Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hoshanah Rabba

It was our last opportunity this year to plead for our lives, for the earth for all of us before those gates of heaven closed.

It always feels so close to the edges of pagan practice, so primal so ancient. We circled with our lulavim and etrogim. We called out Hoshannah! God! save us!

We whomped our willow branches. The room filled with the green, green smell  of the willows.

The year has now truly begun.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Food friday

The sweet baby in yesterday's post made tonight's chicken.
It's cooked in za'atar and lime. My husband deeply misses our kids from their baby years. Perhaps because he was working long, long hours in those days and I was home with the kids, I much prefer hanging out with the adult  version of those sweet babies. I am also grateful to have my son cook while I am still under the weather.

I made a lazy side dish of potatoes and vegetables roasted in last week's chicken juice. This is what I did.

A little bit of chicken fat from last weeks chicken juice and a cut up onion, popped into the oven as the chicken cooks and I cut up more of the vegetables. My friend Alan probably would have used more chicken fat, or at least saved the rest to use on other food. I tossed the rest of the fat. Sorry Alan.

Potato wedges are added to the pan along with tomatoes  and mushrooms ( not yet pictured)

Here is the container of chicken juice, minus the fat. I plopped that on the pan and let the mixture cook until it was done.

Here it is after maybe 10 minutes of actual labor on my part. The oven did the rest. Like I said, lazy vegetables.
My nephew is joining us tonight. He loves whities, ( meringues in normal English, but whities in my family's lingua franca) so I made a batch. this time with chunks of bittersweet chocolate and slivers of dried apricot, and scented with orange extract and orange bitters.
right out of the oven
And now plattered. My late mother was a great believer in pretty cupcake liners. I am also serving some of last week's plum tart. If I were my mother, there would be a dessert course of small cakes followed by a second dessert course of a big cake to be cut with great ceremony. In addition to those two dessert courses there might also be a pre-dessert course of a fruit platter or stewed rhubarb or home made apple sauce. My nephew will just have to make do.

Chag Sameah!

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

From a recently unearthed box of photos

This photo was taken in December of 1991. It's of my older son. I suppose that if you aren't me and look at this picture you see a sweet faced baby boy with a giant smile on his face.

Of course I see the sweet face, and that killer smile ( and of course my son's beloved Blue Blanket just behind him). I also remember that day. It had come after months of  of one childhood sickness after another. On the day this photo was taken my son was really sick with the flu. He had at this point lost quite a bit of weight. He would have an occasional well day, but most of his days he had a bad ear infection or was struggling with his breathing.

And still there he was completely sweet tempered with that delicious smile. (This is a photograph so you can't hear his laugh though I can't help but hear that laugh when I look at this picture) 

Is it any wonder that I tell my son that I wish that he has kids who are like him, so he could experience just what a sweet kid he was.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Some reviews and some views of fall.

Many sewing/craft blogs out there seem to be run on the review economy. That is, manufacturers send free stuff to the blog owner who gives a positive review about the free stuff and then the blog owner is then sent more free stuff to review... 

When I write about a fabric store or a book in glowing terms, it's because it is something that I love, not something that I have been paid to love.

Several weeks ago I received an email from a Dutch sewing pattern magazine company asking me to review their magazine on my blog. 

Made By oranges produces two magazines,
which features patterns for women and
 which features clothing for kids, from preschool to pre-teen.

European pattern magazines, unlike American pattern magazines typically feature a pull out section with all of the patterns for all of the garments in the magazine.You get a whole lot of bang for your buck. 

There are a fair number of pattern magazines based in Europe. The magazine with widest distribution is Burda which appears in several different languages. Burda generally features clothing that is fairly fashion forward, or sometimes just fashion weird, but I am a big fan of Burda.

There are also pattern magazine that feature the sort of clothes regular people wear every day, comfy tunic dresses, cozy coats, elastic waisted skirts cute sweaters.Those are the sorts of garments featured in both of these magazines.

We might read Vogue magazine but actually wear clothing from The Gap or Ann Taylor.These magazines are the pattern version of the basic clothing with a tweak that real people actually wear 97% of their lives.

The pattern drafts are printed in the all sizes and many patterns overlapping style common to all of these European magazines. It will seem overwhelming to trace a pattern until you actually do it. Trust me, it isn't as bad as it initially appears. The directions for sewing up the garments appear in English, Dutch, German, french and Spanish. Directions are spare but understandable, and the English seems less stilted than it does in Burda.

It is also possible to download PDFs of some of patterns, you then just print the pattern on regular printer paper and tape the pattern pieces together.

There is seriously cute clothing in both magazines. If you decide to purchase either of these magazines you will get a 25% discount if you use Sarah as your discount code.I was surprised at how quickly the magazines shipped from Holland.

Just before Rosh HaShanah I was contacted by Maria Bywater of sewjewish. She wanted to know if I could review her book.

This is a great book for beginners, both people new to Jewish practice as well as people new to sewing.  Maria's sewing directions are incredibly clear. She has some really nice ideas about how to do potentially tricky stuff ( like mitered corners) in a simple way that won't have you cursing up a blue streak.

I particularly loved Maria's thoughtful and thorough explanations of Jewish customs and laws. Maria has spent much of her adult life in countries where her family was the only Jewish life in the entire country. You can see both her commitment to creating Jewish life for her family as well as her fine ability to explain they whys and the hows of Jewish ritual objects to people who are completely unfamiliar with Judaism.

I'm glad that I got to see this book and delighted that I have had the opportunity to get to talk with Maria.

And now a a moment on the weather. Often Sukkot in New York is cold. I had assumed that with Sukkot starting so late in October it would be one of those years where you would eat dinner in the Sukkah wearing a down coat and mittens. It is instead balmy. When I was outside today most people were wearing summer clothes.

This morning as I began my workout I saw the most beautiful sign of autumn. A tree on a nearby rooftop, that had turned color. The sunlight had hit the tree just right. it was a moment of magic.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Getting ready for Sukkot

This is the holiday intensive season of the year.  
 My husband and son went to the Lower East Side to buy a lulav and etrog.  Some years the etrogim available are a little bit sad, greenish shriveled and not quite full of הדר, splendor and glory.  This year's etrog is pretty magnificent.  It's hard to imagine a better looking etrog.
Dear friends from Israel are joining us tonight. I made chicken, trying to recreate the mind-blowing chicken my son made a few weeks ago with paprika, cayenne pepper and lots of freshly squeezed lime. If I get close to the fabulous chicken my son made I will be happy.

We are also eating these roasted Brussels sprouts. My son and I prefer them more charred. My husband prefers them less charred. I think this is a good compromise.

The challah still has to bake.
The oven is currently occupied with a plum tart (almond crust, and a layer of pureed apricot under the plums), and will be baked as soon as the tart is done.
This plum tart reminds me of my late friend Herta. This isn't exactly her plum tart, which was more classically German. Herta would have approved of the the neatly placed plum slices and the pairing of the almond crust with the plums. She would have done a marzipan lattice over the fruit. I can't approach Herta's elegance but I do think about her as I put mine together.

! חג שמח

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Food Friday and a bonus Art-Deco lobby

Yes, I'm still sick. This cold is like one of those slow moving storms. It isn't that the storm itself is that strong but the fact that it keeps hanging around makes it bad.

So, we didn't have company and it was just a simple meal for the three of us with enough left over for additional meals.
Tomatoes are roasted to add to salad.

I also had to leave something off at a friend's apartment. I love my friend's lobby. It looks like the interior of a jazz era ocean liner.

Even the elevators are beautiful.
Isn't that dark red enamel work amazing?

The interior of the elevator cabs match the lobby. It's rare to find the original cabs in an art-deco building. Often the elevator cabs had bad upgrades( Formica) in the 1960's or 70's and the beautiful wood work is lost.
It's always nice to see my friends but their lobby is always an extra bit of wonderful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Preparing for Yom Kippur

The days before Yom kippur are often filled with advice for coffee drinkers . people are told to taper down their caffeine consumption so they can get through the holiday in relative comfort.

I am a coffee drinker In fact my family knows better than to talk to me before i have had my first sip in the morning.  I don't taper down my coffee consumption before the holiday.

In the biblical instructions for Yom Kippur we are told v'initem et naphshoteichem your soul needs to suffer. I use my physical discomfort, my hungry belly, my caffeine headache to remind me to look inwards at all of the things I have done wrong over the course of this past year.

Fasting isn't easy. It isn't particularly pleasant.  It is however a tool, a reminder to review what we have done over the past year and figure out how to do better in the coming year. The process is hard, unpleasant but the result is so often transcendent.

To prepare for the fast I made another vat of stuffed cabbage.
Most of it is put away in the freezer and will be enjoyed in the coming weeks.  Some of it will fuel our day of introspection.