After nearly a year living in Israel, there are certain consumer habits we''ve acquired that are beginning to feel normal. Because of its uniquely Israeli packaging (and also because it''s price-controlled), buying our milk in plastic bags always makes me feel very, very Israeli. Occasionally, when there''s no 1% milk in bags and I have to buy an ordinary cardboard container, I feel let down. (Not to worry. I don''t get so depressed that therapy is required.)
Before Pesach, we bought a new plastic pitcher for our milk bags.
This one was an upgrade, because it has a built-in razor blade to slice through a corner of the bag to open it. (I know how jealous you must be feeling.)
Knowing exactly how large a cut to make in the bag is something of an art form. After nearly a year here, my brother just taught me a milk spillage-reducing trick: hold the corner opposite the opening as you pour. Brilliant! I haven''t spilled a drop since.
Here''s another thing, it took almost a year to figure out. Each bag o''milk contains 1 liter, which is about 4 cups, so we go through them pretty quickly. On any average day, we have 3 or 4 spare bags in the fridge. But we had no decent system for storing them until very recently.
What can I say? It takes awhile to figure these things out. This was a container we almost threw away because it had no lid. But it''s perfect for 4 bags of milk. I''m so happy!
The produce here is different. For example, the potato skins are much thinner, so I never peel potatoes anymore. And I can''t get 10 oz. boxes of chopped broccoli (which I used to buy 6 and 8 at a time), so now I buy bags of frozen broccoli florets, thaw the broccoli in the bag and then cut them with standard kitchen shears. I save time not peeling potatoes and take a little more time with the broccoli. It all works out in the end.
Kedem grape juice is available here, but it''s sweeter and thicker than the Israeli grape juice we''ve come to prefer. We had a favorite brand but we started experimenting to see if we could save a few shekels on something cheaper. In the end, we decided that there really is a difference in taste and we went back to our favorite brand. While my husband was making kiddush this Shabbat, I noticed the embossed image of two spies carrying a really big cluster of grapes - straight out of last week''s Torah portion - right on our grape juice bottle.
I''ve starting writing cooking temperatures for new recipes in Celsius. And I''ve gotten the general gist of weather temperatures, thanks to these three things:
1) While we were still in America, I flipped the toggle on my car''s temperature gauge to Celsius so I could begin to correlate the number to the feel outside the car''s windows.
2) A friend and fellow olah taught me this neat trick for estimating weather temperature:
30 is hot
20 is nice
10 is cold
Zero is ice
3) And another friend taught me this trick for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit temperature in my head:
Double the Celsius number
We have malls here, but I''ve never seen a factory outlet center. Unless you''re a tourist looking for souvenirs, there isn''t much recreational shopping in Israel. Which is just fine with me. A few weeks ago, while my husband was in America working, I went to the grocery store all by myself for the very first time. That was enough shopping excitement for me.
Okay, one last cheap consumer thrill for now. I love being able to buy special Shabbat toothpaste and toilet paper in virtually every tiny corner grocery store all over Israel.