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Friday, September 13, 2013

Facebook Forgiveness…Yom Kippur in the Electronic Age

I thought about writing this in my Facebook status box this morning…To all those I have wronged, I’m sorry.  Then, I thought, how disingenuous and trite that sounded.   As a kid, I used to nervously think about Yom Kippur and all its implications. Of course, the YK liturgy usually compounded my anxiety with frightening descriptions of angels trembling, the book of life, who shall live and who shall die.  I wasn’t paralyzed with fear, mind you, but I took the forgiveness aspect of it rather seriously.  I actually asked my family members and friends for forgiveness without the crutch of Facebook, Twitter, email, or Instagram.  Ironically, the more technology we acquire to stay in touch, the less we are able to reach out personally and connect as humans, as we did back in the “stone ages” before all these technological marvels were a reality.

Admittedly, I too have fallen into the ease of connecting via the computer.  I appreciate the fact that I am now in touch or reunited with those I grew up with, or befriended along the timeline of my life. I don’t really need to ask them for forgiveness, because if I did something that long ago, we have either forgotten it, or, they’re simply not on my friend list.

So, why do I feel compelled to put out a blanket “I’m sorry” status for all of the 329 not my closest and personal friends to see?  Why don’t I just get on the phone or send a personal message?  Is it that I like to see my little like button rack up the number of hits I get?  Perhaps I was unaware that I wronged someone and this easily gets me off the hook?   Or, maybe it’s more altruistic in that it technically provides someone with an open opportunity to ask ME for forgiveness. Hmmm. 
It seems that seeking or granting forgiveness is a prickly challenge. It requires forethought, emotional energy, soul searching and diplomatic wordsmithing.  It’s an intensely busy day at the office for our moral consciences and I hate it.  I despise conflict; moreover, I’m twitchy with that murky feeling of unknowingly hurting another person.  Yet, the feelings that expose and humble us are the true grit and guts of Yom Kippur; I hate grit and guts.  Facebook forgiveness seems like a good compromise, certainly much simpler and more time efficient than defying convention and going old school with the archaic                             t-e-l-e-p-h-o-n-e.   
I tried to relate this message to my daughter who is close to Bat Mitzvah and for the last week has been referring to Yom Kippur as “the day of evil.” 

            “Why do you call it that?” I ask.
“I hate that everyone is sad.”  I try to make her understand that it’s not a sad holiday per se, like Tisha B’av, rather, it’s contemplative.  She wasn’t buying it.
 “ I hate (emphasis on the hate) that you get a really bad headache from lack of coffee, and then you’re grumpy.” 

 “I’m not grumpy.” I insist.  She crosses her arms, taps her foot along with that signature twelve-year old bravado smirk.  

“Okay, I may get a little grumpy.”  I admit.  “But I’m not sad.” 

“So what would you call it?” She asks. 

“I would call it…uncomfortable, but not because I can’t have coffee.  It’s uncomfortable because I’m forced to look inside myself.  I need to face the flaws and try to rummage up any remaining dormant strength I have left in my reserves to fix it, whether the issue is with myself or somebody else.”
           “Well, wouldn’t it be easier to do that with a cup of coffee?”  She says wryly.
           “Honey, forgiveness isn’t supposed to be easy.” I responded.
In the end, I decided to drop the Facebook forgiveness thing and leave my status updates to all things mundane and/or quirky.  I guess there was a part of me that felt that forgiveness shouldn’t be demoted to a paltry and mediocre update.  Instead, I am trying very hard to upgrade forgiveness to a deeper, more personal level, which isn’t always easy to do, especially without coffee.


Monday, September 9, 2013

My Big Fat Vegetarian, Carnivorous, Food Allergy/Cholesterol Free and Low Sodium Rosh Hashanah

The fact that Rosh Hashanah was so close to Labor day last week left me in a bit of a panic.  I'm not sure, but I think I heard my leather boots sniffling in the back of my closet, waiting to be called into high-holiday action. Yet, imagine their shock when I picked out something (gasp) sleeveless, not to mention that I went to high holiday services without... panty hose...(Please mom, don't judge me) still relying on my fading summer tan to complete my late summer/early fall ensemble.
Clearly, there was a majority of women who followed suit, though, I did spot one boot wearing maverick.  Sure, it was chilly at 6 a.m., but is that enough to justify wearing boots especially when she walked in the same time as me (albeit late at 10:30) and the thermomemter was registering at  least 80 degrees? No matter.
Holiday meals and guests at my house, are another thing that puts me in a tizzy. Due to food allergies, I make myself responsible for all the food, because it cuts down on anxiety with pot luck dinner as I know that every item on the table is safe. I usually make all the desserts, sides, veggies, etc... Though, being a former vegetarian, I do relegate the turkey to my girlfriend. I know nothing about cooking no turkeys. I stick to meatballs.  In fact, I stick to all meat without bones, skin, or goopy stuff. If it looks like an animal in its original form, I don't cook it. She brings the bird, it works well for us. Other than that, I ask people to bring wine, but no other food.

At my table, there are very different types of eaters. My daughter is vegetarian while my son doesn't eat meat unless it's a hot dog (which is questionable as meat anyway).  He  is also severely allergic to all things nuts and eggs.  One guest needs low-no cholesterol and recently my father in law who had open heart surgery now requires low sodium. Oy. I understand various eating concerns as we live with it on a regular basis and like me, I don't like to pester the host.  Because I understand the issue, I go out of my way to make my guests feel comfortable insuring that there will be food available and that they don't have to bring their own stash.

I pretty much have the veggie thing down as my daughter is thrilled with sides, grains and challah. The egg-free and the cholesterol thing work together simultaneously.  Sure, a stick of non-hydrogentated margarine may contain some cholesterol, but I didn't really use it that much.

So now we get to low sodium....HMMMPHH.  I have to admit, this posed a bit of a dilemma.  To say that I was uneducated on the matter was an understatement because I had no clue as to how much sodium some of the items at my dinner table  actually contained.  Let's take my signature side dish..carrot mousse.  This dish is soooo good. In fact, it was written up in the Washington Food Blog a few years back. 
Feeling rather smug that I could deliciously provide food for my father in law without sacrificing taste, I figured this dish was fine because it didnt require any additional table salt. However, somewhere during my clueless cooking and preparation, it dawned on my that while added salt wasn't an issue, sodium hidden in the individual ingredients might be. Uh oh...this was certainly a game changer. I pulled out my little calculator and began tallying up the points on the sodium scale. 
Turns out, one 8x8 pan of carrot mousse contains...drumroll please....965 milligrams of sodium!!! What? Seriously? When Lot's wife turned around and became a pillar of salt, I think it was 965 milligrams! Forget my trip to the Dead Sea, I can just pour 965 milligrams of salt into my tub and float in the privacy of my own home.  How did I not know this?
Then I started to investigate all the other dishes. Meatballs, roasted veggies, potatoes, bread pudding, mandelbread, honey cake, apple cake, carrot cake..salt, salt, salt. I'm thirsty just talking about it and the virtual blood pressure cuff is cutting off my supply.  Thankfully, the challah was the lowest salt content of all.
Slowly, meticulously I worked my way through each dish and found an alternative, though, I decided that the desserts needed the salt to truly balance out the dish. Even with the salt, and in limited quantity, it wouldn't tip the scale.
I switched the meatballs to turkey, and took out the salt replacing it with other spices. I  made a separate baking pan of roasted veggies and potatoes with Mrs. Dash and quite honestly, I could have made it that way for everyone as they tasted great. Mrs. Dash and I have become quite close these past few days.
Bread pudding... difficult. Whole wheat bread per slice has 180 mg.  A bread pudding requires a loaf...yikes.  I left it as something to eat in moderation. A scoop perhaps.
Mousse..the main offender. I removed the tofu (120 mg) and replaced it with Ener-G egg replacer. Took out the non-hydrogenated margarine (520 mg) and replaced it with 1/3 cup canola oil and 2 TBSP applesauce.  The carrots have natural sodium (325 mg) but it is called carrot mousse, so I didn't replace those. I brought the total count to roughly 325 mg. in an 8x8 pan give or take a few mg's.  Phew.

Holidays and food are supposed to be symbiotic, therefore I find it a mission and definitely a labor of love to be able to provide no matter the restriction. Kids and adults alike with food restrictions often feel like the awkward ones on the bleachers at the school dance, watching everyone else have a good time. 

Nevertheless, if a diet conscious, salt lovin', recovering bake-o-phobe like me can make it happen....anyone can.