◊ Let’s Talk

IMG_3806

Dear mom,

Indeed, the life force goes on. Throughout stress, transition and mayhem, we chop vegetables. We get on buses. We pretend we’re taking notes in class when we’re chatting with friends online. We finish homework on time for class (ha). Tragedy and fear persist, and so does life. 

Many people from home have been asking how I’m handling it all. People ask about what it’s like when sirens go off indicating that rockets from Gaza are on the way. They ask for my thoughts on “the conflict.” I’m unable to vocalize anything… My anger, sadness and sensitivity surprise me each time in engage with someone about life here. The whole situation has tremendously affected me.

Several days ago, I released some of the mess in my brain with a pen-and-paper purge. I didn’t write my thoughts with the intention of posting them here, but I want to share them with you.

IMG_5522

One week ago, four days after the bodies of  Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were found outside of Jerusalem, I went to my first course of the summer semester, which covers inter-communal relations in Jerusalem, a topic that puzzles and fascinates me regularly. In the first twenty minutes of class, my classmates and I introduced ourselves with our names and a comparison between our hometowns and Jerusalem. 

My name is Jia-li, and I come from the Szechwan province, where it hot in the summers like it is now in Jerusalem.

My name is Amir, and I come from San Juan, which is a walled city resembling Jerusalem.

My name is Jackie, and I come from Boston, where historic architecture is all around like it is in Jerusalem.

I was the last person in the room to share. 

My name is Shaina… 

My voice was unexpectedly shaky. 

I grew up in Birmingham, AL, a city known for its history of racism and hate crimes. Today, systemic racism and segregation in the public sphere exist. I did not interact with African Americans other than grocery-store clerks, maintenance workers, house cleaners and ‘nannies’ until I was in high school. I joined dialogue groups and workshops to talk about race, and made black friends who were afraid to come to parties at my house because they did not want to be stopped by the police in an almost all-white neighborhood. I ventured to neighborhoods that I was told not to go to. I became comfortable with the discomfort of being in a place where I am different and comfortable with the discomfort of being in a place where everyone is just like me.

I did not have to explain how my hometown was similar to Jerusalem.

Two weeks ago, I moved from an apartment in Nachlaot to a Palestinian neighborhood. Nachlaot is in West Jerusalem. Its residents wear high-waisted jeans picked from the racks of trendy vintage stores, American Apparel leggings (the kind of thing to stock up on when moving to Israel from the US) and old leather backpacks. They are hip Jewish-Israeli artists, students and young professionals. 

I moved to a Palestinian neighborhood to practice my Arabic and experience a different space of the city. My new apartment is a fifteen minute walk from my old one and it feels like it’s in a separate country.  Even the pavement on the streets is different. 

IMG_5531

IMG_5537

Last Wednesday, the day that the boys’ bodies were found in Hebron, I was in the library until evening, multitasking between writing final papers and reading the news. When I got to my apartment, I squeezed through barricades of soldiers to reach my front door. I found my roommates packing overnight bags. Neither of them – a Palestinian-American and a Dane – felt safe staying in the apartment. We shared updates from our Facebook newsfeeds and the op-eds we had read. I listened to the Palestinian-American’s accounts of  the situation in Gaza and Hebron. We left the apartment and headed in different directions – I walked back to Nachlaot, my old neighborhood.

Ten minutes later, I was on Jaffo Street in the city-center. A mob of pre-teens emerged from an alley screaming, in Hebrew, “death to Arabs,” followed by police on horses. Young girls wearing Israeli flags laid down in front of the horses while the teens ran in the streets with sticks in their hands, cheering and shouting like they were at a football game. I started crying. I followed the mob, and watched them surround two small Arab boys against the wall of a shop. The police were gone. The boys sprinted away as fast as they could. The mob cheered.

I arrived at my friend’s house in Nachlaot and plopped down on his leather couch next to others just like me. They had gathered to comfort one another in face of the day’s painful news. The conversation vacillated between things like the health benefits of sprouted grains and how only a society of animals could celebrate something so brutal as the murder of children. I was too shaken to say anything. My fifteen minute walk from neighborhood to neighborhood illuminated the separateness of the multiple realities being lived by Jerusalem’s inhabitants. These realities are divided by vast gaps, but have been built right on top of each other. 

The next day, the body of Muhammed Abu Khadier was found. Another tragedy. In spite of warnings from friends, family and Israeli security, I went to Muhammed Abu Khadier’s mourning tent in Shuafat, a fifteen minute walk from my University’s campus. I thought about the fifteen minutes it took for me to get from Mountain Brook to Ensley – going there was the only way to bridge the gap. 

Visiting Muhammed Abu Khadier’s family was sad and uncomfortable and important. 

The severity of the conflict has escalated. People in Jerusalem are scared; people in Tel Aviv are scared; people in Gaza are scared; I am scared. What does this violence mean for the future of the families around me? These days have been a painful time for Jews and for Palestinians.

Today, a Muslim-American friend (she wears a headscarf) asked if I wanted to meet up for dinner in a place that feels mutually safe. I laughed to myself.

I responded via text message, Hahaha yes!

And then, Sorry, not funny…  just feeling confused about where that place is supposed to be.  

I am embarrassed to admit this: when I walk the streets of Jerusalem my heart remembers driving around Birmingham. It remembers being conflicted, torn and confused about where I’m supposed to be. It remembers the dialogue groups I participated in in high school – Anytown Alabama, Heritage Panel and PEACE Birmingham – that positioned me to see individuals beyond their homophobia or evangelical conviction that I was eternally dammed. In Birmingham, I learned that trying to bridge gaps can curb violence and fear; I learned how to speak and think in I instead of we and they; I learned that no one has exclusive ownership of the truth. Is it naive to think that teaching our children to communicate – to think – could make the world more livable?

IMG_1152

Thank you for sending your prayers – please, continue to do so. But more importantly, let’s talk. 

Whoa.

xo,
Shaina

Ps. Wow dad has tarragon growing in the garden?! YES. 

IMG_3812

This salad is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s 2012 collaboration : “Jerusalem: A Cookbook.” You know it. The two are an Israeli Jew and Palestinian who united over a shared appreciation of food among other things.  I received their book as a gift from my aunt and immediately fell in love. I will never be able to look at it in the same way I did before living Jerusalem. It’s pages, in which Ottolenghi and Tamimi weave together the separate realities of the city, are colored with familiar scenes, characters and flavors. It’s beautiful. 

IMG_3874

Shabbat dinner spread

Tamimi and Ottolenghi aren’t the only ones:  Jam Session, recipes from women belonging to The Parents Circle, a group of Israeli and Palestinian parents who lost children in the conflict, is another inspiring collaboration. There is hope. Yesterday, my classmates and I had the privilege to hear Raphie Etgar, the founder/director of  Museum on the Seam speak about his work to create dialogue and unearth hard topics through art. Etgar told us that “creating art is one of the ways people can something and expect other to listen … Discussion is a starting point for considering other options.” Word. 

IMG_3819

Jerusalem Date and Greens Salad, Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Prep time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4-5

  • 1 tbs wine vinegar
  • 1/2 medium purple onion, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 5-7  Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 small pitas or any bread you have laying around, torn into 1 1/2 -inch pieces
  • 1 tbs poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts (or all) chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 5 handfuls of arugula or mixed greens (the original recipes calls for 5 to 6 ounces baby spinach leaves)
  • 2 oz goat cheese feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbs good olive oil

Put vinegar, onion, salt and dates in a small bowl.  Leave to marinate for 20 minutes and drain any residual vinegar.  Discard vinegar.

Heat butter in pan over medium heat. Add pita and fry until golden. Add poppy seeds, almonds and whatever other nuts use choose, continuously stirring until pita is crunchy and nuts are toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and mix in sumac, chile flakes and a pinch of salt. Let cool.

When ready to serve, toss spinach leaves, pita mix, dates and red onion and feta with olive oil, lemon juice and pinch of salt. Serve  immediately.

IMG_3820

IMG_3854

The recipe below is one I made up in a last-minute effort to clean out my kitchen space. It also reeks Jerusalem. The dominant flavors – rich tahini, spiky zatar, surprisingly warm- spiced chickpeas – are familiar to all Jerusalemites (the tofu part… not so much). Don’t be scared by the list of ingredients… it’s long, but this dish is worth it.

Tahini Roasted Vegetables with Crispy Chickpeas and Baked Tofu

Prep time: 1-2 hours

Serves: 7 – 10 as a side, 4-7 as a main

IMG_3841

  • 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 3 cups (one large box) of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium purple onions, chopped into 1/2 in pieces
  • 2 medium eggplants, chopped into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2 cups chick peas, cooked (or canned) and drained
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/tsp cumin
  • pinch of cayenne powder or chili flake
  • salt to taste
  • 1 (or more) 16 oz box of extra firm tofu
  • 1 (or more) tbs olive oil
  • salt
  • sumac
  • zatar
  • 4 heaping tbs crude tahini
  • 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • sprinkle of sumac
  • sprinkle of zatar

IMG_3827
Preheat oven to 250 degrees (use convection setting if you can). Toss carrots, tomatoes and onions in olive oil, salt and pepper and lay flat on baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper). Allow to slowly roast in oven for about 35 – 50 minutes until tomatoes are wrinkled, onions are browned, eggplant is soft and carrot edges are crisp. Check frequently – it turns from browned to burnt quickly! When done, mix with lemon juice and zest. Allow to cool.

While your veggies are in the oven, mix cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, salt and olive oil. Add chickpeas until coated. Lay flat on baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Set aside.

Up the oven to 350 once veggies are done.

IMG_3782Remove the tofu from its packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Cut tofu into cubes and allow excess liquid to drain. While draining, prepare mixture of olive oil, zatar, sumac and salt. Mix tofu cubes with the zatar mixture so that each cube of tofu is covered with a green powder coating. Lay flat on baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

 Bake tofu and chickpeas (on separate baking sheets) until golden and crispy at 350 – this should take 30 – 50 minutes. The zatar and cinnamon will make your kitchen smell heavenly.

After it’s all out of the oven, toss everything together with 2 tbs tahini and sesame seeds. Drizzle remaining tahini over top. Dust the final product with pinches of sumac and zatar and serve.

IMG_3831

◊ Chopping Vegetables Is Not Enough

IMG_3979

Dear mom,

Chopping vegetables is not enough. This is what I came to in a moment of self-realization while studying for my Arabic exam. And also that I need to work on my stress-management.

Here’s what happened:

Jessica and I went for a study-break walk. She asked me if I was excited about starting new grad school next year.  My Yes was wobbly. 

Actually, I’m really nervous, I admitted. Like, right now I’m nervous about exams and I’m nervous about finding a new place to live when we get kicked out of our apartment, but the thought of school next year hits the nerves at my core.

Why?

Because it is everything. 

Two years ago, I was on the path to social work like every other woman in my family.* Then  I decided to take a risk – to do something different. Thanks to you and dad (thank you thank you thank you thank you), I can do whatever I want to do. 

Now, I’m at the cusp of a dream and I see two possibilities: Picasso and a homeless guy sketching tourists on the side-walk. Failure and success. I already feel homeless about to walk into a museum. It’s messed up. There is a balance between the two, I know.

I’m nervous I won’t recognize it.

After my walk with Jessica, I sat down with study gear feeling completely overwhelmed – gritting my teeth over case endings, sweating over verbal forms. I told myself that in 3 hours I’d take a kitchen break to deal with the freezer full of nuts and flours I needed to finish before moving out of the apartment. I couldn’t wait to numb my mind over a chopping board and mixing bowl. 

photo

I looked at my Arabic worksheets and thought, why

I love being in the kitchen – I can chop vegetables with a wide smile on my face for hours. I don’t need Arabic; I need to chop vegetables.

Again, Why?

It’s a meditation. I don’t think, I just chop. I move, I mix, I create. My brain is relaxed.

But it’s not enough. I want to do work that fulfills my desire to make a positive impact on the world. I want to learn about people and their worlds and show those worlds to more and more people. I want to explore. But this often gives me stomachaches. 

What if I could sustain my brain relaxation in everything I do?

Thus, my realization:

I need to bring the same attitude with which I approach chopping vegetables to the fulfilling work that I love to do. I will smile at my lists of Arabic vocab; I will not grit my teeth as I write my Islamic Law essay; I will not sweat (but I probably will) over Sufi elements of Persian Art. And when I start classes next fall, I will not try to be Picasso nor will I fear being homeless.

 I think this is called stress-management.

IMG_3897

In the kitchen, if bread doesn’t rise, I repurpose it into crackers; if vegetables are too spicy, I stir in yogurt to cool them down; if a grain bowl is too salty, I add more rice and water. My love for the kitchen isn’t about eating food, it’s about preparing it. It’s about problem-solving, creativity and building things with my own hands all with a relaxed mind and body. 

In the next phase of my professional life, I want a brain like I’m in the kitchen. It’s a long-shot — I’m clenching my jaw just thinking about course registration — but slowly slowly shwai shwai I hope to make do. I don’t want to get stuck chopping vegetables to stay sane. It is not enough for me.

xo,

Shaina

*To the women in my family – the social workers and teachers who do amazing things for the world every day – I dream of having a career as fulfilling as yours.

Warning: the recipes below involve lots and lots of chopping, mixing, grating, mashing and kneading. I really needed it this week.

IMG_3886

Seedy Carrot Rye Loaf

  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 1½ cups warm water
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 4 medium carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup spelt (or wheat) flour

 

IMG_3955

Dissolve yeast in warm water and add all ingredients except for flour. Add flour slowly, kneading the dough. If it needs more flour, add little by little. Spread into two 8 inch tins.

Cover tins with cloth or towel for at least 60 minutes and allow to rise. Mine didn’t do such a good job of rising, but it still turned out ok.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes.

IMG_3972

Smear with butter, tahini or your favorite something. Pop it in the toaster and make an open faced sandwich. Serve as breadsticks next to salad. Treat yourself luxuriously and top it with whole milk yogurt.

 

Hearty Banana-Date-Tahini Cake (Dairy-Free and No-Added Sugar):

IMG_4126

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats,
  • 1 1/2 cup rye flour or spelt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
  • 15 pitted dates, mashed into date paste
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or other light tasting oil)
  • 4 tbs tahini
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 4 eggs (or 2 eggs and 3 egg whites)
  • Optional fold-in’s:
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces 
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into chunks
  • 7-10 pitted dates, chopped
  • handful of walnuts, chopped

 IMG_4075

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8 inch dish or pan. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Stir until combined and fold in banana chunks, choco chunks, dates, nuts or whatever you choose.

Spread into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350F or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool.

IMG_4137

Guest Post from a Cousin

IMG_5367

Dear Esther,

After returning bloody, bruised, and blistered from our Yam L’Yam Shvis Shvil, Shaina and I were determined to cook a Shvis Shabbat feast (Shvis = Shavuot in Bubbe language). We wanted to remember Bubbe, but didn’t have the time or energy to make her blintzes – we could barely walk after 75 kilometers of climbing steep hills, walking through dry wadis and scurrying around (or into) boulders in just one and two half days! So, we opted for her sweet kugel instead.

IMG_5409

IMG_5406

Finding the right kind of noodles was the first challenge. FYI, there are no Manischewitz brand “wide egg noodles” here in Israel. The closest thing I could find was a slightly different, thicker type of egg noodle, which I think ended up making the kugel a bit denser than I would have liked. Long story short, this recipe is easy, but if you try making it healthy-“ish” it just doesn’t work (as we learned the hard way!). Bubbe didn’t skimp out on her use of “hoil” and eggs – neither should you if you attempt to make this one at home.

30563_1363819527952_5748596_n

IMG_5428

Shaina,

What am I going to do without you, my kambuchi kitchen goddess, next year? I’m already getting sad you are leaving in just 2 months. On the upside, I know great things are about to come your way! And with that, here’s to more Schuster-Shealy Israeli adventures both in and outside of the kitchen!

Love, Naomi.

IMG_5416

Bubbe’s Sweet Kugel 

  • 2 packages Wide Egg Noodles (Manischewitz brand is preferable, if available)
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 1 orange (juice and zest)
  • 3 green apples, diced (I used 4, some green, some red—depends if you like tart or sweet and what is in
  • season)
  • 1-2 cups raisins (Bubbe didn’t actually ever measure—so just eyeball it)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten (I used 2 eggs and 4 egg whites but the egg whites didn’t hold the kugel together so
  • well…)
  • 4-5 tsps. Vanilla (once again, according to personal preference)
  • Cinnamon to taste (I use A LOT!!)
  • Canola Oil (for pan) and maybe add some to kugel as well if you want to truly cook like Bubbe!

IMG_5404

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Boil noodles until a little less than fully cooked (they shouldn’t be hard but not so soft they are falling apart); Drain. In a separate bowl mix together diced apples, raisins, sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. Add noodles to this mixture. Then add lemon juice, orange juice, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir in eggs.

Heat a tablespoon or two of oil (canola) in bottom of 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish for a few minutes until it starts to bubble/pop. Pour noodle mixture into prepared ban. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Let cool. Can be served at room temperature or re-heated in the microwave.

IMG_5421

 

IMG_5344

◊ One-Year Trap

IMG_2107

Dear mom,

I know, I know… You and dad are always having more fun than me. I feel lame when people ask me what my parents are like and I tell them stories about your partying/party-throwing. I can’t keep up. Maybe when I have the resources to buy better alcohol I’ll be better at drinking it.

In my last letter, I told you about my self-induced pressure to do a million things. It’s happening. And the exhaustion is catching up with me.

IMG_5253

View from the road to Jericho

Yesterday, I met Ayla in Tel Aviv and had a nice beach day visiting friends. The day before that was Student Day, which I celebrated at a huge outdoor concert festival until sunrise. Last weekend, after another beach day in Tel Aviv, Naomi came to Jerusalem and we walked from here to Jericho… over 30 kilometers! The weekend before that, I went to Hebron to collect embroidery from craftswomen with Najla, a woman from Bethlehem who has been teaching me about Palestinian embroidery. Then, Arielle arrived and we hosted Shabbat dinner and hiked Wadi Qelt. On top of all the adventures, I signed up for two additional intensive courses. So right now I’m taking 9 classes plus 12 hours of Arabic a week. 


IMG_5208

IMG_5068
IMG_5312
IMG_5272

IMG_3268
chev

My goal for this weekend is to relax and recover. Shanti. 

IMG_5239

goats!

Also, I made the decision that I will never again live somewhere for only one year. Two years is the minimum (unless something/someone convinces me otherwise… it happens sometimes).

I haven’t lived in the same place for more than one consecutive year since I was a sophomore in college (2007), and I’m not sure if it counts since I went home during summers. Since high school my life has been Alabama → DC → Uganda/Bolivia/Netherlands → DC → India → DC → India → Alabama → Israel. 

I’m so familiar with the one-year thing that I’ve traced a predictable pattern. The first three months are uncomfortable: I work hard to learn the ropes, navigate life and develop relationships (I’m slow). I buy things from the market that I don’t recognize (like sumac) and try to figure how to incorporate them into my salads. The 2nd three months are bliss: I’ve established a routine, have friends and am in the thick of exploration and excitement. I buy things from the market that I’ve learned to love like wine soaked olives. The third three months are weird: I realize that goodbyes are approaching, but it’s not time yet. I buy only fresh produce from the market because I know I have a drawer full of weird spices and dried beans that I need to use before departing. The last weeks are a whirlwind: celebrations, goodbyes and preparations. I only buy easy street food like falafel. 

Now, in the mid-third-three-months-stage, I prioritize my activities and question their worthiness of my time. Does this Arabic article translation deserve three hours of my Wednesday night? No.  

By now, I’ve established relationships and identified meaningful projects, but it’s too late to invest new energy in them. I know it’s wrong, but in the back of my head all I can think of is how leaving will disrupt everything. And then I turn into a crazy person trying to fit all of the little pieces in. One year is the worst.

xo,

Shaina

Cucumber Feta Walnut Salad

IMG_2117

  • 5-7 small persian cucumbers, sliced into matchstick pieces
  • half cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup (handful) fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (handful) fresh parsely, chopped
  • 1/3 cup currants or golden raisins
  • 1 tbs good olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tbs powdered soumac
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, broken

Gently throw sliced cucumbers, herbs, currants/raisins and feta into a bowl. Mix olive oil, lemon juice and zest, soumac, salt and pepper in separate vessel. Pour oil mixture over the salad and gently toss. Top with walnuts and serve immediately. Or place in the fridge and serve chilled on a hot summer day.

IMG_2118

This salad was an attempt to use some of the weird spices sitting in my drawer since the first three months. It’s the perfect summer salad – cool and refreshing with lively herbs.

See more things I’ve been doing:

IMG_2956

Shesh Besh in the shuk

IMG_2944

Cardboard in the shuk

IMG_2813

Remembering the Nakba

IMG_2656

IMG_2760

IMG_5024

Hiking in Wadi Qelt

IMG_3685

Najla finishing a pencil case embroidered by artisans from Bethlehem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

◊ Fitting It In

IMG_2350

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. 

IMG_2324

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!

IMG_9184

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. 

IMG_2339

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

IMG_2354

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

IMG_9192

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

◊ On My Way Back

 

IMG_2274

Dear mom,

I know I started it, but I REALLY want to change the topic. I’m tired of this working-mom-only-child-guilt back and forth grumble. I just have one thing left to say: I can’t decide whether my lack of embarrassment about you mentioning my green poop in public is an indication of good or bad parenting. I have zero shame about my vibrant digestive tract and blue jello/kool-aid habit.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.18.39 PMRegardless of how that relates to your parenting skills, let’s give ourselves hardy pats on the back to forgive the mistakes and acknowledge our okay-ness and move the F on. Or do you need more space to process?

Passover is over, Natalya’s wedding is over and the opulent days of cooking, eating and celebrating together have come to a pause. I am now laying on the floor of terminal 4 at JFK, legs up the wall, trying to get some blood flowing before hours of cramped feet on my flight back to Israel.

I was weirdly not looking forward to coming home for Passover and now I’m weirdly not looking forward to returning to Israel for the rest of the semester. I feel disconnected from life there after being away for only three weeks. Whenever I come home, I sleep too much, eat too much, whine too much, throw my clothes on the floor like someone will pick them up for me (because someone most always does) and am reckless at the grocery store. I regress. I just want to crawl back under my big down comforter and go shopping at Whole Foods when I wake up. The energy required to have responsibilities again is daunting.

IMG_4693

Things at home were good. There were no tears at any of the family dinners; yelling in front of strangers was kept to a minimum; we only did one round of shots before each Seder and your gefilte fish was good; conversations were tame. I didn’t even pick up any quotable Abe references. There’s not much to report about Natalya’s wedding either — it was just plain fun.

10006342_10202923170212672_5413071620847684962_n

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 5.29.23 AM

So the visit was good and normal, which is strange. Maybe I built up the eccentricities of our family and friends in my head while I was away… but I’m pretty certain that all this normality is not normal for us. Am I disappointed by the lack of crazy? Maybe just bored.

This is why our blog is important … Now, after this small reflection, I am feeling more optimistic about getting back to the streets that no one is allowed to forget that Moses, Jesus, Mohamed and Natalie Portman worshiped… To using physical force against hunchbacked old women in our fight for the best cucumbers in wrinkled veggie bins at the market … To bearing the strength of my elbows as I squeeze my body onto buses. In a few hours I’ll be back to this craziness and more. Until then I’ll muster the will to go back to being in charge of my life. It seems hard and fun and I’ll still miss home.

xo,

Shaina

Below are a few of the Passover recipes I mentioned in our previous post for Passover ideas. I will say that year was our best year for Seder food yet. Especially the Yemini Charozet… yum. IMG_2266

Dvora’s Yemini Charozet

  • 2/3 cup walnutsIMG_2232
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 inch slice of ginger root
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 tbs ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne powder

 

First, toast walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds separately. Spread nuts evenly on tray and place into toaster oven on 350 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. All toaster ovens work at different speeds, so check frequently… nuts go from toasted to burnt very quickly (especially the sesame seeds!), so be vigilant.

Once nuts are toasted, dump dates, raisins and spices into a food processor and add orange juice as needed. Add walnuts and almond once the fruit is blended and pulse until nuts are crushed, but not pureed. Once desired consistency has been reached, stir in sesame seeds. If you are nervous about the spices, you can stir them in afterwards. The result should be sweet with a spicy edge. This charozet doubles as a jam – the cumin is a surprising touch. It’s perfect treat to swirled into yogurt or spread over an apple.

 

IMG_2279

IMG_2285

Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 8 Persian cucumbers
  • 2/3 C raw peanuts
  • 1/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (about 3 big handfuls of loose cilantro)

Dressing:

  • 1 tsp chili flakes or ground cayenne (depending on spice tolerance)
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs salad vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar or honey
  • dash of sea salt

IMG_2287

 

Creamy Avocado Quinoa with fresh dill

  • IMG_22883 medium zucchinis, cut into 3/4-inch circles
  • 3 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4 inch circles
  • 
1 1/2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 
dash of sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 
zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 
2 cloves grushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (optional)
  • 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked, room temperature (I use tri-color quinoa)

Garnish with:

  • 
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup goat feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 
chopped fresh dill

IMG_2298

Preheat oven to 375 on convection setting. Place zucchini and squash coin in large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread thinly on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place into oven for 15 – 25 minutes, until outer edges become brown and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, mash all of the dressing items together with the back of a fork into a creamy sauce. Gently fold dressing and zucchini and squash into quinoa. Garnish with dill, feta cheese and pine nuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

IMG_2296

Passover Ideas From Both of Us

photo 4 copy

Reunited at last! Mom and daughter are under the same roof for Passover — daughter is FREAKING OUT at the abundance behind the kitchen cabinet doors and mom is a little nervous about the havoc about to unfold. They both know that it will be delicious.

photo 3Some of you may be struggling to put together your Passover seder menus, especially if you’re hosting vegetarians. We don’t get it, but we’re happy help with ideas. Passover is our favorite food holiday – its restrictions inspire new techniques and flavors and neither of us are afraid. Mom’s biggest fear is deciding what not to make so we don’t end up with twenty different dishes that none of our seder guests recognize and can’t decide which to try.

This morning, mom and daughter went to yoga together. The instructor encouraged them to tap into their child-like imaginations because grown-ups often neglect their imaginative abilities in exchange for harsh reality. Daughter notes that she does not need to go to yoga to learn this and wonders about the status of her grown-up-ness. Mother notes her appreciation for the reminder.

Imagination. It’s really important for Passover food… for any food… for life. We have a lot of ideas for the upcoming days of redemption. From seder-table staples to luxurious vegan breakfasts, here are some of our Passover plans:

Daughter’s Passover to-concoct list:

  • Grilled zucchini quinoa with fresh dill and creamy avocado dressing
  • This rosemary almond olive oil cake
  • Spicy thai cucumber salad with toasted coconut
  • Cashew thai red curry
  • Fresh squeezed grape juice
  • Creamy amaranth breakfast porridge with coconut milk
  • Lots of big kale salads with tahini dressing muled in from Israel
  • Spicy Yemeni charozet from Dvora

Mom is sticking mostly to the tried and true classics.

Mom’s Passover classics:

Mom made her first (of many more to come) foray into the grocery store today to check out the options and pick up a few goods.  Neither Mom nor daughter shop by lists, often proving to be unpredictable, but exhilarating adventures.  Both Mom and daughter shop by sight, smell and touch, and of course, what’s on sale. It’s great fun, stimulates the imagination, and turns out overstuffed refrigerators, freezers and food pantries. Mom is also FREAKED OUT by the abundance of stuff in the cabinets waiting to be transformed into everything delicious!
photo 1 (4)

 

It’s time to get on with the cooking and Passover prep… We’ll be back soon with tales from the shared counters. Best of luck to all those hosting seders, we would love to hear about your menus and beyond!

 

– mom and daughter

… And in case your imagination needs some inspiration, below are some of our Passover-friendly favorites from the Recipe Index:

 

Mains:

Salads:

Soups:

Sides:

Sweets:

◊ Wrong Again

IMG_2051

Dear mom,

You got me all wrong.

My last letter was not about an isolated and sad childhood; it was the opposite. If you were anyone other than my mother, you would have read it as a gloating exultation rather than a series of grievances. I was boasting about my frequent practice with creativity and industrious nature, about finding comfort with being alone, about filling up on close friends. These things have carried me into “adulthood” or whatever.

I was often alone, but I never really struggled with loneliness. I learned how to cope. I chose to go to summer camp, to ready my trundle bed so that my bedroom could instantaneously flip into a hostel, to pick up the phone on the rare occasion when I was home alone. I feel proud about the aftermath of my only-childness, not sad. You should too.

Regarding your cluelessness, it would be weird if you knew everything about my life. Really weird, trust me. But you don’t remember me playing in the kitchen?

Naomi came from Haifa to Jerusalem last weekend and we ran the Jerusalem half-marathon and prepared for the Birmingham-in-Israel Shabbat dinner together. When we got home from dinner on Thursday night, we discussed what we’d do next. Go to a bar? No. Let’s bake.

IMG_4451

IMG_0563

IMG_4473

The only baking ingredients I had were weird grains — no butter, sugar or eggs in the fridge. But we got creative. I sliced eggplant for the star dish of the next evening’s meal and Naomi whipped together cookies made out of rye flour, yogurt, cinnamon, honey, oats, coconut oil and chopped figs. As we worked in the kitchen, we talked about how we used to go through your pantry and bake without recipes when we had nothing else to do. Surprise concoctions… it was a common activity for us. How do you not remember?

IMG_1973

Memory is a funny thing. You probably blocked out my invasion (destruction?) of your sacred kitchen space to keep your sanity. I don’t blame you. Do you at least remember the witches game I played with my cousins? We baked mud pies and brewed dirt potions until you caught us dragging sludge through the house. You furiously hosed us down like dogs and banned us from playing witches again — traumatic for both parties.

You’re absolutely right, the grass has brown spots on both sides … what to do but turn it into green ice cream?

I’ll be home for Passover in less than a week! I know it’s your kitchen and you can do whatever you want in it, but please have the gefilte fish situation under control. Thanks.

xo,

Shaina

IMG_2048

Your parents-of-Birmingham-in-Israel Shabbat dinner looked like a lot of fun and ours was too. I made my own version of this recipe from one of my favorite sites, Green Kitchen Stories. I veered from their Italian spices and went East, substituting freekeh (smoked green wheat, popular in Arab grain dishes) for bulgar and cumin for basil. The recipe seems like a lot of work, but I did it in stages so the final prep was quick. I made the stuffing and tomato sauce a week before and kept it in the freezer until I was ready to use it. I sliced and roasted the eggplant on Thursday night. On Friday, all I had to do was assemble and bake. The pictures certainly didn’t come out as nice as these, but it was still pretty. And it tasted delicious.

IMG_2043

IMG_2067Involtini di Melanzane … in the Middle East (adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)

  • 4 medium eggplants, thinly sliced (1 inch/2 cm)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise and coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven on 400 F until browned on the edges (be careful – these are very easy to burn and they will not roll nicely if they’re too crisp!). Remember that you will bake them again, so don’t worry about getting them a perfect golden brown.

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried chili
  • 2 tins canned tomatoes
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • a pinch of sea salt and black pepper

IMG_2008Heat the olive oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and stir until fragrant. Add onion, garlic and chili. Stir until onions are translucent and then add canned tomatoes, lemon, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Stuffing

  • 1 1/2 cup of freekeh (precooked) – The original recipe calls for bulgar and notes that you can also use quinoa, cous cous or other grains
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 cup  pistachio nuts, finely chopped (save some for topping)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup goat feta cheese, crumbled (save some for topping)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 egg

Cook the freekeh according to the recipe on the box. Add remaining ingredients. Add the egg, use your hands to gently fold the ingredients together without mixing too much.

IMG_2027

 

Topping

  • 1/3 cup goat feta cheese, crumbled
  • a dash of olive oil
  • handful of fresh parsely, chopped
  • pistachio nuts, chopped or pulsed into a powder

IMG_2019

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil. Preheat oven to 325 F. Lay the eggplant slices on the baking sheet and place two big spoonfuls of stuffing at the bottom of each. Roll the stuffing into the eggplant lengthwise away from you (this takes practice and patience!). Once they are all rolled and sitting next to each other, cover them with the tomato sauce. Bake for 30 minutes at 325 F. Remove from oven, sprinkle with goat cheese, and place back into oven for 12-15 minutes, until goat cheese is melted and browned. Remove from oven and let rest at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with pistachio nuts, olive oil and chopped parsley before serving.

IMG_2060

 

IMG_1975

I love that we coordinated some of our recipes to be the same in Birmingham and in Israel. Naomi made her famous carrot salad, which you enjoyed via Gail on the other side. I made my own version inspired by hers and one from 101cookbooks.com. The added chickpeas make it a bit hardier than Naomi’s just-carrot salad – it’s a perfect lunch on a busy school day.

IMG_1982

Chickpea and Carrot Salad

  • 1 tablespoon cumin power
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6-8 large carrots, shredded or sliced on a mandolin
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15- ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 2/3 cup chopped prunes, chopped apricots and/or raisins
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • A generous handful of candied pecans (you can make your own or purchase them), toasted almond slices, crushed walnuts and/or pumpkin seeds

 

Shred carrots into a large bowl, pour dressing over and let sit an hour or more to let flavors come together. Add toasted nuts before serving.

IMG_1983

◊ Not Green Ice Cream

IMG_3341

Dear Hannah,

I see two major pros of our only-child childhood 1.) our creativity got a great workout and 2.) being alone equipped us with a big bag of tools to combat loneliness. Yes, I remember  trying to convince you that the green icy mass of milk, green jello, sugar and blueberries was delicious. It kind of was.

IMG_3343

I found the “ice cream” recipe in a DIY book and put it at the top of our list of summer-things-to-do: egg-white face-masks over the phone, day-long wanderings at outdoor shopping centers, pretending to be mermaids from 8AM – 7PM at the JCC pool. And our Golden Girls marathon days… 8 hours straight of watching Blanch (you), Rose (me) and the crazy Italian grandma (Natalya) together from our respective homes over the phone. The first time I was home alone and sick, you were also home from school and sick. I think we both had the phone to our ears the whole day, watching TV or sulking in sick silence. This is how only children cope.

Today, we make pickles togethers. We cope once again. In your words: with very few constants in my life these days, problem solving through food with you is a familiar comfort. Our project fills a need beyond comfort. It’s a hobby to busy my hands and silence my thoughts when my brain is on mid-20s what-is-this-life overdrive; motivation to try something new; and an excuse to hash it all out with the person who knows me just as well/maybe more than I know myself.

Untitled

Green ice cream primed us to dive head-first into the unfamiliarity of fermentation and the strange spices of Bangalore and Jerusalem (you win on the strangeness scale). May the good bacteria of our pickles multiply like our co-spirited weird and crazy adventures! Amen.

xo,

Shaina

IMG_3357

Mixed Pickles

  • 4 tablespoons sea salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped cauliflower chunks
  • 1/2 cup carrot slices
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper chunks or slices
  • 1 jalepeno, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

photo 1 (4)

Stir salt into water until dissolved. Clean jar (wipe with vinegar for extra sterilization). Layer vegetables, garlic and spices in jar and then add saltwater mixture. Cover the jar tightly and let it brew at room temperature for at least one week. When the fermentation is to your taste, put in the fridge.

 

GUEST POST from a friend

(Dear mom – Thanks for your votes of confidence and love. Meh. Our whole collection of back-and-forths is starting to sound the same to me. I’m just too hungover today because it’s Purim so I can’t deal.  But Hannah wrote a beautiful guest post for us from India. We’ve been making pickles together. xo, Shaina)

Purim at Machane Yehuda. This is where I buy my vegetables.

Purim at Machane Yehuda. This is where I buy my vegetables.

 

Saved by the Hannster:

DSC06649

Dear Shaina,

You were the only 11 year old I knew who slept until noon, and I was impatient to begin our daily projects.  The only children of working parents, our summer days before we could drive were spent doing arts and crafts and cooking together….over the phone.  Finally awake, you’d call me with instructions or a recipe. I followed your every word, including when you told me I could easily substitute sugar free lime Jello mix for gelatin in a recipe.  The resultant frozen green mass with blueberries peaking out through the ice should have been evidence enough that our tele-projects weren’t the most successful, but we continued nonetheless.

With an ocean and several time zones between us, our experimental cooking projects continue, and for that I am grateful.  With very few constants in my life these days, problem solving through food with you is a familiar comfort. I’ve been lucky enough to get to see you in almost every country we’ve each lived, but our intercontinental projects have provided a wonderful bridge between visits.  For the most part, I still take my experimental cues from you…your crazy ingredients, strange dietary restrictions, and yearly cleanses. But, I’m proud to say this culinary idea was mine…..PICKLES! I knew you’d be into it. Homemade probiotics has your name all over it!

pickles

Pickling is deceptively easy, involving nothing more than water, salt, spices and time. I was determined to make something fitting of my Indian context yet reminiscent of the super sour pickles my grandfather loved. So, I pulled out my beloved Indian spices and got to work. The longer these pickles sit, the more saliva inducing sourness you’ll get, so mine have been fermenting for more than 2 weeks and they are still going! I’d been experimenting with pickling for a while before meeting you in Jerusalem this winter. I love pickles that bring the taste buds to attention, but its slim pickings on the sour pickle front in Bangalore and so I’d been trying my own.

One conversation while strolling the empty Jerusalem streets one Shabbat, and our long-distance cooking projects were back in full swing. I came back to India full of inspiration and happy to have my partner in crime back at my (virtual) side.

Glad our friendship has preserved itself as well as these pickles!!!!!

xoxoxoxoxox

Hannah

DSC06641

Spiced Beet and Onion Pickle

  • 3 tablespoons sea salt, pickling slat, or kosher salt,
  • 1 quart water
  • 3 medium or two large beets peeled and chopped to whatever size you want your pickle to be
  • 1 large red onion roughly chopped
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ piece of ginger chopped (optional)

DSC06647

Combine salt and water and stir until the salt is dissolved. Heating the water can speed up the process, but you will have to wait for the water to cool before making the pickles.  I’m impatient, so I generally just stir and it works just fine.  Next, place the remaining ingredients in a clean jar (1/2 gallon jar works best) and pour the (cooled) salt water over the vegetables, making sure the vegetables are covered but leaving at least 1 inch of empty space at the top of the jar.  You can place a small bowl inside the jar, the keep the vegetables completely submerged in the water, but this totally optional.  Cover the jar tightly and let it stand at room temperature, away from direct light.  Open the jar everyday to release the gases formed during fermentation and taste the pickle.  Be careful when opening the jar because the brine will have turned deep purple, thanks to the beets, and those stains WILL NOT come out!! If any mold or film develops on the surface of the water, simply skim it off with a spoon.  When the pickles are sour enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator where they will keep for months.