one thousand mitzvahs

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Yesterday, I received a link via DailyGood, a wonderful resource for daily heart warming stories about real people. They featured Avrom and his Bubbe and their podcast called Feed Me BubbeBubbe (Yiddish for grandmother) teaches us how to make simple meals in our own kitchens. She also shares stories about her life. It is a wonderful intergenerational endeavor and well worth watching.

Thank you Avrom and Bubbe! This is a gem!

Mitzvah for the day: At synagogue I invited someone who was looking around for a seat to come join me.  Anytime we attend a meeting, religious service or another group gathering it is always nice to be greeted by a smiling stranger beckoning us over during our initial moments of pause about where to go. Remember to do that the next time you see a stranger in your midst.

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e*ting the world

Feed me too Bubbe!

I love this little lady! She’s 81 and makes some awesome cooking videos for kosher recipes, with tidbits about Jewish traditions. Check out this Chicken Soup series – the more recent ones are filmed even better. She’s SO CUTE, and even has her own website, Feed Me Bubbe.

Direct Link

Hebrew School

Feed Me Bubbe

With days growing shorter, light going dimmer, and wallets growing thinner, we all seem to be taking more and more of a cue from Cathy, enjoying “not eating out in New York.” It seems like this is my natural tendency when fall comes, not to mention the sorely-awaited prospect of being able to turn on a stove in an un-airconditioned, third-floor apartment.

Bubbe’s sweet and sour meatball recipe (video) was our inspiration. To me, the basic structure of the preparation hit a nostalgic nerve, but with an idiosyncratic twist. And there’s Bubbe, too, a strong and compassionate proponent of Jewish soul food, emphasizing thrift, health, flavor and tradition. Though I can’t help but think that her grandson and his coterie of advertisers have her tied up in some suburban Boston basement, releasing the poor woman every month or so to slave over a hot stove without so much as an electrical appliance. Nonetheless, the recipes are great, and Bubbe gently encourages you along the way, flatly rejecting the notion that there is simply one way to make the food right.

Anyway, the meatball recipe and its odd mixture of ingredients just seemed so patently ridiculous that we had to try it on our own. First, Bubbe has you assemble the meatballs in a manner that mostly transcends ethnicity, though this speaks more to the assimilative process of Ashkenazic Jewish-American cuisine as a whole: ground beef (we used a lean, grass-fed variety), breadcrumbs (fresh, from white bread), an egg, minced onion, spices. Form into balls, brown in a skillet, reduce heat, cover and let cook through.

Then it’s time for the secret ingredients:

That’s right: Grape jelly and chili sauce in equal proportions. We went with the Smuckers Concord grape jelly, which is what Bubbe uses, de-branded, in her video. For chili sauce, we went for some sweet Thai. Amused? Repulsed? Incredulous? So was I.

Combine both in the pan with the meatballs. (This is different from how Bubbe did it.) The jelly and chili sauce melt together, co-mingling with the meatball drippings, to create a deep reddish brown gravy. There’s a little inexplicable magic in this that I can’t quite understand. Perhaps too many novitiates have been studying the kabbalah; I don’t know. A very strange and wonderful synthesis happens:

“9 acres is not an amusement park.”

Coat the meatballs with this juice using the spoon. Cover and simmer some more.

Bubbe suggests serving the meatballs with rice, or in a “sub sandwich,” (or “extra meatballs”), and with no harm intended towards the real genius, we mixed meat and dairy by concocting a fresh tomato and parmesan risotto. I guess we figured that the initial flavor combinations were so bizaare that any futher missteps would simply cancel out. Double transgession theory.

They did.

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