Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cholent Review - Parashas Naso

I think I am getting close to making a decent vegetarian cholent, or I should say, my son Binyamin and I are getting close. This past Shabbos we made a tasty cholent with most of the usual ingredients: a potato, a sweet potato, carrots, barley, beans and shiitake mushrooms. This cholent differed from my previous vegetarian cholents in a number of ways. First, I put only one large potato in rather than two. I also made sure there was more water than I have in the past. As with my other cholents, I added olive oil, but in this cholent, in addition to salt and pepper, I also added soy sauce. I did not add it once, but twice, first, I added it with the rest of the seasoning before I put the pot on the fire, but then after tasting the cooked cholent before serving it, I added a but more, maybe two tablespoons (for a three quart cholent). It was savory and delicious. The only problem is that since the Hamilton Beach Stay&Go Slow Cooker doesn't cook at a high temperature (I always use the low setting - I would not recommend using the high setting), dry beans often are not thoroughly cooked. For next week, I hope to soak the beans ahead of time. Shavua tov to all!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Amstislavski Bris: Philippe and Tashia discuss their son's name.

Our community celebrated the bris of Benjamin Amstislavski this past Sunday (May 9, 2010). We are thrilled to welcome Benjamin into our kehilah and we congratulated him on his wise choice of parents. This was a particular auspicious day. Not only was it Mother's Day, but as Igor pointed out, V-E Day (commemorating the victory of the allies over Germany in WWII). Benjamin was named after Phillipe's uncle, Viniamin, who was a Soviet veteran of the war and lived to be nearly 100. While we hope that Benjamin's life will be easier that that of his namesake, we wish his long life and the love and respect his great, great uncle enjoyed.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Flowers on Old Broadway

One of the customs of Shavuos, a late spring holiday, is decorating the synagogue with greenery. In advance of the holiday, and to help beautify our synagogue, our long time member Dale Brown brought in dirt, planters and dozens of plants and set up a new garden in the back courtyard of the synagogue. Considering that this space has been the home to dirt, broken concrete and an occasion piece of trash (and, for a week a year, our sukkah), Dale's addition is a tremendous improvement. The plants include holly bushes, impatiens, ivy and others. In the middle of Manhattan, in West Harlem, we sometimes have to take extra efforts to be aware of the natural world (although the Hudson River is just a few blocks west of the shul). We are grateful to Dale for giving us another aspect of life for which we can praise Hashem.