Last night, I packed up Baby S., pumped DH full of coffee, picked up Ariella (who came baring delicious gifts of homemade granola) and headed out of Jerusalem towards Petach Tikva. Destination: an evening out with some Israeli food bloggers. It was something I would never have entertained doing with Baby J., but I guess things do change when you have your second child. And, when The Baroness sends you a special invite to join this illustrious group, you don’t decline!
So, there we were, at a round table laden with beers that I had to decline due to the fact that I was going to have to breastfeed Baby S. during dinner, and Miriam, Sarah, Yael and Mirj. The atmosphere was dim (I’ve never been in a bathroom that dark before), the music was cranking and the conversation flowing as I got to know these fabulous foodies.
DH and I shared a plate of fish and chips, which was severely lacking in salt. The fish was also beer battered and deep fried to a crisp and we both commented, hours later, that we couldn’t stop tasting the beer.
At some point, they dimmed the lights further and pumped up the volume, so DH took Baby S. outside where she woke up and needed a feeding. And there, amidst the smoke and crowd of beer drinkers waiting for a table, I breastfed my daughter underneath a giant, black cloak. It was a surreal moment for me as a Mother, and yet, exhilarating at the same time.
So, what does last night have to do with the Shabbos Cholent. Well, it was in the presence of these women that I decided to fully explore my foodie passion and share it more frequently on the blog.
I didn’t really think cholent would be the first food to explore, except that we are P”G making a Kiddush for Baby S. in our shul next week and I have to bring the cholent. We are new members of this shul, which we chose because it was the first and only place we went in Jerusalem where people didn’t ignore us. We made the costly mistake of joining Ramban, where we were routinely ignored, given terrible seats during the High Holidays, and I was actually reprimanded by a woman because I brought the carriage into the sanctuary on an empty Friday night. Not the atmosphere I’m looking for when it comes to a shul and community.
Apparently, the women sponsoring a Kiddush at this new Shul actually make the Cholent. I’ve never made Cholent before in my life. I grew up in a home where Cholent was served only on Succot and Passover. Twice a year, that’s it. The crock pot would otherwise remain empty and stored away in a basement cupboard. I never really developed a yearning for Cholent, although I always take a spoonful when it’s served at other people’s homes.
I asked my friends in the Twittersphere for recipes, and of course consulted with Mom and my sister (who is a wonderful cook in her own right) and cobbled together a recipe I am pretty happy with. We went to SuperDeal to shop for meat, and I purchased 1/2 kilo of #9 which is supposed to be the equivalent of flanken meat. I got it on the bone, which was good because I couldn’t find any meat bouillion cubes.
When it comes to Cholent, people say you can’t go wrong. I think one can. I remember one Shabbat in Seminary, we decided to make a Cholent and I watched as two of my roommates spearheaded the effort. When one roommate added in some apricot jelly, my stomach turned a bit. She proceeded to practically empty out our refrigerator and added ketchup, honey, and a couple of other condiments that I wouldn’t necessarily add to the Cholent, into the giant pot. I’m pretty sure I passed on any Cholent that Shabbat.
Either way, this afternoon I made my first Cholent. I put the potatoes at the bottom, added the onion, 2 cups of red and white kidney beans, 1 cup of barley and 1/2 kilo of #9 meat. I filled the pot with water and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and some paprika.
Here’s hoping it tastes great! Will share my recipe if it doesn’t flop.