It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it: potlucks and crockpots? Goes well with the getting-colder weather, the earlier sundowns, the crunchy leaves, and the hunkering down with family and friends. Not so much with the smell of ginkgo trees, but you can’t win them all. (I really, really hate those trees.)
Friday night, Abigail hosted the Grad Network vegetarian potluck Shabbat dinner, and it was just, simply, a great night. The food is getting steadily more impressive at each of these dinners, and my old standard of baked tofu in soyaki was yummy, but totally shamed by the other amazing food there, including not one, but two, impressive fish dishes, Laura’s baked ziti, and Molly’s adorable little cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches (see last week’s post for how much I suddenly love this sandwich).
The fish, though, brings up an interesting point about how Jews think that fish is vegetarian. For years, I called myself a vegetarian even though I ate fish, and I even know people who call themselves “Jewish vegetarians,” which is what the rest of the world calls pescatarians. Here’s what it comes down to: fish is pareve, which in the laws of keeping kosher, means neither milk nor meat. That means it can be eaten with dairy or meat meals and used with any dishes and silverware. However, that special status does not make it vegetarian. And yet, I have a feeling that fish will continue to have a place at Jewish vegetarian potlucks. It’s like we already have enough categories to keep track of or something.
We went to Joline’s for lunch on Saturday, and everything was so, so good: roasted root veggies, brussels sprouts and green beans, leftover kugel from Ilana’s work, my favorite Trader Joe’s lentil spread that I only ever eat at Joline’s, and crockpot rice and lentils. This is really a revelation, because I learned a new method of Shabbat crockpot cooking: turn it on high for a couple hours before sundown, then turn it to warm until lunch. (I usually keep it on low for 20 hours, which might explain while all my spices cooked off last week and all my cholent always tastes exactly the same.)
“I learned something new” crockpot rice and lentils, from Joline
2 cups basmati rice
1 cup lentils
6 cups broth
1 cup water
1 chopped onion
2 T curry powder
garlic powder, salt, and cayenne to taste
Put it all in the crockpot on high for 2 hours. Turn to warm until lunch. Amaze Miriam.
I also had a special affinity with this lunch because we ran into Joline at Trader Joe’s on Friday afternoon, and the timing was perfect for us to be able to drive her home. While the cashier ringing me out was teasing me for how my job could possibly involve so much tofu (3 lbs.), Joline’s cashier was trying to help her find lentils. But I overheard and said I had lentils she could use, prompting another cashier to say, “Sure, lentils — it’s like borrowing a cup of sugar.”
Having neighbors is awesome, and sharing ingredients is an honest, tangible, super-practical, and warm-and-fuzzy way to be part of a community. Not unlike a potluck, so how about dem apples?
Speaking of which, Aliza had her first taste of applesauce on Saturday afternoon, and judging by the ratio of mouth to bib, I think she liked it.
Postscript: I wrote this Saturday night, but I didn’t publish it because the camera was in Aliza’s room, and she was sleeping, and I wanted Marc to read it first, and he was sleeping. Then a bunch of other things happened, making me even more thankful to have neighbors/friends and to be able to be a good neighbor/friend. And Sara’s “Friends Thanksgiving” not only brought all this home even more, but it was un-freaking-believably delicious.