Friday, December 19, 2014

Food Friday–welcome home edition

My youngest came home from college this week. He mentioned that he wanted ribs this Friday night. So, I complied.


After all of the Chanukah related fried foods of the week, I limited us to a smaller amount of ribs.  I cooked the ribs in the dregs of two bottles of pomegranate molasses, balsamic vinegar, mustard and a dollop of Korean hot pepper paste and a shot of liquid smoke.

I decided to make a relatively simple chicken with this spice mixture


Of smoked paprika, sumac and black pepper. all of the chicken pieces got well massaged with the mix. About half way through I remembered my friend Alan Divak getting all dreamy talking bout making sumac chicken on a bed of stale pita. I did have a few home made pitot hanging around so I ripped them up and tucked them under the chicken.  I also added some cubes of stale challah. I cooked the chicken and bread until it looked like thisSAM_3557

Shabbat Shalom!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Early morning sky and morning ritual

Every morning ( except Shabbat) after I wake up I stumble into the living room to work out.


If you had told me that this would be my morning ritual when I was growing up I would have laughed.


I went to a Jewish day school. It was a place where the chess and the debate and the math teams competed fairly well against our Eastern Massachusetts competition.  We didn’t even have sports teams.

In elementary school we did have gym. I was so uncoordinated, so weak  and had such terrible eye –hand coordination that even at my school I was always chosen last for any game.

When my husband first met me he encouraged me to do yoga stretches. It was something that we did together.


Eventually I got into working out.  I used to take some aerobics classes.  I was enthusiastic but was hopeless at remembering any sort of choreography. As soon as I learned part three of a dance move, part 1 would float out of my head.

Eventually I bought myself some weights and some workout tapes. About twenty five years ago I had an epiphany as I was trying to follow the dancing women in the work out tape . ( My daughter used to call them “the ladies with the funny underpants”) What I realized aside from the fact that 1980’s work out wear did resemble funny underpants, was that I didn’t have to be good at doing the tape , as long as I worked out consistently.


So every morning, (except Shabbat) I get up early and work out. there are many rewards for this ritual. Some of them come in the guise of spectacular morning skies.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not just cooking

I know, there are times when it seems like I do nothing but cook.

But my hands have not ben involved only with cooking.

I removed the border from this challah cover and replaced something that was just OK with African mud cloth from my stash. The mud cloth is a much better choice.


I knit a cowl for my daughter.

I completed Kyra’s tallit. here are the pinot/corner pieces.


This is completed tallit.



The silk is really luscious.  If I ran the universe I would have made an atara/neckband as well.SAM_3539

Kyra though seemed really sure of what she wanted. I will see if she changes he mind when she comes this afternoon to tie her tzitzit.

OK, a moment about food. last night was the first night of Chanukah.  As I have said before, I am not a big fan of latkes. I was willing to be swayed by the pleading of my family and made a batch.


I also made sweet potato and ricotta cheese latkes. Yes, I made apple sauce. I also made a childhood favorite, cranberry relish.

This is how you make it.

Here are the ingredients.


Then in the food processor…


followed by…


After a few minutes of processing you get…


When it is first made it will be granular with the sugar and the taste profile will be off. I kept kicking myself for adding too much orange. But after a few hours in the fridge, it’s perfect. I suppose you could get fancy by adding a cinnamon stick or perhaps a couple of cardamom pods.  The flavor of the simple version is so intense, so perfect on it’s own  that you can forget about being fancy. My son asked my why I had hidden this wonderful dish from him for so long.


I think there will be much more cranberry relish in our lives from now on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I have a whole world in my bowl

My building's holiday party was this Sunday. I made


meringues flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger and with dried cranberries added for a bit of flavor and texture contrast.

The party was lovely. people were generous in how much they brought to the pot-luck celebration. Most of a gorgeous vegetable platter was left untouched.


I brought it home, roasted all of the vegetables and made soup. My son commented that it looked like industrial waste but tasted delicious.


Actually it looks like the crud I used to clean out of the industrial dish washer back in my dish washing days in college.  It did taste really good despite it’s appearance.


I have Chanukah on the mind and was remembering seeing recipes for cheese kneidlach in some of my older cook books.  There is a tradition to serve dairy at Chanukah because of the Judith and Holofernes story. ( Judith serves salty cheese to Holofernes, he slakes his thirst with lots of wine allowing her to hack off his head and save the Jewish people.)


I have been using substituting arepa flour for matza meal  the last few times I have made kneidlach. Why you ask? for one it’s on the shelf right in front of me. I also love the slight perversity of making a really traditional dish in a multi-culti way. I also like the flavor of corn flour. I had finished the last of the cottage cheese for lunch so I used ricotta cheese instead.  The kneidlach were spiced fairly traditionally  with salt, pepper, parsley, ginger and smoked paprika.


I think I put the kneidlach into the water a bit early. The water ought to have been at a more vigorous boil



They were good though.


The soup was really filling.  I added a big dollop of Korean hot pepper paste to my bowl. I am grateful to live in a place where Eastern Europe, Korea, Italy and Mezzo America call all coexist happily in one delicious bowl.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Food Friday–Only a Vague Idea Edition

There are weeks when I start my Friday cooking knowing exactly where I want to end up.  This was not one of those weeks.

I have to work quickly today because Shabbat starts so early today  it may have well started yesterday. It’s the earliest Shabbat of the year, beginning at 4:11 here in New York.
I thought that I might make a cranberry chicken. But when I opened the fridge I saw half a head of cabbage. So instead I made a vaguely Eastern European chicken with the cabbage, chopped apples and just a hand full of the cranberries because the baking pan was so full. I know I added spices but at the moment I could not swear to exactly what I added. I do have a vague recollection of smoked paprika and black pepper but there were several other spices that I tossed in as well.
All of the cooking tasks need to neatly be layered or it won’t be done in time for candle lighting. so then I put up the challah dough.

My original [plan was to make kasha. But I noticed that I had little bits of various grains in my pantry. I also have some containers of chicken juice topped by fat in my fridge. So I melted some chicken fat in a big pot and then added rice, wheat berries, bulgher wheat and quinoa  to the hot fat and toasted the grains in the fat while I boiled a pot of water. SAM_3513

After the water boiled I added it to the pot of grains amid lots of dramatic hissing and heaving on the part of the grains.  I added the chicken juice and some dried parsley and spices and covered the pot and went away to take care of some other things.
I may cut up some dates and add them to the pilaf before I serve.

We have a guest coming so that calls for dessert.
I made a pumpkin “custard” that is I cooked canned pumpkin with sugar, the sorts of spices one adds to pumpkin  ( cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and black pepper), a tablespoon of corn starch , a cut of sugar, a pinch of salt some water and cooked until the mixture began to boil.

I added some chestnuts and some raisins to the pumpkin because the mixture seemed very 17th century New England to me. The pumpkin mixture is now churning away   in the ice cream maker.

The challah now smells like it is almost ready to pull out of the oven.

I got only a few of my non cooking related tasks done today.

Shabbat Shalom to all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I’m back!!!

With my camera busted I found it hard to even think about constructing a blog post. 

My new camera arrived today, so I’m back. yesterday I took my neighbor to see  the play “Honeymoon in Vegas”. It’s still in previews. If I had to summarize the plot to you, you would think that it is  incredibly dumb.  It is however silly and delightful and Tony Danza is incredibly charming and is even a pretty wonderful singer. Yes, you should see this bit of theatrical whipped cream.

My neighbor had thought that given how the rest of her day was pretty difficult, that it would be nice to go out for a drink after the show. While were were trying to find a suitable place she suggested that we go into some fabric stores. I wanted to show my neighbor a range of places so we first stopped into Beckenstein’s  to see all of their amazing men’s wear.

Then I brought my neighbor to see the visual opposite, Kabbalah Man in it’s crazed glory. We followed that up by a quick stop at Paron.  Paron was selling a few cuts of fabric at silly prices. I was unable to resist..

The striped sweater knit was $4 for 2 yards. The blue is a cotton sheer knit and was $5 for 2.5 yards.
They both smelled a little musty so I washed them both.I have never seen the lint filer on my dryer quite so stuffed with lint.

The blue has been improved by the washing and is now a little less sheer.

The stripe will probably be saved for summer sewing. The blue might be in garment form soon.
I have been working on a the design for the Princeton parochet/ark curtain. I will soon submit my design.

I just took some photos with my new camera and downloaded them but they seem to have hidden themselves in some hidden nook of my computer. I’m off to find them.

Hurray! I found the photos. My camera is living in the past and thinks that it's October.
Here is the latst draft of my proposal.

And now my view in late afternoon light

Monday, December 8, 2014

Keeping Warm

Manhattan apartments are usually so overheated that I wear sleeveless dress all winter long.When I’m home I will wear a cotton or silk cardigan and only put on wool when I am leaving the house.


It’s really chilly out today and our boiler wasn’t working. It was so chilly in the house that I even wore warm clothing in the house.



I’m wearing a wool skirt I had made last winter  out of fabric I had developed a mad crush on. I am wearing a long sleeved shirt and a wool sweater.  I feel very nostalgic for my formative years in New England during the oil embargo where one wore a minimum of three layers  indoors.

Perhaps it was  the indoor temperature of my youth. or perhaps it was that my son was talking about tuna noodle pea casserole as it if was some wonderful exotic dish… But I made one after not having made one since  perhaps the winter I was 18.


I did make this iconic dish not with canned mushroom soup but with a from scratch white sauce and dried shitake mushrooms. I no longer own a deep dish casserole dish. Both of the ones I had owned broke before my oldest was out of diapers. I have not missed the lack of a casserole dish in the intervening 24 years..until today. I decided to make due with a Pyrex 9 x13 pan  known in  my childhood as a kugel pan.


I also baked some pita.Here is a before shot.



This is the after.



The cold weather activities were not limited to cooking and dressing.



This is being made for someone I love on #50 needles.


I feel a little guilty doing extra curricular craft activities when there is work that is coming due.


I had a delicious meeting last night with kid # 3 of a family. I had made a tallit for each of his older siblings. I’m touched that the family came back to work with me again.


As a third child myself I loved working with him. He is keenly aware of budget and is completely ready to drop an idea if it seems overly extravagant.  When I pose two choices to him “ I can do this a more complicated way or a simpler way’  he always chooses the simpler way. He is also a completely out of the box thinker. The tallit in some ways is the most challenging one intellectually that I have ever worked on. It’s full of deep ideas and wonderfully abstract concepts. I’m sure you will see the progress here.


And alas, my trusty camera is dying.  I can only take photos in selfie mode. A new camera is on order.