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Use local plums for tasty torte
It is that time of year. We have made our mental checklist. By the end of August: find out kids’ teacher, buy new school clothes, get new school supplies, enroll in after-school activities, call the School Board, buy school office staff little gifts to welcome them back, email teachers, get our kids on a regular sleep schedule before the first night of school.
Oh, how the list goes on.
By the time September rolls around our kids are ready for their over-scheduled life, but only until the complaining and homework begins. As parents, we try the best we can not to helicopter over our children in the way which has become so popular.
And then it hits us.
Our daughter is a high school senior; everything she does will be the last time as a Mercer Island student. Her tears are constantly rolling. And I, as a loving, devoted mother, keep telling her in one breath, “Your life is just beginning,” and in the next breath, “You will be home for dinner; this is your last year of family dinners.”
Oh, the guilt of parental love. I secretly cry every chance I get knowing that my precious daughter will be leaving and going off to college very soon. I can’t let her go. I can’t call her college professors and say what I really need to say to them.
Fortunately, it is also time of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. I am able to sit in synagogue not one day, but two, and take a breather.
At this time of year, g-d gives me permission to sit back and reflect on the past year and the upcoming year. I am allowed to take solace in the fact that I can pray and rejoice at all the accomplishments and letdowns from the past year, all while welcoming the New Year.
The Jewish New Year is not like the secular New Year. We do not stay up until midnight and drink ourselves silly. No, we pray, reflect, and the Torah scroll starts at the beginning.
But, let’s not forget that for almost 48 hours, we fill ourselves with every traditional New Year food possible, beginning with apples and honey for a sweet new year and welcoming of the fall harvest. In our family tradition, the first night of Rosh Hashanah dinner is just for family. Many people have a celebratory lunch after synagogue on the first day.
We have a second night dinner. For the last 19 years, this dinner consists of friends and their families. This dinner is for friends who do not have extended family in the Seattle area. This dinner is a lot of work, but is a symbol of love and a way to cherish and renew friendships. It represents our hopes and dreams for our friends and family in the upcoming year.
And in the spirit of the New Year and the upcoming Yom Kippur, I wish to offer apology.
To my friends and family, La Shonah Tovah (Happy New Year). If I have any way shamed or harmed you, please accept my very public apology.
I will talk more about Yom Kippur in an upcoming column.
‘New Age’ Plum Torte
This recipe is one that I have used for many years. I generally use the plums from a Mercer Island family plum tree.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 ripe medium bananas, cut into large chunks
1 cup unbleached ﬂour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup egg substitute (2 eggs = 1/2 cup egg substitute)
24 halves of ripe, pitted prune plums or 1 pint blueberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the bananas in an electric mixer until well blended. Beat in ﬂour, baking powder and egg substitute (or real eggs) until well blended. Spoon batter into an 8, 9 or 10-inch ungreased spring form pan. Arrange the plum halves skin side down or blueberries on top of batter, sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar, a few squeezes of lemon juice and about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Bake 1 hour, until center tests done with a toothpick. Remove and cool.
This torte freezes well. Serves 8.