“Today is Tisha B’Av,” came the reply “and the Jews are mourning the loss of their temple.”
Napoleon was stunned. He turned to the guard and said, “If the Jews are still mourning and crying after nearly two thousand years, then there is no doubt the temple will one day be rebuilt.” — (Possibly apocryphal though some historians believe Napoleon really did say this).
(If you want to, you can skip my ruminations and scroll down to the recipes).
Next Sunday will be Tisha B’av and it’s been kind of a complicated couple of weeks. During this period, called The Three Weeks (also called Bein ha-Metzarim or Between the Narrows), we mourn the loss of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and reflect on the spiritual light and lessons it imparted to the world. Although it feels like a time of stagnation, or worse, we know that the potential for rectification is hidden, buried, in our mourning as a seed which is buried in the dark earth will eventually sprout.
The Three Weeks begins with a fast and ends with a longer fast, the fast of Tisha B’av. A few days after the first fast, I had what I thought was heat exhaustion, but apparently it wasn’t — it was some kind of virus. I was feverish for days, not really sick enough to skip work, but not really well enough to maintain my usual schedule. My computer was sick, too. (For clients and friends I let down, please forgive me!)
Minor annoyances like these are actually considered to be gifts — they are “suffering” doled out in manageable, bearable, quantities. One of the important spiritual goals in Judaism is to develop an ability to experience our own own suffering as instructive and just. We understand our suffering to be rectifications from the Creator.
What about other people’s suffering? We’re not allowed to be so accepting when it comes to other people; when others suffer, we should try to help alleviate their pain. For ourselves we may ask: This is from God — is there a message here? What do I need to learn? Is this a correction I must accept? For others we must ask: How can I help? Let me help!
The three weeks begins with a food and liquid fast, a music fast, the avoidance of celebrations, and other mourning practices and increases during the last nine days of the three weeks. Now we eat no meat and drink no wine (except for Shabbos), among other things. The last day of this period is the fast day of Tisha B’av— we take no food or liquids at all, among other customs, and spend much of the day in prayerful meditation. We also chant Kinnos (elegies) and read the Book of Lamentations.
During a later post, I’d like to describe the differences between Jewish meditation and fasting and other types, but suffice it to say, there are important differences, in both approach and belief.
So what does a meat (and poultry) eater eat during the nine days? Some turn to dairy or fish (fish is allowed, it has a special status and is not considered meat). Others take the opportunity to try vegan recipes. B.F. and Shaindi, both of whom are HJC sponsors, requested salads.
It’s nearly the dog-days of summer salads and raw foods are particularly appropriate. Bonus: The HJC salad-promise—no craisins or out-of-season ingredients like tangerines. Plus, if you include the avocado option in the recipes that list it, the leafy salads are filling enough for a one-course meal, especially if served with sprouted or sourdough bread.
Also, for adults: I always feel funny when I see magazines with glossy photos and restaurants advertising exciting menu items for the nine days. To me, eating particularly delicious foods during this time period goes against the grain — we’re supposed to be reflecting on the weakness of the present spiritual state of the world and also working on ourselves, improving our characters and so on. Indulging in “special treats” doesn’t feel right to me at all. However, children and others who are generally used to eating to satisfy desires and cravings might find it challenging just to follow the basic mourning practices of this period. These recipes are given in that spirit.
HJC’s Sour Salad
This tart salad is loaded with probiotics. Excellent for digestion. If eating with a high-protein meal, omit nuts and seeds.
2 large, very ripe heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes (preferably just picked or farmer’s market), washed in produce wash and cut in one inch pieces
4 Persian cucumbers (organic is best), washed in produce wash, halved lengthwise and cut into half inch thick pieces
4 scallions, washed in produce wash and checked for insects, sliced
1 very large bunch single or mixed herbs, washed in produce wash and checked for insects: parsley, cilantro, mint, dill, tarragon, chervil, basil, etc., dried and roughly chopped (include stems, except for mint and basil stems)
1 jalapeno, serrano or other chile or dried hot pepper or cayenne, to taste, washed in produce wash and finely minced (optional)
1 cup homemade sauerkraut, along with some juice (you can use Bubbie’s sauerkraut but do not use any other canned or jarred kraut, it will be “dead” and will be devoid of probiotics and very low in vitamin C.)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon, wash outside of lemon before slicing and squeezing (optional)
1 tablespoon sumac
1 teaspoon each: cumin, ground coriander
1/2 cup sprouted or toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sprouted or toasted sunflower seeds
20 almonds, sprouted or toasted
(Buy raw and sprout or toast your own nuts and seeds or try these.)
Optional: 2 ripe avocados, peeled and cubed
Mix all ingredients except nuts and seeds. Taste for salty and sour flavors and correct seasoning with more sauerkraut juice and/or sumac and lemon juice. Let sit at room temperature for twenty minutes, add nuts and seeds, avocado if using, toss and serve. Serves 4-6 (or 3, as a one-course meal.)
HJC’s Sweet Salad
Excellent for the digestion, papayas are rich in digestive enzymes, carotenoids (vitamin A), vitamins C and B, and are natural fungus-fighters. Coconut is rich in protein and MCTs and coconut water is rich in potassium, among other nutrients. Taken in moderation coconut is healthful.
Note: Some companies are marketing refined coconut oil in packages that make wild health claims. If you choose to use coconut oil (remember, like any ingredient, use in moderation) use only oil labeled virgin or extra virgin. It will be clear when warm, snow-white when cold and smell delicious. The refined type is yellowish, greasy feeling, and has little or no fragrance.
2 heads fresh, crisp Romaine or other dark green lettuce, washed in produce wash and checked for insects or two bags of romaine lettuce. (If using bagged lettuce buy lettuce with a sell-by/use-by date that is at least one week from purchase. Bagged lettuce, unwashed fruits and vegetables (and poorly handled fruit and vegetables) are highly likely to contain stomach-upsetting bacteria.)
2 small ripe papayas, peeled, washed and cubed or use one medium Maradol or Solo papaya
4-6 stalks of celery, washed, checked for insects, and diced
1 cup organic unsweetened coconut flakes (available at many natural foods stores) or flesh from two, young coconuts, sliced into bite-sized pieces
Optional: 2 ripe avocadoes, peeled and sliced
4 Medjool dates, pitted and checked for insect infestation
1 jalapeno chili, washed, seeded, and minced (optional)
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons virgin (or extra-virgin, in coconut oil it is the same thing) coconut oil
2/3 cup bottled coconut water or water from a fresh, young coconut
4 Kefir lime leaves, (chiffonade) (if you don’t have access to lime leaves, use the green part of 1 stalk lemongrass or 1 inch cube of ginger, finely minced and puree along with the dates—these will change the flavor of the dressing but will still be delicious)
2 teaspoons good quality shoyu or tamari
Mix salad ingredients. In a food processor puree Medjool dates, jalapeno if using, and lime juice. Add oil and pulse. Add coconut water until emulsified. Add shoyu to taste. Toss salad and dressing. Serves 6.
Wash all produce, even that which you peel, such as potatoes, avocados, papayas, and especially melons. Soak in produce wash and scrub with small produce brushes available in many hardware or kitchen-supply stores. Rinse well and pat dry before slicing. You will avoid slicing bacteria from the peel into the fruit or vegetable.
HJC’s Sesame Noodles
Children especially love this old-school standby. The neat thing is, you can omit the noodles if you like and make it with zucchini pasta (see easy technique in this post). I leave the traditional cucumber strips out, but you can add some if you prefer.
2 heaping tablespoons miso
1/2 cup tahini or peanut butter (kids generally prefer the peanut butter, use an all natural, organic brand with no added salt)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon raw honey or 2 pitted and pureed Medjool dates
1 tablespoons shoyu
1 dried red chili or 1 teaspoon or more red pepper flakes, optional but very good
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, optional (I prefer this without)
1 inch cube ginger, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons apple cider or brown rice vinegar*
Mix all ingredients in food processor. Thin with water until thickness of a loose mayonnaise. Taste and adjust sweetness, saltiness, etc.
1 pound plain soba or udon noodles, or other pasta (quinoa-corn spaghetti, whole wheat spaghetti, etc.)
1/4 cup peanuts
4 scallions (use the insect-free kind grown in a greenhouse, if possible; otherwise, wash and check for infestation), sliced
1 tablespoon toasted, sprouted, or raw white or black sesame seeds (without hulls)
Boil pasta and drain. Pour cold water over colander to cool slightly. These should still be warm. Toss with dressing and peanuts and top with scallions and sesame seeds. Good served slightly warm, room temperature, or chilled. Keeps for 24 hours in fridge. Serves 4-6.
*Mirin is NOT a substitute for rice vinegar.
HJC’s Tempeh-Chickpea Salad with Mustard-Chia Dressing
Very high in vegetable protein and essential fatty acids.
2 cups chickpeas
Soak in large amount of water overnight. Drain, and soak again, another eight hours. (You may repeat one more time if you like). Rinse and drain very well, and let sit in bowl at cool room temperature for up to eight hours so sprouting process begins. Cook in water to cover until tender (should take 20 minutes or less).
Drain and place in large mixing bowl.
1 medium celery root, peeled and finely diced or 5 stalks celery, peeled and diced
4 scallions, washed, checked for bugs, and sliced
1 red pepper, preferably organic, scrubbed well, seeded, and diced
1 large bunch parsley, checked for insects, washed and dried, and roughly chopped (include stems)
1/4 cup raw, organic sun-dried black olives or sea-salt cured black olives (optional)
Add vegetables to bowl with chickpeas.
2 packs of any variety of tempeh, (be sure to check expiration date on this and all other packaged products)
1/4 cup favorite oil (toasted sesame, extra virgin olive, or virgin coconut oil are equally good in this recipe)
Preheat oven to 425. Brush baking pan with oil. Brush tempeh with oil. Bake about 15-20 minutes until golden brown on one side, turn, and bake on other side, about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Do not over cook.
Remove from oven and break into crumbly pieces with fork.
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon favorite mustard
2 cloves garlic or one shallot, minced
1 teaspoon each: celery seeds, dried oregano, turmeric
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or mix of fresh lemon juice and apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons favorite oil
Stir chia seeds into water in glass. Let sit for ten minutes, and stir again. A thick gel should form within a few minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk mustard, shallots, and herbs together. Add vinegar, whisk well. Add oil, whisk well. Whisk in as much of the chia-seed gel as you need to make an emulsified consistency. (Save leftovers and use in other recipes, or drink. Great for digestion).
Pour over still-warm tempeh. Mix dressed tempeh into chick pea and vegetable mixture. Serve at room temperature or chilled on bed of salad greens. Serves 4-6.
HJCs Living Beet Salad:
6 organic, farmer’s market small beets, washed, scrubbed, and sliced into rounds (any variety, regular, golden, chiogga, etc.)
1 large, organic carrot, washed and peeled and sliced into rounds
1 cup assorted sprouts, rinsed well and drained(any bean or seed combination you prefer, I used home-grown broccoli and clover)
6-10 oz. snow pea shoots, rinsed well and drained
1 organic cucumber, washed, seeded and sliced into half moons
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
Mix all ingredients and serve. If the beets, carrots, and cucumbers are farmer’s market fresh, this salad is superb. If you cannot get organic produce, then peel all produce. If you don’t have access to local produce, don’t bother. Serves 3-4. See photo.