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Lesson Learned: One at a Time

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I treated myself to a birthday gift.
Now, that’s not so out-of-character. What better way to make certain that one receives what one wants??
What is really shocking is what I purchased for myself.

Happy birthday to me!

That’s right. A cookbook.
I bought myself a new cookbook.

Admittedly, it is the first time that I ever received a cookbook as a gift outside of our engagement and wedding. Of course, it’s also the only time that I received a cookbook as a gift that I knew I’d use. Right away. In fact, I tried a tomato crisp that very day as part of my birthday dinner.

Ah-ha — I was reminded that I recently received a no-occasion gift from Mom-&-DadGiraffe that would fall into the general category of ‘cooking.’ Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking is about baking and not cooking. I know so little about such things that I don’t even know if one can correctly refer to a book about baking as a cookbook. One day, please God, I’ll have enough skill confidence to attempt the delicacies in it.

Over last Shabbat, I poured over the pages in order to determine what I wanted to try in the upcoming week. A new dish on Tuesday. One on Thursday. But it was Shabbos dinner that captured my fancy.

  • challah
  • Za’atar Chicken with prunes, dried apricots, and Spanish olives
  • Tzimmes Puffs
  • Citrus-Hazelnut Green Beans
  • Basmati Rice (white and brown, combined)
  • Zebra cookies

A few things to note:

Before we moved to the middle of a corn field, we lived in an area with a considerable Arab (Muslim, Christian, AND Jewish) population and a sizable Israeli population. Za’atar is widely available. Here? Not so much. The za’atar I did {{finally}} locate turned out to be a very anemic version. [And it went directly down the drain upon receipt of a care package from the Ima.]

Tzimmes. We were not a tzimmes family when I was a kid. Or kugel. Sure, they made their seasonally-appropriate, cameo appearances, but were not regulars on the Shabbos rotation. Also, I don’t like sweet unless it’s a dessert. Or during breakfast. Otherwise, I’ve never been a fan of sweet potatoes, candied yams, etc.

And did I mention that for about two months when I was a kid, we had a dog named Tzimmes? A blog post for another time…

Just as I was about to start the green beans, I had what turned out to be a perfectly-timed change-of-heart. And replaced the fancy-shmancy green beans with simple, rather unoriginal, canned French-cut green beans. And it was a very, very smart move.

Because PC and I were the only ones who enjoyed my culinary efforts.

The kids were unimpressed. The chicken looked weird. The tzimmes tasted weird. The basmati rice wasn’t sticky enough.

Later that night, Beernut did the math for me:

For Shabbos, Mom, you can only make one new thing. We look forward to Shabbat dinner all week. And it needs to be stuff we like or else it’s ruined. So three old things and one new thing would be good.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunday, 12 February 2012 9:03 pm

    I have that cookbook. Try the salami quiche florentine- also perfect for Shabbos.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 12 February 2012 9:05 pm

      We nearly had that this weekend… But I figured I’d slow down the new recipes just a bit. My kids LOVE salami and eggs so I’m hopeful that they will like this as well. Thanks!!!

  2. ZaydeGiraffe permalink
    Sunday, 12 February 2012 9:22 pm

    When the reader gets to the end of this post, it becomes clear why kugel and tzimmes never made it into the Shabbos rotation. If I recall correctly, when these two wonderful dishes appeared on the Rosh Hashanah table, FS and siblings took, at most, a “no thank you” taste. I’m impressed that Beernut is willing to have one new dish on the Shabbos table. His math seems conducive to Sh’lom Bayit at the Friday evening meal.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 12 February 2012 9:53 pm

      PC has been training me not to take it personally when the kids don’t like my food. “Do you like how it tastes?” is what he asks. And since the answer has mostly been in the affirmative, we’ve told the kids that I’ll be continuing to experiment in the kitchen.

  3. Mimi permalink
    Sunday, 12 February 2012 9:31 pm

    As I always tell my husband: don’t try anything new for guests. Try the cookbook stuff on a weekday first. That might apply to Shabbot dinner too. But kudos to the kid for allowing one new thing! How far are you from Philly? Bitar’s has all the middle eastern stuff you need. And there’s great Kosher restaurants. Are you at the one hour away corn? or Further?

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 12 February 2012 9:51 pm

      Nope. Next corn field over. About ninety minutes.

  4. Brianna Soloski permalink
    Sunday, 12 February 2012 9:36 pm

    I’m intrigued by the zebra cookies. How did those turn out?

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 12 February 2012 9:49 pm

      Delicious. And, most importantly, pareve. The kind of pareve that makes you wonder if it’s really milchig!!!

      • Brianna Soloski permalink
        Monday, 13 February 2012 11:45 am

        Nice. Do you have the recipe to share?

  5. Sunday, 12 February 2012 10:43 pm

    i love that you were given some strict numerical guidelines. helpful, isn’t it? 🙂
    p.s. glad the zaatar worked out okay….i couldn’t decide which brand to buy so that’s why i got two. then i figured a whole care package of israeli goodies was in order….xo

  6. Sunday, 12 February 2012 11:05 pm

    No more than one new thing each Shabbat? That sounds a lot like your “rule” for new music in a service at your last place of employment.

  7. Jen Einstein permalink
    Monday, 13 February 2012 12:50 am

    You also received a cookbook for Hannukah from your awesome brother and sister-in-law! 🙂

  8. Amitzah permalink
    Monday, 13 February 2012 2:48 am

    That sounds like a good rule. I’ll have to keep that in mind myself. Sounds like something I may have tuned out my dad saying.

  9. Tuesday, 14 February 2012 12:49 pm

    I don’t remember kugel ever being on the table. Certainly not the pasta/raisin type. I would not have said no to that.

  10. Tuesday, 14 February 2012 3:02 pm

    Beernut is SO wise! It’s really true . . . whenever I take on too many new recipes at once it’s an utter failure. I love the kosher on design series . . . though in general I find that a lot of pareve recipes in any kosher cookbook calls for margarine or tons of veg oil. I wish I could find a “margarine free” kosher cookbook!

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