Mimuna Festival

preparing Mimuna dough
Preparing Mufleta dough


Have you ever wondered how to end the
Passover holiday? Usually you just start eating bread and call it quits, right?

Not my family in Israel! I was introduced to the
Mimouna festival, which the Israelis of North African descent celebrate to mark
the end of Passover. I was lucky enough to “steal” these current photos from
Facebook of my family’s celebration.

First you make the mufleta, which is a
cross between a tortilla and Indian fry-bread, a difficult, fattening process.
It takes time to make, and don’t forget that you have make a market run to buy
the flour and yeast, since you have none in the house.

For about 20 mufletas:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
    For serving: Butter and honey

Total time: 2 hours

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, water and
yeast. Knead and let rise until doubled in size. Break off golfball-sized lumps
of dough, roll into balls and dip into oil. Let rise again until doubled in

On a flat surface, take one ball of dough,
flatten, and using your fingertips, stretch into a round, flat disc. You want
the dough to be thin, and round. Sort of like a tortilla. Dough might tear,
that is okay.

Heat a frying pan, and lay the flattened
dough into the pan. Let cook for a minute on one side, until it dries slightly,
and then flip. Meanwhile, flatten another dough ball.

Lay the second flattened dough ball on top
of the first mufleta in the pan and keep flipping and adding more mufleta.
There will be a pile of mufletas. Continue like this until either the dough is
gone or the stack becomes too tall.

To serve, spread the hot mufletas with
butter and

honey, and fold into quarters. They’ll get warm, drippy and gooey.

My sisters in law always decorate the table
with mint leaves and flowers. Food really isn’t necessary since you will be
over-loading on mufletas.

If you are really in the partying mood,
have the Mimuna party continue on through the next day with a bbq. You should
see what goes on in Israel!!
The thought just makes me hungry and home-sick, but all the work and calories
are worth it!!

Cleaning Up

So do I clean out the freezer this Passover?  Hmmm…  I admit it, I try my hardest to clean out the hametz from the house for Passover, but usually I end up moving it to the garage.  It seems that the garage is a free-for-all in my house a collection of stuff where you go-to-die.  (I would post a picture by why embarrass myself?)

I think of the really good food in my freezer and realize I have about 2 weeks to eat it all.  You know, I started swapping food with my good friend so we don’t have to cook as much during the week.  This lasted a good 3 weeks, and I was inspired to cook and prove I was talented!  I have meatloaf, 3 types of burekas, tilapia, Morrocan kebabs and who knows what else in the freezer.  I guess I was so inspired to cook, that I left them all in the freezer (you know the one in the garage)!  I will try my hardest to cook all of my creations in time for Passover.  Come to think of it, I need to tell my friend we have to get back on track and start those swapping meal days again.

Does anyone else hide their hametz in the garage? Is this even somewhat “kosher?”  I am not going to ask any Rabbis, don’t want to be proved wrong.  I do keep a flour-free holiday after all.  I do have a confession though– we eat rice.  My  husband is Sephardic, so I decided I am too for the week.  Don’t prove me wrong on that one though, ok?

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Charm Bracelet: Hamsa, Evil Eye Charms on a Bracelet

Today, a charm-bracelet is a standard piece of jewelry for women everywhere. The “charms” may be pretty tame stuff—a tiny golden poodle, a stiletto shoe, maybe a cute mini-cupcake.

But the origin of the charm-bracelet, and the wearing of charms, was originally a bit more powerful. Charms are amulets, talismans. Their general purpose: to protect the wearer from harm.

The English word “charm” comes from “carmen”, the Latin word for song, or singing. Romance languages clearly reflect this origin. In Spanish and French, a polite greeting translates “I am enchanted to meet you” (enchante, encantado)—and in these words, we see the word “chant”, as in song. Meaning to literally be charmed, or bewitched, by singing or song. 

Many of our favorite pieces of jewelry may be called charms, because their ancient origins trace back to a belief in protective magic. With cultural roots deep in the Mediterranean and Middle East, the “eye”, the protective hand, the “red thread” bracelet, even the emblem of the fish are now worn by people all over the world. We’ve seen the “eye” and the Hamsa worn by young hipsters in Oslo, Tokyo, and lots of other places far from the lands where these symbols originated.

Do charms “work”? We certainly believe that a symbolic gesture of love, such as giving the gift of our “eye” or Hamsa jewelry, surrounds and shields the wearer with good vibes. That’s the great thing about love: one size fits all.


Making Pireshkes (aka Hamentaschen)

The cookies before baking   Growing up in Denver, my Aunt Blanche started a family tradition of baking pireshkes for Purim.  Even when we moved to California, those pireshkes came every year, packed carefully and shipped to us in a shoe box.  We’ve carried on this tradition by baking every year at Purim time, and this year the grandchildren were able to partake in the event.

Have any terrific recipes to share?  We are going to share ours with you, hope you enjoy it!  Have a very Happy Purim.  We’ll be thinking of our Auntie this holiday while we eat, and eat, and eat our pireshkes.


Recipe from Aunt Blanche Schiff, as written in the cookbook,  Cookarama, Sisterhood of Congregation Hebrew Educational Alliance 1976, Denver, Colorado

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

1 tsp almond extract

1 orange, juice and rind

3 heaping cups of all purpose flour

1 heaping tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

Cream together the eggs, sugar and oil.  Add almond extract, orange juice and rind.  Add dry ingredients slowly until able to handle dough.  Divide dough into 3 parts, and add more flour as needed.  Roll dough on floured pastry board.  cut dough with cookie cutter or glass, and place a teaspoon of filling in each round.  Pinch together to look like a hamentasch triangle.  Place pireshke on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1/2 hour, or until golden brown.  Yield about 4 dozen.


1 lb. extra large prunes, ground  (she was adamant about the size of the prunes, and collect boxes all year long.  In fact, she said you can only find them in California and bring them back to Denver in her suitcase.)

1/2 lb. black raisins

1 orange, juice and rind

1 lemon, juice only

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  (Modern day– use Cuisinart and pulse all ingredients)

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Do you wear green on St. Patty’s Day?

Do you wear green on St. Patrick’s Day even though you aren’t Irish?  We did, actually still do.  It always was fun in this Jewish household growing up having a “green day.”  We would start the day out with green bagels from Western Bagels, and have a green feast for dinner.   You know– green limeade, green pasta, green bread, green salad, and finally, green jello.  A Jewish American home without jello is well, about as kosher as a Jewish family celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!

Did you do anything fun for this holiday even though you aren’t Irish?  If you do, let us know and we’ll send you a free Luck ring from www.alefbet.com

We got a great response from the last promotion, we thought we’d try our fake Irish luck again and send out the second ring in the series.  Hey, refer a friend to the site and if they buy something, we’ll send you two different rings you can stack on one finger.  We are also on facebook where you can post a comment and we’ll send you the ring. 

Oh, the luck of the Irish……

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Let’s Lighten Up for Purim

At first glance, the Jewish calendar seems to be strewn with solemn sacred occasions.  Many holidays do command reverence in its most solemn forms, such as atonement.

Then there’s Purim.

Traditions vary, depending upon where in the Jewish world you are. It’s safe to say that Purim is triumphant, noisy, even rowdy, and brings a playful carnival atmosphere to this holiday which will be observed come sundown March 19-20, 2011.

One of the most universal Purim celebrations is the giving of  mishloach manot.  The Book of Esther—and Esther really is the heroine behind Purim—commands us to give gifts of food (or money for food) to the needy.  And, many people do more than this—friends and families exchange yummy gifts, too.  Baskets of cookies, especially the buttery poppy-seed treats known as “Hamantaschen”, are a Purim classic, and lots of other favorites find their way into Purim gifts. In this sense, we consider Queen Esther to be the grandmother of the modern-day “goody-bag’!

Our suggestion: in addition to snacks and sweets that will be gone before you can say, “baruch Mordecai” (“Blessed be Mordecai”), include a gorgeous, enduring piece of Alef Bet jewelry in your special Purim gift-baskets.

Our selection includes many small treasures, such as a bendel bracelet featuring the simple red “protection” cord, clasped by a delicate hamsa in sterling silver (our stock #: bendel-15a). Or maybe a dainty, sterling silver hamsa necklace with a Chai charm (our stock #: 905-18), or a gemstone bracelet— one of our popular Bat Mitzvah items, too. Lots to choose from, something sweet and lasting to celebrate a joyful Purim.

Bendel BraceletChamsa and Chai Necklace

Hamsa and Gemstone Bracelet

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…and scientists and nutritionists are discovering more every day. Modern health care is all a-buzz over this succulent ancient fruit. Many studies are underway, and current evidence suggests that pomegranates are packed with antioxidants which, basically keep you young, fighting heart disease, keeping your organs and skin vibrant, and more.

Of course, people from the lands where pomegranates grow have known this for thousands of years, from Israel to India, Persia, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Morocco—all ancient cultures which have long prized the pomegranate not only for its refreshing tart-sweetness, and the beauty of its gleaming, gem-like seeds, but also for its health-giving properties.

Who can resist? In the Greek myths, the goddess Persephone was tricked by Hades, shadowy ruler of the underworld, into a lifetime shared with him when he offered her a few juicy pomegranate seeds for the road. Sort of like the first Pomegranate Martini—with drastic results!

This nourishing fruit, which is botanically related to the rose, stands for fertility and abundance in every sense. We haven’t counted,  but Jewish tradition tells us that the pomegranate contains 613 seeds, one for each of the Mitzvot, or commandments, which define a good life. In this sense, the pomegranate is a life-support system for the spirit as well as the body!

Our pomegranate-themed jewelry is a natural, so to speak, for Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year, when pomegranates are always enjoyed as a symbol of new commitment and new beginnings. For the same reason, we love pomegranate jewelry as a birthday gift, and as a wedding gift—after all, the Song of Solomon describes the lover’s glowing cheeks “like pomegranates”. This symbol of eternal renewal also resonates for anyone starting off on a new adventure, including launching a new business enterprise.

Garnet jewelry also calls to mind the restorative powers of the pomegranate: the garnet resembles the aril, or pomegranate seed. Most scholars agree that the word “garnet” is related to the Latin name for the pomegranate, Punica granatum.

Wear yours with joy, and in good health!


If you’d like to see the rose gold pomegranate online, click here.  There is also a sterling silver version.