Confessions of an Online Shopper
I didn’t see my parents this week, but I did do their shopping. Yes, I confess. I am an online shopper.
Soon after Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, grocery shopping became difficult. She would write a list then forget it at home. Or she’d forget her way to the store. Sometimes she’d buy too many tomatoes and no milk. Or bring home two loaves of bread and more toilet paper than their cupboard could hold.
On the days I visited, Mom and I would go shopping. Off we’d trek, wheeling her shopping wagon behind us. When Daddy came with us, he learned what was available to him as a new chef. We purchased easy-to-make and freezer-ready foods, everything for the untrained man’s emergency of having to cook. We’d also often purchase ingredients for a dish that we’d make together when we got back to their house.
At some point, perhaps because I was not always there week in and week out, Daddy discovered that he could shop on line and have the groceries delivered straight to his door. There was only one catch—the website is in Hebrew.
It is difficult (but not impossible) to live in a country without knowing the language fluently. We English-centric immigrants can get by in Israel with our English. Russians, too, have their own newspapers and TV stations. But there’s no denying that the common acts of daily living are transacted in Hebrew.
The first time I went on the shopping website, I had a hard time matching Daddy’s requests with the options available. I soon got used to the pull-down menus for fruits and veggies, drinks (yes, tea bags are with drinks), meats (but not cold cuts), and the divisions for kitchen cleaning products vs. bathroom cleaning products vs. shampoos and soaps (but not baby soaps—that’s its own section). And where do they list Shabbat candles? Sometimes they list organic produce right alongside the regular stuff, and unless I check the price twice, I purchase the wrong (and more expensive) item. And forget finding sardines in tomato sauce… (It’s not my shopping list!) Sometimes I add surprises to the list, like chocolate covered raisins, or freshly baked croissants (chocolate, of course).
The trick is to have Daddy write his list according to the categories on the website. This cuts out a lot of confusion. He has also learned to be very specific about particular brands he wants me to purchase (these cookies, not those!) Did I mention he’s given me his credit card number? And his password? What power! I can purchase anything I want. (Yes, he’d find out eventually, but I’d get away with it before that occurred.) As it happens, I don’t abuse my power. But I think about it…
Shopping online for my parents means that when I do visit, we have more time for fun. August is the hottest month in Israel, so we don’t walk to town too often. But when we do, the sea breeze is cool and refreshing.
P.S. We seem to be holding our collective breath here in Israel to see what happens next in this war against Hamas. People have ventured out of their houses. There is children’s laughter in the streets again, and pools are open. Kindergartens and camps are back in session. Yet as of yesterday, rockets were still being fired into some of our cities. Is life really getting back to normal? As a friend on a kibbutz along the Gazan border wrote, going from war to peace in one day is jarring. We pray for our soldiers. We pray for the hurt and wounded on both sides of this conflict. We pray that the voice of a new Palestinian leader with the courage to make peace and end this hatred will arise from the destruction.
Here’s a recipe for baked ziti with penne noodles that Daddy and I like to make.
My dad uses a jar of ready-made pasta sauce for this recipe. I’ve been in the habit of making my own for so long that I prefer it to the store-bought. Also, if you live in Israel and ricotta cheese is unavailable, use a 500-gr container of gvina levana and a 250-gr container of cottage cheese. Choose the fat content that’s right for you. Works like a charm.
1lb bag penne noodles
25 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz parmesan cheese grated
1 32-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 16-oz can tomato paste
2 Tsp each of basil, oregano, parsley, granulated garlic, salt and pepper
Cook the penne noodles in a pot of boiling water to al dente, meaning, cooked so that they are neither crunchy nor too soft. Drain and set aside. In a large bowl, mix tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and add spices. Stir in ricotta cheese. Add noodles and mix thoroughly so that every noodle is covered in sauce. Pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in oven at 350° for 30 minutes or until cheese becomes golden.