Holy Smoke!

Sorry I didn’t get back to you right away, but I have been working hard at work.

I tried to get a decent bonfire picture for you, but the bonfire down the street was a bit pitiful. It looked more like a campfire than a bonfire. Actually, I am not so upset about this because it was one less bonfire to ruin our environment. Yes, I know it is a religious holiday, but I am concerned about the environment and global warming.

Lag B’Omer is a bit complicated to explain. Lag, which is spelled לג (Lamed Gimmel) in Hebrew is also the number 33 and, therefore Lag B’Omer means “the 33rd day of the Omer”. The Omer is the period of 49 days between Passover and Shavuot (Festival of Weeks); Shavuot is the harvest festival as well as the day on which according to tradition the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, and it was important to count the days accurately in order to bring in the harvest at the optimum time.

During the time of the Bar Kochva revolt against the Romans, a plague killed 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva during the counting of the Omer, but miraculously stopped on the 33rd day. Over the centuries, the Jewish people experienced more tragedies (massacres, pogroms, etc.) during this seven week period. To commemorate these tragedies, it has become customary to observe a period of semi-mourning during the Counting of the Omer. Weddings and other festivities are not held, music is not heard, and hair is not cut.

On Lag B’Omer, an interruption in the period of mourning is observed. Weddings, festivities, music, dancing and haircuts are allowed (many 3-year-old boys receive their first haircut called Upsherin). Many celebrate by lighting very large bonfires which symbolize the light of the Torah which was revealed by the Zohar (Radiance), Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who wrote the book of Kabbalah (not the type that Brittany and Madonna practice!).

In Israel, many travel to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in the Upper Galilee moshav (cooperative village) of Meron.

Even though the bonfire pictures didn’t work out, the short ribs I made were delicious. You could taste the ginger and orange, but it was not overpowering. The meat was juicy and tender. I will definitely use this marinade again. It would be great on chicken, but I would not marinate the chicken overnight. I would probably marinate it for an hour or so. I served it with steamed artichokes and brown rice.

Orange-Ginger BBQ Short Ribs
  • 1.36 kg 3lb short ribs
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest grated
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • Hot chili oil to taste
  1. Trim excess fat from the short ribs. Combine all other ingredients. Mix well and pour over ribs. Cover and marinate in refrigerator overnight, but no longer than 24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 220C (425F). Remove ribs from marinade. Reserve marinade in a saucepan. Place ribs on a rack over a pan of hot water in oven. Roast 1 hour, turning once halfway through the cooking until browned and crisp. Reduce marinade to a glaze-like consistency (about 1-1/2 cups). Reduce oven heat to 190C (375F). Brush ribs with glaze, roast 15 minutes, turn, brush with glaze and roast 15 minutes more.
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