Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shana Tova

I grew up attending private schools in South Florida.  Every year the Jewish students would get certain days off while us gentiles had to drudge through class.  Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was the first of the holidays that my friends had to celebrate while I spent the day at school.  As a child I never knew what Rosh Hashanah was exactly, but I liked how it sounded.  Rosh Hashanah...say it a few times.  It has a nice ring to it.

When Chef and I first started dating and Rosh Hashanah rolled around I decided to make a traditional Jewish meal to celebrate the holiday.  I had no idea what I was celebrating so I googled it and printed up pages of information about the holiday and the symbolism of the food eaten. The Jewish New Year, like most Jewish holidays revolves around culinary tradition.  I made brisket, his Aunt Elaine's apple kugel, stuffed cabbage with buffalo meat ( I have no idea why I used buffalo, it is probably the only chemical free meat I could find at the grocery store). I pulled out all the stops.  I wanted to show his family that this shiksa meant business.

One of the most beautiful things about the Rosh Hashanah meal is the Challah bread.  I mean look at this loaf above, isn't it just gorgeous.  For this holiday, Challah is a round shape, in honor of the cycle of the celebrated year.

We started the meal with a prayer and the breaking of the bread.  I do not know Hebrew, but I love the rhythm it carries as as language.  Lil' Bit watched Chef and repeated the prayer word for word before shouting "Shana Tova" (happy new year) in a toast of Blackberry Manischewitz.  "Mani" as many members of the Tribe warmly refer to it, is a wine that is kosher, blessed by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and it tastes like melted popsicles.

Next course was the mother of of all Jewish comfort foods...Matzah Ball Soup.  Lil' Bit was weirded out by the doughy balls.  She had me remove them and then proceeded to take her little bowl in her hands and drink the broth down.  

Chef and I had a sort of kitchen relay in preparing our main course, stuffed cabbage.  Earlier in the day while the ladies were sleeping I made the sauce and the stuffing.  When he came home from work he cooked the cabbage leaves, stuffed them and cooked them off.  We used Ina Garten's recipe, but replaced the ground chuck with ground turkey.  This picture does not do them justice...they are actually utterly delicious, very easy to make, inexpensive, and perfect for a cold weather meal.

For dessert...apples and honey.  Well, not for Chef.  Apples are lethal to my old man.  Apples and honey symbolize a "sweet year." The tradition comes from medieval times, but the phrase "sweet year" seems more like contemporary surf lingo if you ask me.  

"Sweet year, man.  Sweeeet year."

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