Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What's cooking, Rebbetzin's Husband?

[This post is for my friend from Chicago.]

I read a piece the other day on, "Why are some lawyers killing themselves?" Scary stuff. This passage, in particular, resonated:

Instead of eight hours of sleep a night I was able to get by on six hours and finally four hours. The next things to go were my hobbies. I didn't have time for reading, so I stopped reading for fun. I didn't have time to take off from work so I stopped taking vacations. Then I stopped socializing because I didn't have time to waste away from work.

I am prone to that sort of thing, so I try to make sure to maintain some non-Rosh Kollel activities, but there really is no time for it. For the past couple of years, one of my only non-"Rosh Kollel" activities has been to cook dinner for my kids once a week.

I've enjoyed cooking since college; when we were first married and my Rebbetzin was in law school, I did a significant portion of the Shabbos cooking. It isn't that I was a homebody - I was holding down 5 jobs, including a part-time shul rabbinate – but I get satisfaction from doing it. Of course, part of that is likely because I don't do it every night, but I think part of it is the opportunity to invest myself entirely in something that isn't routine, that is new every week, that has an opportunity for creativity, and that offers immediate results.

Here are some of the recent recipes, with added notes:

I found this by searching for lemon basil recipes, because we had some growing in our yard. It was great, except for kids who weren't as into the heavy tomato sauce presence.

Good, but too much work – I only have an hour to work with.

I love chard – and surprisingly, so did the kids.

With our newfound love of chard, we went Martha Stewart – and it was a hit!

And another chard recipe – Teriyaki Vegetables. Also well-received!

And again – chard and cheese omelette, and again it went over well.

Shifted gears for a potato and scallion omelette (we do lots of omelettes, although usually winging it).
I tried this twice and I couldn't get it right – there was far too much potato, in proportion to the eggs. I think "boiling potatoes" might mean the small round ones.

This focaccia was very easy to make – and possibly my greatest hit with the kids. I highly recommend it.

Sauteed cabbage as a side dish. I liked it; the kids weren't as into it. But then I started adding cabbage to every soup I made, and they are very into that.

Capellini Pomodoro – now, this was very good. But see above re: kids who don't like a lot of tomato sauce.

Pollo en Salsa, made when our vegetarian child was away. I took the easy route, baking it in the sauce instead of doing all of the time-consuming steps, but it was good enough to make again for Shabbos.

Pasta e fagioli! This went over very well.

Celery soup. Frankly, a dud. Needs way more salt, and the rice turns to mush too quickly, and absorbs the insufficient liquid. Oh, well.

And then there was this beer chulent I made up on the fly, when my Rebbetzin was away. It was based on an internet recipe, but I can't remember where I saw it. The goal was to minimize the starch, to avoid having to spend a lot of time cleaning the crock pot:
3 bottles Guiness Stout
2 onions, quartered
1 potato, cut in thick slices
1 clove garlic
A little soy sauce (I didn't measure, sorry)
Salt and pepper sprinkled on
1/6 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp mustard

Feel free to send more ideas my way…


  1. I think you're right that "boiling potatoes," in that context, refers to the small round ones, sometimes called "new potatoes," as distinguished from "baking potatoes" i.e. your standard-size Russet or Yukon Gold. Not the most useful nomenclature from the recipe author! The little red and white ones have a texture that's more waxy than fluffy, good for when you want them to hold their shape when cooked.

    As to what you opened this post with, my kid is working in the law business right now and having exactly that experience, and it's taking a huge toll on both physical and mental well-being. Not good for anyone, clients included, but it's hard to change such a deeply ingrained culture. It's the same with doctors. They look back on their own terrible experiences of 80-hour weeks and 48-hour shifts with no sleep, and instead of thinking "How can I make sure nobody else has to go through that?" the reaction is "By gum, if I had to go through that, so should everyone else!"

  2. Katz613 - You're welcome!

    Bratschegirl - Agreed re: the law/medicine comparison. The difference is that with medicine, the patient's consequent poor care is clear, and that has led to protocols which limit hours. There is no such drive in law.