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Archive for April, 2013

“If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she will be unclean for seven days. . . And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12:2-3)

Questions: What does the circumcision of a baby have to do with the ritual purity of its mother? And why are these numbers so important? Seven days? Eight days? Can you think of other series of numbers in our lives that are important? What is the significance of the number seven? Of the number eight?

Ideas: Add an eighth layer to your seven-layer salad, or seven layer cake! Put out items of food in multiples of seven or eight: cookies, pretzels, veggies – talk about the number of items at your table and why they are there in that way. Food that needs to marinate is also great – cook something up that needs to marinate for seven or eight days – you can do this even with your kids – then spend the week waiting for it to be ready – talk about what it feels like to have to wait, and what the value is in this.

Silhouette of summer garden BBQ isolated against fire

Recipe for Eight Day Brisket here

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One of the things I notice now, since I finished all the photo shoots for my cookbook, is that I look at food differently. I was cutting up garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots for today’s recipe and all of the sudden, the mundane turned into art. I started to think about the arrangement of what I was cutting, and how the photographer would have arranged the peels, the knife, the cutting board, the vegetables. I noticed how beautiful the carrots were, both before I peeled them, and after. I noticed how beautiful the potato peels were, and the contrast of the two orange colors of the carrots and sweet potatoes, and of the whites of the potatoes and garlic cloves. And I think more than anything that is one of the things I try to do in my cookbook – to find the beauty in the mundane, to find the culinary references in the simple text. To bring carrots, potatoes and garlic to life in the way my photographer was able to do meant that he saw the vegetables differently, just like I try to see, and help others to see the Bible in a different, more tasty and tactile light. There is much beauty in the Bible, and it’s not in elaborate pageants and great shows of wealth, it’s in the simple things: carrots, potatoes, garlic, stones, sand and stars.

“Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took a pan, put fire in it, placed incense upon it, and they brought a strange fire before God which he had not commanded. And fire went forth from God and consumed them, and they died.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)

Questions: While the text makes it clear that Nadab and Abihu died, and that they brought a “strange fire” into the sanctuary which God had not commanded them, we are not told why this fire was “strange.” Why couldn’t Aaron’s sons bring an extra offering to God? What was “strange” about their fire?

Ideas: BBQ! Serve anything flame-roasted to get the conversation started about fire, and what makes some fires strange and others less strange. Anything hot and spicy could work too. Some commentators suggest that Nadab and Abihu were drunk, so douse your chicken in wine, or simmer your beef in some broth.

I am making Flame Roasted Drunken Chicken this week. Recipe here.

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