Shabbat started on Thursday night this week with Deep Breath Baking. Fifteen fabulous women from the Grad Network gathered in Emily’s apartment to bake challah and do yoga, both perfect antidotes to the ridiculously snowy conditions outside. The most memorable thing I got out of the experience was the idea that just as “rest is in the recipe” for making challah, rest is in the recipe for life in the form of Shabbat. If you ever have the chance to take Michal’s workshop, I highly recommend it!
Because I baked my dough tonight instead of before Shabbat (and I know we’ll eat it all before next Shabbat), I didn’t bother braiding it, but here’s how it turned out in my mini loafs. (Full disclosure: we’ve gone through one and a half of these loaves in the time it’s taken me to write this post… Maybe they won’t even last through the weekend.)
Friday night was the Grad Network/OCP-GAP (Orthodox Community at Penn’s grad students) Shabbat dinner. We expected 50, then 60, and ended up with over 70 people, and it was amazing to have such an overwhelming response and to have such a mix of people from different schools, disciplines, and Jewish backgrounds. Many thanks to Glatt Delight for catering such a great meal: they’re a well-kept secret, but a great place to get kosher meat right in Center City at 12th and Sansom.
With my non-denominational mindset, it was especially noteworthy for me to have dinner with such a large number of people who specifically identify as Orthodox. I spent a lot of time last night thinking about what that means in the context of my Jewish identity and the identities of a lot of the people I spend time with. I am amazed by the incredible variety of Jewish expression I encounter in any given week, and I want to affirm the legitimacy of all of these expressions every chance I get. I was really happy to hear from several people this week about enjoying the blog, and I continue to hope that this is one more way for me to affirm the value of all the different ways Judaism looks to the people around me.
I also really enjoyed having some pretty great theological discussions about this week’s Torah portion at dinner. This week is Mishpatim, which features a whole bunch of laws, many of which are troubling to a modern sensibility. It’s always a little thrilling when these topics come up at a meal and when people who typically spend their time studying law, or medicine, or some other discipline, find something in Jewish tradition that gets them fired up. Even when Judaism makes us uncomfortable, enaging with the Torah and our tradition on any level is valuable and nourishing and authentic. Too preachy? Eh, I guess this is what gets me fired up!
Shabbat lunch today was Mexican chocolate-themed, which can only mean super yummy-ness (and that Marc made more Mexican chocolate gelato). Beverly made enchilada lasagna with mole, Mattea made roasted squash with chile lime dressing, and along with the gelato, there were Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles for dessert. Oh man, it was good.
Here is the easiest mole recipe I’ve ever found, and the one that we enjoyed today. The steps are easy, but it does actually take some time, so plan ahead. It’s great with any combination of beans and cheese, and it might be considered addictive. And to give credit where it’s due, I took this recipe nearly exactly from this site.
Increase heat to medium-high. Boil until reduced, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This is the point at which I feel like I’m making whipped cream, and it’s just impossible to believe it’s going to turn into the right thing. Ever. But be patient! It’s worth it!)
Remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use in whatever recipe you’re planning to make. Enjoy!