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All I can give you are Garlic and Herb French Fries I #TweetYourShabbat

#tweetyourshabbat is a global movement founded by Carly Pildis, celebrating the struggle and joy of getting Shabbat on the table every week. This is a place for real dinners and real conversations about Jewish life. Join us at Forward in sharing what you’ll be eating and how your feeling this week at #TweetYourShabbat

Garlic herb french fries

Garlic herb french fries Image by Carly Pildis

Summer is a carefree time. A time to kick off your shoes in the grass, stay up late watching fireflies, fall asleep on the beach, light up bonfires and grills. A time to steal away and relax.

Not this year. This summer is full of anxiety, grief, confusion, and deep sadness.

Every day this week, I have woken up with my heart racing. I shoot up, gasping for air, drenched in sweat. I look down and see my 3-year-old has sneaked into our bed again. My husband and daughter look the same when they are sleeping, lying on their stomachs, cheeks puffed out, hair askew. I take a deep breath and stare at them for a while.

This is a week for comfort food. This is a week for Garlic and Herb French Fries.

This summer I find every small decision paralyzingly frightening. Should I let an outdoor playdate use our swing set? Should I take that grocery store trip? Which park will be empty enough to ensure a safe picnic?

All of these tiny decisions are calculated risks, a constant equation in my head between mental health, the emotional need for social interaction or at least an hour outside the house, and the risk of contracting coronavirus. Even the easy decisions, like whether or not to wear a mask (PUT ON THAT MASK!) only drive home the reality that we are living in a crisis, every day for the foreseeable future, where seemingly small acts could be fatal for ourselves or the people we love. I feel like I am walking a tightrope across two skyscrapers. I am brittle and exhausted.

While small decisions can cause panic, the big decisions will break our hearts. Families are facing gut-wrenching decisions about school and child care as fall looms. Eldercare decisions are perilous and fraught with logistical and medical concerns. Jewish institutions are struggling to hang on and synagogues face the challenging prospect of virtual high holidays.

Too many Americans stand on the precipice of financial ruin, being forced to choose between working unsafe conditions and losing their jobs. Everyone is feeling their mortality, as the coronavirus has claimed over 140,000 American lives and our federal government has no plan in place to stop or even slow the pandemic.

I can’t make the world safer. I can’t answer questions about the future. I can’t stem the rising panic and fear that at times threatens to engulf our entire nation. I wish I could.

I can offer you some french fries, though. Easy garlic and herb french fries. No need to stand over the fryer, these lovely crunchy salty friends cook up in the oven. A fried potato latke lights up the cold dark winter nights to make Hanukkah a celebration. So why not a French fry for comfort during this bitter season? Serve them with whatever you feel like throwing on the grill this week. Your kids will be thrilled.

Shabbat is a quiet place, held apart from the real world. A place that demands a level of presentness and togetherness. There is a hush that falls over the table when candles are lit and family sits together for prayers. I hope this Shabbat, at least for a little while, your mind enjoys some quiet, the fear chased away by the Shabbat candlelight and a good glass of wine with crunchy, salty, garlicky french fries. Shabbat Shalom.

How was your week? How are you spending shabbat? Let us know at #tweetyourshabbat! Everyone is welcome at this table! Come hungry.

Garlic and Herb Oven Fries

This recipe is inspired by my dear friend Lindsay King-Miller, who was lamenting limp takeout french fries and wishing for crispy french fries without taking the risk of eating out. They are crunchy, salty, and full of savory flavor.

6 Russet Potatoes (longer the better)
3 tablespoons garlic powder
6 cloves garlic, minced
About 5 tablespoons each roughly chopped rosemary and thyme

Parchment paper
Large baking sheet

Preheat your oven to 425. Put on a good TV show to watch while cutting potatoes.

Wash the potatoes. With a large knife, slice them into fries. I like to slice them in half, then slice into approximately equal slices and then cut into fries from there. They should be long, please, don’t halve them, and thin, about ¼ of an inch approximately. I don’t peel them, too much work, not enough reward. If you are fancier than me and own a mandoline this would be a good use of it.

Pour fries into a glass or ceramic bowl. Dry them gently with a paper towel. Season with a teaspoon of salt and coat in oil. They should each have a glossy sheen. Cover the largest sheet pan you can find in parchment paper. Cover the sheet pan in potatoes. PLEASE only a single layer, no stacking or they will steam instead of fry and be utterly disappointing. If you need to use multiple baking sheets

Place the baking sheets on the top shelf of your oven. If you can’t fit them all, just mind the cook, the bottom ones will need to cook a little longer and rotate them part way through to ensure even crispy cook. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove fries and sprinkle with garlic powder, garlic, a teaspoon of salt and herbs. Bake for 5 more minutes, or until golden brown. Add additional salt to taste. Serve with ketchup.

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