Tag Archives: University of Michigan

{Guest Post} Leaning on Others – A Post by Jackie

19 Jul

Hi Again,

Below is the second guest post for this week that I’m away on vacation and this one is from my dear friend, Jackie. Before you read a bit about her story, I wanted to share a bit about who she is to me. Jackie and I met while I was working at the University of Michigan Hillel. We met at a happy hour. We started chatting about who knows what and then she asked if I like to dance and well, the rest is a very sweet history. We spent 8 months going dancing, drinking tons of coffee, laughing until the point of tears and almost piddling our pants, supporting each other through the hell that is dating and, of course, eating. I went to live in Israel within a year of us meeting and yet, our friendship deepened even though we were several time zones away. Her ability to give advice and listen without judgement is so frikkin’ rare and I’m grateful for it. So, please do enjoy her story and recipe and note that this woman has eaten in the finest restaurants in the world so hers is a palate to trust. Shabbat shalom, Whitney

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My girl, Jackie, giving me blessings at my wedding.

Thank you to my dear friend Whitney for letting me share my story and recipe on this amazing site. It is both her tomato salad recipe and endless advice that have inspired this post.

I’m just about the last of my married friends to get pregnant. During the year I was trying to conceive I struggled with this fact, and was often filled with feelings of jealousy and anger. It seemed the whole world was fertile including all of my lovely girlfriends. It took a lot of personal work to get to a place where I could truly be happy for my friends and right around that point I finally got my double line.

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Pregnant at last after a year of heartache

Now that I am pregnant (thank you G-d!) I am thrilled to have this wealth of knowledge and support from friends. For every question, concern and query I have a variety of mom-friends to turn to. I never feel alone and am thankful for this team of women behind me. I’ve found the silver lining in being the last to be pregnant and the advice is already priceless.

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Jackie and I doing what we do best, dancing up a storm (circa 2007).

Just like in cooking, I am taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that from each of my friends. Some moms have been instrumental in building my registry. Other moms have shared with me their breast feeding stories and have helped me to be aware of future issues. Several moms have loaned me maternity clothes and my closet is full of fun outfits to wear. And every single mom friend has been willing to share her journey and hear mine. Thank you ladies for every text, gchat and phone call.

Being pregnant in the summer means trying to find light dishes that are filling and nutritious which is just what this salad is. I remember visiting my girl, Whitney, when she first moved to Miami. She told me she was hungry for a snack and I expected her to pull out a granola bar or maybe a few pretzels. Instead she diced a tomato, red onion, avocado and added feta cheese and olive oil. Delicious. To fill out this salad I add toasted Israeli couscous and some other tasty treats. It’s the perfect summer picnic salad, pregnant or not!

Jackie’s Couscous Salad inspired by Whitney’s snack salad

Ingredients
Israeli cous cous, 2 cups (for a party)
Water, 2 ¼ cups
Pad of Butter
Almond slivers, ⅓ cup
Tomatoes, diced
Seedless cucumber, diced
Avocado, diced
Yellow bell pepper, diced
Feta (pasteurized if you are pregnant)
Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Lemons
Olive Oil

How
1. Heat pan and add cous cous, shaking pan frequently until cous cous takes on a golden brown color.
2. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and turn to simmer until all liquid has absorbed. (Tip: You can also use veggie broth, or chicken broth and omit cheese to add additional flavor to your cous cous).
3. While the pearls are cooking, dice all your veggies. Add as much or as little as you want!
4. Toast almonds in a pad of butter. Enjoy the smell of melting butter.
5. When cous cous has cooled mix together with veggies, feta, toasted almonds. Now it’s time to grab a fork. Top with olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. Taste. Decide what you need more of (usually for me it’s lemon and salt). Adjust. Taste. Adjust. Etc.

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Miami and Her Flavors – Cilantro Lime Cauliflower “Couscous”

16 Jun

We moved to Miami in December of 2010. I graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work on a Sunday and we started our drive to Florida from Ann Arbor on the very next day. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d live in Miami or really any part of Florida. But I fell in love with a Marine Biologist and we had an agreement—16 months in Ann Arbor for my higher education degree and then I’d move anywhere he needed for his higher education degree. I mean granted, I made this agreement knowing that he would need to be near a beach for his PhD program so needless to say, it was an agreement I entered into without hesitation. So 16 months after we made our agreement (and one Master’s in Social Work later), we packed up our car and headed down South. Michigan to Miami is no small drive so we set out to make a few stops along the way. Because my man loves his bourbon, we made a detour to Bourbon County in Kentucky. It was a dream come true for him. My favorite part of this portion of the trip was our stay in a local Bed and Breakfast. It just so happened that we checked into our B & B on Christmas Eve. It was clear that this town and definitely this B & B hadn’t seen a tourist in quite a while. When we drove up, the proprietor turned on all her twinkling Christmas lights, pressed play on her Nat King Cole Christmas album and waited to turn on the main room’s large Christmas tree until we walked in to the room. My husband and I looked at each other thinking the same thing, this poor woman has no idea that her only two customers this holiday season are two big Jews. Oy.

Outside our apartment in Ann Arbor (with Judy Blue!) the day we moved, December 2010

Outside our apartment in Ann Arbor (with Judy Blue!) the day we moved, December 2010

 

Ann the Inn Keeper with her two undercover Jewish guests on Christmas day.

Ann the Inn Keeper with her two undercover Jewish guests on Christmas day.

 

Ann collected antiques.  She insisted we sit in this "courting" chair. We indulged her.  It was our Jewish guilt working over time.

Ann collected antiques. She insisted we sit in this “courting” chair. We indulged her. It was our Jewish guilt working over time.

 

Two days later, we arrived at my mom’s house in Asheville, NC just in time for the snow to start pouring down. Our trip got delayed a few days but we eventually took the risk and headed down to Miami. Watching the climate change from a winter wonderland by starting our journey in the mountains and ending 10 hours later in sunny Orlando, Florida was incredible. The next day we woke up and drove the remaining four hours to Miami. Now, I had only been in Miami once before this for about 8 hours and I had only been in South Beach. So armed with the memories of that day and one too many viewings of The Bird Cage, I was completely surprised to find out that not all of Miami is a sun-soaked, pastel, art-deco wonderland. In fact, that’s only a small portion of Miami. Miami is huge, and a bit beat-up in parts and then completely overly manicured in others. She holds hidden gems in the most random and unexpected places. I’m not in love with Miami but I try to love her for what she has to offer and when it comes to flavor, she has a lot to offer.

Father's Day in Miami.  Welcome to the good life!

Father’s Day in Miami. Welcome to the good life!

So on this beautiful evening on this hot, Miami day, that just also happened to be Father’s Day, I played with some of my favorite Miami flavors. Being that its Father’s Day, it’s hot out and my man loves the ocean, we went to the beach. We also grilled some meat because how else to you let the man you love know that he’s the greatest father on the planet but with some grilled meat?! To accompany our meat-fest, I made some cilantro lime cauliflower “couscous”. Since I now have 3 clients with varying diet restrictions, Im trying to play with alternatives. Yes, this meant saying “shalom” to my old friend, the cauliflower, but this was the perfect side dish to a heavy meal. I also think this would be beautiful as an accompaniment to fish, or maybe if you’re going paleo or grain-free, like some of my clients, this would be great with roasted veggies or in soup. You can play with the flavors if cilantro isn’t your thing. The cauliflower is extremely versatile. I hope you like!

Cauliflower as couscous

Cauliflower as couscous

 

Chopped

Chopped

 

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Couscous

Ingredients

1 Head of Cauliflower
3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Sea salt
Pepper

1/2 Cup Cilantro
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tbsp Coconut oil
Juice of Half a Lime
Sea salt

Fresh

Fresh

How

Chop cauliflower into smaller florets for the processor. Place chopped cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until consistency resembles fluffy couscous. Heat coconut oil in a skillet or Dutch oven. Place processed cauliflower into the Dutch oven. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Turn heat to low, season with salt and pepper and cover. Let sit on low heat for 5-10 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, place cilantro, garlic, salt, oil and lime juice in a clean food processor or blender. Pulse together until we’ll combined.

Once couscous is done (do a taste test for softness to let you know it’s done), turn off the heat, pour the cilantro sauce into the Dutch oven with the couscous and stir to combine. Serve hot.

 

Couscous complete

Couscous complete

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).

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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.

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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

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