Life is different around here! With just a few tips and tricks to get you on your feet, you’ll be settled in no time. Soon you may be coming up with ideas of your own!
The main thing to be aware of when it comes to spices in Israel is moisture – and bugs! I was making tomato soup one afternoon and was pretty surprised to find my onion powder…well, not powder anymore – but one big clump. You may find that your paprika or pepper sticks to the top of your spice shaker and clogs the holes. This is because there’s a lot of moisture in the air, making the spices clump together. A common trick for salt is to put a bit of dry rice into the shaker to absorb any extra moisture, but the less common trick for the rest of your spices is to keep them in the freezer. You can also keep flour or coffee in the freezer to keep it fresh and dry. This tip also helps with bugs. You might have noticed that almost every package says “mehudar to check for bugs” this is because it can be a real problem here in Israel. Thankfully, keeping easily infested ingredients in the freezer should take care of it.
This one might be self-explanatory, but it is a big deal here in Israel! So many more products come in bags! Besides the regular sugar and flour, you are going to be buying croutons, vanilla sugar, baking soda, and many of your food products in bags as opposed to plastic containers. This tends to get frustrating when you only want to use half a pack of baking powder, or when you want fresh crunchy croutons! Baggie clips are sold in Yesh, or any home goods store and will really save you. I would suggest buying a big pack (or two!) and keep them with your plasticware to have around. This will also save you from moisture and bugs.
The same problem can be avoided by buying (or keeping) containers for your ingredients. Open all your powders into one small container for easy scooping, and keep a large one for flour or oats.
Moisture moisture moisture….
I promise to stop talking about it after this one, but moisture…can cause mold! Many couples are surprised to find mold in their apartment, and even want to move. Unfortunately, moving is not going to solve this one. Most people struggle with mold and it’s something you need to learn to deal with. For starters, always try to keep some windows open. Make sure your rooms have time to air out. Next, you can buy some mold spray that is fairly easy to use. Just spray some around and wipe the affected area with a cloth. This spray is called “masir ovesh” or mildew stain remover and can be found near the regular cleaning products. Lastly, you can hire someone to come to take care of it for you, (or beg your Baal Dira to take care of it…). Click here for our recommendation!
Potatoes and Root Vegetables
I’ve heard many a girl on the local nshei chat complain about potato storage. While on the east coast it may be no problem to keep potatoes and onions in a dark drawer or cabinet, many find that this just doesn’t work as well here in Israel. The vegetables go bad too fast and start to smell really quickly. Most people try to settle for a basket, which helps a little, but I’ve taken it one step further. I got some metal wire baskets (found in max stock or the like) which I hung on my wall. I’ve seen this before and I love the idea as well as the look! This way you can see which veggies you have very easily, and spot them before they go bad. You can never leave a sweet potato behind a drawer or in the back of a cabinet for a morose husband to clean up, and the best part is they stay fresh for longer! I also happen to love the look of the natural earthy tones hanging in my kitchen and get many compliments on these baskets. You can do this with wood baskets, metal wire, or anything else you can think of.
Getting Challah to Rise
Some people get nervous to try their mother’s famous challah recipe on this side of the ocean. Often it turns out just fine, but sometimes those fears are founded. I have another article here on Live Your BIL about cooking and baking, so definitely go check that out if this interests you, but here are the rules of rising. In order for yeast to proof, you need to have a warm environment. In the summer you should have no issue at all because it’s definitely warm enough! In the winter it’s harder though because the cold seeps in, and it’s hard to avoid that with Israeli apartments. I’ve definitely thrown out two or three batches of yeast in a row because I didn’t realize I had a temperature issue. This can be fixed easily. Preheat your oven before you start your challah. When you’re ready for the yeast to proof, turn off the oven, and place the bowl on the open oven door for five minutes. Some people keep their whole dough in a warm oven for a better rise in the winter season as well. Btei’avon!
Another common issue the masses deal with is ants! By the thousands! No matter how clean you think you are, you may be infested with these little guys. Luckily, many families before you figured out how to deal with them. It’s good to know that keeping clean, putting away, and sealing all food will really make a difference. First, you have to find where the ants are coming in from to see if you can seal it up – that’s already half the issue! Next, regular “juke” spray can usually do the trick. Spray some standard bug spray around the areas they come from and they may be gone for good. Lastly, if sealing and spraying didn’t work you can go for the stronger stuff – poison. You can buy ant poison in Yesh, Olam Habayit, or similar shops. The ants take a bit of poison back to their home and it kills them all. Obviously, be very careful not to use this when kids are crawling around or eating off the floor.
So here you have it- my best tips and tricks to tackle the issues that seem to be more common here in Israel. Feel free to customize them to make them work for you. Found the best bag clips? Have a great idea to keep the ants away? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org