One Day I Might Be Prime Minister

If people were given jobs based solely on their method of making chicken soup, I would be the next Golda Meir.

I’m so awe-struck by myself, I can only marvel. And give you our respective recipes:

Chicken Soup, by Prime Minister Meir*

Chicken Soup, by me

1 or 2 onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 or 3 carrots, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 parsnip, chopped

chicken giblets and other chicken pieces, previously frozen or unwanted

Enough water to cover everything

1 bay leaf

dill, to taste

pepper, to taste

salt, more than I use

parsley, to taste

Put everything in a pot. Uncovered, bring to a boil. Cover, and lower the heat to a simmer. Allow to cook as long as possible. If time permits, refrigerate and skim off the fat. Or you could follow Anna’s advice. When asked how she made her soup so rich; “When the fat rises, I just stir it back in.” I’m sure Golda would agree.

 

*Thanks to Israel’s State Archives, I can assure you that the soup is not a state secret. Possibly because everyone wanted to know. Makes you wonder what would have happened if some nice ladies had written and asked the Prime Minister for the nuclear reactor codes. “I wouldn’t normally ask you this, but seeing as how you’re the only mid-eastern democracy, I was hoping that you might be willing to share your codes for a nuclear reactor? If would make our next cookbook so special.”

‘Tis the Season

I feel as though I haven’t been to a wedding in ages. According to the calendar it’s been exactly three months, to the day. This is what the off season feels like – so jam-packed that weddings become a distant memory. Yes, weddings, like baseball, do come in seasons. Off-season baseball players gain weight, off-season wedding goers do their taxes, volunteer, and go questing. Though there are other off-season wedding goers who just spend a lot of time at the grocery store, pondering the price of produce and if brown sugar is really worth the money. Regardless, in the off-season your wedding shoes gathers dust.

For all sorts of wedding goers, adventurers and non-adventurers alike, the season starts suddenly. One day, you’re reading about the super bowl, and the next day spring training has begun.  Just as abruptly, the junk mail gives way to bridal showers and weddings invitations. It’s best to be prepared for the sudden shift in gears, by marking your calendar for the season’s start.

It turns out that spring training is scheduled for mid-February every year. Wedding season is just as regular. Prime time lasts, in practical terms, from Lag B’Omer till two weeks before Rosh Hashana. Or, as the weathermen would say, from the beginning of sun-shine season through Indian Summer.

Post-season picks up after the yamim noraim and runs through Chanuka. Depending on the year, this usually winds up being from the end of October through the first weeks of January. This is the dead season, not because people aren’t getting married, but because if you attempt to attend some of those weddings through winter storms your car will die.

Pre-season begins just before Purim. It’s so utterly inconvenient that the only people who choose to have weddings then probably don’t want anyone to come. So if you get an invitation, do them a favor and just reply “No coming.” Though it’s possible that the newly married couple just wants to use all their new dishes for Peasch – in which case, you should probably show up so that there’s a legal witness. Otherwise, it’ll just be them.

Lag B’Omer is around the corner; time to dust off my dancing shoes.

In the Kitchen Without Aunt Rita: Flash Freezing

My Great-Aunt Rita doesn’t cook, but she knows all about it. For most of her life, Aunt Rita, in addition to preparing daily meals, shared holiday cooking duties with Bubby. That yom tov cooking was heavy-duty; meals, one after another, sometimes for dozens. While preparing the massive quantities of food, Aunt Rita learned loads. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. You see, sometime after her kids moved out Aunt Rita left the kitchen – and she has no plan to return. Which leaves her more time for mah jong.

As with most things, repetition breeds belief. Despite the fact that I can’t remember a time when Aunt Rita was in the kitchen, I’ve heard of her storied cooking for long enough that I believe it. Which is why I beamed when she complimented the mandelbroit I made. This was a few years ago, when nearly half of what I made was a disaster.* The compliment lead to a conversation of desserts. This, in turn, sent Aunt Rita on an explanation of a Texas Sheet Cake she used to make – with a bottle of coke. It sounded interesting, so I offered to send Aunt Rita the mandelbroit recipe – straight from New Kosher Cuisine – if she’d send me the famous Texas Sheet Cake recipe. Aunt Rita agreed.

Months later, I had a hankering for cake. That kick-started my memory, and I sent the mandelbroit recipe off to Aunt Rita, eagerly anticipating the recipe I’d receive in return. There was no response. More time passed, and the only thing I received from Aunt Rita was a birthday card. So, the next time I saw Aunt Rita, I checked to make sure that she’d received the recipe in good order. She told me she had, and thanked me profusely. And that is when I realized that Aunt Rita was not going to bake again if she could help it. Though she did reiterate that she’d send that recipe, she’s a bit wrapped up in mah jong at the moment.

Regardless of the Texas Sheet Cake recipe contretemps, I trust Aunt Rita’s judgement on matters of the kitchen. Which is why I’m going to start flash freezing foodstuffs. Apparently if you want to freeze items, without fear of their clumping together like barnacles, you need to flash freeze. This, it appears, is how Aunt Rita always freezes – rather, froze – matzah balls. She’d lay out each matzah ball on a  wax paper covered pan, and stick the whole thing in the freezer for 15 minutes. Once that’s done, you can container everything without fear that the matzah balls remain together forever, according to Aunt Rita. Since the tales of Aunt Rita’s skills proceed her, I’ll take her advice at face value. Banana Pops, prepare yourselves to be flash frozen.**

*For the record, nearly half of all new recipes I try are a minor disaster. But I don’t make as many new recipes as I used to. Plus, I’ve learned that you can cover a lot of mistakes with salsa or maple syrup.

**I just flash-froze the Banana Pops. It went as smooth as butter.

Welcome to the Real World: Peasch Edition

The pre-peasch story that didn’t publish:

“I’m not cleaning the fridge for Peasch this year,” I declared to my dad.

“Welcome to the real world,” he replied.

To that rather cheery and accepting phrase, I launched into a long-winded explanation of why I would not be cleaning the fridge in my apartment. Now, like then, it was a superfluous and one-sided argument.

When I finished up, a while later, dad concluded his thought; “In the real world, you only clean what you have to. You don’t clean everything.”

Hello, real world! Meet chamatzdik kitchen. Now say goodbye to the chamatz, because it’s being sold.