Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snack Pack - Parshat Vayigash

If any of you might be getting together with your families this week and think there could be some family drama, wait till you get a load of this week's Torah portion. Joseph and his brothers have a family reunion in the previous portion, only they don't know it. A quick recap: Jacob sent his sons to Egypt for grain during the famine, and Joseph, who to them is merely the grand vizier of Egypt, recognized them as his brothers. He took his opportunity for revenge and accused them of being spies. Then he forced them to bring their youngest brother (Jacob's other favorite son) Benjamin to Egypt whereupon he frames Benjamin for stealing.

In this week's portion, Parshat Vayigash, brother Judah intercedes on Benjamin's behalf, and tells Joseph, if you must take someone to jail let it be me, because Benjamin and Joseph were the apple of my father's eye. "We have already lost Joseph so I can't pain my father with another loss." Joseph, amazed at his brother's protectiveness, breaks down and reveals his identity. The brothers are shocked and pretty freaked out. Joseph assures them that he holds no grudge, that everything was God's will. He invites them to bring their father and move to Egypt for the remaining five years of the famine.

Joseph sends the brothers on their journey back to Canaan to get their father Jacob, but not without giving them some "tzeidha laderech" some "food for the journey" first. I picture this being a hearty, crunchy granola that could keep well while riding on a camel for a few days. It would even still have it's crunch as they approached their father and delivered the news he never dreamed he would hear "Your son Joseph is alive and well in Egypt." Not only that, your son is a big shot there, in charge of dolling out all of the stored grain to get everyone through the famine. Not quite a doctor or lawyer, but still. Soon the move south is complete and with Pharoh's blessings the whole family is settled together in Goshen, a nice little suburb in Egypt.

Before I impart my granola recipe, I need to share a quick tzedah laderech story. This phrase is still used in modern Hebrew to mean a snack for the road, and when I lived in Israel people were always offering me leftovers to take as "tzedah laderech." Well I must have let this idea get to my head because one weekend, my best friends Devo and I were going to a family's home together and had gone to some great lengths to bake them an angel food cake (with only the amenities of a dorm room available to us). In the taxi cab on the way from my school to our hosts' home (a 15 minute ride at most) we decide we needed some tzeida laderech, a quick snack on our trip. We didn't think anyone would notice if we picked some crumbs off the cake to nibble. One thing lead to another and before we knew it we were tearing hunks out of that cake and devouring it. When the taxi deposited us at their home we were left holding a plastic blue cafeteria plate from my school with only a few crumbs on it. Embarrassed by the evidence of our eaten gift to them, we tossed the plate into a nearby dumpster and rang their doorbell empty handed. That year I gained 15 pounds - so a word to the wise, go easy on your tzedah laderech.

I dedicate this recipe to Devo, Avidan, Shefa and Nachliel, who we just spent a wonderful Shabbat with, and who will soon need some tzedah laderech when they make aliyah this summer (I miss them already).

Tzedah Laderech Granola Over Ice Cream

This recipe is very adaptable - it can easily be halved to make a smaller amount and you can really substitute any kinds of oats, nuts and fruit depending on your preferences or what you have on hand.

4 cups of old fashioned oats
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of honey
1 and a 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
2 tbsp of flour
1 tbsp of flax seeds
2.5 cups of sliced or chopped nuts such as almonds or pecans
1 and a 1/2 cups of dried apricots, cherries and cranberries (or any combo you prefer)
Soy or regular ice cream (For soy, I like Trader Joe's brand and the So Delicious brand)

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Toss the oats, nuts, flour, flax seed and cinnamon in a big bowl. Do not add the fruit as it will overcook in the oven. Whisk the oil and honey in a small bowl and then pour the liquids over the oats and stir with a spoon until well coated.

Pour the mixture onto a 13 x 18 inch baking sheet that is covered with a non stick mat (such as Silpat). Bake for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring, until it turns golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let the ingredients cool. Add the dried fruit to the mixture and stir it in a bowl. Then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

You can serve this over soy or regular ice cream for a delicious dessert on Shabbat, or with milk for breakfast during the week, or eat it plain as a snack!


  1. great story re: eating your "snack" on the way to your hosts...your ice cream looks very decadent, too!

  2. Thanks Nachshon - I'm sure that many of us who have spent time in Israel have crazy food stories. I'm so glad to see you comment here!