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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cholent Review - Shabbos Parashas Tazria: What??? Green Cholent???

It is true, the thought of green cholent is hardly appetizing, but if we think of green as being ecologically friendly then this adjective for traditional Jewish rocket fuel does not sound so bad. So, one might hesitatingly ask, how does one make "green" cholent?  Now I must confess, I really don't know, except as a tangent let me say that I once had the cholent that was prepared for another Jewish community that hails from the other side of the world. It really was green, and it did not sit well on this Ashkenazi palate, nor in this Ashkenazi stomach. But I digress... Here is how I made my cholent, "green" or at least, here is how I was trying to be ecologically responsible: Every week we use lots of styrofoam bowls and plastic spoons for the cholent. Couldn't I reduce the trash stream a little by using real bowls and spoons? (There is, of course, a position, that the amount of energy and resources used to wash dishes negates, to some degree, their advantage over disposables, but I am convinced that the non-disposable stuff still is "greener.") I began researching different products. I initially thought about buying melamine bowls and then I learned that melamine in made with urea and formaldehyde, and is generally safe unless it is heated too much or microwaved, so I decided this was too complicated for me. Then I thought about buying some of the bowls with the beautiful Chinese designs on them at the local odd lots store. Then I read that some of the glazes in China are made with lead, and the more colorful they are, the greater likelihood that they will contain lead. In the end, following the suggestion of my student, I  purchased 30 plain ivory bowls and 30 stainless steel spoons at Fishs Eddy, a great place if you are looking for that sort of thing. After shlepping the bowls and spoons home (they were heavy), I brought them to the mikvah to be toiveled. This in itself was an adventure because I brought them in on an afternoon when the mikvah gets a lot of traffic. Finally, I was able to use them on Shabbos. I felt great serving the cholent on something a lot more Shabbosdik and elegant than styrofoam and I was delighted to be able to do something positive for the environment. After kiddush, I collected the bowls in a bin to let them soak, and then cleaned them quickly and easily after Shabbos. I am looking forward to using them next Shabbos.

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