I just finished scrubbing down every inch of the kitchen after another disgusting foray into the world of homemade gefilte fish. Every year I vow I will never do it again…those glaring fish eyes and impossibly elusive little bones…those little fish bits and pieces of skin that end up stuck on every surface in the kitchen…the endless dirty pots and bowls reeking from the debris of overcooked onions and fish carcasses… and the smell!. What was I thinking?! I don’t even think my gefilte fish tastes that good!
Maybe it’s like childbirth…you forget all the pain and suffering when everyone around you starts oohing and aahing over the end result. And then people come to expect it…Passover wouldn’t be the same. And my fish man, Jerry, from Nebraska… I talk to him once a year and he remembers my address! I tried not to call him this year, but I broke down in the end and placed my order at the last possible moment. How could I not call him before Passover?
Even the most torturous processes can be comforting. An hour of scrubbing the boiled-over burnt-on fish juice off the stove kept my mind painstakingly focused on my cleanser scarred fingertips. No other thoughts existed in my mind. I rubbed and scrubbed that stove until my cuticles started shedding and every speck of that black crusty glop was gone. The sense of accomplishment in taking that stove down to its bare eyes and polishing it until it gleamed was beyond…well let’s just say, I am beginning to understand the methods of Bubbe’s cleaning madness.
Maybe we are just too much in our heads. Our minds are working overtime, so we engage in these consuming tasks. they provide respite from being worried about your sore knee or the recent rapes in India…or being scared about not having an answer or trying to make sense of it all…so we go back for more.
Shaina, I love knowing that you have recognized the you you like. I am proud that you have allowed yourself to go to a place where you are forced to pay attention to the process and to how you feel. And I am thrilled that you are playing…a lot. You are correct. Once you learn how to do these things, you can do them anywhere. They are the answers to all the questions that really have no answers. As your mother, and your biggest fan, it is my absolute pleasure to witness your remarkable journey…and to know, even if you don’t, that you are traveling in the right direction.
I am also practicing the fine art of playing and attending to the moments. It is a lifelong learning. I am grateful for my own evolving knowing of the me I like. I learned how to breathe a little more fully in yoga today and that downward dog really does provide a rest.
I feel good when I scrub down my kitchen and get a good foot massage when I get a pedicure.
I am learning a new way to hold up my head and strengthen my core so that my body doesn’t hurt me…and so I don’t hurt it.
I may even be able to balance my body…and my life…someday.
I have the rest of my life to learn…the same as you…the same as everyone.
We’ll be having my gefilte fish at Seder in a few days. I am making some carrot Halwa and Indian Spiced Chicken. The agony of preparation will be over. The Slivovitz will have kicked in and your presence will be both very much missed and very much felt in the moments of the evening.
Enjoy your Indian Passover at Hannah’s and don’t forget to Skype!
I love you and miss you.
P.S. I know you won’t be making Gefilte Fish anytime soon, but I needed to get it off my chest, so I am sending the recipe…and maybe someday. I am also sending a favorite dessert. It is as easy as the fish is hard and it will make the pain (it helps with the smell, too) go away.
Makes 50 – 75 pieces depending on the size of each piece.
- 6 – 7 pounds of fish, filleted and deboned, save the heads, tails, bones and skin for fish broth
Traditionally a combination of whitefish, yellow pike and carp is used for Gefilte Fish.
I used carp (1lb.), buffalo fish (4 lbs.), walleye (1 lb.) and amberjack (1lb.) because that was what I could get.
- 3 onions
- 6 – 7 carrots
- ½ cup sugar (or to taste)
- 4 -5 eggs
- 4 – 6 quarts of cold water
- ½ cup matzoh meal
Place the bones, skin and fish heads in a very large pot with the water and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove the foam that accumulates.
Slice 2 onions in rounds and add to the fish broth. Add the sugar and simmer for about 30 minutes while the fish mixture is being prepared.
Grind the fish filets in a food processor with an onion and one or two carrots until it has a soft pasty texture. Feel the fish with your hands to find any unground veiny pieces or small bones. This is the really messy part and takes a while.
Add the eggs, one at a time, 2 teaspoons of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. Mix in about a ½ cup of matzoh meal to make a light, soft mixture that will hold its shape.
Remove the fish heads, skins and bones from the fish broth. Add carrots cut in large chunks to the broth and return the broth to a simmer.
Wet hands with cold water and scoop up about a ¼ cup (may use more or less depending on how big you like your gefilte fish pieces) of the fish mixture and form into oval shapes. Gently place the fish patties into the simmering fish broth. Cover loosely and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Taste the liquid while the fish is cooking and add seasoning to taste. If you like a sweeter fish, add a little more sugar to the broth. Simmer for another 20 minutes until flavors are cooked through and fish is done.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the Gefilte Fish and arrange on a platter. Reserve some of the fish broth to be served with the fish.
Cut cooked carrots into rounds on the diagonal and place on top of fish. Chill and garnish with parsley. Have plenty of horseradish to serve with the Gefilte Fish.
Preheat oven to 350°
Prep time – 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour +
- 8 ounces German Sweet Chocolate or any good dark chocolate bars
- 2 teaspoons undiluted instant coffee or instant espresso powder
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 cup butter at room temperature (2 sticks cut up into 6 pieces)
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon flavoring of your choice – vanilla or almond extract or Cognac or Amaretto or any liqueur of your choice
Line a 5-cup soufflé dish, charlotte mold or oven proof ceramic bowl with a double thickness of foil.
This dessert is prepared entirely in a food processor using the basic steel chopping blade.
Break chocolate into pieces and drop into the food processor work bowl with instant coffee and sugar. Pulse about 4 times until mixture gets started and then let processor run until the chocolate is finely chopped.
With processor running, pour boiling water through the feed tube. Let processor run until chocolate is melted and thoroughly mixed.
Add the butter and pulse 3 times. Then let the processor run until the butter is blended completely into the chocolate mixture.
Add eggs and flavoring and process for 20 to 30 seconds.
Empty the mixture into the bowl lined with foil. Bake in a preheated oven for about an hour. Check after 45 minutes. It is done when it rises and a thick darkly browned (almost burnt) crust is formed. Remove from oven and cool. The baked ball of chocolate will recede as it cools.
When cool, wrap foil around ball and seal in an airtight bag. It may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or frozen for 2 months or more.
To serve, peel off foil and invert on a serving platter. The outside of the ball will look sticky and irregular.
It can be garnished with strawberries or decorated with whipped cream or powdered sugar. Chill until serving time. Cut in small pieces and serve.