mushroom tartines

Mar. 29th, 2017 04:21 pm
[syndicated profile] smittenkitchen_feed

Posted by deb

Would this be a good place to admit that I only moderately enjoy sandwiches? I know, what kind of monster says such things! But, wait, come back. What I mean is, it’s the proportions: too much bread, too little filling. The obvious solution would be Dagwoods or sandwiches from one of those Jewish delis that are taller than your glass of Cel-Ray, but what if you didn’t want to have to unhinge your jaw just to take a bite?

extra-pretty mushrooms
thinly sliced

My solution, as ever, is to serve them open-faced, piled high and with ideal proportions. If we were in Paris — and oh, I wish I were — we’d call them tartines. My brain is clearly already there because I modeled this “toast” on a croque monsieur (which I just learned, to my delight, translates as “gentleman crunch”), those cheese-coated, pan-fried ham and cheese sandwiches with frico for miles. I’m partial to the forestier-style croque at Buvette, where mushrooms take the place of ham and there’s a thick, Dijon-rich bechamel underneath (where a cold sandwich might enlist mayo or aioli). My open-faced version uses a whole-grain sourdough bread as a foundation and so much cheese on top that it spills down onto the baking sheet and lifts off in crispy flakes. I honestly don’t know why we’d ever want to eat anything else.

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Storches Go Skeeting

Mar. 28th, 2017 02:13 pm
[syndicated profile] amalahblog_feed

Posted by amalah


We survived, both the drive and the trip itself.  

Post-road-trip/mini-vacation crash aside, today is kind of a rough day over here. So forgive the lazy mass posting of photos without much storytelling. 






(That's Jason's niece on the left, also known as Ike's Favorite Person.)


(She made him a pom pom puppy, now known as Ike's Most Treasured Possession.)


20170324_135750323_iOS 20170324_135809755_iOS

What is it with vacation homes that suddenly make board games so attractive, by the way? We have a huge stack of dusty games that no one ever wants to play, that get taken out maybe once a year just long enough for an essential piece or two to go missing. But whenever we go on a trip it's like the goddamn National Chutes & Ladders Tournament and Operation Invitational. It's so old-fashionedly wholesome. 


(Ike cheats at Candyland something terrible, though.)


Post-skiing entertainment at the lodge was a bit more their usual speed. Netflix cartoons, hot chocolate and chicken wings. 


"I did awesome at skeeting. My favorite part was when I fell in the snow on my belly."


Ezra spent the weekend bargaining with us over what it would take to get his own set of skis instead of using rentals. Jason picked a trail and told him if he could get down it without help (along with some turning and a proper stop at the end), we'd buy him some skis for next season.



(Guess who's getting his own skis next season.)


Noah also had a amazing time. His last ski outing ended in "disaster" (his words; he fell a couple times and got super frustrated) and we weren't even sure we'd get him out there beyond a lesson or two. He really clicked with his instructor this time, though, and it made a huge difference. By our last day, he was asking to ski all the way down from Killington Peak. We decided against it since conditions were pretty icy and rough, but still! That's some mountain-high self-confidence right there, and I'll take it. 


It was a great trip. Although I am damn ready for the beach. 

[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by (Velveteen Rabbi)

...It’s easy to shy away from Leviticus. The middle book of the Torah, Leviticus is rife with the details of a sacrificial system we haven’t practiced in the better part of 2,000 years. (And most contemporary Jews have no interest in returning to pre-rabbinic Judaism, which makes Leviticus even more alien and alienating). The first portion in the book of Vayikra (Leviticus) is also called Vayikra. The word means “And God Called.”

The first word of this biblical book is characterized by a textual oddity. In Torah scrolls, which are still handwritten with quill and ink on parchment, the final letter of that first word is always written extra-small. (It looks like this.) The silent aleph (א) at the end of the word is written in miniscule.

Without that aleph, the word would mean “and God happened upon.” With the aleph, it means “And God called.” Midrash teaches that Moses wanted to write “vayikar,” without the final aleph — as though God had merely happened upon him. But God insisted otherwise God didn’t just “happen upon” Moses, but called out to Moses on purpose! In the end, they compromised: The letter is there, but it’s tiny.

Set aside for the moment whether or not you believe that Torah was given to Moses in full on Mount Sinai, and whether or not you believe that the details of scribal practice are divinely foreordained. What interests me about this story — this push-and-pull between Moses’ humility and God’s insistence that Moses has a role —  is that it’s in our canon in the first place...

That's an excerpt from a longer piece I wrote for My Jewish Learning for the Torah portion Vayikra. Read it here: What silence conceals and reveals.

PostSecret in Pennsylvania

Mar. 25th, 2017 11:01 pm
[syndicated profile] post_secret_feed

Posted by Frank

PostSecret Live! comes to Pennsylvania, Tuesday, in the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall at West Chester University.

This event is open to the public and there will be an ASL Interpreter.
Buy tickets online Here

At a recent event, I recorded the ASL Interpreter on stage with me as we listened to an audio collage of final voice mail messages. Messages forever saved by loved ones and shared with the PostSecret community (gets emotional).


Final Voice Mail Messages

Classic Secrets

Mar. 25th, 2017 10:59 pm
[syndicated profile] post_secret_feed

Posted by Frank

[Thanks for the translations, in the comments below.]

As soon as I saw you at the airport, I realized that I did not miss you at all. And I do not love you at all. Excuse me…


front back

On harsh everydays the colors of my soul become nothing sluggishly.
(Nowhere as poetic as the original though).

Death now feels like home.


There’s no place like home.

cornbread waffles

Mar. 25th, 2017 12:57 pm
[syndicated profile] smittenkitchen_feed

Posted by deb

American breakfasts are predominantly sweet: yogurts with fruit sauces and overnight oats with more fruit sauces and lattes with caramel syrup and whipped cream and our secret household love, that flaky cereal with the dried strawberries, but most especially the baked goods, muffins and quickbreads and cinnamon buns. I love them all but more Saturdays than not, I wake up craving something savory I can plop a wobbly egg on top of and it’s for this reason that knew the second I saw cornbread waffles in Joy Wilson’s, aka Joy The Baker’s, new brunch cookbook that they’d be the first thing I was going to make.

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Road Trip Rules & Sanity Savers

Mar. 24th, 2017 10:00 am
[syndicated profile] amalahblog_feed

Posted by amalah


This post is sponsored by Best Fiends.

By the time you read this, I will be visiting family in Killington, VT, having (hopefully) survived a seven-hour road trip with my children...and (even more hopefully) with my sanity intact. 

I'm not worried about the kids, by the way. The secret to traveling with kids is actually pretty simple:

1) Get a car with a DVD player in it. Procure many DVDs. 

And that's it. You're pretty much done. I mean, you'll also want some headphones for them, snacks and drinks but not too many drinks, because then you'll have a kid who needs to pee exactly five minutes after you leave the rest stop where he refused to even get out of the car (but I didn't have to go then!!!) and yet it's already at EMERGENCY LEVELS and then something unspeakable happens in an empty water bottle but hey that's an unexpected perk of having boys I guess.

Okay, so there's also 2) Pack an empty water bottle, just in case. 

So my kids will happily spend all seven hours watching movie after movie while I slowly die of boredom in the front seat.

Jason is a...bit of a control freak when it comes to driving so we actually rarely swap posts. (He admits he's a terrible passenger, no matter who else is driving.) So he drives and I sit. I do not sleep, because once upon a time, while we were still dating, we agreed that was rude for whoever was driving and it's the passenger's responsibility to make sure the driver is staying awake/awake and has someone to talk to. This is a regretful rule, I admit, especially when we travel with other couples and I watch the passenger snuggle up with a pillow and promptly pass out. Like, you’re allowed to do that? Wow.

(Don't make road trip rules with your boyfriend when you're 19 years old, babies. Nineteen years later you may realize you could really use a nap.)


I can't read in the car without getting carsick, so I am super ridiculously dependent on gaming apps for my road trip entertainment. And on THIS trip, which takes us through the winding wilderness of No Wifi and Really Crap Signals, I need games that work without either. So I was delighted to discover the puzzle game Best Fiends, which I started playing a little over a week ago. I am hooked. It's one of those diabolical little games that starts off easy, then suddenly you realize there's like, STRATEGY and THINKING involved and you need to plan your moves better. (Hint: connecting the largest chain on the board isn’t always the best default choice, but good luck overcoming the temptation to go for SLUGMAGEDDON every chance you get.) And then you're like YOU WILL NOT BEAT ME GAME, I IS SMART AND GOOD AT THINGS.

I'm currently on level 64. Do I have a problem? No, I am just awesome at this game, obviously. You should come play too and try to beat me, which you won't. Or maybe you will because level 64 is not messing around. Either way, come play and we can send each other presents while locked in any of the constant in-game challenges in the battle for Minutia world domination.


Thanks to Best Fiends for sponsoring this post AND for keeping me happily entertained and majorly procrastinating. First 100 readers to download the (FREE!) game and get to level 10 will get $4.99 worth of gold and diamonds for free, just follow this link to download! Available for iPhone/iPad, Android, Facebook, and Amazon. 

[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by (Velveteen Rabbi)

FlamePurpleDECALAt the blessed crack of well-before-dawn on Sunday I'm heading south for what promises to be a truly extraordinary week.

Each year, the chaplains at Williams College partner with the Center for Learning in Action on an interfaith service trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (See Alabama Calling, Williams Alumni Review, July 2012.) This year I am profoundly blessed to be one of the chaplains serving my alma mater, which means I get to take part!

The four chaplains (Jewish, Christian, Roman Catholic, and Muslim) will travel to Alabama with a group of a dozen students from a variety of faith backgrounds. This year's group includes students who self-identify as Jewish, Christian, Roman Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Deist, and atheist.

We'll begin the week by visiting the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (and those who are there on that Sunday morning will attend services at the 16th Street Baptist Church; I'm sorry to miss that, though am grateful that those of us who are flying in on Sunday morning will get there in time for the Civil Rights Institute.)

Then we'll spend the week working on a Habitat for Humanity building project together, building a home for someone in need and continuing to help our host community there recover from tornadoes that devastated the area a few years ago. We'll camp out in a local church social hall, and cook vegetarian meals together each night. (I've packed my sleeping bag. The whole thing is giving me fond memories of touring with the Williams College Elizabethans during my own undergraduate days.)

Each night a different chaplain will offer teachings on the shared theme of brokenness and mending. Those evening sessions offer an opportunity to introduce students to our four different faith-traditions, and also to get them talking with each other and with us about how the conversations we're having in the evenings relate to the holy work we're doing during the day. 

Over the course of the week, as we engage with the civil rights movement and how that historic and historical struggle for human rights dovetails with today's politics, I expect that (alone and together) we'll wrestle with our own relationships to race and privilege. For most of us, the American South will be unfamiliar territory, so there's learning to do there. And for most of us, the kind of conscious multi-faith community we're aspiring to co-create will be unfamiliar territory, too. I suspect that all of us will find ourselves pushing up against our usual boundaries from time to time. 

We'll seal the week with what feels to me like a gloriously multi-modal celebration of Shabbat: first we'll attend Friday dinner and activities at the Islamic Society of Birmingham, then Saturday morning Shabbat services and lunch at Temple Emanu-El, and then Saturday afternoon mass (or as I've been thinking of it, Shabbat mincha in a different key) at St. Francis Xavier, with havdalah as part of our closing reflections and integration work on Saturday night. 

(As a student of the students of Reb Zalman z"l -- he who famously called himself a "Spiritual Peeping Tom" and said he liked to see how other people "get it on with God" -- I think that Shabbat sounds like an actual foretaste of heaven!)

I know that this will be an exhausting and overwhelming week -- and I anticipate that it will be at least as wonderful as it is challenging. I don't know that I'll manage to blog much while I'm away, but I imagine that I will harvest spiritual riches from this trip for a long time to come. 


Looking ahead to the Omer

Mar. 23rd, 2017 11:54 am
[syndicated profile] velveteenrabbi_feed

Posted by (Velveteen Rabbi)

I have loved Pesach since I was a kid. All my life it has been the brightest star in my firmament, the holiday I look forward to the most. And many of the things that I loved about it when I was a kid are still things that I love! But part of the joy of coming to a mature adult relationship with the holiday has been discovering new facets to savor. One of those facets is a little practice that begins at the second seder -- the counting of the Omer. "Omer" means "measures," and the counting of the Omer is the practice of counting the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot, between liberation and revelation.

This was not a big part of my childhood Pesach observance... and I had no idea as a kid that Pesach was the first step on the journey toward Sinai. But the winding path connecting our festival of freedom with our festival of revelation is a rich opportunity for contemplation and inner work. As the spring unfolds, so too can our hearts and souls. 

If you're looking for resources for the Counting of the Omer, here are a few that I recommend:

And, of course, there's my own Omer offering. Last year I released a collection of 49 Omer poems, one for each day of the count. It's called Toward Sinai, and it's available on Amazon for $12. Here's a description:

Towardsinai-smallThe Omer is the period of 49 days between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot. Through counting the Omer, we link liberation with revelation. Once we counted the days between the Pesach barley offering and the Shavuot wheat offering at the Temple in Jerusalem. Now as we count the days we prepare an internal harvest of reflection, discernment, and readiness. Kabbalistic (mystical) and Mussar (personal refinement) traditions offer lenses through which we can examine ourselves as we prepare ourselves to receive Torah anew at Shavuot. Here are 49 poems, one for each day of the Omer, accompanied by helpful Omer-counting materials. Use these poems to deepen your own practice as we move together through this seven-week corridor of holy time.


Praise for Toward Sinai: Omer Poems

Rachel Barenblat has gifted her readers with a set of insightful poems to accompany our journey through the wilderness during the Counting of the Omer. Deft of image and reference, engaging and provocative, meditative and surprising, this collection is like a small purse of jewels. Each sparkling gem can support and enlighten readers on their paths toward psycho-spiritual Truth.

— Rabbi Min Kantrowitz, author of Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide

Rachel Barenblat comes bearing a rich harvest. In Toward Sinai, her series of poems to be read daily during the counting of the Omer, a poem chronicles every step between Exodus and Sinai. The poems exist in the voices of the ancient Hebrews measuring grain each day between Passover and Shavuot, and also in a contemporary voice that explores the meaning of the Omer in our own day. Together, the poems constitute a layered journey that integrates mysticism, nature, and personal growth. As Barenblat writes: “Gratitude, quantified.”

— Rabbi Jill Hammer, author of The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women

Your Torah is transcendent and hits home every time.

— Rabbi Michael Bernstein, Rabbi Without Borders Fellow


Toward Sinai: Omer poems is available for $12 on Amazon. If you pick up a copy, I hope you'll let me know what you think and how and whether it shapes your Omer journey this year.

Hellweek v.23734961230.2

Mar. 23rd, 2017 11:08 am
[syndicated profile] amalahblog_feed

Posted by amalah

Tuesday night I came down with what I initially thought was a stomach virus, but has since turned out to be a mild case of food poisoning. And while I'm still not back to 100% (can drink water just fine but can't eat anything without disastrous consequences), once I realized it was NOT something that would ping-pong around the entire household, resulting in a week or more of bodily fluid hell, I was downright relieved.

So I ate some bad chicken at a restaurant over the weekend! The kids all ordered pancakes off the brunch menu! Jason got a steak salad! It's just me! Everybody else is gonna be fine! THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER!

Or more accurately, this is the most Mom I've ever Mommed. I am celebrating my own wretched but non-contagious food poisoning. We have hit Peak Mom and surprise! It's DISGUSTING. 

Tonight we're supposed to get in the car and drive seven hours to Vermont. I should be better by then, right? Or at least super skinny? 

Shit. This is probably gonna suck. 

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