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My 10 Minute Tu Bishvat Centerpiece- Easy and Beautiful by The Jewish Hostess

DIY, Tu Bishvat Recipes and Table Settings, tu bishvat table settings

My 10 Minute Tu Bishvat Centerpiece- Easy and Beautiful by The Jewish Hostess

5 Comments 05 December 2011

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This Shabbat,when my daughter’s friend took a double take at my colorful fruit and flower dining room centerpiece, my daughter explained, “Yeah, my mom is The Jewish  Hostess…. check out our Tu Bishvat table.”

“WOW- WHEN IS TU BISHVAT  YOUR MOTHER IS SO CUTE! HOW COOL!” Was her friend Danielle’s response.

Tu Bishvat is a celebration of the new trees and fruits of the land of Israel. It has loosely evolved into a Jewish Earth Day and celebration of nature. Its a moment to reflect upon the blessings of our natural surroundings as many of us race through our hectic city lives.

For many years on Tu Bishvat, my kids would come home with a crafty Tu Bishvat  green tree made of tissue paper, I’d buy some dried fruits pre-mixed on a plate, we would say the Shiv’ah minim berachot,  and hallelujah lets get ready for Purim.

I’ve recently discovered that Tu Bishvat was an exciting holiday for kids way back in Syria, which was my grandparents home town. Actually, Tu Bishvat was even more exciting than Purim  in which the adults celebrated the Megillah holiday by passing around the typical Syrian pastries to fellow neighbors and friends.

In Syria, weeks before Tu Bishvat arrived, the older women and mothers would gather beautiful fabrics and start sewing velvet bags with a drawstring for their excited children. Within these bags the adults would gather exotic fruits such as kiwi, pineapple, peaches, and plums  that the children would have  to savor on the holiday of Tu Bishvat. Each child would have a unique  bag that they would bring to school on Tu Bishvat and show off  and trade their tropical treasures with their friends. The kids would sleep with the bag tied to their bed post for several weeks until the seemingly magical bagful of  sweet holiday memories was empty. Many of our Syrian Jewish community members who have recently arrived from Syria have saved their hand sewn Tu Bishvat bags till today.

As our many of us barely know how to sew, and thankfully we  only need to go to the corner grocery store to pick up a pineapple, this tradition has fallen by the wayside. That doesn’t  mean that we shouldn’t find ways to make this Jewish holiday meaningful and memorable in our own way.

This year, my family agreed  to set our Shabbat table several days before Tu Bishvat arrived. As my kids are getting into my Jewish Hostess table settings, each one pitched in with ideas. This past Thursday I decided to  take  a trip into NYC with the older kids to check out the flower market on 28 Street between 6 and 7th. Walking into each store is another adventure, and I knew I couldn’t go wrong purchasing any of the beautiful florals that abound on that wonderful street.

Looking at my centerpiece, I could really tell you that I sat with dirt, a shovel and wood crates and assembled these beautiful hyacinth and grass plants all by myself, but I have to be honest with you. They were sitting right there on the sidewalk outside the store, all perfect and ready to go. My daughters and I chose 2 grass plants ($15 each) that were planted into wood crates, and 2 hyacinth plants(about $20 each). We decided that we would figure out how we would set the table later on. I bargained a little, asked the guy to re-pot some of the plants that were a little wilty looking, paid, got the car from the parking lot, pulled up, and he happily put the plants into the back seat. Check out Paradise Plants website HERE. 

On Friday morning, I was so excited to set my table, I almost forgot to cook for Shabbat. I tried several variations, but in less than 10 minutes, I placed the 2 grass boxes one in front of the other and perched a glass cake plate in the middle atop the wood edges of the crates. The whole family mounded some pretty grapes, kumquats, pears, etc.in the center. (Ouri’s Fruit  on Avenue U in Brooklyn is getting in their exotic fruits for Tu Bishvat this week, so I will make another trip over there on Monday.) I then placed the 2 gorgeous smelling hyacinth plants on either side.

As for the  hot pink flowers on my lime green napkins…… although I was contemplating buying up all of these gorgeous artificial flowers myself, I have decided to share this great find with my Jewish Hostesses. They were about $2. each, and you can find them about 3 or 4 stores to the left of Paradise Plants. (I’m sorry, I threw out their business card!)

Love these hot pink flowers!

I’m so glad that I set the table and photographed it before my husband came home because as soon as he entered the house, he started sneezing and coughing, claimed a migraine, and blamed his brand new allergy on my poor perfumed hyacinth plants. Within minutes my plants were banished to the outside freezing windowsill, so if any of you know my cellphone, then just text me and I will give you permission to snatch them from  my front porch!

My Banished Hyacinth Plants

In case you were wondering, Here is my new centerpiece sans the hyacinth plants:

Send in your Tu Bishvat centerpiece or  new fruit arrangement idea for a chance to win Paula Pryke’s Gorgeous New Book, Decorating with Flowers!
Decorating with Flowers: Classic and Contemporary Arrangements

Take your pics- an iPhone works the best! and just click here to email me!

 

This year, we will have a Tu Bishvat Seudah, make Tu Bishvat Sangria, Almond Date Truffles, Shiva Minim Wheatberry Salad, talk about the environment and the earth, and enjoy the taste of beautiful springtime in the midst of a mid-winter February here in NYC.

I hope you will too!

I’ve also compiled a list of  10 EASY AND GREAT THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS ON TU BISHVAT. Check it out HERE.

To learn more about the UNFORGETTABLE holiday of Tu Bishvat, CLICK HERE.

Happy Tu Bishvat! Marlene M.

 

 

 

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Almond Date Truffles for Tu B’shvat

kosher dessert recipes, kosher pareve recipes, kosher recipes

Almond Date Truffles for Tu B’shvat

9 Comments 01 January 2011

Don’t miss out on Tu B’shvat this year! We traditionally celebrate this day by eating fruits of the seven species from  Israel that is praised in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives, and dates. Ancient Sepharadic Jews originated  the idea of a  Tu B’shvat seder, where participants enjoy munching on a variety of fruits and nuts, drinking wine, and discussing the day’s spiritual and mystical meanings.

Dates are a great Tu B’shvat ingredient for two reasons: first, they are one of the seven species.  Second, they are really delicious – available fresh in season and dried year-round, dates are super sweet and almost candy-like.  They are great by themselves or added to a variety of sweet or savory dishes.

Almonds, another one of the “Tu B’shvat seven”, are loaded with calcium and protein.  Traditional truffles are made of chocolate and heavy cream – yes, they taste great, but they’re far from healthy.  This modern spin on truffles  are a rich, sweet, and a wonderfully healthy alternative to their chocolatey counterpart. Encourage your kids to try these healthy treats and remind them of the the Tu B’shvat holiday. I will be serving them for Shabbat dessert this week so that we can get a head start on Tu B’shvat, which begins on Thursday, January 20, 2011. Enjoy! Marlene

Kosher Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dried dates
  • 1 cup chopped  almonds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder and/or ground walnuts to coat (optional)

Directions for making this Kosher Recipe

  1. Grind almond in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant  and slightly darker.
  2. Place the dates, almonds, cocoa powder, and honey in a food processor.  Pulse the processor until the mixture comes together to form a ball.
  3. Form cherry-sized balls out of the mixture and roll them in cocoa powder , ground almonds, or coconut to coat.  Enjoy them right away or store them in the fridge for later!
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My Caleb Can-do Attitude

kosher recipes

My Caleb Can-do Attitude

2 Comments 02 June 2010

A Parasha Ponder by Renee Beyda

I recently attended  a graphic arts class, and on my first day, I was impressed with the many glossy pictures of computer rendered apples that were displayed along the walls. When the professor informed the class that by the end of the program, our apples would replace the others, I began to panic. These “Galas” were terrific! The shapes were perfectly smooth, the depth on each was tangible, and the colors were vibrant and well placed.

My sister-in-law heard my fear and encouraged me with a clear and simple line. “If people less able than you can do it, you can do it!” I repeated this phrase to myself over and over again, wearing it like a shield against the self-doubt and discouragement I naturally felt throughout that challenging course. Now, I don’t mean to brag, but honest to G-d, after lots of hard work, I can proudly say, that in the end, my apple was the finest in my class! This inspiring motto proved to be an effective tool for success, a necessary engine in an intimidating world.

The account in this week’s upcoming Parasha, Parasha Shelah, reminded me of this lesson. Moshe sent men to scout out the land of Israel and they returned with a defeated attitude, announcing that the people dwelling on the land were too strong for the children of Israel to conquer. One of the scouts, Caleb, tried to counter the negativity. He said, “We can indeed go up and take possession of it, for we are truly able to do so.” But the other men continued their pessimism and a great fuss arose amongst the masses.  Hashem got angry at the people for not trusting Him and declared that of the scouts, only Caleb, who had a different attitude, will enter and inherit the land.

Perhaps the Bible is trying to tell us that not only is faith in Hashem an important tool for success, but being positive is as well. I believe the Torah is trying to convey that if we gird ourselves with a Caleb can-do attitude and perhaps use talking tools that move us over obstacles, we and our families can conquer giants wherever they may be.

Amen!

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