Visiting Israel in June on vacation

As we were traveling this year, we also included a visit back to Israel and the Holy Lands.

It made my husband Francis’ third time, our son George and his wife Neysa and myself a second trip, and our three grandkids a first time.

We had pre-arranged for a 7 passenger Mercedes van complete with driver who was also a certified tour guide to meet our flight at Ben Gurion airport upon arrival.

It took us to our hotel, and then picked us up every morning at 7 a.m. to tour all major sites and places in Israel, and then back to our hotel at 7 or 8 p.m. where we had free time.

It would nice for everyone to be able to visit Israel just once, however it has become very commercialized and very expensive, not only for tourists but also for people living in the country. For example, gasoline was over $8 a gallon and here we complain with $2.79 a gallon or so.

Here we hear many people say that it is dangerous to go to Israel and they would not think of doing so, but believe me we encountered nothing and felt safe at all times and at the places we went with no fear.

For us personally, we all did really not care for the majority of the foods — the same was so with the foods on our prior trips and this time we stayed at 4-star hotel with a great breakfast selection, which also included some lunch and dinner foods. I guess we are spoiled with our foods or just not used to their menu of foods.

Knowing this about the foods, we tried to pass a jar of peanut butter through customs, but it was confiscated at the airport in Athens before the flight.

We all enjoyed touring all the sites and over the years many things have changed, such as on two of our trips we were able to enter the Dome of the Rock but the law was changed about 10 years ago, and now only Muslims are permitted to enter, plus the cities and settlement have grown immensely. During our stay in Israel, we covered from the south to the north and west (Gaza is where you do not go) including all the major Holy sites — Masada swimming in the Dead Sea and getting our feet in the Jordan River.

It also amazed me how the different religions get along in Jerusalem and other places. There are four major religions in Jerusalem, and a little difficult to understand walking through to old city which religious section of the city you are in.

Of course, we also all visited the Wailing Wall where the men entered on one side and the females on another side, and placed their little prayer notes in the wall (when you could find a spot.) It is very impressive to see especially the number of young people praying at the wall and taking their religion and beliefs with such dedication and sincerity.

I was surprised to see that pizza and burgers were very popular, plus it is one of the very few countries in the world the McDonald’s have survived other than here.

One wild happening while visiting the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, we ran into a man wearing a West Virginia ball cap that was from Beckley and knew the owner of the Beckley Chick fil A. Small world! Until next week!

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South Hominy

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

5 tablespoons of butter, divided

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

dash cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 can white hominy, drained

1/2 cup sliced ripe olives

1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

In a skillet, saute onions and green pepper in 3 tablespoons butter until tender. Add the flour, salt, mustard and cayenne; cook and stir until smooth and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Gradually add milk; bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in cheese until melted. Remove from the heat; add the hominy and olives if desired. Pour into a greased 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Melt remaining butter and toss with bread crumbs, sprinkle over hominy mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden.

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Texas Tea

1 cup cola

1 cup sour mix

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup gin

1/2 cup Triple Sec

1/3 cup rum

1/2 cup tequila

lemon or lime slices

In a pitcher, combine the ingredients, serve over ice. Garnish with lemon or limes.

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Watermelon Spritzer

4 cups cubed seedless watermelon

3/4 cup frozen limeade concentrate, thawed

2 1/2 cups carbonated water

lime slices

Place the watermelon in a blender. Cover and process until blended. Strain and discard the pulp; transfer juice to a pitcher. Stir in the limeade concentrate. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Just before serving, stir in carbonated water. Garnish servings with lime slices.

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Passion Fruit

Hurricanes

2 cups passion fruit juice

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup light rum

1/4 cup dark rum

3 tablespoons grenadine syrup

6-8 cups ice cubes

orange slices and marashino cherries

In a pitcher, combine the fruit juice, sugar, lime juice, rum and grenadine; stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour into hurricane or highball glasses filled with ice. Garnish with orange slices and cherries.

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Southern Fried Okra

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh or frozen okra, thawed

3 tablespoons buttermilk

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic herb seasoning blend

1/4 teaspoon pepper

oil for deep frying

Pat okra dry with paper towels. Place the buttermilk in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, seasoning blend or pepper. Dip okra in buttermilk, then roll in cornmeal mixture. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat 1-inch of oil to 375. Fry the okra, a few pieces at a time, for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain the okra on paper towels. Season with additional salt and pepper.

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Yellow Summer Squash Relish

10 cups shredded yellow summer squash

2 large onions, chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

6 tablespoons canning salt

4 cups sugar

3 cups cider vinegar

1 tablespoon each celery seed, ground mustard and ground tumeric

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large container, combine the squash, onions, green pepper and salt. cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain, rinse and drain again. In a Dutch oven, combine sugar, vinegar and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add the squash mixture, return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully ladle hot mixture into six hot pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove stir bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Refrigerate remaining relish for up to 2 weeks.

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Kiki Angelos is a food columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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