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Braised short ribs for a terrifying Shabbat in Washington, D.C.

#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

Our city is locking down, as over 20,000 troops enter Washington, D.C. to combat the threat of domestic terrorism. These threats are being organized by antisemitic, white supremacist supporters of President Donald Trump. As night falls, soldiers will sleep on the floors of the Capitol.

At least my entire house smells like garlic and wine. This is a Shabbat for comfort food.

In so many ways, I am on autopilot this week. I am profoundly afraid, and yet life keeps turning. I drop my kid off for school. I go to Home Depot to look at tiles. I pack lunches and clean my toaster. I sweep the floor. Yet every moment I am filled with mind-numbing, all-consuming fear. I can taste fear at the back of my throat every moment. I know that this is terrorism because I have never been terrorized like this before. Terror has become a constant. For many parents, simply keeping up the charade of normalcy for our children in and of itself is enough to wear us out.

My heart hasn’t stopped racing for days. Sleep is rare. When my mind is frantic, it helps to keep my hands busy. This is the sort of week I crave something difficult and labor-intensive to cook for Shabbat, not because I have the time, but because chopping and sauteing and baking and pounding dough keep the mind from veering into the unthinkable. I’d rather be furious at the fussiness of the recipe. Unfortunately, I am still without a kitchen, and making sandwiches and mezze platters doesn’t provide a good distraction from the truth.

My friends who work on Capitol Hill huddled under tables with their bosses in the dark for hours, listening to marauding antisemitic white supremacist terrorists, wondering if they would die. People I love saw neo-Nazis in their neighborhood and are afraid to go outside. Over 4,000 Americans are dying of COVID-19 a day. My daughter can’t go to school because it isn’t safe, and her friends downtown are afraid to meet up for a playdate. We are normal families, we don’t have security details and we know every resident is at risk.

If the terrorist fails to breach the Capitol this time, what is to stop them from walking a few blocks away to the park, to the restaurant, to the crowded city corner, where anyone we love could be standing at just the wrong place and just the wrong time? It sounds crazy, but one week ago if you had told me a violent insurrection at the Capitol had killed five people, that the Capitol had been so easily breached, I would have said impossible. All the impossible is crashing down on us.

How many times can I promise myself that Jewish ritual will comfort me and save me before I throw up my hands and scream at the sky? Again and again, our little worlds break. Again and again we sweep up the pieces, all the shattered glass, all the brokenness, and try to piece it back together again. Week after exhausting week.

Your friends and family in DC are not okay, they are pretty broken right now. The Jewish community in Washington is in tremendous pain. The assault on American democracy is an assault on all Americans, but for us those who are democracy’s workhorses, the dual assault on our Jewishness and our Americanness, all that makes our souls, is unbearable. This is the most broken Shabbat of my life, where the whole idea of Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful Shabbat, feels like a distant dream, and our new reality is untenably cruel.

In all of this, you may be wondering, what can I do? Kindness. Kindness is the way to grab the reins. Do anything you can, any act, big or small, to support the people living on the front lines of this. Do anything you can to bring Shalom into this Shabbat. As Adam Serwer wrote of the Trump Administration, the cruelty IS the point. The smallest acts of kindness can make an impact. Samantha, my best friend from preschool, sent me an Insta-Pot. When I called to thank her I cried and cried and cried, like you can only do with the oldest of friends.

It’s just a pot! She cried. No, I said, it really is much more than that. You gave me just what I needed and I never had to ask. I’ll cook Shabbat in it.

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

Braised Short Ribs

This is designed for an Insta-Pot, but could easily be made in a Dutch oven or another oven-safe pot, it will just take longer. It is easy, rich and delicious and very comforting. Just what you need this week. Plus it’s only one pot for easy cleanup. Special Thanks to Melissa Weiss and Alex Zeldin for sharing their Insta-Pot ideas, which helped greatly in creating this.

I ½ cup red wine
3 pounds short ribs
1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
One tablespoon chopped rosemary
One 2 ounce bunch thyme
45 ounces of crushed tomato
Garlic salt
Black pepper
Regular salt
One small onion
1 pound of organic carrots ( the thin young kind)
Olive oil
1 can tomato paste

Season the short ribs aggressively on all sides with garlic salt and black pepper. Turn your Insta-Potto saute and drizzle olive oil, about ¼ cup. Brown on all sides, in batches, so you don’t crowd. You don’t want to steam, you want a good hard brown crust. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes but don’t rush it. Use tongs!

Add diced onion and the first ¼ of wine to deglaze. Turn down the saute or turn off the Insta-Poti if it starts to get too hot and is boiling up. Stir around, breaking up all those lovely bits of meat stuck to the bottom for flavor. When the onions are translucent and soft, add remaining wine, tomatoes, vegetable stock, salt, and pepper. Stir.

Wash organic carrots and trim off tops and bottoms before adding. Stir. Add all herbs but thyme. Stir in browned short rims. Ensure the top of the short ribs is covered. Top with thyme.

Set your Insta-Pot Stew/ meat and let it sit. Should take about 35 minutes. Let it steam release when complete. This will take at least another half an hour. My short ribs literally fell off the bone.

Remove short ribs and carrots. Set your Insta-Poti to saute and add one can of tomato paste to thicken sauce into a rich gravy.

Serve over mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley. Even better the next day

Insta-Pot Garlic Mashed potatoes

3 pounds of small red potatoes
1 ½ sticks of margarine
1 tablespoons of garlic salt
Regular salt to taste
Garlic bulb
Drizzle olive oil

Dump washed potatoes into the Insta-Pot your best friend gave you. Think about how you oughta call her. Fill until just covered with water. Set Insta-Potto pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.

While that happens roast some garlic! I only have a toaster at the moment, so I did so at 400 degrees in my toaster. This took 20 minutes.

When the potatoes are done and the pressure valve has released, drain and pop back into your Insta-Pot Remove the peel from your roasted garlic and mash with a spoon. Pop that in with your potatoes, the margarine, garlic salt and regular salt to taste. Mash with a spoon until creamy rich and delicious!!!

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