Kitchen Tshuvah part I
So. I’m in week one of kitchen tshuvah – my attempt to “return to my best self” through some serious reflection and reordering of my kitchen and all it symbolizes: family, overeating/under-eating, connection to the land, caring for others, care of myself, building community…
It’s all a bit daunting, especially since I haven’t spent more than 10 minutes in my kitchen for almost a week. But with the Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat lineup (prayer, food, sleep, food, prayer, more food, a little more sleep and leftovers to bring home) finally over, I actually feel free to spend time reassessing my culinary situation.
Glancing into my fridge this morning, I noticed a crisper of neglected (but remarkably still fresh) CSA vegetables and not much else….unless you count the nearly empty milk container and murky condiment jars. So, I dusted off my granny cart and headed for the Park Slope Food Coop.
I know – so I went shopping, big deal, right? But I felt giddy strolling down the aisles – bagging bulk pasta, grinding coffee grounds and stocking up on bread, beans, and cheese. My kitchen would have life again! It would have potential and I, for a change, would feel settled there instead of bewildered and hungry. I started dreaming up meals I could make for friends, reconnecting not only to my cutting boards, but to the people I love.
See below for more and a recipe for plum and nectarine cobbler…
I was also fasting today, which I did successfully aside from a glass of lemonade at a critical point moment where I felt like fainting. (In case you were wondering, shopping on an empty stomach does indeed lead to impulse buying – did I really need that second Dagoba chocolate bar?) It really struck me, this not eating thing. My hunger pangs did not necessarily feel like penance like I imagine they might on Yom Kippur, but they definitely served as a reality check for my weekend of food over-indulgence. Which sensation is worse, I wondered, feeling deprived or over-stuffed? Some of the meals I went to over the holiday, while lovely, felt plentiful to the point of absurdity. Is it truly possible to feel grateful and give thanks for one’s food when we are more-than-satiated?
Once home from the coop, my tshuvah continued…inspired by my newly-stocked kitchen and the bowl-full of miniature plums from my CSA, I decided to make something to reacclimate myself in my surroundings. Something simple and truly satisfying. Something to welcome in the fall, to honor the holidays and return…to my kitchen and to myself.
Plum and nectarine cobbler with candied ginger
12-15 small plums
4 tablespoons brown sugar and or agave nectar
3 tablespoons flour
juice of half a lemon or 2 Tbs water (use water if you want a sweeter cobbler)
4 small pieces of candied ginger, chopped finely (optional)
I used a slightly altered version of the basic recipe from The Joy of Cooking
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs sugar
5 Tbs COLD salted butter (or Earth Balance) cut into small pieces
1/3 cup milk or 1/2 cup heavy cream (soy milk works fine, but the dough won’t be as fluffy)
Remove the pits and quarter nectarines and plums. Add the sugar/agave, flour, lemon juice/water, and ginger (if using) and stir until the fruit is coated. Pour into an ungreased 8×8 pyrex or glass baking dish.
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the butter, tossing it witht the dry ingredients until covered. Using a pastry blender, fork or other tool (I used my hands), cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add milk/soy milk/cream and mix with wooden spoon until dough comes together. Knead the dough 5-10 times, adding more flour or milk if it’s too sticky or dry. Pinch off 2 inch balls of dough, press to flatten into “biscuits,” and arrange in lines three (or four) across the entire baking dish. Brush with melted butter or Earth Balance. Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and the dough is lightly browned.
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla or chai ice cream…or a dollop of marscapone drizzled with honey…or a cup of mint tea, or Turkish Coffee…or straight out of the baking dish with a spatula.