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“And he made the camels to kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time that women go out to draw water.” Genesis 24:11

“So let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say: Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say: Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also; let the same be she that Thou hast appointed for Thy servant, even for Isaac; and thereby shall I know that Thou hast shown kindness unto my master.'” – Genesis 24:14

Abraham’s servant Eliezer is sent to find a wife for Isaac. He asks God to help him, to send him some kind of sign, he wants the first girl that comes down to the well and gives both him and his camels to drink to be the right one for Isaac. Rebecca comes down to the well – and not only does she give water to Eliezer and his camels, but she gives the camels first, showing kindness to animals.

I present to you:

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Spiced Acorn Squash and Apple Soup in Squash “Wells”

4 acorn squash
3 Granny Smith apples
2 onions
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil (plus 4 tsp)
4 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp dried ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)
5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
1 can coconut milk

Dice the onion and garlic and saute in the soup put together with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Cook on a low temperature and let brown. Cut the long tops off the of the acorn squash, peel and cut into large chunks and add to the soup pot. Peel and dice the apples and add to the soup pot. Add all the spices to the vegetables in the pot and mix well, allow to cook for 3-5 more minutes. Add 5-6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock. Allow to cook for 30-45 minutes.

Hollow out the bottoms of the acorn squash, adding any extra squash to the soup pot, dispose of all the seeds and scrape the inside of each sqaush bottom with a spoon to clean it of all strings. Rub 1 tsp olive oil on the outside of each squash bottom and rub 1 tsp maple syrup on the inside of each squash. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Taste soup and adjust seasonings to taste. Add coconut milk just before serving.

Ladle into squash bottoms.

Garnish with toasted spiced sunflower seeds and coconut cream.

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This is not an easy post to write, for we are not living in easy times.

I try to keep politics out of the kitchen, but indeed it is the political situation in Israel right now that kept me from posting a recipe this past weekend. My family went up North (we had planned the vacation a long time ago as my in-laws came to visit) and we did not intend to cancel. In truth, we thought we would be safer in the North of Israel, considering what was going on in the rest of the country. We managed to evade many air-raid sirens, but even as we spent the weekend cocooned in apple and apricot orchards, Israel was attached from the North – from Lebanon. And then we drove to the Golan, again, thinking to take our family out of harm’s way, and then a rocket fell from Syria.

And indeed, though I am currently blogging about the Prophets, the only thing in my mind was a line from Psalm 27: “Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise up against me, even then will I be confident.” But it isn’t easy to be confident. And it isn’t easy to read the second chapter of Joel either.

I’ll give you a taste:

Heaven and Earth Potatoes 1

Joel 2:2 “A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, as blackness spread upon the mountains…”
Joel 2:3 “A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame blazeth…”
Joel 2:8 “Neither doth one thrust another, they march every one in his highway; and they break through the weapons…”

And this: (Joel 2:10) “Before them the earth quaketh, the heavens tremble; the sun and the moon are become black, and the stars withdraw their shining.”

And that is exactly what I feel like here, what we all feel like. Caught between heaven and earth, between rockets from above and tunnels from below, between the practicality of life here and our belief in God, and sometimes it feels like there is no hope, that there will never be an end to this conflict.

But in Joel there is hope, and this is a message to us all, even when we feel caught between heaven and earth: (Joel 2:13) “rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God; for He is gracious and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy…”

And finally: “Then was the LORD jealous for His land, and had pity on His people.” (Joel 2:18)

It is all we can do. Yes, there are armies and tanks and iron-dome systems down here on earth, but if we do not turn to heaven and trust in the Lord of this land, of all lands, then every army in the world will not save us.

This is a food blog after all, so please forgive me, but this is how I feel and I think how many of us feel. We would not live in this land if we did not have faith: a connection to the land, the very earth we live on, the Land of Israel, but also a firm belief in the heavens that protect us.

Heaven and Earth Potatoes

Heaven and Earth Potatoes 4

The traditional Dutch and German versions of this recipe call for a topping of both fried onion and bacon or sausage. The blandness of the potatoes and the tartness of the apples is supposed to represent the contrast between heaven and earth, the golden brown onions and the dusting of cinnamon also provide a heaven-and-earth type of color contrast.

3 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. salt
3 apples, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. vinegar
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 onion, finely sliced
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 7 minutes, add the apple slices and continue to simmer until both potatoes and apples are soft. Drain thoroughly, mash and add sugar and vinegar to taste. Fry onion in 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine and cook until golden brown. Season potato and apple mash with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with onions and cinnamon.

Heaven and Earth Potatoes 3

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“And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat and that it was a desire for the eyes, and that the tree could pleasantly make one wise, and she took of its fruit, and she ate, and she gave to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6)

Questions: What type of fruit tree was this? Why wouldn’t God have wanted to reveal the name of the tree? Why do you think Eve gave to her husband Adam as well? Why wasn’t she just content to eat the fruit herself?

Ideas: Candied citron slices or citron jam, dried figs or fig bars, fresh grapes, raisins, wine or grape juice, and anything made from wheat – bread, cookies, cake or pasta.

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‘They ascended Mount Hor in the presence of the entire congregation. Moses then stripped Aaron of his garments and dressed Eliezer his son in them, and Aaron died there on the top of the mountain.’ (Numbers 20:27-28)

Questions: Why was Aaron told to undress? Do you think he knew that he was going to die? What would you do if you knew when you, or someone you loved was going to die? What would you make sure to do with them or for them? Would you like to be buried on a mountain? Why or why not? Where would you like to be buried? Why?

Ideas: Serve rice or mashed potatoes in the form of two mounds or on two separate plates. For dessert you can simply serve one apple half balanced on top of another apple half. Whipped cream can represent the pillar of cloud, or you can have your guests or your kids try to make marshmallow stacks as the pillar of cloud.

cloud cake

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“Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: The Lord’s appointed holy days that you shall designate as holy occasions – these are My appointed holy days. Six days, work may be performed, but on the seventh day, it is a complete rest day, a holy occasion; you shall not perform any work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places. These are the Lord’s appointed holy occasions, which you shall designate in their appointed time.” (Leviticus 23:2–4)

Questions: Though this chapter of the Bible starts out telling us about the holidays, the verses then go on to discuss the Sabbath – why would this be? What makes a holiday a special time? What makes the weekend or Sabbath a special time? What sanctifies a day and makes it holy?

Ideas:Serve items associated with each of the holidays mentioned above, apples dipped in honey, dairy products, an empty plate perhaps to symbolize the day of atonement, matzah for Passover, and a harvest food for the Tabernacle Festival. Alternatively you can serve food items that represent the weekend or the Sabbath to you – your favorite foods.

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