Posted by Chava Tombosky
This week’s Friday food day got pushed off to Sunday because of last Friday night’s food envy. Last week I had the delightful joy of experiencing a Shabbat meal that was far beyond matzo balls and roasted chicken. We gathered around a stunning table at my dear friend’s house that was adorned with Ahi tuna cured in citrus delicately skewered on toothpicks with avocado, lemon, and hot sauce. There was pickled salmon, sweet and sour salmon, chicken encrusted in terra chips, salads with intricate dressings that had hidden surprises of candied walnuts and bursts of mango, several casseroled dishes that had hints of butternut squash and cinnamon, and a complicated dessert that was reminiscent of a recipe you would see on iron chef.
Upon approaching the table and seeing what we were in for, my teenage son turned to me and said “Wow, mom you don’t ever cook like this, you gotta get your game on.” Really? Was I slacking off? Steamed asparagus, roasted chicken, and boxed rice wasn’t doing it for him anymore?
Truth is, he was right. I had gotten lazy over the past few months, and he knew it. So after that Friday night I realized my days of simple had to go. I spent the entire week thinking about my next Friday night meal. We had friends coming in from Australia whom we hadn’t seen for five years. They had spent the last fifteen months touring the world. They had experienced exotic cuisine in several countries. I couldn’t just slab on a dry piece of brisket and a rubbery potato fry. I spent all week feeling totally inferior to the task. Where would I even find kosher Ahi? Would that mean an extra two hours on the 405 for a slice of fish that no one in my house would eat anyway? Should I go to Barnes and Noble and sift through hours of cookbooks? I couldn’t call my friend from the week before, that would prove my wretched deficiency in the kitchen just by announcing the fact that her recipes were far more superior then mine had ever aspired to be. Maybe she gives classes.
I was consumed, haunted and plagued by the mere idea that watching hours of the cooking channel could possibly be my only saving grace. I had no time for that! Epicurious.com was not going to cut it anymore. I needed to prove I was just as savvy and just as original and creative. Not for my sake of course, but for the sake of my eldest son who was clearly feeling underprivileged. And so began my quest of mixing things up, gettin’ my groove back, and engaging in edible warfare.
Friday morning I approached my objective with a two-hour work out. I needed stamina if I was going to change my old ways. The regular supermarket was followed by an overpriced vegan all natural boutique store that sold things like spinach for six dollars and coconut oil for eight. I unwrapped my packages and explored my new exotic ingredients of fresh ginger, almond paste with flaxseed, fresh basil and arugula, cilantro, and organic chicken breasts. I macerated, marinated, and desiccated. I seared, soaked, and stir-fried. This meal was a masterpiece. It was a burst of flavors. It was overpriced, over inspired, and overworked. And after cooking all day and just beating the clock by two minutes and thirty-one seconds before sundown, it was impossible for me to get this essay written before the Shabbat hour. Hence- Friday Food Day is on Sunday this week.
After slaving all day, I was quite impressed and proud of my effort. My table was stunning. Food groups that no one had even heard of hid in my fridge ready to impress the Australian guests. Roasted homemade humus with sundried tomatoes and fire-roasted red pepper with pine nuts was just the beginning. We had basil lemon chicken with a white wine reduction, and a bulgar grain dish with fresh parsley and smoked tempeh.
This was going to be the meals of all meals. I was proud. I was over the moon and on cloud nine with my accomplishments. I lit the candles this week with a feeling of victory and triumph to which my youngest son mentioned casually, “Mommy, I am so happy we are home for Shabbat, I didn’t like last week’s fancy food at all. Your plain food is the best!”
We had a lot of leftovers.
11.18.13 at 9:03 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . .
9.13.13 at 2:01 pm | “I'm sorry if I offend anyone - I am in no way. . .
9.1.13 at 9:31 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . .
9.1.13 at 9:31 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . .
9.1.13 at 9:29 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . .
7.15.13 at 9:33 pm | I’ve been spending a lot of time numb from it.. . .
5.27.10 at 4:20 pm | "Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear.. . . (25)
11.18.13 at 9:03 am | To be afraid, means that you are unwilling to see. . . (6)
4.11.13 at 9:59 pm | (4)
February 3, 2010 | 7:49 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
So have you ever felt like a dear in headlights staring at a blank page with NOTHING in your head? That’s been me all week. I’ve got to get some material, which made me realize, maybe the fact that I don’t have any material, can be my material! Where does creativity come from? Is it a Divine experience? Is it inside all of us only to be resurrected with mind-altering stimulants? Or is it a random event that only a select few are privy to experiencing accidentally?
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love” claims that none of us are geniuses but ALL of us have baby geniuses inside of us waiting to be revealed. Those genius moments can only come out when we suspend our egos and nurture our artistry. Ego stands for Edging G-d Out. Whenever a person decides to make their creative endeavor about measuring their own self worth, posturing to be better then the person next to him/her, or using their creativity to exploit the weak and the weary, we experience the opposite of innovation, which usually leads to isolation, which then leads to a negative manifestation which becomes the opposite of creative, it becomes lifeless, boring, and weak. This egotistical approach may feel justified, but in the long run it tampers with our genius gravely.
Every human being has a slice of the cosmic higher power. Call it a spirit, a soul, a life force; it is the quintessential manifestation of our inventive imaginations, which gives us the ability to create the colorful ideas that transform our world. But it is up to us to foster that cosmic force that can lie quiet. Just like we feed our bodies with great food, work our muscles out by pumping iron, our souls- our creative spirit is no different. If we edge the part of ourselves that is our life force out, then we can get stumped. Our creativity can quiet, and we are left with a blank page.
Here are a few soul feeding ideas:
1. Prayer and Meditation
By connecting to a higher existence we are feeding the reality that we are not alone, that we are dependent upon a greater force, and that we do indeed crave connection and a higher purpose with meaning. Think of it like push-ups for the soul. Without carving time out of the day to connect with one’s essence, it will not know who we are and what we crave and how to communicate our deepest selves imaginatively.
Read, discuss, and find ways to become more enlightened. These are ways we stimulate ourselves with the awesome ideas that humble us into realizing we don’t know everything, there is much wisdom, and we must not be afraid to ask questions.
A few years ago, a wonderful friend was feeling confused by her Judaism and how it fit into her life. She remarked how she had so many questions and felt very small because she knew so little but was afraid to ask questions for fear of sounding ignorant and for being judged by asking them. She almost felt it was a sin to even ask. Somehow she was convinced asking questions were against Torah law. Asking questions is the greatest way to tap into our holy souls. Without questions we cannot learn, we cannot thrive, we cannot captivate our greatest potentials. Judaism welcomes questions, encourages questions, and prompts questions daily.
Recently a very brilliant musician and friend felt stumped in his creative process. He had all the pieces, but just needed perspective in finding an innovative way to cultivate his passion into a meaningful reality. He was creatively at an impasse but instead of wallowing in his own self-pity, he reached out and asked for help. He called me to get some feedback, and within the hour, he was given a lift to his self-doubts, a fresh new perspective, and was armed with new ideas for his project. He had it inside of him the whole time, but by connecting with another person, and by giving me a chance to explore his endeavor together with him, he was able to find the answers he was looking for. Sometimes all we need is a friend to bounce our ideas off of. When two souls connect, it can create harmony, which is a Divine experience that feeds the soul.
4. Good ‘ole FUN
Need a creative lift? Break the routine. Have dinner with friends, play with your children in the park, take a nap, have a spa day, do a favor for someone, visit a sick person who needs company. These are nurturing your creativity just by changing your attitude and finding joy in your day. Believe it or not, being joyous is a mitzvah in the Torah! And when we give ourselves a break from the monotony of our routine, than it can foster the greatest amount of creativity. When we are at peace we get the best aha moments. Like in the shower, during a brisk walk, or even- yes I’m going to say it (even though it is not fun) sitting in traffic. But we can only have those creative outbursts if we allow ourselves to rest it out, hand it over to our Higher Power, and realize it is not about us, but rather, we are just the vehicles sent to express what is meant to be put out into the world.
If we have appreciation for our spirit and allow it to flourish by feeding it then we will never have another “blank page”. (I say that in quotes since the doomed “blank page” is a metaphor for anyone’s creative stump.)
Thank you to my dear friends and readers for inspiring my own blank page to consistently get filled and for allowing my own spirit to take flight and soar. (And yes, I did come up with this essay while sitting on the freeway during traffic.)
February 1, 2010 | 3:51 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
Is winning a golden idol in the 7th grade for best science fair project, as cool as winning a golden idol at the Grammy’s?
Can I convince my kids it doesn’t really matter if they win first place at the Torah Fair?
If they don’t win first place, will my “you did your best which is all that counts” speech work instead?
Will I get reimbursed for the hundred and fifty bucks I spent on the Torah Fair supplies?
Is there a special place for teachers who create this fair?
Does anyone know the science fair project I won first place for in 7th grade, was a survey that proved the science fair was rigged and a waste of time?
Are the Grammy’s rigged too?
Is there any chance and hope that our society will cherish a free buffet night as reward for our accomplishments instead of a shelf duster?
Does anyone from my PTA mind if I wear a ball gown to the Torah Fair event?
If my kids break out in song during the announcements of who won, will they receive extra points?
Can we cancel any and all programming that require First place recognition so the rest of us who are second best can continue to be second best without any emotional scarring?
If you win first place, does it ruin your chances of ever being inspired to try anything ever again, since you will forever be trying to attain that which you have already aspired to be?
Is landing in first sort of overrated?
And why is the word “Bestseller” annoying?
How are bestsellers judged when there are more then a thousand of them with that title?
How many books can be a bestseller anyways? Cause if there is more then one bestseller, than was it really a BEST seller? Technically, it’s sort of an ok seller, it should be called BEST SELLER- IN COMPARISON, or second best seller. Maybe we can have a few other words that describe level of bests. Best, reasonable, fair enough, suitable sort of sold- seller. I’d like to be a “Sort-of-Sold Seller”. That would make me feel like a winner.
Would anyone like to give me an award for this essay?
If it wins First place, can we end all First place awards for good, so I am the last person on the planet with a first place title? Now that would be a true Best-seller. No need for applause, or a golden idol just break out the smorgasbord self serve meal, ‘cause I’m hungry.