Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Community's Recipe for Dealing With the High Price of Clothes

Times are hard for many Americans. People are angry saying that wealth is inequitably distributed. Hence the rise of the Occupy Protests. Yet occasions still go on. Being unable to afford an outfit to wear to a wedding is a problem for many people.

I was reminded of a solution yesterday when I received a request in the mail for a donation from the Jane Webster Simcha Gemach. This organization fills a special need in the Orthodox Jewish community in Chicago. People donate outfits to the Gemach that are  appropriate for the mother, grandmother, sister or other significant family member in the bride’s life. Women in the community who need the outfits can borrow them after paying a small deposit. They must pay for any needed alterations themselves and have the outfit dry cleaned before returning it. The Gemach works with particular tailors who understand the needs of the Gemach and are able to make the alterations temporary enough so that they can be torn out and re-altered for the next user. The best part is that everyone can look well dressed while spending a minimal amount of money. The community has similar Gemachs that lend bridal gowns and give away used children’s clothes. I’m not Orthodox myself but a great idea is a great idea. I’ve often wondered why other communities don’t copy them and set up similar organizations.

The Gemachs don’t fix our country’s problems, but they help to address a need on a local level. Maybe people will become more inventive and learn to help each other more as they respond to need. If any of you know of other efforts, I’d love to hear about them.

In the meantime, I continue to search for economical, nutritious recipes to share. Here is one for mushroom-black bean curry. Preparation time is 20 minutes. It serves four.

                                                          Mushroom Black Bean Curry

 2-3 tbsp butter
½ pound fresh mushrooms chopped
1 onion minced
curry powder to taste (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 apples chopped fine
salt, paprika to taste
1 cup raw brown rice cooked in 2 cups of water
1 cup plain yogurt
1 14 oz. can black beans with liquid drained

     1.  Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
     2.  Put the rice to cook.
     3.  While the rice is cooking, sauté the mushrooms in the butter. Add the onions and curry powder.   Saute for a few more minutes. Add the apples but don’t let them get mushy. Remove from the heat and stir in the paprika, salt, and yogurt.
      4. When the rice is cooked, assemble the casserole. First layer is the rice. Then comes the mushroom yogurt sauce spread evenly over the grain. Add in the black beans. Sprinkle paprika and more curry powder (optional) over the top.
      5. Cook for about a half hour or until the sauce feels more solid.

It’s good served with a green salad or vegetable and sweet potatoes.    

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