We pick up our next share on Thursday, so the produce is dwindling. I tried to think of a way to use up the huge bunch of cilantro, some beets, and the remaining garlic scapes, when it hit me: pizza.

I made up my favourite no rise pizza crust (note: I make a half recipe; I find the full recipe creates too thick a crust).

In the food processor, I mixed up a big bunch of cilantro, three garlic scapes, and about a 1/2 cup of walnuts. As it whirled I drizzled in olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Let’s call it parve pesto.

I spread the pesto onto the unbaked crust. I peeled and sliced, thinly, a couple small beets, then added them. Sliced mushrooms, threw them on. Fresh mozzarella, on as well. (I’d meant to add some packed in water artichoke hearts, but forgot. Alas.)

Bake at 400F for 11 minutes. Broil for an additional couple minutes. Voila! Super tasty tastiness. And a great way to use up CSA odds and ends.

I love kohlrabi, also known as that alien vegetable. It looks like a root bulb with aloe-esque arms coming up and around. It comes in deep purple or white-ish green. The peel, which is a little tough, can be eaten if cooked a little first. Otherwise, you can peel kohlrabi and eat it raw.

I like to julienne it or shred it and add it to salads. Shred it and make latkes or fritters. Slice thinly and saute (with garlic scapes!). And now? I’ve pickled them! Super easy to do, no fancy canning equipment needed.

  • Peel kohlrabi and cut into chunks. (I went with 1×1″ strips, using two very large kohlrabi.
  • Put in a colander and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit for an hour to get some of the water out.
  • After an hour, rinse the salt off. Put in a container.
  • Add a few cloves of garlic (chopped), some new spring carrots (also cut into strips).
  • In a pot, bring 2 cups water, 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup sugar, 3 tbsp salt to a boil. Once boiling and the sugar and salt have dissolved, pour over the veggies.
  • Add pickling spices. I didn’t measure anything (oops), but threw in some bay leaves, chiles, dill seed, mustard seed, cloves, coriander, and a bit of allspice.
  • Cover the container, put in the fridge, and let it sit for 2 days.
  • That’s it! Slightly sweet, still crunchy, tasty pickles. Easy!

At this point in the season, our weekly CSA share is really heavy on the leafy greens: heads of lettuce, mixed salad greens, and more.

When I picked up this week’s veggies, I still had lettuce left in the fridge from last week. There’s only so much salad we can eat! So I did some recipe searching for alternate ways to use these greens and settled on two ideas: sauce and soup.

For the soup, I found several recipes that all seamed more like cream of potato with a lettuce afterthought than all about the lettuce. So I made up my own recipe (below).

For the sauce, I found a couple that were similar, then based mine on the one provided by Emeril Lagasse. Let’s start with that one.

Lettuce Sauce/Dressing

  • mixed greens (about 1/2 lb)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 lemons, juiced (about 4 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup garlic scapes, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

Toss everything except the oil, salt, and pepper in the food processor. Give it a whirl. Drizzle in the oil while it’s whirling away. Season with salt and pepper. Chill. Use as a salad dressing or pour over fish. (Emeril suggests using his version as a sauce for salmon, hard boiled eggs, and tomato slices.)

Lettuce Soup

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • garlic scapes
  • two heads of lettuce
  • veggie broth
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cream

Heat oil in a large pot. Add chopped onion, garlic scapes. Sauté until onions are clear. Add the lettuce, cook until wilted (a few minutes). Add 2 cups of broth, simmer for 20 minutes. In batches, transfer soup to the food processor in batches and blend (or use a mix stick and blend in the pot). Return to pot. Add salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cream. Simmer 5 minutes. Enjoy!

From everything I’ve read, this soup will get tastier over coming days. If it’s not hearty enough, I might try it with potatoes next time.

Here’s the dilemma: what if the one thing you want to do on Shabbos, to relax, take your mind off your busy week of volunteer commitments and 60+ hours of work without making a dent and mild disarray at home is to knit. Specifically, to knit a tuque you started months ago, but have been so busy with the aforementioned work and volunteer work that you haven’t had a moment to pick it up and finish it. And it’s almost winter, and you’d like to be able to wear it, instead of seeing a ball of yarn with five needles stuck in. If the idea of zoning out, turning off the busy thoughts in your mind, while falling into the rhythmic trance of knitting is appealing, and Shabbos is your day off from work of all sorts, so you have a free afternoon anyway, is knitting really so wrong?

I knew it was wrong. While knitting isn’t explicitly forbidden amongst the activities prohibited on Shabbos, it’s not much of a stretch to see that it falls in the same realm as weaving, making two loops, tying, etc. I wouldn’t think twice about writing, baking, or planting—I’d never do any of that on Shabbos. But here I am, wanting to knit and knowing I “shouldn’t.” Such a conflict that, on the one hand, I wanted to do it, to relax fully on Shabbos, while on the other I stayed in my room with the door closed. And when my roommate discovered me knitting, I felt ashamed. (And couldn’t bring myself to resume knitting until motzei Shabbos.)

Not really sure where I’m going with this… Guess I’m curious about how others balance the halakha with the practice. And where/how one draws the line when it comes to creating space for having a restful Shabbos.

I guess it’s not entirely surprising that a Canadian-specific video for the “It Gets Better” campaign is the catalyst for bringing me back to my blog. A lot of what was shared in this video resonates with me, echoes my experiences as a queer kid growing up in Canada. I don’t feel the need to make my own video – in part because I don’t have anything original to say, and in part because I find this all too privileged (bonus: watch my roommate’s video).

But back to the Canadian video. I like that they are anonymous until the Canadians are named in the last third of the video. I like that they share both serious and humourous insights. (Thanks, Rick Mercer!) I like that there are Canadian resources mentioned, since the Trevor Project isn’t a toll free call from Canada. But, like my complaints with other videos, it’s too middle-upper class, urban, largely white, etc. (Not to mention the music that’s meant to make us realise that this is both inspirational and heavy. Whoa.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity and privilege of late, it’s hard not to given these past weeks (month?) of LGBT/queer activism, mostly online, combating the latest round of suicides, bullying, and general mainstream media clueing in to homophobia.

I’m openly queer; I’ve been out since elementary school to some friends, out to my family since high school. I don’t fit in a tidy box of labels. Queer works better for me than gay or bisexual. Being in a relationship with a straight woman now, I wonder how to remain involved in the queer community. I was recently having dinner with some other professional Jews who are queer and caught myself saying “partner” to refer to the person I otherwise have been calling my “girlfriend.” Why was it so important to me that they read me as “queer” and not, gasp, “straight”? How can the words I use make a difference both for affirming my identity and showing others I’m still on their side? Should I shift, become more of an ally than “one of them”?

Before starting my new job, I had grand plans to volunteer with queer youth during the week. I used to help run a queer youth drop in back home, volunteered at other area drop ins too, and was one of the first people to offer Pridespeak Workshops in Lower Mainland schools. I thought I’d have time during the week to find another volunteer project, but between the 60 hour work weeks, and my volunteer commitments to the National Havurah Committee (co-chair of the board of directors, planning the Chesapeake Retreat), I haven’t had extra time to find somewhere to volunteer – let alone find the time to go.

I doubt that queer folks read me as straight. But I’m always surprised when the rest of the world does. It doesn’t bother me, I just find it amusing. And then I want to reassert my identity and question why they subscribe to a heteronormative view of the world in which everyone must be straight. Maybe not the most direct activism, and maybe I can’t always bring myself to correct people, but it’s… something?

When I was younger, I was much more INYOURFACE about my identity politics. In some ways, I had to be. In school, I was often the only Jew; in my neighbourhood my family was the only Jewish family. I was later the only queer at school, and amongst the neighbourhood kids. (Once I moved to Vancouver, I was the Torontonian in my class – a label I quickly shed.) I knew how to use labels to find strength, community, comfort. I knew how to use labels to educate, make others uncomfortable, question. Now, I still find value in playing with labels, using them to educate and advocate for the underdog, as it were, but I’m less active in this way.

Maybe the answer isn’t to be an ally, but to figure out how to own my identity in a public way that can be used to educate: yes, I’m queer, and yes, I’m dating someone who is both a woman and straight, and yes, that makes total sense too. It’s not a contradiction. We are not all tidy labels in small boxes.

This really isn’t what I thought this blog would be about. And I do have posts of substance swirling around in my not-fully-functioning brain, but I just can’t get them out. (Though I do seem able to write two posts about PIE-STUFFED CAKE. See also: Innovations in Post-Progressive Kashrus on Jewschool.)

So, instead, I give you PIE-STUFFED CAKE. It all started on Friday when my housemate, the lovely dlevy tweeted:

I WANT THIS INSIDE OF ME! RT @mwecker Scary yet oddly enticing! RT @WendyRosenfield: 1st, OMFG. 2nd, who’s in? http://is.gd/fRvFq

Clearly, I had no choice. I was oddly mesmerised and horrified by this cake monstrosity. Next thing I knew, I was offering to figure out how to bake it myself in our kitchen.

And I did.

NB: twitpic doesn’t make embedding photos pretty. Please click on ’em to see larger, crisper versions.

PIE-STUFFED CAKE!! on Twitpic by @thewanderingjew

Of course, I had to take a cross-section photo as proof. Here are two (of the cake and of a slice).

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Now, I don’t actually recommend eating this. That thin piece I cut for myself? I ate about half of it and feel both oh-so-very-ill and high. (Also, I think my teeth are going to fall out momentarily.)

I had told someone on twitter that I would provide the recipe. However, I feel it is a greater public service to withhold it. Trust me. You’re thanking me for that.

It’s October now. I’m still getting used to the idea that it’s September, let alone “not August,” so I’m sure you can understand how I’m a little dumbstruck by it being October. Seriously, what happened to July?

Time seems to be moving rather rapidly. I’m not sure if it’s a result of my days being full with travel (near, like NYC, and far, like Africa), work (guess who now has a work visa!?), and a lovely romance to boot, or if, maybe, all of those Jewish holidays interrupting the flow of September played a role, but time just keeps whizzing by.

In my mind, this was going to be a post about time, being outside of time (as I often feel after three day yom tov), and trying to catch up with the world around me (a lot of news happened while I was offline, not reading the newspaper Wednesday evening through Saturday night). Much of these thoughts had to do with love, acceptance, coming into our own, and queer youth committing suicide. But it’s 1:34am and I’ve just returned home from a visit to NYC and I’m too frazzled to write that out. But the thoughts are brewing. The post will come.

In the meantime, check out this post by my roommate, friend, and all around mensch, dlevy. When another friend first pointed me to the It Gets Better project, I told him it was a good start, but it didn’t sit well with me. It was too… “move to San Francisco and everything will be magically better!” I couldn’t articulate all the ways in which privilege was shining through these videos, failing to recognise that not every queer youth is “lucky” enough to afford mobility, education, etc. So I was really glad that dlevy was able to speak for me (even if he didn’t realise that’s what he was doing).

A real post will be forthcoming. Really.

There are a few main mitzvos (commandments) for Sukkos. One is to dwell in a sukkah. Another is to shake the lulav and esrog. A third is to be happy, joyous. We’re commanded to be joyous, which is kind of crazy – how do you enforce that? What does “joyous” mean, and by what measure is your joy weighed? In this time of holiday-but-not-chag of Sukkos (also known as “chol ha’moed” – literally, “weekdays of the festival”) we greet each other with the words “moadim l’simcha” – “times of joy.”

I’m finding this to be a very easy mitzvah to follow this year!

The final blast of the shofar will never sound the same.

In the weeks leading up to Yom Kippur, a lot of thought was given to where I would be davening. More specifically, where I would not be davening. Last year, the chaggim were very emotional for me, as they were for many others. A good friend was in the hospital, dying, and we did not know when we would get The Call. His fiancée, one of my best friends, had asked me to keep my phone on over the chaggim, and the shabbos in between, so I could be reached with The Call. I agreed. Having a phone in my pocket, left on, was very heavy. I did not use it, I tried not to think about it, but I felt it and could not stop remembering why I had it in my pocket. The phone did not ring. I returned to the hospital each day to sit with my friend, support her. On Yom Kippur, my phone did ring. I left during the martyrology service, leaving my tallis behind. And I ran. I ran from 82nd and Broadway, the Upper West Side, up and through Central Park to Mount Sinai hospital, 101st and 5th, the Upper East Side.

A difficult decision had been made: our friend would be taken off life support the next day. At the request of a parent (hers? his?), I helped my friend from the room where the meeting had been held. We sat by her fiancé’s bedside for hours. Long after his family had left. We sat there, mostly in silence, until I was able to take her home for a sleepless night. I don’t remember much about that night, but I do remember my friend asking, “What do I wear to unplug my fiancé?” Always sardonic, humour was her way of getting through this.

The next morning, we were back at the hospital early, giving her time to continue her goodbye before his family arrived. As his loved ones gathered, prayers were said, many tears were shed… Eventually the doctors said it was time and… We stood around his bed, watching him take his last breath. There are so many flashes of images and sounds from those last moments… Powerful memories.

A year later, I can still clearly see his brother and father turning to each other and ripping each other’s shirts, starting their public mourning.

And so, as Yom Kippur drew near, my thoughts turned to these memories, and many more. I decided that I would have a better chance of focusing on my davening were I not in New York, at my favourite place for Yom Kippur, where I was last year, remembering everything that happened last Yom Kippur. In Brookline, I was not successful in focusing on davening. Before musaf, I was remembering the weight of the phone in my pocket. Come the martyrology, I was anxious, remembering how I left services abruptly to run across town. And the yizkor service pushed me over; I should have brought Kleenex.

After mincha, ne’ilah, and ma’ariv, the final blast of the shofar signaled that, yes, it was time to break the fast. But also signaled the day that our friend died, that the world lost a truly great person. Fewer than 12 hours later, I stood with his family and close friends in a small minyan, marking his yahrtsayt.

I wish the sound of his father’s cries, and his cries while davening, weren’t so familiar.

It started with a simple invitation. “My apartment will be empty over Yom Kippur; you’re welcome to stay here.” Standing in my friend’s kitchen, preparing for Shabbos, it seemed rather simple. What she forgot, however, was that her boyfriend was there too. The boyfriend with whom she had recently moved into this new apartment. It wasn’t her apartment, it was theirs.

He reminded her of this. I tried to make myself as small and out of the way as possible while they started discussing their relationship, opening up old debates, touching on sore topics. I tried to excuse myself to the living room, but they followed me out there, continuing to talk. I feigned a yawn, curled up on the sofa, and hoped we could all just settle down for some naps. (It had been a long Rosh Hashanah.) As they continued talking about their relationship, I grew increasingly uncomfortable, until, finally, I said I could go for a walk to give them their privacy. “No, stay. It would be good to have a witness to this.” She continued, chuckling a little, “You could be like our couples therapist…”

The sofa was comfortable, I was tired, and it just seemed simpler to stay where I was. I decided to try to tune them out. Instead, I heard my good friend, with whom I had had many abstract conversations about marriage and children over the years, make those topics personal. I was shocked. Here was my friend who had never seemed interested in marriage, who had expressed that she did not ever want to get married, talking about marriage. Here was my friend who had voiced reasons for never wanting to get pregnant, for never wanting to have children or raise them, talking about having children.

I was blown away by the emotion. I was trying not to cry. I was so honoured to witness their conversation about their future: wanting to get engaged, plan a marriage, commit to one another, plan on spending their lives together, having babies and raising them together. My efforts were for naught. As they continued talking, making their wants and desires known to each other, tears rolled down my cheeks.

My role as couples therapist was short lived. The only thing I said in that capacity? How proud I was to hear my friend express herself, to witness how much she had grown in this relationship. And how honoured I was to have witnessed it all. B’sha’ah tovah!

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