Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays, celebrating the ancient Jews’ freedom from Egyptian slavery. It is a solemn and happy occasion.
And it is celebrated by Jews the world over as if they have Celiac disease, only without the gastrointestinal messiness.
As told in the Book of Exodus, the Egyptian pharoah was convinced by a bunch of plagues to free the Jews, who then left the country in such a hurry the bread they were preparing did not have time to rise. And so, in celebration of this freedom, Jews will refrain from eating leavened grains during the eight days that begin the night of March 25.
That means no bread, obviously, and nothing made of wheat. No pasta, no oats, no rye, no barley. Some Jews also avoid rice, corn, and more. The one exemption is matzah, which is made from flour that has been mixed with water for less than 18 minutes (that being how long it takes moistened flour to begin to ferment).
The secret is to eat well during the holiday without being able to eat most or all grains. Meanwhile, the first night — and for Orthodox Jews, the second night as well — is supposed to be celebrated with a real feast.
What to do?
Fortunately, the folks at Manischewitz have sent along a couple of helpful recipes good for Seders or, frankly, any night of the year.
Observant Jews, of course, will want to use Kosher for Passover ingredients whenever needed.
You can imagine the jokes. Actually, you will have to imagine the jokes, because this is a family newspaper and there are certain things we simply cannot print.
And what is the source of all this merriment? Whence comes this mirth?
Obviously — or at least it’s obvious to me — we are talking about the 12th annual Testicle Festival, sponsored by the American Legion in Deerfield, Mich.
You might know them as Rocky Mountain Oysters. Some chefs refer to them as “hanging steak.” Steers can only remember them fondly. Whatever you call them, they will be fried and sold at the festival, along with baked beans, cole slaw, and rolls.
It’s pretty much impossible to find out how much they are charging for these delicacies (which, by the way, really do taste good), but if you can’t quite stomach the thought of trying them, the Legion will also be serving fried chicken gizzards. Some people think these are the same thing, but actually gizzards help birds digest tough foods such as seeds.
The event takes place Saturday at the American Legion Hall, 105 W. River St. in downtown Deerfield. Dinner will be served from noon until they are sold out, but the bar will be open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Which can be helpful, when you consider what everyone will be eating.
Kids love to help in the garden, says the Good Earth Media Group, because they’re allowed to get dirty, they get some exercise, they learn where food comes from, and they develop a sense of responsibility.
Plus, they get to eat something they grew.
The group is encouraging parents to have their children grow strawberries, which they call “one of the easiest and best home garden fruits for kids to grow.”
They offer these tips: Be sure the crown is above soil level and the upper-most roots are ¼ inch below soil level. They should be spaced 14-18 inches apart in rows separated by 2-3 feet each.
If you don’t have that much space, you can plant them in containers, though these will require more water: once a day, or twice a day if it is hot. Strawberry pots work best and have room for several plants. Individual plants can be grown in a container as small as 10-12 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep. The pots need good drainage, and smaller pots need to be watered more often than larger ones.
Food and health
Want to learn how to eat healthfully?
The Andersons, along with the University of Toledo Medical Center (apparently, it was formerly known as the Medical College of Ohio, or so they say), is offering healthy food samplings from the UTMC dietitians. It’s part of the stores’ 2013 Wellness Seminars and Food Tours.
Dietitian Kate Ormiston will be at the Toledo store (4701 Talmadge Rd.) and John Pantel will be at the Maumee store (530 Illinois Ave.) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. If you miss them this week, they will also be at the respective stores at 7 p.m. on April 16 and May 21.
Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks before an event to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chicken with Braised Red Cabbage and Fennel
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 (3-pound) chicken, cut in eighths
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) bag shredded red cabbage
½ head fennel, shredded
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (12-ounce) package medium egg noodles or gluten-free
Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pan and brown for about 8 minutes on each side. Transfer to a bowl.
Add cabbage, fennel, broth, and thyme to the pan, mixing well. Bring to a boil. Return chicken to the pan; reduce the heat to a high simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Transfer to a serving platter. Serve over noodles (Kosher for Passover, if appropriate) and with applesauce, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings