Reese Witherspoon’s Tomato-Corn Salad

Reese Witherspoon is not just a talented actress; she is also an accomplished cook. This recipe for Tomato-Corn Salad was created by her grandmother, Dorothea. (I learned how to cook and be a hostess from my grandmother as well. The older generations were amazing in the kitchen!)

I made a double batch of it for Sukkot and it got rave reviews from kids and adults. I love that it has fresh ingredients that are healthy and delicious. Also, it’s parve and pairs well with most any meal. 

As usual, I tweaked the recipe slightly. I’ll show mine and link to the original. To make Tomato-Corn salad, you will need:

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups cooked corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh herb leaves (I used parsley and chives.)

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, lime juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and shallot, then set aside for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil to make a dressing. 

Add to the dressing, the corn, tomatoes, green onions, and herbs. Toss well to combine. Can be served cold or room temperature (I prefer the latter.)

 

Do you have a yummy salad recipe to share?

Why I Invited an Atheist to my Sukkah (and You Should Too)

One of the things that I’m incredibly passionate about is reaching out to Unaffiliated members of the Jewish community. (In fact, my first blog post was titled “Unaffiliated by Default” and discussed that very subject.)

I truly believe that every Jew, no matter what their observance level or personal beliefs may be, has a place in the community and we need to welcome them. By welcoming I mean not judging, not being critical, and not trying to bully them into changing. 

One such person is a lady that I know from childhood. We attended Hebrew School together and were marginally friendly, but not close. We weren’t in touch for many years until she reconnected with me on Facebook. Our lives went in very different directions. She is a single mother, with two kids, by two different men, and neither one is in the picture. Her current boyfriend, who is a multiple-time felon, is literally covered head-to-toe in tattoos and is obviously not Jewish. 

I have invited her to my home at least half a dozen times to celebrate various Jewish holidays. She has always refused, stating that she is a Humanist, an Atheist, and doesn’t believe in a “Unicorn Fairy Tale Book” (meaning the Bible). She has not been inside a temple since her Bat Mitzvah, even for her brother’s funeral. 

While I don’t agree with any of her ideas or lifestyle choices, I refuse to give up on her and her kids. The holiday of Sukkot, which is a harvest festival, presented the perfect opportunity for more outreach. Because she is a vegetarian and into camping and outdoor stuff, I suggested very casually that she was welcome to stop by my Sukkah and share dinner with us. 

After considerable hemming and hawing, she agreed, provided there was no religion discussed and no praying. Without hesitation, I accommodated her wishes, not because it was my first choice (certainly not), but because her presence and the presence of her children was important—to me, to their identity, and to the Jewish People as a whole. 

Though I haven’t seen her in person for over 20 years, it wasn’t awkward at all. It was simply two families sharing a meal, during a holiday, without either side imposing their will on the other. I’m pretty sure it was her kids first experience with anything Jewish and definitely the boyfriend’s, so I wanted it to be low key and warm. 

With huge segments of the Jewish community inter-marrying or simply cutting themselves off from traditional Jewish institutions, I feel strongly that we must make allowances for these folks and meet them where they’re at. If we are negative or preachy, they will never come back! By being kind and understanding, and not shoving religion down their throat, they will (hopefully) find their way back into the fold. 

Do I hope that she will become religious again? Of course! Do I want her children to have a full and rich Jewish life? OMG, Yes! But that can only happen in stages, over time, with encouragement and positive reinforcement. 

Every member of the Jewish community is important. Every one should be valued and honored. It doesn’t matter if they live wrong, think wrong, whatever else is wrong, because one day they may get it right. We owe it them and to ourselves to make the effort. We can not afford to turn our backs on anyone!

That is why I invited an Atheist to my Sukkah and I think you should too. Don’t expect someone else to make the first move. Extend the hand of friendship, expecting nothing in return, and truly care about that person. That, above all, is what God commands us to do—love each other unconditionally. 

Fancy Toast for Break-the-Fast

Most of us will be breaking our fast with some challah or a bagel. Nothing wrong with those options; I enjoy both, but I like to make meals extra special on holidays. 

Since Yom Kippur is primarily a fast, I want something simple that I can put together in mere minutes that’s still nice. This idea for Fancy Toast, which I saw on Instagram, look delicious. 

How’s this for a goof-proof recipe:

Lightly toast bread, spread with peanut butter and honey, top with sliced bananas, pomegranate arils, and raw oats.

Truly couldn’t be easier—or look any yummier. The only part that requires effort is the pomegranate, so I would fix that ahead of time, and the rest should take less than 15 minutes to fix a dozen slices. 

A perfect addition to my traditional dairy buffet for Break-the-Fast

Ultimate Women’s Fiction Book Giveaway (4 Winners!)

There is no genre of fiction that I enjoy more than “Women’s Lit,” meaning literature that focuses on brave and empowered heroines, especially if these special characters are also Jewish. 

In the past, I have shared my enthusiasm for Susan Sofayov’s books and how much they mean to me. Her latest work, Jerusalem Stone, is the ultimate Women’s novel. Inspired by events and travels that took place in her own life, Susan has shaped them into a fictional story that’s remarkably rich, full, and moving.

Anyone who is at a crossroad in their life will identify with protagonist Julie Wasserman. Having lost her job at Lehman Brothers during the collapse, she is dealt an even worse blow when her brother is killed in a head-on collision. Because they are twins, Jack is not just a sibling, he’s her best friend, and life seems very bleak without him.

Consumed by grief, she moves back to their hometown (Pittsburgh) so she can visit Jack’s grave daily. With 6 free weeks before her new job begins, Julie makes a bold choice to visit Thailand because Jack had dreamed of going there.

A chance meeting on Patong Beach throws her for a loop, when an Israeli named Avi introduces himself with the following line: “Do you know that over two hundred and fifty people each year are killed by falling coconuts?”

Not looking for a romance, Julie is hesitant, but Avi’s good looks and charm win her over. They spend time getting to know each other and enjoy fun tourist adventures together all over Thailand, becoming so close he takes her back to Israel.

Believing that Jack would want her to keep mourning, she is torn between grief and romance. Can Avi—and a higher power—find a way to show her that true love does exist and that she definitely deserves it?

What I enjoy most about Susan’s books is how relatable the characters are. She creates real-acting people going through real-life stuff; it’s not always pretty and it’s never perfect, but it’s always so moving. (Julie reminds me so much of someone I know—in a good way.) Of course, I’m always a sucker for a rocky romance, too, and Julie and Avi are so right for each other, I found myself hurrying through the pages, praying they’d make it work.

Susan has generously offered multiple copies of Jerusalem Stone, so there will be FOUR winners, who will have their choice of a paperback or E-Book. This giveaway will be open until 10/13/18. Good luck to all!

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