Thursday, July 15, 2010

Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing - Parshat Devarim

We're onto the last book people! Devarim, or Deuteronomy, reviews a lot of what is found in the previous four books of the Torah. Moses looks back on his time with the nation and gives advice for their future in the land of Israel (when he will no longer be their leader). In this week's portion, Parshat Devarim, Moses recounts the path that they have taken to get to this point- poised on the other side of the Jordan, preparing to cross into the land. He recounts the nations they fought to get to this point, the new judicial system that helped him deal with the vast nation and his adjustment to Reuven and Gad's tribal request to remain on the other side of the Jordan for the sake of their livestock. It has been quite a journey for the nation and their leader.

I just spent two weeks leading a wonderful group of people on a CJP Young Adult Mission to Israel, exploring from Metulah in the North to The Dead Sea in the South. We stood in the room where the State was declared in Tel Aviv, kayaked near Israel's Northern border, volunteered in our sister city of Haifa, sweated it up Masadah to watch four people in our group have a bar/bat mitzvah, and we stung our eyes and stained our bathing suits with mud in the Dead Sea. We ended the trip with some spirituality, relaxation and reflection in Jerusalem - Shabbat, Yad Vashem and the Western Wall Tunnels. After the Mission Sam and I stayed in Israel for five more days, hanging with family in Kirya Tivon (near Haifa) - whose hospitality is top notch - then with friends in and around Jerusalem - whose kids are the cutest!

On our way back to the US we spent a fast paced 48 hours in Paris, where my favorite impressionist paintings hang in museums and whose entire cafe culture is tailor made for my favorite sport- people watching. Spain may have won the world cup while we were there but I spent more than four hours people watching from cafes around the city where ALL of the chairs are set facing out to the street (not towards one another)- watching chic Parisians, fellow tourists, students, Jews in kippot and sweet old couples make their way through the streets.

Aside from being with amazing people and seeing great sites on this trip, I ate very well. I want to dedicate this post to everyone on the 2010 YLD Mission who I enjoyed all this great food with (and tons of good times), and to my best travel buddy Sam - it was amazing to be with you in Israel and Pari!

There are two things mentioned in this week's portion that bring me back to a great night on our trip. One is that the Dead Sea is mentioned as part of the borders that the nation had conquered "From the Kineret to the Dead Sea" (chapter 3, verse 17). The second is the livestock of the tribes of Reuven and Gad, for which they request to remain on the other side of the Jordan but agree to help conquer the land of Israel. On the night I'm thinking of, we were staying at the Dead Sea and were taken to an amazing dinner in the desert. They were grilling all sorts of meat, and the chicken was some of the best ever. I'm not sure if chicken is technically considered livestock, but I am smitten with Israeli chicken- which is by and large deboned dark meat and drum sticks (Sam loves dark meat and I have been known to remove bones from chicken thighs and legs to make him kebobs). We ate to our hearts content that night and countless others and will miss all the grilled foods. So here are two recipes for you this week and a few pictures from our trip.

I make these often in my broiler. The recipe if from Real Simple Magazine and I love the tangy ness of the apricot jelly with the balsamic vinegar.

Adapted from Jeff Nathan's Family Suppers: Bringing the Ones You Love to the Table

For the short Ribs

3/4 cup of soy sauce

3/4 cup of water

1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar

2 tsbp of sesame oil

6 garlic cloves, crushed with a good quality garlic crusher

Pinch of ground black pepper

6 scallions, thinly sliced

6 lbs of short ribs

Mix all of the above, minus the ribs, in a measuring cup or small bowl. Place the short ribs in a glass or Pyrex baking dish and cover with the marinade. Let it sit overnight. Flip the ribs and let marinate another 4-7 hours. 

Separate the ribs into batches of like-sizes; group the big ones with the big ones, medium with medium and small with small. Turn on the broiler. Start with the batch that has the smaller size ribs and cook for 4 minutes on each side. Next, cook the medium batch for 6 minutes on each side and then the large batch gets 7 minutes per side. Keep these in an oven at 150 degrees until you serve them.


  1. Ah! Your writing and your pictures make me want to go to Israel with you.
    Israelis call deboned chicken "pargiyot", and it is justly considered best food that can be offered, grilled or not. If we're not having a bar-b-q, I usually roast them in the oven, after marinating them. If you want, I can share a few recipes.
    But how do you debone the dark meat? (I only know how to buy it this way...)
    Thank you so much!

  2. Thanks so much for the comment Moria! It was so nice spending time with you this Shabbat. I'd love some of your pargiyot recipes. De-boning a chicken leg-thigh is no easy task- I started out using a knife to accomplish the task but now I actually use my kitchen scissors that go with my meat knives- it gives me more control of how much meat I get off the bone.

  3. Hi Elisha, we had a great time too!!! And I really enjoy reading your blog. Try this: marinate the chicken in lemon juice, honey, soy sauce. put in a dish that can be put in the oven. saute onion in olive oil, add a little garlic, and than a few sliced peppers (both yellow and red). put the vegetables on the chicken. add black onions, dried tomatos and slices of lemon. cover and put in the oven for 30 mintues. I didn't give measurements, because I figured you would play it by ear. behatslaha! Moria

  4. I want to hear more about this Paris trip!

  5. Oh boy have I got a lot to tell. I wish I was still there. We managed to fit in a lot in our short time there.