what do you do the night before your trip?

Why, write about food, of course!

So now I realize why I was drawn to these polenta latkes–I’m traveling through Rome to get to Israel, and polenta is Italian, so that make sense now! I was also on the phone (thanks to gethuman.com, because the number provided by Alitalia was unproductive at best) on hold with Alitalia to figure out my code. It turns out I have to wait one hour to actually book my ticket for tomorrow night. I’m a bit antsy, I guess.

Anyway, these were really really tasty, albeit as messy as any frying, and for those of you who want to limit your egg consumption, but don’t care about the amount of oil, these are perfect. Or should I say “perfetto!”

And they also mask any other smells in the house beautifully.

Always looking for the silver lining.

Polenta latkes from the LA Times

Olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 1/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add polenta slowly, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until polenta comes away from sides of pan, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While still hot, spread polenta about 1-inch thick onto an oiled baking pan. Cool, cover and refrigerate until cold and firm, several hours or overnight. Using a (2-inch) round scalloped cookie cutter, cut polenta into rounds and transfer to a large platter.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in nonstick skillet and brown polenta rounds, turning occasionally, until brown and crispy on both sides, 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining polenta rounds, adding additional oil as needed. Serve immediately or reheat just before serving.

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Enjoy!

Seriously!

granola bar dilemma and other rebbitzin tales

Some of my biggest challenges happen in the supermarket. Will they have the fish that I want? Will the lines be unending? Will I have to see people I really don’t want to see? Will people who don’t want to see me have to endure the sight of me?

Sigh.

Yesterday, I was trying to get through the store aqap, but I was stymied in the granola bar aisle. I usually purchase some bars of some kind for travel. But I end up feeling all Goldilocksy–some are too soft, some are too hard, and, to be honest, I haven’t come across the just right ones, but I was looking to see if there were any new options.

I noticed someone who I know in the next aisle over on the phone and we waved. I figured that would be safe enough and I wouldn’t have to talk to him. But of course, a few minutes later (while I’m still Buridan-assing over the granola bars) he comes over. He says to me, “I’m sure you hear this a lot, but your husband is amazing.”

Actually I don’t really remember what he said exactly, because I don’t want him thinking I really know why he’s saying it, so I’m trying to feign ignorance. That’s not really hard for me. I don’t really know why he thinks that, but I also probably know enough, only because of the amount of phone calls back and forth between them. So I play along.

“Thanks. I just stand back and let him do his magic.”

Which is true. But yes, we all know that magicians need their assistants, so I guess sometimes I do assist behind the scenes. I’m so happy to let him be in the spotlight.

And then I shared my dilemma of the granola bars and he wished me good luck with my search.

A few minutes later, we caught up again in the next aisle.

“What did you decide?”

“To make my own.”

And so I did.

Banana Oat Bars from thekitchn.com

Makes one 9×9-inch pan

2 large, very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 cup pitted, chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped nuts — such as walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans
Grated nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×9-inch square baking dish with olive oil or butter.

Peel the bananas and mash their flesh in a medium mixing bowl. Mash very thoroughly until no large chunks remain; the bananas should be essentially liquid. Stir in the vanilla, if using. Add the oats and stir them in. Stir in the salt, dates, and nuts.

Pat the thick mixture evenly into the baking pan. If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with nutmeg or cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to crisp up.

Place the baking pan on a rack to cool. When the pan is mostly cool, cut into bars and enjoy with a glass of milk or tea.

Shall I tell you now what I changed or do you want to guess?

other than that…

This is the title of the cookbook D#1 thinks I should write. She thinks I should start out with one recipe and show how I change it to fit from soup to nuts by changing the ingredients one by one. I could do it. But who would need to buy such a thing?

And right now, as she thought, I thought I should write about what happened the other day while making a dessert. I am up for new experiences and experiments, and I thought this here sounded interesting, but I identified it by the shorter title “Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake” because I really really didn’t think that my guests would go for the Vegan-Gluten-free intro, and to be honest, neither would I.

So here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

(RAW/DAIRY AND GLUTEN FREE)

Chill Time: 2 hours
Makes: 12 cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight, drained
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup smooth, natural peanut almond butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp  vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tbsp apple cider rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

Blend cashews and water first and then add everything else in. Blend until smooth. Pour into ramekins or cupcake liners a container and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or overnight). If you freeze it, just give it 20 35 min. to defrost. ENJOY!!!

The marked-through words are the things that I changed and the italicized words are what I added. I didn’t have peanut butter nor peanuts, so I went with the almond butter. ISHI doesn’t eat apples, so I used rice vinegar.

Other than that…

(see?)

D#1 thought that we should do our own version of Coffee Talk: “It’s a cheesecake that’s neither cheese nor cake. Discuss.”

But here’s where it got interesting.

D#1 took over for me putting it together. I had done the soaking and draining of the cashews, and the melting of the coconut oil. I thought I’d finish it with the boys, since they love making desserts/pushing the buttons on appliances that make a lot of noise. But they were already in the bath, so she volunteered to take it on.

I set up the blender and she got it done in no time at all.

And then, all of a sudden, I heard her SCREAM!!!!! I turn around from what I was doing and saw this enormous blob of chocolate (I thought of something else, but I won’t mention what the first thing was that came to mind) oooooozing down the side of the blender!

OH! I forgot to tell her that this blender that I inherited from D#2 does not work like you would expect it to work. I had learned this the hard way at D#2’s house while making a smoothie with it. I had loosened the glass top from the bottom, expecting that the whole thing would lift off so I could pour it into a glass.

Nope.

It has no base of its own.

(Clean-up went fairly quickly and painlessly.)

This is what D#2 found out, too, but this time with a gloriously thick exudation of what could no longer be described as free of anything.

Of course, when I saw what was going on, I also screamed and then quickly ran to her to figure out how to stop the explosion. This required a lot of licking of the fingers, of course, and very healthy doses of laughter.

SIL#1 was asked to come in and take a photo.

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Do you see the pan that I had set out to be the recipient of the dessert? My idea of what would serve as a ramekin? Little heart-shaped? Perfect size?

That’s why we dumped transferred it into one container. And that’s why it required a longer time to defrost.

And maybe that’s why D#2 was so eager to give up the blender!

Other than that, it was still delicious! And yes, it really tastes like cheesecake!

And yes, enjoy!

renewing ourselves, once again

I’m spending this week with grandchild #10. His parents have moved into town and left. (Just for the week.) I have custody during the days, and the other grandparents have him at night. I think this is a very fair deal. He’s napping now, so I get to write. Also a fair deal.

At the playground earlier, it came to me that this is a very good way to renew myself at this time of year, at this time of life. I wrote about this not so long ago here, of the ability of some to be ever amazed at the world, like a child. I was reminded of this while pushing our little one on the baby swing. He was so happy to go back and forth and back and forth…I tried to take him out after about 5 minutes, but he was visibly not ready to leave this. So I girded myself to push him for another 5 minutes or more. And he was agreeable when I tried the next time to take him out.

I realized at that moment that we make ourselves so complicated. And I thought about my still-full refrigerators with food prepared for the 2 days of Rosh Hashanah, followed by Shabbat. Of course, I try to re-purpose food, so that one food gets used in 3 different presentations.

The soup I made, for example, for Shabbat, was from the cold sweet potato-carrot-cauliflower soup from last week (un-frozen), mixed with the leftover tzimmis (carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and onions, but no meat for you!) from the first night, with red lentils cooked in. So that was a good way to repurpose things.

But…

We had left our overhead fan on in the kitchen, even though, thankfully, it turned cool for the holidays, delightful, really. And when I set up the hot plate over my flame to keep it protected over Shabbat, I thought I was being smart in using my larger tray to protect the flame.

I was, but I was also outsmarting myself.

The soup turned.

The flame was not strong enough with the fan on. It didn’t keep the soup hot enough. I was worried about it and tested it before serving it to our guests.

What a waste of repurposing.

And the bigger thing that I knew?

No one missed the soup. They would have been miserable tasting it, but they didn’t miss it. I had too many other things going on, even in my no-meat house. Really, no one went hungry.

So something is wrong.

We’re too complicated for our own good.

Or maybe we’re too affluent? Insisting on having so many different things, or not wanting to take a chance of people not being happy?

I’m reading Daniel Akst’s book We Have Met the Enemy about the problem of “moderation in the face of freedom and affluence”. I got it out from the library, since I figured the book screams DON’T BUY SOMETHING YOU CAN BORROW! (although he may not have really considered that when writing the book).

He demonstrates how the one who shows us how to navigate through the world of wants is actually Odysseus, who had his sailors chain himself up to his mast to keep him from being lost to the sirens. He calls this precommitment. This, and many other useful facts and strategies, can be found in the book. I’m looking forward to trying them in my own life.

Am I ready to put this onto my guests, though?

What do you think?

i’m no proust

But I have my own madeleine now and it’s a cherry.

I also wanted to find a photo of the experience that led me to this, but alas, my memory of having taken one of the time does not match up with reality.

So what is this?

A bag of dried cherries started all of this.

D#2 and family had brought up a bag of dried cherries on their last trip up to her hometown a month ago. And they did not take it back with them, even though they had every intention of doing so.

So I took it back with us when we went to see them two weeks ago.

And then again, a week ago.

Both times I forgot to say, “Remember to take the cherries!”

Or maybe I did. Again, the faultline of memory is pretty large.

So I have the bag sitting on my countertop. Should I ask people who are going to Israel to take it with them? Should I save it to take with me when I go in December?

What is the reference point that makes this need to return the cherries so strong?

The package says:

Reminds you of home.

When we were in Israel, when they were still there, in the summer of 2007, I took the two little ones cherry picking. There were a slew of cherry trees full of their fruit right next to their apartment, and no one was picking them. So we spent a delicious amount of time picking them. Then we tasted them (once my SIL took the appropriate tithes, which is so cool) and realized why no one else was picking them. They were sour.

No worries–I took them and made lemonade. Add sugar and cook them and make a great sauce.

I also spent a bit of time right now looking for the Gush Etzion cherry festival. I found lots of references to the one in 2012. So what’s going on now? Here’s the thing.

השנה לא יהיה קטיף דובדבנים עקב מיעוט פרות על העצים.

This year there will not be a cherry-picking festival due to the lack of fruit on the trees.

Oh. Pity.

Clearly things don’t necessarily turn out how we anticipate.

But I did find a photo of our little big girl doing rudimentary gymnastics at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo from that time.

This is the same one who is now doing cartwheels. (See previous post.)

Sweet.

the 40 year-old borscht

A wonderful woman passed away last night. She was the mother of a very good friend. The funeral is in LA, so I won’t be going, but I was thinking about how we met while I was washing my beets just before.

My friend and I first met each other 41 years ago in Israel while we were both attending Hebrew University. That’s an astounding thought in and of itself. But at the end of the year, so it would be 40 years ago sometime this summer, I went to meet her when back in LA visiting my parents. My friend was staying in Israel and would be going on to learn in yeshiva (where he met ISHI and so became our shadchan, matchmaker, but that’s another story), so I went by myself to see her.

She lived in the Valley, which was not an area that I was familiar with, but that made sense, since I didn’t really know LA very well. She had asked me to join her for lunch. How could I refuse? Oh the kosher thing. She wasn’t really aware of the minutiae of keeping kosher; her son had just started going down that path on his own. But salad? Fine. Canned salmon? Fine. What about borscht?

I never really liked borscht. It was one of those products that we always had, in a jar, that made us Jewish in the ethnic kind of way. But–how can I put it nicely? It was not to my taste.

I bought it every year at Pesach time to have for my father who still enjoys a good bowl of borscht.

(Cue up the music.)

It was like our own developing sense of wine. I never knew from good wine when I was young. We had the proverbial (that only became such in America when they couldn’t get anything else but bitter Concord grapes, so what could they do?) sweet wine for the holidays and Shabbat. But I knew it wasn’t good. As we became slightly more aware of choices, we started our own great adventures with snobbery oenophilia. So why not borscht?

But this is like the clock in Julius Caesar–I’m getting ahead of myself.

Of course I could not decline. After all, she went to all that trouble! And so I figured with the sour cream, it wouldn’t be half-bad.

And it was also cold on a hot day. So it wasn’t half-bad. But the bigger thing was how important it was for me to put myself out that very little bit for her sake, for her son’s sake, for my sake.

And I saw that she was indeed a wonderful person, who put herself aside just enough to get past a husband who had breached her trust to raise two wonderful sons on her own. And because I knew how wonderful at least one of them was, I knew she had instilled in them the greatest value of them all–to see people for what they can be, for all that they can be, and not be held down by past limitations. And so my friend has this amazing ability to make you feel that you are the most talented, quickest, brightest person in the world, along with everyone else. And you just have to rise to the occasion.

At least when you’re with him.

So, as my beets are baking, and my gazillion other things are being prepared, I will think of how I have been able to raise the borscht to my highest level.

And if I find another recipe that is more intriguing, I will try that and bring out the best that I can.

And hope that the people I serve it to as as open to the experience as I have been shown to be.

the meaning of the need for creativity

At least in the kitchen.

Along with some of the criticisms thrown out at people for overdoing their Pesach preparations, with the tart comments that we confuse dirt with chametz, comes the underlying snideness that we women should just keep everything simple, implying we’re the ones making things difficult. ( See [or don’t] the OU Guide to Passover, pages 20-23, In the Merit of Righteous Women, for a particularly offensive attitude.)

I do remember my mother complaining (although in a very reserved way, compared to how I would do it, for sure!) how we children didn’t appreciate having different things for dinner and it seemed like we would like to have hamburger every night. And when we said, “YES!”, she did not listen to us, and how ironic that is/was, since two of us turned into vegetarians and the other I don’t think would enjoy eating hamburger every night and has entertained going veggie a few times, too…

And then there’s the opposite track of women who make their careers in making us feel underinspired (I wrote about this at least once ‘way back in ’09) and overstressed. I’m not going there. So why the need to look for the new recipes? Why not just go for the old?

Well, it’s exactly because we are doing the chores of the cleaning that we can use the creative force of the new. It’s to make it interesting. I said it in ’09, and Shakespeare said it in the early 1600’s; the play’s the thing.

We need to be more than drones. We need to be more than slaves.

To anything.

Although I do not doubt the creativity of field or factory workers, I am grateful for creative outlets, even if I am imposing them upon others.

For example, while taking a break from my reorganization of the playroom (which is now completely deconstructed, alas), I found a recipe for a coconut crust. EASY–GREAT!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
3 tablespoons butter
DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix coconut and butter or margarine together. Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.
2. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Easy enough!

And then I found Herve This’ Chocolate Mousse. No eggs. Amazing!

Genius Recipes says: It took a brilliant, adventurous chemist to discover the simplest way to make chocolate mousse at home. Hervé This, the father of molecular gastronomy, discovered how to make a flawless, creamy chocolate mousse out of just chocolate and water.

This all happens fast as the mixture cools, so chances are you’ll go too far on your first try. Don’t worry — just return it to the pan, melt it, and start over (see step 3). Once you have the rhythm down, you can flavor it as you wish with liqueurs or coffee or spices, sweeten it to your liking, or just keep it dark and intense. In all of these scenarios, a little whipped cream up top is never a bad idea. Adapted from Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Columbia University Press, 2008) (less)

Serves 4

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
  • 8 ounces chocolate (we used 70% bittersweet — choose a high quality chocolate you love)
  • ice cubes
  • whipped cream for topping (optional)
  1. Simply pour water into a saucepan (which will be improved from the gastronomic point of view if it is flavored with orange juice, for example, or cassis puree). Then, over medium-low heat, whisk in the chocolate. The result is a homogenous sauce.
  2. Put the saucepan in a bowl partly filled with ice cubes (or pour into another bowl over the ice — it will chill faster), then whisk the chocolate sauce, either manually with a whisk or with an electric mixer (if using an electric mixer, watch closely — it will thicken faster). Whisking creates large air bubbles in the sauce, which steadily thickens. After a while strands of chocolate form inside the loops of the whisk. Pour or spoon immediately into ramekins, small bowls or jars and let set.
  3. Note: Three things can go wrong. Here’s how to fix them. If your chocolate doesn’t contain enough fat, melt the mixture again, add some chocolate, and then whisk it again. If the mousse is not light enough, melt the mixture again, add some water, and whisk it once more. If you whisk it too much, so that it becomes grainy, this means that the foam has turned into an emulsion. In that case simply melt the mixture and whisk it again, adding nothing.
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream if desired.

But would it work? It was the perfect thing to give to my houseguest and my two big girls to find out! You think I would have time for that? I found the chocolate–that was enough for me!

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Guess what! It works!

Did it take a very long time? Yes!

Did it make a huge mess? Yes!

Was it amazing in the coconut crust?

Yes:)!

And that is enough for this year!

exhausted in my gratitude

but not of…

I’m cleaning up mounds of laundry that require immediate laundering. More mountains  remain until after the holiday is over on Tuesday night…

The floors just got washed; I’m waiting for them to dry so I figured I’d write some quick thoughts.

The holiday of Sukkot is one that celebrates the whole world. In the days of the Holy Temple, all nations were invited to bring sacrifices for the holiday, along with the Jewish people. I celebrate that by having food from all over the world, especially on Sukkot.

Like I need an excuse…

One super amazing find this year was Tembleque. We had a guest from Puerto Rico and I had some cans of coconut milk itching to be used, so I let my fingers do the walking and they found this treat. And it’s so easy, especially when you give the task of making it to your guest and your granddaughter! Sorry, Goya, buy I used my cans from Whole Foods…but your recipe is fantastic! It’s very rich, so really take a little bit first. You can always take more! It’s vegan, even. ISHI couldn’t eat it because it has sugar, but he was amused.

That’s worth something, right?

Tembleque – Coconut Pudding

Ingredients

2 cans (13.5 oz. each) GOYA® Coconut Milk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup corn starch
¼ tsp. salt
Toasted coconut (for garnish)
Ground cinnamon (for garnish)

Directions

1. In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch and salt, stirring to dissolve cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and is smooth and thick, about 5 minutes.
2. Pour into six 4-oz. molds, or one 3-cup mold. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 3 hours, or up to 48 hours.
3. To unmold, run thin knife around edge. Invert mold (or molds) onto serving plate. Top with toasted coconut, if desired. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Yes, D#1,  we did change things. I didn’t have any corn starch, so we used potato starch. Corn starch may be better and certainly more authentic, but I couldn’t tell. And this way it’s kosher for Passover!

Also, we didn’t add any cinnamon or toasted coconut. Maybe another time.

Also, we just put it into one bowl, not into individual servings.

Also, they didn’t mention to rinse out the bowl with cold water before putting in the pudding. It would probably be a good idea. We served it straight from the bowl and no one seemed to mind.

Buen apetito!

!בתאבון

so the scuppernong definitely deserved the shehecheyanu!

This is a courtesy follow-up to the query I posted a few days ago in my shopping quest for Rosh Hashanah.

Yes!

Going in with low expectations, we ate the fruit. First we cut them open and tried a half. Delicious! They are similar to grapes with a creamier texture–really lovely! We even ate the peel, which isn’t bitter at all. We did avoid the pits, which is usually good advice.

So unexpectedly good.

The papaya was expectedly bland. D#1 suggests making it into sorbet. I will try to remember to do that. Or maybe something else. Adventure lies ahead!

Other successes included a delicious carrot mousse. Here’s the recipe and I’ll tell you what I changed:) by crossing out the words. D#1 says that if I ever wrote a cookbook, it would actually be just one thing that would morph into a million different things. Not a bad idea at all. But here’s what I started with, from the Dole Nutrition Newsletter:

Vegan Carrot Mousse

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 lb baby carrots or regular carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tbsp mellow white miso (or whatever you have)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds I had some pistachio nuts and I also used almonds
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 large pitted date
Water

Boil baby carrots or regular carrots till tender. Drain and place them in a high speed blender with other ingredients. Blend, using the tamp attachment and as much water as you need to get things moving (I used a little less than 1/4 cup) till smooth.

If you’re using a food processor instead, first grind the pumpkin seeds nuts till they’re in a fine meal. Then add remaining ingredients and blend, using a few tbsp of water if needed, till very smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve!

What they didn’t say and they should have is to put the date in early to grind up. Otherwise it’s really not well-mixed. So the order should be by logic–whatever is most dense goes first, then up to what has the most water in it.

The miso and the sesame oil add amazing depth. And of course, I doubled the recipe. At least.

On all levels, a great symbol for the year ahead.

Our dinners became wonderful experiences of tasting and expressing hope for the new year. A veritable Jewish tapas bar. We had challah and the honey and dates and black-eyed peas and beets and greens and carrot mousse and bok choy and pomegranate and quinoa (it had beets cooked into it, with umeboshi dressing) and apples and pears and the new fruits.

Oh-I thought of something about the power of tasting a new fruit for the new year. Why, indeed a fruit? Why not something else? I know, it’s easier and we often go for the easy. You can’t tell people they should all buy new coats for the new year and make a shehecheyanu on that. After all, the rabbis are a bit money-conscious. So let’s just say “we should be fruitful in new ways” this coming year.

And the years ahead. Each one with its own promise and chance for renewal.

 

so, does the scuppernong deserve a shehecheyanu?

Did I get your attention yet or did you think that my auto-suggest went nuts?

Actually, I’m very old-fashioned. I do my post writing on my computer, and WordPress surprisingly does not have auto-suggest. They just redline everything. (Like redline. And scuppernong and shehecheyanu:).)

I was at Whole Foods today buying up in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. I bought dino kale (so we should have a dinomite year) and baby bok choy (so our babies should be chock full of love) and apples and pears and dates for the sweet year (ISHI doesn’t eat apples, even if they’re organic). And then I saw them.

Some muscadines in a bowl; the green ones are scuppernongs.

And they’re organic!

But what are they?

I bought them. Should I refrigerate them?

Are they fruit? They look a lot like tomatoes.

Or grapes.

And for our purposes, are they a new fruit, so can we say the blessing of a new fruit for the new year with them?

In the meantime, D#1 was on the lookout for a new fruit, too. She sent me this photo from her store in Teaneck that was looking out for its customers by offering the following:

I did some research on these, of course.  This is what I wrote her:

The rambutan looks interesting http://www.wikihow.com/Eat-a-Rambutan but too difficult to eat, so skip that one.

Monster fruit –probably too difficult to get a ripe one.

The fruit may be ripened by cutting it when the first scales begin to lift up and it begins to exude a pungent odor. It is wrapped in a paper bag and set aside until the scales begin popping off. The scales are then brushed off or fall away to reveal the edible flesh underneath. The flesh, which is similar to pineapple in texture, can be cut away from the core and eaten. It has a fruity taste similar to jackfruit and pineapple. The unripe green fruits can irritate the throat and the latex of the leaves and vines can create rashes in the skin, because both contain potassium oxalate: that’s the reason why the fruits have to be consumed when the scales lift up.

I’ve had the dragon fruit in Israel–not really tasty, and they were ripe. Just no taste. Not a good sign, I think.

Tamarind–“tamar indi” Indian date. Supposed to be very mature before it’s good. So are they? It’s high in calcium, which is odd for fruit.

So…either the monster fruit or the tamarind?

So I was not sure about what she would discover, so I was on the hunt for something different today. This definitely fits that category. But does it fit the definition of a new fruit?

Google to the rescue (Don’t worry, D#2, I’ll get to your stroller search later)! Here’s what Auman Vineyards have to say about them:

Scuppernong is the original variety of bronze muscadine discovered growing in the wild. Today even though improved bronze varieties such as Carlos and Magnolia have been developed for commercial plantings, most southerners still refer to any bronze muscadines as Scuppernongs. Purple or black varieties are commonly called muscadines.

Scuppernong & Muscadine History

The Earliest Accounts

North Carolina is the home of our nation’s first cultivated grape. The earliest written account of the “White Grape,” as it was called by our colonist, occurs in Giovanni de Verrazzano’s logbook. Verrazzano, the Florentine navigator, who explored the Cape Fear River Valley for France in 1524, wrote that he saw “…Many vines growing naturally there…”

“Grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater”

Sir Walter Raleigh’s explorers, captains Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe wrote in 1584, that the coast of North Carolina was “…so full of grapes as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them…in all the world, the like abundance is not to be found.”

In 1585, Governor Ralph Lane stated in describing North Carolina to Sir Walter Raleigh that “We have discovered the main to be the goodliest soil under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweet trees that bring rich and most pleasant gummes, grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater…”

Of Muscadines and Scuppernongs…

Of the bounteous store of natural gifts that have rolled forth from the Horn of Plenty upon the soil of North Carolina few have been more celebrated than the scuppernong grape. It is a sport of the species Vitis rotundifolia, commonly called muscadine, which is native to the southern states and grows nowhere else save as an exotic. The muscadine, it is no exaggeration to say, could well be substituted for cotton in the first line of “Dixie” if one were to bow to botanical realism. The scuppernong variety of muscadine has a tough skin and is bronzy green in color, rather than black or purplish as were its ancestors. Its size, to use traditional Tarheel parlance, is “about that of a hog’s eye.” As is the case with all muscadines, the fruit does not grow in conventional bunches, and when ripe it can be readily shaken from its vine. It’s abundant juice is so deliciously sweet, with a kind of musky, fruity flavor, that when it’s unusual color attracted attention, in the general vicinity of present day Columbia, N.C., possibly toward the end of the eighteenth century, specimens were transplanted or seeds or cuttings sown on neighboring farms and gardens whence in time its reputation spread throughout the botanical worlAnd then there’s this from the Wikipedia article on muscadines:

Although in the same genus Vitis with the other grapevine species, muscadines belong to a separate subgenus, Muscadinia (the other grapevine species belong to subgenus Vitis), and some have suggested giving it standing as a genus of its own. Some taxonomists have also suggested splitting two additional species off from Vitis rotundifoliaVitis munsoniana and Vitis popenoei. All have 40 chromosomes, rather than 38, are generally not cross-compatibile with other Vitisspecies, and most hybrids between the subgenera are sterile.

That’s enough for us! They are like grapes, but different enough to fulfill the requirement of being its own fruit. And it will get the brachah of שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ, that we are grateful to being alive and being kept alive in this new year.

And I also bought a papaya last week, just in case.