Friday, April 27, 2012

Test Run of Coverings: Or, Keeping My Head Covered for Four Days

I'm not sure what overcame me, but I'm doing a test run of keeping my head covered for a few days.

That means that when I'm out of the dorm, and I'm not wearing a hat, I'm wearing a kippah. And if I'm not wearing a kippah, I'm wearing a hat.

I've been thinking about doing this for a while, but I haven't made a decision yet. I decided to try it for a few days, see how it went, and then make a decision. I wouldn't wear a kippah on Shabbos, in most non-kosher restaurants, or while traveling in an area where being obviously Jewish would make me feel unsafe.

Wearing a kippah is a statement of two things: Jewish identity and deference to G-d. However, in the tradition I grew up in and in my denomination-hopping, it's not mandatory. Some Orthodox might find my attempt pretentious, some liberals might find it ridiculous. Or vice-versa. Oh well.

Notes from the first two days:

- When you're not used to it, keeping your head covered all the time is kinda uncomfortable. 

- I am so self-conscious, now that I'm wearing a kippah.

-People stare at me in line. This doesn't happen with the hat so much. (The kippah I'm wearing today is kinda awesome though)

-When one doesn't keep strict kosher, it can be a bit awkward. Particularly when one is eating something dairy/cheesy.

-Almost everyone who knows me knows I'm gay, so some of the stares come from that. Don't worry, I still am queer. But we come in many flavors!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Two Types of Coconut Macaroon: Raspberry and White Chocolate

Macaroons are awesome. Here's a gluten-free, kosher-for-Passover recipe with two editions.

Coconut Macaroons, White Chocolate or Raspberry
based on a Smitten Kitchen recipe
makes ~45-50 macaroons

7.5oz ground coconut shavings
3-4 eggs, separated
1 cup confectioner's sugar (more for seasoning)
1 stick butter, melted

White Chocolate Version
5.5oz white chocolate chips

Raspberry Version
5-6oz raspberries, pureed or crushed
2tbsp confectioner's sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Mix the yolks and the sugar to a consistent mixture. Set aside.
3. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Set aside.
4. Mix the coconut and raspberries/white chocolate chips.
5. With your hands, mix in the butter, egg whites, egg-sugar mixture, and additional sugar for raspberries until a thick, moist, and nearly solid mixture forms.
6. Take teaspoon-sized pieces of the batter and use your hands to form them into balls. Place on the cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the outside is hard and beginning to brown. Remove, cool and serve.

And my friend David has a cool new blog:

And good old not-quite-anything-denominationally-but-everything-too me has started reading three really neat blogs:

RitualWell's blog, administered by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Morethodoxy, mostly about the roller-coaster rides of Modern Orthodox practice in the 21st century:

Gotta Give 'Em Hope: an advocacy-cum-experience blog written by Chaim Levin, who's involved in a lot of Jewish queer things. He grew up in the Lubavitch Hasidic movement, but he doesn't identify completely with it anymore (he's not practicing in the traditional sense). He still identifies with it culturally, it seems. Anyway, READ IT.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Summer Plans: 10 Little Things

I will be in Washington DC working for the Urban Land Institute this summer. Research internship aside (and it's my dream internship), there are going to be ten things I want to do this summer aside. Since I'm trying to cheer up from hullaballoos not to be written about, I've been making these plans.

My summer break starts 6 June for me, and goes until mid-September. I'll be in DC most of the time from 24 June until 15 September.

1. Eat tons of Ethiopian food. DC is the capital of the Ethiopian-American community. I'm looking forward to honey wine and injera.

2. Go spotting at Reagan Airport. Nerd forever. Hopefully, not get arrested.

3. Visit Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. On my goals list ever since I became a Civil War nerd in high school.

4. Learn some Portuguese. The big goal of the summer. As if I needed another language.

5. See my friends from NUJLS. Some people will be in DC over the summer, and others will be there when their school years start in September. All the Jews unite!

6. Read Hosea. In line with my "book of the Tanakh" goals every break (Proverbs last summer, Ecclesiastes during the winter), I want to read Hosea in detail this summer.

7. While I'm in New York, go back to Mitsuwa for delicious Japanese food-and-supply shopping. Aaron Rubin, care to join me again?

8. Turn 21 in a classy, non-drunken way. My birthday's on 12 September, my last week in DC.

9. Take tons of photos.

10. Eat ice cream on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at night with my sister. Can you help me convince my sister to come visit me in DC?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Passover Delights: Matzoh Ball Soup with Dill and Vegetable Broth

Among other craziness for Passover, I organized two seders - one for my prayer group Friday night, and one for my dormitory Saturday night. For the first seder, I made a vegetarian matzoh ball soup that went down pretty well. Here's the recipe, for those interested.

Dill and Vegetable Broth
makes about 23-25 cups

1 1/2 large onions, diced (chopped vegetables: more surface area -> more flavor)
5-6 stalks of celery, chopped
13 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
5-6 scallions, finely chopped
3 cups baby carrots, or finely chopped carrots
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 large fistfuls of dill, chopped or ripped 
1 1/2 large fistfuls of parsley, chopped or ripped
2-3 tbsp salt
2-3 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried sage
20 cups of water

1. Heat a large, large stock pot over a high flame. Add the olive oil, and then add the onions, celery, garlic, scallions and carrots. Sauté until the onions become soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add more oil if necessary.

2. Add the dill and parsley and sauté for another minute.

3. Cover the vegetables with the 20 cups of water.

4. Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme and sage.

5. Wait until boiling, and stir again. Keep simmering, stirring now and again, for about 1 1/2 hours, adding seasoning as necessary. You can totally reheat the soup.

Matzoh Balls
based on the Smitten Kitchen recipe

makes 40 matzoh balls

~1 2/3 cups matzoh meal
6 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup hot water
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp sage

1. Mix all the ingredients to form a thick batter-like thing. Refrigerate for one hour.

2. With wet hands, roll the mixture into little balls of one-inch diameter.

3. Boil in boiling water or soup for 30-35 minutes. If in soup, serve immediately. Otherwise, remove from water and keep separate until serving time for soup. I strongly recommend that you cook the matzoh balls separately.

To serve

1 ladle of soup + 2 matzoh balls = 1 serving