Food Friday- Virtually cooking with friends

Often one hears people saying that they wished they lived in a different era long ago. Frankly, I am awfully happy that I don't live in the good old days but am alive right now. I probably wouldn't have lived past childhood in the good old days. One of those icky infections that plagued my childhood would have done me in.

Aside from better healthcare and good sanitation and indoor plumbing one of the reasons I love being alive in 2016 is the opportunity to virtually connect with friends from long ago and far away.

Yesterday, one of my childhood friends was consulting with the Facebook mind-hive about how to flavor "Kismet" vaguely Middle Eastern cup cakes for a bake sale related to her daughter's performance in the play. People, including me, weighed in with their opinions about how to flavor cupcakes that were middle eastern enough to be thematic but not too weird for the kids who would be purchasing them. 

That conversation was still wandering around in my head as I was cooking tonight's dinner. I made chicken. I am hoping to switch my house over to Passover mode at some point during the week so that has been the over riding theme in tonight's meal. There were two wine bottles in the fridge with bits of wine left in them. The chicken was cooked in the wine with mushrooms, juniper berries, celery and mushrooms.

There was tons of juice left in the pan. 
I boiled it down (a lot) and added some cider vinegar and some grape molasses until it looked like

this. I poured that syrupy boiled down chicken juice over the chicken and it will add extra flavor to the chicken as it re-heats for our Shabbat dinner.

Our time in California has gotten me obsessed with citrus fruit. My brother in law has the best fruit growing around his house. 

I felt like I wanted orange flavored rice to go with our meal. I roasted tangerine sections in the oven and then added them to Basmati rice. The roasted tangerine sections are hauntingly good with complex caramelized flavor. I confess I ate many of them before I added them to the rice.

Our vegetable  tonight is roasted Brussels Sprouts.

So when time came to make dessert, I was thinking both about my conversation yesterday with my friend about Middle Eastern sweets flavors and also about how to clean out my pantry in anticipation of Passover. I have created a non dairy ice cream for tonight that I am thinking is sort of Middle Eastern Garbage Pail. Into a base of coconut milk I added rose water, tangerine peel, orange bitters, cardamon, figs, dried apricots, orange juice, what was left of a bag of dried ginger, cinnamon, shredded coconut, black pepper and finally a bit of coffee left over from breakfast. To sweeten the mixture I used maple syrup, because I want to use it up before Passover. Surprisingly, it's actually delicious.  I taste tested the mixture with my super-taster son who suggested we top the ice cream with pomegranate molasses when we serve it. I tried to suggest giving the mixture a name with a pleasant evocation. My son suggested we keep the name Middle Eastern Garbage Pail so there it is, a dessert born of my need to clean out my pantry and inspired by my childhood friend who comes from a long line of fiercely excellent cooks.
Cooking was not ALL I have been doing on this weirdly schizophrenic spring day where the trees are in bloom and it is so cold that most people are wearing down coats.

My neighbor asked me to repair a Torah mantle.One of the side seams had been sewn with nylon thread and had gotten nearly completely undone, both the velvet and the satin lining were undone. They had been sewn with nylon thread and once a couple of stitches came loose the whole thing just let go.  It didn't make sense to sew it up by machine. Getting the wooden top under the sewing machine arm is just a bear and a half. So I stitched both the lining and the velvet by hand. I had to sew the velvet from the outside which emphasized the sewn up seam more than I would have liked. To keep the piece from looking lopsided i embroidered in gold over BOTH seams so it looks intentional rather than a cheesy fix..

It works well enough.

 It is good to be home. The weather in California is much better than it is here in New Nork. The drinking water here though is far superior.  My kids though are here, so water and children tie me to this place.

Shabbat Shalom!


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