Shavuos

It’s been a very weird couple of weeks. There seem to have been an awful lot of people dying, ranging from “normal” situations, in which frail elderly people are ill for a few days and then pass away, to a couple of cases in which young or middle aged people just suddenly drop dead. As I heard one of the mourners say at the shiva, “You really never know when you daven shacharis, if you will be around to daven mincha!”

On the positive side, we celebrated another birthday, on Shabbos. Our middle son turned six – it’s just the right age to enjoy a birthday. He was excited before, enjoyed opening his presents and cards and wolfed down a substantial amount of nash in the afternoon! We bought him a box of Zoobs, which I hope he likes, if he gets a chance to play with them – the rest of the family, including me, have been having a lot of fun with them! In the last 24 hours, I have been to a 60th birthday party, an engagement party and a bris – so it’s not all doom and gloom.

I’m now starting to think about food for Shavuos. It’s the only yom tov when we have a milky meal, so it’s a chance to be a bit more creative. Current menu plans include:

Minestrone

Rocket and pear salad

Tagliatelle (green?) with some kind of creamy sauce

Cheesecake brownies

Our daughter’s Shavuos speciality – white chocolate cheesecake with cherry sauce

I love cheesecake, but hardly ever make it. Once I get in the mood, we will probably have cheesecake for the next few weeks, as there is a limit to how many we can eat at one meal.

This Shabbos we had cold salmon with a delicious green sauce based on a recipe from Claudia Roden’s Book of Jewish Food – it’s herbs – I used flat leaf parsley and coriander, liquidized with pickled cucumbers, olives, garlic, nuts and olive oil and lemon juice. I haven’t made it for ages, and it was really yummy – it went very well with chopped liver and egg on Shabbos morning as well. I also tried out a kidney bean and peanut butter stew, from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian Cookbook, which is one of my favourite cookbooks. The stew was much nicer than it sounds, and I’ll be making it again. I cheated and used tinned kidney beans, so it’s basically a spicy tomato sauce, into which you add peanut butter and then simmer with beans in it.

Looking at chicken with olives, braised steak and lamb stew for the meaty meals – old favourites which everyone will eat, and I can be a bit more interesting with the side dishes.

Wishing everyone a wonderful and meaningful Yom Tov and if you’re in the area, there’s a great Shavuos learning programme going on in our shul!

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