Bi-Partisan Pecan Pumpkin Pie for the Kosher Thanksgiving Table

By Jean Graubart, Director of  the Leo & Anna Smilow Center for Jewish Living and Learning

November is always reminiscent of family, food and memories.

Thanksgiving is a holiday we enjoy with Americans of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, taking time to be with people who matter and eating delicious foods.  There is a traditional menu set out by the Pilgrims, or so we are told, but each community and family adds their own personal flavors to the general idea of what to have on the table.

Pumpkin pie, because it is generally made with evaporated milk or other dairy product, has been a problem for the kosher meat table.  Years ago, I found Nancy Reagan’s Simple (the key word) Pecan Pumpkin Pie and was delighted that it would be both pareve and combine 2 favorite flavors for pie.  For at least 25 years, this pie has been a part of our dessert table and relished by my guests.  Since today is election day and we are all thinking of the White House, I thought it would be appropriate to add a pie from this auspicious address to your Thanksgiving recipes.  And it is a bi-partisan pie, enjoyed by all of all parties!

Nancy Reagan’s Simple Pecan Pumpkin Pie

INGREDIENTS:
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin (canned or fresh)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 unbaked (9-inch) pie shell
1 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Break eggs into large bowl. Beat with wire whip. Add pumpkin, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved and ingredients are well blended. Pour into pie shell and cover pie with pecans. Bake for 40 minutes, or until filling is set (knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean).  Can be baked a day ahead and refrigerated for the big day.

And while we are into “P” recipes (pecan pumpkin pie), add this “P” recipe to your Thanksgiving repertoire.  Perfect for the kosher table:

Mashed Potatoes

INGREDIENTS:
5 pounds potatoes (any kind, size or shape–I like Yukon Gold but red and russet are good or mix them up)
6 onions

DIRECTIONS:
Boil potatoes with skins. In frying pan,  heat olive oil. Dice 6 onions and sauté until golden brown.

Mash potatoes with skins on ( they add nutrients and taste and texture) in a large bowl with hand masher, the kind your mother or grandmother used.  Mix in the onions and all the oil and add salt and plenty of pepper to taste.

Use a large rectangular pan and grease with oil all around.  Put potatoes mixed with onions and seasoned into the pan and heat before dinner on 350 or 375 or whatever your oven is on until golden on top.

ENJOY!  They taste like the filling in the best knish you ever had.  And they are Perfect (there’s that P again) with natural turkey sauce (that means no added flour or thickener) and alongside the vegetables (steamed or roasted are best since everything else is so flavorful and their natural taste brings balance to this meal).

Hoping this Thanksgiving, you all celebrate with people who matter, and take the time to count the blessings that make your life meaningful, and may these blessings be bountiful!  CHAG SAMEACH!

Monday Media: Woody Guthrie’s America

Like many of you, I sang “This Land is Your Land” as a young child in public school, and always assumed that it was more “Workin’ on the Railroad” than “We Shall Overcome.”  But this iconic song was actually written as a sarcastic response to “God Bless America,” and packs a revolutionary punch–this land belongs to you and me includes everyone, be they black or white, rich or poor, young or old. The blessings of America belong to all of us, not just a select few. This was Woody’s message.

To learn more about “This Land is Your Land” and Woody Guthrie check out this great episode of Studio 360‘s American Icons Series  or Theater J’s upcoming show Woody Sez: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie.

And whether you live near the Redwood forests or the Gulf Stream waters, get out and vote tomorrow!

Playlist for Hurricane/Nor’Easter Sandy

1. Bruce Springsteen – 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

2. Randy Newman – I Think It’s Going to Rain Today

3. Scorpions – Rock You Like a Hurricane

4. Moyshe Oysher – Geshem

5. Regina Spektor – On The Radio

הכבש השישה עשר – ברקים ורעמים
6. The Sixteenth Lamb – Lightning & Thunder

7. Eurythmics – Here Comes the Rain Again

8. Gene Kelly – Singin’ in the Rain

9. Barry Manilow – I Made it Through the Rain

10. Carpenters – Rainy Days and Mondays

11. Lena Horne – Stormy Weather (h/t @theatreWashDC)

12. Lonely Island/SNL – I Wish it Would Rain

13. Barbra Streisand – Don’t Rain On My Parade (via @gloejcc)

14. Judy Garland – Come Rain or Come Shine (also via @gloejcc)

Filmmaker Yariv Mozer and the Long Road to Tel Aviv

By Juliet Burch, Washington Jewish Film Festival Coordinator

Most of the time in the WJFF film office we work really hard, producing furrowed brows and beads of sweat with every film program we put on. There are phone calls and emails and negotiations and usually one more phone call. But sometimes we don’t do anything at all and something great falls in our lap. Enter The Embassy of Israel and Yariv Mozer.

The phone rang a week ago and The Embassy asked if we’d like to host filmmaker Yariv Mozer and his new film, The Invisible Men for free. The answer to this question was: YES. Within four hours everything was arranged and, with the immense support and cosponsorship of GLOE , we were scheduled to host an amazing FREE program.

The Invisible Men is about three gay Palestinians who make their way to Tel Aviv to escape persecution and danger, but life in Tel Aviv has its own challenges. To wet your appetite and my own, I found two interesting interviews with Yariv. Here is an excerpt from an interview by Scott Krane published last June in The Times of Israel:

“My interest in people like Louie (one of the film’s three protagonists) began long before I met him. I had always been intrigued by the lives of gay Palestinian men who live kilometers from Tel Aviv, isolated by security fences, checkpoints, and their deeply religious society. However, the political reality of the Occupation never allowed me to meet such men… In 2008, I read ‘Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel,’ a report published by two lawyers from the Tel Aviv University Human Rights Clinic. Their research includes the testimonies of gay Palestinians who had escaped to Tel Aviv… I cried as I read the report again and again. For the first time I learned that there were gay men in Tel Aviv.”

If you’d like to read the complete interview, here is the link:
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-invisible-men-a-documentary-by-yariv-mozer/

My old friend Stuart Hands from the Toronto Jewish Film Festival also interviewed Yariv in 2009 about his film, MY FIRST WAR (it won Best Film there that year). http://tjff09.blogspot.com/2009/05/interview-with-yariv-mozer-director-of.html

Simply put, Yariv’s films are fascinating and he speaks about his subjects with great insight. I’m right: sometimes something great just falls in your lap. Many thanks to the Embassy. I hope you can join us in welcoming Yariv Mozer Sunday October 14, 4pm. For information about the program and how to be a part of it click here.

From Inside the Rehearsal Room- Joshua Morgan

Joshua Morgan

I asked Joshua Morgan – who you might remember from THE CHOSEN (at Arena Stage) – how were rehearsals for OUR CLASS were going.   Joshua will be appearing as Wladek in OUR CLASS.

Enjoy!    ~Becky, Director of Community Outreach & New Media

From Joshua: 

Our Class
Oct 10-Nov 4

“Week two comes to an end!

I’m exhausted! We’ve been reading, singing, dancing and staging like mad and are two days away from our design run. Every day I realize more and more how mammoth this play is and how incredibly lucky we are to be at the hands of Derek Goldman. He cares so deeply about this story and is allowing each of us to bring our ideas, passion and talent to each of these complex people. He has this amazing way of speaking fairly ephemerally about a moment or a character and yet being SO clear. I know exactly what he wants each time he gives me a piece of wisdom about any moment in the play. I trust him and I think that’s allowing me to allow myself to take risks.

This play reads differently on the page than what I’m experiencing. It’s so visceral and full of so much danger, heart, humor and the list goes on. Speaking of humor! We spend a good 40% of rehearsal laughing as an ensemble which is so refreshing and so needed working on this play in particular.

I can’t wait to share it with DC.”

Below are images of dance rehearsal for OUR CLASS:

Dance Rehearsals for Our Class
Dance Rehearsals for Our Class

Yom Kippur: Apologies, Technology and More

Yom Kippur 5773 begins at sundown on Tuesday and Jews are currently in the midst of reflecting on the past year, clearing their schedules for holiday observance, and seeking to be included once again in the Book of Life.

JTA has put together list of the top apologies of 5772. We might question the sincerity of some of them, but either way it’s a good recap of those who have wronged us.

Chicago White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis is pleased with the resolution to change the time of the September 25 game against the Cleveland Indians to 1:10 pm to accommodate the observance of Kol Nidre. Called “The Sandy Koufax question” the Yom Kippur vs. baseball dilemma is nothing new.

Techy generation: A rabbi at a Miami Beach Rosh Hashanah service encouraged twenty-somethings to engage with the service by anonymously texting their regrets, goals, musings and blissful thoughts for everyone to see.

The Huffington Post is Live-Blogging the High Holy Days and incorporating pluralistic thoughts and all kinds of online mediums into this communal celebration.

Finally, if words fail you, Tablet’s got some punchy ecards to send to your family and friends:

 

Shana Tova and Shabbat Shalom!

Recipes: Symbolic Rosh Hashana Foods and Russian Tea Biscuits

By Jean Graubart, Director of Jewish Living and Learning

Rosh Hashanah, which begins on Sunday night September 16, is right around the corner.*

Every year, as I prepare my menu to share with family and friends, I think of ways to add meaning to the meal.It is the beginning of our New Year and a time we think about our hopes and desires for the year to come, dreams for ourselves, those we love and the world around us.

There are foods we can add to our table that symbolically add good wishes for the new year!

Dates dipped in powdered sugar and served along with the more familiar apples and honey, bring sweetness to the new year.
A prayer to accompany the eating of dates: “As we eat this date, may we ‘date’ the New Year that is beginning, as one of happiness and blessing and peace for all the world.”

Pomegranates are said to contain exactly 613 seeds, the same number of mitzvot, the biblical commandments. These beautiful fruits often decorate the holiday table but cut open and eaten bring a year filled with as many good deeds at the pomegranate seeds.
A prayer said as seeds are tasted: “In the coming year, may we be rich and replete with acts inspired by religion and piety, as this pomegranate is rich and replete with seeds.”

Pumpkin is often served in some form in Sephardic homes to express the hope that, as this vegetable has been protected by a thick covering, we too will be protected. Our family ate the seeds toasted and salted by my nona.
Prayer for eating pumpkin: “May the coming year grow as a gourd in fulness of blessing.  In the year to come, may this pumpkin guard us from enemies.”

Leek is considered a food for luck, something we all need.  In Sephardic cooking, leek is as common as the onion and is cooked and added to meat for keftes, small burgers made with boiled leeks chopped, ground beef or turkey, eggs, matzo meal and salt and pepper to taste, then fried lightly in oil, cooked in tomato sauce with lemon or baked in the oven. For a vegetable side dish or for vegetarians, boiled and chopped to mix with chopped spinach, matzo meal, eggs and salt and pepper and cooked like the meat.
A prayer for this lovely vegetable: “As we eat this leek may our luck never lack in the year to come.”

Beets are a prime vegetable at this time of year.  Roasted with a little olive oil (wrapped in foil and baked at 450 for 40 minutes until soft) or boiled, beets are a beautifully colorful addition to the Rosh Hashanah table. They can be served cold in salad or alone with a little balsamic vinegar.
While enjoying, recite: “As we bite this beet, may those who in the past have beaten us or sought our harm, be beaten in the coming year.”

Recently a friend told me to be sure and add celery and raisins to the holiday table.  This is an easy one, since celery is good in salad and a must in chicken soup, a tradition at the holiday table. For the raisins, add to your favorite apple cake or make these delicious Russian Tea Biscuits, a recipe brought from the “old country” (this time from eastern Europe, an Ashkanazi treat) and filled with raisins and nuts.  Why raisins and celery?  For a raise in salary!

Russian Tea Biscuits

4 1/2 cups flour (begin with a little less)
1 stick parve margarine (butter if for dairy meal)
1/4 cup oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sweet wine
1/4 cup club soda (this was made when baking soda was not to be found)
1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix margarine, oil and sugar
Add eggs and mix
Add dry ingredients and mix
Put in wine and club soda and mix with wooden spoon
Add flour as needed for dough you can roll out easily
Divide dough into 4 pieces
Roll each into rectangle on floured board or table

Fill, using what you like from below, all or some. This is for you to enjoy, put your signature on it!
Fillings:
2 jars preserves spread on the dough
Chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds)
Raisins (yellow or black)
Dried shredded coconut

Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of filling
Roll like a jelly roll, tuck top and bottom under
With a spatula, place on greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper)
Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle crumbs on top made with 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and1/2 cup margarine mixed together
Cut half way through the dough, about 1/2 inch apart

Bake 325 (preheated oven) for 1 hour
Cool and slice through
Place in cupcake papers
Can be frozen if made in advance.

As these are very full, we hope for a full and satisfying life. Enjoy as the finish of a wonderful and meaningful Rosh Hashanah meal.

Shana tova, and hopes for a year of sweetness and satisfaction to you and your loved ones!

 

*While this post was supposed to go up a few weeks ago, it mysteriously disappeared into the bloggy ether… Enjoy all the festive foods during these Days of Awe!

Spotlight on Samuel Popkin

Just in time for election season! In The CandidateSamuel Popkin, Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego, draws on a lifetime of presidential campaign experience and extensive research to analyze what it takes to win this upcoming Presidential campaign. In the above video, Popkin explains how to judge an incumbent’s campaign from a challenger’s method of attack, dissecting Obama’s Presidential campaign strategy.

Come hear Popkin give his take on the second presidential debate on October 23.

Shabbat Surfing: What’s New?

Suze Orman thinks you should be going to a cool Jewish summer camp.
Image (c) suzeorman.com

Shana tova!

We’re days away from the Jewish New Year and it seemed the right time to focus on all things both Jewish and new.

Because it’s hard to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Suze Orman just making lanyards…
New Camp: Four new Jewish summer camps are gearing up to create more memorable overnight camp experiences for underserved populations, thanks to the Foundation for Jewish Camp, in the areas of business and entrepreneurship, health and wellness, sports, and science and technology.

Because it’s about time…
New Name: “Jew Pond” in New Hampshire, named as a pejorative in the 1920s when the hotel to which it was connected was bought by two Jewish businessmen from Boston, has been officially renamed Carleton Pond.

Because sexism and agism are so passe…
New Shofar Blowers: DC Congregations, including Adas Israel and Tifereth Israel, are seeing more and more women, plus young and older adults who want to blow the shofar, and are learning for these High Holidays.

Because we notice when one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Middle East is denied the right to worship…
New Place Without a Minyan: “For the first time in some 2,000 years, Alexandria [Egypt] will not have a minyan,” as Egyptian authorities cancel services at Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue and deny visas.

Because welcoming all Jewish families is a core value…
New Info on Interfaith Families: With interfaith relationships making up a not-insignificant amount of the Jewish community, new survey data helps Jewish organizations engage these families, who are looking for outlandish things like a welcoming attitude, invitations to learn about Judaism, and events for interfaith families.

 

“Insane and Wonderful”

Grace here. I saw a great article in the Washington Post today about the beautiful and talented Annie Baker. It seems she is as charming in person as she is through her work…just don’t call her gentle.

Here’s a bit of the article:  

“She seems low-key and practical, perhaps because her success isn’t exactly as out-of-the-blue or as absolute as it seems.

After college Baker stopped writing plays while working still more day jobs, culminating with an enjoyable gig as a fact-checker for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Baker considers herself an eternal student; she downloads free lectures from major scholars in religion and philosophy on iTunes University, saying, “I highly recommend it.”) Seeing two plays, Young Jean Lee’s “Pullman Washington” and then Caryl Churchill’s “A Number” prompted her to apply for a playwriting group with Ensemble Studio Theatre.

She got in, and support, from development to full productions, rapidly followed. Even Hollywood picked her up quickly, though Baker says in a diverting singsong voice, “I don’t like to talk about it.” (She wrote a couple screenplays and developed a half hour show for HBO; nothing has been filmed.)

For now, at least, the theater is her metier, with Baker’s fine-grained characterizations and fundamental compassion drawing sober comparisons to Chekhov. Not coincidentally, her adaptation of “Uncle Vanya,” directed by Gold, just closed off-Broadway…

Baker is now part of the inaugural Residency Five group at New York’s Signature Theatre. The program offers five playwrights cash awards and guarantees each dramatist three full productions of premieres over five years.

“I’ve been really lucky in that I have a couple theaters that have said, ‘We stand behind you,’ ” Baker says. “Signature, especially, is like, ‘Write your weird play. We’ll do it.’ It’s actually, like, daunting. But really awesome.”

MaryBeth Wise and Michael Kramer in Annie Baker’s Body Awareness–now at Theater J

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