My chicken soup recipe

As soon as a member of the household is starting to feel somewhat under the weather, I write “chicken” on my shopping list and make plans to cook up a big pot of chicken soup as soon as possible.

Not only is it a natural Jewish penicillin that will help someone get healthy quicker, it can help you stay healthy and prevent you from getting sick! And, – it tastes pretty good too!

Most Ashkenazi Jewish families will have chicken soup as part of the Seder meal at Pesach, and our family likes it so much that we have it on many winter shabbats too.

My dear husband has not been feeling so well lately, and it was time for the chicken soup treatment. We also have weather forecasts for a winter storm coming up (and maybe, maybe, maybe we’ll get to see snow!!), so I imagine many a Jerusalem household smells like ours right now, – of chicken soup!

And since it seemed like such a relevant thing right now, I decided to share my recipe here on the blog. And it is really easy too! 🙂

CHICKEN SOUP

one whole chicken

four peeled carrots

two onions, cut in quarters

a bunch of celery leaves

some fresh parsley

one ripe tomato

salt and pepper to taste

Ok, so, you need one whole chicken for about three liters of soup. Earlier I used to have the butcher cut the chicken into pieces for me, or attempt to do this myself at home, but then I figured that it really doesn’t matter if it is cut or not as it will be torn into pieces before it is served anyway. So now I only wash it well, and then place it directly into a pot with three liters (12 cups) of water.

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I bring this to a boil, and then remove the white stuff that ends up on top, before adding the rest of the ingredients. My celery leaves were from the freezer this time, so they don’t look so fresh, but it is a really convenient way to keep the leaves when you have used the stems for something else, right? And to make up for it, – look at the parsley! It was picked moments before in my garden! 🙂

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Now this is brought to a boil, and you just leave it there for hours and hours. At least three, but more is just fine, I have even left it overnight at times.

At this point you need to let it cool slightly, enough for you to be able to handle the contents with your hands. You sift the clear soup through a sieve, and remove the parts you want to keep and serve with the soup; – the carrots and the actual chicken-meat. Throw away the bones and the skin. But the tomato, the onion and the greenery you push towards the sieve and only throw away the very dry parts that won’t go through.

Tada, – here is your soup! Now you can slice your carrots and tear up the chicken and add it back to the soup, and it is ready to be served.

In our family, though, chicken soup is not really ready before there are matzo balls in it, – it doesn’t matter if it is not Pesach! The matza balls you can either make from scratch from matzo meal or you can make the instant ones were you just add eggs to a ready mix. I normally go for this last option, but I like to boil them in the actual soup, and then they of course take flavor and nutrients from the soup as they cook.

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I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!

B’teavon and La’Briut!

A thriving land and people.

This morning I had the joy to drive from Jerusalem to Haifa. I loved the views of the terraced hills of Judea, and just the biblical landscape that makes up this country. Now it is clothed in green, and the highways wore the yellow frames of early wild flowers.

I even loved seeing the signs pointing to the various cities I passed on my way, – Modi’in, Ariel, Tel Aviv, Netanya, – saying a blessing over each one as I drove by. I saw busstops full of people, typical for a Sunday morning when everyone is returning to the work week after Shabbat. The roads were full of cars, but the traffic was flowing very well. – I experienced a country which was flourishing in every way! Folks, – the Land of Israel and the People of Israel are thriving!

Coming closer to my destination, I drove with the Carmel mountains on my right and the beautiful Mediterranean on my left, and I opened the window to get a smell of the fresh ocean air. Oh, that is something I miss in Jerusalem!

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In Haifa I met with immigrant after immigrant. Some had been here for a long time, like a man from India who immigrated ten years ago and speaks seven languages fluently! Another one had been here for as little as two months, but was already making himself understood in Hebrew, using the little he had already learnt in ulpan (Hebrew language course).

After the purchase of seven fridges and three washing machines, and after ten thankful faces and happy encounters, work was done. Work that I feel so blessed, thankful and privileged to take part in. The Jewish people settling in the Land of their inheritance is prophecy being fulfilled, and I get to take part in it! Sometimes I almost have to pinch myself to make sure it is not just a dream!

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Before I drove back to Jerusalem, I met up with a dear friend in Haifa at the beach. Beautiful friend and beautiful place,  – lucky me!

Then there was an afternoon of a late lunch and some reading with my precious children, some Mom-taxi-duty and some quick errands.

And this evening I got together with another dear friend here in Jerusalem to celebrate her birthday! We went to one of our favorite places, called Te’enim (hehe ;-)) located just opposite the Old City walls with an absolutely amazing view. This view was made even more magical tonight accompanied by a full moon. 8276_10207252671427034_465459331501432266_n.jpg

So here I am at the end of a long day, feet up, candles lit and yet another cup of tea, – feeling really, really blessed!

Living where my heart is.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day. Blue sky, crisp winter air. I went for a nice run and really enjoyed our wonderful city.

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Afterwards I was still just really happy, going about my day at home, when all of a sudden BOOM, there was this news update on my phone. Terror attack by Jaffa gate.

Not long after came more details. Several innocent people seriously injured. Two terrorists attacked them with knives. I must admit, this knocked me out. I was really crying. I don’t know if it was because it was at a place I very often walk by, or if it was because of the extreme contrast to the state I was in right then or what it was, – but this one was a hard one to handle.

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I contacted my husband and was thankful to get a confirmation that he was nowhere near Jaffa gate. I prayed for the victims who were rushed to the hospitals, I prayed for the doctors and people treating them, I prayed for the families as they were being informed of this tragedy that had hit them all of a sudden. My heart really ached for them!

By the early evening we were informed that two of the ones injured in the attack died of their wounds. Two fathers. Aged 40 and 45. So tragic. My heart is crying for their families.

Today I went to the place where this terror attack took place. And as I was there, I got this feeling of thankfulness to be able to go there. To be able to go to the place where my heart anyway was already.

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One of my closest friends recently left Jerusalem. (Very sad, of course.) She could not handle the situation of living here right now. I remember one of our conversations as this wave of terror started a few months back. She wished she could leave right away, while I was so thankful I did not already have a planned trip and had to go. When the city my heart is connected to is under attack, there is no other place I would rather be than right here, with the people of this city.

I have actually just had a few days now where I have been missing my family in Norway, but today, when I stood there by Jaffa gate, I was just SO THANKFUL that I get to be right here! When my heart is here already, it is something very satisfying with being here in body too!

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Nowhere else have I felt life more celebrated than in Israel. There is a depth and a meaning to life here that my very being resonates really strongly with.

And the fact that we feel the pain when we are hurt, is just natural, – I would not want my heart to get hardened and unable to connect to the pain when it hits us.

In Israel you get a feeling that our lives are worth living! We are living for something bigger than ourselves! We are making a difference! We are building something together! I feel privileged to be able to take my part in that.

I get to live where my heart is, and I am so thankful for that.

Identity and truth revealed

I am still thinking of last week’s Torah Portion. It is one of the most powerful ones, I think, about Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers. Just imagine being there! Wow! What emotion! What depth! Wow!

Think of the thousands of  questions receiving their answer in those two words: – Ani Yosef! – I’m Joseph!

What mysteries being explained! All the puzzle pieces fell into place as those two words were expressed, heard and understood. All of a sudden they saw the truth that had been right there in front of them for a while already!

Imagine the surprise for the brothers! A mixture of fear and relief. Amazement and excitement coupled with  regret, shame and guilt. But I like to think there was most all, joy and love.

Jewish tradition links this story closely to the expectation of the coming of the Messiah and to Him revealing His identity! This is what excites me so much! Just imagine the moment when He will reveal His identity and say: – Ani HaMashiach! -I’m the Messiah!

Think of the millions of questions receiving their answer in those two words! Oh, my heart!!!

All the mysteries being explained, and all the puzzle pieces falling into place! Oh, – being alive on that day! All of our eyes being opened to the truth!!

I am looking forward to that day! And I want to live my life preparing for that day, and doing what I can to make it come sooner!

 

Hanukkah in Jerusalem

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I love Hanukkah! Currently it is my favorite holiday of all. It is so amazingly beautiful, so cozy and at the same time so deep.

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We celebrate the miracle of Light. For eight whole days, and not the least for eight beautiful nights we focus on Light!

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I can now look back on eight days full of sweet moments. So many amazing sights of shimmering oil lamps and flickering flames.

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Songs of darkness being removed as light comes in and takes over, and songs of how each one of us are all little lights!

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I have loved having my children home from school for the days of Hanukkah. This makes for so much more relaxing evenings, and not the least more relaxed mornings! It was a wonderful and much needed break for all.

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And I have LOVED walking the streets of Jerusalem during these cool Hanukkah evenings. Seeing the hanukkiot (Hanukkah-menorah) getting fuller and fuller every night, ever more beautiful and bright.

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And there are so many of them! Last night my dear husband and I went for a long run through Jerusalem, and we decided to count how many hanukkiot we saw on our way. The final count was 773 hanukkiot!!!

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The focus on the theme of dedication has been special for me this year. The name of the holiday, “Hanukkah”, means “Dedication”. The Temple was re-dedicated to God, to be a holy and suitable dwelling place for Him.

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The challenge that I am taking with me as we go towards the end of this year’s Hanukkah, is to dedicate myself even more to be a good dwelling place for God. I want to make more room for Him, to fill myself even more with Him, spend time in His Word and get closer and closer to Him.

 

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