Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lenten Challenge, Days 7-13

Check out the beginning of the series here!

Jared recovers from the revelry
Welcome back, Dear Readers, to my enthusiastic (if sparse) chronicling of this year's Lenten Challenge to not eat in restaurants from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

I've achieved an appreciation for two things during this time, one of which is how great it is to have friends who, unlike me, actually like to cook and are good at it and let me eat their tasty foods; and the other is how cooking is so much less terrible when you invite such friends over and make them do it with you.

In the spirit of this attitude of gratitude, last night I had a bunch of people over to celebrate the Jewish festival of Purim. As with most Jewish holidays, this one involves a predictable narrative of the Jews' near-vanquishment, miraculous survival, and subsequent invention of a special food to commemorate the whole ordeal.

In this case, the special food is hamantaschen, a triangular "pocket" cookie traditionally stuffed with fruit filling. As Loyal Readers know, this particular pastry also traditionally brings me a great many feelings of frustration and inadequacy in the kitchen. But this year I was determined to have success, and so it went:

Whether as a result of my newfound commitment to the social aspect of dining, or just my highly disorganized method of party-hosting, we all ended up making the hamantaschen together - mixing and rolling out the dough, filling and shaping the cookies, and counting down impatiently for the magic moment when they'd be done baking.

We deviated a bit from the traditional fruit fillings, lending a sort of kitchen-sink effect to the effort: A wasabi-asparagus variety shared the serving plate alongside cookies stuffed with tomato, basil, and feta; peanut butter and jelly; or kumquat-habanero marmalade lovingly preserved by the multi-talented Jessi Taylor (though I did have to veto the decidedly unkosher suggestion of "shrimp hamantaschen").

We had a great time together eating a ton of delicious cookies, and thanks to the masterful baking skills of our beloved bagel hero, Laura Sugerman, we didn't fuck up a single one!

Who's cooking for me tomorrow?

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