Friday, March 7, 2014
Purim this year begins the evening of March 15 and ends the evening of March 16. This celebration commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from the evil plot of destruction from Haman. He was not successful. Each year, we mark this holiday by recanting the story (the megillah). During the storytelling whenever the name of Haman is said out loud, the audience use noise makers to erase the sound of his name while stomping their feet.
Purim was always one of my very favourite holidays; essentially the only time as children we were encouraged to make lots of noise. The custom is to make hamentashen, a triangular shaped cookie filled with one or many different fillings. The triangle shape is meant to be symbolic of Haman's ears. We also take time during this holiday to make up small food gifts to share with family and friends, usually some cookies and also to perform acts of kindness for those in need. That's not to say we don't display acts of kindness regularly but during this holiday it's somehow more purposeful.
The most fun of Purim as children was to dress up (kind of like Halloween costuming) in the images of the time. You see alot of queen, bad guy, and hero type costumes.
I've always made hamentashen and this year is no different. The recipe I used for years seemed just a little too cake like so I surfed to find a new one to try. I think I hit pay dirt when I checked out The Shiksa. I was so happy to find two different dough recipes, one with butter and a second without. She also has a wonderful tutorial on her blog and I actually used her method this year and it worked beautifully. Once you get a rythym going with the assembly it's a breeze.
A good tip is to make your filling first. The dough, if left too long can go dry. I made a batch of prune filling (very typical filling for these cookies)
1 lb (2 cups) soft dried prunes
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Put ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth.
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1. Whisk eggs, sugar, canola oil, orange zest and vanilla together. I did everything by hand - you don't need a mixer.
2. In a second bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Slowly add the flour mixing in a circular motion with a wooden spoon until flour is incorporated. Hand knead until you get to a smooth and slightly tacky consistency.
4. Lightly flour your work surface and your rolling pin and roll out to approximately 1/4". The thinner the dough, the crispier the cookie. Using a 3" cutter or glass, cut rounds and put a tsp of filling in the center of each cookie. Fold over left side towards the center, then the right side to join to the top third of the cookie. Bring up the bottom part of the dough to pinch the ends.
5. Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes (my oven was 18 minutes)
** Make sure you visit The Shiksa's blog for an amazing tutorial on how to assemble the hamentashen. Her method is great and no lost filling. Yield is about 3 dozen so tomorrow I'm making a double batch with apricot filling and poppy seed filling.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Toronto winter for my mom (also known as baba, lola and nona) is very isolating. Her mobility
has deteriorated and needs to have 24/7 personal care. We're very lucky to have a couple of caregiverswho take such good care of her and keep her totally on track with both her medical and nutritional care.
Over the past several years we've made it possible for her to spend the extreme months in warmer climates. We took her primary caregiver, Emma, with us to Palm Springs, CA. Seriously, I have no idea how we would manage without her. Emma is from the Phillipines and has made many sacrifices to come to Canada under the caregiver program to work towards creating a better life for herself and her family. While away in California this winter, we decided to create theme dinners and one of them was designed to honour our Emma and prepare one of her favourite dishes - chicken adobo.
I'd never made chicken adobo before and when I saw the ingredients I somehow didn't see the ingredients complimenting one another. Boy, was I wrong! Everybody loved it. Most importantly, Emma loved it and said it reminded her of home.
4 -5 lbs. chicken thighs
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce (I used light)
12 cloves garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
Pepper to taste
In a large dutch oven, add vinegar, soy sauce, crushed garlic, bay leaves and pepper
Add chicken thighs. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer with lid on.
Half way through cooking - approximately 1 hr, turn chicken to immerse second side of thighs to sauce.
Braise until chicken is tender, another hour. Drain chicken, retaining sauce. Return sauce to pot cooking for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pot.
Serve with rice and pour sauce over the top. Enjoy!
Friday, January 31, 2014
E's language skills are taking off. As a fairly quiet person, I have to make a conscious effort to talk a lot with her. I spend a lot of time describing her surroundings, pointing out new words, and just having simple conversations with her. I'm not sure how much she understands, but she often surprises me by repeating the words, using them in future settings, or responding appropriately to what I'm saying (e.g., pulling the step stool up to the counter so that we can cook together, picking up an object by the table and putting it into the garbage, etc.). She's really getting into helping in the kitchen. That Girl from Paved with Good Intentions recently had a good post on baking with babies. Not only is cooking/baking a great skill to have, toddlers/kids love to have a job, some independence, and the praise that comes with doing anything well (Yay! You dumped the sugar in the bowl rather than all over the counter!) Now I just need to psych myself up to make this Ikea Hack and we're good to go!
When I was first contacted to review a copy of a picture-based cookbook that is drawn rather than written, I thought that it was an interesting concept and possibly a good learning tool for E. Picture Cook is unlike any cookbook I've seen before.
I think this type of book has different benefits for different ages. The pictures are monochromatic and relatively small. So, the visuals themselves aren't great for a toddler. But, she really liked flipping through the book
She also took quite a liking to this page
I am looking forward to returning to this book when E is 3 + years of age. Probably the prime age would be around 6 or 7 (or someone older who is very visual).