Oct 292009
 

This past Friday, Mr. BT, Mimi from Israeli Kitchen and I embarked on an adventure to a town a few kilometers from Jerusalem to crush apples  and press them for scrumpy, otherwise known as farmhouse hard cider. Mr. BT and I are virgin hard cider makers, but we knew that with Mimi, who makes some very nice red wines, fruit wines, and mead, that we had the potential to produce something great.

When we arrived at our destination, Mimi, also a great forager of wild edible plants, spotted a flowering caper bush. I had never seen a caper flower and as you can see in the picture above, they are quite beautiful. She also found a few leaves of  purslane for us to munch on.

Our host was already busy crushing apples when we arrived and we happily offered a helping hand. He had purchased 1600 kilos (3,500 lbs) of apples to crush. No, the apples were not all for us: we only purchased 20 liters (5 US gallons) of apple juice, which was probably the result of crushing 50 or 60 kg of fruit.

Mimi and I grabbed a crate of Granny Smith and a crate of Golden Delicious apples to crush. It was important to have a 50/50 mix of the apples in order to get the right balance of tartness and sweetness, and Israel doesn’t have the same variety of traditional cider apples that you find in Somerset or Herefordshire, the two main cider-producing counties of  England.

We then handed the crushed apples over to the strong, brawny men to do the hard part, pressing the crushed apples. We only pressed them once although some press twice in order to extract the maximum possible amount of juice.

The men, Mr BT included, took turns pressing the apples. This hard labor produces the lovely apple juice that we needed to make our hard cider.

Mr BT gave me a small cup of the juice to taste and it was lovely.

We worked up quite an appetite after we crushed and pressed a ton of apples, so we put the juice in a fermentation bucket, said our thank yous and goodbyes, and headed for a famous little hole-in-the-wall in Or Yehuda.

On our way to Or Yehuda, Mr BT, Mimi, and I were trying to come up with a clever name for our cider. I suggested Grumpy Scrumpy because Mr BT was a little grumpy that day. He wanted to name it Humpy Scrumpy after his beloved animal, the camel, but I told him it had a whole other meaning and didn’t think it was a good idea. So, Grumpy Scrumpy it is! I will keep you updated on the progress of our cider.

I know you are going to say haven’t you had enough kubbeh this month, well…..no! I have been trying to go to Pundak Moshe for the past three years and every time I wanted to go, we had something else we had to do that was more important. This time when I suggested going there, I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. We didn’t have the address with us, so we stopped at a petrol station to ask the attendant where “the kubbeh restaurant is”. Actually, there are two of them, but he immediately said, “you want to go to Pundak Moshe?”. Of course, we said yes and he gave us directions. It looks like a tiny shack from the outside, but once you enter the restaurant it is actually quite deep.

As we entered the building, I had thoughts of my grandmother coming with me to this restaurant: she would have walked in and immediately walked out. It is not dirty, but there are pots everywhere and it would have been too messy looking for my neat-freak grandmother (z”l).

I knew from the long line of people waiting to take home a variety of kubbeh that was bubbling away in huge pots, that this was going to be worth the three-year wait.

As we inched up closer to the rainbow of colors in the pots, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy decision figuring out which pot to choose from. The pots contained kubbeh and a variety of other traditional home-cooked dishes, such as stuffed vegetables and meat stews.

They also sell charcoal-grilled meats.

But then I saw a beautiful pot of pumpkin bubbling away with bits of hot red pepper floating around and it had my name on it.

Moshe dished up the pumpkin with semolina kubbeh and put it in a bowl filled with plain white rice. Mr BT decided to have the same.

Mimi also got the same kubbeh, but over yellow rice and she also took some intestines stuffed with meat and rice that were flavoured with cardamom.

The kubbeh and the stuffed intestines were delicious. It is a good thing I don’t live in Or Yehuda because I would weigh 400 lb (180kg) from eating at Pundak Moshe every Friday.

Oct 212009
 

On the last day of our vacation, we had a leisurely breakfast at the treehouse and then drove to Kibbutz Yechiam to go to the annual Renaissance Festival at  Yechiam Castle.

Probably built by the Templars in the late 12th century, Yechiam was destroyed by the Mamluke Sultan Baybars of Egypt and Syria in the late 1200s. Its ruins were rebuilt in the 18th century by the local Bedouin warlord, Sheik Dahr El-Omar.  Today, the castle is open for visitors and is used for private events, concerts and festivals.

The kibbutz is famous for Deli – Yehiam, a kosher meat factory specializing in deli meats. Today, Deli – Yehiam has 20 percent of the local Israeli sausage and deli meats market, and exports their products to the US and Europe.

We went to the Renaissance Festival to hear our friend Myrna Herzog’s ensemble, Phoenix, perform songs from the Portuguese Crypto-Jews and from the Sephardic tradition;  Spanish music by Diego Ortiz, Francisco de la Torre, Luiz Narváez, Juan del Encina and Diego Pisador, and music from the Colombina song-book. Phoenix is always a joy to hear and see; the audience was moving and swaying to the early music with a South American beat.

We stayed to listen to a performance of madrigal singers, which normally we would have enjoyed had it not been for the unbelievably rude people sitting all around us. They talked loudly throughout the entire performance and the ones behind us did not shut up until I asked them why they were there. The rest of the Renaissance Festival was rather disappointing, but maybe it is unfair of me to try and compare it to the Georgia Renaissance Festival that I used to attend when I lived in Atlanta.

After the two performances, we decided to stop somewhere for a late lunch and head back home.

We decided to stop in Kfar Rama to try a highly recommended restaurant called Ezba, which is run by Chef Habib Daoud and his wife Minerba. I have to tell you that when we saw the faded sign in the middle of a grotty industrial area next to the highway, and no cars in the narrow and quite steep driveway, I did not have high hopes that the restaurant was still in operation. The building looked abandoned, but Mr BT insisted that we stop and he went to the front door to see if anyone was there. He waved to me to park the car and come inside.

And when we entered, the decorations looked like someone’s house, but this time we were actually eating in a restaurant.

The restaurant specializes in dishes of the Arab cuisine from the Galilee. Chef Daoud uses herbs and spices from the area and offers a unique opportunity to taste the simple and mouth-watering delicacies that are traditionally served in the homes of local Arab families. The dishes vary according to the season and to what nature has to offer in the immediate surroundings.

After our warm greeting, we were served a cabbage salad like I have never had before. It did not have a sour pickled flavour which I really dislike, but tasted more like sauteed cabbage. It was delicious, as were the local olives.

As we studied the menu, I saw a dish that I had always wanted to try, Akoub, which is cardoons. Cardoons are sold at the shuk, but they are very expensive because they are difficult to harvest. You also have to be very careful when trying to prepare them because each stalk is covered with small, nearly invisible, spines that can cause enormous pain if they are lodged in the skin. Mr. BT and I decided to share an order as an appetizer. They were delicious,  tasted like a cross between an artichoke and broccoli, and were served in a flavourful broth over a rice and toasted vermicelli mixture.

After a few minutes of being the only ones in the restaurant, one car after another started arriving until the restaurant was completely full with excited guests anticipating a good meal.

For my main course, I ordered kubbeh siniyeh, which is made from the same mixture of bulgur and minced meat as in the normal torpedo-shaped kubbeh, but baked in a ceramic dish.

Mr BT ordered Beef with Freekeh, toasted young wheat which when cooked looks like green bulgar and has a distinct smokey flavour. According to legend more than 2000 years ago, before leaving in retreat, soldiers who had attacked a village in Lebanon set the fields on fire in order to destroy the wheat, condemning the local people to ruin. Instead, trying to save whatever they could, the locals collected the burnt grain from the fields and after cleaning it, they discovered a toasted grain that was green and very nutritious. Because it is harvested while it’s still young, Freekeh contains more protein, vitamins, and minerals than mature wheat and most other grains. It is also low in starch and high in fibre–up to four times the fibre of brown rice.

The main dishes were accompanied by a nice fresh Arab salad with pomegranate seeds.

We washed the meal down with fresh lemonade with pomegranate seeds.

As we were finishing our meal, three women in their early 60s entered the restaurant a bit unsure if they should stay. They discussed it in a huddle for a minute and proceeded to sit at the table behind Mr BT. One of them sat opposite the other two for a few seconds and then decided to move to the other side of the table. They were now all sitting on the same side of the table. One of the other women asked why she had move, that now it would be more difficult to carry on a conversation. The woman said, “I don’t want to face the wall!” With that, and please do not send me any hate mail for saying this because you have to live in Israel to understand this, I knew one or more of them were of Polish origin. They all three started examining the glasses, silverware, and plates to make sure they were clean. Two of them started to wipe the glasses, silverware and plates. I thought I was going to burst out laughing, but I composed myself. I couldn’t tell Mr BT what I was witnessing because they were directly behind him. I was afraid they would understand what I said if I spoke to him in German. Then, they started looking at the menu, one of them, I will call her Miss Adventurous, was excited about the menu and decided she wanted to order Akoub. The other two asked why they didn’t have schnitzel on the menu and hoped that they at least had some chips. At that point I wanted to walk over and tell them to get out, that they didn’t deserve to try this wonderful food, and they should just go to Burger Ranch for lunch, but we got up, very happy from the lovely meal we had just had and headed home with wonderful memories of an unforgettable three day getaway.

I am so lucky to have Mr BT as my life partner and travel companion. I can’t think of anyone else I would like to go with on a travel adventure.

Oct 162009
 

After the lovely experience in Shtula we had lovely dreams and awoke to birds singing in the little tree house in the North. The sun was shining and the view from the zimmer was the valley below.

The members of my family have a tradition of taking pictures of whatever view they happen to have from their hotel room. This was our spectacular view. The air was clean and fresh, with a wonderful atmosphere of peace, even though the rather unpeaceful Lebanese border was only a few hundred yards away.

Northern Israel always relaxes me and I feel like I can breathe when I am there. Don’t get me wrong, I live in a quiet little village, but I really feel like I have flown out of the country when I travel to the North. It is a different way of life up there.

The zimmer did not include breakfast, but they gave us a beautiful loaf of homemade bread, six eggs, two different kinds of homemade jam (mango and fig), butter, milk, fresh lemonade with fresh mint, a jug of water, coffee, and a selection of teas. They also had a beautiful pot of fresh sage to use for your morning omelet, to say nothing of lots of other fresh herbs growing right outside our cabin, such as za’atar, thyme and mint.

The zimmer is beautifully decorated . This lovely door leads to the loo: the inside view is even better.

There is a nice sitting area in the living room which contains a wood-burning fireplace and the kitchen nook. It was too warm to try out the fireplace, so we will have to find an excuse to come back in the winter.

They had several interesting items in corners of the living room and bedroom. One corner contained a cute lamp with a basket of various teas and another contained a slanted shelf with a covered bowl full of candy. In a nook near the jacuzzi there was a “genie” bottle filled with homemade ‘cherry sherry’ and two glasses. The sherry was delicious and was a perfect close after we got back from our Kurdish dinner.

After breakfast we headed to the ancient city of Tzfat, but about 4 kilometers from there we saw a sign for a winery in the village of Or HaGanuz. This spiritual-Kabbalistic settlement was founded in 1989. The name of the village means Hidden Light, and is derived from the kabbalah which refers to the original light described in the Bible that was the first act of creation (see Genesis 1:2). We had never heard of this winery, but we find it hard to pass up a chance to have a taste of wine. There are several signs that guide you directly to the winery and you can’t miss the large replica of an ancient amphora (an earthenware jug for oil or wine) at the front of the building.

We were greeted by a friendly face whose accent immediately gave away that he was a French speaker. It turned out he was originally from Tunisia, but his family is originally from Livorno, Italy. I joked that we could be related since I have some relatives who lived in Livorno. Giovanni Affricano, the winemaker of this winery, studied wine-making in France and Italy.  He originally worked in education and decided to move to the North after he became religious and fulfill his dream of making wine.

After the tour of the winery, Giovanni let us sample five different wines, Sahar (Cabernet Sauvignon Premium), Glilee (Merlot), Torr (Sangiovese Cabernet), Nadiv (Cabernet Sauvignon) and a sweet dessert wine. All of the wines have a Mehadrin kashrut certification. Different types of Mehadrin certification for wine and food basically means that they are checked even more carefully for any non-kosher contaminants. In the case of Mehadrin slaughterhouses, the animals are checked more carefully than in normal kosher slaughterhouses for blemishes, especially of the lungs, that could make them unfit.

As for our wine tasting, we very much liked the Torr and Nadiv and bought a bottle of each. We thought the Glilee had too much tannin and the dessert wine was little too sweet for our taste. We are going to wait six months to a year before we open the wines we bought.

Tzfat  is considered to be one of Judaism’s four holiest cities. It is known as the center of Jewish mysticism or kabbalah, not Madonna’s kabbalah, but the real thing, which is far from the commercialized version she adopted.

It is a poor city that is full of hippies, artists, followers of kabbalah (some who are sane and some who have lost their way), the deeply religious, and a smattering of secular people. It is a place which,  if I stay too long,  gives me an eerie feeling; a feeling of ancient ghosts who have yet to find their resting place. For others, it is a place of spiritual awakening.

We didn’t come to Tzfat this time to walk along its ancient streets, but rather to visit a museum that we just discovered in a guidebook; a museum that is near and dear to my husband, the Memorial Museum of Hungarian Speaking Jewry. I am constantly teasing Mr BT about how crazy the Hungarians are and I was afraid if I entered the museum that the crazy dust would begin to cover him and make him crazier than he already is ;-).

The museum, which is in a side building of the old Ottoman saraya, or police station, was established by two of the many Hungarian Jews who ended up in Tzfat after the Holocaust and is managed by Ron Lustig, their son. What is unusual about the Hungarian Jews is that the community has been there since the days of the Roman colony of Pannonia, centuries before the Magyars under Attila the Hun swept in from Central Asia. That made the Jews feel more Hungarian than the Hungarians, which resulted in their tremendous contribution to the country’s economic and cultural life from the mid-19th century until the Holocaust; but it also meant that they mistakenly didn’t feel threatened by the growth of Fascism from the 1920s and Admiral Horthy’s eventual alliance with Hitler. In fact, Horthy protected the Jews until 1944: even though they were forced into a ghetto, the Jews of Budapest continued a very active cultural life there, including theatre, a symphony orchestra and an opera house, in which my mother-in-law was one of the leading soloists. It was only after Horthy decided in early 1944 to switch sides because he foresaw Hitlers impending defeat that the Germans invaded the country and started deporting the Jews en masse,  both to labor camps and to Auschwitz.

The museum includes artifacts from 18th century Jewish life onwards up to the time of the Holocaust, most of them the gifts of Hungarian Jews living all over the world. The most touching of all is a braid of blond hair cut from the head of a young girl a few days before she and her mother were sent to Auschwitz to be murdered there. Ron told us and some other visitors that he received the braid, together with a few other keepsakes of the girl and her mother, from the father who had survived the Holocaust, with a letter saying “this is the whole of my life.” Ron wrote back to thank the donor, but received a reply from someone else saying that the donor had died only two days after sending the letter, perhaps knowing that he had only enough time left to leave his memories of his beloved wife and child to the museum.

Mr BT was happy to discover that the museum’s extensive computer system included an entry for his grandfather, who was a distinguished pedagogue in Hungary, and that the museum also had a copy of his semi-autobiographical novel The Five Books of Aaron. There was also a photograph from 1939 of a class at the Jewish high school in Budapest, in which Mr BT thinks he identified his grandmother, who was one of the teachers there.

After the very moving and sometimes tearful visit to the museum, we decided to have a light snack in the Druze village of Hurfeish before heading back to the zimmer to rest before heading out for dinner.

Hurfeish, pronounced Khurfeish, is situated in the heart of the Galilee just to the north of Mount Meron. The site is from the Byzantine era and the current village has existed for about 500 years. The origin of the town’s name is unknown, but it is assumed that it is derived from the family of Al-Khrafsha that settled there. It is a lovely village with a popular stand called Sambusak HaArazim. They take dough and roll it out in a thin circle, fill it with lamb or tuna, or labane and za’atar, fold it half and bake it in a large gas-fired oven. They are delicious and I highly recommend making a stop here. You may not be able to stop at one: I had to stop Mr BT from ordering another one. I was so hungry at that point, I forgot to take a picture of the stand and of the sambusak.

After a couple of hours of rest, we drove back to Hurfeish for dinner (this time taking the main road instead of the gravel track between the hills from the back of Hurfeish to Matat). We thought we were going to a Druze restaurant, but just like the previous night, we discovered that the restaurant was actually our host’s living room. This time our host was Nimr Nimr, a retired Druze teacher, who now works as a tour guide. Nimr Nimr, by the way, is Arabic for Leopard Leopard: names like this are quite common among the Druze, another one being Assad Assad, which means Lion Lion.

The Druze are ethnic Arabs who broke away from Islam to form their own religion at the beginning of the 11th century and are regarded by Muslims as heretics. They live mainly in Lebanon, Syria and Israel, although there are emigre communities in the United States and South America. In Israel, the Druze do national service in the Army, some rising to very high ranks.

Dinner was delicious, the usual combination of meze, salads, and grilled meat. But what was special was the hospitality, something for which the Druze are rightly famous. It wasn’t just the warm welcome that we received from Nimr and his wife Samiha, but the amazing tennis match of conversation that I thoroughly enjoyed watching between him and Mr BT, which ranged from Druze history to modern Middle Eastern politics to literature to Israel’s social problems. Although pretending to just be an ordinary man, Nimr is obviously educated way beyond the average for Israelis of any background or religion: he was quoting from Shai Agnon, the first Israeli to win a Nobel Prize (for literature), and in Aramaic from the Mishnah, and from time-to-time would jump up to pull a book from his very well stocked library to illustrate a point. I could have stayed on for hours just to gorge on the fresh figs and homemade maamoul filled with walnuts that Samiha brought to the table; Mr BT could have easily stayed on all night talking to Nimr. It is an evening I will never forget.

Oct 112009
 

Everyone needs a break, a vacation, an opportunity to charge one’s batteries. Mr BT and I decided that Sukkot was the best time for us to recharge ourselves. As a former meeting organizer, I love to plan our trips. I like to find interesting places to stay, see, and eat; and I am forever looking for those interesting out-of-the-way places. Israel is a small country, but it is full of nooks and crannies that most people do not look for in a vacation. The unplanned theme for our three-day vacation was “home away from home”. No, we didn’t stay with relatives, we just found places with a homey feel in more ways than one.

Baron de Rothschild coat of arms

We began our three-day weekend by driving to Zichron Yaacov to visit a friend  and also to see the beautiful Ramat Hanadiv Gardens, Heights of the Benefactor gardens. The benefactors of these gardens were the Baron and Baroness Edmond James and Adelaide de Rothschild.

Cascade Garden

One of the must sees is the Cascade Garden, with its terraces that face the Mediterranean Sea, lined with dragon trees and large cypresses.

The Rose Garden is a formal garden with a variety of roses that includes six pools with fountains, representing the Rothschild family. The large pool represents the founder of the family, Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) while the five small pools represent his five sons, whom he sent to major European cities in order to found the branches of the family business. It isn’t really rose season at the moment, but I am sure this garden is beautiful when all of the roses are in bloom.

The Palm Garden, located on the eastern side of the park, includes a small selection of the world’s 2800 palms.

The Fragrance Garden was designed for the visually impaired and is one of my favourite areas of the gardens.

It includes fragrant sweet smelling plants and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, za’atar, basil, cardamom, lavender . The fragrances are intoxicating. Visitors are encouraged to touch the plants in this section, where plants are clearly labeled in Braille, Latin, Hebrew and Arabic. It was the first time I had ever seen a cardamom plant.

We left Zichron and headed straight for the zimmer we booked in a moshav on the border of Lebanon called Matat. The word “zimmer”, which means “room” in German, was adopted into Hebrew to mean little cabins that have sprung up all over moshavim and kibbutzim, especially in the Galilee for townies to spend a few days in nature and get away from it all.

The moshav was founded in 1980, and currently 35 families are living there. One of them is the famous baker and chef, at least here in Israel, Erez Komarovsky, former owner of the Lehem Erez bakery. He sold his bakery and moved to the northern Galil. Now he conducts cooking classes on everything from bread making to fish to beef. I would love to take a bread-making class from him. Unfortunately, he had just returned from a trip abroad on the day we left. So, I didn’t get to “accidentally on purpose” run into him.

By the time we arrived to Matat, it was already dark, so we couldn’t see much of the moshav. However, the drive up to Matat was breathtakingly beautiful and Mr. Moon greeted us full, big, shiny, and bright. The surrounding area will remind you of Provence. We stayed at the beautiful and romantic zimmer called Eretz Bereshit, which means the Land of Genesis.

Because Matat is built at the top of a steep hill and the land allocated to each householder basically starts at the top of the hill and goes all the way down to the valley at the bottom, the houses are nearly all at or just below the brow of the hill and the zimmers that some of the owners built, including the one where we stayed, are about half-way down and can only be reached by a long flight of steep steps. Fortunately, we knew about this ahead of time and the steps were also lit at night to ensure that we didn’t break our necks.

We hadn’t made any firm plans for dinner before arriving, but I had a list of interesting possibilities to choose from. One of them turned to be an emotional  and frankly speechless experience that I hadn’t had in a long, long time. On my list, I had found a Kurdish restaurant in a moshav called Shtula that is a 15 minute drive from Matat. We both love Kurdish food and assumed that a restaurant on a predominately Kurdish moshav can’t be bad, so we called to make sure they were open. A pleasant voice answered the phone and said sure, come on over. We called when we arrived at the entrance and the woman instructed us where to go. We parked in front of a large home and realized that we would be dining in someone’s home, not at a restaurant. We knew this was going to be interesting.

Ora Hatan greeted us at the door and told us to sit down at the dining room table. There were already some lovely meze waiting for us on the table to enjoy

with Kurdish flatbread made on a saj, which is like an upside down wok heated over charcoal. It is very thin and crispy.

She then brought us kubbeh soup. Kubbeh, in different regional variations across Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Kurdistan, is made by taking a ball of moistened semolina mixed with water, sticking your finger into the middle to hollow it out and filling it with a meat mixture: some types are made with a mixture of bulgar and minced meat that is then filled with meat. This was some of the best kubbeh I have ever had. The soup was tomato-based and quite flavourful.

The meal continued with aubergines, onions, and courgettes stuffed with a rice and meat mixture.

Then, she brought out hand-minced lamb kebabs. These were seasoned with herbs and were absolutely delicious. She served them over softened Kurdish flatbread.

As we sat down to eat, an elderly lady with bright eyes and lovely smile came out from the back of the house, said good evening to us, and went to sit down in the living room to watch TV. As she came out, I thought to myself that she looked familiar, but then said “naaah, that can’t be her”. When Ora came back from the kitchen we told her that we had seen a very interesting documentary about a Kurdish moshav on Israel Channel One and we didn’t remember which moshav they were filming. It featured a wonderful lady who was herding her goats on the Lebanese border and she told of her life there. Ora got a big grin on her face and said, “It is about our moshav and the woman is my mother, Sarah.” She called for Sarah to come to the table and thus began the most interesting part of our meal.

Sarah reminded me of my great-grandmother, Ina Nathan; they had similar smiles. She told us that she was from Koya, Kurdistan and emigrated to Israel in 1951, almost 9 months pregnant, with her husband and the first two of what would eventually be fourteen children. She said that it was very difficult when she first came here; for the first few years, they lived in absorption camps that were unfortunately the fate of many new immigrants in the 1950s, there was very little food and they had to build everything from scratch.

She then told us that she traveled alone to Kurdistan 12 years ago on a mission to bring back a Torah scroll that belonged to her family for generations. They had left the Torah scroll with a family anticipating that they would come back to get it someday. She flew to southeastern Turkey and then hitched a ride across the border all the way to Koya. By chance, she was given a ride by the local mayor who asked her where she was from: when she said she was from Israel, he welcomed her and did everything in his power to help her in her mission. With his assistance, she discovered that the Torah scroll was being held by a local qadi (Muslim religious judge). She told the qadi that she had come specially from Israel to retrieve the scroll and asked for it back. When he refused, she offered him money, and then more money, but he continued to refuse explaining that he and his fellow Muslims believed that the scroll gave them divine protection and that he wasn’t willing to give it up. Eventually, she discovered that the qadi and his family had moved to Sweden, taking the scroll with them.

We were then served cinnamon tea and extraordinary figs that had been poached and served in their juice. This was truly the food of the gods. She also served us homemade date cake and some biscuits.

After dessert, Ora took us out to the balcony which overlooks the Lebanese border, a couple of hundred meters away and showed us a couple villages on the other side of the fence that had become Hizbollah strongholds.

When we staggered, stuffed with wonderful Kurdish food, back to the car, I was just in tears, not just from meeting such lovely people but from Sarah’s story of her life and especially her first trip back to Kurdistan. Weren’t you afraid of being in Kurdistan while Sadaam Hussein was still in power in Iraq, Mr BT had asked Sarah. “No, I just had faith in G-d.”

Oct 032009
 

There is something cathartic telling someone that you are sorry if you hurt them or caused them pain in any way. My husband  and I say we are sorry after every fight because my grandmother always told me to never go to bed angry. This was one of the many pieces of advice she gave me as a key to a successful marriage and I took them to heart because she and my grandfather were married almost 65 years. Every year, before Yom Kippur, my husband and I look each other in the eye and say, “I am sorry if I hurt you or caused you any pain this past year.” All of this and asking friends and neighbors for forgiveness is essential because the religious part of Yom Kippur only relates to what we sins between man and G-d. In other words, breaking commandments to do with Shabbat or keeping kosher, and so on.

The first time I said this to my husband I just welled up with tears and felt a huge weight lift off of me. It was a very strange feeling, catharsis.

Now we are celebrating the week long holiday of Sukkot. I do not have beautiful pictures of a Sukkah this year, but I will be posting about a lovely adventure with Mr. BT in the next few days.

Last night, I roasted chicken that I had stuffed with garlic, lemon, fresh thyme, and fresh rosemary. I placed the chicken on a bed of sliced butternut squash, drizzled on pomegranate molasses, and sprinkled turkish pepper all over. I served this with a wonderful Sephardic spinach patty that I made with ground walnuts. They are lovely and light, and could also be served as a main dish with another vegetable or salad.

Chag Sameach to everyone. I hope you are having lovely meals under the stars.

Keftes de Espinaca con Muez

Serving Size: 4-6 as a main course or 8-10 as a side dish

(Sephardic Spinach Patties with Walnuts) Adapted from Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World by Rabbi Gil Marks

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2-1/2 cups thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry

About 1 cup freshly ground walnuts

1/2 cup whole wheat dried bread crumbs or matza meal

About 3/4 teaspoon table salt

Ground black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Flour for dredging

Vegetable oil for frying

Lemon wedges for serving

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and the crushed garlic. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the spinach, ground walnuts, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir in the eggs. If the mixture is too loose, add a little more bread crumbs and if the mixture is two dry, then add another egg. The mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a day.

Shape the spinach mixture into patties 7.5cm (3 inches) long and 4cm (1-1/2 inches) wide, with tapered ends. Dredge the patties in flour and lightly pat off the excess. In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat. Fry the patties, turning, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm, accompanied with lemon wedges.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/10/03/keftes-de-espinaca-con-muez/

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Close

Loading ...

Sorry :(

Can't connect ... Please try again later.