Yom Kippur + Thanksgiving

Pumpkin and thorns

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of my friends and customers in Canada. I'm quite overwhelmed with the flood of Jewish holidays, and the time difference - so I didn't manage to get a chance to commemorate a tradition of gratitude which I grew to embrace and call my own. So I'm going to merge together the two traditions - Jewish and Canadian - and say sorry and thank you in one post... It's a perfect pairing for Yom Kippur and Thanksgiving, don't you think?

This year I'm particularly thankful for all my friends in Vancouver, old and new,  who jumped to the task of helping me wrap up 18 years of life and ship them to the other side of the globe. I know it was more painful for them at the time than it was for me  (with the tremendous pressure of preparations, the realization of what was really happening has only began to sink in after I've arrived here). So I'm also sorry for all the mess, trouble and sadness my departure was mingled with and sorry for leaving.  We'll have to arrange some trans-atlantic visits. I promise you: there's lots to see here in my new neighbourhood of the Western Galilee. The more I discover about it, the more excited I get about my new life here. 

And I'm particularly thankful for my family, who've received me here with open hearts and arms, and made my landing as soft as possible. Thank you for putting up with the shock and turmoil that immigration entails for those who experience it firsthand and those who support them. I arrived here in a state of shock and only learned after the fact that moving countries brings so much grief. Literally. People spend at least a year grieving the life they had in the previous country as if they've lost a loved one.  Not to mention the daily struggles with language, customs, geography. There is not a night when I don't wake up in horror from a realization (or a dream) that I left something really important back in my old home. Add to that many bureaucratic paradoxality that not only boggles the mind but also directly impedes on our daily life and my family's well-being. 

I have a newfound admiration for immigrants the world over and a deeper understanding of why my countries are the way they are - for better and for worse. Immigrants should be saluted to, not laughed at for their accents or weird customs. 

So I'm going to apologize in advance and ask my family's forgiveness for all the mess that we're going to be facing in the next few months until my home is ready and until we're fully used to our new surroundings. We're off to a very wild ride together... 

Gmar Chatima Tova!


"It is deadly to be without a confidante, without a guide, without even a tiny cheering section". (Clarissa Pinkola-Estes).

Being a transitional season from abundance to constriction, fall is time of reflection, contemplation, checking the balances in both the physical world and spiritual world. Taking stock of harvests, planning for a long winter. And also - taking note of what's missing from one's spiritual life, seeking it out, and nourishing what is there. These supplies would sustain the soul in a long, harsh, cold and dark winter.

Fall is also a season for sorting. This fall I've been doing a lot of re-structuring for my business, creating a new website which is to be hosted on a new server. Through this process, there was the inevitable weeding out of many fragrances that were not sustainable enough to keep in stock regularly, and get rid of a lot of language that was no longer useful on the website, weeding out not only stale content, but also eliminating things that are taking away from the core of what I do, shifting my focus and taking away energy and attention from what's really important. The new website will be a lot more user-friendly, and all my musings on this blog are integrated into the website as well, which is quite wonderful (all the way back to the first blog posts from 2006!).

The other focus of attention for me this fall has been wrapping up my book project. While it is a new edition of an existing book, it has a lot of new material added (almost double in size). The new book is 218 pages long, printed locally in perfect binding, with ISBN and all... It's bulk of new material includes a glossary for over 250 terms; and 55 original formulae for learning in a very concrete manner about all the different fragrance families and their sub-categories. I really cannot wait for it to be ready so that I can share it with you. But it also brings to a close a very long chapter of procrastination in my life. I am the type of person who sits on an idea for prolonged periods of time, stewing over them so to speak, and then in a very concentrated effort I push it forward to completion. Not unlike birth, now that I come to think of it... The pushing part is the part when progress is visible. But most of the hard work was really done in the procrastination phase, when the ideas just "cook" and morph in my head, undergoing an alchemical process (or perhaps it is me who goes through this process).

But this is already digressing from the topic that I'm set to tackle here. Which brings me back to the quote from Pinkola-Estes' life-changing book "Women Who Run with the Wolves". I've been reading it on and off for a couple of years now, as the ideas in it are really difficult to digest and require integrating in one's psyche to really have an impact and understand the meaning behind her stories and wise feminine lore. That particular quote really struck a chord with me. And since this is a time of reflection, it reminded me of how important it is for someone to have support. It takes a village not just to raise a child; but also to keep that child healthy, connected, vibrant through life. We can't live in a vacuum, and we can't create in a hollow space that occupies nothing but our hearts. An artist needs his audience just as much as my perfumes need your skin to really bloom, breathe, and make a change. So thank you for being my little cheering section. And thank you to SmellyBlog readers to being my confidantes - because this blog is a journal of sorts. Lastly, thank you to all of my colleagues, mentors and students for teaching me, inspiring me and forcing me to move forward and share my  knowledge. It is one of those few things that really keeps me going...

I meant to post this for Thanksgiving (in Canada we celebrated it this past weekend), so I hope this is not too late! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wishing you all a fragrant fall, a joyous harvest season, and many blessings for the new Jewish year, the new school year, and beyond!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Pie by Ayala Moriel
Pumpkin Pie, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Canadians celebrating!
We've been fortunate with a glorious sunny autumn weekend, allowing us to breath in the crisp, sweetly scented fall air, gather inspiration in VanDusen Gardens, and drench our bones in some kayaking adventures in Deep Cove.
In the meantime, I invite you to try my pumpkin pie recipe, with an orange-lavender crust. FYI I used roasted fresh pumpkins for this pie in the picture - and it gives it a beautiful depth with hints of smokiness.

For the Orange-Lavender Shortbread Crust:

100gr (1 stick) butter
1 cup + 1 Tbs Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbs Orange Juice
Rind from 1 orange
1 tsp fresh or dry lavender buds

2 Tbs Sugar

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract (Or use vanilla sugar instead of the sugar above)
- Using your fingers or a manual dough blender, mix together butter and flour inside the pie pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead just until a dough forms (avoid overworking the dough, as it would take away from its flakiness).
- Press the dough firmly onto the pan to spread it evenly and line the pie pan (including the sides of course!).

Pumpkin Custard Filling:

3 eggs
1-1/2 cup Cooked and pureed pumpkin (if you have fresh - all the better; if not - canned pumpkin is good too)
1 cup cream or hald&half (I prefer full cream)

2 Tbs Orange Juice
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Tbs grated fresh Ginger (I freeze my ginger and than it is really easy to grate it; the taste is incomparable to the dried ginger!)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cloves
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp Nutmeg (freshly grated), or ground mace

Bake in 350 F (170-180 c) degrees for 40-60 minutes, until the filling is set.
Serve warm or cooled down to room temperature.

Serving suggestions: I like it best on it's own with milky cinnamon or chai tea on the side. But of course you can’t go wrong with the traditional a-la-mode (be sure to use real vanilla bean ice cream) or a dollop of freshly whipped cream or crème fraiche.
Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving 2012 by Ayala Moriel
Happy Thanksgiving 2012, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Happy Thanksgiving for all my Canadian readers celebrating today!
And what better opportunity than today to say a bit THANK YOU for reading my random smelly musings on this little strip of virtual landscape; and for your growing number of comments, which are fascinating and intelligent and add to the smelly spirit of this space.

We celebrated a bit early this year with friends and family in our non-traditional annual stuffed vegetables feast Saturday night and are enjoying a marvellous sunny and warm couple of weeks. Very unusual for October! I even went on a Thanksgiving ocean swim - but what else is new?!
How are you celebrating today? Any special Thanksgiving perfumes or autumn favourites? I'm wearing Megumi myself today, which seems to go equally well with the crispiness of the fall morning and the sunnier, warmer afternoons.

Please note: because today is a holiday, spent out of doors with my dear daughter (and indoors too baking fresh fig tarts!) - the Monkey Monday contest will be posted next week - we've got a really cool prize for next week that I hope will be worth the wait :-)

Happy (Belated) Canadian Thanksgiving!!!

I've been up to my neck (in a good way!!!) celebrating Thanksgiving and although my greetings to you, my dear readers comes in late, I hope this post will be inspiring for those of you down to the south of the border so when your Thanksgiving rolls around you'll have more than sufficient ideas, inspirations and recipes for your celebration. Mainly, I want to get you excited about vegetarian recipes, because almost all across North America, this holiday is so strongly associated with eating a stuffed turkey. I've been vegetarian since birth (and only recently succumbed to eating creatures of the sea, as I feel my body needs just a little of extra boost of vitamin D to compensate for the year-around shortage of sunlight in Vancouver).

For a few years now, I had a fantasy of convincing some friends to celebrate Thanksgiving with me without the turkey (the vegetables "side dishes" are more than filling anyway, don't you think?).

Instead of stuffing a turkey, I cooked what I do best: Turkish-style stuffed vegetables. There is hardly any vegetables you can't stuff, and although many Arab recipes call for ground red meat in their stuffed vegetables, I used the same stuffing used in grapevine leaves to stuff all the other vegetabls I laid hands on (all avaialable from the farmer's market this season!): cabbage rolls, stuffed zucchinis, stuffed peppers (I used poblano peppers, which are more spicy and robust in flavour, especially after roasting them in olive olil... Mmm...), stuffed Roma tomatoes and red Spanish onions. It was all heavenly!

This year my dream Thanksgiving dinner finally came true. To me this was a meaningful moment: perhaps Vancouver really this is my home, at long last. I certainly have dear friends here who are happy to play along my vegetarian menu and try something different and beautiful that symbolizes abundance and supports local agriculture.

To make the rice filling:
Basmati Rice Stuffing
3 cups brown basmati rice (soaked for an hour or overnight, and drained well)
1 large diced onion (plus any of the interior of the onions you were going ot use for stuffing but weren’t able to separate into layers)
1 Tbs olive oil
Remainders of other vegetables for stuffing (i.e.: the flesh of zucchini, eggplant, etc.), minced
1-2 large carrots, grated
2 large bundles of baby dill, finely chopped
1 large bundle of spearmint leaves, finely chopped
1-2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp allspice, ground
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup or more pine nuts, toasted (you may substituted for blanched, chopped and toasted almonds)
A handful of raisins (optional)
4-6 cups of boiling water

Sautee the onions in the olive oil. Add the minced vegetables and grated carrots. Sautee and add the rice and keep stirring for about 2 minutes. Add boiled water (4 cups at first, and the rest only if necessary – i.e. if the rice does not cook well).

For the sauce:

Red sauce for stuffed vegetable
1 large onions
1 Tbs olive oil
3-6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs. red wine
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 celery sticks, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1 Can Pureed Tomatoes
4 whole clove buds or ½ tsp ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice, ground
2 bay leaves, whole
½ cup parsley
½ cup fresh dill
1 Tbs. raw cane sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the onion till it is golden in colour. Add the celery and the pepper and sautee till they soften a bit (about 3 minutes), and lastly – the garlic. Add the carrots and any other minced vegetables cores that you got from preparing the stuffed vegetables. Add the wine and cook for 30 seconds or so. Add the canned tomato puree and spices, sugar if desired, and bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the dill and parsley at the very end.

To prepare the vegetables:
Begin with preparing the vegetables for stuffing – and remember to reserve the parts removed from the core of each vegetable (except for the pepper seeds…) for the stuffing or the sauce.

Choose peppers with thin "skin", such as Poblano (which are very dark green peppers also spicy when fresh, and piquant and robust once baked), or Cubanelle (pale green peppers and also very thin), or even sweet banana peppers. Cut off the tops. Leave the stems on to make nice little "lids" to cover the peppers once stuffed. Bake in the oven in 375F in olive oil pyrex pan for 45-60 minutes.
Stuffing Poblano Peppers

Mini summer squashes:
Cut a circle around the top as you would with a pumpkin, and reserve to create a "lid". Scoop out some of the flesh with a melon baller. Bake in the oven in 375F in olive oil pyrex pan for 30-45 minutes.

For stuffing purposes, I prefer the dark purple eggplants rather than the Japanese eggplants (whose skin is too tough and waxy). Select small ones, which you can cut into two and scoop out the flesh with a melon baller. If you can only find large eggplants, slice into very thick slices, and remove some of the flesh to create an indentation for the stuffing. Bake in the oven in 375F in olive oil pyrex pan for 45-60 minutes.
Stuffing Zucchinis
Choose small zucchinis, which are just long enough for a potato peeler to be inserted into them to carve out the core. Arrange the zucchinis laying down in the pan when using small ones. If you can only find long zucchinis, cut into halves (or more pieces as needed) and do the same, keeping a bottom piece undamaged so it can keep the stuffing in. You can make them all have a flat bottom, and arrange them standing upright in a bread-pan. Bake in the oven in 375F in olive oil pyrex pan for 30-45 minutes.

Cut the top and hollow with a melon baller. Place in a deep pan immersed about halfway through in olive oil. Bake in the oven in 375F in olive oil pyrex pan for 30-45 minutes.
Stuffing Roma Tomatoes

Cut into halves lengthwise, and carefully separate into its layers. The very core can be used for the sauce or the stuffing. Bake in the oven in 375F in olive oil pyrex pan for 20-30 minutes.

Stuffing Onions

Cabbage Leaves:
Cabbage leaves require softening before you can roll them around the stuffing. Salt water will do the trick! Boil a large and deep pot of water with 1 Tbs sea salt. Cut around the base of a whole savoy cabbage (their leaves are easier to separate). Insert a fork into the base (aka stem) of the cabbage so it's easier to turn it around in the boiling water as you remove the leaves. Stuff them by placing a couple of tablespoon or more of the rice filling and roll around. You can either arrange in layers inside a pot, or in a pan (I like to layer mine with olive oil, the tomato sauce, than put the cabbage rolls and cover with tomato sauce). Bake covered with aluminum foil for 30-45 minutes. You may want to remove the foil at the end of the baking time for 10 minutes for getting a slightly caramelizing effect on the sauce - which is simply delicious!

Cabbage Rolls

And this is how they come out of the oven (well, that's really left overs because there was not enough light the night of the dinner party...):

Stuffed Tomatoes & Zucchinis

Served with hot tomato sauce poured on top, and some yoghurt drizzled around the plate or in small side dishes. It's the best harvest dinner I can think of - for both Sukkot and Thankskgiving.

Stuffed Peppers & Cabbage Rolls

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