◊ Fitting It In

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Dear mom,

Dad’s elbow looks disgusting, the pictures of my wound are disgusting, and some of the shots of your portobellos are almost at that level (hint: if you hold the camera still/shoot in natural light, your pictures won’t be a fuzzy mess… After almost two years of food-photo sharing here, I expect more!). 

But foreal yuck dad’s elbow. Bodies are so weird. My knee is completely fine now. The wound was fun to watch from the bloody mess on day 1 to feverish oozing on day 4 to itchy crusting on day 7. I can’t get over how quick the transformation from broken to healed happened. I’m amazed at the human body. 

I have a friend in my quirky, endearing neighborhood who improved his eyesight via spiritual and physical discipline. He dedicated months to navigating without glasses, exploring his soul and appealing to HaShem’s will. He cried “clarifying tears” to help him see.  His resolve to heal his eyes naturally resulted in a vision correction from 6.0 to 5.0

Oh, Jerusalem …

There is no science behind his effort, but I believe him. I believe that the mind-body connection is mighty, and that trust in the metaphysical can help bridge the gap between the two. But don’t worry, I’ll need another year in Nachlaot to reach his level of mind-body-God enthusiasm and I only have three months left.

Only three months is only twelve Shabbats, which is alarming. I’m starting to panic about fitting everything in. There’s still so much family I need to spend time with, so many beaches I need to lay on, so many friends I need to visit…. so many hikes and rooftop parties and walks and papers and recipes and cafes and sites. Thinking about leaving in three months makes me sad and overwhelmed and the initial worry quickly spins into something really crazy: I only have 3 months until I leave Jerusalem and all the fun is over… I only have 4 years until I’m thirty and all the fun is really over.

Remember when I went for an endoscopy and colonoscopy because of severe stomach pains with no apparent cause? At the end of it all, the gastroenterologist sat me down in his office to tell me about all of the Jewish women in their 20s that come to him with stomach pain. Our guts feel the conflicting pressures of time and are knotting up under the heaviness. That’s it. The sickness is real.

Baruch HaShem I no longer suffer consistent pangs in my intestines, but reconciling my riddle with time is a constant struggle. How can I enjoy anything when I’m totally freaked out about fitting it all in? I feel like I need to hurry, but I know that that’s not the answer … and I’m on the edge of relinquishing it all to the God(s). 

xo,

Shaina

ps. You found my old journals?! That makes me nervous. 

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Speaking of time, the Meyer Lemon Risotto with Peas and Asparagus recipe below needs to made right now if you want to take advantage of Spring produce. Don’t waste one second of prime asparagus time! Spring is running away! It’s making me nervous! Go go go!

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The Herby Pretty Lentil and Yogurt Salad is good for all of summer (phewww). In fact, my to-do list inspired me to brainstorming for Shavuot weeks in advance. I have three days off of school for the holiday and am hoping to do some sort of cooking/eating with family. The Shavuot custom is to serve a dairy – I wanted to come with something other than blintzes and cheesecake (mostly because those things are so tricky to make!). This salad is a great solution – dairy and healthy and summer. But mostly I like it because it’s colorful. I brought it to Tan’s house for a family lunch last Shabbat and it was a hit. This recipe is proof that good things can come from time-induced anxiety. 

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Herby Pretty Lentil and Yogurt Salad

Serves 3-5

Prep time: 15 minutes if you have ingredients prepped in advance, 45 if you’re starting from scratch

  • 2 cup cooked beluga lentils
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raw purple cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded with a cheese grater
  • 1 cup kohlrabi (optional), shredded with a cheese grater
  • 1 cup arugula, chopped
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt (greek if you want a thicker mix)
  • 3 heaping tbs of zesty dill pesto**

Zesty Dill Pesto*

makes enough for the salad plus many, many more servings (if you’re gonna do it, do it big)

  • 1 bunch of fresh dill (approx 1 1/2 cup chopped)
  • 1/3 cup fresh chives
  • handful of fresh parsley (approx 1/2 cup)
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp good black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • Additional fixings:
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tbs olive oil

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First, make your pesto. I’m obssesed with fresh dill. I chop it up in all of my salads and eat it in surprising pairings. My newest breakfast is a rice cake with almond butter, sea salt, and fresh dill. I know, I’m weird. This pesto is great to have on hand for when I want to add some excitment to my daily salad in a hurry. Just one tablespoon in a bowl of chopped veggies, and you have an exciting meal. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the ingredients, but don’t worry – its easy! Just take all of the ingredients (make sure you wash herbs thoroughly) and add to a food processor. Blend until you have a nice puree. I like my pestos hardy and thick, but if you wish to thin it out, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil or more. The quantities I’ve suggested will yield plenty more than you will need for this salad. Additional olive oil will help to preserve it longer if you’re not eating it every day (every meal?) like I am. 

The rest is REALLY easy. First, mix your dill pesto with yogurt for a green beauty paste. Place the lentils in a bowl and mix with the chopped and shredded veggies, garlic, walnuts, salt and pepper. Then, fold the salad into the yogurt and herb mixture. Throw in a handful of golden raisins if you want a nice tang. Serve over arugula and drizzle with olive oil. 

Meyer Lemon Risotto with Peas and Asparagus

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Serves 5-6

Prep time: 1 hour

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 cups water or vegetable stock 
  • zest of 4 Meyer lemons 
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped and  lightly steamed
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Handful of toasted pine nuts
  • fresh black pepper

Heat olive oil and add onions, garlic and salt until onions are translucent. Add arborio rice and stir until coated. Add wine and simmer for 4 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Adjust heat to a simmer. Slowly, add water or vegetable stock half a cup at a time. Stir frequently. This may take 45 minutes. 

When all liquid is fully absorbed, remove from heat and stir in lemon zest, frozen peas, and steamed asparagus. Garnish with plenty of black pepper, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. IMG_9190

ps. this is what Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut look like in Jerusalem

ps. this is what Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut look like in Jerusalem

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