Subway Games

If I said I spent my childhood in the car, I’d be lying. But it sometimes felt that way. My parents took us on road trips in the silver Renault, or we’d drive around town in the yellow station wagon. If we didn’t have school Bubby and Zayde would buckle us into their car and we’d go off to the museums. Or, if we were spending the day with my grandmother, we’d travel in the Camry to the Waterworks or the pool. Whatever the destination, we spent plenty of time in the car on the way there.

To keep us from mutiny, my parents taught us car games. The Alphabet Game was always first. The rules are simple: starting with a, and on through z, find words that begin with the next letter of the alphabet. Those words can be posted on anything – road signs, passing trucks, or buildings – except license plates. It may sound easy, but have you ever tried to find a Z when you’re not on the way to Zelienople? It’s a game that keeps the players sharp. The only downside is that sometimes there were no signs. That’s when we’d move on to Geography.

Geography begins with someone naming a place. The second person must then name a place beginning with the last letter of the first place. So, if you said “Bishkek,” I could say “Kyrgyzstan,” then the next person could respond “Nanjing,” going on to “Guadalajara,” then “Antigua,” and on and on. Since there is no way to win this one, we’d play until we ran out of places beginning with the letter a. By then, we were hopefully home.

I no longer spend any time in the car. Instead, I spend two hours a day on the subway. It’s been fun for a while, but I’m beginning to tire of it. So can someone please explain why there are no subway games?

Crockpots: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

I invited 8 people for a meal. The night before, a 9th person invited himself. A 9th person who, you know, eats food. And that’s when I paniced. It was clear to me that the food I had cooked, which could comfortably feed 8, would not be enough. People were going to go hungry. I was going to cause people to go hungry.

I asked Special Correspondent Ellen for help. She told me I was over-reacting. But – she added – if I was going to make something, just in case, it should be soup.

I grabbed the crockpot. With a little slicing and dicing I threw in:

3 zuchinis – they were excess from a stir-fry that wouldn’t fit in the pan

2-3 carrots

1 onion

1/2 head of garlic

1 c of mixed beans

my saving grace: 1 jar of salsa

6 c of water

 

the next day, I had enough soup to feed 13. It’s a pity I didn’t invite more people.

All of this, possible with a simple crockpot. Also known as the best invention since sliced bread. Don’t take my words for it: the http://www.ou.org/life/food/recipes/jamie-geller-on-fast-cooking-with-a-slow-cooker/

Anywhere But Lakewood

Today’s post is courtesy of Special Correspondent Marissa. Though I couldn’t agree more.

My number one fear when opening a wedding invitation is that it will read “Lakewood” where the location should be. There is nothing worse than a Lakewood wedding. The wedding itself isn’t the problem, it’s the traveling. Traveling to weddings in general is a bit of a headache to arrange, but getting to a Lakewood wedding is a full-blown migraine.

Nothing compares to a Lakewood wedding. No one wants to drive there, no one wants to take a bus. No one wants to go there. It’s far, inconvenient, expensive, and just an inconsiderate place to hold a wedding. Even people who have cars don’t want to drive there because it’s so far, so they fill up any potential spaces in existing rides. I don’t live in New York, and I don’t know anyone nice enough to lend me their car to drive to Lakewood, so I’m stuck taking a bus. Taking a bus from New York’s Port Authority to Lakewood takes over two hours, and costs me more than I pay to travel 400 miles by bus. I could travel from Pittsburgh to Cleveland, or from New York to Philly in that amount of time. Once you get to the Lakewood you still need to hail a cab or get someone to drive you to the wedding hall, because nothing is within walking distance of the bus station.

If you want to get married in Lakewood, please don’t invite me, or if you must, can you just supply a mode of transportation along with the invitation?

National Perfection Radio

There are few things I know how to do perfectly. I thought making hard-boiled eggs was one of them. I learned my method from the newspaper, and it seemed pretty perfect.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Put the eggs in a pot, with enough water to cover them, and bring the water to a boil. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let sit. After 10 minutes, run the eggs under cold water. Then roll them on the counter so that the shells crack easily. Peel off the cracked shell.

NPR told me I was wrong. While I was doing it well, I wasn’t making perfect hard-boiled egg. To do so, I needed to add a teaspoon of baking soda to the boiling water, rinse the boiled eggs in ice water, and literally blow the shells off the hard-boiled eggs.

Thankfully, I now know 29 other things I can do perfectly. I owe it all to National Public Radio. Or as we’re now calling it, National Perfection Radio.

Trading Up at Trader Joe’s

Last week, I bought treif yogurt at Trader Joe’s. The ingredients include “kosher gelatin” but the package lacks a hasgacha. Of course, I realized this only after I purchased it. The yogurt looks exactly like the kosher kind, except that it’s blueberry flavored. I didn’t realize that along with the blueberries came a lack of koshrus supervision.

So there I was, with treif yogurt and dread in my heart. I haven’t returned any groceries in three years. The last time I did so was when I bought spoiled milk – not from Trader Joe’s. I bought the milk on Sunday and had it, with cereal, for breakfast on Monday. It was so rotten I dumped the cereal and went to work hungry. It was a long week at work and I finally managed to return to the grocery store on Friday. The manager laughed at me when I tried to return the milk.

“Of course it’s bad!” he told me. “You bought it Sunday.”
I argued that it was bad on Sunday.
He told me I should have called the store as soon as I discovered a problem.
I told him that was unreasonable. And glared.
He refused to give me a refund. But he did graciously allow me to take a replacement carton of milk.

I never bought milk there again. Nor have I tried to return any food any where.

But this was Trader Joe’s. So I went in, armed with the treif yogurt, my receipt, and sorry story. Turns out I only needed the yogurt.

On my way to the register, I picked up a pack of kosher yogurt, hoping they’d allow me to exchange. Then I steeled myself for confrontation. My cashier greeted me, as always, with joy. I explained that I wanted to exchange yogurts. He asked, concerned, if anything was wrong with the ones I’d purchased. I told him I’d just made a mistake, leaving out the mental anguish the accident had caused me. There was no need to put a damper on his day. He called over a manager to boot up the check-out as he and I discussed the higher price of the kosher yogurts for which I was exchanging.

The manager turned a key, the cashier handed me my kosher yogurts, and they wished me a good day.
“But how much do I owe?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing,” said the cashier.
“But,” I explained, slowly and clearly, “this is more expensive than the ones I bought.”
“Yes,” agreed the cashier with a smile. “That’s fine. Have a great day!”
I wished him, and the entire Trader Joe’s empire, the same.