Sukkot: The Jewish Thanksgiving



Sukkot could be described as the Jewish Thanksgiving. Like the all-American holiday, this fall festival is a celebration of a bountiful harvest.

You can buy sukkah-building kits for the backyard or balcony or, as we do, set up your own with 2×4's and trellises that may be stored and used each year. Today, sukkahs are comfortable, with tables and chairs inside for dining, and even cots for those who may want to sleep outdoors.

Decorations can be fruits like cranberries, apples and gourds. To avoid bee and insect stings, we decorate with plastic fruits and vegetables. Children can also draw pictures to be pinned up inside.

Feasting is the keynote during the seven-day holiday. With the abundance of fall fruits and vegetables — coupled with a serious lack of time — what better way to cook right now than to make use of your crockpot?

Because these slow cookers use little electricity, they provide the most cost-effective cooking method. Toss in the ingredients, cover, and forget for a few hours or overnight.

Here are some cooking tips:

· Make sure that the crockpot has a removable ceramic liner so that you don't need to worry that the power cord will become wet.

· For easy cleanup, spray the inside of the crockpot with nonstick cooking spray.

· Allow the crockpot to cool completely before adding water for clean up. This prevents cracking the ceramic interior.

· Resist the temptation to open the crockpot until shortly before serving. Stirring is not required. Uncovering the pot releases heat and temperature is regained slowly.

· Root vegetables cook more slowly, so place them in the crockpot first, closer to the heat source.

· If you're gone all day, cook at low. If you get home earlier, turn to high to complete the dish sooner.

· Keep sauces and gravies from curdling by adding dairy products at the end of cooking time.

Hearty Wild-Rice Chicken Soup

Wild-rice mix and canned chicken broth make this an economical, time-saving main dish.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1/2-inch pieces 
1/2 cup wild-rice mix 
1 medium onion, chopped 
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced 
2 cups corn kernels 
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
1 cup water 
2 green onions, cut in 1/2-inch lengths 
1/2 tsp. dried oregano 
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper 
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste 
2-3 cups broccoli florets

Place all the ingredients, except the broccoli, in the crockpot.

Stir once or twice to mix. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

About 10 minutes before serving, stir in the broccoli. Turn heat to high.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until broccoli is crisp-tender.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve with crackers or pita chips.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 265; protein, 23 g; carbohydrates, 24 g; fat, 9 g; cholesterol, 52 mg; sodium, 363 mg.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

1 and 1/2 Tbsps. cumin 
1 Tbsp. chili powder 
2 tsps. turmeric 
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper 
2 and 1/2 Tbsps. all-purpose flour 
2 lbs. boneless lamb shoulder, cut in 11/2-inch pieces 
2 Tbsps. olive oil 
2 medium onions, sliced thickly 
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic from a jar 
2 Tbsps. grated ginger root 
1 and 1/2 cups dried apricots, quartered 
3/4 cup pitted prunes, halved 
4 dried pear halves, cut in chunks 
3/4 cup raisins 
1 Tbsp. honey 
1 tsp. cinnamon 
1 and 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable broth

In a large shallow dish, combine the cumin, chili powder, turmeric, salt and pepper, and flour. Add the lamb and toss to evenly coat.

Pour the oil into the crockpot.

Add the lamb and any leftover spice mix. Add all the remaining ingredients, stirring to mix.

Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, until the lamb is fork-tender. Stir gently.

Serve over rice or noodles.

Serves 6 to 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 538; protein, 43 g; carbohydrates, 46 g; fat, 20 g; cholesterol, 138 mg; sodium, 295 mg.

Beef Ragoût

Ragoût comes from the French, meaning "to stimulate the appetite." Serve over packaged polenta — slice first and heat.

1 large onion, cut in small chunks 
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut in small chunks 
1 yellow, red or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut in small chunks 
3 medium carrots, sliced about 1/2-inch thick 
6 medium mushrooms, quartered 
1 and 1/2 lbs. beef chuck, cut in 1 and 1/2-inch pieces 
1 jar (14 oz.) meatless pasta sauce 
1/4 cup dry red wine or beef broth 
1/3 cup snipped parsley

In the crockpot, layer all the ingredients, except the polenta, in the order listed. Cover. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

To Serve: Stir the ragoût. Spoon over the warm polenta. Sprinkle with parsley, and dinner's ready.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 386; protein, 22 g; carbohydrates, 11 g; fat, 27 g; cholesterol, 84 mg; sodium, 410 mg.

Vegetable-and-Tortellini Stew

1 medium onion, diced 
3 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch slices 
4 plum tomatoes, quartered 
2 green tomatoes, sliced thickly 
4 medium mushrooms, sliced 
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded or 1 Tbsp. dried basil 
1 cup Bloody Mary cocktail mix or tomato juice 
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained 
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper 
1 package (8 oz.) cheese tortellini

Place all the ingredients, except the tortellini, in a crockpot. Stir to mix.

Cover and cook at low for 6 to 8 hours.

About 20 minutes before serving, stir in the tortellini. Increase heat to high.

Cover and cook 20 minutes, or until tortellini are tender. Spoon into bowls.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 45; protein, 8 g; carbohydrates, 25 g; fat, 3 g; cholesterol, 8 mg; sodium, 593 mg.

Ethel G. Hofman is a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. E-mail her at: [email protected].


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