Double duty recipes – Melon salad with pistachios and mint / Sorbet

Who does not love to cook once, eat twice? These recipes will come in especially handy on Shabbat: you can prepare a delicious meal for the Friday night and a completely different meal with the same ingredients for lunch the next day, no cooking required.

Now, just a reminder: Although I do not mix dairy and red meat at my table, I do mix poultry and dairy … but I try not to mix eggs and poultry. I know, I’m weird, but there is logic to my madness. If you do not mix any meat with dairy, pick among the alternatives in italics.

Cantaloupe with pistachios and mint / melon sorbet (parve)

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 0 minutes

  1. Open and seed two cantaloupes
  2. Dice the flesh into medium size cubes (or scoop it out into chunks with a tea spoon)
  3. Chop 1 cup of shelled, unsalted pistachios, reserve about 1/3 cup
  4. Chop 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves, reserve half
  5. Toss half of the melon cubes into a big salad bowl with the rest of the chopped pistachios and mint leaves. Dairy option: You can also add fresh goat cheese, feta or mozzarella. Also, if you are preparing the salad in advance, reserve the pistachios and add them at the last minute.
  6. Toss the other half of the melon cubes into a blender or food processor with the mint leaves (no pistachios)
  7. Add a drizzle of honey to both the salad bowl and the blender bowl, squeeze half a lemon into the salad bowl.
  8. Add a few drops of orange blossom water to the blender bowl, if you have any
  9. The melon salad is ready for prime time, just move to the dinner table or the fridge.
  10. Blend the mix and pour into small freezer friendly cups or into Popsicle trays, put in the freezer and for dessert the next day

Bon apétit! Serve with grilled chicken or fish.

If you have any suggestion or question, leave a comment, I’d love to know!

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Getting my feet (and everything else) wet at the mikvah 2/2

Source: Flare.com

Source: Flare.com

It had been four years since my first immersion. I cannot tell you exactly what made me suddenly want to go to the mikvah. Until recently, I had mostly considered the rules regarding Tarahat ha’mishpacha (family purity) as  little more than a scheme devised by rabbis to increase the Jewish birth rate, or an outdated remnant of a time when female menstruation was mysterious, repulsive and scary. It was one of the chapters I had put on the “maybe some day” shelf when I converted.

The mikvah itself had always appealed to me greatly. There is something extremely compelling about the act of immersing oneself. Judaism is far from alone in its belief in the cleansing powers of water.

It was a nice, quiet drive, by myself at night,  with some old-ish pop-punk tunes playing at a volume my late thirties can still handle. I don’t often get the car to myself these days, so already, pulling out of the driveway, it felt like a bit of a treat.

When I pulled up into the parking lot, I saw that two other women were waiting by the door: Sam’s former teacher from his brief stint at a Jewish preschool, and his future Sunday Hebrew school teacher… I was a bit baffled by the serendipity of it all.

Truth be told, I felt a bit awkward. I didn’t try to hide my inexperience, although strangely I felt the need to justify it. There is so much I don’t know about Jewish customs, the kind that is not written down anywhere but passed down through families and communities. I am always afraid of saying the wrong thing.

“So what made you decide to come after four years?” asked Sam’s former teacher. There was nothing judgmental in her tone, she really just wanted to know. For lack of a better way to explain it, I said I started “missing” it. And I was curious. The time just felt right to take it off the “someday” shelf and try it out.

After some friendly chatter, the mikvah attendant let us in. I was lead to the same preparation room I had used four years before, and I remembered enough about the process that it felt somewhat familiar. The meticulous shower, combing of the hair, trimming of the nails, and so on. I chose the smallest of the three bathrobes to wrap myself in and buzzed the attendant. I could hear her pronounce the word “kosher” as one of the other two women came up from her immersion, meaning that every part of the body had been fully immersed.

I did not wait long, five minutes maybe, and she knocked on my door. She asked me if I needed her to check me, and I said yes, it being my first time in a long time and all. She quickly took a look at my back and invited me to enter the pool.

I had expected the water to be rather cool, but it was warm this time, almost like a bath. It was surprisingly comforting on a cold winter night.

I went under, making sure to lift my feet and to go deep enough for all of my hair to be submerged, but when I came back up, the attendant told me that the top of my head had not gone below the surface. I quickly swallowed my embarrassment (how do you mess that up??) and did it again, this time letting more air out and taking my time.

There is something incredibly peaceful, for those few seconds, suspended under water. It feels like the world is suddenly light years away. Everything is quiet, warm, easy.

This time the attendant pronounced my dunk kosher, and I said the blessing: Baruch atah Adonaï eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu bemitzvotav, vetzivanu al netilat ha’tvilah.

I immersed a second time, opted not to say the prayer for the restoration of the Temple, simply because I have not decided how I feel about it yet, and instead said a silent personal prayer.

I immersed a third time, trying to stay under a second or two longer. It really is so darn peaceful, and soft, and warm in there.