I had a plan. I was planning to bake last night. I have a lot of hamantaschen to bake, am a wee bit behind schedule, and am feeling the pressure with Purim just days from now. But my class on Pirkei Avot ran a little over (we were having a great discussion) and by the time I got back to Beit Frummie, I was plumb tuckered out. Baking deferred.
As I climbed into bed, all I kept thinking was:
Now I’ll never be qualified to be an Eishet Chayil.
You see, the candle of an Eshet Chayil burns on into the night. Me? I couldn’t manage much of anything after a day that included meetings, a funeral and meal of condolence, and teaching.
Proverbs 31:10-31 has gotten a bad rap since the fabrente feminists decided that there was something negative about praising a woman for abilities and characteristics that have been highly valued by our people. [I highly recommend a contemporary look at this passage by Hillel’s Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning and the Jewish Women’s Archive.] So much value was placed on them that it has become custom for husbands to sing — yes, sing!— this Proverbial selection to their wives at ths Shabbos table each week. Who wouldn’t enjoy being serenaded??
A woman of valor, who can find? She is more precious than fine pearls.
Her husband trust in her, and so he lacks for nothing;
She does him good, never harm, all the days of her life.
Shee looks for wool and flax, and sets her hand to them with a will.
She is like a merchant fleet, bringing her food from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and provide provisions for her household, the daily fare of her maids.
She sets her mind on an estate and acquires it;
She plants a vineyard by her own labours.
She girds herself with strength, and performs her tasks with vigour.
She perceives that her labour is rewarding; her candle burns on into the night.
She sets her hand to the disatt; her fingers work the spindle.
She reaches out to those in need, and extends her hands to the poor.
She is not worried for her household because of the snow, for her whole household is dressed in crimson.
She makes covers for herself;Her clothing is linen and purple.
Her husband is prominent in the gates, as he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes cloth and sells it, and offers a girdle to the merchant.
She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she faces the future cheerfully.
She speaks with wisdom; the law of kindness is on her lips.
She oversees the activities of her household
and never eats the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her; her husband sings her praises.
Many daughters have done valiantly, but you exceed them all.
Grace is deceptive, beauty is illusory;
it is for her awe in the Eternal that a woman is to be praised.
Extol her for the fruit of her hand,and let her works praise her in the gates.
OK — so there are a few other things that might disqualify me.
But I really do use this as my model. This is who I want to become. I want to be a woman whose virtues are praiseworthy. Whose children praise her. And forget that she ever decried:
Look…I followed the recipe. I don’t know why the dough is so sticky. Mommy just isn’t very good at this kind of stuff.
So for all the other reluctant balebustas out there, here is Frume Sarah’s annotated version of the
Working Mom’s Hamentashen:
|Prep Time||Cook Time||Ready Time|
|10 min||15 min||30 min|
Don’t know how they came up with the timing. From start to finish, including kitchen clean-up, plan about 90 minutes.
- 1 (18.25 ounce) package moist yellow cake mix
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup Solo cake and pastry filling (any flavour), chocolate spread, Nutella, etc.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and flour. Stir in the eggs and water to form a stiff dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch round circles and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
- Place a teaspoon of filling into the center of each cookie and pinch the sides to form three corners. Moisten with water if necessary.
- Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
“Stiff dough” is not an accurate description. At least, I couldn’t quite get it to what I would describe as “stiff dough.” It is more reminiscent of moist sand. Do NOT add additional water; the dough will become rather unruly.
1/8 inch thickness? 3 inch round circles? 2 inches apart? Feh! Roll it until it feels right. Use a flour-rimmed drinking glass to cut the circles. And don’t put them too close together. And be generous with the flour for the rolling pin. Helps combat the sticky tendency of this dough. Using a drinking glass yields about 5 dozen cookies.
I’m not from the pinchers. I’m from the folders. I like to fold the dough to make little triangular pockets. Some use water; others recommend an egg wash. I use neither.
Normally, I like my cookies on the “well-done” side. The success of a the hamantaschen baker is to find that find balance between undercooked and overcooked. Every oven is different. Mine are perfect in 6 1/2 minutes.
For extra points, allow your kids to eat them for breakfast in the days leading up to Purim. Makes for warm, fuzzy feelings.