Post 21: Israel Food buying Co-op: Get ready for a Balagan, frozen non-dairy tofu recipe and cookie non-dairy tofu recipe

The linking element in this blog is economy in purchasing and economy in sugar in-take (see recipes below).

My family is a member in a food buying club. It’s call “Scunati” (neighborhood). Joining was my idea. The member in the Jerusalem Scunati clubs are Dati (Charedi and Religious Zionist), but all are welcome. They are situated in those neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The Scunati’s goal (as heard on the tape, is to provide simple nutritious staples to parents of large families in the areas served. Several hundred families are members, of our “cell”, though less than fifty families buy during any given week. Our group is in Nachlaot. I just stumbled upon it one Wednesday evening, the regular day for order pick up. I saw children dragging shopping wagons and asked a few questions. Signing up was easy and did not cost anything.

I understand there is a similar group on Tackamoni Street in Geula, one in Baka, and one off of Shifte Ysrael in Meah Shearim.

In a week or two after I signed up, the “Scunati  (neighborhood) manager’s automated dialing system called and my husband and I were offered a tape message of the produce and stock items that were offered that week and amount in kilpgrams and price, which can vary according to market fkuctuations. We punched in the number for”English”, and the tape began to roll.

The range of produce is seasonal, apples to watermelon.  Some of the minimum quantities are quite high. You may not want a kilogram of eggplants. The prices are about 20% less than similar quality in the shuk, because of the number of people ordering.  If you like to pick out your produce this buying club is not for you. The items are not organic. Each cheaper item is usually sold in about 2 – 4 kilogram amounts. If you get to the collection point early, then the selection is fresher than if you come later on in the evening. You don’t want to order one . No Problem. Just ignore the phone.

The collection spot is in the courtyard of a small Yeshivah. On Wednesday evening, the day of distribution, the plastic produce filled units are piled up neatly. Delivery works on the honor system, which means no-one examines your wagon when you pay. There are always carriages and children underfoot. There’s also a dash to pick up your sheet order, which doesn’t always correspond to your telephone order. Most of the, when you don’t see and hence are missing an item on your print-out, you pay and get credited for it for a subsequent week.

This could be a turn-off, but I don’t mind as I know the regulars already. I don’t let the eight-year olds squeeze ahead of me on the line. Our group are chareidim from Nachlaot and us. Yiddish and Hebrew sprinkle the air. I know the children of English speakers. They help me find some items on my list when the Hebrew eludes me. It is helpful if  you are familiar with basic staples in the supermarket.

After arriving home I remarked to my son-in-law about the profusion of kids,  strollers and boxes strewn around. He told me a story about Rav Mendel. Still getting to the relevance.

I don’t know if you have to live exactly in the neighborhood to join. My impression is that you don’t have to. The offerings may vary from group to group. I just have settled in with this group and see no reason to change.

In sum, the manager has a book with the lists of orders that were filled for the current week, arranged alphabetically by family name. One picks up the order paper and walks around the courtyard to fill one’s shopping wagon. Then one returns to the manager and pays. If there is a disparity and your order is not complete you pay the amount on the sheet and you are credited for the next week on the order paper and in the manager’s records.

For our family it is a win-win situation. The collection point is about two blocks from our apartment. We are generally in and out in less than half an hour.

We are notified by cell-phone if the delivery of the produce is delayed and we set out later. However, before the holidays the delay is not announced and the wait can take as long as 45 minutes. The crowds make collection difficult. I take a flashlight to get a good look at the bottom on the boxes. You learn after a few weeks which items are worthwhile and which fetch a better price elsewhere. The best buys are the root vegetables and basic fruits. There is nothing fancy in the basket. Canned and frozen meat and chicken items are offered in bulk. as well as disposable paper items. The quality is acceptable for those whose diets permit salt, sugar and white flour. If you are on a tight budget there are basics for your pantry to be found here.

During the holiday season, vouchers to clothing stores are offered. The vouchers offer 30% discount for mens’ and boys’ clothing and shoes. If you want more details, leave a comment or show up in the places described on Wednesday at 7 PM.

Recipe 1: Homemade Vegan Yogurt (Tofu frozen yogurt)

Description

Make frozen soy yogurt at home for a fraction of the price with silken tofu. Also the recipes do not contain sugar as found in commercial yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces silken tofu
  • 1 whole banana, cold or 49 grams dried banana
  • 4 tbsp plant-based milk (ie. rice milk)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup or agave or dried blue berries soaked in vanilla bourbon
  • tablespoon of almond butter
  • tablespoon of coconut oil

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a blender, whizzing until smooth and creamy. Taste, adding more sweetener as desired. (Agave or other syrup sweetener may be substituted for the maple).  I used a food processor. The result was not very satisfying*

*Put the mixture in the freezer and take it out after about an hour as the coldness helps. If you are trying to eliminate dairy in stages, you can add equal amounts of plain  or goat yoghurt  and rice milk and place back into the freezer. I found that combination tasty as the dominate taste was the yoghurt. Any reserves should be kept frozen and taken out about an hour before planned use. This will allow the tofu block to defrost. Best also to freeze in portion size containers.

Add in fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or more banana for fruit-flavored non dairy yogurt before freezing.

Recipe 2: Tofu rice-milk chews: This is ideal if you want a snack for a family member or yourself with diabetes.

 

Makes: 16 servings

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours (including cooling time)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups oat granola-no sugar oil free (containing Oat flakes, polydextrose ( sugar derivative but not sugar), fibrulin, almonds, coconut, and raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 cup/ 8 oz / 225 gr unsweetened cooked grain cereal, (oats, barley, rye, millet amaranth) toasted and dry
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries/dry prunes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or weigh out a cup and save for later 40 gr each buck-wheat, spelt and rye
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces silken tofu, drained (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil/ or of  cooked fruit or combination
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 cup flax-seed
  • 1/8 cup flax-seed meal
  • 1/2 cups 45% chocolate bits
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Makes 34 cookies

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/. Baking Paper Line and Coat a large (15 1/4-by-10 1/4-inch) jellyroll-style pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine granola, cooked, baked  dried cereal,  flour, flax seeds, meal nuts, cinnamon and salt; stir to combine.
  3. Meanwhile, puree tofu, eggs,  Add oil/fruit mixture, vanilla, prunes and lemon zest in a food processor or blender until lumpy, not smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste will be only a bit sweet.
  4. Make a well in the center of the oat mixture; fold the tofu mixture into the flour mixture until combined. Spread evenly in the prepared pan or make into cookies of 35 grams. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on each cookie.
  5. Bake until firm in the center and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. If they are cookies after 20 minutes turn to brown of second side. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars with a sharp knife.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Make Ahead Tip: Individually wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature or remove plastic, wrap in a paper towel and defrost according to your microwave’s directions.
  • These really look like cookies. They were very satisfying and a diabetic will love them.

 

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