Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Post #50 - Parshat Shoftim

Woo hoo - it's time to celebrate this milestone; Welcome to post number 50 at Double Portion.

I've always been very into anniversary celebrations of smaller milestones. "Guess what today is?" I would frequently ask Sam, my parents, friends or co-workers. Some rolled their eyes, some chuckled, but they all grew to learn that the answer would be along the lines of "It's mine and Sam's two year dating anniversary/ three month wedding anniversary/ five year anniversary of the day we met." True, not everyone gets so sentimental, and I'm not sure why it's such a big part of my nature, but I can't help it. So I must tell you all that this day marks the 50th post, one week shy of the blog's 9 month anniversary, 115 fans on facebook and 1,404 unique visitors to the site!

Now that's some nice stuff to celebrate!

I'm loving every minute of this process of blogging and love every fan. And as I'm getting closer to finishing the cycle of Torah portions (I still have a number of posts to do in the Book of Genesis, since I started midway through) I'm starting to think more about my cookbook project. My dad and I are actually going to start working on a mock up of a few pages. Another great thing is that in the last several months the contents of this blog have leapt out of the bloggospeher when I've had the chance to lead several classes in the community in the spirit of my blog. I've enjoyed looking at text and then eating or making some related food with folks around Boston and Cambridge. As before, I'll keep you informed when I'm doing more classes but also want to say that if people want to bring me to their communities to lead such a session I'd love to talk! Feel free to email me at

Well, onto this week's portion, Parshat Shoftim. That name means judges and there's a lot about judging fairly - there's a local and a national system, judges can't take bribes, can't show partiality - and we hear the phrase "Justice, justice you shall pursue." If a judge faces a difficult case in which he can't reach a decision, he would come to the Temple to ask the Levites and Cohanim for help and then carefully follow the verdict they formulated. These leaders, the Cohens and Levites, are quite the characters. Not only did they give of themselves to the nation by serving in the Temple, aiding in judgments, teaching in communities during their time off from the Temple - they also had to forgo any land ownership.

They are the only tribe not assigned a portion in the land of Israel, instead "God is their portion." Practically speaking, they are supported by the sacrifices that people bring to the Temple. This is a beautiful give and take model of the Jewish community. There are certain parts of the sacrifices designated for the Cohanim and Leviim; the shoulder, cheeks and stomach from an ox or sheep, the first shearing of sheep, and the first of new grain, oil and wine.

I wonder if the Levites enjoyed the beef cheeks. I myself have never had any and I'm intrigued to try some. I have a few on their way to me from Golden West Glatt. I know that beef cheeks are usually cooked for a long time and often braised or served in a stew. But I went searching for something more summer appropriate and found the most amazing looking recipe for beef cheek tacos that I plan to try out later this week when the cheeks arrive. The most amazing part is that the original recipe doesn't call for any cheese- so I don't need to edit around it! There is still 3.5 hours of cooking required for the beef but it's at a relatively low temperature which I think will make it more bearable in this summer heat.

This post is dedicated to all of our community leaders and educators - here's to getting the support you need from your community.


  1. Amen! I love the gorgeous food and the glorious d'var that's happening on these pages.

    Beef cheeks are an ingredient I haven't tried yet - they scare me a smidge. See if you can find Fergus Henderson's "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating." Though it features dishes that are distinctly traif, it's worth a read for inspiration when you're starting into beef cheeks territory!

  2. Thanks Leah!

    I really should've acknowledged the fact that this isn't a normal ingredient and has the potential for a high gross out factor. But I recently read a butchering novel (Cleaving) which made offal seem less foreign. The cheeks haven't arrived yet but we'll see what happens when they do. I'll check our Henderson.

  3. Congratulations! Those all sound like great numbers to me, numbers worth celebrating. What did you end up doing with those beef cheeks?

  4. Indeed! I made an amazing taco with them last night - I'll be psoting an update very soon! Sorry to leave everyone hanging : )