You know how sometimes there are
dishes that conjure up memories buried somewhere deep inside you? These
potatoes do that for me.
These little perfect golden beauties
are not new to my blog. They have been posted on my blog since I started
blogging oh so very long ago…when my blog was here,
complete with horrible pictures and all. I have come a long way since 2008.
That was also my very first year living
in the house with the hubs. And that was the year I decided to undertake
Thanksgiving for 20 people at our brand new house …
I started planning my menu a month
in advance. Trying to figure out the best turkey (mine
is still the best, by the way), the ultimate sides and the most unique potatoes. Hubs
thought that no table is complete without a potato dish. How Russian of him.
Truth be told, I had to agree. But
it could not just be any potato, it
had to be gloriously delicious and unique, and these were most
definitely them …
It was my mother-in-law that
introduced me to these golden beauties. We happened to be at her house for
one of the High Holidays when I noticed her removing the most gorgeous golden
puffs out of the oven. They were resting right on the racks. “Strange,” I thought, and made a mental
note to buy the woman some baking sheets, poor thing.
And then she brought over little
ramekins of fragrant and warm garlic butter. My brother-in-law immediately
grabbed two of them for himself and started dipping his bread into it, chomping
down loudly and smacking his lips out of pure enjoyment after each
bite. No he is not a toddler, he’s in his 30s.
His mom came by toting a platter of
those beautiful little puffs and smacked my brother-in-law on the back of his
head. “That’s not what the butter is for!” And she immediately placed
three of these golden puffs on his plate. “Here, dip these into the
To say that he was happy was an
understatement. He continued chomping away on the golden puffs and raised
a few toasts to his mom’s golden hands, exclaiming that this is the only thing
he needs to eat that night. I begged to differ. And we began one of our many
arguments of the night. We both loved to argue …sometimes over food, sometimes
over movies, always ending in a good laugh or me smacking him upside the head.
As we argued I proceeded to take one
of these puffs and dipped them into the warm garlic butter. And I stopped dead
in my tracks.
These weren’t puffs! They were
potatoes! OMG … these round little golden nuggets were potatoes! And
combined with that garlic butter … they were magic.
“Ella, there are potatoes?” I asked my mother-in-law.
“Da,” she said simply, with a proud
smile on her face. “Amazing aren’t they?”
I am rarely speechless, but I
was. How does this happen without deep frying them? What could
possibly happen to make these tiny balls of tater sunshine? I stared at it
in my head, rotating it around to inspect for any secrets. And as if reading my
mind, my mother in law goes, “Salt, the secret is salt.”
Funny, I didn’t see any salt on them
… well, with the exception of the salt that I had just doused them
She then explained that you simply
parboil the potatoes in very salted water. Once they are fork tender, you
pour them right over your baking rack from the oven and stick them into the
oven until they are golden and deliciously crispy, about 20 minutes.
Naturally, I went and created these
for Thanksgiving and they were so perfect, so elegant, so gone. Seriously, I think I made at least 40 for 20 people and there
was not 1 left. Not one. I served them as an app and my family just
devoured them, dipping them into my glorious chive and garlic butter, begging
The coolest thing about this recipe
is that you can make it ahead of time. I boiled these babies up a few hours
before service, drained them, and left them in a pot covered with a towel so
they stayed warm and moist. Then, once I was almost ready for the course, I
placed them onto the oven rack and baked them off at 450 degrees.
They really were perfection, and no
one you serve will know how very easy they are.
Potatoes with Garlic Chive Butter
Girl and the Kitchen
1.5 pounds small-medium white
potatoes or Yukon Golds, NOT red potatoes (just make sure that they do not fall
through your racks)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 gallon of water
the Garlic and Chive Butter Dip
1 stick of butter
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 chives, finely sliced
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1. Take out two of your racks from
the oven and THEN preheat it to 450 degrees.
2. Peel the potatoes and make sure
they are no smaller than a golf ball and no bigger than a small tennis
3. Place the potatoes in a pot
full of water and for every gallon of water use 1 tablespoon of Kosher Salt.
The salt is why the potatoes brown so beautifully in the oven , so make
sure you put it in
4. As soon as the potatoes reach a
boil, dump them into a colander and then line them up on the racks. (This
was the reason not to peel them too small, we don’t want them falling
through the racks.)
5. Place racks CAREFULLY back into
the oven into the oven for about 15-20 minutes.
6. While the potatoes are
roasting, place butter, garlic, chives and seasonings into a small pot.
7. Over low heat, allow the butter
to melt slowly and let all the flavors infuse into the butter. This should
take about 5 minutes.
8. Once the potatoes are golden
brown, remove and serve immediately with the garlic butter dip.
9. Please note, if you are making
these ahead of time, just
take them out of the oven once they are ready and let them stay on the
racks. Right before service, stick them back in the oven and allow them to
crisp up again and they will be ready for you!
I tend to believe that there are
lessons to be learned in the world, and that most of them eventually connect
within Jewish life. This is even the case in the social media world.
Twitter, for example, is great for
getting the word out when you have some earth-shattering news to spread or
pearls of wisdom to share. The only challenge is getting that message to fit
into 140 little characters. The result, as most of us know, is that we
either end up not saying everything we want to say or we throw grammar out the
window. But what I totally like about Twitter is that it really forces me to
think about exactly what I want to
There was a Jewish leader who lived in
Poland named Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (1838-1933). He was famously known as the
”Chofetz Chaim,” which means “seeker of life.” This is because one of the many
books he authored was a called Chofetz Chaim. It's a digest of laws
of speech and gossip or, in Hebrew, lashon
During his lifetime, the Chofetz Chaim
was all about teaching people why Judaism is against using words to harm
others. He even had some pretty impressing sayings like, “Once you speak lashon hara about someone it is as
difficult to take those words back as it to collect the feathers from a pillow
that have blown in the wind.” When the telegraph was invented and he learned
people were charged by the letter, he observed that the machine will help
people understand the cost of what they say (no pun intended).
This brings me back to the value of
words. Back when cell phone plans only charged per text message (thank God for
unlimited texting) I understood the “cost” of a message in literal terms. Having
to conform to Twitter's rule of 140 characters helps me be mindful of what I
say, how I say it, and even the responsibility (or consequences) of
The groove in the middle of a human’s upper lip is called
the infranasal depression, or a philtrum. There is a Jewish myth, stemming from the Talmud (Niddah
30B) that explains the infranasal depression’s origin as follows:
When a baby is in the womb, he/she learns the entire Torah
from start to finish. Upon seeing light for the first time at the moment of
birth, an angel comes down, taps the baby on the mouth, causing the baby to
forget everything that was learned. The tap is the cause of the infranasal
depression. According to the legend, Jews are urged to spend the rest of their
lives trying to learn all the Torah that was forgotten at birth.
This past summer, my wife and I were blessed to welcome our
son into the world. Like any baby, he was born, seemingly helpless, without any
knowledge of anything, Torah or otherwise. In an effort to be the best parents
we can be, we naturally tried to care and protect him. We certainly comfort him
when he is in distress and love him for the special person he is. We also have
already begun teaching him everything we have learned, know and love about
life, including Jewish life.
Granted, as a child that is not even six months old, he is
not spouting Torah texts and Talmud tractates just yet. At the same time, he
has been hearing the songs and prayers at home and in synagogue, chewing on
holiday-themed board books, and accepting our blessing for children every Friday
night since he was born. We are doing our best to lay the foundation for him to
pursue a lifetime of Jewish learning.
Over the course of my lifetime, my parents have probably
taught me more than anyone else I know. They were each instrumental in laying
the foundation for me to take in a world of Torah knowledge. I owe a lot of
what I know about what it means to be Jewish to them. As I celebrate
Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to take a moment and thank my parents. Thanksgiving
is not a Jewish holiday, per say, but I think we can all agree that gratitude
is an important Jewish value. I have the deepest gratitude for what I have
learned from them and hope to be as good a teacher for my children.
Though I’m sitting here
at my computer, I very well could have written this blog post from the shower.
For my birthday this
year, I received a unique and amazing gift: a waterproof notepad and pencil,
designed for the shower.
I had requested this
gift from Michael and Rachel, my brother and sister-in-law. “I’d like a dry
erase board for my shower,” I told them. “I don’t know if it exists, but I
figured if anyone in the world could find it, the two of you could.”
So, they presented me
with these packs of waterproof notepad paper
I stuck the notepad and the
pencil to the wall of my shower using the attached suction cups, and I was
ready to write.
Why do I want this
unusual product? I thought you’d never ask.
ideas come while in the shower. With
the warm temperature and the sound of calming water, my mind is clear, allowing
me to let the creative juices flow without distraction. Many of the ideas for
posts on my blog originated in the shower.
list items. When I’m not thinking of exciting, creative, fresh
ideas, my mind wanders to my stress level and things I need to accomplish. My
brain is filled with “Oh no, I forgot to email my advertising rep at the
newspaper about an ad we’re running,” or “I need to buy stamps,” or “It’s been
a while since I’ve had dinner with Kayla.” I’m a much happier Lia when my
thoughts are on paper (or on pixels), and this will allow me to never be more
than an instant away from a pen. To my journalism, English, and writing
teachers, who taught me to keep a journal and a reporter’s notebook nearby: you’ve
again ruined me.
issues. Upon seeing this gift, my dad said, “Lia, either
your showers are too long or your short-term memory is not functional. Can’t
you just remember these ideas and items until you get out of the shower?” Both
may be true, but … what was I saying? Oh yeah, memory issues. I find myself
making up a song so as not to lose my new thoughts — see how long you could
survive singing “Contact solution, e-mail Rachel, blog about the vegetable
aisle in the grocery store” to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
So, I’d like to thank
Michael and Rachel for this great gift — and actually, maybe I’ll even write
their thank you note while shampooing my hair.
In the heart of downtown Chicago, a
large party room was filled with young Jewish professionals. Candles were
radiating, wine was poured, homemade challah was savored, and the communal
companionship was felt by all. My wife and I were relieved that Shabbat
had begun and the hours of preparation in the kitchen (and on social media) had
come to a close. It was now time to disconnect, to stop and savor the
moment. It was a beautiful occasion, and it was time to take the occasion to
the next level.
I found myself thinking about a story regarding three
construction workers who were interviewed at the same construction site. The first
interviewee was a boy about 19 years old. When asked why he was there, he
responded that he doesn’t have the money for a membership to a gym; construction
work is a great work out, he gets paid to get ripped, and the chicks dig it.
The second worker interviewed was in his mid-20s. When asked why he was there,
he responded that he doesn’t have the money to get through college. He works as
a construction worker by day to pay for his college courses that he’s taking at
night. This way, he’ll be able to eventually make a living to support the
family he dreams of having. The third worker was in his late 50s. When asked
why he was there, he responded that he saw an article in the newspaper that
they were building a children’s hospital in this location. He wanted to be a
part of that.
We can’t help but feel there’s a difference between
their experiences, each one taking us another layer deeper into the
significance of the work. Although Shabbat is the
opposite of work, this particular Shabbat was unique in that 1 million Jews
throughout the world, with 1 million different stories and reasons for participating
in Shabbat, were celebrating together as part of a new initiative called The
Shabbat Project. And I wanted our piece in Chicago, the Downtown Shabbat
Experience, to reach that deeper level.
At the meal, everyone had their share of challah
and matzo balls. That was level one: sustenance and delicious food. And then as
they ate, everyone was enjoying the company around them, and we were already
getting to level two. The third level took a little more effort. Each table was
given a different insight about our heritage and was asked to discuss their
topic and then to choose a representative to present the table’s insights to
the entire group. Amazingly, everyone in the room gave each table their full
attention, listening to all the insights and wisdom. One hundred young
professional Jews sitting around the Shabbat tables sharing words of Torah and
our heritage: we were taking our Shabbat to a deeper level.
But we didn’t stop there. Around dessert time, each
table was given a list of typical items found in a Jewish home including candle
sticks, a Kiddush cup, a book about the Holocaust, matzoh balls and challah, a
Bible and prayer book, and more. They were tasked with ordering each item from
most to least important in making a Jewish home. Each shared their three most
important items – you can imagine how the room filled with debate! There was laughter,
zero agreement (we’re Jews, right?), and lots of thought-provoked faces. We
were tapping into the deeper meaning of our lives as Jews.
The festivities continued throughout
the entirety of Shabbat. We were blessed with the last sunny day of the year to
have our Prayer in the Park workshop on Shabbat morning, with chocolate cake
and all. (What’s a Prayer workshop without chocolate cake?) That was followed
by a luncheon replete with good food, good company, and meaningful
conversations. Many people stayed to play games, chill out, and relax for the
rest of Shabbat. As Shabbat concluded with guitar and song, we said goodbye to
each other and Shabbat with a hope to reconnect with both again soon.
The Downtown Shabbat
Experience was a project of Chicago YJP in partnership with JCC 20s & 30s,
Masa Israel Journey, The Center for Jewish Genetics and Jewish Singles Social. A
special thanks goes out to Becky Adelberg, Tovah Goodman, Leah Steinberg,
Elisha & Jordana Fried, and Tehilla Fried for all their help in putting
this event together, and to a number of YJPers who helped finance the event, especially
Louie Whitesman for hosting. To find out about the next Downtown Shabbat
Experience and other upcoming events with Chicago YJP, you can like Chicago YJP on Facebook.
My grandpa has no
patience for impatience. He’s usually a pretty excitable person, but he
positively boils over when it comes to the subject of how my mother and I need
to control our tempers.
“I have never raised
my voice in my LIFE!” he declares, his voice gradually rising to a shout with
each word. As he’s speaking, he cracks his cane against the floor and stamps
his foot. In fact, I’ve hardly ever heard him speak without raising his
voice. But in his eyes, he has a perfectly patient and calm personality.
To tell the truth,
I’ve never been much of a patient person either. I’m hardly even able to pop a
Lifesaver into my mouth without immediately sinking my teeth into it like a
stick of gum. And although he suffers from the same problem I do, my
grandfather is completely right. Being impatient and losing my temper has only
made me, and the people around me, miserable.
There’s an old
anecdote about patience, regarding Hillel and one particularly pesky student.
This student agrees to a bet to put Hillel’s renowned composure to the test. He
shows up to his house and begins firing off round after round of useless
questions. He leaves, only to return with a new batch of dumbfounding queries.
Hillel calmly answers each one, until the student erupts and blames Hillel for
making him lose the bet. Hillel responds, as tranquil as ever, that it’s better
that the student lose his money than Hillel lose his temper.
Recently, I’ve been
teaching English at a Jewish primary school in Buenos Aires. After two months
on the job, it’s pretty clear that I’m no Hillel. I always imagined that while
I might not have patience for people in general, I’d scrounge up some sort of
tolerance for a group of kids who are just trying to learn. But to my utter
dismay, it’s been harder than I imagined.
The other day in
fifth grade, 9-year-old Dara strolled up to me with a question. ¨Que
significa ‘size’?” she inquired, pointing to the word in her workbook.
“Tamaño,” I translated. She nodded and walked off.
A few moments later,
she appeared at my side again. “Size?” she asked, her brow furrowed in
consternation. “Que significa?”
“Tamaño,” I repeated, a little baffled that she was asking again,
and went back to helping another student.
Several minutes went
by. I felt a tap at my shoulder. It was Dara. She was pointing at a word in her
workbook, completely lost on its meaning. The word was “size.”
``Tamaño,” I replied, unblinking, resisting the urge to flip a
table. Tamaño. Tamaño. TAMAÑO! Why couldn’t she understand?!
Of course, my skewed, heavily accented version of the word “tamaño” probably meant as little to Dara as the word “size”
itself. But I couldn’t help it. My impatience, which is usually simmering
beneath the surface, was dangerously close to bubbling over.
In truth, I know that
my temper is always much more my fault than whatever is bothering me. After
all, why am I getting worked up about someone walking slowly on the street in
front of me? Maybe they sprained their foot earlier this week and every step is
a strained and concerted effort. Why do I get irritated when my mom drives over
the curb? I do that sometimes, too. As for Dara, she wasn’t even trying to
irritate me. She was just asking a question.
My mom and I almost
always get annoyed when my grandpa accuses us of being impatient. The fact is,
patience is something all three of us need to work on. Maybe next time Dara
asks me for the definition of “size,” I’ll just calmly respond instead of
developing an eye twitch. If nothing else, my grandpa will most certainly be
This feels all too familiar. Coming off of his second major knee surgery
in as many seasons, Derrick Rose is having trouble staying on the court yet
again. Two ankle sprains and now a hamstring have kept Rose out of half of the
Bulls’ first 10 games this season. The buildup of minor injuries such as these
is exactly what led up to Rose eventually tearing his ACL during the 2012
When Rose has been on the court he has been good, showing flashes of his
former MVP self. He’s put up averages of 18 points and 5.5 assists per game,
and displayed the same speed we always remembered. While the Bulls are taking a
much more conservative, cautionary approach to his injuries this year, I cannot
help but wonder if we are watching the beginning of the end for what was once a
very promising NBA career.
An all-star caliber player with a unique skill set, an NBA lottery pick out
of Memphis with potential to be one of the greatest point guards ever. Sound
familiar? That’s because we’ve seen this before.
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was selected third out of Memphis in 1993 by the
Golden State Warriors and later traded to Orlando for the top pick, Chris
Webber. During the 1994–95 NBA season, the Magic won a franchise record 57
games while Hardaway averaged 20.9 points, 7.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.7
steals per game. He started in his first All-Star game and was named
All-NBA First Team. The next season, Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal led the
Magic to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose to Michael Jordan and the
Chicago Bulls. O’Neal left Orlando for the Lakers the next season; Hardaway was
finally the lone star and leader of the team but failed to lead the Magic
to another playoff win.
The very next year, Hardaway suffered a devastating knee injury and was
never the same. His unique size and ability helped him still achieve some
success, but his numbers dropped drastically. Hardaway couldn’t stay healthy
for a full year after that, battling foot and ankle injuries causing him to
miss time until two micro fracture surgeries put him out for the season. He
battled back and returned again, but he was a shell of the player he used to be
in stints with the Suns, Knicks and Heat. Yeah, it’s starting to sound like the
Derrick Rose story.
But could Rose’s story have a different ending, perhaps a more positive one
involving the NBA title Hardaway never received?
The similarities of a year-by-year stat comparison of the two players in
their first four years are mind-blowing. The fourth year for both players was
strike-shortened and they both missed most of the following year with a
career-changing knee injury.
||Round 1 Loss
||Round 1 Loss
||Round 1 Loss
||NBA Finals Loss
||East Finals Loss
||East Finals Loss
||Round 1 Loss
||Round 1 Loss
Are we seeing another story of a potential NBA star’s career cut short? The
similarities are eerie and hard to ignore. For Bulls fans, you just have to
hope this is not the case. The Bulls this season could be special and make a
real run at an NBA title – but I don’t believe that’ll happen unless Rose is on
the court, something we’re starting to see as more of a challenge than I think
he, or anyone, expected.
It’s hard to imagine Rose ever returning to MVP form, and while Hardaway
did develop into a quality role player, his career arc was riddled with injury.
Maybe these little early season nicks are nothing, dealing with the rust of
sitting out two years in a row. But it’s hard to ignore that Rose’s style of
play is not built for a career of longevity. Players who move like he does and
hit the lane with that amount of power and quickness don’t play very long
without making significant adjustments to their games.
Then there is the mental aspect, which is clearly starting to take a toll
on Rose. A constant hot topic in the media, and understandably so, Rose is
becoming more defensive all the time. On top of the fact that he has to
continue playing knowing that any wrong turn on the court, any awkward landing,
could spell the end for him.
Sites We Like
Sheraton Chicago, 301 East North Water St.
Saturday, December 13 | 8:15 p.m.
Featuring an evening of standup comedy with SETH MEYERS
Emmy award winner and host of Late Night with Seth Meyers
8:15 PM – Doors Open, wine, beer & concession snacks at your table
9:00 PM – Program Begins
AFTER PARTY immediately following Seth Meyers
Bigger and Better This Year!
Head downstairs for two hours of open bar, late night food and DJ
Big Event is YLD’s premier fundraiser. Your attendance requires a gift to the 2015 JUF Annual Campaign and reflects your commitment to building a stronger Jewish community in Chicago, Israel and throughout the world.
Learn more and register now at www.yldchicago.org/bigevent
Castle Chicago, 632 N. Dearborn St.
Wednesday, December 24 | 8 p.m.
The Official Matzo Bash 2014, Chicago's ONLY Christmas Eve Gala! Last year over 1,500 people attended! This is THE party that everyone will be at!
It's Christmas Eve, what else are you going to do?
Your ticket will include:
- 8-10 p.m. Gourmet Appetizer Buffet & Drinks*
- Discounts on VIP tables reservations
- Covered heated check in area
- ONE-STOP-SHOP open until 4 a.m. with a full restaurant and 5-levels of schmoozing & dancing
- Tickets are emailed to you when purchased with no shipping/handling fee's
Matzo Bash tickets are selling quickly! Get the Early Discount and buy your ticket now! Click here for $15 tickets!