Caffeinated musings on my place within Judaism, feminism and community. Pontification on political and social topics. Definitely not decaf.

12 February 2006

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

The best laid plans ... I figured I'd manage to work full time, go to grad school, manage the family, participate in the community and blog. Ha.

But, in the past few weeks/months, I may have resolved issues #6 and #8.

There is no work-life balance regardless of "Working Mother" or "Ms." magazine, Hollywood or my wishful thinking. It's a myth.

I've tried. Honestly, I have. But something's gotta give. I want to make gourmet meals every night. I never want to see laundry spilling out of the baskets. I want the kids to eat and love everything I pack for school lunches. I want my shirts to look freshly pressed at 6:30 pm. I want the car to be in the shop yet still have a car to drive. I want to be prepared for the meeting, have my school papers done days before deadlines and still have a brain cell left to have a conversation with the spouse at least once a week.

But no. It's like that Monty Python skit: And now for something completely different.

Dinner is kosher mac and cheese from a box or tuna melts or tortillas with beans and cheese. Notice a theme?

Laundry is done on Sunday...for hours at a time. You run out of your favorite socks? Sorry Charlie.

School lunches, unless they consist of refined sugars and processed chemicals, often come back uneaten. I figure they won't starve so it's one less thing to stress about.

Three words: wash-and-wear. Alternatively, just wear black.

The car is still dented. The check from the insurance company is sitting right next to me - uncashed. Time to get it together. Oh right, there is no time.

Work and school = JIT (just in time)

Conversation with the spouse, purely optional.

Oh, and then out of the blue I had to have surgery and mandatory bed rest for a week. Sure, I have the time for that.

Actually, I'm doing a much better job of being on bed rest than I did when I was pregnant with child #2. That time the doctor said lie in bed, rest, keep your feet up. I did. Some of the time. I also got busted by the spouse when he caught me lugging laundry baskets from the second floor to the basement or when he saw me cooking dinner. Apparently those activities don't fall in the realm of bed rest.
This time I was in enough pain as to actually listen to the spouse and doctor. At least on the upside I can finally sit down and write a semi-coherent thought ... well, now that the anaesthesia has mostly worn off. And, since I'm basically immobile, I'm doing a reasonable job with issue #2. The spouse is cooking, doing laundry and managing the house. OK, so my folks are also here. But without me stage managing, he's taking a much more participatory role, and by default, we're being more egalitarian. Let's see how long it lasts.

As to resolving issue #8, here's the deal. Step 1: buy really good coffee ground for a #3. It's espresso grind. Keep small amounts of coffee in the container (paper sealing bag not a jar or zip-type bag) on the counter. Putting ground coffee or whole beans in the refrigerator or freezer kills the flavor. Step 2: make the espresso. Step 3: OK, here's the problem part. Our inexpensive little machine doesn't do milk very well. So, rather than continuing to make Americanos (using the half-n-half was detrimental to my waist), I now zap 1 cup 1% milk in the microwave. I pour the espresso and hot milk into the insulated mug, add boiling water and voila...I've saved $2.50. So it's not as good as some espresso stands, at least my spouse and my retirement fund are happy.

Now if only I could contemplate resolving the rest of my "issues."

In thinking about Conservative Judaism (issue #1), I have come to several conclusions.

1. I do not want to be a multiple shul family at this point. My spouse and kids like our synagogue. And, it is filled with tremendously caring people. Our mitzvah corps is delivering meals each night for the entire time I'm on bed rest. People have dropped off snacks and books. They've offered to take the kids on play dates and have called and stopped by to chat. As one who usually is on the giving side of the equation, it's humbling and indescribably special to be a recipient of this kindness. But, aside from our tremendous community, I still do have a problem with the shul. That's separate, I guess. So, I continue to go to the shul, hang out in the foyer to chat rather than daven, bring a book, or volunteer to be with the kids to keep them out of trouble. Not optimal but going somewhere without the family doesn't satisfy either.

2. I'm becoming more and more convinced that Conservative Judaism just won't be a viable alternative for the long haul. Sure, there will always be intellectually minded individuals who will sustain it, but they're few and far between. Most Conservative shuls I've attended are non-participatory. A cantor and/or rabbi run the show. A few learned people participate and most of the others show up for the High Holidays or for a bar/bat mitzvah/party. Go to a weekday morning minyan and it's basically a few older men trying to keep the place alive. Of course there are exceptions: the UJ and JTS among them. But that's the ivory tower. What about the real world? Rabbi Wolpe recently wrote about
covenetal Judaism. Yes, he may be a front runner for the Chancellorship at JTS. Yes, this may be nice marketing. But, is there really any there there? Will changing a name truly change and redefine a movement? I'm not sure rebranding will reinvigornate the laity. There may just be too many obstacles to overcome. And then I read Rabbi Neil Gillman's comments. If Conservative Judaism is no longer halachic (at least he admits to it), where does that leave those of us who thought this is where they belonged. UTJ may be looking better and better but there still aren't shuls in this area that fall under that aegis.

So, that gets me exactly...nowhere.

I'll leave you with this thought: while it may not cure all ills, chocolate sure helps. Here's my adaptation of Nigella Lawson's Choco Hoto Pots. And, easy enough this can be a quick week-night dinner...uh, I mean dessert.

Serves 4

  • Spray/butter for ramekins
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick (4 oz) butter (unsalted is best. If you only cook with margarine, don't bother even making this...unless you want it to be parve)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar (although I've used regular too)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Here's where I get creative.
  • I might add 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper to make it "Mexican."
  • Or I might add 1 tablespoon brandy and 1/2 c dried cherries or dried diced apricots.
  • Or I might add 1/2 cup double dark chocolate chips (Guittard makes wicked ones)
  • Or 1/2 cup mint chocolate chips
  • Or 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • Or 1/2 cup diced candied ginger
  • Or 1/2 cup diced candied orange peel and 1 tablespoon orange liqueur.

    You get the picture.

    Preheat oven to 400F. Butter (I use spray) four 2/3 cup ramekins (little pyrex custard cups) and set aside.

    Melt butter and semisweet chocolate chips in a microwave then let cool.

    In a separate mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar and flour. Add the cooled butter-chocolate mixture and blend. Fold in the other chips or ingredients of your choice.

    Spoon into the prepared custard cups. Place on a baking sheet and cook until the tops are cracked, the tops are shiny and the little cakes are hot and gooey. This should take about 20 minutes.

    Serve hot with whipped cream or ice cream (dulce de leche or vanilla with a drizzle of hot fudge or dulce de leche sauce is a nice touch if you don't mind gilding the lily).


Blogger persephone said...

Hey Latte, just wondering how you're feeling! Sorry I haven't checked in on you sooner...



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