Monthly Archives: July 2012

Summer Shabbat in Winnipeg

I did something unprecedented this week and asked Hadass for a bio.  I’m thrilled to share the following (alternate spellings and all) from my new blogging colleague to the north!

Hadass Eviatar was born in Israel, raised partly in the United States, and lived in the Netherlands for many years before settling in Winnipeg, Canada. She has a husband and three children as well as a slew of useless degrees. She loves reading Torah and leading services at her Conservative egalitarian congregation, celebrating Shabbat and figuring out how to be a kosher paleo
pescetarian. She blogs about all this at http://coatmanycolours.blogspot.ca and writes about her experience blogging for 25×52 at http://coatmanycolours.blogspot.com/2012/07/im-shabbat-guest.html?spref=fb

Up here above the 49th parallel, in the heart of the continent, extremes are the name of the game. From the temperatures (over +30C [86F] in the summer, below -40 in the winter) to the length of the day (over 16 hours at the summer solstice, to 8 hours at the winter solstice), we definitely have seasons up here.

A rabbi of my acquaintance once referred to a summer Shabbat in Winnipeg as the blessing that never ends. While it comes in comfortably late (this past Friday, July 20th, at 9:08 pm, daylight central time), it goes out uncomfortably late as well (10:14 pm). That’s a lot of time to fill in, especially for children. We play outside, go for walks, read lots of books and play board games. My kids are now at an age (9, 13 and 16) where they are beginning to appreciate the enforced break from video games as much as I appreciate turning off the iPhone for 25 hours – we recognise that it is good for us and makes us healthier, more rounded people – but we also rush to turn them back on as soon as the strains of “Eliyahu HaNavi” die away!

The long, hot summer Shabbat also necessitates some creativity for meals. In particular, while I do know at least one family here who eats a full Shabbat dinner whenever Shabbat comes in, we have adopted the summer habit of another rabbinical family we know – eat dinner at the usual time, make Kiddush and Motzi (with home-made challah) at the proper time, and then have special dessert. My kids greatly look forward to this. This week our special dessert was home-made vanilla bean ice cream with stewed rhubarb from our garden (with ginger and local honey, mmmmm). While eating our special dessert we share our weeks, sing and laugh and connect. It is a precious time.

Another issue is that when it is hot here, we don’t want to leave the oven on as we do during the rest of the year. Even a hotplate can make the kitchen unbearably hot. We do have some air conditioning in the house (Manitoba has the highest per capita use of air conditioners in Canada!), but our houses are built to retain heat, and they do. My incredibly creative husband has come up with a solution to that – an outdoor blech!

My mother gave us a Salton tray many years ago. My clever husband plugs it in outside on the deck, behind the deck chairs to protect it from curious creatures. Wrapping our quiche and grilled cheese (my children’s staple) in foil and then newspaper provides excellent insulation and a yummy Shabbat meal without heating up the house. In particular, in the morning before shul we can heat up some little breakfast quiches – best early morning protein ever!

Here’s the recipe for these lovely little quiches
(source: Coach Nicole from Sparkpeople.com):

5 eggs
2 tbsp milk (I use coconut milk)
1 cup diced tomato
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled (Israeli feta FTW!)
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli (or frozen and thawed)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix eggs and milk in a bowl. Add crumbled goat cheese and chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon into muffin tins, I use reusable silicon cups but you can just grease the tins if you prefer. Bake at 350F for about 15 – 20 minutes until set and golden on top.

Winter Shabbat is completely different, I will be sure to come back then and tell you all about it! But summer and winter, it is always our refuge and island in time. I hope it is for you, too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Summertime and Shabbat is Easy…

Cindy has been following the blog since she found it on Pinterest (!) back in April, and I’m so excited to share her story. And as much fun as it is to share my friends’ Shabbat experiences through the blog (and, friends, please keep signing up), I’m really so amazed and proud that this project is also bringing together strangers (though, as Cindy said, only temporary ones). Also, Cindy’s title has a striking similarity to Yael’s post from a few weeks back, which just goes to show, Philly to Dallas, we’ve got lots in common!  

Shabbat Shalom from Dallas, y’all! You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Hebrew spoken in a Texas accent. It is just the best.  As was this past Shabbat…Friday the 13th. Best. Shabbat. Ever.

A little background about me.  I’m Cindy. Moved to Dallas 2 years ago and fell in love with it.  Getting married to Joe, who is Israeli, in November. We’ve been together 6 ½ years–engaged for…..a long time. I’ve been Jewish for just over a month.

Our guests this week were Danny and Heather, a couple we met at our amazing Conservative synagogue Congregation Shearith Israel.  They’re married and have been together over 10 years.  She also converted and we have a similar story.  We met them about a year ago at the shul, were by them for Pesach first night, and have wanted to connect with them as couple friends for quite a while.  They are only the second Jewish couple to come over to our place for Shabbat dinner.  We have a lot of non-Jewish friends, and we just usually subject them to all of it, or have them over after we sing Kiddush.

I was off work all Friday.  I had a really tough week during a stressful time at work and needed a true Shabbat. I worked all Friday on making Shabbat, but never once got tired. Danced and listened to music as I worked all day.  I felt energized and joyous. I felt like I had plugged into the universal energy of Hashem, and it was an incredibly spiritual experience.

I love Shabbat in the summer because it comes in so late. I was quite blessed this week because I finished my preparations with enough time to sit out on the porch with Joe and a glass of wine and totally relax before our guests arrived and Shabbat came in.  This week, because I was off work, it was my gift to Joe.  We give Shabbat to each other, depending on our work schedules.  If I’m working, he gives to me, and vice-versa.  He sings me the Ayshet Chayil each week anyway, in stunning Hebrew because he is totally awesome.  When I feel like I really earned it, it’s even better.

Our guests arrive.  We tour the house, we sit, we chat, we drink, we nosh, I announce that I am blogging this event.  We discover that we have so much more in common than we even realized…amazing-ness ensues.  Figuring out how to be the head of household on Shabbat and “do what you do.”  Realizing your father always told people, “We sit after the wine,” because it makes them feel more comfortable when they know what to do at his house. Having incredible conversations about conversion, the shul that brought you all together, matzo ball soup, and family.  That realization that your future children are going to grow up with their future children, and you are creating all your children’s memories before they’re even born….the essence of being Jewish, the essence of l’dor-va’dor [from generation to generation]. The essence of Shabbat.  Given in love, accepted with gratitude.  He gave it to us, we give it to each other…….

Now on to the food!  I took advantage of the cool Texas summer we’ve been blessed with to use the oven (it was only 93 that day, after all!).  Since we’re also vegetarians, I wanted to impress our meat-eating guests, so I made a creamy alfredo/marinara veggie lasagna.  Matzo ball soup, salad, and homemade challah rounded out the meal.  I make the challah dough in my bread machine, on the dough cycle.  Then I take it out, divide in three, braid it, let it rise 30 min, and bake it.  Find and use your own awesome recipe.  Mine is from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger.  I photocopied the recipe and taped it to my flour container—best idea ever!

My recipe is dessert.  Pareve, all natural, and Kosher for Pesach if you use the proper vanilla.

Blitz 4 avocados in the food processor until they’re smooth.  Add 1 cup cocoa powder, 1 cup agave nectar, and a few splashes of vanilla. Blitz again. Result: glossy,velvety Avocado Chocolate Mousse “Pudding.”  They’ll never know it’s avocado until you tell them.

Thank you for letting me share my experiences.  I’m over word count by a few, but in my defense, it was the best. Shabbat. Ever. Shavua Tov, y’all.  –Cindy in Dallas

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Local Corn

There are a lot of things I love about Warren, including how he spells “Shabbes,” how he consistently upstages my cooking, that we disagree about almost every play we’ve ever seen, and that his blog post made me laugh out loud bunches of times.  

¡Hola, Philadelphia!

Bienvenidos a la primera publicación en español para 25×52.  Me parece apto porque comimos cosas con sabor latino esta semana.  Fue como si estuvimos en México.

. . . Wait I’m just getting word from the Republican Right that all communication in the United States must now be in English and that non-English communication is considered traitorous especially in light of the July 4th holiday.  Ok, let me tell you about shabbes then while I furtively eat my new Al-Qaida brand Middle Eastern hummus (now with more spiciness!)

Shabbes was lovely this week.  Having been out of the country for 2 weeks and being in shabbes withdrawal, it was nice to spend an intimate dinner with Marc, Miriam, and Ilana.  Miriam asked me what I wanted to make, and I said Corn Soup with a Roasted Corn Guacamole.  Around that, we came up with a border-crossing dinner of mouth-watering cuisine (don’t tell immigration).  The soup, I thought, was quite yummy and I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees out, I can eat soup year round.  Made with local corn and tomatoes from my garden, it was summer in a bowl (and for the kosher folks out there, you’ll notice that the soup is vegan/pareve which I thought was a nice bonus).

Miriam whipped up a dinner of fish tacos (my favorite!) with rice, beans, and a perfectly spicy chipotle mayonnaise.  Marc, ever the mixologist, made a drunk version of an Arnold Palmer, which I think might also describe the real Arnold Palmer.  Fore!

For dessert, Ilana brought the ingredients for do-it-yourself strawberry shortcake.  Let’s just say that some of us got rather whipped cream happy.

As far as dinner conversation, most of that is simply unprintable, but it did revolve around the following themes:

1)      Anti-Semitism: What is it?  What do we do about? Where does it come from? (Always a dinner favorite)
2)      Sex: What is it?  What do we do about?  Where does it come from?
3)      Why is the house next to Miriam and Marc falling down?
4)      Jews: What’s up with them?

We also played a round of my personal new favorite shabbes game: Pitch that reality show.  Everyone around the table has to go around the table and pitch a new reality show and the table then votes on whether or not we think it is or could be a real show.  Marc offered the inspired entry: Potluck!  Here’s how it works:

Contestants each bring a dish of the same size.  Everyone takes a plate of the same size (a small plate), and fills it up, and eats it. You’re not allowed to eat from your own contribution.  Then people go for seconds, and so on.  When your contribution is gone, you can leave the room, and come back the next week.  If you ever can’t finish what’s on your plate, you lose — kicked off the show.

Ilana meanwhile pitched “America’s Best Pants” and I pitched “Is That My Pussy?” both conceits which I think need no explanation to the readers.  (Animal Channel just picked up the latter.)

By 11pm, after much merriment, drinking, eating (including whipped cream shots), it was time to call it a night.  I biked away into the soupy night.

The rest of shabbes was pretty laid back.  I stayed in all on Saturday as it was too hot to go out.  (Yay for central a/c).  I was going to go to Longwood Gardens on Saturday night to see Broadway great Barbara Cook sing, but they canceled it because of the heat.  Who cares that it’s 102 degrees out and that Barbara Cook is 85 years old and weighs 300 lbs?  (When asked if she wanted to perform that night, Cook said “F$&k that shit!” Well said, Marian the Librarian, well said.)

So ended shabbes and now the week begins.  For those of you looking for shabbes plans next week, Heymish is meeting (find us on Facebook!).

Adiós!

So next time you come over, you won’t be surprised.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hot Afternoon, Cold Soup

Hooray for Ilana for picking up her second week of blogging.  I was away for Shabbat and had to miss the cold soup extravaganza, so I’m very happy to have it documented here. 

During the summer—and in particular when it is really hot, like it was this weekend—I try to make sure Shabbat is especially relaxed, with not too many places I need to be or too much cooking on Friday afternoon. On the other hand, Shabbat also ends really late this time of year, so I want to make sure to take advantage of that. In light of that, this week, I decided to skip Shabbat lunch and host seudat shlishit (the third meal, basically dinner on Saturday) instead.

For me, Shabbat started with a really lovely and casual dinner at Alex and Jonathan’s. There was, of course, lots of good home-cooked food, but the highlight of the meal were the chickpea patties. Now, I’m not always a fan of chickpeas, but these patties, which made with chickpeas and other veggies and apparently held together with hope (according to Alex), were outstanding. They were substantial and filling, but still not too heavy for a hot summer night. It was also nice to sit around and talk about some of my favorite topics: celebrity gossip and our favorite (and least favorite) new TV shows.

Shabbat morning marked my first-ever Minyan Tikvah not as a member of the Organizing Committee, and it was really fun for me to just sit back and enjoy. After services, I chose to skip the Tikvah home hospitality lunches (though they’re always really great) so I could have a little downtime and also so I could visit with some old friends and meet my friend Rachel’s new baby. Adorbs.

Still, by the time I got home at around 3, I needed to start setting up for the next meal. Honestly, there’s not much that I enjoy more than slowly and quietly prepping vegetables and setting the table on Shabbat afternoon. It’s really an amazing contrast to Friday afternoon, which is always rushed and loud—from the country music I have blaring in the background. I love the Friday prep, too, but Shabbat afternoon prep is really special.

Since I wasn’t feeling excited about using my oven at all on Friday, I decided to do a no-cook meal—a cold soup bar. I made three kinds of soup that could be combined with each other or any of the fruits and veggies I put out. And, other than the fact that I made enough for at least twice as many people as showed up, it was a huge success. I’ll definitely try it again.

Of course, as everyone’s go-to cold soup, and one of my favorite dishes, the first soup I made was gazpacho. I put basil in it this time, which I’ve never done before, and I was really happy with the results. Next, I made a watermelon-mint soup with cucumbers and jalapeños. That was also good, but I think if I make it again, I’ll skip the mint. I really liked that it was sweet and spicy, but I thought the mint was a little overwhelming. Finally, I made an avocado and yogurt soup, which also featured a little lime juice. It was a great combination of tart and hearty.

The only thing I did cook on Friday was Swiss chard chips. They started as kale chips, but when I found the fridge kale-free, I learned that any leafy green + olive oil + kosher salt = tasty. Of course, the real hit of the afternoon was the limonana (mint lemonade), which I have since decided will be kept in my fridge all summer long.

Swiss Chard Chips

Cut up chard into medium-sized pieces. Sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt. Put in the oven at 450 for 7-10 minutes. Eat immediately (while they’re still crunchy).

Limonana

Make any kind of lemonade. Add mint. Let steep for at least 15 minutes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized