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
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.