The Jewish Star has rachmones for Judy, who catered an event last weekend and then faced the Task. So we gave her the week off and are reprinting a pre-Pesach column from 2013.
I might as well start getting ready for Shavuot. It seems Chanukah was just yesterday. How is it possible it’s almost Pesach? Here we go again: the shopping, cleaning, preparing, cooking and serving.
Those first feelings of panic started about two weeks ago when I was shopping at Gourmet Glatt. Whatever I looked for was in another aisle, due to all the Pesach items arriving. Not that I was in any way ready to start shopping, but I decided to stroll through the aisles to have a look. Not expecting anything to shout out to me, as I thought I had seen everything possible last year … but there it was … how was it we were able to do without it in the past? There in front of me was marshmallow-filled chocolate-covered “locusts.”
Why is it no one ever thought of this before? What’s next, flavored ices in the shape of boils? Oy, I’m starting to sound like those people who think having anything except the basics, as we had 50 years ago, is sacrilegious! Truth is, with the influx of innovative Passover products in the market today, it’s safe to say that we don’t have to subsist on just matzah, gefilte fish, borsht, eggs, macaroons and potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes.
I do tend to make fun of all the newfangled products, but I have to admit, I also end up buying some of them in the end. When my kids were younger and the Pesach version of the cold breakfast cereals were unveiled, I thought, “I can’t believe they have this for Pesach! It’s ridiculous.” Then I proceeded to place seven boxes into my shopping cart (hey they only contained about five ounces of cereal each). Good thing, as that first year they were sold out the week before the yom tov even started. At $5.89 a box it killed me to throw out six boxes after the chag. They did look like the real thing — until the milk hit the bowl. So, you’d think I’d learned my lesson, right? Um, no. Every year I fall for some new enticing item, and every year I say to myself “not going to fall for this next year.” And so it goes.
nough about shopping. Let’s figure out a good soup to make for one of your dairy lunches. I decided to add a soup that’s different from the usual French onion or the trusty potato soup I usually make. This year carrot ginger soup made it onto my menu. Besides being healthy and delicious, carrots have a rather amazing history.
In ancient times, the root part of the carrot plant that we eat today was not typically used. The carrot plant however was highly valued due to the medicinal value of its seeds and leaves.
The Romans believed carrots and their seeds were aphrodisiacs. As such, carrots were a common plant found in Roman gardens.
Before the 17th century, almost all carrots cultivated were purple. The modern day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until Dutch growers in the late 16th century took mutant strains and gradually developed them into the sweet, plump, orange variety we have today.
English women in the 1600s often wore carrot leaves in their hats in place of flowers or feathers. The Anglo-Saxons included carrots as an ingredient in a medicinal drink against the devil and insanity. Researchers at the USDA found that study participants who consumed two carrots a day were able to lower their cholesterol levels about 20 percent.
The average person will eat 10,866 carrots in their lifetime.
Howard Hughes always measured every carrot he ate. Eating three carrots gives you the strength to walk three miles (actually seeing a picture of myself in a bathing suit gives me more strength to walk those miles).
Carrots are one of the rare vegetables that are more nutritious cooked than raw.
One person not thrilled with carrots was Mae West. She was known to say, “I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.”
Oh, and wild rabbits don’t eat carrots — you’ve been watching too many Bugs Bunny cartoons.
Carrot and Ginger Soup
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1-1/2 T minced garlic
1-1/2 T minced peeled ginger
3 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
9 cups parve chicken or vegetable stock, broth or flavor cubes and water to equal that amount
A dollop of vanilla yogurt and a sprig of parsley or rosemary for each serving, optional.
Combine the olive oil and onion in heavy pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until just starting to caramelize.
Add the garlic and ginger, stirring, 2 more minutes. Stir in the carrots, potatoes and the parve chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the carrots and potato are very tender, approximately 20 minutes. Keep warm.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Top with yogurt and garnish if you wish. Enjoy!