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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 15, 2013 Passover forecast: sultry green stalks and heavenly fruit By Louise Fiszer salt and pepper to taste same pot with boiling water and cook 4 minutes; remove with SAN FRANCISCO--When local asparagus and rhubarb start showing up in your market, can Passover be far behind? These harbingers of spring always appear on my seder table, as they did on my mother's table and her mother's. You can get asparagus grown in Mexico any time of year, but the real deal comes from Stockton, Calif., the "Asparagus Capital of the World." These sultry stalks always generate discussions about what to buy and how best to cook, prepare and eat them: white or green or lavender, thick or thin, cold or hot, cooked in a skillet or poached in boiling water. Asparagus tastes best when peeled before cooking and prepared simply. For dessert, strawberries grown in Southern California are another early spring favorite. Pairing them with rhubarb is a match made in food heaven. I can't imagine a more perfect conclusion to a seder meal than a slice of sponge cake topped by this compote. It is light, not too sweet, and so refreshing and palate cleansing. ASPARAGUS-LEEK SOUP Ingredients: 3 Tbs. vegetable oil 2 leeks, white parts only, cleaned and sliced 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock I small potato, peeled and diced 11/2 lbs. asparagus, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces* 3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill 1 Tbs. fresh tarragon leaves Preparation: In large saucepan, heat oil. Add leeks and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer about 10 minutes and then add asparagus. Simmer another 10 minutes until asparagus is soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Taste for salt and pepper. Pure mixture in blender or food processor. Stir in dill and sprinkle with tarragon before serving. Serves 6-8 ASPARAGUS AND CARROT SALAD Ingredients: I lb. asparagus, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces* I lb. baby carrots salt and pepper Dressing about 12 basil leaves, chopped I tsp. Dijon mustard 2 Tbs. fresh orange juice 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar 4 Tbs. olive oil Preparation: Cook asparagus in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and run under cool water. Add carrots to slotted spoon or drain in a colander. Run under cold water. Combine asparagus and carrots. Mix dressing ingredients until well combined. Toss with asparagus mixture. Serves 4-6 *Asparagus has a tough outer membrane that should be removed with a vegetable peeler. The end of the stalk can be woody and tough; snap off as if you were breaking a twig. RHUBARB AND STRAWBERRY COMPOTE Ingredients: 11/2 lbs. rhubarb, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces 1/3 cup sugar 1/4 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 cup water 2 strips lemon zest I pint strawberries, stemmed and quartered Preparation: Put first five ingredients in a saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes or until rhubarb is just breaking down. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries. Let cool and taste for sweetness. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves 6 Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto, Calif., cooking teacher, author and the co-author of'Jewish Holiday Feasts." This article was reprinted by permission from j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. Locusts invade Israel By Linda Gradstein The Media Line Last week's invasion of locusts from Egypt offered adventurous home cooks an opportunity to try something new for dinner last week--lo- custs, which most rabbis say are kosher, can be prepared many different ways. "You can saut them like as enterprising cooks offer new recipes restaurant in Jerusalem that specializes in Biblical foods, told The Media Line. "You can make them like french fries, or you can poach them like lobster, roll them in egg yolk, chickpea flour and spices and them deep fry them." Basson says about seven insects constitute a main course. They are high in pro- tein and low in calories. He shrimp with garlic, baby says that similar to shrimp, cherry tomatoes, lemon and -tOpreparelocustsyoutakeoff saffron" Moshe Basson, own- the head andthe small wings. er and chef of the Eucalyptus The legs are the tastiest part, W OAKI0000NTE AT LAKE MARY The Wait Is Over... Now featuring the Cordova! Brand New Assisted Living and Memory Care Community he contends. Basson himself says that in the past few days he has gotten a good supply of the insects from friends who have gone down to southern Israel to bring him back bags full. Gathering locusts is easy, he says. "In the evening just before sunset when the temperature drops the locusts find a place and go to sleep on trees and bushes everywhere--you have just to pick them," said Basson, who often picks his Oakmont Village provides a quality lifestyle as a beautiful luxury senior living ommunity in the heart of prestigious Lake own spices in the hills around Jerusalem. "In the morning when the weather warms up they will start to eat and within an hour they can turn a field from green to brown by eating all of it." In Israel, the swarms of locusts--the most seen since 2005, have notbeenwelcomed by farmers who fear extensive crop damage. Drivers caught in the swarms are also not fans. But for some epicureans, locust offers an opportunity for free, sustainable eating. Of course, this being the holy land, religious disputes are to be expected. Some rab- bis said that only those Jewish communities, which have a tradition of eating locusts such as the Yemenite Jews, are permitted to consume them according to Jewish law. But other rabbis say that in the book of Leviticus four types of kosher locusts--red, yellow, spotted gray and white--are listed as kosher. "They are kosher--the Bible lists them as kosher and the Talmud says they're kosher," said Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky, a scientist at Bar Ilan University and an expert on exotic animals. "The only issue is that Jews from eastern and northern Europe have not seen them in over 1,000 years and don't have the knowledge on how to distinguish which are kosher." The timing of the locust swarm, coming just a few weeks before the Passover holiday, when Jews reenact the exodus from Egypt at a ritual meal called a seder, has been uncanny. Before Pharoah al- lowed the Jews to leave Egypt, God visited 10 plagues on the Egyptians, one of which was locusts. Interestingly, the locust is also permitted according to Muslim law, meaning it is kosher and halal at the same time. Zivotofsky says he has never eaten the insects himelf. "My kids have, but I think it's a cultural thing for me," the New York native says. "I just can't bring myself to eat them." But Basson has eaten them and says the flavor is a combi- nation of sunflower seeds and shrimp, which are not kosher. To be kosher, fish must have fins and scales. Zivotofsky says that the kosher food industry has become commercialized and limits choices for the kosher consumer. "People forget what the Bible intended," he said. "All we eat is what's commercially available--chicken, turkey and beef. The kosher laws are not that restrictive. One hundred or 200 years ago, people were eating locally available animals and birds all the time." Now, before the swarms are blown away, they can eat locusts too. Walking away from back pain TEL AVIV--Lower back pain is a common complaint, and treatment often requires many hours of physical thera- py over multiple weekly clinic visits--a costly commitment. Now Dr. Michal Katz-Leurer of Tel Aviv University's Stan- ley Steyer School of Health Professions at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine says that a simple aerobic walk- ing program is as effective in alleviating lower back pain as muscle strengthen- ing programs that require specialized equipment in rehabilitation clinics. The program includes walking two to three times a week for a period of 20 to 40 minutes. Katz-Leurer and her col- league Ilana Shnayderman, a graduate student at the Department of Physical Therapy and a practicing physiotherapist at Maccabi Health Care, say that their treatment option fits easily into a daily routine and al- lows those with back pain to be more responsible for their own health. Their study was published in the journal Clinical Reha- bilitation. A simple solution According to Katz-Leurer, research has shown that when people walk actively, abdominal and back muscles work in much the sameway as when they complete exercises that target these areas. And unlike muscle strengthening programs, which often call for specific equipment and can involve exercises that require expert supervision, walking is a simple activity that can be done alone. For the study, the re- searchers recruited 52 pa- tients with lower back pain to participate in a random- ized control trial. Through questionnaires, they were initially assessed for pain levels, feelings of disability, and avoidance of daily activi- ties, as well as muscle and walking endurance. Then, half of the par- ticipants completed a typi- cal clinic-based muscle strengthening program, with two to three exercise sessions aweek for sixweeks. The other half completed a six-week aerobic walking program, walking two to three times weekly. Par- ticipants started with 20 minutes of walking, then progressed to 40 minutes as their endurance improved. Results showed that both groups improved significant- ly in all areas of assessment, demonstrating that the walk- ing program was "as effective as treatment that could have been received in the clinic," says Katz-Leurer. The path to a healthier lifestyle Katz-Leurer says that the walking program has the additional advantage of en- couraging patients to follow a healthier lifestyle overall. In terms of physical fitness, those in the walking group were able to walk an average of 0.05 miles farther during a six-minute walking test at the end of the program compared to the pre-program assessments. She also notes that regu- larly active people are less likely to suffer typical aches and pains over their life- time. Walking, a low-impact activity, also lowers blood pressure, boosts brain and immune system functioning, and reduces stress, she says.