Food Friday–reporting on experiments

I begin this post with the great wall of Challah.
I had thought that the batch I had made before Rosh HaShanah would last through Yom Kippur but I was mistaken. Now, I hope that this batch will take us through the beginning of Sukkot.
The previous batch with the addition of apple butter was OK. Unfortunately the texture was changed from a nice muscular bread  dough to something rather cake like. This was not what I go or in my challah. This is an experiment that I will not repeat.

When I had gone to our local market to buy a shehechiyanu / a new fruit for the holiday the pickings were really slim. Part of it was that we eat a fairly diverse bunch of fruits in our regular diet. I also think that last year our local market went nuts with weird fruit and mostly it didn’t get purchased.

The one  item in the market that looked like something we had never eaten was a squash that looked something like this squash. It was not quite a yard long. We kept it in a vase on the dinner table and I pickled half of it for the second day of the holiday.

My cousin loved the pickled vegetables and asked me what I put into my brine. This is her answer. The clear liquid is vinegar, there is a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar and a bunch of whole spices. I boil the mixture for a bit and then strain out the big spices before pouring over the vegetables. You can use the same spices that I used or put in spices that you like better, or the ones you have in your pantry.
I will get more vegetables to toss into the brine.

I made kasha. Follow the directions on the box of Wolff’s kasha. You mix the kasha with a beaten egg and toast over a high heat.

Just before you start the kasha toasting you put a pot of water up to boil.If you have planned your time well, sauté a mess of chopped onions and sliced mushrooms in chicken fat before you start toasting the kasha grains. If you forgot, you can always do your sauté after the grains are cooked  and mix the vegetables  in later. SAM_5266

I believe that the recipe on the box calls for using chicken stock in the kasha. I don’t have chicken stock at hand. I do have containers of chicken juice from previous weeks of chicken cooking. the fat rises to the top of the container and serves as an airtight seal. You can store your chicken juice in a fridge for a few weeks before it goes bad.  I used the juice from two batches of chicken.

Kasha isn’t complete with out bow tie noodles or as they are known in Yiddish  varnishkes. The thought of using three pots of make one dish seems excessive to me. I don’t have a staff of dishwashers.

I remembered how those packaged Middle Eastern pilafs used to include the pasta with the grain in their pilafs.( I used to rely a whole lot more on packaged goods thirty years ago. )The directions on those boxes of pilaf would have you toast the grains and the pasta while you put the water up to boil. So I toasted the varnishkes  along with the kasha grains. It worked. The pasta cooked along with the grain. One pot less was used.

Too much produce in the fridge makes my husband anxious. We had a bunch of aged apples and plums. So I made a wet apple and plum cake.
I know that there is probably a lovely name for such cakes. I have no idea what it is. This is the sort of cake that if you have an Eastern European grandmother who baked ( I did not) this was the cake she would make without a recipe. The fruit inside is cooked but damp, the cake is sort of like a compote surrounded by a dough.

I make this cake without a recipe. It is sort of halfway between a pudding and a cake. The cake broke while I took it out of the pan. But I just re assembled it on the plate.
If I were ambitious I might sprinkle the top with confectioners sugar.

I gave birth to my second child on a Thursday. I was still in the hospital on Shabbat. This was my second kid. The level of excitement about a new baby was less, and so was the number of visitors to the hospital. I had had no visitors all day. The food the hospital served me was inedible. The nurses insisted that apples weren’t kosher. I was hungry and feeling sorry for myself.

My friend Barbara called me. She came by with a batch of junky magazines and a box of wet apple cake from the German bakery in her neighborhood.

Visiting hours were over. The nurses wouldn’t let Barbara in to visit me. But they brought me the junky magazines and the wet apple cake that Barbara had brought me.
I ate the apple cake with my hands and leafed through the magazines feeling very loved.  It would have been even better to hang out with Barbara in person  but I no longer felt alone in the hospital.

Shabbat Shalom!


  1. I just had to come back to ask if you would teach us how to make gravalax? Is that the same thing as lox? I recently had my first bagel & lox at a New York style deli near Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. I'm obsessed with that flavor now and looking for great delis in the Atlanta area. Thank you so much for sharing your food as you write. It all looks incredibly delicious.

  2. I will be happy to. Give me a couple of days though.


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