Updated: May 15, 2020
“I love you and I long to see you.”
Wow. Mom had finally responded to our many prompts and it lit our hearts with such fervor.
It was a small moment of clarity in an otherwise uneventful video chat, but both my dad and I felt relieved that Mom somehow still knew who we were.
Israel is slowly coming out of the corona shutdown. Schools are returning to session; first degree families are allowed to meet; and malls and gyms will be open as of this Thursday. Senior residences, though, will be the last places to allow the return of visitors.
Given the difficulty that many senior residences have had keeping their population healthy, the fact that Mom’s facility is batting 1000 and maintaining the health of its residents, I’m not complaining. At least not too loudly. I do know that other facilities have already opened special protected visiting areas, just not ours. In a message to families, the staff advised caution for the next two weeks to see if there will be another wave of infections due to the fast opening of stores, etc. I will have to be more patient.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to divert my energies elsewhere. Besides cooking and caring for my family, I’ve begun volunteering for a local organization that lends out medical equipment. It seems that most of the older volunteers who generally staff the branch have been in enforced isolation thus leaving holes in the schedule of volunteers who can be out in public to operate the computers. Being (relatively) young has enabled me to step in. I’m learning on the job, so with each new customer who is renting crutches or walkers or wheelchairs or cribs or even breast pumps, I ask for their patience as I sort through the instructions I’ve learned.
This is a far cry from my pre-corona routine, but as life returns to a more balanced schedule—going out, meeting friends, looking for work—I am hoping that this new slice of my life will become habitual. The more each of us contributes our time, energy and skills to community needs, the better off we will all be.
I finally gave in to my husband Jeff’s repeated requests to help him make fresh homemade bagels. They came out so well that we’ve now made them several times, perfecting the recipe with each batch, and equally importantly, creating the best bagel topping. Bagels are interesting because you boil them before you bake them. With a nod to friends on Facebook who shared their recipe (thank you, Michla and Chana!), here is a simple bagel recipe. When you eat them fresh out of the oven with cream cheese and lox, it’s heavenly.
Shaping bagels is an art. My daughter makes them perfectly round. My husband, not so much. Me, I fall somewhere in between. I wonder if that’s a nod to our personalities.
2 cups warm water
1 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp oil
6 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp date honey
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp coarse salt
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 Tbsp crystallized garlic
1 Tbsp dried fried onions
In a large bowl, proof the yeast by mixing it with warm water and sugar. Let stand about five minutes until yeast begins to bubble up. Slowly add flour, oil and salt, kneading with hands until a soft, consistent dough is formed. Coat with oil, cover and let rise for an hour. Punch down dough and form into bagels. Grab a small handful of dough, roll it into a log then make into a circle and seal the ends together. Lay on a baking tray for half an hour. (Ok, here’s an alternative that Jeff used to form his bagels. He took a handful of dough then punched a thumb-sized hole through the middle, patted it into a circular shape, and placed it on the baking tray.) Preheat oven to 500° F / 260° C. While the bagels are rising, bring to a boil an enormous pan of water and dissolve into it honey and baking soda. Carefully lift each bagel and gently drop it into the water. Boil on each side for about a minute. When bagels are ready (there’s a slight color change to the dough when it’s been boiled), remove from water with a slotted spoon and place on an oiled baking tray. Let cool a few minutes then brush with egg and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at very high heat.