Sunday, October 07, 2007


I started writing a recipe book during my long summer at home, during the endless meatless Nine Days. There are many meat recipes in the book. Friend A had a recipe book at Hebrew U she made with her mom, basically a photo album with the recipes written on index cards for viewing and sliding-out ease, arranged by food type. It was a good idea, so like other good ideas, I took it.

iHo slipped me some of her favorite recipes on white index cards, and rl shipped me some via email, and I copied many from my momma's cookbooks and the recipe card index I made her one year for Mother's Day. Fifth grade, I think. (Feel free to post your own recipes and I'll write them on the pack of multi-colored index cards I got from RiteAid to study for my Geology exams. do it!!)

I like recipes. (What a sentence, Rebecca. Really says a lot there. Phew. Better go take a five minute break to consider that before I keep reading.) They provide good combinations and fresh ingredients and ingredients I have never heard of or considered as ingrediable before. When I don't cook using recipes (meaning when I cook using just my mind) things happen. Things generally do happen, yes. So either I end up making delicious pasta primavara or I saute strawberries with zucchini and mushrooms. There are many ideas and recipes in my head waiting to get out and be made and sometimes they get made together in what in my head seems like a swell idea but on the plate not so much. So I occasionally progress from the strawberry/zucchini madness and look up a series of recipes online for the same dish- like mushroom barley soup- write out all of the elements I like, and piece together a new recipe from that.*

On Wednesday-- well, some background first. Life has been extremely hectic for the past four weeks because of all of the Jewish holidays- Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and most recently, Shmeni Atzeret and Simchat Torah. The holidays are great, to be sure, and I __ (connected?benefitted?felt?grew?), especially after spending last year in Israel and having time to digest and internalize all I learned there. All of the holidays (excepting Yom Kippur, which was over Shabbat) fell out Wednesday night- Thursday- Friday, leading right into Shabbat, Friday night-Saturday, thereby creating a "three-day yom tov," three days on which all of the laws regarding Shabbat (electricity, writing, etc) except cooking are in place. Meaning, synagogue every morning +, eating out for every lunch and dinner (for three days in a row, with yummy holiday meals at each gracious host, even this gets exhausting), and no class or doing school work of any manner. I missed my Thursday classes for three weeks, but I told the professors, and they, unlike Kate's evil Hebrew Scripture's prof, are really kind and understanding. This past week I had some midterms (though a few of my syllabi say there will be "two midterms" so I assume I'll be suffering again soon enough), with a test Wednesday in class and an essay due and a test scheduled for Thursday. I turned in the essay and took both tests Wednesday, and babysat in the morning, so when I got home my brain was pretty much absent. Hannah (roommate) and I had decided that we would have Shabbat lunch just by ourselves, and I elected myself to make some kind of side dish.

So, on Wednesday, an hour before the holiday started, I decided to make rl's "fake sesame thai noodles." We don't have any noodles, so I put some orzo on to boil (messing up the directions for that) and just tossed an unidentified amount of peanut butter with hot water and oil and other flavoring liquids I thought would go well. The peanut butter sauce covered the orzo by a three-to-one (whatever that means) ratio, but there was hope that "something" would happen in the fridge and it would better itself.

Hannah had made chicken salad for lunch, which was a good thing. We tried a spoonful of the orzo-peanut butter and then put it back in the fridge, to be improved upon.

Which brings me to now. I decided to tackle the thing (well, at least, avoid wasting a whole bowl of orzo and peanut butter) and sauteed some veggies and tossed them with some heated orzo/pb. Turned out pretty well. יש תקווה, יש תקווה.

So, סוף סוף, (finally), what I actually wanted to share was my trip to Phipps Botanical Gardens today with E. Dale Chihuly's glass exhibit grows between the plants and trees and butterflies there. I took a few pictures with the cell phone, which is a phone and therefore not the best camera, so do check out these websites for better images. (My favorite is the Float Boat.)

The glass is planted in the middle of the gardens, growing up from the soil, wrapping around plants and trees.

The echoes of the plant movements and color changes in the glass bring attention to the natural beauty of the plants themselves.

Standing on a bridge, looking down at a stream boarded with glass plants and green plants, the eyes focus in on the color and abnormal presence of the glass.

I wonder first what my world would be if this fantasy were real- if I could walk through a dark green forest and happen across beautiful fairy tale creations of bright yellows and blues and oranges growing from the ground.

Then I realize the glass draws in the eye. Our eyes focus on its colors and curves, and as we gaze we start to pick up on bends and hues and life of the green plants surrounding the glass, and slowly realize the beauty natural creations around the glass, which were really there all along.

It's like that catchy song from Love, Actually.

So what I am trying to say is that this is a really good eye-opening feet-tiring exhibit that you should see. Come to Pittsburgh. I'll make dinner (no experiments). Or if you're here, I'll go with you again. Life is good. Do the better things more than once.

(what a post this is! so varied in its form and function. not at all what I was expecting. and much longer too. the end attempts to be so...inspirational and wise and the beginning witty and clever. long night, folks. recipes and visits please.)

*itunes surprises me. sometimes, when on shuffle, I hear a song, and am like "woah! what a cool song! whose music is that?" then I realize it is mine and brush my shoulders off. A blues song- "Smokestack Lightnin'" by Howlin' Wolf just came on, and, well, my shoulder needed some brushing. (damn now I sound conceited. well, it is just a blog and I am projecting myself as clever etc etc...)


Kate said...

1. Does "Friend A" happen to think Jesus is the moshiach?

2. Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions

2/3 cup dried lentils
1 small onion, halved
2 cups water
3 Tablespoons oil
3 cups sliced onions
1 cup long grain rice
2 teaspoons cumin or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, combine lentils, onion halves and water. Bring to
a boil, lower heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile heat oil and saute chopped onion in medium skillet over
medium-low heat, stirring often, until onions are translucent. Reduce
heat and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until onions are a
rich, golden-dark brown, about 30 minutes. Set aside.

Drain lentil cooking liquid into a 2-cup measure. If necessary, add
water to equal 2 cups. Discard onion halves. Return liquid to saucepan
with rice, cumin and salt. Stir. Bring to a simmer and cook covered
over very low heat until all liquid is absorbed and rice and lentils are
tender, about 30 minutes.

Serve topped with caramelized onions.

Serves 4-6.

3. Hebrew Scriptures prof is AMALEK.

4. תקווה

5. Those are mad impressive pictures for a cell phone.

Rebecca said...

1. current developments seem to indicate yes.

2. mmm your infamous lentil and rice concoction! it shall be noted (note-carded).

4. I read this last night, and thought to myself, "yes, kate, that is right, which is why I wrote it." then this morning I woke up and realized the error of my ways. thanks.

5. thanks! it mamash more impressive in person. are you thinking of planning a return visit?