It's very hot here. In meal planning terms, it's cold soup weather. In order to bake challah and not sweat buckets in our apartment, I made challah on Thursday evening. I had great success with my yud-beis pull-apart loaf. This time I used a smaller pan, a 9" layer cake pan with lower sides. I used parchment paper and greased the sides. I didn't overbrown the bottom and it looked gorgeous. My son helped me make the dough so there were lots of raisins in every loaf. This even though he also ate the raisins out of the dough as he went along.
For Friday evening (just the family) we had:
Eggplant curry with tamarind
green salad (baby arugula, Jerusalem artichokes, cucumber, red pepper, oranges)
mango for dessert + storebought cookies
My husband and my son went out on an errand right before dinner time. My son was pretty hungry when he arrived. He stood up on a kitchen chair in front of the salad bowl and ate most of the orange sections and some of the pepper slices and cucumber pieces out of the salad bowl. I didn't stop him. Should I stop him from eating fruits and vegetables? Are you fainting with envy, my sisters in mothering two-year-olds? In fact I was happy, I don't really like red bell pepper. I only bought the outrageously expensive organically grown thing because I know he likes them.
We had a really great meal together. My son said "Amen!" to the blessing over the wine for the first time we could remember. The eggplant was a little too sour (I made it as written) so I added some sugar to it. Hey, it might be less healthful, but we are Jews. According to my main woman Claudia Roden, sweet-and-sour flavors are a hallmark of Jewish cuisines. That doesn't mean just plain sour, you know? I really liked the website where I got the recipe. I found it a lot of fun to prepare, very simple. Unfortunately the author hasn't updated since last year, but there are seven years of recipes on there. So perhaps I'll be back to try some more. (I hope that if she comes to visit me here, the original author isn't horrified that I sweetened her recipe.)
Speaking of Claudia Roden, the theme of my Saturday lunch was Claudia Roden:
Cucumber and avocado soup (recipe follows)
Lentil salad (recipe follows)
Mashed Zucchini and Tomatoes (Claudia Roden, New Book of Middle Eastern Food)
Georgian Spinach Salad (Claudia Roden, Book of Jewish Food)
pineapple and oranges + storebought cookies
The cucumber soup is based on a recipe from the Millenium cookbook, but I made a few changes that I think improve the dish:
Cucumber and Avocado Soup
2 large cucumbers
1 cake firm, water packed tofu
juice of three lemons
1 tablespoon white miso
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
handful fresh mint leaves (or cut open one mint herbal tea bag and use the innards!)
2 scallions, chopped
Peel or pare and chop all vegetables and put it all into a food processor. Purée until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl that has a good cover. Add enough water to make the right consistency and taste for sourness. It should look and taste like it was made with whole milk yogurt.
1 1/4 cups dried green lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablepoons raspberry vinegar
1 orange, peeled, sectioned and then chopped
1 teaspoon coriander powder
salt and pepper
Boil the lentils in plenty of water until they are soft but not mushy. This could take 20-30 minutes on the boil, depending on the age of the lentils. Drain them and put them into a bowl. Add the oil, garlic, coriander, salt and pepper while the lentils are still warm. Stir and let cool just a little. Then add the vinegar, orange pieces and cilantro.
I didn't have a fresh pomegranate for the spinach salad, and one of my guests is allergic to nuts, so I changed the dressing slightly. I added pomegranate molasses to the oil and vinegar, and also dried pomegranate seeds from the Indian food store. I let the seeds sit in the dressing overnight before I poured it over the salad. It was pretty credible. I didn't wash the spinach enough and it was embarassingly gritty. I haven't made that mistake in many years.
Luckily our only guests were our very close friends, a couple that we have decided should be our son's guardians in our will. We talked about serious health stuff, also about dealing with our moms, but there was also a lot of joking. I am so happy we have them in our lives. She's the person whose picture should illustrate the word "integrity" in the dictionary. I think his word might be "focus" but I'm not sure. Anyway they are coming back tomorrow after yoga class to help us clean our apartment. They have given us a lot of help with this place in the last weeks, it provides me with an excellent pretext to invite them for many meals.
I was going to invite some new people from schul but felt exhausted by the heat. Some excuse! You know you are doing something right when your Jewish communityfaces a problem making a minyan every year on the day of Gay Pride. Yes! Readers! My toddler eats vegetables and my Jewish community is welcoming to gay people! My apartment is not clean but my life is very good!