The idea of a night of Jewish cooking emerged from a car-ride conversation (during last week's trip to the Boston SGAC conference) with Josh, my student/friend/fellow activist who has featured prominently in many of the posts over the last year or so of new things and challenges. We were comparing notes on food and got started talking about foods we don't eat as often now, and for both of us, latkes and matzo balls came up. We agreed that the next cooking session for challenge 2 needed to include these dishes, and an idea was born. Happily, Ali, Kate, Ben and Dan were all pleased to participate as well, and soon the soup and potato pancakes were joined with plans to do a kugel and challah bread.
|If in doubt, go on-line. At least that was the strategy that worked for Josh and me in finding recipes.|
Pulling it all together was a little dicey because we'd all had very late nights the night before and our morning plans (rock climbing for me, skiing for Ali and Josh) had become afternoon plans, which pushed our afternoon cooking session into the evening. But happily, after a few small snafus (try buying sour cream at Price Chopper on Super Bowl Sunday) I got most of the ingredients and Josh and Ali took care of the rest, together with bringing over a food processor to grate potatoes.
|Kate, Dan and Ali making matzo balls|
|My first-ever loaf of braided bread! It's lots of fun to make, actually.|
|As my sister warned me, the key to latkes staying together is twisting out the water in the grated potatoes. We all thought Ben did a fine job, but it turns out that you need to do a SUPER-FINE job to hold it all together.|
|Ben also mixed up the kugel -- which turned out to quite wonderful|
|The finished product -- a lovely loaf of challah bread|
|Potato latkes;warning (which I forgot to heed from my friend Lilly) the only downside is the fumes from frying that linger long after the yummy pancakes are gone..|
As I noted in Part I of this update, things have been a little off-track the last few weeks, but this last weekend injected some energy back into many of my challenges. As I keep realizing (I guess I'm a slow learner), the more you do, the more you realize you're capable of doing, and I found myself not only taking some steps on some of the challenges I set up for this year, but making plans for some of the others. Here's a quick run-down:
New Things: I'm still committed to at least one (preferably more) new things per month, and Siham, Leah and I have decided that we do want to try dog sledding this winter. Both Siham and Leah had birthdays in January, and I was a shamefully bad friend who didn't buy presents at the appropriate time. But now I am going to amend my ways and buy us all a ride with the Vermont Peace Pups as our belated celebration
Challenge 1. Become a better skier/snowboarder. Sadly, I had to turn down not one but two invitations from Alexsis to go to Smuggs, plus one from Paul for Bolton because of, all things, work. I hate when that happens. Happily, Alexsis has forgiven me and we are on to go skiing on Friday (I don't teach on Fridays this semester) at Smuggs.
Challenge 2. Become a better cook. Given what a smashing success our Jewish food cook-a-thon was, I think another is in order very soon. Kate and I agreed we should stay with some theme cooking. We might do another "ethnic" night or we might go Iron Chef style and pick an ingredient to center several different dishes around.
Challenge 3. Become a better ice skater. At long last, this woefully neglected goal is getting dusted off and put into play. Ali, who teaches ice skating as part of her job, has agreed to go skating together Wednesday morning at the Leddy Park rink, and we will set up a schedule for regular skating after that.
Challenge 4. Finish a marathon. I'm still working on this one, though it feels like lots of things have been conspiring against it. I'm taking a sort of marathon prep class at the Y on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but since I teach at 8:30 am those mornings as well, I'm always having to finish early and rush off, or do my own thing without the group. And I lost a week last week from being ill. But I did do my scheduled long run this weekend, albeit at the slowest pace imaginable through the horrible messy snow on the sidewalks all over town. If anyone has any clout with Mother Nature, please explain to her that she's wreaking havoc on my attempts to stay on any kind of schedule with this thing.
Challenge 5. Become a better rock climber. Climbing this last weekend revealed an unpleasant truth to me. I now know that if you don't go, you regress. So, I'm determined to get on some kind of regular schedule with one or more climbing partners so I can actually start improving again
Challenge 6. Write a book with students. The meeting this last weekend was very productive, and I think we all feel like that we gained some momentum, which is a big deal when working with twenty-something authors at once.
Challenges 7-12. Still not ready to add any more right now; I need to keep working till the ones I've already started are nicely incorporated into regular schedules and activities, and then worry about the others.
There is no question that taking on a challenge is infinitely easier with a partner, so if anyone wants to commit to working on any of these together, whether at the same time and place or in-tandem but long-distance please let me know. For now, hope everyone's been able to dig out of the snow wherever they are!