The Jew And The Carrot

Looking Back — and Forward — to Schav

By Joelle Abramowitz

Photo: Joelle Abramowitz

Sometimes we need to encounter something new to help us unearth a remnant from the past.

“This week, I got sorrel,” I told my mother. Each week I’d recite to my mother what had come in my CSA share and what I ended up doing with my vegetables. The sorrel was notable because somehow, on my third year of being a CSA member, I still had not yet encountered sorrel for myself.

After receiving my box of vegetables, I tasted a small piece of the sorrel. It was as I’d expected, but more: lemony and sour and wonderful. Having only a few ounces of sorrel, I decided to make a sorrel-onion tart. Indeed, the bites with ample sorrel were quite lovely and refreshing.

I related my sorrel adventure to my mother.

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Crumbs, Kosher Cupcake Chain, Folds for Good

By Mimi Dwyer

Getty Images

(Reuters) — Cupcakes still lined the counter of an empty and unlit Crumbs Bake Shop on 42nd Street in New York City on Tuesday afternoon, the day after the largest U.S. cupcake retailer announced it was closing.

Crumbs, which specializes in oversized cupcakes and went public in 2011, shuttered its nearly 50 locations in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Gina Mackey and Raquel Baquero of Queens stopped by the store after they heard the news that it would be closing.

“I don’t do too much cupcake stuff because I don’t find them to be very moist. But this was a moist cupcake and I did enjoy it, so it’s a shame it went out of business,” said Mackey. “Had I known it was going to go out of business, I would have come and gotten my last Crumbs cupcake.”

“And I would have gotten my first,” said Baquero, her daughter.

“When my friend posted the story they were closing, I was like, ‘Well, I just blew it,’” Baquero said. “I just walked by to confirm that they were really closed.”

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America's 50 Best Fried Chicken Recipes

By Richard Leong

(Reuters) — Lee Brian Schrager’s passion for fried chicken led him to travel around the United States and convince celebrity and local chefs to share their recipes in his new cookbook “Fried & True.”

In the book co-written with Adeena Sussman, Schrager shares more than 50 recipes for fried chicken from his contributors including double fried chicken and another with Asian-inspired ingredients.

The 55-year-old founder of the Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals spoke to Reuters about what makes the best fried chicken and sharing recipes.

What is the secret to making great fried chicken?

Lee Brian Schrager: The right temperature with the frying oil. If the oil is too hot, it’s going to be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. If it’s too cold, it will get too greasy. Starting the oil at 370 degree Fahrenheit (188 degree Celsius) is the key.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chicken Schnitzel

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Shakshuka Is Israel's Summer Favorite — for Dinner

By Vered Guttman

Shiran Carmel/Haaretz

(Haaretz) — All has already been written about the famous Israeli breakfast of a large chopped Arabic salad, eggs, labneh, feta and other cheeses, Greek style yogurt and bread: that it’s fresh and healthy, that it’s Middle Eastern, that it’s just too much.

Everything was said, except the truth, and the truth is that Israelis have this exact meal for dinner, not breakfast.

Many Israelis still have heavy, hot meals at lunch. Kids come back from school early and have their schnitzel and mashed potatoes. Dinner is light and includes the dishes listed above.

Summer, when light cooking or no cooking at all are a plus, is the best time to try and follow this diet. Tomatoes and cucumbers are at their peak this time of year and yield the best chopped salad. To the regular chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions add grated radishes, chopped peppers and fresh mint and finish with lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Offer good bread to absorb all the goodness accumulating at the bottom of the salad bowl. You can also add a simple salad of squashed avocado with chopped egg, green onions and olives to spread on bread.

Finish this Israeli-inspired dinner with a fresh watermelon. You’ll leave the table full but not heavy. You might even sleep better!

There’s one staple that requires cooking, but still fits summer dinners (or brunches) really well, and that is shakshuka. Shakshuka is a Northern African dish of cooked eggs in tomato and red pepper or paprika stew, usually with the addition of hot pepper. It was brought to Israel by the Tunisian Jewish immigrants and is popular both in Israeli homes and restaurants. The most common version is made of cooked tomatoes, crushed garlic and paprika. Some recipes include sliced chorizos, some call for feta cheese, and there’s also a green version of Swiss chard or spinach stew with eggs cooked in it is gaining popularity as well.

Shakshuka made with canned tomatoes can be quite good, but there’s really nothing like one made of fresh summer tomatoes. The dish has such few ingredients- it relies on the tomatoes alone, and those must be of the best flavor. Try mixing different heirloom tomatoes- but any good, red, ripe tomatoes will work well.

With slices of ciabatta or sourdough bread, this is a whole vegetarian meal on its own. I just wish I could say it was cheap, since no meat is saved. Unfortunately, if you’re living in America, tomatoes, even in the summer, can be as expensive as meat, or even more expensive- something I still cannot understand. But you’ll be comforted to know you’re following the MyPlate recommendations of the USDA, and serving your family real goodness in a skillet.

Below are two versions for shakshuka, one is a classic tomato-paprika base with roasted eggplant, the other is a summer version of Swiss chard and fresh corn.

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Your New Favorite Summer Treat: Halva Popsicles

By Molly Yeh

My love affair with halva began in the cafeteria of an IDF base, surrounded by pounds upon pounds of halva bars and a bunch of my best Birthright friends. We sat for an entire afternoon, unwrapping the bars, “quality controlling,” and making enough halva bread pudding to serve a literal army.

Logic would have it that after all of that quality controlling, I’d have gotten sick of it, but it really just made me want more in a way that I now hoard it and try to sneak it into everything. Muffins, pie, even my birthday cake this year was filled with it. Such sweet, nutty, fudgey goodness is only made better by the fact that it brings back wonderful memories of my trip to Israel.

This summer, my favorite way to enjoy halva is in popsicle form. Chopped up pieces of halva scattered throughout tahini and honey yogurt, and then frozen and embellished with chocolate? I could eat a whole batch.

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Bens Deli Gets Montreal Museum Show

By Michael Kaminer

It may not have built a brand as big as Schwartz’s, but Bens Delicatessen looms large in the history of Jewish Montreal — and in the city’s cultural lore. Once a working-class hangout, Bens grew to serve smoked meat and soups to celebs from Michael Jackson to Leonard Cohen to Catherine Deneuve in its ‘60s-‘70s heyday.

Now, Montreal’s McCord Museum is paying tribute to the delicatessen – which closed in 2006 – with Bens, the Legendary Deli, a compact but fascinating exhibition about the eatery, founder Ben Kravitz, and a bright, shining moment in Montreal history.

“Bens itself was a great portrait of Montreal,” Celine Widmer, the exhibition’s curator, told the Forward. “An institution that endured the time of a human life span, Bens was always much more than just a restaurant. It died out after 98 years of existence, but remains an integral part of our collective memory. It became iconic. It was one of those very special places that a city experiences quite rarely.”

The exhibition showcases more than 100 objects, including posters, architectural plans, photos, counter stools, dishes, utensils, menus, and original recipes donated by Kravitz descendants, who had contacted the museum in 2007 about staging a show. A fascinating video tribute to Bens comes in the form of a two-minute spiel by superfan (and Montreal native) Leonard Cohen pulled from 1965 docu Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr. Leonard Cohen.

Like any great deli, the attraction of Bens wasn’t just food, which even regulars would admit was so-so. Because the restaurant was the rare non-drinking establishments open late in Montreal, its cachet as a slightly louche, latenight hangout snowballed – think a smaller Katz’s. By 1960, Bens’ staff of 80 was serving 8,000 customers a day.

“When nightlife was centered downtown, back in Montreal’s Sin City days, American entertainers would stop in there to sober up or start their day,” said Bill Brownstein, the Montreal Gazette columnist whose 2006 book on Schwartz’s became an acclaimed stage musical. Ben’s ascent also mirrored Montreal’s, Brownstein said. “The period when Bens at its prime was an era when we were the financial and cultural hub of the country,” before political unrest shifted the center of gravity to Toronto, Brownstein explained.

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Michelle Bernstein’s Watermelon Salad

By Michelle Bernstein

Michelle Bernstein’s Watermelon Salad

Adapted from ‘Fried & True’ by Lee Schrager With Adeena Sussman

Ingredients

1 1-3/4-pound wedge watermelon, rind removed and cut into medium dice (about 4 cups)

2 large beefsteak tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds), seeded and cut into small dice (about 2 cups)

1 large English hothouse cucumber (3/4 pound), peeled and cut into small dice

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tbsp torn dill, uncut

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 pinch garlic powder

1 pinch onion powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine the watermelon, tomato, cucumber, feta, and dill

  2. In a small bowl whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic powder and onion powder; season with salt and pepper to taste

  3. Drizzle half the vinaigrette over the salad and toss very gently

  4. Add the remaining dressing to taste and gently toss again


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Yotam Ottolenghi's Seeded Chicken Schnitzel

By Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Seeded Chicken Schnitzel with Parsley-Caper Mayonnaise

Adapted from ‘Fried & True’ by Lee Schrager With Adeena Sussman

For the parsley and caper mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cup sunflower oil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon salt-packed capers

For the chicken

4 skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 lbs. total), each piece cut into 3 long strips

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

3 tablespoons white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (or extra white, if not available)

2 tablespoons flaxseed

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, roughly chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, roughly crushed

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup sunflower oil

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Does Vegan Mean Healthy?

By Molly Oberstein-Allen

When I decided to go vegan this past February, I expected to feel healthier and to have a clearer conscience regarding my dietary and shopping choices. I found that while it was easier to eat food that technically fit the requirements of being vegan than I had imagined, it did not always mean more healthful or ethical food. While one can be mindfully vegan, it is also easy to eat a lot of unhealthy and unethical foods that don’t contain animal byproducts such as Oreos. I also found myself eating much more soy than I previously had, which made me bloated and gassy. Of course, I could have taken the time and effort to plan a more conscientious diet, as friends of mine have, but I most often found it easier to take the easy way out and go along enjoying my tofu-wrapped Oreos stuffed with Twizzlers.

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My First Real Fourth of July — and Plum Cobbler

By Nora Cohen

I am 23 years old but this year marks my first real Fourth of July.

You may be wondering what ‘real’ means. Well, in 2000 my family emigrated from my home country Venezuela to the United States. Fourteen years of paper work later, I am proud to say that I am celebrating my first Independence Day as an American citizen!

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Travel Channel Cancels Adam Richman's New Show

By Rachel X. Landes

Jewish Brooklynite and TV foodie, Adam Richman of “Man v. Food” may need to find a new network. His new show, Man Finds Food, was supposed to start July 2, but has since been indefinitely postponed by the Travel Channel in the wake of an instragram controversy over body image.

Earlier this month, Richman lost 70 lbs after struggling with his weight since the start of Man v. Food, and posed for Cosmopolitan UK. June 20th, he posted a picture on Instagram of himself in a pair of ill-fitting suit pants with the caption, “Had ordered this suit from a Saville Row tailor over a year ago. Think I’m gonna need to take it in a little… #thinspiration.”

The post has since been deleted, but not before the critical comments began. Here’s a screenshot, courtesy of Grubstreet:

Fellow Instagrammers quickly noted that “thinspiration” also was the favored hashtag on po-anorexia blogs and by others proud of eating disorders.

In response to the negative comments, Richman lashed back. “Grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you,” he told one commentator.

To another, he said, “Give me a f—king break. If anyone acts like a c—t I’ll call them one. It’s not misogyny, it’s calling a spade a spade… If my use of the hashtag offended you, it was unintentional & for that I’m sorry.”

Later that day, he responded via Twitter, “Yes. I’ve responded to the internet hate recently with vile words directed at those hating me. I am sorry, I should know better & will do better.”

This tweet was later deleted, but Richman later said in a written apology on Good Morning America, “I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight. I’m incredibly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”

So far, there is no premiere date for “Man Finds Food.”


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Adam Fleischman's Chocolate Fried Chicken

By Rachel X. Landes

ChocoChicken’s chocolate fried chicken and duckfat fries. // Twitter/KristieHang

Looking for a new way to eat all-American food on Independence Day? Try any of Adam Fleischman’s restaurants.

Who is he, you ask? Why, the founder of the famous Umami Burger, of course!

In 2009, Umami Burger was a single burger joint on La Brea Avenue, in Los Angeles. Since then, the chain has exploded to more than 20 locations in New York, Florida and California. After his first year in business, he had four restaurants that garnered him about 1 million dollars a month.

When Umami Burger opened in New York City, the line curved around the block.

Known for its gourmet burgers like the Truffle Burger, with house-made truffle cheese and glaze, the Hatch Burger, with four types of green chilies and house cheese, and the Umami Burger, with Parmesan crisp, shiitake mushrooms and house ketchup, Umami Burger has revolutionized burgers. “When I created the Umami burger, I wanted a forward-looking burger,” Fleischman said in an interview. “I wanted a burger that was global and that had all sorts of modern influences.”

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Deer in the (Jewish) Headlights

By Ben Harris

Thinkstock

Countless anxieties attended the planning for my first season farming. Losing my entire crop to deer was not among them.

Neither of the Northeastern farms where I had worked previously worried much about these herbivores. One farm was large and could keep losses from deer to a minimum with a shotgun. The other was on a main street in a semi-suburban environment where the deer pressure was fairly low. In both cases, a sort of Cold War stalemate prevailed. There were occasional border skirmishes and the requisite resort to arms. Losses were incurred on both sides, but never at catastrophic levels. The balance of power always prevailed.

But from the moment I began working our fields, I’ve gotten hints that we shouldn’t be nearly so casual. Connecticut is deer country. One of our towns gave its name to a disease borne by deer ticks. Neighbors would shoot me dubious looks when I shrugged in response to questions about my deer control strategy. Nonspecific references were made to a lost pumpkin crop a few years back.

One farmer a few towns over advised me in May to stop my planting and focus all my energies on protecting what I already had. If I had to do it all over again, he told me, I would invest in some serious fencing. I ignored him.

Even the deer tracks I’d notice each morning in our freshly plowed beds weren’t enough to light a fire. The tracks would pass by beautiful, tender green leaves that were left entirely unmolested. They were toying with me, I would say, waiting for the moment of perfect delectability before they decimated the whole crop. I didn’t really believe it was so, but somewhere in back of my mind I feared it might be.

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Greens and God: Finding Judaism in a CSA

By Nora Cohen

Jenna Smith

White Russian kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, mustard greens, Chinese cabbage, cherriette radishes, and garlic chives fill my grocery bags. Delivered from the Northern Catskills to Lower Manhattan, this vegetable share is the beginning of my CSA experience in the city. I begin washing the bunches of greens, excited for the first flavors of the summer. Muddy water runs from the leaves into the sink.

Standing there in my studio in the middle of Manhattan, I can’t help but think about the farmer who planted these vegetables, the laborer who picked them, and their short journey from the farm to my counter. As an urbanite isolated from the food system that sustains me, and as a Jew with the Shmita year in the horizon, I cannot help but to draw connections between my participation in a CSA and my religion.

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Injured Fan Says Stadium Hot Dog Toss Not Kosher

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) — This lawsuit may cut the mustard.

A longtime baseball fan has persuaded the Missouri Supreme Court to revive his negligence lawsuit against the Kansas City Royals over a detached retina he claimed to suffer when a hot dog tossed by the baseball team’s mascot struck him in the face.

The court said the trial judge erred by letting jurors consider whether being struck by a hot dog was one of the inherent risks of attending a baseball game. It said this was a question of law that the judge should have decided.

John Coomer said he was struck during a hot dog launch, a regular feature of Royals games in which the mascot Sluggerrr either threw or used an air gun to shoot hot dogs to fans from the roof of the visiting team’s dugout.

Coomer claimed to have seen 175 Royals games before the Sept. 8, 2009, incident at Kauffman Stadium. He had moved near the dugout to get a better seat after rain thinned the crowd.

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Israel's 12 Sweetest Treats — And Where To Find Them

By Rotem Maimon

Photo by David Silverman

(Haaretz)— Israel has made great strides in the numbers of patisseries and boulangeries that have opened here, and many of the top pastry chefs have honed their craft abroad, but is there such a thing as a real Israeli dessert? We asked chefs from 12 leading restaurants to describe their most Israeli desserts. Taste and decide for yourself.

1) Catit

The dessert: olive oil sable, blood orange crème, ginger crème, tapioca tuile, buttermilk foam, rose petals and hibiscus dust, olive oil and white chocolate ice cream.

Pastry chef Hila Perry: “The olive oil is Israeli, as is the citrus – the blood orange – that surrounds it. And the buttermilk always reminds me of that childhood treat, Daniela whipped pudding, in its best form.”


2) Herbert Samuel in Herzliya (kosher):

The dessert: Mount Bracha tahini. Tahini sorbet, espresso granite, sesame tuile.

Pastry chef Shlomi Palensya: “We wanted something Israeli that would fit the rules of kashrut and also appeal to tourists. We started with a tahini sorbet then we thought ‘What would make it more interesting?’ So we made a sesame tuile and added coffee granite, and it immediately became one of our signature dishes.”

Photo by David Silverman


3) Kitchen Market:

The dessert: Israeli cheesecake with black olives, strawberries and yogurt sorbet

Pastry chef Yossi Sheetrit: “This cheesecake is something you can find in any Israeli household, except that we’ve added a little twist. The flavors are very Israeli: cheese, olives and olive oil.”

Photo by David Silverman


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Summer Camp Coffee Cake

By Jennifer Stempel

This recipe originally appeared on The Nosher. For weekly recipes, sign up here.

Like so many of my peers, Jewish summer camp played an integral role in my Jewish identity. It’s where I developed my appreciation for Israeli dancing, a deep respect for my surroundings in nature, and not to be outdone, my love of Shabbat breakfast.

Every Saturday morning, before all the campers joined for services, we’d convene in the dining hall for a plentiful feast of crumbly and perfectly spiced coffee cake. It wasn’t elaborate, but it sure was special, and it was certainly on the list of things I looked forward to year after year as I awaited summer’s arrival. If I ever longed for a little taste of home while I was at camp, I just had to wait until the end of the week, since the combination of cinnamon and sugar in the crumb topping would remind anyone of home. Because of this experience and because it only gets better the day after it is baked, to me, coffee cake is synonymous with Shabbat morning, summer vacation or not.

Of course, as an adult, summer camp is no longer really in the cards for me anymore. These days, when we get through hiking the trails of all the nearby national forests, my husband and I long for a more tropical getaway. Since our next vacation seems light years away, I came up with a recipe inspired by my Cuban heritage that will be sure to satisfy until we can get ourselves to the nearest island.

With its taste of the tropics, my Pineapple Coconut Coffee Cake hits the spot for a Shabbat morning treat. It has the cinnamon and sugar that I always remember from my camp days, but its layer of crushed pineapple adds a mild zing and just the touch needed to keep this cake moist for days. The coconut added to the crumb layer, suggested by my friend Dolly, acts as a tropical kiss and adds a nice crunch.

Next time you’re in the mood for a reminder of Shabbat mornings at camp, or you’re longing for a quick getaway, try a bite of this coffee cake, and you won’t be disappointed.

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Spreading the (Chocolate and Sesame) Love

By Shannon Sarna

(JTA) — I love all things that involve chocolate, sesame or taste like halva. Nevertheless I was skeptical when Soom Foods wanted to send me a jar of their Chocolate Sesame Butter. I have nutella already, and I like it just fine. But try it I did. And so did my two year old. Let me say: I am totally in love. It is rich, a little salty and I like to pretend its super healthful since sesame is supposedly so good for you.

I didn’t have a chance yet to bake it into anything yummy, but I am sure it would go great inside rugelach or make a fabulous frosting on cake. I did have time to try it out in a post-workout smoothie and it was divine. The result was a chocolatey, slightly savory smoothie that really satisfied my craving for a milk shake.

But perhaps our favorite way to eat it was right out of the jar on slices of apple or mini pretzels as an afternoon snack.

And now through June 30 Soom Foods is running a “From the Jar” contest to feature their fans’ photos eating the chocolate sesame spread straight from the jar. You can enter on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter by using the hashtag #fromthejar with a photo of yourself or someone you love eating Soom Chocolate Sesame Butter straight from the jar. So go ahead, get messy and have fun with those pics.

You can also check out Soom Foods’ full line of products and order straight from Amazon.

Chocolate Sesame Banana Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup ice

1-2 Tbsp Soom Foods chocolate sesame spread

1/2 banana

1/2 cup lowfat milk

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (optional)

Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until desired smoothness.

Serve cold with a straw.


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Caplansky's Serves Up Beer With Pickle on Rye

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Zane Caplansky shows off his new beer in his eponymous Toronto deli./Renee Ghert-Zand

Forget the lime wedge or orange slice. This beer comes with a pickle garnish.

Caplansky’s Delicatessen in Toronto has introduced its own brew, called Deli King Spiced Dark Rye Lager, and it really does taste better accompanied by a sour dill.

This is not only because the beer is brewed with rye (in addition to barley). It’s also because it is flavored by the proprietary brisket rub deli man Zane Caplansky uses to make his delicious smoked meat (sort of like a deli sandwich in a bottle).

“The vinegar of the pickle cuts across the hoppiness of the beer,” Caplansky told the Forward, referring to a lager’s bitter, tangy taste. “And in any case, garnishing a beer with a pickle just goes with the chutzpah and humor I’m known for.”

Although some diners might order a beer to go with their deli sandwich, most people do not usually associate Jewish delicatessens with alcoholic beverages. Many delis are not even licensed to sell them, and even at Caplansky’s, which has been licensed since its opening, most patrons ask for a dark cherry soda or gingerale.

“Newsflash: Jews don’t drink!” Caplansky, 46, said with tongue in cheek. In fact, two years after the deli opened, he moved the bar to the back of the restaurant so that the meat slicing station could be in a more prominent position.

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Sex, Violence — and Veggies

By Ben Harris

Thinkstock

Last night, the rubber finally met the road.

After months of work and worry, catastrophes averted and triumphs achieved, we took eight kinds of vegetables out of the ground, washed and packed them into boxes, loaded them onto a truck and delivered them to our 42 CSA members.

(JTA) — Just before 5 p.m. I pulled my hulking wreck of a truck into my parents’ driveway — the same truck that two days earlier had adamantly refused to start unless I sank another hundred bucks into its rusting pile — and unloaded. Over the next three hours, a procession of folks I had never met arrived, signed their names to a sheet of paper and took home lettuce heads, cilantro, radishes, kale, collards, swiss chard and kohlrabi. This is the end to which all that backbreaking work was intended.

It was awesome, and I felt like a conquering hero. I had spent most of the afternoon sweating like a pig in the greenhouse trellising tomatoes, some of them neglected for so long they were nearly prone. My hands were covered with sticky black-green tomato resin, and I must have stank something terrible, though truth to be told I was too far past the boundary of socially acceptable cleanliness to even know. I must have looked like a man returning home from war with arms full of bounty — if that war was fought on a battlefield of stalks and suckers.

As I noted last week, the war metaphor isn’t too far off. We love to imagine our farms and gardens are these serene venues of communion with the ephemeral, and under the right circumstances, of course, they can be. But look closer and you’ll see arenas of sex and death, everything struggling to perpetuate its genes before the short window of Northeast heat ends or the farmer-executioner comes along with a stirrup hoe, at which point their decaying body becomes food for the survivors still in the fight. It’s a beautiful thing — you know, the circle of life and all — but there’s an undercurrent of violence.

The battle last week was focused on little flying insects. This week, I’m focused on something even more insidious: Grass.

Three months ago, our fields were covered in a thick carpet of sod. A half-dozen passes with heavy machinery did quick work of that. But grass is not an easily subdued foe. Leave a patch untended for too long and it comes roaring back — little snippets at first that aren’t hard to ignore, but then the tsunami comes. Some stretches of the field now look welcoming enough to take an afternoon nap in.

I imagine our 42 members will spend their weekend chopping salad greens and shredding kohlrabi in scenes worthy of Martha Stewart. I’ll be on my hands and knees battling. And smiling.

Veteran JTA journalist Ben Harris is chronicling his new life as a Connecticut farmer. Read more of his weekly dispatches here.


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  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
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