On Friday evening we went to a potluck. It was sparsely attended because of the extreme cold, but we came with our toddler and had a good time. I made one of the south Indian rice noodle dishes from Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking, and added some lightly steamed broccoli. (Another truly excellent cookbook, you cannot go wrong with Julie Sahni. I love the way she tells you to have the pot lid handy in case your mustard seeds spatter when you add them to the oil.) The dish is bright yellow with turmeric, which does great things to broccoli when you add it. It did not do good things to our kitchen table and floor when my husband accidentally spilled the cup of water, turmeric and salt solution I had prepared to go into the dish. So much for the whole mise en place concept!
On Saturday I thought we were going to have a few guests, but we had just one. I made the challah from the Peter Reinhart book. The person who gave me the book said that the challah recipe wasn't sweet enough, so I increased the sugar from two to five tablespoons. I was kind of dubious about the instruction to put two whole eggs and two yolks in the dough and then brush the crust with the two egg whites. In general challah comes out best when you brush the top with egg yolk. This time, I guess because of the yolk in the dough, I got the dark shiny crust with just the whites. This is why Peter Reinhart teaches bread baking and I don't. Bo knows challah.
The rest of my menu:
Great Northern bean and sundried tomato soup with spinach
Barley with sprouted chickpeas
Sweet Potatoes Morrocan Style from Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Chocolate Chestnut Torte
I made up the bean soup--it was two cans of organic beans (on sale) about six sliced up sundried tomatoes, a very well carmelized diced onion and a spoonful of Organic Gourmet soup stock zutz, all heated with water in my slow cooker overnight. I steamed the spinach and chopped it and had it ready at room temperature to add to the soup. (You know, so I wouldn't be cooking the spinach in the soup.) The barley was bland and needed lemon and salt. The tofu was great, I baked it in Bragg's Liquid Aminos, sesame oil, lots of freshly grated ginger, and the end of a bottle of Baron de Herzog rosé. (I keep forgetting that I need to measure for blogging.) Of course the Claudia Roden dish was delicious, her recipes are so reliable.
We had a great, freewheeling discussion with our guest. She is a seasoned political organizer and we talked about how white people can be allies to people of color in political struggles. One point that she made is that people who know the history of their own oppression are a lot more likely to have empathy for others. I don't know if this is true. It's true of me, I know I can make analogies between Jewish experience and the experiences of other peoples and immediately get what things are like for them.
I had that experience while I was cooking for Shabbos, listening to this radio show. (My husband and son were at story hour at the library!) The show was about disappearing languages and featured some people who are trying to save their Native American languages. Some white guy phones in from Western Mass or wherever and gets, I don't know, 15 minutes of airtime to pontificate about Heidegger and stuff, about how language is about communication and it doesn't really matter if you use English or Lakota or Welsh or Tutchone. This after the Tutchone speaker had explained that her parents' generation were forcibly sent to boarding schools as children, schools where they were beaten when they spoke their native language. I guess he wasn't listening, or something. I was yelling at the radio. I kept thinking about Avraham Sutzkever and his work to save the YIVO collections in Vilna. Then of course the woman on the radio, very quietly and not angrily, explained that her mother could tell jokes in Tutchone that could not be explained in English. At that point I started to cry.
But of course on Shabbat you have leisure to consider that perhaps yelling at the radio is not the best way of effecting social change. I'll have to let you know if I make any progress in figuring out a better one. If you have any ideas, let me know.