Every year at this time, when the leaves change from green to brilliant oranges and yellows and the grocer displays those shiny Gala and Granny Smith apples, I know it’s time to prepare.
As I mentioned in my first column, I’m Jewish. For me, autumn’s arrival this week is more than a changing of seasons. Friday night begins Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
Simply put, this is the time of year that Jews apologize for their wrongdoings and eat certain traditional foods, including apples and honey, pomegranates, round Challah and chicken soup.
Next week, leading up to Yom Kippur, I’ll tell you more about Challah (that’s bread with raisins, folks) and the soup (some make it with matzo balls but my family uses egg noodles).
But this weekend, I’ll be in Denver with family attending services at synagogue and eating meals filled with chicken and apple recipes.
One of my favorite dishes for these high holy days is my Grandma Shirley’s apple kugel – a sweet concoction of both soft and crispy noodles, melted butter, apple chunks, cinnamon and sugar.
In fact, each year when I prepare this side dish to go with my mom’s roasted chicken, I’m reminded of little snapshots of this time of year and its traditions.
These include hearing Rabbi Zwerin sound the shofar (a blessed ram’s horn) during services and my dad wearing his tallis, which is a prayer shawl.
I remember so many years of sitting at temple with my sister and holding the bag in which my father carries his tallis. Inside, he always keeps a few tissues and a roll of Lifesavers. The candies used to be doled out to keep us kids quiet. Now, dad uses them to calm his cough.
As bizarre as it sounds, cooking the kugel and chicken invoke scents that also remind me of the way my father’s dress suits smell – a combo of pine-scented moth balls and a mix of my mom’s perfume collection.
As you can tell, the approach of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is not only very significant to me for religious reasons but they are also very sentimental times because I get to experience the sights, sounds and smells of my youth again.
So in my journey to a cleansed soul, and always with a full plate, I wish all of you a L’Shana Tova (a good year).
L’Chaim and B’tai Avon (to life and eat well).
Mom’s Roasted Chicken
1 tablespoon rosemary
2 teaspoons garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 stalks celery
Clean out chicken and rinse off the outside. Place stalks of celery and carrots in the base of a pan. Cut the lemon and onion in half and place inside of the chicken. On the outside rub garlic, mustard and rosemary. Place uncovered in a 350-degree oven for an hour to an hour and a half. The chicken is done when the juice runs clear.
Grandma Shirley’s Apple Kugel
6 ounces egg noodles
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
juice of half a lemon
cinnamon to taste
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sugar
Cook noodles according to packaging. Combine all ingredients together. Place in greased pan. Cook covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 30 minutes in a 325-degree oven.
Grandma Shirley’s Cinnamon Apples
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup red hots candies
8-10 Gala or Granny Smith apples
Combine water, sugar and red hots in a large pot; bring to a boil to create a simple syrup. Peel, core and slice apples. Place all apples in pot with syrup and let simmer for 20 minutes or until soft.
Staff writer Liz Sunshine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.