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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

Blue Notes

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

We’ve been packing up many of our possessions in anticipation of starting renovations in our house. One of the items I came across was a cute little piano that I remember Mom buying for the kids many years ago. It had batteries in it and still worked! Wouldn’t it be fun to bring it to Mom, I thought.

Well, the best laid plans. Mom was initially interested in plinking the keys, but above each key on a separate panel was printed its corresponding letter; once Mom got it into her head to press these static letters instead, she couldn’t remember how to play any notes.

The piano also had a setting that played silly songs. My dad and I tried to get Mom to sing along to “Frere Jacques” and “Camp Town Ladies,” but sadly, she was too tired today. At least we got her up and walking a bit. Rather than push her to interact with us, it seemed right to take her back to the common room and put her headphones on so that she could quietly close her eyes and listen to music.

Packing up my house is distracting. Even this blog is a little discomblogulated. What it means is that I devote less time to Mom. I’ve been trying to get there at least twice a week, especially for physiotherapy, even though it is astoundingly frustrating trying to get Mom to participate.

I’ve learned that if I want her to exercise her arms (legs are just out of the question), I must turn her away from the main circle of activity, help her grab one of the exercise noodles, and sing with her as we rhythmically move our arms up and down. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” works very well as does the song my grandfather taught me called, “Swing Me Higher Obadiah.”

Our renovation plans are up in the air but may be approved any day. Which means that the writing of this blog may become spotty for the next few months. We’re moving in with my dad once they begin. And we’re bringing our cat to his house, too!

Meanwhile, I’ll still be visiting Mom. And I’ll still be cooking, using my time in the kitchen to lessen the tension of our long goodbye.

Every now and then, I like to make what I consider easy but elegant fare for our Shabbat guests. Throw in a visit from my niece with her six kids, and it better be something kid-friendly. What’s easier than defrosting French pastry dough, adding a blend of vegetables and potato, and creating bite-sized bourekas?

Spinach Mushroom Pinwheels

Bourekas are popular Sephardi pastries packed with all manner of fillings from the traditional savory potato to the more sweet cheese filled ones. These pastries are ubiquitous in the many bakeries that dot local Israeli bus stations and malls. Of course, if you slice the dough roll, you create something that looks more like a pinwheel than a triangular pastry.

Makes two rolls

1 kilo / 2 lbs French pastry dough, defrosted

2 potatoes, peeled and cubed

Water to cover potatoes

1 onion chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup frozen spinach leaves, defrosted

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 egg for brushing pastry


Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C. Defrost and unroll French pastry dough. Allow dough to stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Defrost spinach in bowl on countertop. In a small pot, cover potatoes in water and bring to boil then simmer until potatoes can be pierced easily with a knife. Drain excess liquid, then mash potatoes. Sauté onions and garlic in a large pan until onions become translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are cooked through. Drain spinach then add along with potatoes to the sautéed onion and mushrooms. Cut dough into two equal sheets and roll gently with a rolling pin. Spoon mixture onto the two pastry sheets length-wise and roll dough closed, using a drop of water to moisten and squeeze the end shut. Slice the roll lengthwise. (You may need to roll the wheels again once sliced by folding it on itself to keep them tight.) Place each “pinwheel” on baking sheet. Brush top with egg and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.

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My parents would have done better with more visiting, but they ended up in AZ instead of here. You're doing a great job.


Nancy Hughes

Miriam, I love your spirit, your love of family, and don't forget food! I wish every mother could have a daughter like you. I took care of my old dad--he lived with us the year he was 94--and I promise you. When your mom's gone, you will have no regrets. If she could see herself and you, as of 20 years ago, she'd be so proud of you and grateful for everything you are and are doing. Please keep singing, writing, and of course, cooking and sharing.

Nancy a.k.a hughescribe

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