Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rules Shmules - Parshat Mishpatim

I think this was the type of Parsha that people had in mind when they asked me what I was going to cook on the weeks when we hit the "bad ones." That would be the portions that have zero story line, are chock full of rules and might want to make a blogger like me cry. But I do have a few tricks up my sleeve, and a few partners in crime, so it's too early in the game to get tripped up. This week I actually really need to credit Sam with the recipe, but I'll tell you more about that in a bit.

Parshat Mishpatim contains an awful lot of laws for a Nation that just got ten big ones (i.e. the Ten Commandments). But they are setting up a community for themselves and there are bound to be civil disputes that they will need guidance on. Who is responsible when one farmer's ox gores another farmer's ox? If you kill someone by accident what happens, or if you kill a thief who has broken in to your home are you culpable for murder? And how will we take care of the poor in our communities?

The answers to all of these conundrums can be found in this week's portion; the ox gets sold and the proceeds are split (unless the ox is in the habit of doing such things and his owner is negligent - then the farmer who owns the violent ox must pay the farmer whose ox was gored for the value of his ox). The original witness protection program starts with safe cities to flee to if you have accidentally killed someone. You do have the right to kill a thief who enters your home, but only if it's during the night (don't try this one at home, the American legal system is a bit different). And everyone will leave the corners of their fields for the poor to harvest for themselves.

So what am I going to make? Cookies shaped like field corners? Nah. Deadly asparagus spears? Uh uh. Ox? Sam says yes.

He has told me more than once about one of the best meals he ever ate - it was on a Shabbat or holiday afternoon in Washington, DC at the home of a friend of a friend. At the famed meal Marcel cooked up a mean oxtail soup. And every time Sam tells the story I say "is that Kosher?" Yes, yes it is, he patiently reminds me. Ok well then it's time for some oxtail soup. But where the heck does one get kosher oxtail (I never recall seeing it in a kosher butcher, hence my skepticism about it's kosher status) and how would I know a good recipe for one when I saw it?

So Sam got on the case and started emailing around for a recipe and I got on my computer. For a few months my friend Miriam has been telling me about this website that she has been ordering amazing kosher meat from called Golden West. Now when I first heard this I didn't order any for myself because unlike Miriam, who likes to order everything she possibly can online - from her entire bedroom set to most of her groceries and all of her kosher wine - I am a leery online purchaser. But I do like a good deal (Miriam is the ace of online deals) and the convenience of home delivery was swaying me. So I tried my luck at the Golden West website and sure enough they carry glatt kosher oxtail! So there is some on its way to me now - thanks Miriam!

And thanks for the idea Sammy. Way to come together friends. Hopefully we'll have a recipe here soon but you'll want to start by getting some oxtails, veggies and stock or wine. Check back soon for the Oxtail Soup recipe.

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