Behind the Kitchen Door

611taCpxXoLOn  Sunday April 12 you can join a group of Jewish social justice activists who will visit the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) in Detroit to learn about the often invisible problems of restaurant workers. Many of those workers—often with children—qualify for food stamps and live a paycheck away from homelessness. Discrimination, wage theft, and abusive working conditions are common. The deadline to register for this event is April 6, see the bottom of this post for more details.

Founded in 2008, ROC-Michigan is dedicated to winning improved working conditions and opportunities for advancement for Southeast Michigan’s 134,000 restaurant workers. ROC-Michigan is an independent affiliate of ROC United, a national organization of over 10,000 restaurant workers.  ROC was originally founded in New York City by a group of restaurant workers who had formerly worked at the World Trade Center and were displaced by the 9-11 tragedy.

In her 2013 book Behind the Kitchen Door, ROC co-founder Saru Jayaraman writes, “Sustainability is about contributing to a society that everybody benefits from, not just going organic because you don’t want to die from cancer or have a difficult pregnancy. What is a sustainable restaurant? It’s one in which as the restaurant grows, the people grow with it.”

This program will feature a vegetarian, kosher-style Cajun/ Soul fusion lunch at ROC’s COLORS Restaurant. Following the meal we will learn about issues faced by restaurant workers from a panel including COLORS staff. Cost of the meal is $18 per person. Any additional donations are tax-deductible and go to support ROC. To reserve a spot, make a check out to “ROC-MI,” indicate # of attendees, and mail to the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, 1457 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226. Deadline is April 6th. Reconstructionist Congregation is co-sponsoring this joint social justice program along with six other area Jewish groups. Carpooling is encouraged! For questions or more information contact Steve Merritt at stevemerritt2@gmail.com.

Challah Rising

challah risingAARC member Lori Lichtman is launching a new baking company, Challah Rising Baking Company: “Blessing the World One Challah at a Time,” on March 20 (the Spring Equinox, Solar Eclipse, Super (New) Moon). Lori has been baking challah every Friday since October 25, 2008. She learned from Jen Cohen and continues a tradition that was passed on to her by her father and grandfather. Her grandfather, from Hungary, became a baker when he came to the U.S. Lori uses local ingredients that connect her challah to our very own Michigan farms. Lori’s challah stands alone as she infuses the dough with blessing chants of love (Ahava Raba), Peace (Oseh Shalom), Abundance (Peleg Elohim), and Connecting to G-d’s light (V’eristich li). She does a meditation before kneading each batch of dough, connecting G-d’s light through her crown, heart, hands and into the dough. You can also order special blessings for pre-ordered loaves. Lori has been in prayer circles and uses the challah baking as one of her spiritual practices. She has taught workshops and after her first workshop stood in her garden and the inspiration came to start the business. Lori will be selling her challah (gluten free too!) on Fridays at Argus Farm Stop on Liberty. Please come out to try the deliciousness and blessings! We will also have a Challah Rising loaf at our Fourth Friday Shabbat on March 27, the last Shabbat before Pesach. Challah-leuia!

Vote Now for Food, Land and Justice!

images (3)AARC members Idelle Hammond-Sass, Rena Basch and Carole Caplan are leading lights of our community’s Jewish Alliance for Food, Land and Justice. The Alliance’s program for 2015, Preserving Shmita, is in competition for support in the Ann Arbor Federation’s Jewish Community Impact Fund vote. The proposal is a request for $8,000 to continue programming for the entire community on sustainable, healthy, fair food and food systems and earth stewardship. You can read about last year’s Shmita programming here and here.

This year’s proposal includes many creative ideas for deepening existing connections to Jewish ethics and values such as a Farm-to-Shabbat Table initiative, envisioned as a community-wide event occurring every season with Shabbat dinners sourced from locally sustainably grown food with farmers present; training and networking for Jewish event planners in support of sustainable food initiatives between farms and food service providers; and creation and dissemination of farm-based Jewish curriculum for religious school within each congregation, supported by a Food Festival day of education/experiences at a local farm.

Voting on the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor’s Impact Fund proposals is open until February 27th. You are welcome to vote if you have donated a minimum of $18 to the Federation in 2014 or 2015. As part of AARC’s efforts at Tikkun Olan, we offer our members a Flexible Giving Option, in which you can make choices about how your donation to the Federation will be used. You can read more about Flexible Giving and find a donation form on our website’s Tikkun Olam page.

Our local involvement with Food, Land and Justice connects us to a dynamic worldwide movement of Jews. Soul Fire Farm, a CSA family farm in New York, is honoring Shmita– giving the land a Sabbath–and also publicizing their restorative justice program. Another good connection to Shmita and sustainability is the Hazon Shmita Project.

Don’t forget to vote!

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Connecting Food & Faith

Thursday, Jan. 22, 7 pm
Panel Discussion at Ann Arbor District Library, downtown (343 South Fifth Avenue)
Multi-Purpose Room

Chuck Warpehoski, the Director of Ann Arbor’s Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, will moderate a discussion among a variety of different faith perspectives, about how, and why, people of faith link what, and how, they eat to their values and beliefs.

Panelists will include:

  • Reverend Kristin Riegel, First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor
  • Cathy Muha, Mindful Eating Coalition leader, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor
  • Carole Caplan, Jewish Alliance of Food, Land & Justice / Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation
  • Mansoor Qureshi, President, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Michigan
  • Julie Ritter and Colleen Retherford, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor

honey

Edible Home Landscapes: From saving seeds to harvesting from your trees

Edible Landscapes

Sunday, February 1, 2015, 1 pm – 3 pm, at the JCC
Join us in honor of Shmita and Tu B’shevat

Think beyond grocery stores, farmers markets, and CSAs – what if healthy foods were right outside your kitchen door?

Local plant guru Erica Kempter from Nature and Nurture Seeds will educate us on soils, seeds, and trees needed to create edible landscapes at home.

Dialogue, text study, hands-on learning, and refreshments.

Admission is free, but please pre-register!

Event is at the JCC, 2935 Birch Hollow Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Organized by the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, Pardes Hannah and the Jewish Alliance for Food, Land, and Justice.

This event made possible in part with support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor.

Latke Secrets

alicia_jen_latkes(Note: Jen Cohen published this recipe on our former website after our 2012 Hanukkah party. I thought it would be wise to publish on this new site as a reference for our latke-making for years to come.)

 

By Jennifer Cohen

The big secrets are
– alternating potato and onion when grating,
– squeezing out the excess liquid before frying, and
– firmly packing the ice cream scoop to shape the latkes.

Also, make them with happy thoughts in your heart and they’ll always taste just right.

Basic potato latkes

5 medium Yukon Gold (or other golden) potatoes
1 large sweet onion
2 Tablespoons flour
1 large egg
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil, like canola

1. Scrub potatoes well and remove any obvious blemishes; no need to peel thin skinned potatoes like Yukon Gold. Cut to fit into food processor. Cut onion into 4 chunks and remove papery outer skin. Using grating blade in food processor, grate chunks of potato, then a chunk of onion, then potato, etc. Always alternate between potato and onion to keep mixture from blackening. When finished, place onion and potato in the center of a kitchen towel. Wrap into a ball and squeeze firmly to get rid of as much liquid as possible.

2. Put potato and onion back into large mixing bowl and add egg, flour, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. At this point, if the mixture seems too dry, you can add another egg. You will drain off excess liquid when you pack the ice cream scoop, so no worries about the batter being too wet.

3. Heat a generous amount (at least 1 inch) of oil in a large skillet over medium high flame. Using your hands, firmly pack an ice cream scoop, tilting it to the side to let any extra liquid drain back into the mixing bowl. Drop mounds of mixture into hot oil. Fry and turn only once, pressing down after the turn. When golden and crisp on each side, drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

The Twists

Potato, Carrot and Parsnip: substitute 3 potatoes, 1 large carrot and 1 large parsnip for the 5 potatoes in the basic recipe.

Potato, Beet and Sweet Potato: substitute 3 potatoes, 1 large beet and l large sweet potato for the 5 potatoes in the basic recipe. My trick is to grate the beet a day or two in advance and keep it in a container in the refrigerator. This helps it dry out so that it doesn’t bleed.

Zucchini: this was a last minute brainstorm idea and we used only zucchini, onion, flour, egg, salt and pepper. I think we could improve it, using one potato, maybe 6 or so zucchini and enough matzoh meal to help hold them together. Stay tuned…

For the 2012 Hanukkah Party we tried a few new twists:

  • Potato-Beet with Fresh dill and horseradish sour cream
  • Sweet Potato with coconut and pineapple-jalapeno salsa
  • Carrot-Parsnip (no potatoes at all!)

Also see: Jen’s challah recipe.

Join the Food, Land and Justice Bus Tour to Detroit

[Members Idelle Hammond-Sass and Carole Caplan have been working with others in the community to organize a bus trip to Detroit and day of learning as part of the Food, Land and Justice grant. They pass along this note with details,  printable flyer and the link to purchase tickets.]
honeyAs part of a year of programing grounded in the Jewish practice of Shmita  you are invited to join with members of the Ann Arbor Jewish community for an exciting visit to Detroit on Sunday September 14, 2014.

So much is happening around the issues of food systems, security, accessibility and affordability in Detroit–let’s take the day to learn about it first-hand! After meeting at the Ann Arbor JCC, we will travel by bus to D-/town Farms, and learn how their work is making important healthy change both personally and communally.

We will then arrive at historic Eastern Market where we will hear from several speakers as to their important roles in the food movement. We will enjoy a healthy lunch and have time to shop the artisans’ market as well. We will study together, laugh together and then brainstorm how we might be part of this important movement moving forward.

Details of  the FOOD, LAND and JUSTICE trip to Detroit:

Space is limited—reserve yours today! Contact Carole Caplan (caplan.carole AT gmail.com), or Idelle Hammond-Sass (Hammond_sass AT msn.com) for more information.

This program is generously funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor.

Recipe: Chavurah Challah

By Jennifer Cohen

[Note: Jen Cohen bakes challah for most of our Fourth Friday Shabbats. She says “I think this is the most current recipe.  I confess that I change it all the time.”] 

Ingredients
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, separated
  • pinch of sugar
  • 3 large or extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5–6 cups flour (I typically use 1-2 cups whole wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • cornmeal
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a little bit of water
  • sesame or poppy seeds
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat, set aside to cool a bit.
  2. Pour about a tablespoon of butter into a large bowl and swirl it around to coat the inside.
  3. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, with a pinch of sugar and set aside to proof.
  4. In a stand mixer or other large bowl, beat together eggs, honey and melted butter. Add remaining 1 cup warm water and mix well. Add yeast mixture and blend well. Add flour, with salt, 1 cup at a time, blending well after each addition until dough is thick enough to work by hand.
  5. Spoon dough onto floured work surface and knead for several minutes. If you’d like to add raisins (1-1 1/2 cups), here is where you would incorporate them, along with enough additional flour to make a smooth elastic dough.
  6. Rub the top of the dough in the buttered bowl, then flip the dough over and nestle inside. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm place until doubled in size. I let this part go on for quite a while—like 5 hours or so.
  7. When ready to bake, line a baking tray with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set oven to 350 degrees.
  8. For the Chav, I divide dough into 3 pieces and roll each into a long rope. I braid the ropes and then curve the braid into a circle, pinching the ends together. For a smaller gathering, I divide the dough in half and then make 2 smaller braided loaves.
  9. Cover with that clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes.
  10. Brush the top and sides of the challah with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds if desired. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, depending on loaf size, until golden brown.

**Pumpkin Challah for Challoween: Replace 1/2 the butter and 1 of the eggs with a cup of pumpkin puree. Add a little pumpkin pie spice to the dough.

**Apple and Honey Challah for Rosh Hashanah: Add 2 finely diced granny smith apples to regular challah. Brush the top with 1 stick melted butter and 1/2 cup honey, before baking and again when just out of the oven.

**Thanksgiving Challah: same as Challoween Challah, but add 1 cup of dried cranberries. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds after the egg wash.

Challah Musings

By Jennifer Cohen

[Note: Jen’s delicious challah, fresh from the oven, its smell wafting though the room at the close of Friday night services, has been an AARC tradition for almost 20 years.]

I used to say that I came into this religion through the kitchen. Growing up in Ohio, I knew very, very few Jews. Sure, I read the All of a Kind Family books, but I never imagined that any of that (kosher dishes! dressing up for something called Purim!) was still going on. I read those stories and absorbed that information the same way I did Little House on the Prairie–historical fiction. Then I moved to NY, met Adam, fell in love and a bit through the looking glass. I got a crash course on keeping kosher and the relentless holiday schedule.

Challah

This challah was not made by Jen, but it was made with Jen’s special recipe

Soon I was checking hot dog bun packages to see if they were parve and trying to figure out how to make a dinner without butter. I learned to make latkes; Adam was not impressed with my first attempts. I think he said something like “those look like bird’s nests”. I found a kosher butcher, made peace with the idea of no bacon or shrimp, and got a cheap second set of dishes. It was fairly easy to do this on Long Island. Things were set up there.

When we moved to MI, I had to search and hunt to find some of my, by then, staples. Missing some of the good bakeries, I decided it was time to learn to bake challah. I consulted several cookbooks (this was before you could go on-line!) and gave it a shot, every Friday. There were some success and some dismal failures (a potato challah that slumped off the baking sheet). I persevered and came up with a version of what I bake today. The trick was in the rising time. Earlier recipes had the rising time set at short intervals–1 hour, then punch down, then rest 40 minutes, then bake. At that time, I had two busy little boys and couldn’t sit around and wait for dough to rise. I used to make the dough, take it along with us to the park. After an hour, making sure the boys were engaged in an important excavation in the sandbox, I’d punch it down and pop it into 2 loaf pans. (I had a little work station set up in the back of the mini-van.) Then, 1/2 an hour later, we’d drive home and bake. Warm challah for teatime and a fresh loaf for dinner.

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