who's in the kitchen

The trials of Spirit Air


Two weeks ago, Jerry’s daughter Jordana (yes, we each have a daughter named Jordana) gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Adel Mattel Sara (Mattel was Jerry’s mom’s name). When the baby was named on Shabbat, it was a good thing that his dad paid careful attention, because the baby was almost named Udel instead of Adel.

This sort of thing runs in Jerry’s family. When one of his daughters was born, she was supposed to be named Elana. The rabbi kept pronouncing the name Ilona. It took Jerry over five minutes to convince the rabbi that Elana was indeed a name and that it meant “tree” in Hebrew. When it was time to name his other daughter, the rabbi looked to him for the name, and Jerry froze. He had forgotten which of the two names they had decided on. It was a good thing that his friend, who was also there to name a baby, remembered what had been chosen and saved the day.

As you might know from previous articles, each time a new grandchild is born in Israel, Jerry plans a trip. Latest Israel grandchild count is eight: six grandsons and two granddaughters. He also has a grandson in the U.S. as well, bringing the total to nine … with one more on the way! As that baby was due almost two weeks ago, by the time you read this, there will G-d willing be an even 10 ka”h.

Jerry’s daughter-in-law is next to deliver. Since Jordana had a girl, he decided to wait until his daughter-in-law gave birth. There was no bris to rush to; he could wait and make one visit.

As exciting as it is for everyone in Israel to have him, it’s even more fun for them to open all the goodies he brings. The Amazon ordering starts about a month in advance: they order, and he shleps! Me? My job is to unbox, unwrap and pack as much as I can into each suitcase. Sometimes that proves difficult when things are large, bulky or fragile. Usually, one last box arrives just as I figure out how to get everything in without an inch of extra space.

Then there’s the shopping for the best flight. You would think that with less than a week to purchase one, he wouldn’t get the best deal, but leave it to Jerry. True, he sometimes has two stopovers in Transylvania, Turkey, and a bunch of other places I wouldn’t want to step foot in, but to him it’s an adventure. I am at home, holding my breath, until he checks in that he’s made it onto the plane.

There is always a story with him. I think I finally got through to him that the security people who question him before a flight don’t care how old his grandchildren are and what he’s going to do with them in Israel — I try to explain that they are only listening to his responses to see if he’s nervous. They don’t care that his parents were in the Holocaust.

When he’s taking a direct flight, I can relax once I know he’s on the flight. When there is a stopover, I never know what might happen.

Last time he flew with his son Elliot, he got the deal of the century on Spirit Airlines, with only one stopover … which turned into stopovers. The first flight was delayed and arrived late. They got off the plane in Chicago and had to run for a flight to LA. When they got to the gate, the flight had left without waiting for connecting passengers. They were told that there were no more flights to L.A. and that they would have to wait till the next day.

Jerry said this was not acceptable. He needed to get to Los Angeles that day. The only way was to fly to Las Vegas and then take another flight to LA. With no other choice, they boarded the flight. But when they got to the connecting flight in Las Vegas, they were not allowed to board.

Thoroughly annoyed at this point, Jerry demanded to know why. He explained that it was a connecting flight and showed his boarding pass.

“Sir,” the steward said, “there is no proof that you were on the other flight. We have a list of everyone who has to connect to this flight, and unfortunately you and your son are not on that list.” Jerry tried in vain to explain that had he not been on that flight, he and his son would not have boarding passes, but it was as if he were in the twilight zone.

With only ten minutes to takeoff, Jerry pleaded with them to contact Chicago for confirmation that he had been on the flight from Chicago to Las Vegas and was scheduled to be on this one. With five minutes to spare, they were allowed to board. They were also handed vouchers for $250 off their next flights on Spirit Air, but needless to say, those vouchers were left in the airsickness bags. They never wanted to see or hear about Spirit Air again.

They saved about $200 a ticket, but I think it took five times that amount in therapy to get over the ordeal. Let’s hope this coming flight will be smoother. But with Jerry, Elliot, extra suitcases and a stopover … you just know there’s going to be a great article by the time they get back!

And speaking of babies…

Greek Baby Kale Salad with Farro

From For the Love of Cooking by Pam Nelson


1/4 cup instant farro, cooked per instructions

Sea salt, to taste

Red Wine Vinaigrette:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1-1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar, less if you want it less tangy

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. shallots, finely diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste


2 cups baby kale

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 cucumber, peeled & diced

Handful kalamata olives, halved

Few grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 red bell pepper, diced

1 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts

Feta cheese, to taste


Cook the farro per instructions in salted boiling water. Drain and set aside to cool completely.

Make the red wine vinaigrette by combining the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, sugar, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper together in a bowl; whisk until well combined. Set aside.

Make the salad by combining the baby kale, baby spinach, cucumbers, kalamata olives, tomatoes, bell pepper, toasted pine nuts, and 1/4 cup (more or less to taste) cooled farro together in a large bowl. Drizzle with the whisked vinaigrette, to taste. Toss to coat evenly.

Place into serving bowls then top with feta crumbles and extra freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy.