All I can say is, God bless Mrs. Feldman's cake. It saved me twice recently when unexpected guests were due and no-fuss baking was all I could face. (Truth be told, it's all I can ever face.)
This dark and pleasingly chocolatey confection came my way via Linda Amar, assistant to our editor-in-chief, who had brought it to the office for a party to say good-bye to a popular intern.
She explained: "Estelle Feldman was a close friend of my late mother's. When I was 16, I begged her for the recipe, and have been using it ever since."
I leave the cake plain, but it can be made festive with any kind of topping, from melted chocolate to whipped cream. My Moscow-born guests told me on Friday night that they use yogurt - which sounds strange at first, but might be an interesting foil to the sweetness.
MRS. FELDMAN'S CHOCOLATE CAKE
11â„2 cups sugar
1â„2 cup oil
13â„4 cups flour
11â„2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3â„4 cup cocoa
2 regular-sized mugs of preparedinstant coffee (or 1 cup coffee and 1 cup milk)
2 tsp. vanilla
Mix and bake at 180 for around 45 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
FOR THOSE who enjoyed the Very Orange Cake (Short Order, February 23): Dena Rubens from Metar wrote to tell me that she had tried the recipe with lemons, "and it was really good."
She said she used four No. 1 eggs and two medium lemons, and added a quarter-cup of water as they were processing. She increased the sugar by only one tablespoon and added a little vanilla to neutralize the lemon's tang.
"We liked it even better than the orange," she concluded. "Thanks for a new family fave!"
FOR Post news editor Amir Mizroch, 31, work is no sinecure. It involves "engaging with outside sources, getting people to give their best all the time." Office hours can be tense, and on someone who in South Africa had a "very sporty growing-up - tennis, cricket, rugby and swimming" - the move to Israel and a sedentary job took its toll.
"I love the humous here, and the lamb, and I got used to eating tons of pizza. And I let my fitness go."
About 10 months ago he went for his annual physical - and soaring cholesterol levels made him take stock. So he started yoga, learned about vegetarian eating and consulted a naturopath in Bnei Brak "who said my body was working too hard to break down the food I need. That leads to tiredness and headaches."
His philosophy now is "to eat as much as I want of the right things, at the right times. I'm not allowed fried foods, or canned foods because of the preservatives. Everything should be as fresh as possible: only white fish and salmon, and no cold cuts."
After only 10 days he felt less tired and his headaches had gone. And he started losing weight.
Now he's into salads, and he's internalized the Chinese philosophy that the perfect meal includes five colors: Red - red peppers and radish; orange - carrot, orange peppers; green - baby leaves, cucumbers, green peppers, celery; white - onion, grated turnip, mushrooms, cauliflower; yellow - peppers, fresh corn. Tomatoes are out for him, he says, because they exacerbate a back problem.
He has substituted goat's milk yogurt for milk and cut out coffee - "a huge problem for me."
To prepare a healthy and tasty soup, he covers orange or green lentils, (pre-soaked) beans, potato cubes, sliced carrots and lots of parsley with water and a little salt, and cooks them until everything is soft. To make a stew, he combines the soup ingredients with some fresh chicken breast or lean beef cubes that have been sauteed with onion and garlic in a little olive oil, and cooks it all on low heat for an hour and a half.
His next challenge? To give up smoking.
MY PESSAH ended with a little spontaneous combustion when a soup ladle I had left on the stove top leaning idly against a pot rim, behind a much larger pot in which kneidlach were boiling, first quietly melted into a disgusting pool of grey plastic, then ignited.
As I doused the conflagration with the bowl of water in which I had wet my hands while making the matza balls, I made a mental note for next year: Buy new ladle.