Pretty close to perfect

Joline is not only responsible for this week’s post, but also for the whole new format of the blog in 2012.  I’m really, really glad she had the idea and (have I mentioned this before?) that other people wanted to go along with it.  Joline, I’m happy to say, is also my neighbor, and having neighbors is awesome.   As it turns out, so is brisket.  This blog is getting less and less vegetarian with each passing week…  

At this point in the blog post, Miriam will likely have introduced me in some way. In any case, hello readers of Miriam’s blog, and anyone else who may have stumbled upon this post.

So as Miriam may have mentioned, I am a law student at Penn, and a pretty busy one at that. [Miriam’s note: True story – she’s very busy!] This semester, I decided it would be a good idea to do an internship in DC and commute there from Philly twice a week. Shockingly, I am now incredibly busy, and living in two cities at the same time. One of the things I love about Shabbat is that it forces me to take a break from my life and just enjoy whatever company I might have, be it friends, family, or myself. In that context, this Shabbat was pretty close to perfect.

Dinner was at the Gershman Y, which was doing a special program around the Scottsboro Boys musical, currently playing at Philadelphia Theater Company. Being the kind of law student who is interested in the Scottsboro Boys, I was intrigued, and a few others decided to come too. The food was okay, but nothing to necessarily write home or blog about. I hear the gefilte fish was the hit of the night, but I wasn’t in a gefilte mood, so all I can write about is the chicken. On a scale of greasy/grisley Hillel chicken to gourmet? Somewhere in the boringly average middle. Not one person I knew brought any wine to the meal, and yet, somewhere over the course of dinner we decided to create two new Jewish musicals: “Halacha” and “Minhag.” Perhaps you had to be there?

After dinner, in lieu of seeing the show (too expensive for me, not shabbasdik enough for others), I headed over to Ilana’s for drinks and dessert (and reading of People magazine). It was a remarkably low key end to the evening, exactly what I needed after a long and stressful week. I didn’t drink any of the
alcohol, but the funfetti cupcakes were funfetti – tastic, and the chocolate cheesecake brownies (eaten three hours after the meat consumption, of course) were pretty amazing. I also learned that if you pick the right pictures, Taylor Lautner and Kris Humphries look remarkably similar.

Following a delightful morning sleeping, cleaning, and Zumba-ing, a host of lovely people came over to my apartment for lunch (i’m still in shock that 10 people + baby fit around my table). Having been in and out of town and finals-mode over the last two months or so, I hadn’t been able to host in a while, and
I barely made a dent in my “people to have over” list. Despite being a hippy Jewish liberal from the San Francisco Bay area, I am not a vegetarian, and as such I made a meat meal, which I am always trying to encourage more of in my vegetarian friendly Jewish worlds. (Side note: vegetarians are always welcome
at my house, and I will happily whip up tofu for you to eat!).

I decided to go all out, and made two kinds of meat: BBQ Brisket in my crock pot (easiest recipe in the world at the end of this post), and honey mustard chicken. I also made (for the first time) parve mashed potatoes, green beans, and a decent but not great pumpkin soup. Jo made delicous challah, and Belina contributed a yummy salad of mizuna, onions, and dried cranberries. It may have been the first time I ever ate mizuna, in fact. The rest of the meal was a blur, as often happens when I host, but I think everyone enjoyed themselves and the food. Dessert was i can’t believe its parve ice cream courtesy of Sara, and it all got devoured.

Sometime after we were all way too full, the conversation turned to interdating and intermarriage. It reminded me how blessed and lucky I am to be in a Jewish community where I feel completely comfortable being who I am (that is, the proudly mixed heritage daughter of a non Jewish mother and Jewish father. I decided after a lot of internal struggle a little under four years ago to go through a conservative conversion, and I still struggle with what that means for me in the broader Jewish community.) It is such a huge part of who I am and my Jewish identity that I sometimes forget that not everyone who knows me Jewishly knows that aspect of me, and I found myself at my own meal at my own house telling the abridged version yet again. But that is perhaps a topic for a different time and a different blog. [Miriam’s note: I think it fits in perfectly here, and thank you for sharing!]

Lunch blended into Shabbos afternoon, and a lovely visit from Susie and Mike. We played Settlers of Catan until the sun went down, which was, like the rest of Shabbat, perfection.

Okay, so this blog is about recipes [Miriam’s note: But also about a lot of other things!], so I will leave you with the easiest brisket in the world (and, since I am currently on a bus to DC and don’t have any pictures to provide, Miriam, a picture of Aliza?).

Aliza's new trick is even scarier than gristly chicken

Brisket in a crockpot (hat tip to my friends Sarah and Will, who gave me this “recipe” but probably don’t remember doing so)

One Beef Brisket (mine came from Trader Joe’s)
A bottle/ a bottle and a half of BBQ sauce

Put Brisket and BBQ sauce in a crockpot. Set on low, leave and enjoy life for 7 – 9 hours. (or if you are cooking it overnight like I did, sleep for 7- 9 hours). I added a tiny bit of hot sauce, but that’s not necessary. Depending on how much sauce you use and how long you cook it, you can pull it apart, let it fall apart, or leave it whole and slice it. Or sometimes, the crockpot decides these things for you.

 In Joline’s honor, why don’t you sign up to blog for a week?  



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