Monthly Archives: November 2012


So glad to have Alicia blogging again, though, of course, I preferred it when she was blogging from the East Coast!  Two important notes for anyone reading this: 1) There are TWO unclaimed weeks left in the blog (including this coming Shabbat).  Ever.  So if you want to write, it’s now or never.  2) The last Shabbat of 2012 is going to be another party.  It’ll be less blogstravaganztastic than last year (what was I thinking?!) but still a good way to wrap things up.  So save the date.

After I last wrote for the Shabbat Blog in May, and, especially, since I moved back to my hometown of Los Angeles this summer, I’ve been looking for the “right” Shabbat to blog again.  Ideally, I wanted to write about hosting (again) for the first time in my own home, but, I don’t quite yet have a home of my own and the year is running out. Instead, I chose to blog about one of my favorite Shabbat’s to host, Thanksgiving weekend Shabbat.   Prior to moving to Delaware my friends and I decided to have Thanksgiving foods on the Friday night after Shabbat, the twist being that we leave out the Turkey so that everyone can enjoy all the best side dishes, full of dairy (since most of my
friends keep kosher and do not eat meat and dairy in the same meal).

Last year a friend in Philly had a bunch of friends over the weekend before Thanksgiving for a Friendsgiving meal, so, I “stole” that name for this week’s Friendsgiving Shabbat.  Dinner was relatively small for me, with only 7 of us, and, what I was reminded of most of all is that I’m still not used to cooking in quantities more appropriate for 10 people or less (as opposed to the 80-100 I was cooking for in Delaware) – this has been a running theme in all the meals that my friends have let me host in their homes in the last few months. I spent lots of time thinking about what the best foods would be and settled on Pumpkin Black Bean soup, salad, Stuffing with vegetarian sausage, Green Beans, Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts, and Mashed Potatoes with sautéed onion, garlic & cheese and mixed with purple cauliflower.  For dessert my friend made incredible Carrot Cake Sandwiches and Samoa (like the Girl Scout Cookie) Cookie Bars.

I debated what recipe to include for you – the stuffing seems to be the biggest hit of the night (and the only photo I have is of the stuffing and potatoes) but, it’s a Weight Watchers recipe that my sister-in-law adopted for Thanksgiving a few years ago (you can find it here – we substitute vegetarian sausage and broth & I ripped up and toasted about ¾ a loaf of bread instead of the cornbread stuffing –

And, here’s my Pumpkin Black Bean soup recipe:

29oz can Pumpkin Puree
29oz can black beans, drained
1 med. Onion, diced
Spices: salt, pepper, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cloves

Sweat onions in olive oil in the bottom of soup pot.  When onions are
translucent/slightly browned add can of pumpkin puree and 1 ½ cans of water.  Add black beans and season generously.  Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer.


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Potluck and Politics

It’s always nice when parts of life intersect, and having Shana blog about a Grad Network potluck is a nice example of that.  Plus the eggplant really was awesome.  A shehechianu is a prayer you say for a lot of occasions in Judaism, but particularly for a lot of “firsts.”  

This was a Shabbat for shehechianus. It was the first time I’ve led Kiddush since college, the first time I used my new Art Scroll siddur for Shabbat v’ yom tov, the first time I hosted a Grad Network pot luck in my new apartment, the first time I ever made eggplant Parmesan, the first time men outnumbered
women (almost 2:1) at a Grad Network event, and the first time I am blogging about Shabbat!

Shabbat is always such a special time and all the more special when others help with the cooking and there is limited clean up! Not only was the eggplant my only obligation, but it was super easy and fun to make. Here was my recipe, adapted from a number of sources I found on Google:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Cut eggplant in approximately ½ inch thick slices
3. Beat 1 egg in a bowl
4. Fill another bowl with bread crumbs
5. Coat eggplant slices with egg and cover with bread crumbs (flip it around a couple times in the bread crumb bowl)
6. Bake for approximately 5 minutes on each side
7. Remove from oven and coat with tomato sauce, and sliced (or grated) mozzarella cheese
8. Continue baking for approximately 20 minutes or until eggplant is golden brown and cheese is fully melted

I was so pleased to see old friends and new, and to make acquaintance with some who I’ve never met before. In any diverse group of people it’s interesting to see what conversations occur and how they develop. The anomaly of the evening was that for much of it we were all engaged in a single conversation: Israel and Operation Pillar of Defense. We discussed our personal points of view, those of others we’ve come across, those of the Jewish community as a whole (not that there is one single perspective) and those of non-Jews we happen to discuss it with. What was most fascinating though, was not discussing our views, but how we think other people perceive us (or anyone else) based on what view they hold. While Israel is always a hot-button topic likely to elicit strong views on both sides, no matter what the issue, it was nice to know that we were in a safe space, able to share our views , opinions and feelings without fear of judgment or having to defend our positions, our Jewish-ness, or support for international human rights.

That was my Shabbat this week. Shavuah tov!

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Daddy Blog/Grandpa Blog

My dad, overachiever that he is, may have waited until the penultimate month of the blog to contribute a post, but he got me that post before the Shabbat he was scheduled for even happened. Granted, he opted to write about a meal that happened a few weeks ago, but even so.  He also opted to tell you about his “be like a cloud” philosophy, which is actually something he says in real life, like, all the time. Most notable of all, though, is that I thought this tzimmes recipe originated with my mother’s mother and only found out by reading this post that it actually came from my father’s mother, which goes to show that no matter how close your family is and no matter how much you talk about food, there’s always more to learn.  In lieu of including his own photo, my dad asked me to include one of Aliza, so I did one better — keep reading to get to the video at the bottom.

Well, you know that this blog is nearing its end when Miriam has to rely on me for an entry, but I’m always happy to oblige my little girl, so here I go.

Miriam, as everyone who knows her knows, grew up in a small town in Western New York. She had a very happy, if bucolic, childhood, though she feels that she grew up largely cut off from the wider world of Yiddishkeit while I have always thought of Fredonia as the Vilna of Western New York. The
sad thing is that if she thought our village was lacking in Jewish life then, she should see it now. So many people have moved away or passed away that we’re lucky if we can get eight people to Shabbat morning services. But Jewish life is important to us, which is why Miriam’s mother and I have undertaken something of an adventure—we still live in Fredonia, but we have rented an apartment in Buffalo. Now I know that “Buffalo” is often used as a punch line, as in, “I know lots of people who have second homes—in Vale, in the Hamptons, in Paris—but not in Buffalo.” But I can tell you that Buffalo is
really a nice place. It’s big enough to be a city but small enough to be comfortable. It has great theater, a fantastic orchestra, and wonderful museums. And despite its reputation for a having a wintry climate, it doesn’t have earthquakes, avalanches, or, to be up to date, hurricanes.

And not only do we like Buffalo, but we have found a great shul, Kehillat Ohr Tzion, a congregation of forty or so families that is more like a large family than it is like a shul. Except that people in large families often quarrel and people at KOT don’t. We are quite fortunate that we have been accepted into this community, and before we rented our apartment, we were often invited to
Shabbat dinners and lunches, so once we had the apartment, we were anxious to reciprocate. Thus several weeks ago, we invited two couples (of the many to whom we owe invitations) for Shabbat dinner. We planned a meal, then during the week before Shabbat we started preparing some of the dishes in Fredonia so we could take them up with us on Friday. And then we found out that one of the couples had misunderstood our invitation, thinking it was for Shabbat lunch, and had invited people to their house for Shabbat dinner. Did we get upset? Of course not. We’re like clouds, floating above the mundane problems that fill everyday existence. We just changed the invitation to Shabbat lunch, which, frankly, made it easier for us.

We had some good food, naturally, including a Moroccan tomato dish that one of our guests brought and some gluten-free brownies brought by another. The recipe I want to share, however, is one that I received from my mother (o”h) for tzimmes. Literally tzimmes means a vegetable stew, but the word is often used to mean a situation that’s all mixed up, as in “I was in a real tzimmes.”

Here’s the recipe:

Cut into bite-sized pieces

3 sweet potatoes (peeled)
a bunch of carrots
2 stalks celery
a green pepper
2 potatoes

Put all the ingredients into a pot, add about a half cup of water, some salt, pepper, and a half-teaspoon of sugar and cook until the vegetables reach a consistency that you like. Keep checking to make sure there’s enough liquid so that nothing burns.

It’s a simple dish, but it’s both delicious and good for you, and on a cold day it will warm you up. So Shabbat Shalom.

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Shabbat Hospitality

Once again, Joline has contributed both a description of a lovely Shabbat and  a call to action.  I hope you take her up on her challenge and find ways to welcome people into your home and include new people in your community!

This past Shabbat, we read parshat Vayera. At the beginning of that Torah Portion, Avraham, likely relatively soon after he circumcises himself (ouch!), jumps up to provide a meal for three strangers. Judaism emphasizes this kind of hospitality, welcoming the stranger into your own home. There are those who would say the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (welcoming the stranger)
is more important than prayer or study. (interesting article link here – thanks Google!).

I spent this past weekend in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis, MN, attending the wedding of a good friend of mine from my year studying at Pardes in Israel. As some readers of this blog know, I also spent a year living in Minneapolis. I spent most shabbat mornings at a modern orthodox synagogue in St. Louis Park (of which my friend’s parents are members), and almost
every time I went, at least two or three community members would ask if I needed a place to go for a meal. As one of very few “young adults” at shul, coming off a year in Jerusalem and aching for Jewish community, I was incredibly touched by these gestures which in many ways gave me a sense of belonging. Ultimately, Minneapolis wasn’t the place for me, and I moved away after less than a year, but I’ve carried with me the model of hospitality I saw at that shul. (and also, as a footnote, at a conservative congregation I attended from time to time in Mendota Heights, MN).

It was extra special for me this past Shabbat to be able to return to the community that so welcomed me when I was a “stranger.” As a part of the wedding weekend, many community members graciously opened their homes to the many out of town guests, allowing friends and relatives from all over to partake in a full weekend of celebrations. There were two big (and
delicious) shabbos meals. Since this is ostensibly a Shabbat food blog, I suppose I will tell you about them. Friday night, we dined on delicious chicken, rice, and vegetables. In addition, the bride’s mother baked enough challah for several large loaves, enough small rolls for 30-40 people, and made some pretty awesome pies as well. Saturday, after an aufruf and a wonderful
kiddush, we had a lovely lunch of create your own deli-meat sandwiches, along with a variety of pasta salads (and more pie). It was a delicious and joyous Shabbat. (I have no recipes from the weekend, but below is an easy berry cobbler recipe (sort of like pie, right?) I made for election night festivities).

I’ve lived a lot of places, and in a lot of Jewish communities, and eaten a fair amount of shabbos meals. In the process, I’ve seen a wide variety of welcoming-ness and warmth. As someone who has been “new” many times, I think it really makes a difference in the warmth of a community. Of course, I’m not perfect, and it often slips my mind to think about inviting new and different folks over when I host Shabbat meals. Between my visit to Minnesota and coordinating Minyan Tikvah’s Home Hospitality meals for this Shabbat, I’ve been thinking about hospitality a lot. I’d like to challenge everyone reading this blog to think about how welcoming of the stranger they’ve been recently. Specifically: how often do you open your home and meals to newcomers at shul, or folks you haven’t had over in a while?

Mixed Berry Cobbler Recipe

1 tablespoon melted butter
2 cups mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1/4 cup (half stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

With a pastry brush, coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 or large oval dish with melted butter. Evenly spread mixed berries on the bottom. Place dish on a lined baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, mix butter, sugar, flour, milk, baking powder, salt and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Spoon batter over fruit and spread evenly.

Mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. Pour evenly over dish. (This creates a golden brown crust and makes the fruit more soft and sweet)

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling.

Minnesota really is the land of 10,000 lakes. This is Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.

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