Thursday, December 1, 2011

Enough is Enough - Parshat Vayeitzei

After 14 years of being bullied by his father-in-law Lavan, Jacob finally stands up for himself. Sure, he was a sucker for spending seven years working for the privilege of marrying Rachel only to be handed her sister Leah and a sap to keep working another seven years to stay with Rachel. But now he is a father to a dozen children and he draws the line - he requests to leave his father-in-law's house with his entire family.

But Lavan isn't so keen on letting a good deal go. He knows that God has blessed him on Jacob's account and doesn't want to loose that blessing. He figures if he starts paying Jacob it will entice the family to stay longer. Jacob is none too pleased with this approach - finding it impossible to calculate the amount Lavan is actually already indebted to him. "You know well how I have served you and how your livestock has fared with me - the little you had before has turned into a lot." Instead he asks Lavan to pay him with a flock of his own. He proposes to remove the few dark colored sheep and the streaked, speckled and spotted goats from Lavan's flock in order to start building his own.

Lavan finds this minor donation reasonable but before he knows it Jacob's flock has exploded in size.  Jacob devised the following strange plan. He cut branches of poplar and almond trees and carved white stripes into them. He sets these sticks by the animals water troughs, which is, in case you didn't know,  the hot spot for flocks mating.  By proximity, and some divination, the animals mating near those shoots produced only dark, speckled and spotted lambs. Before long Lavan's sons start bad mouthing Jacob, claiming that Jacob's assets were all due to their father, and Lavan started acting strangely towards Jacob.

At this point God tells Jacob it's time to hightail it out of there. No more asking permission, just go. Before they can get too far Lavan catches wind of their Exodus and is none too pleased with Jacob slinking off with his daughters and grandchildren and the new flock. He catches up with Jacob and demands to know where they are off to without so much as a goodbye kiss. That really sends Jacob off the handle - "for 20 years I worked for you - 14 for your daughters and 6 for your flock - and time and again you went back on your word to me." It's time to back down. They agree to a pact - of trying to stay as far away from each other as possible - and head on their separate ways. A family feud held at bay.

This week we're making food on a stick - to mimic the sticks Jacob creatively employed to increase his flock. I first thought food on a stick when I saw Joy of Kosher's parsha menu featuring kabobs to remind you of Jacob's ladder. Then, my friend Amy, a devotee to food on a stick, recommended a desert item I wouldn't have considered - pie pops. I am a big fan of kabobs but haven't experimented with too many other foods on a stick. Though I did love it when my dad would bring home teriyaki beef strips on a stick from Kosher Express Chinese food in NJ, there was always something a little dangerous about eating food on a stick - you might poke yourself in the mouth or end up with falling food. But I'm willing to take a chance this week after finding so many intriguing savory and sweet options for food on a stick that one could actually make in your own home. Thanks to Shifra for pie pop recipe resources.

Savory Food on a Stick: Thai Chicken Thai Skewers 
This recipe comes from Rachel Ray (for a veggie options check out Spiced Squash on a Stick)

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup of coconut milk
1/4 curry curry powder or paste
8 scallions

In a medium bowl combined the coconut milk and curry. Cube the chicken and marinate in the curry mixture for several hours.

Discard the white portions of the scallions and cut the green parts into 20 equal pieces. Alternate marinated chicken with scallions on kebob skewers. Broil for 5 minutes on one side and flip, then broil for 5 minutes longer.

Sweet Food on a Stick: Pie Pops (if you're more of a cake person than a pie person try cake pops, or for a low fat dessert try Grilled Fruit Kebobs)

6 skewers or paper lollipop sticks or wooden Popsicle sticks
2-3 inch round cookie cutter(though you can use a more playful shape)
Prepared pie dough - equal to 18 inches in diameter
6 tbsp of pie filling (you could go with apple pie, or take a short cut with store bought apple butter or canned cherry pie. If you aren't pumpkin-ed out try these)
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out dough and cut 12 circles in the the dough - remove extra dough so you are only left with the circles.

Lay 6 circles of pie on a silpat lined baking sheet. Press the sticks into the dough. Spoon a small amount of pie filling into the center of each circle. Cover each filled circle with another circle of dough - line them up evenly and press down all around the edges with the tines of a fork. Poke a few holes in the dough with the fork so that air can escape while cooking.

Coat each pie pop with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool and enjoy.

Past Recipes for Parshat Vayeitzei:
Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Edible Flowers

Stone Ground Molten Chocolate Cakes

Thanksgiving Shots - we had a grand time with our mostly vegetarian Thanksgiving. Those turkey legs were so large that it took us several meals to polish them off - the blackened spice rub, lemon and herbs were the perfect balance on the poultry.

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