Monthly Archives: July 2015


Last year I wrote on this blog about the Riderwood Mah Jongg Tournament and now, as another year has flown by, the Erickson Living Retirement Community is once again hosting its annual tournament. This is the eighth year that the community has held its tournament, which is a fundraiser for the community’s Benevolent Care Fund. If you happen to be in the Silver Spring, MD area, please support this wonderful event! And don’t forget to scroll down and see some photos from past tournaments. 


Prizes, lunch included in 5-round competition

SILVER SPRING, MD—Riderwood, the Erickson Living retirement community, will host its 8th Annual Mah Jongg Tournament on Thursday, August 13.

Open to the public, the five-round competition will be governed in accordance with rules established by the National Mah Jongg League.  More than 112 Mah Jongg enthusiasts from the mid-Atlantic participated in the 2014 tourney.

Registration will take place at 9:15am with tournament play beginning at 9:45am.  The event will occur in Maryland Hall, located in the Montgomery Station Clubhouse of Riderwood (3120 Gracefield Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904).

The event is a fundraiser for the community’s Benevolent Care Fund.

A payment of $40 includes registration, lunch and prizes.  Entry deadline is Friday, July 24th.  Checks can be made payable to Milly Spector and mailed to her c/o Riderwood, 3148 Gracefield Road, Apt. T-25, Silver Spring, MD 20904.

For more information, please contact Barbara Breit at 301-586-8152.

Here’s Barbara Breit, a resident of Riderwood, as she kicks-off the 2014 tourney:RWV Mah Jongg Tourney-August 14 014Three players prepare for the 2014 Mah Jongg tournament at Riderwood: RWV Mah Jongg Tourney-August 14 010Play begins during the 2013 event at Riderwood:RWV Mah Jongg Tourney-Morning-August 13 012


If you are a reader of this blog then you know I frequently put up posts about a wonderful Mah Jongg teacher in the Berkeley, CA area by the name of Toby Salk. Toby hosts a monthly Mah Jongg Brunch that provides, as Toby says, “a ridiculous amount of fun!” Her most recent brunch was quite special as the participants were celebrating Toby’s birthday AND her dear mother Reva’s birthday.

Toby wrote: My mom Reva, in turquoise, turned 99 on July 13th. She won FOUR games at the brunch!!!

Just more proof that Mah Jongg is not only great fun but is great for the brain! Let’s all wish Toby and Reva many more years of big Mah Jongg wins! Enjoy these photos from the wonderful birthday brunch!!



As promised, here are the recipes from our luncheon on Wednesday.


6 large ripe tomatoes (heirloom if you have them)
2 sweet red or yellow peppers (1 of each is nice)
1-2 jalapeno peppers
1 medium sweet yellow onion
1 large shallot
2 large hothouse cucumbers
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups canned tomato juice (Sacramento)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
Wash and prepare the veggies, core and coarsely chop tomatoes; save the juice. Core, seed and coarsely chop peppers. Peel and coarsely chop onions and shallots. Coarsely chop cucumbers.
IMG_0771 IMG_0772 IMG_0773
IMG_0774 In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, reserved tomato juice, and canned tomato juice.
In the food processor, puree the vegetables in small batches, adding tomato juice mixture as necessary. I like to keep the veggies coarse but it’s OK to puree completely. Depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes, you may need more tomato juice. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and stir in cayenne, salt, fresh ground pepper, and dill. Cover and chill for at least 4 hrs. It’s always better the next day. I stir and correct seasoning before serving and serve with a small dollop of sour cream. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.
I use a very flavorful olive oil from a shop in Hudson, New York by the name of Olde Hudson (Olio Extravergine di Oliva) and a Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine vinegar.
Okay – this recipe is so easy that I am almost embarrassed to tell you about it. But it is the perfect salad for a hot and humid day – easy to make and delicious to eat!
  • grape or mini heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • spicy marinated bocconcini, herbed olive oil reserved
  • diced rotisserie chicken
  • Yep, you read this correctly – rotisserie chicken right from the market!!!

Pick the bocconcini out of the herbed olive oil. Quarter and transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes and the chicken. Drizzle with herbed olive oil and toss gently to combine; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.


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I hosted Mah Jongg Wednesday yesterday – the first time since before I had surgery back in March. It was so great to have everyone here and we really had a great time.

Lunch was perfect for this horrible heat wave we are experiencing right now in NYC.  The humidity is absolutely unbearable. We started out with a bottle of Cava, thanks to G – so nice to begin our lunch with a bit of bubbly, as she said. The first course was a chunky, spicy gazpacho with a dollop of sour cream (all recipes will be posted tomorrow) and cheese and different artisanal crackers. S1 brought some really fantastic crackers from a shop in Sag Harbor; they had a kick of spice in them – a perfect pairing with the spicy gazpacho and the cheese.

IMG_0789Spicy food seemed to be on today’s menu – the main course was Chicken Caprese Salad with a bit of a kick from the spicy bocconcini in it.IMG_0790And then it was time to get serious and sit down at the Mah Jongg table. There were five of us so I sat out the first few games and cleaned up the lunch dishes. IMG_0792 (2)Look how serious everyone is…you’d never know from these photos how much laughing went on today. IMG_0795I was thrilled to have a Jokerless hand today of 22 44 444 666 8888 – it really doesn’t happen that often to any of us and everyone was excited for me. IMG_0796Then it was time for dessert and, as usual, I forgot to take photos. But it was the perfect dessert for this hot and humid day – a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate Talenti Gelato, a big drizzle of Sanders Hot Fudge (the BEST hot fudge ever and it is from Detroit!!!), and a big sprinkling of chopped salted peanuts – YUM!

And then the craziest thing happened…S1 exposed 7 Bam, Joker, Joker, 7 Bam. My turn came around and I had two 7 Bams in my hand that I exchanged for her two Jokers. Everyone oohed and aahed – how lucky to get two Jokers at the same time! A few moments later I exposed 4 Dot, Joker, Joker, 4 Dot –  S1’s turn came and she exchanged her two 4 Dots for my two Jokers. Really? It’s rare enough that you can exchange two tiles for two Jokers in one turn, but two people doing it in the same game? Wow! But wait! Then S1 exposed 5 Bam, Joker, Joker, 5 Bam and when it was K’s turn, she exchanged two 5 Bams for the two Jokers. OMG – three times in one game!!! We really couldn’t get over it.

In spite of the heat and humidity (what ever was wrong with my A/C – or was it simply too hot and humid to get any relief?), we had a great day of Mah Jongg!


The other day I received five different emails from friends, all telling me about the lamp in the window of Oriental Lamp and Shade on Lexington Avenue in NYC. My friend Andrea actually took a photo of the lamp and sent it to me in her email…Mah Jongg really is everywhere!IMG_0545I just received an email from my dear friend, S1 – she actually went over to the shop and spoke to the owner and he is willing to carry Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game (well, at least one copy!) in the store…let’s see if I can convince him to put it in the window! Many thanks and lots of hugs to S1!!!


Jen Gordon, the owner of the online store and website, Mad About Mah Jongg, has put up a posting about me on her Facebook page – wow!!!

She calls it her…

…and here is what she wrote:

Ann Israel, the co-author of the book, Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game, teaches a number of different Mah Jongg classes: Beginners Mah Jongg, Advanced Strategy Mah Jongg, and Supervised Play Mah Jongg. Ann also gives accelerated learning classes for groups of 4 or more where the game is taught in two consecutive half-day sessions. These classes are also offered in the Hamptons and other “second home” locations. In addition to teaching Mah Jongg, Ann travels throughout the country, giving her Power Point presentation on the history of the game. Ann lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; she writes a daily blog, Mah Jongg and Me ( and invites everyone to send photos and anecdotes about their Mah Jongg experiences for posting on the blog (send to and to visit her in NYC where she will be sure to put together a group to play Mah Jongg with you!

I am honored to be included in one of her “Teacher Feature” postings. Be sure to visit Jen’s website for news on upcoming tournaments and socials and to buy some of the great Mah Jongg related products that she offers. Jen says, “After retiring from a successful career of 24 years, I founded Mad About Mah Jongg, Inc. as a way to combine my love of Mah Jongg with my skills as an artist and designer. Many of our products were conceived and designed in-house. Our very popular Mahj-tini and Mahj-arita glasses are two fun examples. More importantly, we are proud to provide the highest quality merchandise available. And, our products are made by local artisans and manufacturers in the USA, whenever possible. It’s an important tradition we embrace wholeheartedly.”

And please be sure to “like” Jen’s Facebook page!!!