ט"ו בשבט הגיע
When you grow up Jewish in New England or in Northern Europe, you are always aware that while your physical body is experiencing one thing, the Jewish calendar forces you to be experiencing something quite different in your spiritual life.
Yesterday we had the biggest snow of the season, tonight we begin celebrating TuB'Shevat, the new year for the trees and the beginning of spring.
The song in the video is burned into my consciousness. If prompted, I could probably sing it while I was in a coma.
During all of my years attending yeshiva, Tu B'shvat was celebrated with assemblies, singing and each student was given a little baggie that contained, one tangerine, one mini box of raisins, one small piece of rock hard carob and a little gummed label that said that this little baggie was a gift given in memory of Clara Leif.
Like any school environment where the screws of discipline were just a bit too tight, any opportunity that allowed for acting out was taken advantage of. Those little Tu B'shvat bags usually ended up with tangerines tossed at one another, the rock hard bits of carob being used as projectiles and all of us blacking out our teeth with the raisins
When I was in 5th grade we had a substitute teacher on Tu B'shvat. He taught us this song and an equally terrible dance to go with it. This version has been tweaked into the melodic, trust me, not so lovely when sung by a bunch of 5th graders.
There is a tradition on Tu B'shvat to eat the seven varieties of produce from the land of israel, those varieties are a specific legal category of produce but they are
as shown on this series of Israeli stamps. any Yeshiva kid could rattle of the seven species for you in Hebrew.
Because Facebook makes it's business to know everything about you, this showed up in my feed several times in the past few weeks. Shivat minim babka. I kind of liked the idea of the Shivat Minim babka, but babka is usually not all that good without butterfat. I decided to make the fruit filling part of the babka and then see what developed.
While the fruit mixture was simmering I had a sewing disaster that is too upsetting for me to discuss here right now. (When I am less upset I will share the particulars of the disaster.)
I chose to wallow in my misery by baking. I thought that rather than a babka, a layered cake, a layer of cake, a layer of filling topped by more cake would be a good thing. I love the idea form the babka of using barley flour in the cake. I ground up some barley in my coffee grinder, I made a three egg cake. the batter was loose than I had anticipated so I let it bake with no fruit for a while. After my sewing disaster, nothing was really working for me...so eventually I just plopped in the fruit. it was to heavy to be supported by the fruit, so i marbled it into the partially baked cake batter.
After the cake had finished baking I trimmed off one side. my son and I tasted. The barley hadn't been ground up enough. The texture was pebbley. My son noted that the cake was missing an element. After a bit of discussion we decided that if I heated up honey and added some booze and then drizzled it over the cake it might end up having the feel of a Middle Eastern syrup infused semolina cake. We used to be a household that owned at least a coupe of bottles of cheap booze. I know you are not supposed to cook with a good single malt scotch. I used about a jigger and a half of our least fancy single malt, the bottle was nearly empty.
Today my cake looks like this
So in keeping with the rest of the holiday we have challah made with wheat and olive oil. The chicken is made with dates (and curry), our starch is a barley and wheat pilaf.