Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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What-are-you-reading-Wednesday: Entrée to Judaism: Cooking in the Diaspora

January 13, 2010

Do these chocolate chip cappuccino brownies make my butt look big? 
By Patti Freeman Dorson, recovering attorney, facilitator for the Mothers Circle of Greater Indianapolis and cooking and eating enthusiast

Who but your mother would answer that question honestly?  But that is not the essential question to ask.  The real question is what is a recipe for chocolate chip cappuccino brownies doing in a book about Jewish cooking?

In her spectacular new book Entrée to Judaism: Cooking in the Diaspora, nationally known cooking instructor, food writer and professional speaker Tina Wasserman answers that question with historical and anthropological precision:

The expulsion from Spain and Portugal at the end of the fifteenth century sent many Jews fleeing to Holland, Brazil, and the Far East.  Trade routes were set up from the Caribbean and the Far East to Holland, and Jewish immigrants were directly responsible for the brisk trade in cocoa and coffee from their newfound countries to their relatives trading on the Dutch market. 

Who knew?

Growing up Jewish in Indianapolis, Jewish cooking seemed limited to the staples of Ashkenazic (Eastern European) tradition: beef brisket, honey cake, baked chicken, noodle kugel, chicken soup and matzah balls.  Wasserman takes us on a journey around the world, explaining the literal meaning of the phrase wandering Jew. 

Mass Jewish immigration has occurred in every age and for many different reasons: at the behest of not-so-benevolent government leaders, the pursuit of economic freedom, the instinct for self-preservation, or the dream of a better life.  Wasserman as storyteller and historian explains how Jews came to live in a certain place – Spain, India, Turkey, Russia, Latin America, Africa, the Far East – and how they adapted to local conditions and created Kosher dishes incorporating the flavors and colors of their new surroundings. 

Wasserman as food writer, cookbook author, cooking instructor and Jewish woman demonstrates the breathtaking variety of Jewish cooking in the Diaspora with exceptional recipes ranging from Syrian eggplant with pomegranate molasses to dolmas (Turkish stuffed grape leaves) to Chilean pastel de choclo to Sanbat Wat (Ethiopian Sabbath Stew) and so many more.  And in each recipe, she adds “Tina’s Tidbits”, her wisdom, ideas and variations to enrich the cook’s experience.

The book is divided into three sections: a region and ingredient specific world tour, recipes connected with the celebration of Jewish holidays and iconic Jewish ingredients as interpreted in many different cultures.  Wasserman’s collection has the breadth and depth of other international cookbooks (think Mark Bitman and The Best Recipes in the World) but she writes as she cooks – with passion, with soul and with love.

Oh, and about those Chocolate Chip Cappuccino Brownies:

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 pound light brown sugar
1-1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon water
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 ounces chocolate chips or white chocolate chips

1. Place the butter in a 3-quart saucepan and add the brown sugar. Stir over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the espresso powder, water, and cinnamon, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool while you measure the other ingredients.

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line the bottom of a 9 X 9-inch pan with parchment paper, and butter or spray the sides of the pan to prevent sticking.

3. Meanwhile, using a handheld mixer, beat the eggs and the vanilla into the butter mixture (still in the saucepan). Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, add the chocolate chips and stir by hand to thoroughly incorporate without melting the chips.

4. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan and back for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the pan. The mixture should be very moist but not liquid.

5. Cool and cut into 1 ½-inch squares.

Note: This recipe may be doubled and baked in a 16 X 11 X 1-inch pan for 30 minutes.
Yield: 3-4 dozen small bars

Tina’s Tidbits

  • Do not overbake these brownies! When they’re done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan will come out clean.
  • Never cut brownies while they are not or the sides will mash down.
  • I keep a jar of instant espresso in the freezer to use whenever a recipe calls for some coffee flavoring.
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What-are-you-reading-Wednesday: Best Food Lit of 2009

January 6, 2010

For this week’s What-are-you-reading-Wednesday, we invite you to check out Amazon’s list of the best Food Lit from 2009 (composed of editor picks and bestsellers) here. Which ones have you read? Which ones are you planning to read for 2010?

Coming in at Number 1 is Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman

Here’s the rest of the best:

Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater byFrank Bruni

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen by David Sax

Sex, Death and Oysters: A Half-Shell Lover’s World Tour by Robb Walsh

Far Flung and Well Fed: The Food Writing of R.W. Apple, Jr. by R. W. Apple

In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules by Stacy Perman

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell

Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York by William Grimes

Gourmet Rhapsody byMuriel Barbery

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Find multi-generational activities in the Resource Connection

September 14, 2009

One of my favorite memories growing up was “Grandparents Day” at school. I loved eating lunch with my grandparents, performing skits and creating works of art just for them. As your family celebrates Grandparents Day, take a look at the Resource Connection and discover some activities your multi-generational family can do together—perhaps it’s reading a story that teaches young children what it means to be a veteran, reading a few stories handed down to students by their grandparents, or inviting kids to think about what grandpa really means when he says, “Back in my day…”.

Do your own search at the Resource Connection and see what you can discover.

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What-Are-You-Reading-Wednesday: Just read.

September 2, 2009

Written by Travis DiNicola, executive director of Indy Reads, in anticipation of World Literacy Day–Sept. 8. Visit www.indyreads.org to find out about World Literacy Day activities around Indianapolis.

Reading and writing is perhaps humanity’s greatest invention: and no one learns how to read on their own. This year I ask you to join us on World Literacy Day in celebrating literacy, the work done by Indy Reads volunteers, the success of our students, and your own ability to read. On Tuesday, September 8th, you can “Take Five to Read” as the whole city takes five minutes at 5pm to read. Just read. Read for pleasure. Read to a child. Read out loud. Read to yourself. Just read.

September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day (also known as World Literacy Day)  by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world.

The first time World Literacy Day was celebrated in Indianapolis was on September 8th, 1973. Then mayor, Richard Lugar, declared in a proclamation that as World Literacy Day was celebrated around the globe, we would celebrate here at home as well by honoring the Greater Indianapolis Literacy League (now known as Indy Reads, changing its name in 1998) for their work in training tutors to teach adults to read and write. He stated that illiteracy is a serious world problem, which prevents adults from full participation on our civic, social, and economic life. It continues to be so today.

That proclamation, signed by Senator Lugar, hangs on the wall next to the door to my office at Indy Reads. Every morning, as the Executive Director of Indy Reads, I am greeted by this reminder about the importance of the work we do. Indy Reads was founded in 1972 by a group of volunteers committed to eliminating illiteracy in Indianapolis. The organization has gone through many changes since then, but the vision remains the same: to make Central Indiana a better place to live by providing free tutoring to adults who struggle with reading and writing. Our goal is to “Make Indianapolis 100% Literate.”

The need has never been greater. One in five adults in our city are illiterate or semi-literate. This year we have already worked with more than double the number of adult students that we use to average for the entire year just two years ago. By the end of 2009 we will have reached more than 750 adults as long-term students, and at least another 100 through our short-term Literacy Labs. We are only able to do this through the work of more than 600 dedicated volunteers.

Will you “Take Five to Read”?

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Are you ready for some football?

August 31, 2009

Are you rooting for the Colts this season? Or are you a fan of the Bears, Packers, Lions, Browns, Bengals, or another team entirely? Or maybe you are a college or high-school fan to the core. Whatever team you are cheering for, football season will quickly be in full swing, with the Colts’ first regular season game Sept. 13 against Jacksonville at home.

Before all of the action begins, we took a look at what types of resources were available in the Resource Connection. The 26 resources include a photo essay about Black Hoosiers’ Sports Heritage from the Indiana Humanities Council; a tribute to Cam Cameron, former football coach at Indiana University, from the Wabash Valley Visions and Voices; and a lesson plan from the Bill of Rights Institute about the legal rights involved in being searched and patted-down upon entering NFL games.

Remember, Sept. 13 is just around the corner. Check it out for yourself so you can wow your friends with some football trivia, and don’t forget to get the grill all cleaned up–-Are you ready for some football?

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Top three reasons to check out Indy Jazz Fest

August 25, 2009

By Rich Dole, a professional freelance trombone player in the Indianapolis area, currently doing PR and Media Relations for Indy Jazz Fest and Owl Studios

This year’s Indy Jazz Fest is going to be, well, for a lack of a better term or phrase, it will be OUT OF SIGHT!! Why? Well, allow me to explain:

1. Instead of a couple of days, the 2009 Indy Jazz Fest presented by MARSH will be a full week! Starting at Clowes Hall on Sat., September 19 and ending Sat./Sun. September 26/27 at The Lawn @ White River State Park, with everything in between, the Indy Jazz Fest will have something for everybody. THAT’s 9 (NINE) DAYS of JAZZ!!!

2. The artist line-up for the 2009 Indy Jazz Fest is virtually a Who’s Who of today’s jazz artists! Check out this list:
Branford Marsalis
Marcus Miller
Poncho Sanchez
Soulive
Garaj Mahal
Charlie Hunter
Nicholas Payton
Claudia Acuna
Randy Brecker
Rufus Reid
David Baker
Rob Dixon
Derrick Gardner
Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra

There is something for everybody there! Traditional Swingin’ Jazz, Salsa/Mambo/Latin jazz, Progressive/Modern Jazz, Brazillian Jazz, Big Band Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Funky Jazz and Jam Bands!

3. Like the wide and varied artist line-up, the sponsors the Indy Jazz Fest has is also a Who’s Who of Indianapolis Arts sponsors, including MARSH Supermarkets, Printing Partners, St. Vincent Health, Take Note, DCG, United Water and 88.7fm WICR to name a few.

All information one could ever need is available on the website: www.indyjazzfest.net, including how/when/where to buy tickets to all concerts at all venues!

What are YOUR ‘Top Three’ reasons to attendIndy Jazz Fest?

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Green thumbs (and not so green) welcome at the Resource Connection

August 24, 2009

Before the warm days draw to a close, why not drop by the Resource Connection and check out all of the great gardening resources we have to offer?

Learn what gardening was like 500 years ago when Christopher Columbus arrived in America with the Seeds of Change online exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution.

Don’t have a green thumb? Why not help the kids create a Japanese Rock Garden with these resource provided by the East Asian Studies Center?