Sunday, October 29, 2006


Since getting onto the subject of purple food, I have been thinking about lavender. According to Gerard this herb brings relief “to them that have the catalepsy, a light migram, and to them that have the falling sicknesse, and that use to swoune much.”

When our Marianne’s sensibilities get the better of her, it is with lavender that Elinor brings her around:

Marianne, now looking dreadfully white, and unable to stand, sunk into her chair, and Elinor, expecting every moment to see her faint, tried to screen her from the observation of others, while reviving her with lavender water (Sense and Sensibility, chapter 28; hat tip: Bennett Lerner)

I can’t really tell from this if Marianne actually drinks the lavender water or if Elinor just wafts it under her nose or uses it to cool her fevered brow. When things really get hairy, Marianne “takes” lavender:

Elinor advised her to lie down again, and for a moment she did so; but no attitude could give her ease; and in restless pain of mind and body she moved from one posture to another, till growing more and more hysterical, her sister could with difficulty keep her on the bed at all, and for some time was fearful of being constrained to call for assistance. Some lavender drops, however, which she was at length persuaded to take, were of use; and from that time till Mrs. Jennings returned, she continued on the bed quiet and motionless(Chapter 30).
I made tea with this lavender from Stokes Farm this week, and you know, I think it just might work. I put about half a dozen branches of lavender in a teapot, and steeped them in boiling water for a few minutes. Try it with some wildflower honey (or lavender honey, if you have some) and chamomile. More soothing remedies are at Weekend Herb Blogging.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fried Coca-Cola

I said fried Coca-Cola.

Friday, October 27, 2006

לכּבֿוד ראָזאַ פּאַלאַניק

די װאָך, שרײַבט זיך װעגן דער פּאָרטוגעזישער שפּראַך. װי אַ סך פֿון ענק, האָב איך געלערנט כּמעט אַלע פּאָרטוגעזישע װערטער װאָס איך קאָן פֿון די דערצײלונגען פֿון ראָזאַ פּאַלאַטניק, די מחברטע פֿון קרשניק־ריאָ, בײַם געררױש פֿון אַטלאַנטיק, און אַנדערע זאַמלונגען דערצײלונגען װאָס שפּיגלען אָפּ פּרעכטיק און בולט דאָס ייִדישע לעבן אין בראַזיל און אין דער אַלטער הײם. קומט'ץ מאָנטיק אין אָװנט אין יוגנטרוף. אונדז װעלן מיר פֿאָרלײענען „צוריק צו די פֿאַװאָלע בערג“ און עפּעס נעמען אין מױל אַרײַן.

שטעלט פֿאָר

אַן אָװנט לכּבֿוד ראָזאַ פּאַלאַטניק
מאָנטיק דעם 30סטן אָקטאָבער, 7:00אין אָװנט

ס'װעט זײַן אַ פֿירלײענונג פֿון איר דערצײלון׃

צוריק צו די פֿאַװעלע־בערג
פּרעמירט מיט דער פֿישל בימקאָ־פּרעמיע
דורכן אַלװעלטלעכן ייִדישן קולטור־קאָנגרעס

בראַזיליאַנער־ייִדישע מוזיק און בראַזיליאַנער כּיבוד


An evening in honor of the
Brazilian Yiddish writer Roza Palatnik

MONDAY, OCTOBER 30, 7:00 p.m.
Workmen's Circle Building,
45 E. 33rd Street NY, NY ROOM 201

Brazilian Jewish Music ­ Tropical Snacks & Wine

The evening will be conducted in Yiddish

Like most of you, I learned most of the Portuguese words I know from the stories of Roza Palatnik. I look forward to learning (and eating) more at this event.

guava marmalade


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Monday, October 23, 2006

A Digression on the Subject of Office Stationery

I find I have become very dependent on post-it tape-flags. I understand they are terrible for paper and I do try to remember to take them out once I have done with them, but wow, these little guys are sooooo cool. I have planted packets in every room. You never know when you might need one.
The flags come in red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. My old floppy disks came in the same five colors; so did my file folders. Those colors are all nice enough, but when I was in school, we had six colors, three primaries and three secondaries. What happened to purple? Has purple been downsized? Outsourced? Is it because of the recession or the war?
Some purple cauliflower at Union Square this week. I have not tried this variety of cauliflower yet. No more the green ones or the (camera-shy) orange. Do they stay purple after cooking?
Purple peppers fade to green when you cook them. Maybe that's the post-it problem. Purple vegetables (at least according to people who sell the seeds) are high in anthocyanins, which are among the most powerful antioxidants. Read about other colorful choices at sweetnicks.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

ברױט און שאָקאָלאַד

אַז גאָט גיט ברױט, געבן מענטשן פּוטער, און אַמאָל, שאָקאָלאַד. אַז מען פֿאַרגעסט אָנצוגרײטן אַ יום־טובֿ'דיקן דעזערט, איז װאַרעמע ברױט מיט שאָקאָלאַד זײער אַ גרינגע און געשמאַקע ברירה. אַקלײן ביסל זאַלץ גיט צו טעם און מאַכט זײ נישט זאַלציק.

ברױט און שאָקאָלאַד

ברױט–למשל, איטאַליענער ברױט

פּוטער, מאַסלינע בױמל, אָדער קאָקאָנוס בױמל


גראָבע זאַלץ

צעשנײַדט'ץ דאָס ברױט אין דינע רעפֿטלעך און באַשמיר זײ מיט פּוטער אָדער בױמל. צעשנײַדט'ץ דעם שאָשקאָלאַד אין קלײנע שטיקלעך און שטעלט'ץ אַ פּאָר שטיקלעך שאָקאָלאַד אױף יעדעס רעפֿטל ברױט.

באַקט'ץ זײ אָפּ אין אַן אױװן אױף 350 גראַד צען אָדער פֿופֿצן מינוט. באַשיט'ץ זײ מיט אַ ביסל זאַלץ.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New York Fossils II: Pigeon-Toed

Union Square West is a walk of fame for pigeons. Immortality at last for our feathery neighbors.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Very Big Food II

Well, I daresay; I mean, good heavens! Can they grow esrogim in Alaska? Will we be prepared when they take over?

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fruit and Beauty

Detail of Eve holding an esrik from the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck. 1425-32.

I got an email tosday asking about how to make esrik-infused vodka. I have two answers to this question. The first is fairly straightforward:
Either leave the esrik whole, or shave off thin strips of zest with a vegetable peeler, and infuse the zest (or the whole fruit) in 16 ounces of vodka in a covered, non-reactive container for about twenty-four hours. This recipe appears in Yiddish here.
The second answer is:
Do not do this! I have now heard from two individuals, one of whom worked on an esrik farm, that we should under no circumstances eat our esrogim. Because there is so much pressure for the fruit to be as beautiful as possible, the esrogim are drenched with toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides to an even greater extent than typical in conventional agriculture.

Citrus Medica, the esrik, or ethrog, or (according to this publication) le citron des Juifs, is just as beautiful as all get-out. Look at these gorgeous pictures here. The tradition is to select the most beautiful esrik possible, along with beautiful branches of date palm, myrtle, and willow, and to shake a bouquet of the four plants in what may be the most videogenic of all Jewish rituals.

My own feeling is that a fruit soaked in chemical toxins is way less beautiful than an organic esrik would be, and I don’t even mean I need to eat the esrik or make the vodka, but that such an esrik would be more beautiful for its own sake. Now I understand that I am a nut, but what do you think? Might normal folks drum up some demand?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Sincere Pumpkin Patch

The most sincere pumpkin. The plant in the foreground is burdock, or gobo, the roots of which are also an antioxidant-rich treat valued in Japanese cooking.

I spent the first few days of yontif on the Chocolate Family’s ancestral farm visiting the Glaistig and the Wee’an. During moyed we went pumpkin picking at Soon’s Orchard, a beloved local landmark. The Wee’an selected this twenty-two pounder.

These orangey, decorative pumpkins are not usually my first choice, but I’ve cooked them, and they are just fine. Use the pumpkin of your fancy to make Pumpkin with cornbread stuffing or Pumpkin Koyletsh (Pumpkin Challah).

This is exactly the same candy display they had when the Glaistig and I were wee’ans ourselves. Well, not exactly; some of the flavors have changed. They used to have horehound. Soon’s was the first place I encountered horehound candy outside of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.More adventures on the road at Sweetnicks.
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Friday, October 06, 2006

אין װאָס גײט הדרת

מיט אַ פּאָר יאָר צוריק, האָט אַ חבֿר פֿון ארץ־ישׂראַל מיר געזאָגט אַז מע זאָל בעסער נישט קאָכן אָדער עסן דעם אתרוג נאָך סוכּות צוליב דעם װאָס מע שפּריצט זײ אָן מיט שרעקלעכע פּעסטיצידן און ערביצידן לשם הדרת.

איך װאָלט געהאַלטן אַז אַן אָרגאַנישער אתריג איז גאָר אַ סך הדר'ער װי אַן אתריג װאָס איז אײַנגעװײגט געװאָרן אין אַלערלײ סם־המװת'דיקע כעמיקאַלן.

אָט, אַ דאַנק אַרי קינסבערג, איז אַ װעבזײַטל פֿון אַן אתרוג־פֿאַרם.

לערי לענאָװ איז אױך מישבֿ הדרת.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

פֿאָסילן אין ניו־יאָרק

אַ טראָטואַר לעבן אַ פֿאכערבלאַט
A sidewalk near a gingko tree.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Painted Boletes and What I Did With the Rubiya

These bodacious boletes are from Honey Hollow Farm. I used them in a stew of black and white beans for the New Year. I had a feeling when I saw these mushrooms that they would be an auspicious addition to a Rosheshone table. While mushrooms are not specifically mentioned in the Talmud along with the five vegetables to be eaten at the New Year, they share with these vegetables the attribute of legendary rapid growth. They are also delicious.
On salting beans
Almost every recipe that calls for cooked beans will tell you not to salt the beans until they are done. The putative reason for this practice is that salt will “toughen” the beans. Intimidated as I am by near-unanimity, I have never found salted beans to be tough, and they seem in my considerable bean-cooking experience always to be better than beans cooked without salt.

Rubiya with Guinness-Marinated Tofu and Boletes

1 one-pound block of fresh tofu brand tofu, or other fresh handmade tofu (I like silken tofu too, but it is too refined for this recipe)

1 bottle of Guinness Extra Stout, with two tablespoons of shoyu or another kind of soy sauce, 1 rounded teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds crushed but not ground.

Olive oil
One medium or large onion, sliced into thin half-moons

2 tablespoons flour

12 ounces (2 cups) rubiya or yin-yang beans (or calypso beans or black-eyed peas)

1 pound painted boletes or other mushrooms (for about 12 ounces caps), sliced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 28-ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes (I used muir glen)

2 or 3 chiles

1 branch mild rosemary

1 tablespoon paprika

1 bunch parsley (1 cup minced leaves)

salt, pepper, honey and more paprika to taste

Cut the tofu into cubes or oblate paralellopipeds
and place the pieces in a shallow non-reactive container. Ideally the tofu pieces should just cover the bottom. Pour over the tofu one bottle (twelve ounces) Guinness extra stout or other stout or dark beer. Add two tablespoons shoyu or other soy sauce, one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and one teaspoon brown mustard seeds which you have crushed but not ground. Cover the container and marinate the tofu overnight (You can skip this step in an emergency).
Soak the beans
for several hours or overnight (or skip this step). Discard the soaking water; put the beans in your bean-cooking pot, and add two bay leaves, two teaspoons salt, fives whole, peeled garlic cloves, one dried chile pod (or a fresh chile pod), and twelve black peppercorns. Cover the beans with fresh water, and set over heat to cook until done. Cooking time will vary.
Heat oil in an iron skillet
and cook the sliced onion until tender and translucent. Sprinkle flour over the onions and stir well until it loses its raw flour smell. Pour in about 2/3 of the Guinness-marinade while stirring. You can probably go ahead and add all the Guinness. In another skillet, cook the bolete caps in oil over high heat. Crumble about one teaspoon dried thyme (six fat pinches) into the mushrooms. When the mushrooms are well-cooked, add them to the onion-Guinness roux. Raise the heat and add the tomatoes, crushing them with the spoon as you stir.
In the skillet recently vacated
by the mushrooms, heat some more oil and fry the tofu pieces until they are nicely brown on two or three sides. Now combine the fried tofu, the vegetables with roux, and the cooked and drained rubiya in a large heavy pot. If they look too dry add a bit of bean-liquid or some reserved Guinness marinade. Add the chiles, a tablespoon of sweet paprika, some salt and pepper, a branch of rosemary (less if it is not quite mild), and parsley. You may also want to add a little honey or sugar at this point. Simmer over low heat for about an hour, and taste for seasonings.
Any kind of flatbread is especially nice with this. Rice too.

I will probably make soup with the reserved mushroom stems and bean-liquid. See Sweetnicks for other soul-warming creations. Darker beers have more antioxidants. Really.
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Herb of the Year

Congratulations to Kalyn on the joyous occasion of a New Year for Weekend Herb Blogging. I have concluded after much difficult deliberation that the herb without which I cannot live, If I must name just one, is flat-leaf parsley, or Italian parsley.

The Yiddish word for this kind of parsley is petrishke, and this word figures in the common expression "hefker petrishke" or "anything goes." Translated literally, this phrase would mean "stray parsley" or "wanton parsley."

I hope you will no longer have to live without some of my most beloved parsley-centric recipes. Keep your wanton parsley from going astray with:
Persian Herb Pie
Dill and Chard Frittata
I really like dill too. This dill-scented soup uses parsley root, a neglected but deeply satisfying vegetable.
And if you read Yiddish, try this amazing Spinach and Herb Cake (Translation pending).

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