FEMILY- a very special guest post

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The story goes: Bubbe and Zayde were new to Birmingham when Riva and Isaac came to town.  Zayde heard Riva’s maiden name was Schuster and arranged to meet at the Jewish Community Center. “He said he’s wearing a yellow shirt and I said I had white hair!” Riva said. “And I found a beautiful femily!”

Turns out the Hirschs are not related to our Schusters. But after surviving the Holocaust with few living blood relatives, makeshift familial attachments to other survivors was important for both couples. Riva and Bubbe kvelled and kvetched like sisters.

CLICK TO LISTEN ⇓

 

The letter below was written by my cousin Rebecca several years ago following the first Yom Kippur after Bubbe died. As we ate Riva’s knishes, so similar but different than the ones Bubbe fed us, we thought of Bubbe. We missed her schtink of fried onions and big hugs.  Last week, we finally got around to cooking with Riva. Bubbe was definitely “proud on us.”

CLICK TO LISTEN ⇓

 

** Click the play button for for short sounds of our knish adventure. ++ Be sure to scroll all the way to the recipe for a step-by-step sound guide on mixing, kneading and folding knishes.

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Dear Esther and Shaina,

There is no tie that holds my family closer together than our love of food. Whether we are the ones that spend hours upon hours in the kitchen, or show up just in time to get that hot out of the oven knish, we simply love food. This love comes out even when we fast during Yom Kippur.

“Beckelah, did you try mine knishes? Dey different from Mamala’s. I put mine mit dill.” Those words mean one thing: it’s time to break the fast.

The Schuster-Shealy fam has been breaking the fast with our close friends: The Hirsch-Perlstein fam for almost 30 years. Or as their grandmother Riva likes to say “Of course you come break the fast mit us, ve are family!”

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At each and every break fast, Riva is the one to greet you at the door and in the most loving way start demanding: “come, zit, eat mamaleh. You need to eat. Here come eat mine knishes.” Around the age of 7, I’m pretty sure I was able to respond with “yeah I know, they are different than Bubbe’s—you make them with dill.”

Despite the differences in the recipe, no knish will ever be as satisfying to me as those of my Bubbe or of Riva. As my dad likes to say “this is the food of our homeland.” The simplicity yet the complexity of potato mixed with garlic and honions (onions), wrapped up in an hoily (oily) dough and baked until golden perfection was and is such a formidable part of my childhood. I loved when my mom would get the phone call that it was time to come to Bubbe’s to pick up the knishes. And after stuffing our faces with them by the dozen, Bubbe would, without fail, ask “Tell me kids are dey edible?”

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6 hands, 1 knish

Sometimes, I was even lucky enough to partake in the process of making the knishes. Nothing was more exciting than knish making time—when Bubbe would make 100s upon 100s of knishes.

Here are some of the important rules and memories from the times I spent “working” in Bubbe’s kitchen:

  • No fressing, no lessing, no shmecking (if you ever made it to my Bubbe’s house, you know about this sign)
  • You just need a little bit of hoil (translation: Bubbe’s version of a little bit of oil equaled about a gallon of it per batch of dough)
  • Speaking of dough: “You can use dis dough for anyting—kreplach, strudel, blintzes, knishes, anyting you want.”
  • Where is your shmata? (Head covering)
  • Mine Rebecelah, go rest, you young, I don’t want you to be tired. Let Bubbe make you someting to eat. You da baby of da family and you need to rest.

Sometimes, sometimes, if I was really lucky, I was deemed the brown paper bag girl. I had the critical role of unfolding brown grocery bags to place the finished knish on to soak up any hoil. After laying out a bag or two, I had to go back to resting on the couch and eating in case I was tired or hungry. That’s one thing I learned for sure—there was no one more important to Bubbe than her grandchildren. And she would be damned if anyone did anything to make our lives even the slightest bit difficult. Everything she did spoke unconditional love for “her seven grandchildren. Dey are the hair dat I breathe.”

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While we often joke about her crazy kitchen routines, her hour long monologues about her grandchildren, and so many other “Bubbisms,” I am so thankful to have had a grandmother in my life who demonstrated each and every day what it looks like to love another person unconditionally. She was our biggest fan and protector, and we knew it with every bite of that knish that she spent hours making just right.

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While Bubbe is no longer with us today, I know she is just as happy watching three of her grandchildren enjoying her best friend Riva’s knishes together just the other week at break fast. Whenever I get to spend time with my siblings and cousins, I smile just thinking of how Bubbe is kvelling. Especially when we are eating, because heaven forbid “you lost veight.”

xo,

Rebecca

 

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Riva’s Knishes

 

Potato filling

  • 8 potatoes
  • 1 tbs margarine
  • two onions, finely chopped.
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

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Peel and boil potatoes in salter water until soft. In saucepan, melt margarine and sautee onions until translucent. In large bowl, mash potatoes with onions, salt and pepper until soft. NO CHUNKS! Use a stick blender if you have one (different from bubbe’s, Riva’s knish filling is smooth and fluffy).

Dough

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

Beat one egg in large bowl. Add oil, baking soda and lukewarm water in that order. Mix well. Add two cups flour and a pinch of salt and knead into dough.

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Assembly instructions:

Preheat over to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Separate dough into three parts and roll into pickle/hot dog shaped logs. Cover with towel to keep moist.

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Roll one section of dough into elongated oval shape on floured surface. Brush dough with melted margarine. Cut dough in half. Pile a thick 1/2 inch of potato mixture onto each cut of dough. Stretch dough over the filling and press edges together.

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After edges are tucked in and there are no holes, flip over onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Again, brush top of dough with margarine and generously sprinkle will dried dill. Bake for 35 minutes until top is golden. Once cool, slice into two inch pieces for individual knishes. Serve as forshpeiz or hearty nosh in between meals.

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Riva likes to make potato salad out of leftover potato filling. She mixes it with mayo and hardboiled eggs. She’s definitely from the old country.

◊ Elderly

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Dear mom,

My letter was a commitment to not saying sorry and you came back with a whole apology manifesto. You’re old. For someone who still caters meals for 25+ people, still stays up past midnight, still goes to loud concerts, still walks miles at 6 am, still carries vodka miniatures around in your purse, you’re old. You’re allowed to complain about it.

Maybe all your complaining is coming out now because you held it in for so long. I feel like during your working life, you were too busy to pay attention to your feelings. When you slowed down, you learned how to stretch and sense your muscles and realized they hurt? I don’t know. My muscles hurt often. I think I act the most elderly between the both of us.

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You and dad having more stamina than I do when it comes to staying out late partying. I get sleepy. Or worried. Either I’m too lame for my age or you’re too wild for your age.

Health is tricky. I want to preserve my body and enjoy my life without becoming too nutty. I want to run long distances + I want my knees to work for a long time. I want to eat everything + I want my body to be able to do everything. I want to have fun all the time + I want to be functional and productive all the time. Balance isn’t really my thing though.

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I’m in the airport on my way home for a quick visit before heading out of the country again. I’m way unprepared and still have a long list of to-do’s trailing me from this past semester. So feel free to complain all you want… I’ll have my headphones on in the other room hunched over my computer like a normal super cool 27-year-old on vacation. Going wild.

 

Xo,

Shaina

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Speaking of health and balance and that thing you call moderation, here’s a recipe that meets all the requirements: vegan, gluten free, paleo, grain free and completely raw. I made it as a healthy alternative to sticky holiday sweets…  in reality it functioned as a good addition to them. #yolo

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Raw Pumpkin Pie Puree

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  • ½ cup almonds, soaked
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut (shreds/chips)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 – 7 dates depending on desired sweetness (I go with less sweet)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger (more if you like a little kick)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • generous dash of nutmeg
  • generous pinch (or 2 or 3) of good salt

Immerse nuts and seeds in water and let soak for at least 7 hours (or overnight). Drain and rinse well. Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until creamy. It takes time to break up the coconut, so keep pureeing until you get a creamy consistency. Add more water if the mixture gets stuck.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetI made a ton of this stuff toward the end of the semester. I brought it to class as a dip with sweet potato chips, and then to friends with chopped apples. My roommate stirred it into oats for a creamy, spunky porridge. One friend said she ate it with a spoon like cookie dough. I enjoyed it with sweet persimmons, blended into my spinach smoothies and, as always, a garnish atop my yogurt bowl.

♦ Forgive Me

Dear Shaina,
I am out of words. The year has flown by and I can’t seem to catch the days. I find myself spending more and more time in doctor’s offices and wondering if it’s because I have the luxury of time to pay attention to my aches and pains or because my increasingly aching joints are urgently demanding my attention. My braces are finally off, but now the real work on my teeth begins. It turns out that the orthodonture expense was only a small down payment for what comes next… a lot more time in the dental chair. I joked with Dad that we’re going to be one of those couples where the wife’s body falls apart and the husband loses his mind. Fortunately, Dad’s body and mind both seem to be holding out better than mine.

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I don’t want to be one of those old people who is always talking about their most current physical imposition. I don’t want to be one of those people spending all their time and money on procedures and tests and therapies. I am way too young to be that old. Despite myself, I am holding onto, sometimes by a thread, my good attitude, positive outlook and enduring gratitude for my body and its steadfast and loyal performance all these years. My most recent new doctor told me that she couldn’t remember if she had ever known anyone who had lived with diabetes for fifty years.

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I am grateful…and I am scared. I’m not ready for my luck to run out. I want more years, more good years! My body doesn’t owe me anything, but I will keep pushing and stretching the limits of its capacity for as long as I am able and keep hoping that it enjoys the ride enough to stay right with me.

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So forgive me if I bore you with my recent test results or whining complaints about some ache or pain. I will try not to act my old age. Know that I can be easily diverted and engaged in conversation or mutual activities, especially when they involve you.

Can’t wait until you get here!

Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxoooxox

 

Butter Lettuce Salad with Sweet Potato Croutons and Pomegranate Seeds

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This has become one of our favorite salads to serve when we have company or just for us. Butter lettuce is a refreshing treat (especially after some hard core dental work) and a good change of pace from our usual romaine or field greens. It is light, tasty and easy to prepare. The sweet potato croutons were such a hit that I have started making them just to have around to snack on. Eggplant croutons would work just as well. Use Japanese eggplants to avoid any bitterness and prepare the same way as sweet potato croutons.

This recipe will serve 8-10 people.

Sweet Potato Croutons

  • 2-3 Sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2” to 3/4” cubes
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper to taste

Cut up sweet potatoes into chunks. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper in one layer and roast in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and crisped. Remove from oven and cool.

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Salad

  • 3 heads of Butter lettuce washed and dried
  • 1-2 avocados sliced
  • 1 cup *fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2-3/4 cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • chives, cut up for garnish

*clementine or tangerine wedges can be substituted for pomegranate seedsIMG_7159

Salad components can be prepared a day ahead and arranged on a platter before serving.

Wash and dry lettuce and arrange on a platter or in a bowl. Distribute sweet potato chunks over lettuce. Slice avocados and arrange on the salad. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the salad and top with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and cut up chives.

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • zest from 1 fresh lemon
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare dressing, whisk together all ingredients and let sit overnight. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve dressing on the side or drizzle over salad right before serving.

◊ A Twist on Tradition

DSCF8387Dear mom,

I’m a rooted creature too. I’ve lived in exciting places. The feeling of curling up in my childhood bed under the same quilt that kept me warm twenty years ago, however, is just as appealing as the excitement of sleeping somewhere way cooler. Home is grounding – being there reminds me that I once had a place – and will always have one – outside the black hole of whatever currently consumes me.

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Right now that black hole is school and I like it and I’m not sorry for investing 100% of myself in it and in me. My brain is so squeezed for space that I’ve ignored whole categories on my to-do list (prioritizing?). #SorryNotSorry for eating Subway sandwiches, abandoning our blog and forgetting to shave my legs during the month of November. I’m done apologizing to myself for myself.

I haven’t been cooking much lately. My visit home for Thanksgiving, though, awoke my vegetable-chopping ambitions. Our traditions – the 10K run, shots of shlivovitz, lots of food – pulled me from the darkness of my hole and threw me back to moments much bigger than it.

Latkes are my favorite winter tradition. Four years ago (whoa!), I threw a Hanukah party in Bhuj, India. I grated potatoes with three friends, two knifes and one hand peeler. We poked holes into a bottlegourd for a menorah. We covered the floors with newspaper to soak up grease. We left the door open in my kitchen for ventilation and a cow wandered inside.

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For a day, I was pulled from my anxiety re living in a foreign place. I remembered that wherever I am – whatever consumes me – I’m always connected to something bigger.

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I might not have the wherewithal to make latkes + the necessary mess in my little Berkeley kitchen, but I’ve been invited to Hanukah parties where latkes will be plenty. I’ll bring curry cashew cream and hemp seed apple sauce scented with cardamom and orange blossom water as alternatives to usual fixings. Traditions are important… there’s also always room for creativity.

xo,

Shaina

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Cardamom, Orange Blossom, Hemp Seed Apple Sauce 

  • 5 – 7 medium McIntosh apples
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 7 pods of green cardamom, seeded and crushed
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tbs hemp seeds
  • juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 tbs orange blossom water (can be purchased at middle eastern specialty store)

Peel and chop apples into 1 inch chunks. In medium saucepan, combine apples, water, cardamom, vanilla and cinnamon. Cover and cook until apples have turned to mush (15 – 20 minutes). Mash with fork or potato masher and stir in hemp seeds, lemon juice and orange blossom water.

It’s something a little different to dress your latkes in + a healthy snack + a filling breakfast stirred into yogurt.

Curry Cashew Cream

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  • 2 C raw cashews or cashew pieces soaked overnight
  • 1/3 C nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp good sea salt
  • 1 tbs yellow curry powder
  • pinch of cayenne powder to taste
  • 1/2 cup water… more as needed

To soak cashews, cover with water and leave for 6 hours or overnight. When ready, drain cashews and add them to food processor with other ingredients. Puree until creamy. The consistency should be like runny peanut butter — you can add water if you want it looser. Chill for four hours before serving on your favorite vegan latkes! It’s also good as a salad dressing.

 

♦ For Now

Dear Shaina,
Vacation has taken over my life!

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A month in Portland and now Destin…the city, the mountains, the beach…different scenery, different rain clouds, different mattresses! We walked a lot. We ate a lot. We used public transportation…a lot. We shared our dollars and our candy with the homeless.

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We heard music, went to bars (even saw a comedy show in one) and meandered through vintage stores. We were entertained everywhere we went.

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Dad getting ready for Halloween…or whatever.

Tossing aside your everyday routine allows you a sneak peek into your core nature.

  • I can be pretty lazy…and enjoy it…up to a point.

Late night TV, Solitaire on my iPad, hours of sitting and knitting hats I don’t need (I couldn’t resist all the unique yarn shops in Portland including the one at the Alpaca Farm near Mt Hood), sleeping in later than you think possible, having no daily obligations or agenda. It’s both luxurious and unsettling.

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  • I function best with some structure, however minimal it may be.

Dad and I signed up for weekly Pilates, drank coffee every morning, ate steel cut oatmeal and apples and cottage cheese for breakfast on most days, went to Powell Books to hear authors, planned our days around restaurants, music and local events, walked for miles and miles everywhere, and did laundry on Sundays.

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  • Grocery stores and markets are my art galleries.

I went to a grocery store (there was one two short blocks from our apartment) or market almost every day to buy the best honeycrisp apples we ever tasted or more bulk oatmeal or just to see the stunning fresh produce displays. The farmers market offered up 20 varieties of small batch freshly smoked salmon and sable and raw locally harvested honey and gluten free baked goods in addition to rows and rows of locally grown apples and raspberries and lettuces…and wine, coffee and bread, of course.

Edible Art Everywhere

Edible Art Everywhere

  • There are only so many fabulous restaurant meals I can have before my kitchen starts calling me.

We explored the happy hour scene and ate artfully crafted small plates and drinks unique to the ambiance of the restaurant.

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We ate at rooftop bars overlooking the city, downtown establishments sporting their original 50’s decor, food trucks offering vegetarian thai cuisine in our neighborhood and highly polished converted warehouses that had been invaded by nouveau chefs and patrons, young and old, sipping on fancy drinks and Pinot Noir.

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Still, my kitchen was calling. I was inspired by some friends we visited for a weekend on the river near Mt Hood to bake my first baguette from scratch. Despite the fact that I bought the wrong yeast and didn’t have the right size bowl for the rising process, I loved messing around in my little rented kitchen. I even prepared fresh cod for dinner to accompany the freshly baked bread.

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Fresh Cod

  • Cooking is my craft, my therapy, my antidote to laziness…it feeds my soul and my need to accomplish something.
  • I love living in a neighborhood where I can walk a few blocks and get everything I need.
  • I love being in a climate where the air smells green and everyone is required to compost as much of their garbage as possible.

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  • I love living in a town where women wear their gray hair proudly and you can go into the most exclusive restaurant in hiking boots and shorts.
  • I love accessible city parks, patient bus drivers and all kinds of service employees who love their jobs and are genuinely helpful.

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  • I am a rooted creature.

I miss the predictability of routine, the comfort of community, the embrace of my home and the familiarity of the life I have known for over thirty years.

  • For now, home is still home.

Vacation is a lovely respite from the everyday routine, but for now, your childhood bedroom is still where it always was.

See you soon!

Love, Mom

Easy French Baguette

Baked by our friends...my inspiration.

How it should look…baked by our friends…my inspiration.

  • Rapid Rise yeast (use amount according to package instructions)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm tap water
  • 3 1/2 -4 cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • Vegetable oil for greasing bowl
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes

Optional

  • cornmeal for lining bottom of baking sheet
  • sesame seeds, salt, poppy seeds or herbs for topping if desired

Dissolve rapid rise yeast in 1 1/2 cups warm water in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 3 1/2 cups flour, and stir with a spatula until a soft dough forms and all flour is absorbed; adding a little flour as needed if dough is sticky. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle evenly with salt. Knead until the salt is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add a small amount of flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands. The dough should feel slightly sticky, but elastic. Knead into a ball.

Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl; cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or warm room. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes. Gently press two fingers into dough. If an indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.

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My first attempt.

Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide in half. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion on a floured surface into a 12-inch rope, slightly tapered at ends. Place ropes on large baking sheet (covered in parchment paper to make clean up easier) sprinkled with flour or cornmeal.

Cover lightly with a dish towel and let rise again for 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 450°. Place an iron skillet on a lower rack or the floor of the oven.

Uncover the dough. Using a sharp knife, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle across the loaf about 3” apart. Dust top lightly with flour. Sprinkle with optional seeds or toppings if desired .

Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms) right before putting the loaves into the oven.

I'll keep trying!

I’ll keep trying!

Bake at 450° for 20-30 minutes or until browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped.
Allow breads to rest for thirty minutes after they are removed from the oven before serving.

◊ A New Year


Dear mom,

Since my last letter about wanting to switch things up and your go-ahead to do so, I spent some time wracking my brain about what that can look like. What parts of my communication with you do I want to leave behind and what do I want more of?

More self-assuredness, less complaining. I’m doing X. Rather than I think I’m doing X, but it might be a bad idea and I have no idea if it will work out. More curiosity and less dismissiveness. Like, I should actually try your recipes! More gratitude, less worry. Even if I fail my Arabic midterm, I’ve learned a lot.

It’s a nice meditation for this time of year – the reflection period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur that encourages us to think about these things.

Here’s my first take:

I feel excited about school projects. I’m happily participating in the cleanse. My house threw a big party this weekend and no one called the cops or threw up on the floor. How are you doing? It sounds like you’re having fun in Portland – visiting your favorite book stores, cafes and happy hours.

The cleanse has been great for me this year. It always pushes me to be more creative with food. Now that we’ve incorporated a $$ challenge – to spend no more than $4.10, the national average food stamp benefit on food for each of the ten days of the cleanse – there’s an extra push. I’m cooking and thinking more.

Last Monday after Rosh Hashana services, I made a beeline for the grocery store. I had fun in there at first – hunting for sales, picking the least-bruised/mushy produce from the 99 cent bin in the back of the store, grabbing just a teeny bit of arugula instead of a huge bagful. I miraculously kept the bill under $30. But by the end I was tired. Out of all the food I bought, I didn’t even have a snack to munch on during my walk home.

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It took a lot of time. I spent almost 45 minutes in the grocery store! It was fun … but what if I had a job? The 99 cent bin at Berkeley Bowl was swarming with customers at only 2pm. If I had a job and couldn’t get to the store til 5 or 6, I wonder if there’d still be good food.

I concentrated really hard in the checkout process. I selected yogurt I thought was on sale, but it rung up as $7.50 (!!). I asked about the sale, and the guy said that the sale was on the regular yogurt, not the organic. So I put it back.

Once I got back to the house with bags and bags of “imperfect” 99 cent produce, I had to prep it right away. I was on my feet for almost three hours dissecting brown spots out of apples, scrubbing dirty potatoes, carving into squash. It was therapeutic – I listened to my favorite podcast and enjoyed washing, chopping and putting things into tupperwear. But I can’t imagine doing the same job with hungry kids and a long list of other priorities tugging at my sleeves.

Five days later, I’m sick of eating sweet potatoes, the thought of brussel sprouts makes me nauseous and I can’t do more lentils. The homemade soy milk endeavor was not worth it.

I’m sending you cleanse-friendly recipes with their cost breakdowns. The hardest part of this whole thing is the math.

Can’t wait to hear more about your Portland adventures and to see you in a week.

xo,

Shaina

Ps. To learn more about the cleanse, check out our site – 10yamimclean. We’re doing a big fundraiser for global food justice via AJWS. AJWS will match all donations made before Oct 2!

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Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Serves 5 – 7

Cost per serving: $1.55

Gluten free, vegan, tree nut free, grain free, paleo friendly

Sauce:

  • 1 jar roasted red peppers $2.85
  • 3 cloves garlic (no kissing tonight!) $0.20
  • 1 tbs flax meal (leftover from summer subletter)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds $4.35
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
Noodles:
  • 4-5 long green zucchini, zoodled, peeled or vegettied *see below (free from garden)
  • 1 tsp olive oil $0.17
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped $0.20

Total cost: $7.77

Per serving: $1.55

Sauce:

Combine all ingredients in food processors and puree until smooth. Keep refrigerated.

Noodles:

With “vegetti” (my fav new kitchen tool), peeler or mandolin, shave zucchini into strips aka noodles – #zoodles.

Heat pan in olive oil and add chopped onions. Cook on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes til transluscent. Add zoodles and cook for 7 – 10 minutes til soft (but not mush!).

Top with creamy sauce and garnish with pumpkin seeds.

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Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Jelly Bars

Makes 30-35 squares, about 15 servings

cost per serving: $0.61

Gluten free, vegan, tree nut free

I brought these to my Creative Non Fiction class and they went over well. I like bringing snacks to class/everywhere. I like to share. But it’s hard to budget snacks for the people when I’m struggling to budget snacks for myself. I figured that if I used basic ingredients (sorry friends, no almond-cocoa-date truffles this week), I could keep things relatively affordable. I feel very lucky that this is something I don’t have to worry about (too much) on the reg. What a gift!

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  • 2 cups puffed rice $1.5
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds((leftover from summer subletter)
  • 1/2 cup oat bran  $0.27
  • 1 cup oat meal $0.35
  • 3/4 cup unsweeteened coconut shreds $0.75
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins or other chopped fruit $1.15
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter (leftover from summer subletter)
  • 2.5 cup pitted prunes $3.75
  • 1/2 cup flax meal (leftover from summer subletter)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk $0.75
  • 1tbs cinnamon powder
  • juice of one lemon (from tree)
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs coconut oil $0.20
  • dash of salt

(Added$0.40 for spices already in the house)

TOTAL cost: $9.12

cost per serving: $0.61

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Need to poop? Eat this.

Put peanut butter, prunes, dates, flax, cinnamon, lemon juice and vanilla into food processor. Blend until a sticky paste forms.

While the food processor is going at it, reserve 1/4 cup of coconut shreds and mix dry ingredients in your largest mixing bowl.

Heat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix coconut oil with salt remaining shredded coconut and line parchment paper with oil mixture.

With a large spatula, your hands or both, work dry ingredients into wet ones. You may need to add a bit of hot water to the fruit paste to loosen it up. Do this with caution.

Once combined, press mixture onto parchment paper so that it’s evenly distrubuted about 1 1/2 inch thick across the baking sheet. Place in oven for ten minutes, just to crisp the edges. Remove and allow to cool before scoring.

Cut bars into small squares and keep remaining crumbled in a ziplock for yogurt toppings. Keep bars in airtight container in the fridge.

♦ Meant To Be

Dear Shaina,

So what, exactly, does switching it up look like?

You: I’m worried about you… Should you still be driving, is your house too big for you to take care of, why do you have so much stuff?!
Soon enough.

Me: Let’s travel to exotic places and spend all our money on extended VRBO rentals, new furniture, house remodeling projects, yoga classes, dental work, more stuff, etc…we’ll try to fit in a visit to you.
Working on it now.

No, you do not sound like a stressy 20-something deep in crisis. Who doesn’t need a bi-monthly pep talk?…I love you just the way you are and I think you’re great! Does that count for this month? That’s never gonna change.

Happy to switch it up. You go first!

I am enjoying a no Labor Day weekend with a stay-at-home cooking marathon in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. It is such a luxury to cook in advance and not have to fit all the holiday preparation details in between working hours. The chicken soup, brisket, honey cakes, apple cakes and potato blintzes (a first for me) are done.

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The potato blintzes are a hybrid recipe; crepe dough from Bubbe’s cheese blintzes and the potato filling from her knishes. I made the crepe batter in my Vita Mix and it took 30 seconds and not even one lump! My Cuisinart effortlessly chopped the onions and blended the potatoes and fried onions. I used all my pots and pans and extra large bowls to boil potatoes, sauté onions, mix the filling, make the crepes and flash freeze it all. I pretty much trashed the kitchen, overfilled all my freezers and sampled enough fried onions and potato filling to have attached them to my DNA… if that is possible.

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I love what you are doing with the cleanse this year. Although I am fortunate to not have to worry about how much I spend on groceries, I learned at the hands of a master who taught me how to love grocery shopping and create healthy, nourishing, satisfying and tasty meals on a very tight budget.

My mother (Bubbe) always researched the food specials of the week and bought whatever she could on sale. Even after she couldn’t go to the grocery store herself, she gave me a list of what to buy each week…and I did. She hand-picked each green bean, each apple, each cherry to make sure she got the freshest items (no wasteful rotten spots for her). She never spent money on plastic storage bags or containers (she reused the food containers and plastic bags that her purchases came packaged in) and she never, ever threw out food (leftovers are what you eat the next day). We never had soft drinks or chips or candy in our house unless their was a party. She bought very little processed food and made almost everything from scratch. The things we thought we were missing out on (Oreo cookies and Wonder Bread for me) turned out to be not so good for us anyway.

It’s Rosh Hashana. It’s Zayde’s yahrsteit. I’m cooking Bubbe’s food. You are promoting a cleanse that raises personal awareness and global consciousness about food justice. I’m thinking that things are just as they were meant to be.

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Wishing you the sweetest of New Years and may we all make it into the Big Book of Life for a safe, healthy and productive year to come!

Love,
Mom
xooxoxxoxoxo
Red Cabbage Slaw

I am serving this Red Cabbage Slaw at our erev Rosh Hashanah dinner this year. It has apples and honey in honor of the holiday and it’s an easy do-ahead dish that doesn’t require oven space. Other than the honey, it can be prepared Cleanse friendly and it is very cost efficient. A head of red cabbage makes a whole lot of slaw! And it gets better the longer it sits. If you are preparing this for the Cleanse, but want some additional sweetness, omit the honey and add a half cup of raisins ($.50).

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Yield – 20 servings
Total Cost: $8.35
Cost per serving: $.42

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ($.50)
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice with the zest from the lemon used for the juice ($1.00)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (.20)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced ($1.50)
  • 2-3 large carrots, grated into thin strips ($.40)
  • 1 large apple, cut in small pieces ($.75)
  • 8-12 ounces of sugar snap peas, thinly sliced crosswise ($4.00)

Whisk oil, lemon juice and zest, honey and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss together. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving.

Cleanse 5776

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Ok. It’s finally time to start prepping for the fourth annual CLEANSE — a mind/body/spirit reflection during the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I can’t believe how fast our New Year is creeping up on us. 

Arielle and I decided to add a new element for year 5776. Along with the regular food rules (listed below and here), we’re asking people to spend no more than the national average food stamp benefit – $4.10 daily – on food for the ten days of the cleanse. We expect that nourishing our bodies with a whole foods, vegan diet (reminder of rules below) will be nearly impossible on this budget. So, we’re be asking people to match the amount spent over the allotted budget in a charitable donation to the American Jewish World Service. We’ve built a donation page here.

Access to healthy food in America is a challenge that can be easy to ignore. It’s important to feed ourselves with nourishing foods, and we feel it’s  important to remember how difficult it can be for others to do the same .We hope that this cleanse will not only spark reflection on our own personal health, but also on how we can contribute to the health of others. I think that this challenge will inspire gratitude for the current abundance of resources in our lives. 

We know that this year will be more challenges than previous ones. Our blog, 10yamimclean, provides support and a forum for dialogue. On the blog, we’ll post recipes and resources that  related to food justice — we encourage you to do the same. Shoot us an email with a reflection, recipe or question, and we’ll through it up on the blog (and give you credit unless you specify otherwise). When you send recipes, please include a cost breakdown or rough estimate of cost. An example of what this looks like is below. 

Happy Cleansing!

 DSCF8300White Bean Kale Burgers

5-7 servings

$1.08 per serving

  • 2 cups white beans, dried ($1.30)
  • 4 cups kale, finely chopped (from garden)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped  (from garden)
  • 2 red onions ($0.55)
  • 3 cloves garlic ($0.25)
  • 2 eggs ($0.40)
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped ($2.00)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of chipotle seasoning
  • fresh herbs on hand, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal ($0.30)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs olive oil (0.17)

(+ roughly $1 for spices)

($1.30+$0.55+$0.25+$0.40+$2.00+$0.30+$0.17+$1 ) = $5.97.

I averaged this recipe for 5 1/2 servings… I eat a lot. It came down to $1.08 per serving. Not bad!

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Submerge beans in water and soak for 7 hours. Then, cook on high heat until tender. You can do this in bulk a few days before and use leftover beans for other recipes.
In large mixing bowl, combine kale and beans and mash until almost a paste. Add 2 tablespoons of the cornmeal and remaining ingredients except for olive oil. Refrigerate mix for at least 20 minute.
Preheat oven to 300 F.

Place remaining cornmeal on a plate. Coat hands in olive oil and form  5-8 patties about 1/2 inch thick.  Dredge both sides of the burgers in cornmeal. Transfer to non-stick or parchment covered baking sheet and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

I (Shaina) just did my first cost-breakdown of a recipe. Ow, my brain!

It took a lot of time. It was boring. And tedious. I kept losing count.

Some people do this every day – every meal – every visit to the grocery store, pantry and kitchen shelve.

In asking you to calculate the cost of your food as you share recipes, we don’t want you to be overwhelmed or for you to be intimidated by the thought of this task. Rather, we want to encourage you to think about cost before consuming. It’s ok to post estimates. You can guess prices when you aren’t sure and round numbers as you wish. But also think.

Here’s a great resource on how to calculate recipe costs: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2013/07/how-to-calculate-recipe-costs/

Cleanse Rules:
For the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we will undertake an intensive reflection of the mind/body/spirit connection. We will only consume:
 

Vegan foods – no products derived from animals (no meat, eggs, dairy, honey, etc.)

Gluten-free foods – nothing made with wheat

Unprocessed foods – nothing packaged with more than three ingredients

Unsweetened foods – no added sugar, honey, agave, etc.

Alcohol-free beverages 

An exception to the above rules above is the inclusion of organic eggs and yogurt that is organic, plain, stabilizer- and additive-free. This is a personal choice.

◊ Switching it up

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Dear mom,

It sure is nice to have someone believe in me.

Dear Internet,

This must be weird for you.

Mom, our exchange has become too predictable. In the three (!!) years we’ve been writing, our letters have become a looping pattern…

Me: I’m stressed and everything is chaos and what is my life?!

You: Oy vey, I’m so worried about you! I’m worried, I’m worried, I’m worried, but you should NOT worry! You’re fine… you’re great! And yoga helps.

Me: Ummm thanks, you’re a weirdo and I’m still confused about my life. Ps. I have principles.

You: Wow, sounds like you’re doing great (I’MSOWORRIED). Maybe you should lay down in shivasana. Dad and I miss you. We love sitting around the house.

And on and on and on and on.

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I’m bored. Should we make an effort to switch it up? Or is this what our communication looks like? Do I come across to you as a stressy 20-something deep in crisis, in need of bimonthly pep talks from my mother?

This was my first week back at school. It feels good to be back and I am calm (what). My move back to Berkeley went smoothly (what). Being confused about my schedule does not count as a crisis.

first day of school

first day of school

Yeah, I’m switching it up.

It’s almost Rosh Hashana and after four of our annual whole foods diet “cleanses” (reflection on the mind/body/spirit connection) during the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Arielle and I feel bored.  This year, along with the food rules, we’re asking participants to spend no more than the national average food stamp benefit – $4.10 daily – on food for the ten days of the cleanse. I expect that nourishing my body with a whole foods, vegan diet will be nearly impossible on this budget. So, we’re be asking people to match the amount spent over the allotted budget in a charitable donation to a food justice org. I’ll lay out the details in another post.

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It was really nice to sit around the house with you and dad before school started. The mega-eating (new term) marathon, prepping vegetables from the farm and hanging out were all treats. I weirdly miss home!

Anyway. Thanks for the pep talks, horrible pictures and congenital neuroses. Thanks for indulging the crazy in me. And believing in me always.

xo,

Shaina

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Different from my usual recipes with 1 million + ingredients, this one is simple, simple, SIMPLE.

Also, I’ve been roasting beets for years with the same method – wrap them in foil and sticking them in the oven with whatever else is in there. For this recipe, I steamed them in the oven with water and vinegar. I’m hooked.

Thyme Marinated Beets with Crushed Hazelnuts 

Serves 5-8 as appetizer

  • 3 – 4 different colored beets (I used chiogga and yellow)
  • ½ cup Sherry or red wine vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1  shallot, chopped
  • 5-8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  • good black pepper
  • good sea salt

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Preheat oven to 425°. Combine whole, unpeeled beets, ¼ cup vinegar, salt and ¼ cup water in a pan or dish Cover with foil and steam 45 minutes. When cool, remove skins with fingers (they should slide off). Slice beets thinly with knife or mandolin.

Toss beets with shallot, thyme, remaining ¼ cup vinegar, and olive oil . Season with salt and good pepper and let sit for at least two hours. Before serving, garnish with hazelnuts and extra thyme sprigs.

*This dish is even better the next day – – beets can be marinated 2 days ahead of time.

♦ I Worry

Dear Shaina,

I don’t even know where to begin…When you watch your child transform into the adult that they were always meant to be, it is awe-inspiring, humbling and terrifying all at once.

I started writing this weeks ago…after you told me you had been to Gaza and back…you hadn’t told me before you went to prevent me from worrying.

Dad and I met you en route to a scuba diving adventure the two of you had planned. Gaza barely registered a blip on my worry radar in the shadow of my scuba diving dread.

You survived both…a momentary comfort blunted by the understanding that I have no control over the ever-present lurking dangers in the world that you may encounter by chance or intention. Your beliefs, decisions and actions are beyond the purview of me or anyone else.

How did this happen; that you should own your life so completely, that you could transform your fearfulness into fearlessness, that you are able to trust and challenge your own voice?

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I guess there were clues all along the way. Before you were born I, with the naiveté of a first time mother-to-be, eagerly awaited the arrival of my “mini-me” daughter.

The first time I laid my eyes on you, you looked directly back into my eyes. I saw your father’s penetrating, but self-contained gaze and I knew in my gut you were not a “mini-me”.

You were a quiet and calm baby…some might say passive. I could put you on the carpet in the living room and you would amuse yourself by staring at the beams on the ceiling 20 feet above. You cried rarely, but let me know clearly if some need was not being met.

In preschool, you were shy, but attentive. Your cubby was always next to the most out-of-control child in the class…maybe because you had a calming  effect…maybe because you were tolerant…maybe because you never got caught up in the fracas.

A teacher gave all the children the same colored cut-out pieces of paper and instructed them to paste them onto their sheet of paper to create the shape of the flower she displayed. You placed your colored pieces of paper onto your sheet creating a flower design of your own making. Some of the other children liked your variations and tried their own. You led without intention or demand.

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At age 5, I enrolled you in soccer. You hated it. I made you go twice. You sat down in the middle of the field during a game. I took you home and we never went back. I signed you up for swimming and you swam almost everyday. You refused to participate in swim meets. I let you skip them.

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In your own unassuming way, you continued to assert yourself. I maintained the illusion that I was in charge, but I knew the truth early on. I learned to respect your needs, to trust your instincts and to understand that you knew better than I did what was best for you.

Bubbe used to say, “When you have little children, you have little worries. When you have big children, you have big worries.” So I’m a big worrier…a proud worrier. You are an amazing kid who is worth all the worry I withstand on your behalf. I may not own your life, but that doesn’t stop me from petitioning the universe daily…may you be safe and healthy and happy… and may the harshness you encounter on your life’s journey be minimal.

India Allen All 3 09 695 (1)Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxoxooxoxoo

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Chick Peas

There is no end to the excess of summertime garden veggies. This recipe accomplishes the goal of using up two surplus veggies (plus fresh basil which you can never have an excess of) in one easy-to-prepare dish. It can be served as a vegetarian meal over pasta or rice or as a side dish with any meal.  It can be prepared ahead of time, made in large quantities and served hot or at room temperature.  All measurements are flexible and subject to individual taste.

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  • 1 large onion, cut in thin wedges
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 5 garlic gloves (or to taste), coarsely minced
  • Green Beans – about a pound or as many as you have of any variety, ends cut off and strings removed
  • Tomatoes – about a pound or more of fresh tomatoes cut up or a couple boxes of processed chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh basil – a couple of handfuls chopped or a couple teaspoons of dried basil
  • 1 can of Chick peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Calmata olives (optional

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Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet and add sliced onions.  Sauté until edges are lightly browned. Add minced garlic and continue sautéing for a few minutes.

Add green beans to onions and continue sautéing until green beans, onions and garlic are slightly browned and mixed together. Cover the skillet and continue cooking over medium heat until the beans are almost done.

Add the chopped tomatoes and half of the fresh basil or dried basil to the beans and continue cooking. I use about equal parts of tomatoes and green beans. If I want a more tomato based saucy dish, I add more tomatoes.

Continue cooking until liquid from tomatoes is reduced and thoroughly blended with the beans.

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Add the chick peas, salt and pepper and more basil and continue to cook until all flavors are blended together. Adjust seasonings to taste.  If desired, add calamata olives.

Garnish with fresh basil.

This dish gets better everytime you reheat it so make enough to have leftovers and don’t be afraid to add more tomatoes and basil.