Sheva Brachot Shabbat

This week, we get to hear from Alex, the kallah (bride).  Mazel tov!  Truly, getting to celebrate with Alex and Jonathan at their wedding was an absolute joy, and having their sheva brachot Shabbat chronicled here is a definite privilege.  Just because the only picture here right now is of chili, everyone and everything at the wedding was beautiful, and hopefully I’ll be able to update this post with a picture of the festivities in the near future.  

On a personal note, writing about my own Shabbat meals is a habit that’s proving hard to break.  I went to four Shabbat dinners on Friday, and I spent much of the time going between them thinking about how I’d write about my night.  But my last meal of the night was at Ilana’s with the newlyweds, and this might be the first Shabbat of my entire life where I ate red meat for dinner and again for lunch.  Jonathan gets an extra mazel tov for that one.  

For the regular readers of this blog, a few months ago, you read about us getting engaged; now six months later we’re celebrating our first Shabbat as newlyweds.  During the Jewish wedding ceremony the sheva brachot (seven blessings) are recited and are then repeated at festive meals for a week following the wedding to allow you to celebrate with the larger community.  Our favorite matchmakers, Miriam and Ilana, each were kind enough to host a sheva brachot meal for us this week.

Miriam hosted on Monday (I know it’s not on Shabbat, but it’s related to eating and being Jewish, so we’re close).  The theme of Miriam’s meal was the “seven blessings of Grad Hospital” featuring food inspired by neighborhood restaurants with the hope that it would motivate us to move back to the neighborhood soon.  We had:

1)     Beer inspired by Sidecar
2)     Israeli salad inspired by La Va
3)     Build-your-own grilled cheese inspired by Beauty Shop Café
4)     Sweet potato fries inspired by Ants Pants
5)     Spicy green beans inspired by Grace’s Tavern
6)     Grape leaves inspired by Divan
7)     Cupcakes from Pamcakes

Everything was delicious and makes us even more eager to find a house in the neighborhood.  [Miriam’s note: It’s always nice to know when my plans work the way they’re supposed to!]

Jumping to Friday night, Ilana hosted us for a wonderful Shabbat dinner.  We started off the meal with Beverly’s challah (dipped in honey instead of salt—a wonderful post-wedding tradition) with hummus and guacamole.  The main course was meatloaf with mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, stuffing, green bean casserole and tofu for the vegetarians at the table.  I’ve never had meatloaf before and previously wasn’t particularly interested in it.  I was wrong!  This meatloaf blew away all my preconceived notions of meatloaf.  It was moist and flavorful, and has convinced me to reconsider my position on meatloaf.  However, even better, was the totally not-parve tasting mashed potatoes.  Apparently the secret to making parve mashed potatoes good is adding A LOT of margarine and Coffee Rich creamer.  I’m totally stealing this trick.

For Shabbat lunch we wanted to thank some of the people who had hosted us this past week by having them over for lunch.  The wintery mix (that thankfully held off until after our wedding weekend) meant breaking in our brand new crock pot for beef chili.  Jonathan had been promising beef chili to Miriam since her conversion from vegetarian to not-so-vegetarian.  A 6 ½ quart crock pot (with 3 pounds of beef in it) awaited her arrival.

Recipe for a normal sized pot of chili (multiply by about 1.5 to make a giant crock pot):

–          Dice and saute 2 large onions, 6 cloves garlic, 1 large green bell pepper and 1 chili pepper or 2-3 jalapeno peppers in a large pot
–          Brown 2 lbs ground beef and drain off excess liquid.  Add meat to pot with onion mixture
–          Drain and rinse 3 cans of kidney beans and add to pot
–          2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes added to pot, reserve liquid in case you need more liquid later
–          1 can tomato paste added to pot
–          Season to taste with:

  • cumin (about twice as much as you think you need)
  • molasses (a decent pour)
  • 2-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2-4 bay leaves
  • chili powder
  • smoked paprika (we used both hot and sweet)
  • black pepper
  • white pepper
  • sea salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • allspice
  • clove
  • cocoa powder
  • finely ground coffee
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • oregano
  • chili flakes
  • Tabasco sauce

–          Alternatively just add the entire contents of your spice cabinet.
–          Simmer for 1 to 12 hours.  In the crock pot we did 13 hours of cooking on low with 8 hours of being kept warm, while re-seasoning every few hours.

To counteract the intenseness of the chili, we started with a salad of baby spinach, green pepper, green beans, tomatoes and almonds and roasted cauliflower with a Dijon mustard glaze.  In cooking the cauliflower, I had my usual round of “is there going to be enough food?!?”  This is a common theme in Miriam’s blog posts and with everyone who cooks Shabbat meals regularly.  I might suggest re-naming the blog, “Food Anxiety: How much food do I need for a Shabbat meal.”  For dessert, I made a lemon pie and there were peanut butter-marshmallow fluff-brownies courtesy of Dalia from Wednesday night’s Sheva Brachot meal.

Lunch wrapped up around 4 so by the time we took our Shabbat nap it was time for havdallah ending our great first married Shabbat.

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