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“And Abraham said unto his servant, the elder of his house, that ruled over all that he had: ‘Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh.” Genesis 24:2

Abraham asks his servant to go down to the city of Nahor and find Isaac a wife. He makes him swear that he will not bring back a Canaanite woman. Apparently this was the way that people made vows and swore things to one another in the times of the Bible. I think nowadays we would be much more likely to do so over an ice cold beer and a hearty meal!

chicken 3

Chicken Thighs in Silan, Beer and Dijon with Thin Potatoes and Onions

6 chicken thighs
1 bottle beer (I used Israeli Maccabi, but any beer will do!)
6 Tbsp Silan (date honey)
4 Tbsp Dijon mustard (I like Reine Dijon – spicy and strong)
6 tsp corn starch
6 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tsp paprika (smoked is fantastic if you can get it)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced into rounds
3-4 medium potatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl place all the chicken. Pour Silan and Dijon mustard over chicken, rub into the thighs. Sprinke with paprika, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and garlic, rub to distribute evenly. Pour beer over the chicken. Let marinate for half an hour.

Peel potatoes and slice into 1/4 inch rounds. Slice onion. Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of the skillet or baking dish. Place onion on the bottom of the skillet (or baking dish), then add potatoes. Put chicken, skin side down, on the potatoes.

Put the cast-iron skillet or baking dish in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Flip chicken so that it’s skin-side up and then bake for 30 minutes more. For the last 5 minutes of baking, turn the oven temperature up and bit and let the skin crisp until it’s slightly and crispy and looks caramelized.

chicken 2

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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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