Being snowed in for a few days has long been a favorite Eastman tradition; and it is always a pleasure to be able to recreate this rare experience in the Holy Land. Rather than suffering "cabin fever," as many people do, we enjoy being locked up together, with no particular place to go.
|I did say "well-used," yes? Click to embiggen.|
Over the years, I've learned many tricks about cooking, from -- among others -- my mother, and from my friend Marc Gottlieb (who is a chef de cuisine and fellow blogger).
Mama taught me about choosing mushrooms, and about how to prepare them. Fresh mushrooms still have closed caps. (You can certainly still use mushrooms once the caps have begun to open; but they are nicest when still closed.) She taught me not to wash mushrooms, lest the water cause them to break down and get mushy. Rather, she recommended peeling the mushrooms to expose the lovely white flesh underneath. Marc and I disagree about the necessity for this -- but sometimes tradition wins out.
Marc taught me a wonderful little secret about garlic. Every year at Pesach time, I buy bunches of fresh garlic at the shuk, and hang them outside to dry. In the past, I would throw away the long stalk, and only use the head of the garlic. But tucked away inside the stalk are several little "baby garlics," quite intense in flavor and -- let's face it -- adorable.
|Hidden gold, and worth the effort.|
|Who would have thought garlic could be cute?|
|I have not yet found dry sherry in Israel; so I settle for dry white wine.|
|This kashrut symbol delights me, as it points out that the factory is Sabbath-observant.|
|A chance to show off a favorite invention: the French butter keeper. The butter stays fresh and spreadable, on the counter. Every once in a while, I understand Julia Child's fascination with French cookery.|
|Another tool I love. Besides mincing everything from garlic to herbs to nuts beautifully, this curved board and blade are very cathartic. Ask all of the seminary girls who've come to my kitchen and methodically chopped their anxieties to bits.|
|Sauté onion in butter. Add garlic.|
|Taking out all the recycling in that weather earned him seconds. (Thank you, dear friend.)|
Yesterday, I got the pleasure of making the soup again for very special friends, my mechutenet, and for my friend and fellow blogger Shprintz. (You can check out her heartwarming posts about the Israel she loves and misses at her blog Remember Jerusalem, dedicated to her dear father, "Avraham Shalom ben Chaim Yoel, a"h, whose flair for photography, penchant for prose and love of the Land inspire" her blog.
My bracha to all of us: May we share many bowls of soup, over long, healthy, happy years... right here in Israel.
|Mollie's Mushroom-Barley Soup ingredients|
Snowfesh Hagadol: An invented term, "the great snow vacation." The word for vacation is "chofesh." Some clever wag pointed out that the snow was giving us a big vacation, a "snowfesh" gadol.
Kashrut: kosher, according to Jewish dietary laws
Mechutenet: This word does not exist in English. It means "my married child's spouse's mother." But it's not referring to my son's relationship with his mother-in-law. That word would be "chotenet" or "chamot." What makes this designation unique is that it refers to my relationship with my son's mother-in-law. Cool, eh?