Yes, I’m going there. Rosh Hashanah is only three-and-a-half weeks away, as a good friend of mine pointed out to me today. It’s time to think about what to make, what I can make ahead, what meat I’m going to order from Grow and Behold, who I’m going to invite, & who I’m going to share a meal with (you know who you are!).
All this kitchen time has the potential to sidetrack me from the spiritual work I need to be doing during this month of Elul, which is a great month for introspection and self-improvement. It’s prime time for this kind of reckoning and tshuvah. So, when I’m really on my game, I’ll listen to shiurim on naaleh.com. I’m also participating in Rabbi Nivin’s chabura, which is an amazing personal development class, which I highly recommend.
Anyhoo, I’ve been meaning to post this menu plan for a while now, but, you know, life has been a little hectic. I have another post up on Partners in Torah. It’s about having a positive perspective, and I’d love for you to go check it out & leave some comment love over there for me. Also, my baby is 2-and-a-half-months old, and just irresitably cute.
And we’ve been doing potty training with Little Man (successfully, I might add. YAY!), and all the kids are home all day, and, well, you get the picture. It’s wonderful and amazing and really, really busy.
But you know what they say: if you want something done, ask a busy person. I know I certainly get more accomplished when I have to be more exacting with my time. If anyone can offer a reason as to why that is, I’d totally love some insight into that.
Right, so Rosh Hashanah, Yom HaDin (that’s Day of Judgment. Duhn duhn DUHN). It’s an intense time, a time where we pray for a favorable judgment for the next year, that we strive to really improve ourselves, to be honest where our failings are, and to take steps to correct our mistakes. And then, in the way of many Jewish holidays, we eat. And eat and eat.
Some fun facts about foods which are and are not included on the menu (I can only speak to the Ashkenazi customs, this is not representative of Jewry as a whole).
- Hello, dip the apple in the honey, for a sweet year, and because honey is representative of good living and wealth. Also, Israel is the land of milk and honey.
- Round challahs (Mara at Kosher on a Budget has a great video on how to braid the challah). The round shape symbolizes the continuity of Creation, the circle of life. Also, some people add raisins to make it sweeter
- Sweet foods like Honey cake. This represents our wish to have a “sweet” new year
- Carrots – the Yiddish word for carrot is merren, which is similar to more, which is what we want. More blessings, more children, more success in Torah learning, more success in general, etc., which is how we end up with tzimmes on the table.
- New fruit – a fruit that has come into season and we haven’t eaten yet. Chinese markets are great places to get awesome-looking fruits, like these:
- Fish head – Yeah, it’s about as appealing as it sounds, but it represents fertility and abundance, which are generally things I want. I used an actual fish head last year, boiling it up in a pot and everything. After much dry heaving, I decided that we will, from now on, be using gummy fish heads to represent this traditional food. One of my best friends uses a sheep’s head. I’ve seen it, and it’s awesome, but I’m really glad that we don’t keep that particular custom.
- Pomegranates – the seeds of the pomegrante represent the mitzvos, and we want to be as full of mitzvos as a pomegranate is of seeds. Hannah over at CookingManager.com shows a good way to deseed one.
- Food Stuffed with other food – I’m not sure if this is actually for Rosh Hashanah or some other holiday. I couldn’t find anything on the web to support my suspicion of a stuffed-food tradition. Can anyone help me out here?
- Nuts – this is a little esoteric, so bear with me. Each hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent. Aleph is one, Beis is two, and so on. The sum of a word is called a gematria (still with me here?), and the gematria of “nut” and of “sin” is the same. Since we don’t even want to hint about sin on Rosh Hashanah, we avoid eating nuts.
- Vinegar – ’cause we don’t want a sour (negative) year.
And this is what we will be eating:
1st night (Sunday, September 16th)
- Simonim! (I always seem to forget to include these symbolic foods on my shopping list. That’s why I put this in bold and italics)
- Baked Gefilte Fish, probably with tomato sauce or something along those lines.
- Green Salad (no nuts!), and various other vegetable-based salads. I’ll probably just roast some veggies and do a light marinade, maybe make some babganoush.
- Chicken soup with knaidlach (that’s matzoh balls) – Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook
- Tzimmes (HJHC)
- Stuffed Breast of Veal (HJHC)
- Gourmet Sweet Potatoes (Spice and Spirit)
- Honey Cake Minis (HJHC)
1st lunch (Monday, September 17th)
- Sweet Red Peppers (S&S)
- Sweet and Sour Chicken Fricassee (HJHC)
- Stuffed Cabbage (S&S)
- Classic Apple Cake (S&S)
2nd night (Monday, September 17th)
- Baked Gefilte Fish
- Sweet Red Peppers
- Chicken soup with knaidlach
- Stuffed Veal
- Stuffed cabbage
- Spicy Carrot Cake (S&S)
2nd lunch (Tuesday, September 18th)
This is going to be a joint meal, and it’s going to be pareve, since we’ve consumed an awful lot of meat by this point. I’ll serve whatever’s leftover from the previous meals, and my friend will bring some food, and voila! The fourth meal is served.
Okay, I’d love to hear what’s on your menu, and how you’re incorporating some good old Elul study while you’re at it. And don’t forget to check out my post on positivity over at Partners in Torah. It’s very relevant for this time of year.