|Can you smell how good
This week my daughter had a doctor’s appointment around a half hour away in a suburb of Chicago called Oak Park. While walking back to the car, we noticed that there was a Penzey’s Spice store just down the street, and decided to take a short field trip to check it out. We walked into the store and were blown-away by the number of spices in the store (and you’re thinking…What did you expect? It’s a spice store!) The store didn’t just have your regular variety of spices, they had all kinds of unique and exotic spices as well (What did you expect? It’s a spice store!). They have sample jars of spices next to the shelves of the “for sale” jars, so you can actually smell the spices before buying them. How fun is that?!! My daughter and I spent at least half an hour walking around and smelling all the fabulous spices they have. Fantastic! I also asked them about many of the spices they have in stock. For example, why is it called cracked rosemary? The reason is because the pieces of rosemary are actually broken into smaller pieces to make them better suited for using in certain dishes. I did not know that. I showed my daughter $82 jars of imported saffron and long Madagascar vanilla beans. It was a great experience. (Some people take their girls to the mall…we go spice shopping! It’s all good!). The sales ladies were incredibly helpful (and nice) too. It turns out that the store also has catalog magazines with awesome recipes featuring their different spices. We spent some time looking through them before we left, and ended up buying some wonderful spices with the intention of trying out some of the recipes for this Shabbat – Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges, and Chicken Leek Soup. The fresh, high quality spices made all the difference. Everyone that stopped by before Shabbat this week commented on how great my house smelled (and it wasn’t pine cleaner). When I left the store I had taken the catalogs with me and signed up for the mailing list. I can’t wait to see what other fragrant and fabulous spices are featured next.
|Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges…
We need smell-o-vision!
This week was also Valentine’s Day. In our house we don’t take it too seriously, but see it as an opportunity to get some great chocolate and creatively say “I love you”. One year my husband actually wrote out the words: “I Love (a heart shape instead of the word) You” with Hershey’s miniature chocolates pasted to a poster board. This year, in the interest of doing something totally unexpected, I made my husband a dozen corned beef roses. The bouquet was hilarious, and my husband was extremely happy to be the recipient of such an unusual gift (he said he should have stopped eating them after the 8th rose!). Regardless of whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, I’m thankful for dear husband and “heart” him too! Oh, and we also made sure to get him some super spicy ground pepper at Penzey’s…just to show how much we love him!
|A dozen corned beef roses…
Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- 4 large sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon cracked rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Peel and cut the potatoes into wedges.
- Toss with the oil and spices.
- Bake for 30-45 minutes, turning once halfway through baking.
- The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of oil per potato. I cut the recipe to 1 tablespoon for the whole recipe and then gave the potatoes a generous spray with non-stick vegetable spray. They came out great with less fat.
- For them to come out more browned though, you might need to add more oil.
Chicken Leek Soup
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 – 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1 small onion, coarsely diced
- 2 large leeks
- 1/2 pound carrots, sliced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon cracked rosemary
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- Prepare the leeks by cutting off the roots and the very base of the stalk.
- Trim off the dark green top and pull off the tough outer leaves.
- Slice them lengthwise down the middle and rinse out any grit under running water.
- Once clean, chop as coarsely as you like.
- Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry, then cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat.
- Add the chicken, garlic, salt and pepper and stir frequently until the chicken is browned and thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
- Add a little more oil to the pot (if necessary).
- Add the onion, leeks and carrots and cook about 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Reduce heat to medium low, add the flour and stir to coat the veggies.
- Add the stock and stir while it heats and thickens.
- Add the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes so the flavors blend.
- Add the herbs and simmer another few minutes.
- Prior to serving, check the flavor once more and add salt, pepper and extra herbs to your liking.
- This is a great recipe for when you are short on time before Shabbat. It takes minutes to make thanks to ready-made chicken stock, and it’s incredibly fragrant. You can always use more chicken in this recipe if you like. I also added more carrots, and you can add you favorite additional vegetables too. I used 4 cups of low-sodium chicken stock and 2 cups of water instead of 6 cups of stock to reduce the sodium content of the soup.
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– Some days are hard. It’s not even noon and it’s already been a doozy. Then I read your post and I’m even sadder. But also happier, relieved, inspired, and comforted by your words. These words could have been written by my own heart. Thank you for writing them. Thank you for sharing your story. In any way a stg/ernrafan from the internet can be of help, I’m there. I wish your family all the peace in the world.