Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
We’re in the midst of Sukkot, the harvest festival. It always seems to sneak up on me. I am so focused on celebrating Rosh Hashanah and atoning on Yom Kippur, and then, every year without fail, surprise—it’s Sukkot!
This holiday is a welcome and exciting surprise every year, making the fall that much more enjoyable. This year, I am considering the values of Sukkot to connect to a longer timeframe. I decided to think about which produce is local to my home in Jackson, Mississippi and make a concerted effort to use said local produce—so I bought into a community supported agriculture (CSA) program for the fall and winter months.
CSAs make the consumer the shareholder in a farm, to help support the upfront costs for the farmer. I have proactively purchased my produce ahead of time, so that the farmer can invest the cost back in the farm. Once a week, I receive farm fresh produce from my CSA. I do not get to choose which produce I receive; rather I get whatever is fresh and seasonal.
Not having a choice in what vegetables I get can mean being challenged to prepare produce I’m less familiar with; it will connect me to the local farm and farmers and soil; and throughout the length of the CSA, I will be reminded of the plentiful harvest.
Sukkot has me looking forward to the year to come, and it also has me looking back into Jewish traditional customs. I recently learned that it is traditional to eat “stuffed foods” on Sukkot, since such foods symbolize how after the bountiful summer harvest, we are stuffed or wrapped in God’s blessing. One of my family’s favorite stuffed foods is kreplach, dumplings made with rolled pasta dough and stuffed with meat. My family always makes them with ground beef cooked with tons of caramelized onions. Though I have not eaten them in years (I became a vegetarian six years ago), the smell always makes my mouth water. There are not many foods that I have considered breaking my vegetarian streak for, but I am always tempted by kreplach.
For those of you who want to be tempted into this delicious food, here is my family’s recipe:
- Chuck Roast (Vegetarians: Choose your favorite meat substitute!)
- Onions (sliced, 1 onion/pound of roast)
- Pasta Dough
- 2 scant cups of flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of salt
In a large pot with oil sear the chuck roast on both sides. To this pot, add sliced onions. Cover and cook until tender. Use meat grinder to grind meat with onions. Roll the dough out to a thin layer using flour to ensure dough does not stick to board or rolling pin. Put large pot of water on to boil. Cut dough into squares. Place a spoonful of the meat mixture in the center of each square. Fold the dough over the meat mixture on the diagonal and pinch shut. Bring ends together and press to seal. Put Kreplach in boiling water for twenty minutes. Drain. Enjoy.
Sukkot instructs us to revisit the harvest every year. Nowadays, when many of us are removed from the actual harvest, we can reflect on our food practices by considering where our food comes from and who harvests. Additionally, learning about traditions of the Jewish people, such as eating stuffed foods in the sukkah, made me reflect on my childhood making and eating yummy kreplach.
Enjoy Sukkot, enjoy the kreplach, and may we all be stuffed with God’s blessing.