Archive | December, 2012

A Feminist Rant of Some Kind (Plus Dumplings!)

30 Dec

Maybe it’s me, but I’ve been noticing a trend within the feminist movement lately. I consider myself a feminist. I want equal and fair treatment of the sexes. I want to be paid the exact same for my job that a man would get paid who has the same job/education/professional experience. I want my daughter to even have the idea of becoming the President of the United States without having to defend her dream to those who think a female as President is too dangerous due to a woman’s ’emotional’ state. But here’s the thing, I also want a feminist movement that doesn’t alienate my daughter’s mother because she chose to get married and have a child.

I’ve been noticing a lot of blog posts out there aimed at celebrating the single woman by choice. There was this blog post, written by the incredibly intelligent, Chanel Dubofsky, that I found wildly offensive (I’m allowed to respect someone and disagree with them. It’s rare in our world these days, but I do it). Then there was this one, which blatantly told you that if you did not fit into a certain mold within this type of feminism then you were DEFINITELY not invited. And of course, my top two favorite are this one, which call children “baby-alien parasites” and then finally, this campaign, which nicely celebrates women who happen to be single (and here’s my one-liner on the celebration of singlehood—Mazal tov y’all. Seriously, I could personally give two poops whether you are single or not. I, for one, do not feel sorry for anyone who chooses to be single or be married. It just doesn’t affect me one bit. Ok, three-liner).

Image

Future Feminist?

Now, here’s my beef. I too write a blog, which is based purely on my opinion however, I do not align myself with a movement other than Judaism and the Lacefields and Fisches. I don’t even align myself with Modern Orthodox Judaism because we don’t fit into any category. However, when you call yourself a feminist and write feminist articles then I’m assuming you’re speaking for the movement and as a woman, I find it wildly alienating that because I got married and had a child I’m most certainly not welcome; the above articles/blog posts being just a sampling of why I’m getting that sneaking suspicion. I celebrate my women friends who aren’t married—-I celebrate them when they finish Graduate school, when they have birthdays, when they get their dream jobs or a prestigious fellowship. Oh, and by the way, no one asked me to second guess my decision to go to graduate school to get a Master’s in Social Work, which landed me $40,000 in debt, a debt which most certainly is a lifetime commitment. No one asked me if I was ‘sure’ I wanted to make a commitment to my husband because I was 30 years old when we got married and my friends trust me that I’m making a heavily thought-through decision that is based on what I want. That’s why they are my friends. And finally, I just need someone in this new feminist community to admit that they don’t have the faintest idea of what it means to be a parent because I certainly did not until I had a child. The love I have for my daughter sometimes takes me by so much surprise that my breath gets caught in my chest. Parenthood is so overwhelming in a myriad of ways I couldn’t possibly have understood before I had my daughter. I know you want for women to not be defined by their children alone but damn it, I’m working on raising a self-confident, self-aware, reflective, open-minded, giving, feisty woman and if it does or doesn’t work out, it still defines me because she’s a piece of me—-just like my job as a school counselor, my life as a social worker, as a Jew, as a woman. I don’t know what it’s like to be Christian, blond, a bus driver, a doctor, a devout Muslim, etc. (notice I chose all identities that are a choice to some degree) so I’m certainly not going to call someone out on those choices and do my darndest to make them feel somehow ‘less than’ so please, new feminist movement, I ask you to do the same. Please, be reflective. Please recognize that you are alienating the very population you stand to represent for equality. I want to hear what you have to say but I am struggling. I get institutional-heterosexism (seriously, I went to the University of Michigan School of Social Work and it was soooo intensely liberal it made ME feel conservative at times) and there is no way I’m denying I wasn’t raised to expect to have children at some point. However, I also wasn’t raised to expect to be married, which is why my mom worked very hard to make sure I could take care of myself (oh, p.s. raised by single mom).

But truly, the next time you want to yell “I’m sorry” to a woman at her bachelorette party because you pity her or the next time you write an article explaining why you can’t be happy for your friends who are getting married just consider the fact that some of those women might be reflective, thoughtful, intelligent enough to have made her decision for herself. Yes? No? I tried.

Image

Yellow Split Peas

P.S. This recipe has nothing to do with this rant other than I made these on Friday and I’m writing this today so I guess they have the weekend in common?

Golden Potstickers (recipe entirely from 101cookbooks.com)

What!?

1/2 cup sunflower oil
8 green onions / scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 small serrano chiles, thinly sliced, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup / 60 ml soy sauce
1/4 cup / 60 ml water

4 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus more for pan-frying
1/2 cup chopped shallots (4 medium)
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste

2 cups / 11 oz / 310 g cooked yellow split peas, ideally at room temperature, then process in a food processor until uniform and fluffy

1 package round potsticker wrappers

How’s That Now!?

Start by making a scallion oil. Heat the oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and stir well. When they soften, after about 30 seconds, remove from the heat. Set aside. Note: You can refrigerate this for later use, but bring to room temperature before using.

Make a dipping sauce by sprinkling the chiles with sugar. Chop and smash a bit with a knife. Place in a jar or small bowl, add the soy sauce and water, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking – more sugar, water, etc.

To make the filling, in a large skillet, fry the shallots in the sunflower oil over medium heat until golden brown, 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle with salt, and stir in the yellow split pea meal. You want to stir until the shallots are evenly distributed. And you want the filling to hold together if you pinch a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, work in water a small splash at a time. Now give it a taste – you should want to eat it straight, if not tweak with more salt until you do.

Now, fill and shape the dumplings. Very lightly dust your counter top with a bit of flour. Place 12 wrappers on the floured countertop, and add a small dollop of filling just off-center of each dumpling. Run a wet finger around the rim of each wrapper, press the edges together well, and try to avoid trapping air bubbles in the dumplings if you can. Crimp each dumpling, and gently press it down against the counter to give it a flat base, so it sits upright. This base is also what gets brown and crunchy – one of the things you’re after. Repeat until you run out of wrappers or filling. Place the dumplings seam side up on a well-floured plate or baking sheet. The extra flour that sticks to the base gives extra crunch.

At this point you can freeze any dumplings you know you aren’t going to cook.

Split pea mush

Split pea mush

To cook the dumplings, heat another scant tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange dumplings in the pan, seam side up, with a sliver of space between each (so they don’t stick together). Pan-fry until the bottoms are golden, a few minutes. With a large lid in one hand, carefully and quickly add 1/3 cup / 80 ml water to the pan, immediately cover, and cook the dumplings for a few minutes, or until the water is nearly evaporated. Uncover and finish cooking until all the water is gone – another minute or so. Dial back the heat if the bottoms are getting too dark. Cook in batches, and serve drizzled with the scallion oil and spicy soy sauce.

Happy Potstickers

Happy Potstickers

Decadent Mac

27 Dec

I’m 5.5 years older than my husband.  When we met, he was 22 and I was 28 and everyone thought we were nuts.  We met in Israel, spent an amazing year together there and then moved together to Ann Arbor so I could get my Master’s in Social Work.  We got engaged about a year and a half after we met.  A lot of people definitely thought at one point, ‘for sure this guy is being pressured to marry this woman”, but I have to say, we were both in a place where meeting a partner and getting married was at the forefront of our minds.  As a 28-year-old woman, it was more prevalent in my mind but my husband was never a guy who dated someone unless it was serious.  It was all or nothing with him.  We had our baby almost 5 months ago when I was 32 (still am. I know, I know, I don’t look a day over 25!) and he was 26 (he turns 27 tomorrow!).  My mom was 32 when she had me so it’s not so crazy that I’m already 32 and just starting to expand our family but never had I wished we were the same age until we got pregnant.

IMG_5420

Andy and Siona

Now please, don’t get me wrong.  I do not wish I was 27 again for anything.  I LOVED my 20s. L.O.V.E.D.  It was definitely my decade of decadence (more on that in my New Year’s guest post for Caitlin’s blog) but it sucks a little knowing that I’ll be 40 when we have toddlers.  When I take stock of my life I most certainly wouldn’t change a thing.  My journey brought me to where I am today and I can honestly say, I love my life.  Sure, I’m tired, but I love my life.  And yet, there is still about 15% of me that’s a bit bummed we’re not the same age.  If we were both 27 I definitely think we would have waited a year or two longer before expanding our family.  The 3 years we spent together without a baby were phenomenal and maybe society doesn’t want me to admit it, but I would have loved a couple more years for just us.  Even at this point, if we were the same age, I’d be 29 when we started having kids but 32!? 32 feels ancient in child-rearing years.  Who knows.  The grass is always greener, right?

IMG_5422

Jeremy and Siona were very impressed with each other.

I bring this all up because Jeremy and Andy came for a visit today (*squeal*). When old friends come to visit you start talking about all your friends you used to run with, how they all have babies now too.  I always give a silent giggle when I think about the fact that my old Chicago crew now has kids because those ladies were some of the funniest, craziest ladies I’ve ever met.  We had so many good times together and now the second generation is upon us.  Remember when you were 25 and you looked at your girlfriend on the dance floor, doing her best to look cool while dancing to “My Humps” while simultaneously giving a drunken wink to some Monet by the bar and you thought to yourself, “Good Gd, she’s going to be someone’s mom some day”? These are those friends.  And the best part? They’re all incredible parents.

At Mike and Dana's wedding - note Jeremy's class 'disco' face to the left of me, in the center, also giving a classic disco face.

At Mike and Dana’s wedding – note Jeremy’s class ‘disco’ face to the left of me, in the center, also giving a classic disco face.

Crazy ladies at Andy and Jeremy’s wedding.

P.S. Jeremy and I totally went to see Les Miz and it was a marathon.  I mean seriously, bring some Cliff bars, a thermos of coffee and a pillow because you are going to be in the theater for a very very VERY long time.

P.S. Again:  OF COURSE, I made the world famous Mac n’ Cheese, heretofore known as Decadent Mac.

IMG_5411

Delicious cheese

IMG_5413

Flour

Decadent Mac

What!?

  • 13 oz rotitini pasta or other small pasta shapes*
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half**
  • 6 oz shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 8 oz extra shredded sharp white Vermont cheddar
  • 2 tsp – 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce (like Frank’s or Siraccha works too)

How’s That Now!? (this recipe is easily adaptable. You can add sauteed mushrooms, fake chicken, your favorite herbs, anything!)

  1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain well.
  2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat.  When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 1/2 minutes whisking constantly.  Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more.  Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce.  Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta.  Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce.  Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.  Serve hot in bowls with spoons.
Oh you devilish and delicious half and half!

Oh you devilish and delicious half and half!

** I did one and a half cups of milk and one cup of half and half.  I never said this was going to be heart smart.

Decadence

Decadence

*I use whole wheat pasta exclusively.  It definitely takes away from the creaminess of the pasta if you go whole wheat.  Just a heads up.

Cheddar and Scallion Biscuits on a Sunday Morning

23 Dec

It’s Sunday and I’m not going to work tomorrow.  Wait. Waaaait wait wait.  Before I even get into anything we have to take a moment of silence for the fact that my co-blogger, Jeremy, and I are both in the same state. Holler!  Every winter Jeremy and his family venture to Little Israel, otherwise known as South Florida, and spend two weeks lounging by the pool and seeing movies every night while the rest of the world is eating Chinese food and throwin’ bows (a.k.a. elbows) at the local mall.  I visited them last year on their vacay.  It was pretty awesome, except for the fact that I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and was fighting the need to puke at all cost as no one knew I was pregnant.  Fun times.  This year we have big plans of going to see Les Miz and crying in our popcorn buckets.  I can’t wait.

Jeremy and I in a scene from Les Miz. What? Ya'll didn't know we were in it? Weird.

Jeremy and I in a scene from Les Miz. What? Ya’ll didn’t know we were in it? Weird.

But anyway.  It’s finally ‘winter break’ and it’s actually been cold in Florida for the past 2 days. I mean we dipped down into the 60s here people.  I’m very excited to have a week and a half straight with the family.  We have some plans but mostly I hope we get to cook and sleep a little and enjoy this gorgeous weather together.

We kicked off winter break this morning with a visit from some dear friends of ours from our Israel days.  The hubby and I met in Israel over 4 years ago.  He was in Israel to get his Master’s degree in Marine Sciences from Hebrew University and I had decided to take a year to learn in an egalitarian yeshiva in Jerusalem called Pardes.  Pardes is one of those places where you either drink the kool-aid and ‘get it’ or you don’t drink the kool-aid and you run away fast.  I drank the kool-aid.   I love Pardes and will forever be grateful for what it gave me.  I was raised in the Reform movement in Marietta, GA and had a wonderful experience with the Judaism.  I participated in youth group activities and was really involved in my synagogue.  My Jewish identity was strong and even led me to take jobs within the Jewish community however my knowledge-base of anything Jewish was extremely limited.  I used to lead Birthright Israel trips and my participants would call me “super Jew” because it blew their minds that I got paid to go to Israel and I worked in the Jewish community yet I knew I was most certainly NOT a ‘super Jew’.  I didn’t keep kosher.  I definitely didn’t keep shabbat (not that either of those makes you a ‘super’ Jew) and I didn’t know much about laws and well, really anything.  I just knew I loved being Jewish.  By the time I made my decision to do a year of intensive Jewish learning I was 28 and fed up with not knowing the answers to a lot of the “Jewish” questions I was asked so off to Israel I went.

Pardes is a special place.  It’s the only co-ed, egalitarian (but with an Orthodox lens) yeshiva in Israel. People from all over the world come to Pardes to study in this environment.  The learning at Pardes is incredible—by the time I left my brain was able to look at things and think about things in ways I never could before. When you study Torah and you’re trying to decipher the meaning of a certain text, well, let’s just say now I get why are people are good at law.

Most everyone who was in the same ‘year’ program I was had relatively the same background that I have; loved being Jewish but was definitely searching for something more.  Due to my inability to get passed the 4th letter of the Hebrew alphabet on my entrance exam I was placed in the ‘newbie’ class and can I just say, thank goodness.  The people who also placed in this class were pretty amazing.  We were a motley crew who I think, if we tried really hard and combined our collective knowledge, could probably say the entire Hebrew alphabet and most of us were still eating cheeseburgers when we started our year at Pardes.  However, by the end of our year of learning, most of us were able to read directly from the Chumash, and were keeping kosher and shabbat.  My year at Pardes was one of the best years of my life.  I hope Pardes is still alive and thriving by the time our children are old enough to study.  It would truly be a dream come true if they could study there as well.

Some of our Pardes friends at our wedding.

Some of our Pardes friends at our wedding.

I launched into all of this because I’m still very close with a lot of the people I met at Pardes and two such friends, Ali and Noam, came over this morning for a lovely breakfast.  So many of my Pardes friends were at our wedding, which was so lovely.  And now,  three years after we left Pardes, our friends are meeting our daughter.  It’s pretty awesome.  To celebrate our friends’ morning visit, I decided to go big and make cheddar and scallion biscuits.  What else would you expect from a Southern Jewess when her friends stop y for a morning visit?

 

Flour

Flour

 

Pea-sized butter.  It's in there!

Pea-sized butter. It’s in there!

Scallion-flecked dough

Scallion-flecked dough

 

White Cheddar and Scallion Biscuits

What!?

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh scallions
  • 1/2 cup white cheddar
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

How’s That Now?!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl.  Stir with flat spatula.  Add the butter and mix using a crust cutter until the butter is the size of peas. Slowly add the half-and-half and beat until just mixed. Add the scallions and the cheddar and mix until just combined.

Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and knead lightly into a rectangle 3/4-inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter* and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with the egg wash.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are firm. Serve warm.

*If you don’t have a round cutter you can always use a glass.  That’s what I had to do and it worked perfectly.

Flattened dough

Flatted dough

Biscuit-y goodness

Biscuit-y goodness

 

Transitions, Shmansitions.

19 Dec

Before I get into this post, I must wish a very heartfelt ‘refuah shleimah’, a renewal of body and spirit to my partner in blog, Jeremy.  Jeremy was hit by a car while walking home at night this past weekend.  Thank Gd, only suffering a nasty black and blue nose; the worst of it being the fact that the person who hit him drove off without offering apologies and responsibility.  If the past week hasn’t shown us enough, it’s a rough world out there folks.  Please make sure you look both ways and always remember to stop and say you’re sorry.

That's Jeremy, to my right, and the rest of our crew, being awesome on my wedding day.

That’s Jeremy, to my right, and the rest of our crew, being awesome on my wedding day.

It’s become increasingly obvious to me that one of the biggest challenges in parenting (for me at least) thus far, in all of my four and a half months of being a parent, is the number of transitions one goes through.  Let me get real on your a** for a moment.  I HATE transitions.  I mean it. I hate transitions.  And I’m a school counselor and I do not like using the word ‘hate’ but I’m gonna use it here because it’s true. The irony is, of course, that since I was 18 years old until we moved to Miami almost two years ago, I have been in a constant state of self-inflicted transition because of my inability to stay in one place. I lived in Chicago for 3.5 years and that was a wonder! I’ve lived for some amount of time in the following cities since I was 18 years old (I consider ‘lived’ being I had my own bed in an apartment, not crashing on a couch):  Wooster, OH; Milan, Italy; Washington, DC; Marietta, GA; Asheville, NC; Athens, GA; Jerusalem, Israel; Chicago, IL; Ann Arbor, MI; and Miami, FL.  I feel very strongly that I’m forgetting a city so maybe if Mom or Misty reads this they can fill me. Regardless, the point is I should be used to transitions by now but the fact of the matter is that I am not.  I don’t like them and I’m terrible at them. So it was a surprise for me when I had a little revelation that much of parenting is deeply imbedded in transitions and I might want to get over myself right quick-like.

I mention this because we are about two and a half weeks away from yet another transition—day care.  I spent the first 2.5 months of our baby’s life home with her during maternity leave.  If I’m being honest, I have to tell you, I truly struggled during maternity leave.  I was often unhappy during the first 2.5 months of my child’s life, not because I wasn’t head-over-heels for my little one but mainly because I couldn’t get to the purity of my love for her because I was dripping with anxiety and depression.  I so vividly remember asking my sister-in-law, Caitlin (found at her blog, The Joy of Caitlin), “Why doesn’t anyone tell you how hard this is?” And she so honestly said, “Because we want you to have kids.”   So it was difficult. It was difficult but it passed.  My husband took over our baby’s care when I went back to work and has been with her for the past 2 months.  He’s AMAZING with her and I count my blessings daily that he’s had this incredible opportunity to be with her.  I feel much more comfortable sending a 5 month old to day care rather than a 2.5 month old but I am still terrified.  I’ve already started telling my co-workers to be prepared to see me in a fit of tears the day we drop her off.  I should mention that we are doubly blessed that the day care is across the parking lot of the school I work in and I should feel better (always with the ‘shoulds’.  The ‘shoulds’ will drive you crazy) about sending her but I don’t. We’ve got such a nice little routine down and I feel a lot of comfort in the routine but come January 7th,  we will become a fulltime working family.  A coworker said to me yesterday, “Whitney. I don’t know how you leave her. I couldn’t leave my baby for 2 years.”  For which I replied, “Well, my landlord forces us to pay rent and I like eating so that’s how.”  Cheeky? Probably, but the point is we don’t have a choice so day care, here we come.

Someone Else in the Family is Starting to Enjoy Solids Too!

Someone Else in the Family is Starting to Enjoy Solids Too!

So what in the world does this have to do with today’s recipe? Absolutely nothing.  I just needed to get that out so thank you for listening.  Incidentally, this post’s recipe is one of my most favorite shabbat chicken recipes and follows in the footsteps of Jeremy’s Ina Garten post.  My dear friend, Annie, made this chicken for shabbat dinner on the first shabbat I landed in Ann Arbor (the second time. That’s right, I went back for more) and I fell in love.  It’s delicious, juicy and makes your guests think you’re a James Beard award-winning chef.  Bon Appetite!

P.S. I’m taking words of advice/encouragement re: the whole day care thing so please feel free to post in the comments section 🙂

Ina’s Lemon Chicken with Croutons (adapted)

What!?

  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. rounds
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 4 lemons, quartered
  • 6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (I use fresh challah. It’s SO good)

How’s That Now!?

Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion and carrots with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken. Place the lemons inside the chicken and around the outside. Brush outside of chicken with the olive oil, and sprinkle the top with salt, garlic powder and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh.  The key to the juiciness of this chicken is basting. Baste every 15 – 20 minutes! Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to

10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Pepper

Pepper

Carrots and Onions

Carrots and Onions

Ready for the Oven

Ready for the Oven

 

 

Leftover Latkes

11 Dec
Fourth Night Chanukah

Fourth Night Chanukah

I need creativity in my life. When I was growing up I was exposed to various forms of the arts—from art camp in downtown Atlanta to spending 8 years playing the viola and longer than that in musical theater. I was that right-brained child who couldn’t take an open-note Pre-Algebra test and pass but could memorize all my lines as the lead in a show. If it wasn’t obviously creative, than I wasn’t interested in it. This kind of creative world hit a peak in college when all of a sudden I was exposed to music of all sorts (shalom Ani DiFranco! What can I say, it was the late 90s and I was in a liberal arts college), plays, writers, musicians, and goth kids who turned the word ‘gargoyle’ into a verb. It was so exciting. However, as time has gone on and I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to work extra hard to be that immersed in creativity. In my 20s I was too busy moving around from city to city and from job to job in an attempt to ‘find’ myself to have that kind of all-consuming creativeness in my life. I had long put the viola down once I got a theater scholarship to college and was told I had to be in a show a quarter so there was no time to rehearse for a show and orchestra. When it came time to move to Israel in 2008, I made the devastating decision to actually sell that beautiful instrument (I die a little inside every time I think about it). And though that Israel trip led me to my incredible husband and subsequent child, I still have regrets. I’m haunted by dreams that I’m still in my beloved high school orchestra even to this day. I think it’s my subconscious trying to make me feel guilty for selling my viola and can I just say, it’s working.

Siona and me chanukah

By the time I started preparing for my Israel trip, so we’re talking around 2007, I was working at a non-profit in Chicago by day and working at a bar by night and with the ever busy social life of a 20-something in Chicago, there wasn’t any time for a true creative outlet. Aside from a few open-mic nights here and there, I was creatively starved. By the time I made it to Israel and found myself 5 minutes from the shuk, I had decided cooking would be my creative outlet and my new boyfriend (now husband) was my unwitting guinea pig. Now please keep in mind, my diet as a single, broke, lifetime Jewish communal non-profit employee ranged from veggie hot dogs, spaghetti, and salad to anything Trader Joe’s had in their ready-made freezer section. If that doesn’t help paint the picture of my cooking ineptitude then can I just tell you that the first time I attempted to make potato salad I didn’t realize you had to boil the potatoes first so I just cut up raw potatoes, added mayonnaise and wondered to myself, “Hmm, these potatoes seem kind of difficult to chew.” Now I actually consider myself a smart woman, but clearly, when it came to food, I was an absolute moron.

So, there I was living in Jerusalem, a stone’s throw from the largest selection of the freshest food I’ve ever been around, I got this cute new boyfriend and a new found thing called Shabbat in my life and all were begging for me to pick up the saucepan and start cooking. The first thing I cooked for new boyfriend/now husband was an omelette. He likes to tell how it was so incredibly doused in oil it could have greased an entire car engine so that was it for eggs. I tried making quiche in ready-made crusts but didn’t realize that maybe I shouldn’t use the ready-made graham cracker crusts and I DEFINITELY shouldn’t put them in the oven. You get the picture. Inept.

Grapes in the Shuk in Jerusalem

Grapes in the Shuk in Jerusalem

Olives in the Shuk

Olives in the Shuk

I tell you all this because where I’ve come in the kitchen makes me proud of me. I went in stubborn and terrified thinking soup is nearly impossible to make from scratch and now I’m in there with no recipes; only a hand mixer, some veggie broth and anything I can find in my fridge. I’ve truly come a long way and today’s Chanukah recipe is an example of my kitchen growth. It’s what happened when I discovered an insane amount of leftover cooked brown rice, some homemade cilantro sauce and a few other leftovers from this passed Shabbat. Most importantly, it’s the result of sitting at a stop light on the way back from work thinking, “I can do this. I can make up a recipe”. Of course any one can make up a recipe, but can you make one up that results in now husband exclaiming over and over again how good it is? I think not.

Southwestern Brown Rice Latkes with Cilantro Cream Sauce

Brown Rice Latkes

What?!

2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 bunch washed and chopped cilantro
1 bunch washed and chopped green onions
1/2 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
1/8 cup green chiles (optional)
3 large eggs – beaten
Panko bread crumbs
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Garlic Powder
Canola Oil
Avocado for garnish

How’s That Now?!

Places all ingredients except for canola oil in a bowl and mix well. Please note that I do not recommend a measurement for spices because spices are subject to taste when it comes to latkes. Additionally, I started out with a little bit and kept adding as it was clear after tasting my first latke that you can lose the flavor to the strength of the fried rice so really, the more, the merrier (though careful with that salt, ya’ll).

Bowl of pre-latke goodness

Bowl of pre-latke goodness

Green Stuff

Green Stuff

Heat gobs of canola oil in a saucepan. Do not start your frying until you know it’s good and hot. Once oil is ready, use a large table spoon to make a golf ball sized ball out of the mixture. Place in frying pan and gently pat down until about 1/2 inch thick. Your brown rice latke will not stay together unless the it’s good and thick. Let cook on each side until golden brown, at least 2 -3 minutes. Transfer to towel lined plate for oil soaking to commence. Repeat until all mixture is done. Garnish with sliced avocado.

Delicious Latkes Complete

Delicious Latkes Complete

Bonus points for plating

Bonus points for plating

Cilantro Cream Sauce

What?!

  • 1 (8oz) Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 (7oz) can tomatillo sauce or salsa (same thing, different companies label them different)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2-4 jalapenos, seeded (or leave the seeds in for extra heat)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • the juice of half a lime

How’s That Now?!

Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a jar with a tight fitting seal, and refrigerate for up to 1-2 weeks. adapted from http://www.mrshappyhomemaker.com

DIY Hanukkah

9 Dec

Image

This holiday season is a little different for me. And by a little, of course, I mean A LOT.  The last few years I’ve sorta avoided Christmas.  Britney’s song comes to mind, I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.  You get the idea.  I was Jewish in spirit and solidarity.  Now?  I’m a woman, y’all.  Well.  You know what I mean.

 

In April I had my religion reassignment surgery so to speak.  I am Jewish.  And you know what?  It all seems easy breezy when you’re ready to make a switch.  You justify the change you’re going to make because you want to make it.  Then?  The reality sets in. Those Christmas trees look real cute this year.  They didn’t before.  The holiday lights?  I want to be wrapped in them.  I am not disappointed in choosing to become (BE) Jewish.  I’m just maybe having more of a Christmas Mourning (ha!) period than I had expected.

Image

 

Not to mention this time of year feels a little bit like living in a blender.  Holiday parties, shopping craziness, traveling to Florida with family.  It’s a crazy time.  Couple that with a busy work schedule (for me AND the husband) and you can only hope that a hot bath at the end of the day will bring you back to normal.

So what have I done other than purchase an enormous bag of lavender bath salts?  Well, Hanukkah started last night.  If I can’t really dig in to one holiday, how about another.  The trouble of course is that I’m a new Jew.  I don’t have a Bubbe’s recipe for latkes or a Zayde’s amazing recipe for applesauce that has been handed down for generations.  Sometimes you have to build it yourself.  So I did.

My favorite kitchen mentor at the moment is Ina Garten.  Ina who also happens to be a fabulous Jewess.  She’s not old enough to be my Bubbe, but let’s pretend for a moment.  It should come to no surprise to any of us that she made homemade applesauce AND latkes this week on her show.  One day when I’m old and gray, the recipes which follow will be the ones I pass to whatever little kids I can force to listen to me.  Let me just say this…you need to add homemade applesauce to your bag of Hanukkah tricks.  This stuff is worth fighting for.

Applesauce:

WHAT:

2 large navel oranges, juice and zest of

1 lemon, juice and zest of

3 lbs granny smith apples (about 6-8 apples)

3lbs sweet red apples (about 6-8)…I used honey crisps

1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

HOW:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl.  Peel, quarter and core the apples (reserving the peel of 2 of the red apples) and toss them in the juice.  Pour the apples, reserved apple peel and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot.  Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and allspice and cover the pot.  Bake for 1 hour or until apples are soft.  Remove and discard the apple peel.  Mix with a whisk until it’s as smooth (or chunky) as you like.

Boom.  You’re life has changed.  ENJOY!

Latkes:

I know errrbody has their own latke recipe.  Here’s Ina’s.  Give it a whirl.

WHAT:

2 lbs baking potatoes

2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons flour

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons clarified butter

HOW:

Peel the potatoes and grate them lengthwise. Place them in a colander or kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. combine the potatoes in a bowl with the egg, flour, salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Melt 2 tables spoons of clarified  butter in a skillet.  Drop a heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture into the sizzling butter. Flatten with a spatula and cook for 2 minutes. Turn, flatten again, and cook for another 2 minutes, until crisp on the outside and golden brown.

Now I didn’t do this fancy clarified butter business.  I went for olive oil, because I’m lazy. BUT…here’s a word on clarified butter from the Queen herself…

To make 6 tablespoons of clarified butter, slowly melt 8 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Set it aside until the milk solids settle. Spoon off any solids that rise to the top and then carefully pour off the golden liquid, leaving the milky part in the bottom of the pan. Clarified butter has a higher burning temperature than melted butter.

May your Hanukkah be everything you wish for and may those lights be full of blessings for you and yours.  Hanukkah Sameach!

Deep Breath Chicken

2 Dec
Setting Up Ingredients

Setting Up Ingredients

Something happens when you have a baby. Something bizarre that NO ONE can prepare you for. People seem to lose their filter, especially women. I got a taste of this phenomenon when I was pregnant. People, especially women, loved to tell me their birth stories and more often than not these birth stories were horrifying! I get it. I get that experiencing and living through childbirth is something to be proud of, especially if that labor experience was a rough one. It’s a woman’s red badge of courage and you wanna get it out there–share how proud you are of yourself. However, it never made sense to me that a person, especially another woman, could tell a labor horror story to a visibly pregnant woman but people did and they did it a lot. I was looking forward to no longer hearing these stories once the little baby was here. What I didn’t expect to happen was that these stories would shift to strangers needing to tell you how well their babies sleep at night and how long they nursed their children for and yada yada yada. I’ve had strangers ask me if I breast feed like this is an acceptable question. That particular question is a trigger for me as I really struggled to nurse and eventually, just couldn’t produce enough so we went to straight formula. If you think one Shabbat night I didn’t break down for feeling betrayed by my body you would be mistaken. And so now, whenever anyone inappropriately asks me if I nurse I just throw it out there and watch the awkwardness set it, “Nope. Producing breast milk was nearly impossible for me so we feed her formula. Have a nice day!” You can see it on their faces, the “oh sh*t, did not expect you to be honest with me and now I feel super awkward” face. Maybe I should ease up on folks. I don’t see that happening but maybeI should 🙂

Chopped eggplant and zucchini

Recently, I had a coworker who I respect tell me out and out that what I was doing for my baby’s sleep routine was wrong. I mean she literally said, “You’re doing it all wrong”. Ummmmm, what? Don’t I look rested? Have you asked me if my baby is happy and healthy? Yikes. It was right then and there that I decided that this all had to stop. We, as women, NEED to stop judging one another for their parenting choices and we certainly have to stop scaring pregnant women and new mothers. I mean, for crying out loud, let’s be a little more nurturing here, yes? I’ll admit it, I’ve absolutely silently judged the choices of fellow parents but it is brutal enough out there as a woman, as a parent, etc. Therefore, I’m making the decision right here and now to stop it. It’s exhausting and not worth it. Why make it harder on each other? It boggles the mind. It really does. (Deep Exhale).

So why the rant? I could not stop thinking about this interaction all day on Friday. This, on top of some other stressful work stuff, resulted in me being THIS close to ordering Chinese food for Shabbat and calling it a day. But instead of taking the easy way out I seized the opportunity to cook while also having decent light for pictures and the result was what I am now calling, “Let’s All Take a BIG Deep Breath” Chicken. I hope you enjoy. Thanks for listening.

Take a deep breath---it smells DELICIOUS

Take a deep breath—it smells DELICIOUS

What?

1 1/2 – 2 pounds chicken leg quarters
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar (I substituted for Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons freshly-minced parsley
2 tablespoons freshly-minced cilantro

How’s That Now?

1. In large skillet over medium high-heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season leg quarters with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add leg quarters to pan, skin-side down. Brown chicken, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Remove chicken to plate and drain off all but 2 tablespoons oil.
2. Add eggplant to hot pan and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, along with zucchini, onion and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Raise heat to high and add white wine to pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Add all other ingredients, except parsley and cilantro, and place chicken legs in mixture. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until cooked through or until an instant read thermometer reads 170F.
4. Do yourself a favor and serve this with Israeli Couscous. You’ll have a lot of leftover vegetable topping and it’ll go nicely on top of the couscous. Sprinkle with parsley and cilantro and enjoy!

Jewhungry

Recipes and stories from my shvitzin' kitchen

molly yeh

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

LALA LAND

Still trying to figure it out.

Pop Chassid

A blog by Elad Nehorai

The Little Ferraro Kitchen

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Food with a View

Culinary stories, green recipes and passionate photography from urban nature and beyond

Take a Megabite

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Manu's Kitchen

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Foodie With Family

Life at the intersection of food, family, philosophy, frugality and fun!

The Rural Roost

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Love and Lemons

Because sometimes Jews get hungry . . . for EVERYTHING.

Nutmeg Nanny

A Journey Through a Sweet and Savory Life

Lea & Jay

(Gimlet, Mistletoe, Arwen)

Finger, Fork & Knife

I'm Kate and Finger, Fork and Knife is where I record the recipes that excite, nourish and inspire me. I focus on wholesome, high-nutrition, home-cooked food - recipes that satisfy and delight. Welcome!

The Joy of Caitlin

cooking, loving, life-ing!

iamthemilk

Every day I'm jugglin'.

I want that for dinner

Gluten-free, healthy, creative, and kosher cooking...with a comedic twist!

%d bloggers like this: