Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Sit! Speak!

In Lifestyle on October 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Scientists seem pretty confident that our pet companions do not experience love in the same way as their human “masters”.  But they revised the long-standing scientific belief that dogs do not really understand what we are saying.  For many years, science held that dogs did not understand the words, they simply reacted to minute changes in tone, vocal inflection, and facial expressions.

Now, scientists believe what many dog people have known all along…our canine pals understand the meanings of specific words and then communicate back with “facial” expressions and body posture.

It is easy to translate “Let’s play!” with the wide-opened eyes, the lolling tongue, and the erect ears.  It is a lot harder to translate a dog’s “I love you”, even though virtually ever person who has ever had a close canine companion will say they can recognize the canine expression of love.

It has been a while since I updated the status of our last, elderly greyhound “Jack”.

He continues to chug along and we have sat next to him on many recent evenings, certain that “this would be Jack’s last week”.  But, the old man still clicks on.  His gait is uneven and there is little resemblance in it to the stately greyhound gait mentioned in Proverbs 31.  He totters about in the garden and on a “good” day he sticks that long nose into the fall air and smells things I cannot.  Even on “bad” days, Jack will put that same needle nose into the grass and read the “pee mail” our little hound, Adi, has left for him.  Jack responds with his own message…

…a feat that takes a lot longer and a circumstance many human males can relate to as they age.

Jack’s hearing is a lot more selective and we have to augment our spoken words with exaggerated arm movements.  I am sure that the neighbors think we practice Tai Chi. They have only recently gotten used to our meditation mats on the back deck.

After a while, Jack signals that he is ready to go back inside.  We feed him a lot of very small meals now and he knows that a “potty trip” also means there will be food in his bowl.  Despite his “wobbles”, Jack still works up a few steps of his famous “Supper Dance” just before the bowl is put down for him.

Then, it is time for him to return to his mat for another snooze.

And, while Jack has always had a personality that can be best described as “similar to Private Pyle” (a mentally slow character in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket), occasionally the lights come on in the building and Jack reciprocates in his own language.


Jack, enjoying his penguin blanket on a cold morning.

Most of the time Jack is slow and mechanical seeming more plantlike than canine (not a recent development), but lately, his expressions soften (even for a greyhound) and you can see (and feel) “I love you” in his face.  Maybe its our imagination, but he most frequently makes the “I love you expression” after we have carried him to the garden, after a meal, or when we snuggle him into his cherished “Penguin Blanket”…a staple of his life during the winter months.

So, no matter what the scientists say, we are certain our dog buddies can communicate to us what is so hard for so humans to say with sincerity…

…”I love you and ‘thanks’ for being here.”

Have a wonderful Shabbat and may the following week be a good one for you!


Phyne Dyning rolls out (gasp!) a logo?

In General Information on October 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

"It's so'll get farklempt!"


Ya gotta have some fun in life.  What good is having your very own place from which to hold forth as an absolute authority, if you don’t have fun with it?

Debut…the Phyne Dyner logo and tagline.

Yep, it’s cheesy and amateurish-looking…just like the blog.  But I have to admit that I was inspired when I conceived of the idea.

My inspiration?

Two Men and a Truck

The logo for the small, but mighty, moving company always brings a smile to my face.  I have no information on how the logo was developed, but I have my own romantic musings accounting for its origin.

I like to think that the company’s small-time entrepreneur and founder was sitting at his kitchen table pounding out financial statements for his ambitious little company.  As he/she furiously punched the keys on a calculator, a young child competed with the calculator for attention.  In an attempt to puzzle the evening away in peace, the would-be CEO pushed a sheet of paper and a pencil to the kid and said, “Draw Daddy’s/Mommy’s new company.”

The child followed instructions and the result is an instantly recognized logo that always makes me smile.

In part, the smile comes from my Bohemian spirit that says we don’t have to hire a slick marketing agency or graphics design firm when we venture forward.

Now, I don’t know if my scenario is even close to being the true history of the Two Men and a Truck logo.  But it’s the one I’m going with.

Deja vu all over again

In Editorial on October 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

[Phyne Dyning is supposed to be mostly about food and living a simple, rewarding life.  But, because we are living the Chinese curse of “living in interesting times”, this blog has a moral responsibility to play some part in making certain peaceful voices are not silenced by state violence.]


Violence is at the root of the state’s ability to dominate.  Absent of violence, duress and intimidation the state achieves very little.

Last night, I saw the first glimpse of the police in Oakland, California rioting.  This morning, I read a “Letter to the Editor” sent to the Des Moines Register asserting that it is disingenuous to draw similarities between the “Arab Spring” and the “Occupy” movement(s).

The writer blithely asserted that the Occupy movement does not face the same grave threats to personal safety that Egyptian pro-liberty demonstrators faced.  He asserted pepper spray used against Occupy demonstrators is hardly on the same level of force as the live ammunition that was fired on Egyptian demonstrators.

We could ask 24-year old Marine, Scott Olsen…

…but the war veteran is in a coma and may not survive.

The Oakland Police Department accomplished violence upon Olsen that Iraqi insurgents could not.  Olsen was peacefully marching toward Oakland City Hall when he was struck in the head by a police projectile…either a “less than lethal” beanbag device, a teargas projectile, or a flash-bang device the Oakland police now say they did not deploy against the demonstrators.

The police rioted in response to vaguely stated “concerns” about sanitation within the Occupy Oakland camp.  Those “concerns”, according to police, were rebuffed by demonstrators who “hurled bottles, bricks, and firecrackers” at the peacefully assembled heroes of the state.

The violence has begun.  Predictably, the disproportionate violent response has come from the heavily armed and highly militarized “civilian” police.

Oakland October 2011 (AP photo)

It is certain that many of the Occupy organizers who come from the left of the political spectrum are puzzled.  They believed armored vehicles, tear gas, ninja suits, and other such paraphernalia would be used against the TEA Party activists whom they were told, by the state’s toady media, “Were heavily armed and associated with potentially violent militias”.

You know, “terry-wrists” of the right wing.  Now that the fledgling original TEA Party has been successfully co-opted by the evangelical Christian wing of the Republican Party, the danger of terrorism from TEA Partiers has subsided and the state Cyclopes’ eye has turned to the other end of the political spectrum that dares believe in anything beyond maintaining the status quo that is so cherished by the elites.

The state’s violence genie is out of its bottle and “officials” in other jurisdictions are anxiously looking for the right excuse to use their Homeland Security toys.

Kent State University May 1970 (UPI photo)

In the coming days, there will be media murmurings about “allegations that some Occupy organizations have ties to potentially violent anarchist groups” or some other boogeyman.  (The disinformation specialists know it would be over-the-top to assert “possible ties to al Qaeda.).  The state will either use its agent provocateurs to promote violence at Occupy demonstrations or the state’s agents will rely on its proven technique of inciting unstable individuals within the movement to commit violent acts.

The media will cluck disapprovingly of the violence and give its nod of approval for police violence to restore “order”.  Then, they will exhort readers and viewers to “go buy something nice for Christmas”.

What can we do?

“The whole world is watching” is meaningless if nobody watches.

If you are unable (or unwilling) to participate directly in the Occupy movement, you can still be an advocate for free speech and freedom of assembly.  Even if you do not agree with what the Occupy movement is saying, you can still “do the American thing” and support the movement’s right to say it.

Pass along information of emerging violence by the state against peaceful demonstrators.  Americans have a short attention span and, in a few weeks, the Occupy movement will have become “old news” relegated to below the fold of the inside back page.  The probability of state violence against these peaceful protesters grows exponentially with citizen apathy.

Speak up and do not allow yourself to become just another spectator.

Do it for Scott Olsen.


Oakland Mayor Jean Qwan has issued a contrite statement about the police riot in her city.  The statement comes on the heels of national and international assertions of outrage at the police “crackdown” on unarmed and peaceful demonstrators.  The ACLU and the National Lawyer’s Guild have demanded a complete investigation of the police riot.  Also in response to the police rampage, Occupy Oakland organizers have called for a general strike on November 2nd.

The following is the full text of Qwan’s statement:

We support the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement: we have high levels of unemployment and we have high levels of foreclosure that makes Oakland part of the 99% too. We are a progressive city and tolerant of many opinions. We may not always agree, but we all have a right to be heard.

I want to thank everyone for the peaceful demonstration at Frank Ogawa Park tonight, and thank the city employees who worked hard to clean up the plaza so that all activities can continue including Occupy Wall Street. We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.

99% of our officers stayed professional during difficult and dangerous circumstances as did some of the demonstrators who dissuaded other protestors from vandalizing downtown and for helping to keep the demonstrations peaceful. For the most part, demonstrations over the past two weeks have been peaceful. We hope they continue to be so.

I want to express our deepest concern for all of those who were injured last night, and we are committed to ensuring this does not happen again. Investigations of certain incidents are underway and I will personally monitor them.

We understand and recognize the impact this event has had on the community and acknowledge what has happened. We cannot change the past, but we are committed to doing better.

Most of us are part of the 99%, and understand the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. We are committed to honoring their free speech right.

Finally, we understand the demonstrators want to meet with me and Chief Jordan. We welcome open dialogue with representatives of Occupy Wall Street members, and we are willing to meet with them as soon as possible.”      (Source:  San Francisco Chronical)

If Mayor Qwan is to be believed that “99% of our officers stayed professional”, then Chief Jordan’s 99% will be working diligently to oust and vigorously prosecute the 1% of officers who abused their power with disproportionate violence.  It also must be pointed out that the perpetrators of the Holocaust carried out their murderous duties in a professional manner.  Being “professional” is not a synonym for “lawful”.  -PD


All we are saying…

In Editorial on October 26, 2011 at 9:53 am

Photo: Blog for Iowa

Occupy Iowa continues to chug along, despite repeated attempts by area conformist-monkeys to dismiss or marginalize the movement.  Those attempts are beginning to backfire on Republican and Democratic party loyalists (royalists?).


Occupiers are typically characterized by the novocaine-brained as aimless “beatniks” or aging professional protestors.  But it is the old libels of the reactionary 1960s that are more likely to persist.


The protestors are stereotyped as “professional students”, “jobless hippies”, “infected with venereal diseases”, “parasites” and other slurs, just as anti-war protestors of forty years ago were.  The slurs are entirely without factual foundation.


Most of the Occupiers hold degrees, many of them hold advanced degrees, and are fed up with having their intellectual prowess plundered by the super-rich.  The degrees were financed with a rigged student loan system that turned willing entrepreneurs into indentured servants of the banks…for life.


I offer a half-hearted cheer to President Obama for his willingness to remove the student loan programs from the clutches of banksters, but I offer a more enthusiastic cheer for Ron Paul’s suggestion that the student loan program be dismantled entirely.


“But, don’t student loans facilitate college educations for people who would otherwise be unable to afford them?”


Of course.  But they more facilitate the vicious cycle that ends with skyrocketing tuitions and fees for university attendance.  When tuition and fees increase, student loan limits naturally increase proportionally…thereby encouraging universities to raise (and squander) tuition.  If student loans were dismantled, university tuitions would drop like a rocket-propelled anvil.


The current system also perpetuates the myth that everyone needs a college degree.


It is a myth that has been sold by colleges and universities to their low-performing graduates working as human resources specialists.  Consequently, we see company recruiters seeking to fill menial, hourly positions with people holding four-year degrees.


The practice is utter nonsense.


You should not need a degree in business management to sell toner and ink cartridges for Office Depot.


University apologists hoot and point to “poorly prepared” high school graduates as an indicator that colleges and universities are necessary to provide the needed basic education required for the skill set of a clerk at Kohl’s department store.


The truth is, kids can still get a decent education in a public high school if they (and their parents) are willing to put forth the effort.  A corollary to this truth is that lazy, unskilled high school students go on to become lazy, unskilled college students.  At the conclusion of 5-6 years (to get a 4-year degree), they are lazy, unskilled college grads…holding up to $80,000 of indebtedness to some bank who cares less if they have a job.


For all of the howling from the tighty-righties who hoot and point to “accountability” for public schools, there is silence from the same crowd when it comes to shackling a college grad with a debt they will likely service until they die.  The tighty-righties are conspicuously silent about demanding that college degrees, financed with borrowed money, actually provide a living wage for graduates or that there may be a job waiting for grads after graduation.  There are no howls for “accountability” when it takes a young person nearly six years to obtain a BA or BS degree at a major university.


There are no howls of indignation when the unemployed are cajoled to “go back to school” (and borrow money), rather than seek work.  Education loans and grants have become surrogates for state welfare that becomes ultimately destined for the pockets of university professors and administrators.


The Occupiers are not asking for a handout or “free” education.  They are merely asking that they not be shackled to a job for 30-40 years, while 20-50% of their gross earnings get siphoned off to government-protected lenders.  People tend to disdain feudal systems where there rich get richer, while the poor starve and die solely to pay tribute to the rich.


There is about to be a Soviet-style purge of congress and it will be led by American students who have a justified hope for equal treatment to that of one of congress’ pet bankers.

New Year’s Soup…”Merak Lubiya”

In Recipies on October 26, 2011 at 8:57 am

No grey meat or starchy kugel for us last Rosh Hashana!

Food culture holds many surprising historical and traditional similarities.  In Texas, it is customary to serve black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve or with the New Year’s Day meal.  However, the practice of eating black-eyed peas for “luck” pre-dates Texian history by several centuries.

The Babylonian Talmud (Horayot 12A) specifically mentions eating black-eyed peas at Rosh Hashana (The Jewish New Year).  Sephardi Jews coming to the United States in the 1730s likely brought the custom with them.

The anti-Semitic Yankee general, William Tecumseh Sherman, probably did not know the Jewish history behind the black-eyed pea and, in typical Yankee fashion, did not recognize it as an important food crop.  Therefore, during his ethnic cleansing “march to the sea”, he failed to destroy black-eyed pea crops because he thought them “mere animal fodder”.

His ignorance and subsequent oversight spared the lives of many starving Southerners during those terrible times.

Today, in the home of the Phyne Dyner the black-eyed pea remains a symbol of good luck for Rosh Hashana and for the civil New Year.  “Next year, may we be in Texas!”

[NOTE:  In Iowa, the American Ukraine, staple “Jewish” New Year’s foods consist almost solely of chewy, grey brisket (or rubbery chicken) and gooey potato or noodle kugel. But then, most “meat and taters” Iowans (Jews included) also regard “ketchup” to be a spice.]

During our celebration of the holiday, black-eyed peas fill in for the humble red beans in our “Hoppin’ John” and other bean-rice dishes.  It also fills in as a soup ingredient for merak lubiya (black-eyed pea soup).

Lubiya is the Arabic word for black-eyed pea.

Merak lubiya has a sunny color imparted by a generous amount of turmeric and its hearty flavor comes from that great compliment for all things bean…cumin.  A splash of lemon juice and a handful of chopped cilantro give the dish a cheery flavor that puts a smile on the faces of diners.  Like most foods from lands around the Mediterranean, this soup also contains generous amounts of garlic, tomatoes, and onions.

It is a stark contrast from the glop served up in most homes of Ashkenaz Jews during the holidays.

So, live a little.  Put away the sour cream and the tzimmies (sickeningly sweet candied carrots and raisins) and enjoy a Jewish tradition that pre-dates the shtetle by a few hundred years.

Let’s get cooking…

1 ½ C dried black-eyed peas (rinsed and picked for stones)

2 large, sweet onions thinly sliced or chopped

3-5 large cloves of garlic, minced

2 TBS olive oil

1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced (seeds removed if desired)

3 large Roma tomatoes, diced (or 14oz can drained)

1 C zucchini, diced (optional)

3 C vegetable stock

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

1 ½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

¼ C lemon juice (or to taste)

¼ C (packed) chopped fresh cilantro

salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (see notes)

 [NOTE:  It is possible to substitute canned black-eyed peas.  But be sure to read the label for pork ingredients if your Invisible Friend has a rule against eating pig.]

Place the black-eyed peas in a deep pot and cover with cold water (enough to cover the peas/beans by one inch).  Heat to boiling, and then reduce heat to slow simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and allow to stand at room temperature for 2-3 hours.  Drain the beans in a colander, return them to the pot, and cover with cold water.  Cover and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, or until tender.

[NOTE:  Do not add salt to the beans until the soup is almost finished.  Adding salt to (any) cooking beans will keep them hard, rather than soft and delicate.]

In another large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for 4-6 minutes, until soft.

[NOTE:  In this soup I use onions cut “Middle Eastern Style”, rather than chopped.  Cut the onion in half (long-wise from root to shoot).  Then, slice the onion thinly along its long axis.  This gives a consistent size that cooks evenly.]

Add the minced garlic and stir constantly for one minute.  Do not allow the garlic to brown or the soup will have bitter undertones.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for the zucchini (if using) lemon juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper.  Add in the pre-cooked black-eyed peas.  Cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the zucchini (if using) and the fresh cilantro, recover, and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper (sparingly) and stir in the lemon juice.  Serve in deep bowls with crusty bread or home-baked pita.

If desired, the vegetable based soup can be made velvety-rich by putting a spoonful of sour cream on top of each bowlful just before serving.

Soljanke: Ukrainian Mushroom Soup

In Recipies on October 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

[NOTE:  A bonus recipe for piparvika follows the soup recipe!]

Phyne Dyning continues a tribute to Slavic soups (homage to the approaching cold-wet season in the American Ukraine of Iowa) with an offering with roots in both the Ukraine and Russia.

Solyanka or, in Ukrainian…soljanke.

Like many soups of the region, its flavors are “brightened” with pickle juice and/or chopped dill pickle.  The idea may seem a bit “blech” at first to those with a purely Americanized palate, but the concept is deeply rooted in good kitchen

A simple, satisfying repast from the Ukraine!


Too many great soups become mediocre or bad soups when the cook adds too much salt in hopes it will give the soup a flavor boost.  Salt, in moderation, does enhance flavors because of the way it works with taste receptors on the tongue.  But, too much salt just makes a soup salty, without giving much flavor enhancement.

Good cooks, therefore, hold off on the salt in favor of adding lemon juice or vinegar to their soups.  Some say white wine or white vinegar works best in light-bodied soups and that red wine, balsamic vinegar, or cider vinegar augments dark, rich soups.  It is a principle that seems to follow the saw “white wine with chicken and fish and red wine with red meat”.

However, most wine experts do not hold fast to the white-red rule and cooks should not be afraid to use white acidifiers interchangeably with red acidifiers.  In fact, in much of Middle Eastern cooking, lemon juice is almost exclusively used to brighten a dish.

Now, seeing that lemons are not native to the Ukraine, it is natural that they would do the Phyne Dyning method and use what is at hand…

…pickles, pickle brine, or pickled cabbage juice.

Today’s offering used whatever brand of petite dill pickle the Phyne Dyner had lurking in his fridge…Polski Wyrobe!

The soup also took advantage of a surplus of mushrooms packed in bags in the bottom of the fridge.  Fellow Phyne Dyners…take note.

Buy your mushrooms in bulk amounts of one to five pounds.  Divide them between several brown lunch bags and store them in the warmer of the bottom drawers of the refrigerator.  If you find you have “Whoa, way too many mushrooms”, break out your dehydrator (you do have one) and dry the oversupply and store them in wide-mouthed plastic jugs.

The Phyne Dyner buys “fancy” mushrooms at the farmer’s market and dries them for later use as well.  Simply rinse them well and then let them stand in 2 C of boiling water per cup of mushrooms for 10-15 minutes.  Ta-da!  (Remember to remove the stems from shiitake mushrooms.)

Also notice that there is no added fat (drippings, oil, or butter) in this soup.  I have made this soup with beef broth or vegetable broth.  The beef broth gives a very rich soup.  If your Invisible Friend has a rule against mixing meat and dairy, you should remember to omit the dollop of sour cream on the soup at serving.

Okay, here we go…

8 C thickly sliced white mushrooms

1-2 C dried shiitake, morel, etc (rehydrated and coarsely chopped)

2 very large sweet onions, coarsely chopped

7 C vegetable stock (beef stock for a richer soup)

1 large (or 4-5 petite) dill pickles, thinly sliced

1 ½ TBS capers

2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 bay leaves

8 peppercorns, cracked with mallet

½ C tomato juice drained from 14oz can of tomatoes

(or 2 TBS tomato paste)

I used the juice from canned, diced tomatoes because I was making another soup that called for drained, canned tomatoes.  Plan ahead so you can avoid wasting precious food.

Heat a dry, large stockpot over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onions and about ½ to ¾ C of the broth.  Stir continuously to avoid scorching.  When the onions are just turning golden brown at their edges, add in the garlic and stir continuously for one minute.

Do not allow the garlic to scorch or the soup will be bitter.

Add in the mushrooms (dried and fresh) and toss in well with the onion and garlic mixture.  Add the remaining stock, the bay leaves, tomato juice (or paste), and the peppercorns.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30-40 minutes.  Stir in the capers and pickle slices and continue to simmer the soup for about another 10-15 minutes.


So hearty that you'd SWEAR there's meat!

Before serving the soup, taste.  Add a bit of pickle brine (or caper brine) instead of salt.  Give the soup a few twists of black pepper and serve piping hot in deep bowls with a dollop of sour cream (if no beef broth was used).  Garnish with minced flat parsley leaves.

We have enjoyed this with small glasses of Ukrainian peparvika, whisky that has been infused with hot pepper.  The stuff is easily made and is guaranteed to swat away the chill.

Here is how you make peparvika.

In one quart of cheap whisky, add 2-3 thinly sliced jalapeno peppers, hot banana pepper, or hot Hungarian red peppers.  Pour into a sealable wide-mouthed jar (save the whisky bottle) and place in a cool, dark place for about a month.  Using a tea strainer or cheesecloth, strain the brew back into the original bottle.  Do not forget to re-label the bottle, as peparvika makes an absolutely vile mix with Coca-Cola.  Enjoy small appertif glasses of the stuff and/or use it as a flavoring agent in soups, gravies, and stews.


You know you’re an “altekacker” when…

In Shameless plug on October 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm

It is far past time I admit it…

…I’m an altekacher.

I have more bird feeders than swim trunks and I get more excited to see the first red tomato of the year than the first bikini.  I walk around the house humming “Tzena, Tzena” and when I am extremely contemplative my hands fold neatly behind me as I walk.

Yep, it is official.

Therefore, my dear mother-in-law gave me the only birthday gift I could appreciate…

…a subscription to Birds & Blooms.

Okay, it has everything I want.  No more Playboy images of “North American high-breasted, long-legged, blond-tufted, mattress-thrashers” for me.  It is orioles and hummingbirds!  The magazine even tributes the Bohemian lifestyle!

One brief article detailed how to repurpose an old headboard and footboard into an absolutely splendiferous garden bench.

Oh my!

There are recipes for suet, birdhouse plans, and even a few hundred hints and tips from birders and gardeners all over America.  This is a “must read” for Phyne Dyners!

Google up the subscription information.  You will not be sorry.

This is “invalid’s soup”? It CAN’T be healthy!

In Recipies on October 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

Yes, it is that good.

There are several versions of this “invalid’s soup”, “grandfather’s soup”, “bubbe’s soup”, etc.  Variations can be found throughout Poland, Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus (where this recipe came from).

An elegant setting for Bubbe or Zayde!

The soup’s name derives from the belief that the sick, the recovering, and the elderly easily digest its ingredients.  It is a very calorie dense soup and, therefore, a sick person need only eat a small amount for a fairly high calorie meal.  The onions and vegetable stock provide generous amounts of vitamin C and the cinnamon and nutmeg are thought by many to have medicinal qualities.  The soup is easy to prepare in one pot and the ingredients cost only a few kopeks.

The soup may look a little familiar to American Jews.

Virtually every American Jew is familiar with matzoh ball soup.  Matzoh ball soup is the kosher for Passover version of the one I offer up below.  Both of the soups are dumpling soups. Matzoh balls have comparatively much less flavor than the dumplings in this soup.  But, the biggest difference is that the Passover soup has a much thinner broth, often without discernable pieces of anything beyond the occasional carrot slice or parsley leaf.

This soup is much, MUCH heartier and can be a meal by itself for even a healthy young person.

Best of all, the soup can be prepared in well under an hour.  It keeps well in the fridge and even freezes well, despite the presence of the dumplings.

Let’s get started…

For the broth you will need:

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large baking potato, small dice

3 TBS butter (or parve butter substitute)

2 bay leaves

4 C vegetable stock (best) or low-sodium chicken stock

2 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried dill

freshly ground black pepper to taste

 And, for the dumplings:

2/3 to 3/4 C self-rising flour

(or same amount of ordinary flour with 1 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp added)

1 large egg, whisked

1 TBS butter (or parve butter substitute)

1 tsp dried dill

1 tsp dried parsley

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp garlic powder

olive oil (optional, for hands)

In a 2-4qt pot (that has a cover), melt the butter over medium heat.  Add in the onion and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the onions begin to turn golden and sweet.  Stir frequently to avoid scorching.  Add in the diced potato and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes.  Stir frequently.  Twist in a bit of pepper.  Pour in the stock and bay leaves, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 8-10 minutes.

While the broth is cooking, make your dumplings.  Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour.  Add the parsley, dill, garlic powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Rub this mixture well until the spices and herbs are well blended into the flour.  Whisk the egg until frothy and add to the flour mixture.  Using a fork, carefully fold the egg into the flour mixture until you have a moist, sticky dough.  If the dough is too dry, add water (1/2 tsp at a time).  If it is too wet, add flour (1/4 tsp at a time).  Rub a SMALL amount of olive oil (or butter) onto your hands and form ½ to 1 tsp of the dough into balls.  By now, the broth has simmered for ten minutes.  So, now, you can begin dropping the dumplings into it.  When you have added all of the dumplings, cover the soup and simmer for an additional 10-12 minutes.

You get healthy just looking at it!

I do not add salt until this soup reaches the table.  If you are using commercially prepared stock, there is usually enough salt already.  Besides, this is for “grandfather” and he does not need more sodium.

Sprinkle generously with dried dill and parsley flakes and serve in shallow bowls.  Guests can add their own salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.


Thanks to my friend, Arkadje, for giving me this recipe for “zup deduhlyeh” to share with my Phyne Dyning friends.

Happy Birthday…to Phyne Dyning

In General Information on October 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

I'm this many! (Image: Socializr)

Phyne Dyning was launched just one year ago.  It’s roots were just one more cooking blog and it morphed into a hodge-podge of cookery, political curmudgeonry, and an ongoing celebration of the Bohemian lifestyle.  As the economy sputters and groans, Phyne Dyning resonates with readers desperate to enjoy good food (and a simple life) on a tight budget.  Consequently, these pages began to feature recipes using common ingredients that are available (to most) at a fairly low cost.

Bohemianism is sweeping (today’s) Depression-era America.

Workers scour for ideas on how to re-purpose items for daily living and how to eek “just a while longer” out of a pair of shoes, a car, a ratty sofa, or last year’s suits.  Disharmony may be emerging on our streets, but people are harmoniously sitting down at a shared (at home) dining table to enjoy meals while actually looking each other in the eye.  We are becoming a “people”, once again.

Wages are flat and there is a collective brooding by those sickened by an Amerika abandoned to Wall Street banksters and their paid-for political cronies.  Although the media clamors desperately to garner attention for the same, recycled bunch of professional candidates, the real show is seen in the people’s occupation movement.

The local media minion for the corporate state, the Des Moines Register, libels the movement as “directionless” and “offering no solutions”.  Saying so is to assert, “There will be no complaining unless you have a solution.  Otherwise, shut up and stay in the assumed position!”

Corporate toadies, like the Register, would likely admonish people to be prepared to tell the mechanic how to fix their car before complaining about it not running right.  With one’s home ablaze, the firefighters do not demand the homeowner to suggest ways to put out the fire before addressing the conflagration.

America’s home has been set afire.  People have rushed into the streets, crying for someone to put out the fire and they are chided by the press to put it out themselves as the firemen fiddle and dawdle.

It has been an interesting inaugural year for Phyne Dyning.  The next one promises to be even more interesting.

Keep reading and keep cooking.  My stats tell me that the blog resonates well with a very diverse group of cooks and home chefs.  The past year has been “good” to Phyne Dyning and (G-d willing!) the next 365 days will be even better.

Thanks for reading!

Shift in seasons…shift in cuisine

In General Information on October 19, 2011 at 10:55 am

The "other" season arrives in Iowa.

The second season has arrived in America’s Ukraine (Iowa) as the hot-wet season has been replaced by the cold-wet season.  Neighbors have bidden adieu to neighbors and they have retreated behind their triple-paned insulated glass for the next six months of life as lived on the steppes of old Russia.

Cold weather hints means my proletarian bakery shifts into high gear with the production of French baguettes, soft Italian bread, and (of course) big bags of freshly baked pita.  Although two readers inquired about my na’an, I admit that I seldom bake dairy-based breads.  Some of our guests and recipients of “gift loaves” separate meat from dairy and keeping breads parve means no guesswork.

Let the baking begin!

The shift in seasons also means the Phyne Dyner’s focus shifts from sunny vegetable courses to hearty and warming soups.

Coming soon…and appropriate to the setting…comes Ukrainian soljanke with robust mushrooms, onions, and a pickle surprise.  For the geriatric set, is zup deduhlyeh (“Soup for Grandfathers”), an easily digested egg-onion and dumpling soup from Russia.  And, to cheer up the grey days, a colorful Sephardi vegetable soup using lots of turmeric and black-eyed peas!

Time for "schie"...

In the meantime, browse the PD archives for other cool/cold weather favorites…like schie and Ural pelmeni (one of PD’s most popular posts!).

...or, pelmeni!

Stay with us, tovarich, lots of good eating is coming your way!