♦ The Empty Nest…Again

Dear Shaina,

We behaved as if the summer would go on forever. A few days at the beach, a brief girls trip, but mostly day-to-day…going to meetings, eating, chopping, running, spinning, for you; shopping for groceries, walking, yoga stretching, washing sweaty clothes, preparing dinner, cleaning the kitchen, for me…the ordinary, the mundane…the sharing of meals and chit chat to the background clutter of podcasts and political reality TV. I almost got used to it.

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As the large and small suitcases appeared on your bedroom floor I started feeling sad. And I didn’t understand it. It’s not like you haven’t done this before…many times before. This time felt different to me. I felt a way overdue (10-years) post traumatic empty-nest-syndrome coming on. No more coming home for vacations from school. No more school. No more home-base for worldly adventures. No more living at home until the next take-off to wherever. The next step, no matter how impermanent or worldly it may be, will likely not involve setting up shop in the bedroom of your childhood with glow-in-the-dark stars tenaciously stuck to the ceiling. It will not include bedtime rituals revisited nightly where, if I am lucky, I can get a glimpse into the truth of my child’s being. It will, at most, serve as a stopover on your next leap into the world of adulthood.

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So, I was sad…and a little reluctant…and anxious. I made reservations for Dad and me to fly to NJ so we didn’t have to say goodbye two weeks before you actually left the country. We packed and weighed and repacked your suitcases and said our goodbyes at the Newark airport, another déjà vu. We went back to Larry and Ruth’s and distracted ourselves with mahjong. And we got on a plane the next day to begin our own adventure and bypass the empty-nest thing altogether.

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Receiving your first call and hearing your smile put us at ease. I forget how adaptive you are, how well you know what you need and how persistent you are in going after exactly that. I remind myself that you always manage to be exactly where you need to be, even when you’re not quite sure where that is.

 

Although, I’m not sure how you will survive without your vita-mix to fulfill your food-in-jar obsession, I am glad that, at least, you have a SCOBY.

So, Dad and I are here, forging out a slightly different routine than our usual at-home one. We eat a late healthy breakfast (Shaina style, yogurt, fruit, oatmeal), walk 4-6 miles a day doing errands or real hikes, visit grocery stores and mostly hang out in the neighborhood.

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We went to a concert in an old school theater, Shakespeare in the Park, 2 different street fairs (on the same day), an author event at the local bookstore, minyan at one temple and Shabbat services at another and I got a library card. Dad went to his first conversational Spanish class and scheduled a drum lesson for later in the week.

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Every morning last week we were awoken to the sounds of a crane demolishing the building across the street (a long overdue project) and we became immersed in the daily drama of deconstruction.

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We have a favorite Thai restaurant. I buy fresh cut flowers weekly. I do laundry. We clean. We are acting like we live here. It’s easy. It’s comfortable. I feel very retired and indulged. All good.

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I am cooking my first real dinner tonight. I bought fresh wild Alaskan halibut, dandelion greens for a salad that was being sampled at the grocery store and golden beets and sweet potatoes. It feels like a very indulgent dinner. Making fish reminds me of you and all the fish dinners I made this summer to ensure you got your protein fix. In fact, buying fresh fish at the Fishmarket may become my newest trigger for remembering this past summer when we all pretended that you lived at home.

Love,
Mom
xoxooxoxoxoxoxo

Dandelion and Arugula Salad with Tiger Figs and Nectarines
This salad complements the fish well with its grassy flavors and lemony dressing. The fruits added a sweet surprise just when you thought you couldn’t handle one more tart bite. 

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  • 1 bunch dandelion greens
  • Juice of one lemon
  • A handful or two of arugula
  • 1 nectarine, cut in wedges
  • 3 tiger figs, cut in slices
  • 1/4 cup cured black olives
  • Finely sliced purple onion to taste

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon spicy mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Wash and dry dandelion greens and remove tough red stems. Cut up leaves and toss in a bowl with lemon juice. Allow greens to chill in the lemon juice for about 30 minutes, while preparing the dressing and the rest of the ingredients.

Prepare remaining salad ingredients.

Whisk mustard and olive oil.

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Add remaining ingredients to dandelion greens. Add dressing and toss thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce
(For Two)

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This is a relatively easy dish to make and the ingredient amounts are forgiving.  Taste often and listen to your instincts. You can never have too much garlic or shallots! I added roasted golden beets and a baked sweet potato to round out a very satisfying meal…with wine, of course!

  • About 3/4 lb of fresh wild Alaskan HalibutIMG_8764.jpg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter
  • Fresh garlic, chopped or thinly sliced

Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick or well seasoned frying pan and add chopped garlic.
Cook over medium heat until butter is lightly browned and garlic is aromatic.
Add seasoned fish and cook on both sides for about four minutes on each side or until fish is cooked through and flaky, but not dry.
Set aside on a heated plate and cover with foil.

Lemon Caper Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced or chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped or sliced
  • Juice of one lemon with zest
  • 1/3-1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 2 green onions or chives cut up
  • 1/4 cup cut up fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Add additional butter and oil to fish frying pan and sauté garlic and shallots until fragrant. Add wine and lemon juice and increase heat to medium high. Boil until sauce thickens slightly. Stir in parsley, capers and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.

Pour warm sauce over fish and serve immediately.

Garnish with parsley and cured black olives.

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Bon Apetit!

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♦ 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.

♦ 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.

♦ Traditions and Memorials

Dear Shaina,

Bubbe would be kvelling (bursting with pride), and so am I, at your adaptation of her much loved food memories. I can hear her tasting your radishes and onions and eggs and proclaiming that they are better than what she had as a child. She would declare you a Balabusta (a homemaker of the highest order) and if you attempted to credit her with the inspiration she would pooh-pooh you and exclaim that you were a much better cook than she ever was.

Esther 512Mb cf card 12 03 08 262I was lucky to grow up with a mother who took pride in my accomplishments rather than feeling threatened or competitive as some mothers are. Bubbe and Zayde called it naches fun di kinder (pleasure, pride from the children). It is what they lived for and what no material gift could ever equal. I completely get it! Of course, you actually are a better cook than me, not to mention all the other things you have accomplished that I am so very proud of!

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It’s hard to think about or prepare food without Bubbe’s presence hovering over my shoulder. Jews have always emphasized the remembrance of the dead. We observe annual anniversary prayers (Yahrsteit) and holiday memorial services (Yizkor), but nothing seems nearly as effective or enduring as food memorials. Yahrsteits can be forgotten. Yizkors can be skipped. But the smell of frying onions, the magic of butter-soft arthritically molded fingers stretching and rolling dough, the taste of a freshly fried blintz in too much butter, the insistent urging to eat and eat more and the inevitable question, “Are they edible?” , are indelible memories that make daily appearances. No wonder food is such a big deal forJews. At least in our family…

I am getting ready for Chanukah and your homecoming. I remember Bubbe grating potatoes with the classic box grater and straining her homemade applesauce through those hand grinders that look like a pot with holes in the bottom and a big handle that rotates large blades at the bottom pushing the mashed applesauce through the holes leaving the seeds and skins to be discarded. There was no fancy motorized equipment, just simple tools powered by the willingness of loving hands (not that she wasn’t amazed when we gave her a Cuisinart that could grind raw meat in 30 seconds and grate enough potatoes and onions for latkes for 20 in minutes without shedding a tear or losing a knuckle).IMG_1534

My applesauce is already done and in the freezer. I peel and core my apples before cooking so there is no need for straining. I am planning on making three varieties of latkes this year…traditional, sweet potato and corn-squash…all with the aid of my Cuisinart. I scheduled your hair appointment for Friday, the masseuse for Saturday (I am liking this new tradition) and leaving Sunday and Monday for any last minute preparations for your trip to Israel and to bake cheesecakes for the annual South Carolina Christmas pilgrimage.

The traditions have evolved, morphed and adapted for a new generation of memories…and memorials of the future.

By the way, LLOL may not be a thing right now, but new traditions are born everyday! Laughing Lots Out Loud!!

Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxooxoxoxxoox

 

Grilled Caesar Salad

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I have been wanting to make this salad since having it at a restaurant in a Casino in the middle of nowhere in northern California. I had never heard of grilling lettuce and to my surprise, it was the best Caesar salad I ever had! It was served with traditional Caesar dressing on the side (although it didn’t need any) along with crusty french bread croutons and shaved parmesan. I decided to make it last night before it got too cold outside to grill. It seemed the perfect accompaniment for filet mignon for Shabbat dinner with a couple of friends. I incorporated a ripe avocado and the seeds from a pomegranate that was close to the end of its viable use. I made a dressing in case anyone wanted it and improvised the rest. It was again, surprisingly, delicious and simple to prepare.

Yield: 4 servings

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Grilled Caesar Salad

  • 2 stalks of Romaine lettuce hearts cut in half lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder (optional)
  • Shaved or grated parmesan cheese
  • Sliced fresh avocado
  • Pomegranate seeds

 

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Dressing (optional)

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice from half lemon
  • 1 clove fresh garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
With Dressing

With Dressing

Turn on a gas grill to the highest temperature or light up a charcoal grill.

Cut the romaine heart in half lengthwise keeping the stem of the stalk attached.
Brush olive oil lightly all over the cut edge of the lettuce.
Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over the oiled area.
Place the lettuce stalks on a very hot grill with the cut and seasoned side down. Grill for about a minute, uncovered, until slightly charred grill lines show on the cut side of the lettuce. The stalk should remain intact.

Remove from the grill and place grilled side up on individual plates.

Garnish with avocado, parmesan and pomegranate seeds or wherever your imagination takes you.

To make the dressing, blend all ingredients thoroughly adjusting seasonings to taste. Serve on the side.

This salad can also be served on a large platter. Cut the stalks diagonally in one inch strips to serve family style.

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◊ Perspective

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Dear mom,

Glad to see you’re learning internet lingo (ps. LLOL is not a thing).

Sweating the small stuff surely is a luxury. What’s more luxurious is the ability to recognize the small stuff as small, which can be hard until after the fact. Or until I’m outside of it. Puma sneakers were no small thing in that factory store in Manhattan – you can attest to that.

Obsessing over the small things… is it called tunnel vision?

Since my sneaker meltdown in 6th grade, I’ve had so many opportunities to step outside the tunnel that my ability to shift perspectives has grown markedly nimble.  This skill is one of the many gifts I’ve gotten from moving so far so much so fast. It is the most luxurious of all luxuries.

I’ve implemented it in the way I see big things (we don’t have to talk about Israel/Palestine again), and I can zoom-in:

Let’s talk about coming home for Thanksgiving.

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the farm

In grad school, my assignments can create a strong vacuum at the bottom of the tunnel. Reporting is time and emotion consuming; deadlines = anxiety dreams. Should I cut graf one? Which quote is more quotey? I agonize.

I have to physically switch it up to remind myself of the bigger world and make these things small again. I usually go to the kitchen. Once I’m behind a chopping board, my attachment to my homework loosens (still can’t figure out if this is a good or bad thing). I chop veggies into a salad and munch away for too much time than I should spare. Big salads are (more) important.

Physically removing myself from the North Side of campus for a solid 5 days last week sharpened this notion. Being home made me realize how silly it is to make anything more important than health, family and old friends. I didn’t do a lick of schoolwork when I was home and I was not worried.

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Women’s holiday sliv shots

Instead, I chatted with my cousins over popcorn and M&Ms til 2AM, went to the farm with the boys, picked radishes, ran my favorite nature trails, lost at mah jong, massaged a shit ton of kale, sat in the kitchen, dined and snacked and gorged with fam, and took long sits in your steam shower.

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I still get sucked into the tunnel – I worry about the insignificant and obsess over the small. Making a salad can pull me out. Physical movement – a change of scenery – melts the petty-worry-grip.

xo,

Shaina

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When I went to the farm, I snuck away from the boys and their antics to pick radishes (pronounced raydish in the country). I came home with two full grocery bags of spicy, dirty raydish. The Berkeley grocery store radishes weren’t nearly as spicy as the homegrown, so I compensated by garnishing the dish below with spicy arugula.


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Spicy Radish Egg Salad with Almonds

This is a classic Bubbe recipe (she used big black radishes and skipped the almonds). Her house consistently smelled of fried onions (pronounced hun-ions in Bubbe land). She used the same hunions in her knishes, brown potatoes, kreplach, chicken burgers and more.

  • 3 eggs, hardboiled
  • 1 tsp olive oil OR 1 tsp butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • One bunch radishes (5-7 medium radishes)
  • toasted almonds, chopped or slivered
  • salt
  • pepper
  • arugula for serving

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Dice onion. Coat the bottom of a deep skillet with olive oil, butter or a mix of both. Turn heat to medium, and add onions once oil is hot.  Stir to coat onions in oil and spread them evenly over the pan. Turn heat to low, cover pan and let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about ten minutes, add salt and fresh black pepper. Continue to cook until onions are deeply browned.

*Side note: I learned from you who learned from Bubbe to go big or go home when it comes to fried onions. It’s just as easy to fry three as it is one, so just do em all! Put what you don’t use into a jar and store in the fridge – they will stay good for over a week and are a luxurious addition to omelets, veggies, sandwiches, salads, yogurt, etc.

In the meantime, use a large hole grater to grater radishes into wide shreds.

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Toast crushed or slivered almonds in a toaster or over a skillet until brown and fragrant. Peel the hardboiled eggs and mash them with the back of a fork. Combine radishes, almonds and eggs.

When onions have cooled to room tempurature, stir them into the egg mixture. Add plenty of salt and fresh black pepper. Serve over spicy arugula with a slice of good bread.

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◊ Filling space

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Dear mom,

I don’t want you to feel responsible for me feeling responsible for your worry. I’m not blaming you for it either. I’m just telling you how I feel. Isn’t that what you want? Such mixed messages! …  And more mother-induced trauma.

Just kidding. I’m over it. Glad that you and your chaise finally found homes.

Home. Some people seem to slide in easily. They appear comfortable in their space no matter what surrounds them. I am not one of those people. I’ve re-made home enough to know that I must put deliberate effort into feeling oriented and grounded. The process is always slow and harrowing.IMG_6234

I try to expedite it by walking around aimlessly (usually in the direction of a grocery store) to learn the grounds. I mark new territory with familiar scents  – I burn candles, incense, cookies. I fill new space with things that mark my permanence – glass containers of grains and spices, tubs of tea, jars of oils and lotions, bottles of nail polish.  Also rituals. Tea in the morning; Shabbat dinner; roasting vegetables Sunday afternoon; long runs on the weekend.

One of my favorite time and space-marking rituals is our annual Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Cleanse. It helps me understand the passage of time, connect with my body and reflect. This year’s cleanse seems particularly important.

As is, the cleanse dietary rituals are easy for me. I want an additional mind-body challenge.

Rebecca inspired me to consider meditation as a daily practice. I do not have patience for stillness. Thus, I will be incorporating 10 minutes of daily meditation in my 10 day cleanse. I’m already annoyed by the time commitment, but I need to be forced to take a pause. For the past year, I have been moving at lightening speed, and I need processing time in order to feel oriented.

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In the spirit of the cleanse, below are two cleanse appropriate, Rosh Hashana inspired recipes. You will be here in three days to see my home firsthand! I’m really looking forward to shlepping you to Berkeley Bowl and making Rosh Hashana meals together.

Xo,

Shaina

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For most people, the high holidays smell like warm chunks of meet and heavy kugels. My High Holiday food memories are decorated with colorful salads. Our post-service lunches always contain a large variety of salads – big bowls of kale with avocado, pomegranate studded tabouleh, etc – for starving guests to nosh when they first arrive from after never-ending morning services. My new salad idea is just sweet enough to be Rosh Hashana appropriate: chopped apples, arugula and celery in a creamy honey- tahini dressing.

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Chopped Apples, Arugula and Celery with Creamy Honey-Tahini Dressing

Serves: 5 – 10 depending on portion size

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Dressing:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbs honey (nix it for the cleanse)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vingegar
  • 1/3 cup crude tahini
  • plenty of fresh black pepper

Salad:

  • 4 celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • 3 – 4 good, sweet, crunchy apples, sliced thinly
  • 3 cups arugula, chopped
  • 2 medium stalks of spring onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts

First, make the dressing. Make sure your garlic is crushed well and herbs are finely chopped. Add all ingredients to a jar or bowl. Stir well, until all ingredients are combined and smooth. Add black pepper as desired. Let sit for at least one hour before use.

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No more than one hour before serving, chop celery, apples, arugula and spring onions. Toast and crush walnuts and allow to cool. Pile all ingredients in a bowl, add 1/3 c dressing and toss until apples, arugula and celery pieces are coated. Serve immediately.

 

Green Goddess Tahini Dressing

Serves: many, many salads

Prep time: 15 minutes

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This dressing livens up any salad. It’s grain mixed into grain bowls, slathered over roasted veggies or tossed into simple lettuce salads.

  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh tarragon
  • 1 bunch fresh scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbs lemon zest
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

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Simply place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth liquid consistency is formed. Add salt and pepper too taste. If too pungent, add additional yogurt.

In the salad pictured, I topped a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, roasted beets and chopped arugula with swirls of Green Goddess dressing, tahini, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh ground black pepper.

◊ Let’s Talk

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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.

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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. 

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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?

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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

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  • 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

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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.

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◊ One-Year Trap

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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.

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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. 


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

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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

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  • 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.

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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:

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Shesh Besh in the shuk

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Cardboard in the shuk

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Remembering the Nakba

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Hiking in Wadi Qelt

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Najla finishing a pencil case embroidered by artisans from Bethlehem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

◊ Fitting It In

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Dear mom,

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

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

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

Oh, Jerusalem …

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

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

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

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

xo,

Shaina

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

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

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

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Herby Pretty Lentil and Yogurt Salad

Serves 3-5

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

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

Zesty Dill Pesto*

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

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

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

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

Meyer Lemon Risotto with Peas and Asparagus

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Serves 5-6

Prep time: 1 hour

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

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

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

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

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

◊ On My Way Back

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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

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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

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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.

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