“The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.” -Maya Angelou
“We all begin with a fresh, clean page. Make your story count”.-MorningBeansBlog
September brings the onset of autumn. For most, it is a time of change – the leaves turn to majestic colors, the air is crisp, and the winds beg to blow away your transgressions, leaving you ripe for new experiences and new life. It also brings the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana, literally the Head of the Year, commonly, the Jewish New Year. Along with the crisp sobering weather, there is an air of atonement as one reflects on the past year – actions, words, choices. It is a second chance to renew faith, expectation and perhaps improve ourselves.
My grandmother is on my mind this season, as always. The High Holidays in our family meant endless meals prepared lovingly and efficiently by Edith, my grandmother. She would begin weeks before, first with the syrupy sweet Taiglach – a strange concoction of honey-sweetened dough and glacé fruits. It is a time-consuming project, and as a child I would help her, rolling little balls of dough at the kitchen table, licking honey off my fingers, and being scolded to “go wash your hands again.”
Of course, there were the more traditional foods, from homemade gefilte fish, I still remember finding a carp swimming in the tub. The velvety wallpapered bathroom seemed odd as the shower curtain was pulled shut – I heard a splash and peered behind only to see a thrashing fish! Yes, I shrieked. I didn’t know my grandfather could get up the stairs as quickly as he did, or that he would laugh so hard, he cried. Enough of that- there were kugels, sweet noodle with cinnamon and raisins, potato, zucchini, fricassee, meatballs, chicken soup (with homemade matza balls of course) and the brisket. It was like a food orgy, and it was a time when the whole family banded together. Cousins, aunts, far away relatives and neighbors all came to eat and celebrate. And everyone spoke of the “New Year” with respect and awe, as it was a time for a change, for better, happier times and for life to get onto a better track.
I am anticipating Rosh Hashana, with sweet apples dipped in honey, fresh homemade challah, and a mix of emotions. This year we are minus two children, as both boys are away at college and cannot make it home. It will be a small, quiet gathering, my husband, my mother and my daughter sitting with me at the table set with fine china. The china that was passed down to me from my mother, that I rarely use, it being fancy and not dishwasher safe. But I adore the look of the holiday table set with my mother’s china and the silver. It makes it all the more special and relevant. It sets the holiday apart from the every day, just as my thoughts should be.
Rosh Hashana is a time of renewal. It is present in the symbolic foods we eat, mentioned above. The apple, representing original sin, which I believe was narcissism. We are by nature self-centered as humans, but we can temper our innate selfishness by turning our temptations to more generous, charitable ideals. The honey reminds us that our true natures need tempering with sweetness, to go out and be a better, more altruistic person. Traditionally, we also eat a new fruit, generally a pomegranate. There are 613 seeds within a pomegranate. Each one represents a mitzvah, a deed that one must do to better himself, humanity and the world.
Rosh Hashana, the New Year, is a time for a change. It is a time to think about how we are, who we are and how we relate to others. While we are gathered with family and friends, praying for change, safety, better lives, we should make a point to try and get over our differences. It is a time to regroup, eat too much, and ask forgiveness not only from others and God but also from ourselves. The High Holidays are a time for restoring our inner selves, and for appreciating the wonders of the world.
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😘☕
Rosh Hashanah is one of the most meaningful holidays in the Jewish culture. The honey in honey cakes, a traditional holiday dessert, symbolizes the beginning of a sweet year.
You will need:
1 well-greased loaf pan (I just started using parchment paper)
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup honey🍯
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ½ cup warm coffee☕
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 medium apple, peeled and cubed (optional)🍎
- Walnuts (optional, but Edith used them 😊)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
In a large bowl sift together the first seven ingredients. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid) use a whisk attachment and mix (whisk?) together the eggs, sugar, and honey until it is light and fluffy. (It will be a lovely chiffon yellow shade.) With the mixer on low, slowly add the oil, vanilla extract until combined. By hand add the flour mixture and the coffee alternately. (Fold it in peeps). Add the cubed apple if you like.
Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. A toothpick inserted in center should come away clean. Let it cool for around 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. It will be heavy (for a cake) Serve at room temperature.