If you have ever been to Israel, whether you are Jewish or not, you have most probably visited the Kotel, the Western Wall. And whether it is your first time, or your 100th time, you probably every now and again leave a little note for God, stuffed in the cracks of the wall.
Even though my mother was secular my father was observant, and I grew up in a kosher home. As a child I watched my fair share of television, and desperately wanted to eat what those of us growing up in the Sixties and Seventies were brainwashed to eat. But I couldn’t. Most of those wonderfully-colored, chemically-enhanced, MSG-laden and gelatin-laced yummies were not kosher and therefore never made it over the threshold of the house or on to my tastebuds.
I can be a snob about many things. I am a coffee snob. I am a spice snob. I wish I could afford to be a saucepan snob. But one thing I am not is a food snob. Ju-Boy wonders at the fact that I can whip up something almost gourmet using the choicest juicy chunks of fresh Cornish ram’s bladder, emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds whipped into a fondue and garnished with lark’s vomit (10 points for guessing the source of that one), while at the same time using such mundane ingredients such as onion soup mix, ketchup and Coca Cola.
Yes, I cook with Coca Cola and I admit it. When I was a little girl my mother wouldn’t let me near the stuff, claiming it wasn’t good for me. She let me drink Hawaiian Punch instead (sold in lead cans). And when she finally caved into progeny pressure it was bottles of the local no-frills cola that appeared on the supper table, none of that heady stuff that came out of Atlanta.
I remember the first time she caught me pouring myself a glass of the stuff at breakfast. “Miraleh, are you meshugah? Drinking cola for breakfast? So unhealthy! Have a glass of milk instead, and pass me that can of Maxwell House coffee, please?”
Some Of The Joys Of Being An Adult
- Buying what’s in fashion, not what’s sensible
- Eating a tub of ice cream, on the couch, in front of the television
- Naptime, once dreaded, is now your friend
- Knowing what the words mean in that song
- Drinking Coke for breakfast!
I have a few vices, but the only one I will find hard to give up is my Diet Coke fix. I’ve quit smoking (so long ago most of my friends don’t even realize I ever did smoke). I probably could give up alcohol (but I don’t wanna). I have given up (at various times) coffee, dairy, meat, MSG and trashy novels. But I always cave when it comes to giving up that lovely, fizzy, artificial, sweet, heavenly cola.
Back to snobby cooking… at home we are now trying to cook healthily. That means buying more organic, less processed, fresher and tastier. But Rosh Hashana is coming around the corner (very fast), and one of my favorite things to cook, serve and eat is a tender brisket, slow cooked in the crock pot, swimming with artificial yumminess.
The original recipe was given to me yonks ago by a co-worker, Lea Bruce. It’s mine now…
You don’t need a crock pot for this, you could simmer it over low heat on top of the stove, or roast it in a slow oven.
Crock Pot Brisket
- 2 kilos (4 pounds) brisket (in Israel I use a #5 cut)
- 1/2 cup mustard (plain yellow is best, don’t get too pretentious with the Dijon)
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons onion soup mix
- 2 cups Coca Cola (don’t use the diet stuff unless it’s made with Splenda, not aspartime)
- salt, pepper and paprika to taste
- Place the brisket in the crock pot. You may have to cut it in half to fit.
- Mix all the remaining ingredients together and pour over the brisket.
- Cook on high for about 8 hours, or overnight on low.
- Let it cool down a bit before slicing.
A second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.
— Samuel Johnson
Today Ju-boy and I have been married for five years. A mere seven years ago, if you had told me we would be celebrating this auspicious event, I would have asked you what did you smoke for breakfast? Seven years ago I was married to a different husband, living in a different part of the county and I intended to continue doing so for the rest of my life.
All together now: man plans, God laughs.
I have recently begun to think that one should count second marriages in dog years.
When Ju-boy stepped on the glass under the chuppah on that brilliant Friday morning five years ago the world changed for both of us. Instantly we each acquired four step-children, a step-dog, an elderly parent-in-law (sadly both are no longer with us), brand new siblings, nieces, nephews, friends, mortgages and baggage. Lots of baggage.
Enter my dog years theory. Of course, it goes without saying that we are happy together, thrilled at being able to find “The One” a second time. I’m not saying that each year drags on and feels like seven. What I am trying to say is that because of our (for want of a better word) previous lives, each year is now filled with seven years worth of life.
Warning: Ahhhhhhh moment approaching. Those allergic to corn please avert your eyes.
I am infinitely grateful that in this instance, God did laugh at my plans. I could not have found a better person to love, hate, adore, get up my nose… in short, spend the next 50 years of my life together with him. Which, if you follow my dog years theory, amounts to 350 years. Buckle your seat belt, Ju-boy, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
In my Chapter 2 I have been blessed with a husband who not only appreciates my cooking, but is an amazing cook in his own right. When we were dating he once returned from abroad bearing the gift of, no, not jewelry, no, not perfume, he proudly gave me a blowtorch. One friend asked me if I would now be breaking up with this wierd present giving geek, but those who know my fondness for kitchen toys could already predict a merging of cooking techniques in the near future.
Ju-boy, never one to embrace the mundane, even in the kitchen, uses my (now our) blow torch to brown his beef before roasting. It really works, the meat is moist, the juices sealed in wonderfully. The man can really cook a cow.
Torched Roast Beef
Here in the Miriyummy household we use the #6 cut of meat, falshe fillet. My buddies at israel-food told me that the American equivalent is called chuck calachel. Use whatever works best for you when making roast beef.
1 1/2 kilos (3 pounds) roasting beef
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown the meat by using a blow torch.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Roast at 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) for 45 minutes.
This produces what Ju-boy calls the perfect roast, moist, delicious and red all the way through.