September has always meant the start of a New Year for me—the end of summer vacation, the kids going back to school and the Jewish New Year. In that regard, Rosh Hashanah has always felt like a time for new beginnings. (This year it starts tomorrow, Sept. 16.)
I have vivid memories of the holiday as a child in New York: helping my mother polish the silver; the abundance of nuts—walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds; going to temple in my finest new clothes and shoes; visiting family friends and neighbors.
My best memories of the holiday, though, are the mouth-watering aromas that emanated from my mother’s kitchen: simmering Matzo-ball soup, glazed Tzimmes (stew), juicy brisket and kasha vanishka (buckwheat grain with bow ties). Before dinner, my mother would serve chopped liver along with the traditional apples dipped in honey, to signify the sweetness of the upcoming New Year. The meal would conclude with a home-baked dessert like sponge cake or honey cake.
I’ve tried to carry forth many of these traditions in raising my own family, particularly when it comes to cooking.
For example, I have been preparing the brisket in my Crock Pot for the past few years, using the same ingredients, and it always turns out delicious. The chopped liver that my mother had served as an appetizer has reemerged as a healthier vegetarian paté that my daughter Allie makes each year. We’ve incorporated the Rosh Hashanah tradition of apples dipped in honey into a sweet and simple dessert of caramel-coated apple slices.
One thing that has remained constant is the feeling that Rosh Hashanah gives us a second chance to make it a good year—for ourselves and our loved ones (that, and my mother’s recipe for brisket).
5 lbs of beef brisket
2 cups fingerling potatoes
1 dash cinnamon
1 clove garlic
½ tsp onion powder
1 TB paprika
1 TB red wine vinegar
1 TB brown sugar
3 large carrots (sliced in chunks)
3 celery ribs (sliced in chunks)
1 large sliced onion
2 TB ketchup
1 can whole cranberries
1 envelope Lipton soup mix
¼ cup red wine (optional)
Season the meat with paprika and onion powder and place in a Crock Pot or slow cooker. Add all of the ingredients, with the exception of the potatoes. Cook on high for three hours.
Remove the meat, cut away the fat, and slice. Return to the pot with the potatoes and continue cooking for another hour-and-a-half or until the meat and potatoes are tender. (Tip: Use the Crock Pot liner to avoid a messy cleanup). Serves 10 to 12.
1 package steamed lentils (1 package = 1 lb, 1.6 oz; Trader Joe’s sells it)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup Cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 TB olive oil
2 eggs, hard-boiled
1 tsp onion salt
Salt and pepper, to taste
2. Combine lentils, walnuts and hard-boiled eggs with sautéed onions and mushrooms in a large mixing bowl.
3. Purée the ingredients using a large food processor until it forms a fine paste. If using a blender or mini food processor, purée the ingredients in smaller batches.
4. Mix in onion salt and add salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate and serve chilled with crackers.
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Co-Author Allie Rhodes is Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator (AKA Social Media Guru) at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California (@FSWestlake) and the California Health & Longevity Institute (@CHLI360Health). She has a B.A. in Communications from Pepperdine University, and like her mom, enjoys classic films, suspense novels and pop cultural trivia. Allie lives in Los Angeles with her fiancé Austin.
Vivian Rhodes is a published mystery novelist, Emmy-nominated television writer and lyricist. Based in Thousand Oaks, California, Vivian writes about all things nostalgia—from film noir to vintage toys—on her blog, Rhodes Less Traveled.
View all posts from Vivian
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