Rhubarb and Banana Crumble

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Fruit mixture:
500 g rhubarb, washed and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp cane sugar
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
Freshly grated ginger (optional)

Topping:
100 g plain flour
50 g cane sugar
50 g butter

Place rhubarb and sugar in a pan with 2 tablespoons of water and simmer until soft. Add sliced bananas. Drain off excess liquid if necessary and add the grated ginger. Place mixture in ovenproof dish.

In a bowl rub together flour, sugar and butter. Place crumble mixture on top of the fruit and bake at 180C/350F for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Panzanella (Italian Summer Salad)

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Panzanella is a salad of bread and tomatoes which is popular in Tuscany and the rest of central Italy.

2 cups bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (day-old Italian or French bread works best)
2 cups ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
10 basil leaves
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for topping
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the bread in a large salad bowl, add the tomatoes, and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, as the bread absorbs the juices from the tomatoes and softens.

Slice the basil leaves into thinly. Add the cucumbers, onions, and basil to the bowl, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently to mix.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. At the last minute, add in the vinegar and mix again. Drizzle with olive oil.

Optional: for extra flavor, rub the bowl with fresh garlic before you add the other ingredients.

Summer Reading

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In a recent post West Bank Mama writes about her summer reading and asks what is on her readers’ reading lists. Feeling that I wished to develop a few things about my own, I have decided to write this post as an answer.

Following a year (in the Jewish sense of the term) of little religious reading and a lot of frustration in my shul attendance and religious practice for a variety of reasons, I feel the need to interrogate my beliefs and observance. Therefore most of the books I plan to read over the summer are connected with Judaism one way or another.

One People, Two Worlds – a Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues that Divide Them. This is the book I am currently reading. It is quite thought-provoking even if I find myself uncomfortably sitting in between these two views of Judaism. I also admire that these two men took the time to answer each other via letters and explore their differences in an honest and open way.

After reading Rabbi Fink’s review of The Search for God at Harvard by Ari Goldman – an Orthodox Jew who spent a year at Harvard Divinity School – I wanted to read it for myself. Being a Jew in a mostly non-Jewish environment, I thought that his struggles would probably echo my own.

In the Narrow Places by Erica Brown, a book that examines the meaning of the three weeks looks quite interesting. It is no longer available in France but can be downloaded via Kindle.

This morning I received The Pages in Between by Erin Einhorn – a book Leora had suggested for a lesson plan on the Jews who emigrated to the USA after WW2. Another fellow-blogger Rayna-Eliana added her own recommendations and I will most certainly get a few more books on the topic.

Last but certainly not least, I plan to write a review of Sacks Rosh HaShana Mahzor.

10 Reasons To Visit Italy

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– It is a beautiful country. Whatever the sort of scenery you enjoy, you’ll find something to please you: there are mountains, hills, beaches and lakes.

– The museums and art exhibitions are well worth a visit. There are also palaces, gardens, arenas, Roman theaters, churches (for those of you who visit them) and beautiful town squares.

– It is sunny all summer. So if you are tired of your wet and damp climate, Italy is a fine choice.

– The coffee is wonderful.

– The prices are quite reasonable.

– A lot of Italians speak English; Besides if you have done French or Latin at school, there are lots of words you’ll recognize.

– Smoking is now forbidden in restaurants, bars and caffés.

– Despite what people say about Italy, it is clean.

– Because of the warm weather in summer, it is more or less possible to eat salads most of the time so, even if your level of kashrut is quite strict, you can manage in most places. I plan to write to write a post about keeping kosher while traveling and staying in self-catering places later during the week.

– Last, but not least, there is Internet access almost everywhere.