Very Belated Happy Shavuot

Delicious Cheese, originally uploaded by cwbuecheler.

Shavuot went by this year without me doing anything about it at all. I was too busy getting over the jet lag from my trip to France (waking up at 3-4am every morning is no picnic!), Portobello West market today and all the preparations beforehand. I did not bake a cheesecake, or make blinztes, or eat any cheese. And I might as well. I probably had enough cheese in France to last for the rest of the year (it was my nearly only source of protein there - aside from eggs and some almonds when I found them).

All the same, I want to wish Happy Shavuot even though the holiday is far gone (yesterday). And also think that next year I will have to have blog post about dairy perfumes if such thing even exists. But perhaps I paid my dues early with my Got Milk? post...

Happy Purim!

Woman in Mask, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I've completely missed the Mardi Gras celebrations, real or virtual. So instead I'm acknowledging my own heritage of early spring carnival, aka Purim and wishing you all very happy couple of days of dressing up, drinking and making noise. We're just slightly ahead of the Irish St. Patrick's Day - so beware or you will end up partying for too many days and nights!

Strangely enough though, I'm wearing a perfume I can quite identify with today - my very own greenish chypre Ayalitta. And this time the neroli is sticking out for me like it never did before. I've thoroughly enjoyed this on a crisp and sunny spring day that turned into a snowy afternoon; browsing the city for new furniture to "dress-up" my studio with and create new beginnings this spring. I doubt that I will have an idea for a costume other than a fragrance alone by tomorrow; which might be more than Queen Vashti was allowed to wear when King Ahasuerus summoned her to show off her beauty. But this is, of course, debatable.

I've been trying to think which perfume would be most appropriate for such occasion - and of course the obvious choice would be something completely out character. Perhaps a loud floral like Nahema, Insolence or Un Jardin de Bagatelle (three of the only Guerlains I've never managed to get along with). What would be a good scent for you to conceal yourself with?

Fruit Salad

Today was another exceptionally beautiful day in Vancouver, blessed with sunshine just like a proper Tu Bishvat day. The only thing that was missing was the fruit salad I've never made.

Fruit in the wintertime, even in Israel is not at its prime. Most of it, except for citrus fruit is refrigerated from the summer or fall. And if you live in the Northern hemisphere it is mostly imported and not at its freshest. So there is really no better way to enjoy fruit this season than in a fruit salad. Even if all you have is apples, oranges and bananas there are ways to make this simple combination incredibly delicious and festive.

What makes a Tu Bishvat fruit salad different from run-of-the-mill fruit salad is the presence of dried fruit and nuts. These add interesting texture as well as sweetness and variety of flavours.
In particular - chopped dried figs and dates and pecan nuts. If you have either of those you've got a fruit salad, no matter how plain the fruit is.

And if you want to dress up your salad even more, a few drops of orange flower water or rosewater will add grace and an enigmatic touch to any fruit salad.

Tu Bishvat Fruit Salad
(serves 2 fruit lovers or 4 not-so nuts about fruit guests)
1 Banana, peeled
2 Apples, cored
2 Oranges, with the outer skin peeled off (keep the white skin on)
10 almonds, chopped thinly
10 pecan halves, coarsely chopped
3 dried dates, sliced
4 dried figs, chopped into small cubes
1/2 tsp. Orange flower water
Lemon juice (just a few drops)

Cut the apples and bananas into small cubes and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice to avoid browning. Add chopped orange fruit and place in a bowl.
Add the dried fruit and nuts and mix well.
Add orange flower water (if desired) and toss together.
Refrigerate until serving, up to 5 hours.

Fruit salad such as this is so delicious and filling it can be a meal on its own, especially with the extra nutrients from the nuts and dried fruit. Of course, the exact amount of fruit can be adjusted to taste. And fruit can be added or omitted as desired. Fruit such as strawberry, pineapple, mango, pear or kiwi lends itself very well to this context as well as any dry fruit you like - raisins, craisins, dried apricots or peaches, prunes, etc. A sprinkle of shredded coconut can be a nice addition as well as sesame seeds or oatmeal flakes (which will turn it into a musli).

Happy Tu BiShvat!

hashkediya porachat, originally uploaded by orenel.

Happy Tu BiShvat, 15th of the month of Shvat and the New Year of the Trees to those celebrating.

This time of the year, almond trees bloom back home in my native land (well, one of them, I do have two homes), symbolizing the returning of spring, and everybody is planting trees and eat dried fruit and fruit salad... It's a simple and unfussy holiday that has the scent of moist soil and earth warms and the hint of cyclamens in the air.

I wish I could plant a fruit-bearing tree tomorrow. This is something I really want to look into. Perhaps not a fruit-bearing tree but any tree to help nourish our planet and take care of it. You don't have to be Jewish to do that, any day of the year will do, and it will help reduce our carbon print.

tu bishvat hegia, originally uploaded by giladlotan.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Merry Christmas to all of SmellyBlog readers celebrating. And a continuous Happy Hanuka too - still 4 more candles to light!

P.s. The photo was taken at the Art Gallery Square (Georgia & Howe) in Vancouver, just before the holiday started. I really should take another photo when it's dark on the last day when all the lights are up...

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