String of Pearls
What an auspicious day! It’s my birthday! And we finally get to see Mom again, albeit with masks and social distancing.
Our family gathered in Jerusalem at a lively, tasty restaurant near Machane Yehudah for the celebration. It was the first time my dad had ventured so far from home since the start of the pandemic, and the first time he’d seen his grandson and great-grandsons in six months.
The food was tremendous. Ten-month-old Lavi excitedly “danced” in his highchair with each mouthful of food. Our youngest, who is in the army as well as in isolation due to about 12 soldiers in his unit testing positive for Corona, was unable to join us.
Towards the end of the meal, Daddy surprised me by gifting me with Mom’s Japanese pearl necklace. “She would have been so pleased to see you wear them,” he said. “If she could understand, she would be happy knowing you had them.”
My husband pointed out that the gematria—an alphanumeric code of assigning a numerical value to a name, word or phrase or an alphabetic value to numbers—based on my turning 50-something, equals “nu.” This is a quaint Hebrew word meaning, “so?” or “what’s the deal?” Its origins are probably Yiddish or even Slavic. It’s amazing how expressive this one little word can be. As in, when will our house renovations be finished already? And, when will the world revert to its more normal state?
Maybe we should express it as “new,” he suggested. Going forward we have much to be excited about. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is a few weeks away; our house is almost ready; there is scientific progress towards a vaccine for this virus; Mom is safe and well; our soldier son tested negative; we have a new great nephew; the world is alive with possibilities.
And so, on my birthday, I offer this prayer of hope to all of us battling with the strange extremes that seem to buffet us personally and globally. May we learn from the contraction and expansion being wrought within and around us.
Here’s to a new year of great potential.
My Californian sister-in-law Sharon inadvertently turned me on to sheet pan meals. This is the process of roasting all your meal ingredients on one pan with an endless possibility of tastes and spices. I actually used two pans to contain all my ingredients, but the principle is the same: cut, wash, prepare your components; spice them to your liking; roast on a high heat for 20 minutes. And voila! A whole meal in one.
Honey Mustard Sheet Pan Meal with Chicken, Potatoes and Vegetables
(makes enough for 4-6 people)
This really is as simple as it seems. It might be my new normal, at least for a while, as I try different vegetable and spice combinations.
1 kilo / 2.2 lbs chicken breast, cubed
3 potatoes, cubed
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
10-12 cloves garlic, peeled
2 onions, quartered
1 large squash, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
2 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
½ cup cherry tomatoes
1½ cups frozen whole green beans
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp honey or date honey
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp granulate mustard
Preheat oven to 400° F / 200° C. Separate potatoes, onions and garlic from remaining ingredients. In a large bowl, cover with 1/3 of sauce then place them on a large sheet pan with baking paper and roast in oven for five minutes (they take longer to cook!). Meanwhile, coat remaining ingredients with remaining sauce. Remove pan from oven and add all other ingredients. Return pan to oven for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft and slightly browned. Let cool and serve.