More Tales From A Bad Jewish Mother

You might think this post is about how Yenta Boy has been singing “Jesus Christ Superstar” non-stop since Carly Smithson rocked it hard on American Idol last week (song choice aside, Carly was the most talented of the bunch and shouldn’t have been eliminated) but you’d be wrong. No, it gets much, much worse.

A few weeks ago we brought home one of YB’s friends from Shalom School, a darling kid with fine manners and a wicked whiffleball swing. We headed out the beach for an afternoon of shark-tooth hunting and as the light began to get low, everyone’s stomachs began to grumble. Hungry children are whiny children, and my patience was not going to last through the drive back to town, so we decided to stop off at a local restaurant.

Now I knew that YB’s friend’s family keeps a kosher home, and El Yenta Man and I commended ourselves for ordering passably-parve fried grouper and french fries all around. The waitress was just walking away whenYenta Boy made a sound like a dying whale, which I, a linguistic expert in Whinese, translated “Can’t we order an appetizer?”

I shrugged, which is Mothering Sign Languange for “I don’t f*cking care, just shut that child up or I will pull someone’s hair, even if it has to be my own.”

So El Yenta Man added another dish to our order. Five minutes later, a steaming, savory-smelling basket arrived at the table and was promptly devoured by the kids like monkeys attacking a banana Moon-Pie. Our meal followed, and it wasn’t until we were driving along Highway 80 admiring the marsh at sunset that we heard Yenta Boy ask his friend, “So, did you like the calamari?”

EYM and I looked at each other and dropped our jaws simultaneously. “Oh, sh*t.”

There has never been a Walk of Shanda like the one we made up to our friends’ door that evening. I mean, is there any tactful way to say “I’m so sorry we trayfed up your son”?

Thank Our Benevolent Creator, instead of forbidding their child to ever come near our heathen, shellfish-scarfing family again, the kid’s parents laughed at our oversight and were as sweet and forgiving as could be. True Blue Jews, these folks. Though you can bet I’ll check my kashrut rule book should they ever invite us over for another potluck Shabbat.

And, of course, there is a Talmudic ending to this story: It really helped shrug* it off when another mom gave Little Yenta Girl a PB&J on white bread last week during Passover.

*In this case, the shrug can be translated as “we all make mistakes with other people’s children; if it didn’t cause bleeding or conversion, let it go.”

I’m Not Handing Over the Reigns Yet…

…but the JEA‘s Adam Solender is doing a much better job of informing Savannah’s Jews than the Yenta these days! His e-newsletter is chock-full of interesting tidbits this week, including the juicy morsel that Georgia Organics VP and dirt-digging cult hero Daron “Farmer D” Joffe is one of us. (Personally, I would like to see our people get back to our agricultural roots. The world needs more Jewish farmers, yo.)

Adam, who unlike the Yenta is tech-savvy enough to track who links on what and when, was lamenting yesterday that no one seemed interested in this article from the Jewish Women’s Archives celebrating the 162nd anniversary of the United Order of True Sisters, an organization borne out of NYC’s Temple Emanu-El and effectively the first women’s organization in the United States.

The members of UOTS were mostly middle-class German-Jewish women, as evidenced by the fact that meetings at most lodges were conducted in German until the end of the First World War. Many members were wives of B’nai B’rith members. The UOTS provided these women a place to exercise their leadership abilities and develop a role in the public sphere, without being subject to the authority of men.

Well, I’m interested. This mavens took it upon themselves to influence their community long before women were allowed to vote – or sit next to their husbands to daven – and I thank Sir Adam for bringing them to my attention.

Since I’m so famisht, y’all should check out Adam’s newsletter for local Jewishy events (subscribe by sending an email to adam@savj.org).

Let’s not forget the Yom Ha’Shoah observance at the JEA Thursday night starting at 7pm, and I’m counting down the days ’til the Israel @ 60 events in Forsyth Park – including a free performance by Pharoah’s Daughter! – May 18.

Here’s a taste of Basya and her band – but don’t expect to see the Yenta bellydancing like this at the show:

Sticking A Toe in the Upgrade

Yenta Family Purim
Lookee here! Thanks to Pepe Pringos and his magical WordPress upgrade, I can now post my own photos!

This is my first attempt at using my newfangly software, so if there’s something wrong with this photo, like I’ve got a moustache or something (or El Yenta Man is wearing eyeshadow and his mother’s terrycloth turban) y’know, sorry.

What’s for Dinner

matzah womanThe Yenta is still recovering from our Miami seder (next year in Savannah!) and not one but BOTH Widespread Panic shows this week, but I must share my recipe for Maztah Lasagna in case anyone wants to try it for Shabbos dinner.

Now, I know folks have been probably been slapping unleavened squares in a baking pan with tomato sauce ever since the fall of Rome, but I’d never made this dish before because it sounded … soggy. But when you have children to feed (not mention a husband who keeps trying to convince you that tortillas are kosher for Passover because they’re flat), you’re willing to try anything. So, after looking at a few recipes online, I came up with my own ideas about how to keep matzah lasagna from turning into mush.

Disclaimer: I come up with my own cooking ideas fairly often, but regular readers know that I rarely share them, because mostly, they’re gross. Please consider my humble assertion that this KICKED ASS.

    Yo, Yenta!’s Matzah Lasagna

You will need:

8 squares of matzah

Tomato sauce (I used a jar of the store-bought stuff to save time – Barrilla’s Roasted Garlic – but being a bad Jew, I didn’t check to see if it was kosher for Passover)

A small can of tomato paste

Olive oil

A pinch of brown sugar

Half a chopped white onion

Handful each of chopped mushrooms, olives and capers (if you don’t like any of ‘em, leave it out)

A bag of baby spinach

Cottage cheese

Feta cheese

A bag of shredded mozzarella or Italian blended cheese

1 egg

Italian spices

Salt to taste

Sauce:

Heat up a saucepan on medium with a couple of generous pours of olive oil. Throw in the onions, mushrooms, olives and capers and brown ‘em up. Add the jar of sauce and let bubble a little; add tomato paste until smooth. Sprinkle in a little brown sugar; it really ties in the flavors. Turn to low. It’s gonna be a little thicker than you’re used to, but that’s what we want. Trust me.

Filling:

Dump about 3/4 of the container of cottage cheese and half the container of feta into a bowl with the egg and spices. Mix until creamy – I used a whisk, but a handheld mixer would work even better.

Assembly:

Now, unlike regular lasagna, in which noodles absorb water and should be a juicy, bubbly mess when done right, matzah lasagna should be as dry as possible before it goes in the oven so that the matzah doesn’t turn to soup. Every other recipe called for rinsing the matzah to soften it; I thought this sounded like squish waiting to happen, and I recommend skipping it.

Spread a little sauce on the bottom of the pan and place two dry matzah squares side by side. Spread on a few tablespoons of cheese filling, not too much, but cover your corners. Add a layer of spinach, which will give up plenty of liquid to soften everything up. Shprinkle generously with shredded cheese. Dollop on a little more sauce to cover it all.

Repeat previous steps two more times. It will be tall. Push gently into the confines of the baking dish with one last layer of matzah. Then it’s more sauce and another cheese shower. Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Let cool before serving!

Options:

Add some soy crumbles sizzled in olive oil to the sauce to “beef” it up a little. Also, sliced zucchini or eggplant seared in olive oil can be substituted for any of the layers … mmmm…..

I prepared this at 1 o’clock in the morning (damn insomnia) and let it sit in the fridge overnight to bake the next day, which may have contributed to the superdeliciousness of it all. I hope yours turns out just as well.

Happy Yentaversary!

balloonThis blog is FOUR years old today, and you know, WOW. I’ve definitely come a long way from two-sentence posts about Demi Moore and Ashton Kutchner, but I’m still no Jewschool.

My dear Pepe Pringos has sprung a Birthday WordPress Upgrade surprise on the Yenta, which is a little bit like buying someone a car who can’t drive. After Pesach has passed over, I will take some technovitamins and rev this baby up! Everyone knows that four year-olds have unlimited energy (just ask Little Yenta Girl – if you can catch her!)

In the meantime, happy chametz-searching, peeps!

Presenting the Chametz-Free Lunchbag

matzah bagWho can’t wait to schlep matzah to and fro all next week?

Never mind, don’t answer that. But how much do you love this plastic-free, machine-washable insulated lunch tote from Lori’s Crafts?

If we’re all gonna be answering questions in the cafeteria about our giant crackers, we might as well be doing it style, right?

Check out more of Lori’s handmade Pesach fabulousness!

LMAO – more Yenta Semantics?

So this morning I emailed Connect Savannah writer Robin Wright Gunn (who tells me she’s launching her own blog any minute now – go, girl!) to compliment her on her latest column about the ironic choice of Ray Bradbury’s eerily prescient Fahrenheit 451 as one of only 16 books chosen by the NEA for the community-wide library reading program The Big Read.

Specifically, I called her the “shizznit,” not because I’m dope like that, but because I have found that when I write “sh*t” in work-related emails there is a corporate censorship gnome that kicks it back to me.

snoopAnd Robin – always on top of her journalism and wordsmithing, bless her heart – writes back that when she Googled “shizznit,” she assumed that coming from me, it was Yiddish. And was a bit dismayed to find out it’s actually attributed to Snoop Dogg.

I feel damn honored to be the conduit through which the mamaloshen and street talk flow, yo.