Feast: Art for Rosh Ha Shona

My family has been celebrating Rosh Ha Shona, the Jewish New Year. Interestingly, the Jewish Calendar changes it’s year count not on the first month of the month cycle but in the seventh month of the cycle. Indeed the Hebraic calendar is fascninatingly complex, taking into account three different astronomical cycles as well as religious constraints that certain Holy days not occur on or just before Shabat (Saturday).

Though I am a self-professed Taoist, I understand others’ needs to celebrate and indeed I recognize and embrace my cultural history in Judaism. So while I don’t believe in any deity or higher power, I am glad to help the celebrations by helping my mother prepare her house and by doing a lot of cooking (now that I actually live in close proximity to my family!). My mother and I worked out a menu for Erev Rosh ha Shona for which my brother, his wife, and their son would be here and for the main feast for Rosh Ha Shona itself when the party would enlarge to also include my sister, her husband and their three shildren.

The first menu starts with gefullte fish (which I loathe but my mother and brother adore), roast beef, green vegetable, mashed potatoes, and finished with coconut cream cake and gelato (brought by my brother and sister-in-law). The green vegetable became a salad made of artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, and pitted olives with a dressing of olive oil and basil. The beef is my own specialty. The cut of meat is not particularily important. I’ve used london broil and chuck. About one to two days ahead I puncture the meat and rub wheatless low sodium tamari all over. Then I add spices. This last time I used ground sweet paprika (kind of a standard because another part of my background in Hungarian and I was sort of brought up on the stuff), a small amount of ground garlic, a pre-made, ground spice mixture that my mother had made labelled “Egyotian Spice” (I still have to figure out what’s in it but it smelled wonderful – cumin for sure, peppercorn, something vaguely like oregano or thyme – I need to either find her recipe or play around with ehr spices), and bits of star anis pressed into cuts made in the meat. Refrigerate until time to cook but turn the meat over occasionally. The longer one marinates, the more soft and flarvorful the meat. I pan-roast the meat in a huge, heavy teflon skillet that has these raised speed bumps along the bottom. I use either olice oil or grapeseed oil, (this time I used olive oil) and put the temperature up to medium high. Grapeseed oil resists smoking and burning more than any other oil, but I adore the flavor of olive oil best. Pan fry both sides of the meat, then lower the temperature to medium or medium low and allow the meat to cook until it’s done. For me, this is kind of instinctive. A fork (one of those huge ones not a table fork) slides right in without any resistance.

For the Saturday meal I made duck and green beans while my mother made kasha and varnishkas, motza balls in chicken soup, and a honey cake, while my sister-in-law made tzimmis. The green beans were the French cut ones and I stir fried them in olive oil with olives and almond slivers and a bit of sweet basil. the duck was, of course more complicated. I rubbed them with a mixture of toasted sesame oil and Grand Marnier and let them marinate overnight. Then I slowly roasted them at 320 degrees F for several hours with an organge cut up and shoved inside each of them like stuffing would be in turkey. Then I made the sauce. I’m sorry I don’t measure things. I used about maybe a half container of the frozen Orange juice concentrate stuff, added a little water, a couple handfuls of light brown sugar, a couple stars of star anis and about a shot of the Grand Marnier. Oh and three strands of saffron. After it started boiling I made a roux of about a half teaspoon of potatoe starch and some cold water. I added that and lowered the temperature and let the sauce mixture simmer. Dessert also included taiglach and marble hal’va (a ground sesame candy which I think should have pistachios mixed in but doesn’t always).

I think I may have eaten too much (there went my diet) but everyone loved everything! And we have a tonne of leftovers!

L’ shona tova everyone!

References
Rich, Tracy R; Judaism 101: Jewish Calendar

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