Sunday, September 5, 2010

Last Licks - Ha'azinu - V'zot Habracha

I kind of feel like I'm gearing up for a marathon this week. I should probably charge up on carbs for the tour de force of shopping and cooking (already started), eating and entertaining (six serious meals in a row), and praying and leading (three days of back to back services) that is about to unfold. But ready or not it is coming - take a peak at my Rosh Hashana menus below to see what I've got in the works.

And thank you for voting for me as a Jewish Community Hero - keep it up, I've already got 350 votes in the last few days- thank you!

It's hard to think ahead to the end of the week, and to the portion, when so much is going on before then. And it's hard to muster the creative energy to write a post amidst this marathon. I feel badly that I can't put my all into the last two portions of the Torah which we will read this Shabbat in a double portion - Ha'azinu - V'zot Habracha. But here is the gist; Moses is taking his last opportunity to make sure his message gets across - he metaphorically grabs the nation by the shoulders, shakes em a bit to make sure they've heard what he's been saying to them these last decades.

In case not, Moses opens the portion with a song "give ear, heavens, may the earth hear the words of my mouth." The nation may come and go but the heavens and earth will be around to testify that Moses did instruct them on how to be a successful nation.

This song delineates the kindness God has shown to Israel. It's this kindness that eventually leads the nation to sin because they become so comfortable with everything that is provided for them. God ensures that "the nation eat the fruits of the fields, suckle them with honey from a stone and oil from a rock, butter of cattle and milk of sheep with fat of lambs... wheat as fat as kidneys." At the end, Moses passes away and leaves his pupil Joshua in charge of the nation.

There's lots of great produce in the sentence I quoted above to play with. They could be prepared to serve as a reminder of all the amazing things God provides and how we can be grateful or take for granted. This is an idea, being grateful or taking for granted, is at the very heart of the repentance and return that we reflect on during the high holidays.

To celebrate the abundance of fruit of the field I have a sorbet recipe from my mom - it is incredibly simple and versatile and can be made with any fruit you have on hand or any that you really are grateful for.

Fruit Sorbet
My mom came up with this simple easy after dinner pleaser. The formula is simple- home made simple syrup and puree of any fruit you like. I've tasted her kiwi and mango editions so far and will be coming back for more over the holidays.

Simple Syrup (1 cup sugar with 1 cup water boiled, then simmered for 15 minutes then cooled )
2 cups pulp of fruit blended or food processed
1/4 cup vodka

Note: Very ripe fruits such as kiwi, peaches, bananas, strawberries and mangoes work well in this recipe. Apples and citruses are not choices. When using kiwi or peaches try to add a two to three chopped basil leaves, when using mango add a tablespoon of lime juice, one tablespoon lemon juice to strawberries.

Start by making the simple syrup. Bring the water and sugar to a boil, lower the flame and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Blend 2 cups of your fruit of choice in a blender or food processor and add 1/4 cup of vodka for the last few pulses. The vodka helps it freeze well and doesn't alter the taste (without the vodka the sorbet gets pretty hard and requires a lot more thaw time before eating).

When everything is blended together thoroughly, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until ready to use. Remove from freezer ten minutes before serving. Top with any variety of embellishments such as mint leaves, a dollop of raspberry jam or even another color and flavor home made sorbet.

My Rosh Hashana Menu Plan

Rosh Hashana first night

London broil with citrus marinade
Mashed potatoes with fresh herbs
Green and purple string beans with herbs de province
Apple cake

Rosh Hashana first lunch

Beef Cheek
Red cabbage slaw
Corn bread
Apple rhubard tart

Rosh Hashana second night
New fruit
Lentil soup
Meat stuffed squash
Leftover desserts

Rosh Hashana second day
Avocado chumus
Sun-dried tomato pesto bread
London Broil
Potato leek pie
Roasted squash
Fruit sorbet

Friday night
Beet Soup
Beef Kabobs
Safron rice
Grilled vegetables

Shabbat Lunch
Stuffed red peppers
Bok choy salad
3 types of mushrooms over rice
Kabobs 3 ways- beef and chicken and veggie
Zucchini carrot cake


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