Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Ends In Disappointment, Hope, and Peppers Stuffed With Couscous

In September, at the start of the Jewish New Year (5771), I started this blog seriously intending to spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing my part to make the world a better place. (See the first post- Honoring An Old Recipe For Social Change In America). Now that the start of 2011 is upon us, it’s another opportunity to take stock. I am disappointed to tell you that despite the efforts of myself and countless others, the world isn’t a better place yet. Surprise! There’s still a lot to do if you’re so inclined. Our homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries still face a booming demand.

Because it’s a new year, I’m hopeful that next year, we’ll make some more progress. After all, the health care bill was passed and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. Maybe in 2011, we can further social and economic justice in some way, perhaps by reforming our immigration laws.

In the meantime, I vowed to spend less time in the kitchen and more time making the world a better place. While trying recipes from Peace de Resistance, the Women’s Strike for Peace cookbook published in the 1960’s, I found some quick, nutritious recipes; but, alas, trying new recipes takes time and I probably spent more time in the kitchen than I had planned. I did get involved in some projects to make the world better and I’ll be talking more about them in the weeks to come.

The week between Christmas and New Years is a slow one in which most activities take a respite. It gave me time to experiment with another recipe and so I tried peppers stuffed with couscous in tomato/lemon sauce. It serves four and the preparation time is about 20 minutes. My husband, who isn’t a vegetarian, raved that it was delicious.  I highly recommend it.

Peppers Stuffed With Couscous In Tomato/Lemon Sauce

4 red or yellow peppers
4 tbsp olive oil
½ cup couscous
½ cup water
1 onion, chopped fine
2 tbsp minced garlic
¼ cup almond slivers
2 tbsp raisins
lemon juice
mint leaves
1 egg, beaten
½ cup vegetarian tomato sauce
½ lemon cut into pieces
garlic powder, parsley, pepper to taste

1.Cut the tops off the peppers and take out the cores. Set aside.

2. Couscous

Boil the water and add a tbsp of oil, garlic powder, and lemon juice. While the water is boiling, sauté the onion and minced garlic in olive oil. When the water is boiled, stir in the couscous. Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes. Add the sautéed onions and minced garlic, raisins, almond slivers, beaten egg, mint leaves, coriander, and cinnamon.

3. Stuff the peppers with the couscous mixture.

4.Tomato Sauce

Put the tomato sauce, lemon, juice from lemon, parsley, garlic powder, and pepper in deep skillet. Mix together. Cook on low to medium heat on top of the stove covered.

5. Add the peppers to the sauce and cook for about 45 minutes on a low to medium heat.

It goes well with Greek salad.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope we all have a joyous, healthy, and peaceful year.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Observing A Jewish Christmas

When I first moved to the Midwest, people would often ask me what I was doing for Christmas. When I said, “I’m Jewish,” the response was often, “Yes, but what are you doing for Christmas?”

Coming from New York, that response always amazed me. Nevertheless, I’ve come to enjoy being here in the vast minority. When life was more hectic, I appreciated the enforced chill out day. It was a day off work in which nothing was open except the movies and Chinese restaurants (That stereotype is totally true. We all love Chinese food.) so we were forced to relax.

 Now that my life isn’t as busy, I don’t need to chill out as much. When we lived in Painesville, Ohio, our whole congregation volunteered. My husband and I volunteered at the local hospital in a group effort to give our neighbors a day off on their holiday. I’ve always looked back on that as a great idea.

 In a larger community, that kind of group effort isn’t possible. Nevertheless, there are a lot of opportunities to volunteer for those who want to. In Chicago, the Tov Network has many volunteer opportunities during the Christmas Season although none on Christmas day itself. Being curious, I googled volunteer opportunities on Christmas in Chicago and got too many possibilities to mention all of them. The first two that I came across were and another one I found was There are many things to do on a local level if you're interested. And remember, a lot of people volunteer on Christmas but there’s need all year. All these organizations have many opportunities if you want to volunteer in 2011.

This year, I’m volunteering at home by being on call for the Red Cross disaster Mental Health team. While I’m home hoping that the phone doesn’t ring because someone has suffered a terrible disaster, I’ll be doing some cooking. Winter weather always makes me want to stay in and cook. Arghhh! As Toad said to Frog in the memorable children’s book by Arnold Lobel, “Wake me up about half past May.”

I tried this recipe yesterday from Peace de Resistance. This book was written by busy women. Most of their recipes are quick, tasty, and nutritious. If you try this one, you’ll have plenty of time left over to volunteer and help make the world - or at least your corner of it -a better place. Preparation time was 15 to 20 minutes. Clams and spinach serves 8. It’s good served over spaghetti.

                                    Clams and Spinach

4 packages frozen spinach chopped  
1 can mushroom soup, undiluted
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cans minced clams, drained
4 tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
¼ cup slivered almonds or pine nuts
garlic powder, oregano, and basil to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°. Either cook the spinach per directions or defrost in the morning. Fully drain the spinach. Add the mushroom soup, eggs, clams, butter in small chunks, salt, pepper, and other seasoning. Mix and put into a shallow casserole. Sprinkle with nuts and bake in a 350° oven for about 30 or 40 minutes. It’s very easy and tastes good. Now I think I’ll try some other recipes. There’s plenty of time leftover.

Merry Christmas everyone!




Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ensnared On the Internet, I Find Tangine

           The internet is supposedly making the world smaller connecting us all to each other. I’m amazed by how I am instantaneously connected with people as far away as Europe, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. At the same time, we’re each connecting in our own houses on our individual computers.

            While we connect on-line with people from around the world, we forget how to treat those we encounter every day. How many of you are surprised by announcements on the bus or the el to give priority seating to the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant women? Didn’t everyone know that before? How annoying is it that at plays and movies people have to be reminded to turn off their cell phones? About a year ago, we went to a play during which a woman received three cell phone calls. We’re so used to watching movies on DVD’s in our own spaces that we forget how to be courteous in public, a major downside of the internet age.

            A positive are the instant surprising connections. I had a bunch of sweet potatoes that I needed to use up and decided to look on the internet for a recipe for sweet potato tangine. It’s a Moroccan dish that I probably wouldn’t have even heard of 15 or 20 years ago. A couple of clicks on Google led me to a choice of 10 or 20 recipes. I chose the following recipe for sweet potato tangine with lemon couscous. It serves about 4 to 6 people. The preparation time was about 30 minutes most of it spent getting the ingredients together, but we now have plenty of. We tried it last night and it was really good.

                                                            Sweet Potato Tangine

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ras-el-hanout (Even in ethnically diverse Skokie, I didn’t know what that was nor where to look for it so I left it out of the recipe.)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp smoked sweet paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2lb4oz sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp saffron
7 fl oz water
1 ½ oz. Preserved lemons finely chopped (I cheated and used lemon juice)
4 ½ oz dried apricots
4 oz green olives
1 ½ oz whole almonds
1 small bunch coriander (I didn’t have that in the house either and used the powder)

Heat a large, deep frying pan with a lid until hot. Add the olive oil, onions and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes.
Add all the spices and fry for one minute.
Add the sweet potatoes and stir well.
Add all the remaining ingredients, stir well, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

                                                            Lemon Couscous

7 oz couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
½ oz preserved lemons, rinsed, drained, pulp removed finely chopped
½ lemon, juice only
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves to serve

Place the couscous in enough boiling water to cover.
Add the olive oil, preserved lemon and lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Stir well and set aside for 3-5 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
Add the coriander leaves.

Serve the couscous and then serve the tangine over it. It was so good even with some substitute ingredients. Imagine what the real thing would taste like.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Underground Railroad Museum, Potato Latkes, and the Hunger for Freedom

           On Thanksgiving weekend, we had a few free hours in Cincinnati so we toured the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Expecting to stay an hour or two, we were surprised when five hours later we realized it was time to leave. The museum, with its combination of exhibits and videos, sends anyone visiting a powerful message. In it, the story of the slave trade in America is told from the beginning to the end, celebrating the bravery of slaves as they risked their lives on the Underground Railroad and helped others to escape as well. It also celebrates the bravery of the Abolitionists who assisted them. Since Cincinnati is just across the river from Kentucky, it was the first stop across the Mason-Dixon line for many slaves running to freedom. Although they had a long way to go until they were truly safe, Cincinnati is the appropriate place for this museum. If any of you find yourself in Cincinnati, I definitely recommend spending a few hours there.

            The visit inspired me to read Amistad by Alexs Pate. (I had never seen the movie.) This inspiring book based on an actual historical event was the story of the people aboard a slave ship bound for Cuba who resisted becoming slaves and struggled to regain their freedom with the help of abolitionists and eventually, former President John Quincy Adams. Highlighting the leader of the revolt, the author was able to personalize the universal quest for respect and human dignity in a way that enabled readers to connect.

            These two events – visiting the Underground Railroad Museum and reading Amistad- happened right before and during Chanukah, a holiday celebrating another victory for freedom. I actually finished reading Amistad on the eighth day of Chanukah. This calls for potato latkes (pancakes). They are traditionally eaten on Chanukah because they are fried in oil symbolizing the oil lasting in the Temple for eight days. They’re also eaten because they’re delicious.

            I used the recipe for latkes that my mother-in-law Mildred Sachs gave me many years ago. The one flaw in this recipe is that no matter how many are made, it’s never enough. Everyone eats them until they’re gone. You won’t have leftovers from this recipe, but you’ll enjoy eating them while they last.

                                                            Potato Latkes

2 big white potatoes peeled and grated
1 onion diced small
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of flour
2 Tablespoons of matzoh meal
A dash of baking powder
2 eggs
Vegetable oil

  1. Dice the onion
  2. Peel and grate the potato and strain to get extra starch out
  3. Beat the eggs.
  4. Mix all the ingredients into a batter
  5. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Make the batter into patties with a spoon and drop in the oil to fry. When they’re golden brown on bottom side, turn them over to fry on the other side.
  6. Serve with sour cream or applesauce.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

American Girl In the 2007 Recession

             My three and a half year old granddaughter was thrilled to receive an American Girl catalog last week. She loves looking at the pictures and calls it “my magazine.” What she likes best is the pictures of doll Rebecca’s furniture, especially her sideboard and Sabbath set. Of course, she wanted to know when she could have one for herself. (Probably no time soon.) The sideboard costs $135; its accessories can be had for an additional $63. For the uninitiated, Rebecca is the latest American Girl doll, a Jewish girl circa 1914 from the Lower East Side in New York. [American Girl dolls are a set of dolls with historic stories each with optional accessories.] Ironically, in 1914 Rebecca’s family probably could have lived on that amount for many months.

            Rebecca’s little friend Josefina Montoya from New Mexico circa 1824 has a clothes chest that is priced at $159 and a table and chairs set for $75. All the dolls in the catalog can have a clothes storage cabinet that costs $349. These dolls and their accompanying books each cost $95.

            Last time, I wrote about how people receiving Food Stamps have to try stretch their food budgets to eat on $21 per week per person. At the same time, other people are buying $349 storage cabinets for their daughters’ doll clothes. A main center for The American Girl is a store in Chicago’s Water Tower Place so we have observed people going there in large numbers. Obviously, there’s a large market for these items. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?

            For those of you who are stretching your food budgets and aren’t shopping at the American Girl Store, here’s the recipe for 7 Layer Dinner from Peace de Resistance. Preparation time is 10 minutes and it feeds four. The ingredients can be bought for a lot less than an outfit for Rebecca or Josefina.  I really believe that Women’s Strike for Peace would have been boycotting the American Girl Store on general principals.

                                                            7 Layer Dinner

2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
½ cup raw rice
1 onion sliced
1 lb. ground beef
1 large can solid packed tomatoes
6- 10 carrots, thinly sliced
1 large green pepper cut in eighths
Salt and pepper

Layer ingredients in order listed in a large, greased casserole. Salt and pepper each layer generously. Cut green peppers in crescent shapes and arrange in a sunburst effect on top. Cover casserole and bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 ½ hours until carrots are done.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Food Stamp Challenge

Now that the election is over, I'm trying to get back to normal. I was impressed a few years ago when my Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and several other congresspeople took the Food Stamp Challenge. They deserved our votes for doing that alone. Basically, for three weeks they tried to eat on a Food Stamp Budget which is about $21 per week per person.

Like most people, I have tried to cut back on our food budget. Nevertheless, even deducting the nonfood items such as soap, toothpaste, paper towels, etc that aren't permissible Food Stamp expenditures, I failed miserably to cut back to $42 per week. As an aside, the only thing that people can buy with Food Stamps is food. Items we normally buy at the supermarket like dish detergent aren't allowed. Although I failed to get down to $42 per week for the two of us, I cut back considerably by making a point of making at least one vegetarian meal per week. I have enjoyed trying the vegetarian recipes so much that I've increased that to two vegetarian meals per week. One of my favorite vegetarian recipes is Stir Fry. It's very easy. This is one for a family of four. The preparation time is about 20 minutes.

                                                               Vegetable Stir Fry

1 cup brown rice uncooked
optionally use 1/2 cup brown rice and 1/2 cup red quinoa for extra protein
2 cups water
vegetables cut into small pieces - whatever you happen to have in the house - I personally like to use mushrooms, an onion, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, and green beans
soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame seeds, ginger powder, cumin, and garlic to taste
For more protein, add peanuts and almonds and/or tofu

1. put rice or rice/quinoa mixture in pot with water and bring to boil. Then turn down to simmer and cook covered for about 45 minutes

Now you have 20 minutes. Send an e-mail to your Congressperson telling him or her that no one can eat for $21 a week per person unless they live on a farm where they grow their own vegetables and raise their own chickens.

2. Cut up the vegetables. Saute in olive oil. While the vegetables are cooking, add the seasoning. Then add the nuts or tofu.

3. When everything is cooked, put it all in a bowl and mix it together. Dinner for four and it tastes really good.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Speechless, Wordless, and Hungry

Since Tuesday’s election results, I’ve been feeling like Chicken Little after the sky has fallen. What is there to do next? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn everyone that I could. At least in my little corner of the sky, Evanston, Illinois, some of the votes did come in as I hoped. Jan Schakowsky was reelected to Congress and some other local progressives won as well.

Now the election is mercifully over and we’re free from hearing and reading lies about politicians for the next year. Did people really vote to dismantle our extremely frayed social safety net from our most vulnerable citizens (which could be any of us at any given time)? That’s how it seems. Hopefully there is still something that we can do to still salvage some of it.

 What would the Women’s Strike for Peace have done after seeing the results if they still existed? They would have kept marching and kept writing letters to the editor and kept selling cookbooks to raise funds for their activities. Many of their recipes are really good. After Election Day, we were still hungry. I decided to make the Two In One Casserole. It’s very Green and only takes about 15 or 20 minutes to prepare. While it’s cooking, you can finish reading The New York Times or watch a funny movie to take your mind off the day’s events.

                                                            Two In One Casserole

1 pkg. Chopped frozen spinach
3 zucchini
¼ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt, pepper, oregano, and basil to taste
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter a casserole dish
Cook and drain spinach well. (Or defrost the spinach in the morning and drain well.)
Saute sliced zucchini with minced clove of garlic
Combine all ingredients and put in casserole dish
Bake for 45 minutes
Serve with brown rice


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reverberations From Ground Zero

What if we never got to find out that we were wrong about something we always believed? Fortunately, I live in a place where there is such diversity that I have the chance to test my beliefs every day.
Today was such a day. The Windy City was living up to its name so I decided to walk at my favorite indoor exercise place, Weber Park’s indoor walking track. While changing into my gym shoes, a man and a woman sitting across from me were discussing the proposal to build a Mosque at Ground Zero. “No,” I chimed in. “It’s two blocks from ground Zero, not in it.”
We talked about the Mosque controversy and other issues and how they were affecting people. Did people living near Ground Zero have a right to be frightened? The discussion drifted, as conversations will, to head coverings. The woman commented about the law in France banning women from wearing burqhas. As we began to discuss our misconceptions -or not -about various Muslim head coverings, the woman sitting in a seat across from me said, “Excuse me. I’m a Muslim woman from Pakistan and I’m not wearing any head covering. We don’t all wear them. It depends on the person.”
 I could see where this was going. It was going toward my postponing my exercising yet again. C’est la vie. The discussion about Muslims and Jews and the diversity of practices seemed more interesting than walking around in circles anyway. It’s always a better world when people can talk to each other and reach a new understanding. I could always walk later.
“I feel really comfortable in America,” the Muslim woman said. “Everyone is from somewhere else.”

Alas, she left in a hurry before I could get any recipes from her.
By the time I finished walking, the only people sitting outside of the walking track were Filipinos speaking to each other in Tagalog. Since I don’t speak that language, there was no temptation to join their conversation. That gave me plenty of time to go home and cook Pineapple Chicken, another Peace de Resistance recipe. This recipe serves 4 people and takes about 10 minutes to prepare. It takes an hour to cook. While dinner is cooking, you can read the newspaper, watch the evening news, or listen to the news on NPR and be better informed when you go to vote on Tuesday. During the commercials, about a half hour before the chicken is ready, put up some rice to eat with it. At the next set of commercials, cut up and heat a green vegetable.

                                                Pineapple Chicken


1 chicken cut up
Soy sauce, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
1 can of frozen pineapple juice
1 can water     
1/8 of a cup of brown sugar
1 can pineapple chunks
1 green onion diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the chicken in a flat baking pan skin side up.
Cover chicken lightly with brown sugar. Sprinkle the garlic powder and pour soy sauce over the chicken.
Defrost the pineapple juice until it is soft enough to pour, mix with water and pour over the chicken.
Sprinkle the green onion pieces over the chicken pieces.
Bake in oven until glazed and dark brown (40 – 60 minutes)
Ten minutes before serving, add drained pineapple chunks.

It came out quite tasty. Since there were only two of us to eat it, I even had leftovers for another dinner. For best reheating results, freeze the leftover chicken in a plastic container with all the juices and the pineapple chunks. Reheat the chicken with the juices and pineapple in a pot on a low to medium heat.

And don’t forget to vote.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" Can Really Cook

In her memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen explores the question of what we take from our ethnic roots and how we adapt them as we become Americanized. She begins her journey as her husband leaves her for a guy named Bob that he met on Shortly after that, she is injured in a serious auto accident. Needing to recuperate both mentally and physically, she returns to her parents’ home in the Mennonite community where she grew up. How she copes there after being out in the greater world for most of her adult life and what she comes to appreciate about the strengths of her community is the main theme of her book. Her story, although upsetting for her, was written in a lighthearted way. She was able to laugh at herself while examining her ability to cope making her book enjoyable to read.

What interested me particularly was how many subcultures there are in America and how we are connected in surprising ways. I didn't know prior to reading Mennonite in a Little Black Dress that a group of Mennonites lived in the Ukraine for 200 years. I didn't know that one of their leaders originated the idea of the shtetl either. (I trust she was being humorous when she talked about that as a good thing. Her book had many humorous passages.) Aside from that, as a Jew with family originating from the Ukraine, we have something in common. When fleeing the Ukraine, our families managed to take their recipes for sweet and sour cabbage with them to America.

Between reading Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and getting into more arguments about who is more pro-Israel than whom in the 9th Illinois Congressional District, I got a taste for sweet and sour cabbage. There are a lot of ways to make it and the recipes I know differ somewhat from Rhoda Janzen’s. There is a recipe for it in Peace de Resistance, also. Of course, I have my family recipe, too, but this time, I’ll give you the one from Peace de Resistance. Sometimes I feel lazy and leave out the cabbage and just make sweet and sour meatballs. This recipe does take a while (prep time about an hour), but the good news is that it freezes really well. Make 3 or 4 times what you’d eat and freeze the rest for nights when you don’t want to cook.

Stuffed Cabbage a la Peace de Resistance (this recipe should serve 4 people)

1 lb ground beef                               Sauce:                           1 tsp cornstarch
2 heaping tbsp cooked rice              1 onion, chopped           2 beef bouillon cubes
1 small onion grated                        2 tbsp. Oil                      2 cups water
1 tbsp water                                     1 small can tomatoes      lemon juice
Salt, pepper                                     1 can tomato sauce         sugar
1 large cabbage                                ½ cup raisins                 1 inch lemon peel

Mix lightly until spongy: chopped meat, rice, 1 small grated onion, 1 tablespoon of water, salt and pepper.
Steam one head of cabbage for 5 minutes in large pot of water, until leaves are soft and pliable.
Make cabbage rolls by placing a spoonful of or more of the meat mixture in center of leaf and fold over.
Place a layer of cabbage rolls in bottom of large pot, sprinkle grated onion over it, and repeat until all cabbage rolls are used up.
Make the sauce by sautéing onion in oil until golden. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, raisins, cornstarch mixed in water, bouillon dissolved in 2 cups of water.
Add the sauce to the cabbage rolls. If sauce does not cover, add enough water to cover.
Cook for an hour in 350-degree oven, covered. Add lemon juice and sugar a little at a time to achieve sweet-and-sour taste Add lemon peel. Cover and cook for one more hour.

Lisa’s shortcut:
If you want to make sweet and sour meatballs instead, forget the cabbage. Instead of adding water to the meat, add ½ cup of breadcrumbs and 1/8 cup catsup. Roll the meat into balls. Make the sauce the same way as above. Put the meatballs into the sauce and cook in a large pot covered. Cook on a medium heat for about an hour. It’s good served over rice or kasha.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Feeding The Hungry And Then What Will We Eat?

Yesterday was our turn to help out at the Beth Emet Soup Kitchen in Evanston, Illinois. The leaders of this soup kitchen started it with the idea that the guests must be treated with respect. They usually feed about 100 guests although nobody is ever turned away. The tables are set with tablecloths and flowers and usually volunteer musicians play music.

Working there is always a humbling experience. It's humbling to see people who could easily be our neighbors walk through the line. One person working there recognized a guest who he had gone to school with many years ago. Phil Ochs' song "There But For Fortune" kept going through my mind as I stood at the serving table.

Last night our menu was salad, chicken and vegetable stir fry, rice, and bread. Another helper and I got assigned to making the salad. We filled three huge bowls with salad vegetables. I knew it would be tiring. It's tiring to know that so many people in America need to eat at soup kitchens but what can we expect when the top 2% of the population has more than 25% of the wealth.

To be prepared for getting home late, I made the dinner in a bowl recipe from Peace de Resistance. The owner of the recipe says, "Been marching all day and forgot to defrost anything for dinner.." This is a really good recipe. It can be made in 10 minutes and put in the refrigerator to be eaten later. If you did forget to defrost anything, the ingredients defrost quickly. You can make it when you get home.

                                                        Dinner In A Bowl

8 oz crabmeat ( fake crabmeat made from fish is just as good. You can buy it in a package with fish that comes already cut in cubes to save time)
5 mushrooms
1 zucchini
1 red pepper
1/4 cup raw macaroni
lemon juice to taste
2 tablespons of olive oil
grated parmesan cheese to taste
oregano to taste

1. Boil a cup of water to make the macaroni.
2. While the macaroni is cooking, cut up the zucchini, mushrooms, and red pepper.
3. Saute in half the olive oil.
4. tear lettuce into pieces and cut the tomatoes
5. put all the ingredients in a bowl.
6. pour the second half of the olive oil, lemon juice, grated parmesan cheese, and oregano over the rest of the ingredients for a salad dressing

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dangerous Chocolate Cake In A Dangerous World

Everything is dangerous. We live in a dangerous world and the world has gotten even more dangerous with all the blogs out there spreading bald faced lies about anyone they feel like. (I have to exempt myself as a blogger from this statement. Whenever I blog about an individual, I send him/her the entry first to see if what I said after an interview is accurate. Then I make any necessary corrections before posting it. Not everyone is so scrupulous.) Nevertheless, you should verify the facts especially when you see statements that don’t seem possible. Very often they’re not.

This is an election year. We need to combat even more lies and scurrilous statements. Who has time to cook with all the campaigning that needs to be done? This year, I’m volunteering to campaign for Jan Schakowsky who’s running for re-election for Congresswoman in the 9th District of Illinois. I think that she's done a great job and deserves to be re-elected. On domestic policy, Jan Schakowsky has an excellent record of advocating for people who often lack the clout to advocate for themselves. On Israeli policy, Jan has a 100% rating from AIPAC and has been a staunch friend of Israel, voting yes on every bill supporting Israel that's come up since she's been in Congress and co-sponsoring several. You don't have to take my word for it. Check her record out further by going to her website 

I was going to make The Peace de Resistance recipe for 7-layer dinner, but there isn’t time. The election is too important. This calls for leftovers. I’ve often felt that whoever invented plastic containers and freezers deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Generally, I’m not a baker. When people are invited to my house for a meal and ask what I'd like them to bring, I invariably say, “dessert.” Nevertheless, with the time left over from reheating leftovers, I can make Dangerous Chocolate Cake. This recipe sounded so easy that I decided to try it. It’s a recipe my friend Pamela Stavinoga, author of Moments of Feelings, gave to me. She got it on the internet from k rosen.

Here it is. It’s called 5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake. Preparation time is five minutes.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add in the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug but don’t be alarmed.
Allow cooling a little, and tipping out onto a plate if desired.

Voila! The dangerous part, says k rosen, is that now chocolate cake is always less than 10 minutes away.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Honoring An Old Recipe For Social Change In America

            While helping my mother to ready her apartment for sale, I saw a glint of a relic. “No!” I moaned. “Not that!”

Underneath the rubble of a half used bottle of vinegar, a quarter of a bottle of cooking oil, and various partially used spices on their way to 1-800-GOT JUNK were the vestiges of an old friend. Courageously, I dived into the rubble to rescue The Peace de Resistance, a cook book published by The Women’s Strike for Peace in the late 1960’s. Its cover was torn off and missing. Its pages were crinkled and stained, but it was still salvageable.
Feeling like I had just saved a long lost friend from an earthquake, I sat down to read it. It evoked nostalgia for a time lost when those of us who felt strongly mobilized for a greater good – to end the war in Vietnam. The recipes were ones we don’t often use now, but I relish the sentiment.

The introduction to the book recalls a time when women were just beginning to have an impact on the greater world:
            “…  We tried every which way to bring peace to our land. We protested; we marched; we wrote letters; we leafleted; we vigiled; we counseled on the Draft. We tried everything but inviting the President to dinner and cooking a meal out of the first Peace de Resistance cookbook…We’re impatient with the hash that has been made of things. We’re determined, by every means possible… stir things up, to stew about what matters, to go on serving Peace."

            The recipes, basic well-balanced meals, reveal an understanding that the women of that era had of an often forgotten truth: You can’t do it all, at least not all at once. There isn’t time to change the world and cook a gourmet meal every night as well. Most of the recipes have a really short preparation time.

           In the spirit of Peace de Resistance, I will try a different recipe from the book each week. If any of you have recipes to contribute, feel free to send them in. The one requirement is that the preparation time can be no more than 15 minutes. In the year ahead – It’s now 5771 on the Jewish calendar, I challenge myself and all of you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time making the world a better place. After all, hash is still being made of lots of things.
In that spirit, I tried a recipe that isn’t in the book but should be. It’s my mother’s June Rosenberg’s recipe for quiche. At age 88, she wrote and circulated petitions in her retirement home to get the health care bill passed. Thanks, Mom.
Quiche – preparation time 15 minutes tops
One ready made frozen pie crust
One heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise
½ cup of milk
Tablespoon of flour
2 eggs
4 ounces of combined Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese diced
salt, pepper, and garlic to taste
1 6 oz. Can of tuna or cut veggies or slice of ham or whatever you feel like adding

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
      2) Beat the eggs
3) Dice the cheese – or cheat and buy it already shredded
4)  Mix all the ingredients (except for the piecrust and the tuna or whatever) in a mixing bowling
5)  Put the added ingredients that you choose on the bottom of the pie crust
6)  Pour in the rest of the ingredients into the pie crust
7)  Bake for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted comes up clean.

 Preparation time 12 minutes. I put in broccoli and mushrooms this time. It was delicious.