Roasted Summer Vegetable Tian

By Kristen Gardner, Wellness Director

As summer comes to an end and the weather starts to cool, I start to see more members coming into the fitness center, and they are looking for healthy nutrition ideas.  It’s finally starting to cool down, so I don’t mind turning on the oven.  I love this healthy late summer vegetable tian (pronounced tee-ahn), which originated in Provence and references the shallow earthenware casserole as well as the food it contains.

Farmers’ markets around the city are abundant with many different varieties of succulent squash, sweet onions, juicy heirloom tomatoes and earthy potatoes. It can be served as a gorgeous vegetarian main course with a nice salad of market greens and a crusty French baguette, or as a side dish to meat or fish.

This nutrient-dense tian contains many richly colored vegetables, which serve as a great source of carotenes that protect the body from cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. These tasty vegetables also provide a healthy dose of potassium and vitamin C.  So, enjoy this delicious recipe – guilt free!

Roasted Summer Vegetable Tian

2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
1 large sweet yellow onion cut in half and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
3 large Roma tomatoes
Sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Dried thyme, to taste
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 60 seconds. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the greased baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly into a spiral, making only one layer. Season with sea salt, black pepper and dried thyme, to taste. Drizzle the last tablespoon of olive oil over the top.

Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Uncover and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until browned. Enjoy.

(from For The Love of Cooking)

Joe Lieberman Loves It When We Talk Dirty

Senator Joe Lieberman talks about his new book, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath, on NPR’s Where We Live today, and reflects on all the attention he’s received for the chapter about sex on the Sabbath.

Catch the shout-out to The Blog at 16th and Q starting at 30:52! Read the post here.

"We haven't promoted this aspect of the Sabbath enough."


What We’re Listening To: Rosh Hashanah Girl

Today is Rosh Chodesh Elul, which means that Rosh Hashanah is just one month away.

Shabbat Surfing: Jewish Disaster Preparedness Kit

DC is braced for the biggest hurricane in decades on the heels of a bizarre earthquake, and we’re all scurrying around like crazy, stocking up on water, batteries and canned goods.

Are you ready? Let our Jewish disaster preparedness kit help you get everything in order.

Please stay safe and dry this weekend!

Let’s Do a Musical! (Really?)

Grace here.  (Theater J Director of Marketing and Communications)  It’s been a while since I’ve had a firsthand encounter of the musical-theatre-actor-kind.

However, the room was swarming with musical-theatre folk at yesterday’s first rehearsal of Parade, the Tony Award-winning musical that Theater J is co-producing with Ford’s Theatre [Grace puts on Marketing Director hat and says “Don’t forget,  premium discounted seats are being held for Theater J subscribers only through September 9th! Subscribe now, or forever regret missing this offer” Grace takes off  Marketing Director hat and continues writing].

It  was more than a little intimidating. For one thing, they’re all unrealistically beautiful…Perfect hair, perfect skin and perfect teeth that are always showing because they are always perfectly smiling and hugging each other.

For another thing, they have anti-gravitational, super-power voices that can scale unimaginable heights, soar through the air, fill theatres, and overpower even the crustiest businessman (we’ve all seen that Brooks Brothers-clad alpha male weeping at Les Mis…).

And this production of Parade brings together some of the most luminous of the luminaries, such as Tony-Award winner Euan Morton, DC-favorite Erin Driscoll and Jenny Fellner, who just finished a little show called Wicked on Broadway.

Have I mentioned that it was a little intimidating?

Presiding over the morning was  Paul R. Tetreault, the Executive Director of Ford’s Theatre, who is effusive, intelligent, and can rock a bow-tie better than anyone I’ve ever seen (apologies to Alan Chapman).  He spoke of his 14-year attachment to Parade, (revealing that when he first saw the play, it rendered him unable to speak and barely able to breathe).

He also told us about the brilliant playwright Alfred Uhry,  the long road it took to get to the Ford’s stage, and gave a bit of the background of the Leo Frank story, on which the play is based.

Ari then elaborated on the Leo Frank story, and the significance it holds for Black and Jewish people today. In his program note, he writes that Parade is “a kind of galvanizing reminder of what can go wrong in our country when hate speech and raging angers aren’t tempered and set to rest, but allowed to metastasize”

Suddenly, a vivacious lanky man with shaggy grey hair popped out of his seat and began speaking with an English accent. He turned out to be Stephen Rayne, the director, who introduced the cast, shared his vision of the play, and gave an atmospheric  recounting of the story of Mary Phagan’s death at the pencil factory, complete with English-American translation jokes (“At that time, there was a shortage of brass at the factory, which was a problem you know, because they need brass to attach the erasers to the pencils—you Americans say erasers, yes? I was told that I’m not allowed to call them ‘rubbers’, as we do back home”…)

The idea, without giving too much away, is to do the greatest production of Parade that has ever been done.  Looking around the room, feeling the buzz of  talent and potential, it seems an idea that will quite soon become a reality. Rayne has a clear and deep understanding of the play, and what it will take to truly do this stunning  play justice.

And it is, incidentally, a stunning play.

Musicals can sometimes have a bad rap. Some say they’re less ‘substantial’ or  than straight dramas. I actually used to believe this as well, (thanks a lot, Andrew Lloyd Webber!), until I discovered Jason Robert Brown (and Stephen Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, James Lapine, etc.).  What these composers and lyricists showed me is that musicals do something very similar to what Shakespeare does: heightens language to capture passions too big for everyday life and parlance.


In life, words tend to stumble along rather awkwardly. I love this particular line from Madame Bovary, which says: “Human speech is a cracked cauldron on which we knock out tunes for dancing bears, when we wish to conjure pity from the stars.” (Good visual, right?)  Or the line in Annie Hall, when Alvy says, “Love is too weak a word for what I feel – I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F’s, yes I have to invent, of course I do…”

Haven’t you had those moments when your rage, indignation, love, fear, what-have-you is too big for English, and the only way to begin to release a passion that big is to create new words, fling yourself into a sonnet, or belt out a song?

For me, Parade is two hours of those moments –an exorcism of hate, an ecstacy of love, and wave after wave of music borne of blood.

On with the show…

DC is Going to EGOT; Got Protection?


DC is going for the meteorological equivalent of the EGOT this weekend.

Tracy Jordan thinks we should go for the floods


Or EHFD, if you will.

I think we get extra points for doing it all in one month, right?

We hit the drought two weeks ago and the earthquake yesterday. Hurricane Irene will hit this weekend, and the flood warnings have already started.

While I’m terribly proud of us for getting EHFD this month, it does leave us open to plenty of conjecture about why this is happening to DC. (And also makes us the likely first course in a zombie apocalypse, but that’s the least of our worries right now.)

It’s been suggested that the earth shook yesterday because parties in Congress agreed on something, but that’s obviously insane; everyone knows Congress goes home in August. Otherwise, plausible.

The gays have been blamed. Of course. Certainly who you do “dinner and a movie” with should be enough to hold dominion over all meteorological and tectonic forces.

The other possibility is that we thought New York might get EHFD before us.

Still, we’re planning for multiple programs this weekend: some do-goodery, and fun times. Perhaps this isn’t an award we want to win…


Soon to Be Stem Cell Donor

I’m only superstitious some of the time. I have no problem walking under a ladder or stepping on a crack or even with black cats (I love you, Chuck).
However, I am superstitious about next Tuesday.

It’s only a week away, but so much could go wrong. I’m nervous, excited and terrified all at the same time. I am ready to scream and can’t keep this secret about the donation inside any longer.

For those that may not have read my January 2010 (part one and two) posts, here’s the quick recap. I was lying on the beach in Key West, FL when I got the call that I was officially “Luke’s” bone marrow match – aka, the anonymous recipient of my peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC). I was honored to be able to make such a difference in one person’s life. Then, a little over a week before the February 1 donation date, I received a call that Luke was in the ICU.

My donation was canceled. They didn’t reschedule.

Believe it or not, twenty months later, this month, I received another call from Be the Match saying that Luke was healthy enough to receive the donation.

So here I am: one week prior to the donation and so many emotions are going through me. I wanted to write this post weeks ago when I found out I was going to donate, but was nervous. That silly little thing called superstition and the fear that my past blog posts jinxed my donation. Will this post cause some sort of problem to occur over the next week?

Over the next week, please think of Luke. Send your prayers to wherever you send your prayers and hope that my nervous, needle fearing self will get to go to the Annandale Apheresis Center next Tuesday to donate my PBSC.

If you’re not in the National Bone Marrow Registry, check out the do-it-yourself kit to register from home. You can also come to our Blood Drive/Bone Marrow Registry on October 27 at the 16th Street J.

What a great way to save a life!

(And if you know any good superstitions for keeping away jinxes, let me know.)


What We’re Listening To: Leonard Bernstein’s East Side Story

Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, Harold Prince, Robert E. Griffith, Leonard Bernstein, and Jerome Robbins in 1957.

This week, Leonard Bernstein would’ve turned 93.

West Side Story, for which Bernstein composed the famous music, showcased the early collaboration of three nice Jewish boys – with Stephen Sondheim doing the lyrics, and Arthur Laurents writing the script.

See if you can imagine the show as originally conceived, as East Side Story: the conflicted love story between a Jewish girl from a family of Holocaust survivors and an Italian boy from a Catholic family on the Lower East Side.

Shabbat Surfing: Shots Heard Round the World

Meet Pesach Hausfater, one of the leaders of the massive housing protests that have swept Israel this past month. The Forward has an English translation of an interview that ran on the Israeli website Calcalist.

The New Yorker has a short piece from a veteran passenger of Bus No. 392, which runs between Be’er Sheva and Eilat and was one of the targets of a coordinated terrorist attack yesterday in Israel. 8 Israelis were killed in an outburst of violence that threatens to escalate.

David Letterman’s officially a Jew! Well, not really, but Jihadists tend not to make those subtle distinctions.

The story of Ralph Branca’s Jewish heritage has provided an opportunity for one of our community’s favorite past-times: Should we really count him as a Jewish ballplayer? More importantly, does that mean Jews share Branca’s guilt for surrendering the home run to Bobby Thompson, known as the “shot heard ’round the world,” that gave the NY Giants the pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers?

Finally, Gene Simmons wants to rock n’ roll all night and party every day with Texas Governor and Presidential candidate Rick Perry.

Joe Lieberman Reminds Us Of Things We Love About Judaism: Sex on Shabbat

Joe hints at what Hadassah looks forward to on Friday night.

In an interview that feels as awkward as watching your parents discuss their favorite Kama Sutra positions, Senator Joe Lieberman and Sally Quinn discuss the mitzvah to have  “intimate sexual relations” on the “Sabbath.” Sally was so excited to discuss the topic that she quotes the page number in Lieberman’s book with the same enthusiasm the girls I knew in middle school whispered to each other about page 72 of Judy Blume’s Forever.

The interview, which is part of the Washington Post’s On Faith series is centered around Lieberman’s new book The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath. Ignoring for a moment this call to the erotic from a politician whose charisma has been compared to that of Droopy Dog, this truly is one of the most awesome selling points of Judaism in-general and Shabbat in-particular. One wonders why some sophisticated Jewish outreach organization hasn’t made more hay out of the ole double-mitzvah.

Religion, as too many of us learn it, often feels like a collection of thou-shall-nots and the traditional observance of Shabbat is chock-full of them. In our modern, individualist age, many of us, when confronted with a list of “forbidden activities” such as we find on Shabbat, instinctively recoil. The emphasis on a commandment that compels us to experience pleasure and intimacy confounds those prejudices.

Of course, the mitzvah in its traditional interpretation is intended only for married couples — and while Joe Lieberman was a co-sponsor of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” he remains opposed to legalized gay-marriage. But I don’t feel like I need to be constrained by the traditionalist messenger from embracing a more inclusive message.

Pirkei Avot tells us “mitzvah goreret mitzvah” — that one mitzvah leads to another. It doesn’t say with which mitzvah you need to begin. JCCs are built on the belief that there are multiple avenues that lead to a committed Jewish life — social action, the arts, study, camp even fitness can beget (no pun intended) a deeper involvement in Jewish life and community. Where you begin is up to you.

So, this Friday night, if you are in a committed, monogamous relationship and find yourselves so inclined, take pride in observing the kinkiest commandment.

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