This Sunday, June 14, Matthaei Botanical Gardens is the place to be for the Farm Education Day and Sustainable Food Fest. There is really terrific programing and incredible food planned. Two of the things I am most excited about are the connections the planners have made with young Jewish social justice activists who are living in Detroit.
Did you know that Hazon, one of the most creative, inspirational Jewish social justice organizations, is opening its Detroit branch this month? You can meet Detroit Hazon’s lead organizer, Blair Nosan,this Sunday at 11:15 for the workshop “Bread from the Earth: Jewish Practice and Sustainability.” The workshop will be co-led by Sue Salinger, the sister of AARC member Carole Kaplan. This is an opportunity not to be missed.
In addition, Detroit Jews for Justice is leading a workshop at 10:15, Mayim Hayyim: A Jewish Perspective on the Detroit Water Shut-offs with AJ Aaron. AJ was a Repair the World fellow last year.
If you need any inspiration over the next few days, read those links about the work Blair and AJ are involved in. And see you Sunday, let’s get inspired together!
Is there a new Jewish back to the land movement? Let’s talk about it together on June 14th when we gather at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for the Farm Education and Sustainability Food Fest and take a tour of Green Things Farm. Certainly Nate Lada, who with his wife Jill Sweetman are the owners and operators of Green Things Farm, sees a connection between his Hebrew Day School education and his commitment to sustainable agriculture. When he was a guest speaker at a UM Hillel Tu B’Shvat seder in 2012, Nate talked about the importance of agriculture and respecting the Earth as central to the Jewish tradition. Twentysomething graduates of the UM where they both studied Environmental Science, Nate and Jill have taken advantage of several opportunities created by longtime Ann Arbor environmental activists such as the Ann Arbor greenbelt program, a thirty year investment voted on in 2003. With the goal of starting a family farm, Nate and Jill spent two years (2011-2012) as part of the first cohort at Jeff McCabe and colleagues’ Tilian Farm Incubator Program. There Nate and Jill learned many of the basics of the business of farming while taking advantage of the program’s land, equipment, farming mentors, and community support. The land they bought to start their own farm, on Nixon near Warren about 5 miles north of downtown, was also part of the greenbelt program, in which the city of Ann Arbor bought development rights on the properties, making the land affordable for farming. [Read more…] about Is there a new Jewish back to the land movement?
This is a greatly adapted recipe from Yiddish Cuisine: A Gourmet’s Approach to Jewish Cooking by Robert Sternberg. Sternberg writes: Jews from all over parts of Poland, the Baltic states and the Ukraine make prakkes with a sweet and sour tomato sauce and raisins. (In Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania, the prakkes are made with a savory tomato sauce.) In Yiddish stuffed cabbages are also called holishkes and golubtzes. What did your family call them?
Saute the onions and then add everything else and simmer while you prepare the cabbage and filling. Before you make the filling, set one large head of green cabbage in a large pot, cover with salted water, bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Let it soak in cold water until you are ready to fill the leaves.
To fill the prakkes, separate the cabbage leaves place, about 1/3 cup of filling in the center of a leaf, fold up the bottom (stem end), fold the sides in and roll, like a burrito.
When all are filled, and the sauce is done, cover the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking pan or roaster with sauce, tightly pack a single layer of prakkes and cover with the remaining sauce, cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake at 325 for 2 hours.
Before serving, remove the ginger and bay leaves.
If you eat meat, you can replace the ground beef substitute with ground beef.
On 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 email@example.com.
AARC 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!
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!
Thursday, Jan. 22, 7 pm
Panel Discussion at Ann Arbor District Library, downtown (343 South Fifth Avenue)
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:
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.
(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.
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:
Also see: Jen’s challah recipe.