Monday, August 26, 2013

Procrastination Frittata

By: Samantha Hulkower


1 very important task that you want to put off
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized potatoes, washed
2-3 cloves garlic
1 or more persons to complain to, depending on personal taste
1 small onion
4 eggs
salt and pepper

First, wait until the day before an important task is due, this really enhances the flavor of the fritatta. Set up like you are actually going to do the task, then get the ingredients together. Once you feel like you might actually get started on the task, get up and start slicing the potatoes. I almost always leave the skin on my potatoes - it's a good source of fiber and nutrients and saves time (which is important since you have this thing you really should be doing). The thinner you slice the potatoes the faster they will cook. While you are slicing, warm the olive oil on medium heat on a stove top. Arrange the potatoes in the pan and cover. If you happened to have gotten your pots and pans off of Janglo (or some other such second hand site) and they don't have lids, you can cover the pan with a sheet of tinfoil instead. Let cook for about 10 mins.

While the potatoes are cooking, start dicing the onions and garlic. I always crush the garlic first to get the most flavor, and then chop. Now is an opportune time to multitask, and start complaining to a roommate or a friend on the phone how you have this huge thing you need to do today. Other items to include in your rant include: if you had only done the task yesterday you could be doing something else today, you really aren't the type to procrastinate, or my favorite which also happens to be in season right now - my New Year's resolution is to not procrastinate like this anymore. Add onions and garlic to the pan and replace cover. At this point you can also add any other vegetables you have in the fridge that you'd like to use up.

Sit down and review the progress you've made on your task. Frequently get up to check on the frittata, knowing that it still needs to cook another 5 mins. Sit down. Get back up and mix eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper, to your own preference. Check the vegetables in the pan to make sure nothing is burning. I like to flip the potato mixture, because usually by this point the ones on the bottom are crisp and yum. Eat a few without waiting for them to cool off, because you are busy thinking of how behind you are on the task and not that food taken out of a hot skillet will be hot, so you burn your fingers and mouth. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and re-cover. You can turn the heat down a bit. 

Sit down and check your email. Go on facebook, but don't get involved in any heated political discussions or stalking your current crush, as you don't want the frittata to burn. Sigh deeply at how much time you've spent making the frittata, and how you could have been almost done with the task if you hadn't started this procrastination technique. Get up and check on the frittata - if you like your eggs with more moisture, when the top is still wet, turn the heat off and flip the frittata and wait another min or two for the top to cook, if you prefer your eggs drier keep covered and cooking on low heat until the top is fully cooked.

Garnish with low-fat yogurt, seasonal herbs, and a growing sense of dread that now you actually have to work on the task. The frittata keeps for two days in the fridge, or until you stress eat it all in the middle of the night while trying to make your deadline. 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Carpe Diem Forever

By: Samantha Hulkower

I've been thinking a lot about different things I want to improve in myself. Not just because it's Elul, but because the reality of making aliyah two months ago is finally setting in. I moved to Eretz Yisrael for multiple reasons, but one of the biggest motivators was that I wanted to feel like I was actively living my life. Things were pretty great in Washington, D.C.: I had amazing friends and a strong support network, a reasonably close drive to see my family in NY (with a stylish car to get me there), a good job, a promising career in a field I really care about, and I got to bike past the White House, Washington Monument, and Jefferson Memorial on my way to work (definitely a bonus for me). However, even though everything seemed perfect on paper, I felt like I was merely existing, not truly living.

So I left that all behind for what I'd hoped to be a more meaningful life in Israel. Here I continue to be challenged to learn a new language, acclimate to a new culture, develop a new social network, and restart my career, not to mention find work to support myself in the meantime. The first month was a blur.

With the adrenaline subsiding, as things settled down into a regular routine, I heard this voice in the back of my head say, with more than a tinge of panic - this is real. Not that I want to go back, but it was a reality check: all of the things I had been planning and dreaming and striving for the past two years are finally happening. Baruch Hashem! But also - Holy Cr@p! I have to actually live up to the high expectations I set for myself. I have to struggle through the challenging situations I knew I would be putting myself in. It was easy to want those things for myself while lounging in my airy studio apartment in my happening Columbia Heights neighborhood, or waxing poetic to my friends about how I want to grow, over craftbeers at one of the hipster bars down the street. But actually living up to those things, that's a challenge.

Almost every night, before I go to sleep, I reflect on what I accomplished the day before, what I wish I did better, and what I hope to do tomorrow. Almost every night I regret not going to sleep earlier, hoping that I can still wake up early and make the most of the next day. Just today, I ended up sleeping until 10:30am and missing the 7:30am tanya class I had started going to. I was mad at myself for ruining my streak with the class. I was mad at myself for wasting the morning and didn't do the errands I had planned. I was even mad that I couldn't experience the feeling of accomplishment after doing all that I had wanted to.

Now I was stuck with a feeling of anxiety and resentment and I wasn't living up to the expectations I had set for myself. I had moved to Israel to leave my comfort zone and push myself to be the person I know I can be, and here I am, still stuck in the same bad habits. I sat down over my coffee and tried to quiet my mind. Then it came to me:

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

I'm sure we've all heard this kind of trite tripe before. Whether at a motivational talk at work, or even on a sitcom, when the protagonists come to some glib realization before the 22 minutes are up. But today, this was different. I deeply felt that the things I want for myself can happen - and will happen. I can happen, starting right now, if I let them. We're our own worst enemy when it comes to keeping ourselves from achieving our potential. Whether it's not getting upset over little things, reducing the sugar in our diet, calling our parents more often, changing our career to what we really want to be doing with our lives - whatever it is that is keeping you from being who you know you are; you can be that person starting right now.

Today is the day.

And if you mess up, that's ok, because you've already made the decision, you're on the way. You don't have to do anything as dramatic as quit your job and move to a new hemisphere to be you. Just know that you can, and once you believe in yourself, you will.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Year's Blessing

By: Samantha Hulkower

Earlier tonight, I was catching up with my brother in the Old City of Jerusalem before his trip to chutz la'aretz the next morning. Engrossed in our conversation, I felt a shadow fall over me, and looked up to see a Rabbi we both know standing over us.

The Rav looked slightly confused, and perhaps a little distressed. I had met with him last week, at the encouragement of several friends whom he had given particularly helpful advice to. After a while, he steered the conversation over to dating and said to me very pointedly, "Don't have platonic guy friends, it makes things too confusing." Now, a week later, here I was shmoozing - befarhesia - with a guy.

"We're siblings!" "That's my brother!" "We're related!" My brother and I shouted over each other.

Finally, recognizing my brother in the dark plaza, his face lightened, and he changed the topic to ask for help with something else. Once that was done, the Rabbi turned back to me, looked at me deeply and gave me the following blessing, "You should be able to finish up everything you need to this year, so you can start next year with a clean slate." He smiled, wished my brother a safe trip, and was off.

"What does that mean??" I asked my brother. I was so confused, I couldn't unfurrow my brows. "Heck if I know," he answered and changed the topic. We eventually wrapped up our conversation, and I began the walk back up hill, out of the Old City, trying to wrack my brain as to what the Rabbi could have been referring to. What in our conversation last week could have prompted him to make such a statement? For the next 30 mins, I was anxiously turning through ideas, when I realized that I wasn't going to be able to think of anything if I was trying so hard. I decided to meet my roommates at a gathering in our neighborhood, and put the matter aside.

As the night was winding down one of the organizers asked if I wouldn't mind being interviewed about my ideas on Jewish unity.  After answering the expected questions, the interviewer asked me for a blessing.

Without thinking, I opened my mouth, "May you have success with this, and all of your endeavors, may you always have clarity in your work and personal life, and may you finish all of the things you need to this year, so that you can have a fresh start in the new year."

"Great bracha!" the people around us chimed in. The interviewer smiled, "Amen! That was really great, thanks!" As I handed him back the microphone I could see on his face he was really happy with the blessing I gave him. I realized that maybe there wasn't some forgotten sentence or issue from my conversation with the Rabbi last week, perhaps he was just giving me a general blessing - why shouldn't it be any more simple than hoping I can tie up loose ends, and feel like I'm starting 5774 on a new page? Every Rosh Hashanah we all start a new cheshbon - the slate is clean and the possibilities are endless. What a wonderful idea to think that I should be able to not only start new, but finish everything I had begun 11 months ago.

And so, I'd like to share this blessing with you: in less than 3 weeks the whole world starts over again. I sincerely hope that between now and then, you are able to have the clarity to know what you need to do, and the ability to accomplish it, so that when the sun sets on September 4, you feel like you're closing the door on a full, complete year, and have the confidence to take on a new year.

Monday, August 19, 2013