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Dessert

It wasn’t until last year that I first learned from my friend Mara Rosebloom that the yummy triangle shaped and jam filled cookies I’d seen over the years in Jewish bakeries are called hamantaschen.  Mara had brought me a little batch of her delicious cookies and told me a bit about the story of Haman, the royal vizier of Purim who, according to the Book of Esther, sought to destroy the Jews of ancient Persia.  Very briefly, Haman’s plot crumbled after King Ahasuerus’s new wife Esther Hadassa caught wind of it.  Haman’s dark secret was made public and he was briskly hanged.   In time, a holiday named Purim emerged to commemorate the deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman’s scheme and hamantaschen cookies were baked to symbolize his defeat.

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I was reminded of hamantaschen this week when my dear friend Esther Hadassa, who is actually named after King Ahasuerus’s wife, invited my husband and me to celebrate the Purim holiday on Sunday.  Regretfully, we weren’t able to attend as I had another commitment.  I did, however, get to spend some time with Esther on Thursday and learned more about Purim.  (btw – if you caught the first episode of Fannie Cohen and my podcast Doing It, you heard an interview with Esther. If you haven’t listened, tune in here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/doing-it/id605177565) She also gave me a lovely recipe for hamentashen.

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The wind is starting to whip outside, the rain is turning back to snow, and I’m hoping my dream to cross-country ski from Avenue H to Prospect Park and back will be fulfilled.  I also hope all of you on the Northeast are staying safe and sound.

I was in the mood for a hearty lunch after trekking out to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn in the cold to teach and then doing my own practice.  I wanted something warming and flavorful… My solution was an adzuki (aka aduki and azuki) bean cassoulet kind of dish with collard greens.  (Ok – I also added some sausage from Brooklyn’s famous Los Paisanos that my husband had defrosted and needed to be used.)  Lunch was satisfying but not swell enough to blog about.  It did inspire the following thoughts, however:

  1. One day soon, I’ll make a real cassoulet.  A dish originally from the South of France, a cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole that usually contains meat, pork skin, and white haricot beans.  I’d like to invent a  vegetarian version, too.
  2. I was reminded how delicious, nutritious, and versatile adzuki beans are!  These small beans have been eaten for thousands of years.  In fact, it’s believed they were first cultivated during Japan’s Jomon period around 4000BC.  Though we are most familiar with red adzuki beans, white, black, gray, and mottled varieties also exist.

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On a whim, I recently bought a small container of goat’s milk at Zabar’s on the Upper West Side. While drinking the earthy tasting, calcium-loaded substance, I was reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s reference to goat’s milk in his autobiography “The Story of My Experiments with Truth.” After years of complete abstention from animal products in observance of ahimsa (the yogic self-discipline of non-violence) and frequent fasting, Gandhi-ji’s health was in jeopardy. His new doctor, Dr. Dalal insisted the emaciated Gandhi-ji add goat’s milk to his diet. After some resistance, he complied and his health improved in due time. Resentfully, Gandhi-ji committed to drinking goat’s milk for the rest of his life to stay strong.

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Goat’s milk is acclaimed for being beneficial for digestive health, loaded with vitamins and minerals, non-mucus forming, immune system boosting, having anti-inflammatory compounds, and fighting bone-demineralization. It’s also less allergenic than cow’s milk as it’s alkaline versus acidic, making it an option for lactose intolerant people. Likewise, it’s naturally homogenized, so nutrients and positive bacterium aren’t lost in the pasteurization process. It has a slightly higher fat content that cow’s milk, though the fat globules in goat’s milk are smaller and easier to digest. While reduced fat versions are available, I prefer to buy the full-fat version and drink it in small quantities.

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My man and I are back from Vegas with bands on our fingers!  We cruised into JFK late Saturday night after a few beautiful and amusing days in that most interesting place.  In brief, I couldn’t have imagined a better wedding day.  I promise to share more in the near future about tiny, 11 guest event… and photos.

One thing I was craving after a day of travel and too many kettle chips was a healthy share of vegetables and a bit of protein.  Here’s what we settled upon: roasted purple potatoes with rosemary, sweet dumpling squash, sautéed rainbow chard, and organic BBQ chicken wings.  We got our bounty of organic groceries at Ditmas Park’s Flatbush Food Coop after a run around the neighborhood.

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By the way, if you’re having a small dinner party, this is an easy menu.  The wings are also awesome for a Super Bowl fête.

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