A Bisl (Little) Jewish Cooking, A Bisl Jewish Reading

Reading.Coffee.89312002.thbWill you have any downtime as 2013 winds to a close? And if so, how will you spend it?

This little annual breather – when schools are closed and many businesses are shuttered – provides a rare opportunity to live a different rhythm.

My wish for you is to have time to indulge your passions. Reading. Writing. Shooting pictures. Cooking. Knitting. Playing music.

Making a tzimmes

We’re looking forward to family visits from afar. For those, I’m hoping to cook up some recipes that I haven’t explored yet. Like tzimmes. My mother made tzimmes with meat, sweet potatoes, carrots, prunes, and fragrant spices, like cinnamon. This tzimmes recipe sounds just like hers, so it’ll be first on my list.

My grandmother-in-law, z’l, made a different kind of tzimmes. After some searching, I found this Jewish Tzimmes with Dumpling recipe, which – if memory serves – is a version of her creation.

Either version will be perfect for these cold winter evenings. And the dish itself is fun to say. The expression in Yiddish, “to make a tzimmes,” also means to make a fuss over.

Reading with Jewish themes

But (I admit) I’ve jumped into vacation mode early, already giving myself more reading time.  If that’s your passion, too, here are a few books you might enjoy:

  • Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich. Our book club just finished this part-history, part-romance, part-mystery – set in 16th century Venice and Malta – to unanimous praise (which almost never happens). Very compelling and a page turner. If you liked The Red Tent and The Dovekeepers, I bet you’ll enjoy this, too.
  • Home in the Morning by Mary Glickman.  Amazon describes it this way: A powerful debut from a new literary talent, this novel tells the story of a Jewish family confronting the tumult of the 1960s—and the secrets that bind its members together. It’s next on my reading list, recommended by a friend who didn’t even know that I have family history in the deep South. I’ll try very hard to focus on work for a few more days before getting immersed in this one.
  • My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor. The themes of family, education, and working to change the world for the better all resonated strongly for me. You’ll find inspiration throughout: “If this was the system, maybe I should be working to improve it rather than simply enforcing it on the front lines.” “There are no bystanders in this life.” And sensory-filled descriptions that float above the pages and come alive. About a family bakery: “The smells of her cooking mixed with the yeasty smell of the bread, and the coffee, and the whole amazing cloud of flavors spread down the street and up into the balconies.” About a trip to Puerto Rico: “Wet stone gleams, fog tumbles from peaks to valleys, mists filter the forest in pale layers receding into mystery.” A delight on every level.

What are you reading now?

And what were your best-loved books from this past year?  Please share your favorites.

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