This past Thursday and Friday were Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Jerusalem was completely abuzz with preparation for the holiday – especially since the holiday would be immediately followed by Shabbat, meaning essentially all stores would be closed for three days! Noah and I went to the grocery store three times in preparation (partly because we were hosting a 10-person meal so we needed lots of food), and the stores were definitely chaotic with extremely slow moving lines – it takes a long time to ring up a huge cart stuffed with groceries!
We had plans to have guests on Thursday night, so I did all the cooking on Wednesday before the holiday started. Like Shabbat, most major Jewish holidays carry prohibitions against doing work, using electronics, spending money, lighting and extinguishing fire (which many interpret as including turning lights on and off). While on Shabbat all cooking is prohibited, one is allowed to cook during most of the other holidays. You might be wondering…how can you cook without lighting fire? While you can’t light or extinguish a flame, you are allowed to transfer flames. Thus, someone could leave on a low burning flame on their stove and turn up the heat when they want to cook something. Alternatively, one could also light the gas of their oven with a transferred flame so long as they don’t light the fire through the stove’s mechanics. It’s a moot point for our apartment because the stove is electric. We did, however, still use a couple long-burning yahrzeit candles to transfer flame from for lighting candles in the evening.
Anyways…back to the dinner! I planned a dairy menu for the meal which included…
Grenada Salad featuring chickpeas and pomegranate seeds (recipe here):
Pomegranates are a food traditionally eaten during Rosh Hashanah, and they also carry a more general symbolism within Judaism. It is said that they have 613 seeds (corresponding to the 613 mitzvot). Additionally, the pomegranate is considered a ‘new fruit’ during Rosh Hashanah time, meaning it is a fruit that has just come into season and typically hasn’t been eaten recently. This makes it a perfect candidate for fulfilling the obligation to eat new fruits during the holiday. The new fruit is eaten with a special blessing that reminds us to appreciate the coming of a new season and our ability to be alive to experience it.
While pomegranates are delicious (and beautifully symbolic!), they can be a pain to remove seeds from! Luckily, I found a great tip for pomegranate seed-removal in Woman’s Day magazine. Simply fill a bowl with water, cut the pomegranate in half, and turn it inside out under the water, using your fingers to break the seeds apart from the flesh. Once the seeds are freed from the pomegranate, drain the water and you’re all set!
It truly only takes a minute and is SUCH an easy alternative to the juice-spraying wrestling match involved in other methods of seed-removal.
Beet and feta salad:
I roasted my beets dry, in foil, until tender and then topped them with 200 grams feta cheese and 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
Sweet noodle kugel (modeled from this recipe):
I followed the linked recipe pretty closely except I substituted greek yogurt for sour cream, reduced the amount of cream cheese to 5 oz., and used about 1.3 lbs. of very thin egg noodles (all I could find in Israel!).
Green Beans with Mustard Dressing (recipe here):
I followed the listed recipe almost exactly (only changes were that I soaked the shallots in red wine vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar and I omitted both salt and cayenne pepper from the dressing). It was delicious! This was definitely one of my favorite things at the meal, and I highly recommend it!
Spinach, mushroom, and egg bake (a variation of my Dandelion Greens Egg Bake recipe):
I used 200 grams spinach, the tops of one bunch scallions, 1 package of chopped mushroom, 8 oz. cheese, and 18 eggs for this recipe:
And after baking for 45 minutes at 350º:
And finally, curry tuna cakes (inspired from the recipe here):
I used whole wheat flour and omitted the salt and pepper. I made a big batch, so in total my full recipe included 7 eggs, 7 cans of tuna, 4 Tbsp. whole wheat flour, 4 tsp. curry powder, and 1/2 cup chopped scallions.
Wow! So much food!
Noah set a beautiful table…
…and cleaned the apartment:
Which involved mending the broom which essentially snapped in half. Luckily, Noah is extremely resourceful and did a quick-fix job using old cereal boxes as a splint:
Side note, this sort of fix-it job reminds me of my dad’s home repair style (Dad, remember that drawer in Tulsa?).
Guests generously contributed wine, challah, green salad, salatim, desserts, and a carrot vegetable side dish to the meal. It would sure be a lot of work to host every week, but it was well worth the effort to have friends over and enjoy a holiday meal together. 🙂