It has been a long time, too long, but summer feels most like summer if you can let things go. I have not been blogging or cooking very much, but I have been sitting in my yard, harvesting tomatoes, kale, and zucchini from the garden, plus enjoying the very first blackberries that our newly planted bushes have produced.
Early this morning I found out, via Whats App, that we have a new great-niece, born in Jerusalem. Of course I was elated to hear the good news but sad that we aren’t there to celebrate her birth. That was the beginning of the thread that started weaving through my head. Babies, Israel, missing everyone there, and then the food, always the food.
One of the things that I love most about Israel is that in a relatively small country, you can meet Jews from everywhere, and eat food that is equally diverse. Ethnic dishes rub up against each other, and like the Olim themselves, the dishes are influenced by what’s local, both ingredients and people. One of my favorite vegetables is Bamia, or okra, a dish I was first introduced to by a Libyan Jew but taught how to cook by an Egyptian Jew. It is a dish that people really like or really dislike, mainly because of the gelatinous texture if cooked incorrectly. Stewed slowly in a simple tomato sauce, over a low flame and rarely stirred, the pods stay intact, avoiding that slimy texture associated with okra.
Today, I wished my sister-in-law Mazel Tov on her newest granddaughter, and received the first photo of baby girl Azran. I made okra and schwarma for dinner, and I blogged. Not bad for a lazy summer day. I may not be in Israel but Israel is here with me on this Shabbat.
1 pound okra
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup water
2-3 Tb tomato paste
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
1 tsp chicken bouillon (pareve)
In a medium-sized pot, sauté diced onion in olive oil over low flame till onion is soft. Add garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add okra. Mix remaining ingredients in a cup, add to pot, and taste to adjust seasoning. I like it hot so add chili flakes if you want. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or till pods are very tender, stirring as little as possible. Serves 4
Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom,