pleaselikemepleaselikemepleaselikeme’ laugh but a real belly laugh.  And with that silly joke, deep breaths were had, green shakshuka was ordered and 2 years later, I married their son.

Decisions, decisions.

Decisions, decisions. Future-husband and I at the Israeli/Syrian border in 2007.

green 3

 By the way, this is happening (see below).  I signed a lease.  I booked the movers.  We are officially 6 weeks from moving to LA.  Oh. Sh*t.

So this is happening.

The recipe below is my interpretation of the Kahlo recipe.

Kahlo’s Green Shakshuka

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp coconut, saffron or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 leeks, chopped (mostly the white and some green parts)
  • 1 pint of button mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cups of mixed super greens - I used spinach, kale and swiss chard
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 1/4 tbsp sea salt
  • 4 - 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (if you desire)
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro.

Instructions

  1. Pour oil in a large, deep frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Once oil is smoking, throw your chopped onions in the pan and saute until almost translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Place 1/2 your chopped garlic in the pan and saute for an additional minute.
  4. Next, place your chopped mushrooms in the pan and saute for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the spices, the rest of the garlic and the leeks to the pan and saute for an additional 2 - 4 minutes or until leeks are softened.
  6. Add the super greens mixture to the pan and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. At this stage, you are about to add the eggs and you do not want to over cook the greens so please make sure you do not let them cook all the way at this stage.
  7. Next, evenly arrange the greens and the rest of the veggies in the pan so that every inch of the pan is covered. At this stage, some of your greens might still be raw and not thoroughly cooked. That's OK as they will have time to cook while the eggs are cooking.
  8. Make 4 to 5 (depending on how many eggs you are using) divots in the veggie mixture for your eggs to be cracked into. You want to be able to see a little of the bottom of the pan so the egg will cook on a flat surface. Crack 1 egg into each divot (see image above).
  9. Cover and let cook for 3 - 5 minutes or until the whites have thoroughly cooked. Your yolks should be a bit runny (at least that's how we eat them in our family). If you want a fully-cooked yolk, you do run the risk of over cooking your greens.
  10. With about one minute left to cook, add the feta to your mixture and cover again, let sitting over medium heat until melted.
  11. Add the cilantro (if desired) just before serving.
  12. I recommend serving with delicious crusty bread for yolk-sopping.
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