Thursday, October 15, 2015

Eating Around the World - Israel

After over-extending myself last week on our Turkish dinner, I spent a bit of time re-evaluating my approach to our geographical dinners. I want to have a tangible way for all of us to understand a bit of the culture of peoples from all around the world. Last week there was a story on NPR that paralleled our geographical culinary project, about how in Budapest a group of chefs are using food as a way to help Hungarians understand and reach out to the refugees in their midst. Many of my goals with the girls are similar, except that instead of merely trying to "heal prejudice," I want these meals to be an opportunity to for our daughters to learn to love people around the world, and to pray for them to come to know the love of Christ. And also as a time to make learning fun! The girls really do enjoy these meals. Almost the first thing they ask me each Monday is what country we'll be learning about, and what we get to eat.

With all that in mind, and trying to simplify things a bit, this week as part of our study of Israel we had falafel sandwiches. That's all. It still took a bit of time and more planning ahead than I give to regular weeknight meals, but it turned out well, and it was fun. We followed this falafel recipe/tutorial almost exactly, except I used a bit more chickpeas and a bit less fresh herbs.

So much of Israeli food involves fresh produce. And look at those colors! These are the vegetables for the fresh relish. Just dice a cucumber, a red onion, and a handful of grape tomatoes...

...Mix them together, and you're good to go. This component is finished!

The sauce is made from tahini, a freshly squeezed lemon, yogurt, salt, and water. Also super easy.

The pitas were from the same recipe we used with the Greek gyros. And the falafel were a lot simpler than I imagined. Just throw thoroughly soaked (not cooked) chickpeas in the food processor with lots of fresh parsley, cilantro, and an onion, stir in some spices, let it rest for a bit, and it's ready to fry. Even the frying went better than I expected. I'm a terrible fryer, and I usually fill the kitchen up with smoke and cover the stove with grease splatters. Today neither of those happened. I still don't know why not, but I am thankful!

I was hoping we'd have time to make some Hamantaschen for dessert, but between one thing and another (involving several changes of clothes for baby and me) we ran out of time. I'm still hoping we might be able to make some this weekend. Incidentally, we watched this video of an Israeli baker making Hamantaschen, and it's the best thing I've seen all week. Watch it! But since there weren't any cookies for us tonight, we had oranges and dates for dessert instead. No one was complaining.

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