Missiles are flying and food is still on my mind

I’d like to think that we won’t have to get used to this.

Pillows, blanket, radio (and now a teddy bear for our granddaughter) on the floor in the hallway – our “safe” area.
Flashlights strategically placed around the house.
The light left on all night and the front door we leave unlocked, just in case.

Will I get used to watching T.V.?

Except for an occasional cooking show or movie classic, television never held my interest. I’m much happier reading a good book or listening to music. But here I am now, checking every few hours for news updates.

After this morning’s news, I happened on a lesson broadcast for high school students in the south, where schools are still closed. The teacher was contemporary Israeli author Meir Shalev. His subject – King Saul, David and Goliath (Samuel I). How interesting to hear his thoughts on the Tanach delivered in eloquent literary Hebrew.

He encouraged the students to think about contemporary leaders in light of biblical heroes. How does charisma influence leadership? Can young people contribute creative solutions to the tough problems we face today? He stressed the importance of thinking “outside of the box”.

At the end of his lecture he took a slingshot out of his pocket and began to demonstrate David’s technique in his match with Goliath.

At which point my mind wandered to Shalev’s novel that I’d recently read in translation – “Four Meals”. His story revolves around four gourmet meals eaten by the narrator. Ah yes, it was back to food for me ….

Remember those garbanzo beans I was cooking the other day?

My husband and I collaborated on this delicious meal. It’s not a formal recipe. There are no measurements. Just these general guidelines:

Whole Chomous and Eggplant (Parve)

1. Pre-soak and then cook a cup or two of garbanzo beans (chick peas, chomous). When they are nearly done, season with salt to taste and cook them a little more until they’re very soft. There should be a little cooking liquid left. Add a tablespoon or so of extra-virgin olive oil to the beans.

2. While the beans are cooking, grill an eggplant or two until the skin is charred and the inside is completely soft. Slit the eggplant with a sharp knife and let it drain in a colander.

3. Chop the cooled eggplant coarsely. Season it with techina (Especially easy with more liquid pourable techina sold here.), salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley. Garlic is good too.

4. Toast a handful of pine nuts in a small dry skillet.

5. Put the warm garbanzo beans into a serving bowl or arrange them on a platter.

6. Spoon the eggplant on top of the beans. Sprinkle with a little sumac (or paprika) and then with the pine nuts.


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Vegetarian Chanukah Menu

How about an Indian-inspired vegetarian meal this Chanukah?

Fragrant spices and frozen peas take traditional latkes to another level.

As an accompanyment, red lentil dal. In India, the word dal is used loosely for legumes, which provide the major source of protein for vegetarians there.

To make this meal even easier, cook the dal ahead of time and re-heat it in the microwave. A simple green salad or chopped Israeli-style salad would work well to complete this meal.

Indian-Style Latkes

These green-flecked, delicately spiced potato pancakes remind me of Indian dosas – crispy thin pancakes filled with spiced potatoes and peas.

2 ½ pounds (1 kilo) potatoes
1 large onion
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons fresh chopped coriander
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
½ -1 teaspoon salt
½ cup frozen peas, defrosted
Vegetable oil for sautéing
Low-fat yogurt for serving

If the potatoes are organic, scrub them well and leave the peels on. Conventionally-grown potatoes should be washed and peeled.

Coarsely grate the potatoes and onion in a food processor. Transfer to a colander to drain.

Mix the eggs with the flour, all of the spices and the salt. Squeeze the potatoes and onions to extract any liquid and add them to the egg mixture. Gently mix in the peas.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons of oil until hot. Cook the latkes, using about ¼ cup of the potato mixture per pancake. Flatten each pancake and cook until browned on each side. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

To keep the latkes warm until serving time, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a 250 F (120 C) oven.

Serve with low-fat yogurt.

Makes about 24 latkes

Red Lentil Dal

Red lentils are a healthy convenience food. They don’t require pre-soaking and are done cooking in half an hour or less. They’ll break down into a puree and turn golden yellow while they’re cooking.

1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed well
3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ teaspoon black mustard seed
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

Bring the lentils to a boil with the water and salt. Reduce the heat and cook, partially covered over low heat, for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils soft and completely broken down. Add more water if necessary, to keep the lentils from sticking.

Heat the oil in a separate small skillet. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they turn gray and start to pop. Add the rest of the spices and cook for another minute. Add this mixture to the cooked lentils and serve.

Serves 4-6

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What Should I Eat?


Dried beans and peas (collectively called legumes) are a great source of low-fat protein. They’re high in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fiber.
Best of all, they’re tasty, versatile and inexpensive. My favorite legumes are red lentils, which cook in about 20 minutes. (No need for pre-soaking.) A little sautéed onion, minced garlic or ginger, curry powder…. I’m already hungry!
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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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