In Seattle, the night before the official turn of the calendar was balmy, with doors and windows thrown open and outdoor patios crowded. Diners eked out the last warmth and al fresco dining experience they could. Then the rains and wind came overnight and it was time to close the windows, turn on the heat and start thinking about warmth and comfort.
As in all Jewish celebrations, food plays a major role in the holiday cycle rich with symbols and seasonal ingredients. On Rosh Hashanah, we wish people a Sweet Year and serve food that fulfills that hope. We dip apples in honey at the Rosh Hashanah meal and put raisins in the round challah which symbolizes wholeness.
As I listened to the comforting sound of rain against my window, I remembered one of mother’s favorite dishes for Rosh Hashanah: Prune and Potato Tzimmes. The Yiddish word ‘Tzimmes’ translates as a ‘fuss or muddle,’ but there is nothing fussy about making one.
Tzimmeses fall into the category of foods that benefit from slow cooking. They usually combine root vegetables and dried fruit, seasoned with sweet spices such as cinnamon and ginger.
Like all things ‘stewy’ – their flavors improve the following day. And like all things ‘stewy’ – feel free to play around with ingredients and amounts of spices. No two Tzimmeses are ever quite the same. Just like each New Year.
Jean’s Prunes & Potatoes
2 sweet potatoes – peeled and cut into 2” cubes
5 waxy white, yellow or other potatoes (not Russet) – cut into 2” cubes
4 carrots – peeled and cut into 2” lengths
2 parsnips – peeled and cut into 2” lengths
½ pound prunes (dried plums)
½- 1 cup brown sugar or a mixture of sugar and honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water or leftover red or white wine
Salt and pepper taste
Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven or other wide, deep pan and bring to a boil. When simmering, stir and put into a 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until everything is cooked through. Stir occasionally and taste for the right blend of sweet and spicy. You can uncover the pan so the vegetables brown a bit. Serves 6 as side dish.
Serve with roast chicken or other main dishes.
Wishing you all a Sweet Year!
Guest Blogger, Rebecca Crichton, is Executive Director of Northwest Center for Creative Aging in Seattle. A former caterer, recipe developer, food blogger and serious Foodie, Rebecca promotes healthy aging with courses that include Positive Psychology and creative approaches to food. Check out her website MWCreative Aging. Other food-related blogs can be found at All The Single Girlfriends