Rosh Hashana

Chicken, Rice, Salsa in a Pot

farm chickens
Chickens at Howell Living History Farm in Mercer County, New Jersey

I was looking for a recipe I could make on Rosh Hashana (on holidays observant Jews are allowed to cook, whereas for Shabbat we do all the cooking in advance). I found a recipe called Shabbat in a Pot in the cookbook The Taste of Shabbos. It was delicious, so I repeated it and changed it a bit. Here is my new culinary creation (a chicken rice salsa combination – the new ingredient is salsa – the old recipe used tomato paste and soy sauce, if you prefer that combination).


  • 4 – 7 pieces of chicken
  • 1 zucchini – chopped
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 2 -3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 peeled and chopped carrot
  • 1 tsp. olive oil (or enough to coat the bottom of your pot)
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cup of water (maybe more)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of salsa
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Optional (but delicious if you have them): fresh parsley, sage and/or rosemary, chopped
  • Optional (if fresh is not available): dried rosemary and/or oregano

How to Make the Chicken Rice Salsa Dish

Use a pot with a somewhat wide bottom (mine was about 7 inches wide at the bottom and 5 inches tall). Heat the oil, then saute the vegetables (onions first, then garlic cloves, carrots and zucchini) until tender. Add the rice, then the chicken. Add salsa, pepper and any dried herbs. Cook for about one hour (until rice is cooked). In the last fifteen minutes, be sure to stir the bottom often, to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom and the rice is evenly cooked. Toward the end of the cooking, add fresh herbs if you have any. You may need to add a little more water if all has already been absorbed and the dish needs more cooking.

Warning: do not leave this dish once it is cooked on even medium heat for too long. I left it on low medium heat, and the bottom got burnt. If you are doing this right before Shabbat, you can do something called hatmana: wrap it in an old blanket and unwrap right before serving. This is a way of insulating your food without fire or electric heat. Or use a warming tray that provides only a little bit of heat.

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In other news, Pinterest kept sending me emails about signing up for a business account. I finally agreed out of curiosity. One benefit is you get statistics. So it turns out that my most popular pin last month on Pinterest with a url is Rosh Hashana Recipes. I doubt this will help much with my business (I build small business websites), but it is interesting to note what gets re-pinned and increases traffic.

We have one more set of holidays (Shemini Atzeret/Simhat Torah, where we dance with the Torah); a week or two after those holidays, I plan to resume Websites for Small Biz blogging (with an upcoming section on category pages). As for today – it is still Sukkot, so Moadim L’Simcha to all those who celebrate.

Dates – Symbol for Rosh Hashana

dates in front of palm tree, watercolor on paper
dates in front of palm tree, watercolor on paper, 2011 by Leora Wenger

Dates are one of the simanim for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

Here’s what one says on the siman (symbol) of the date:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ שׂוֹנְאֵינוּ

May it be your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers,
that those who hate us be ended
(yitamu – from tamar, dates in Aramaic)

Would you go on a date with a girl named Tamar? Tamar is the Hebrew word for date, so you can play with words and come up with some funny phrases.

If you are getting ready for Rosh Hashana, you may want to read this post:
Symbols for Sweet New Year – the Simanim to double check if you got everything you need.

Rosh Hashana Recipes

apples on the ground at a farm in New Jersey
Last week we visited a farm and bought way too many apples. So anyone have any good apple recipe ideas? I’ve already made apple cake (I skipped the nuts), and I plan to make apple pie. I cooked some apples with raspberries for my daughter last week when she wasn’t feeling well (no added sugar – I’ve been convincing her sugar is no good for the healing process).

Cooking Out of the Box hosted Kosher Cooking Carnival – the Holidays are Coming. Some links are Rosh Hashana recipes. I’m drawn to Hannah’s Rosh Hashanah Tips and Recipes, and I see one for stuffed cabbage. Maybe for Sukkot.

Here’s a link to Flamingo Musings’ brisket. She soaks hers in coffee. I’ve done wine in the past. My kids don’t like when I use a lot of cloves. Hers has no cloves. It does have garlic cloves. That would work for them.

I’m planning to make a Moroccan carrot salad – the kind where you steam the carrots briefly, then add the spices and bits of parsley at the end. My middle son said he is mostly likely to eat the simanim for carrots if the carrots are cooked, so I’ll leave some unspiced in the hopes our children will join us for this one.

I saw a recipe for quinoa salad among Rosh Hashana recipes in a local paper – it had pomegranate seeds and nuts. I will skip the nuts, as it is our family custom not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashana. Do you eschew nuts for this holiday, or are you like some of my friends who poo poo this custom as superstition or plain false?

Zucchini (or squash or gourds) are one of the simanim. Ordinarily, I would cook the zucchini (we have some new baby zucchini growing in front of our house, just in time for the holiday) with onions, but it seems more appropriate to skip the onions for the simanim dish. I will add some spices to some sauteed zucchini. No point in trying to get my kids to eat zucchini unless disguised in a cake.

More side dish ideas: as a friend who is a vegetarian will come one of the days (when I am serving meat), I will consider making kasha with mushrooms and onions. Maybe potato salad, too – that could be a side dish at any meal.

Honey cake seems like a natural for this holiday. I printed Ilana-Davita’s honey cake and Jewaicious Honey Cake.

Finally, I might try Mrs. S.’s blondies. At first, I was tempted in my mind to add blueberries (before carefully reading the recipe and realizing this would be a vulgar addition). But as this is really for my kids, chocolate chips will remain the only flavoring.

So, what’s cooking at your house?

Review with Many Mums

mums with pink buds
Mums with pink buds at a farm in New Jersey

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

What is Elul?

Elul: shofar, ram's horn blown during Elul and on Rosh Hashana and at Yom Kippur's end
Elul: Shofar, ram's horn blown during Elul and on Rosh Hashana and at Yom Kippur's end

The Jewish month of Elul started last week, and it is a special month in the Jewish calendar.

Shofar in Elul

One does not have have to wait for Rosh Hashana to hear the shofar. Every morning (except on Shabbat) it is blown in the synagogue. If you are fortunate to attend a Jewish day school, you may hear it blown in school. In Elul shofar is an important reminder and symbol.

Repentance in Elul

Elul is known as a month of repentance (in Hebrew: tshuva – more explanation of tshuva would require a whole book). Introspection and reconciliation are themes of this period. For example, I like how the family of Ima 2 Seven is using this as a time to be kind (one would hope the trait will continue beyond Elul).

Music in Elul

What would a Jewish month be without some music to accompany the spirituality and preparation? Mrs. S. has some music for the soul. If you want to get ready for Rosh Hashana, enjoy Oked HaNe’kad. Rabbi Phyllis has a Debbie Friedman song and a Baal Shem Tov story as part of #BlogElul.

Prayer in Elul

Psalm 27 is added to daily prayers, as written in Gear Up for Tishri: Read Psalm 27, Psalm 27: the Beginnning, Psalm 27 and Evil-Doers and Psalm 27 and Responsibility by Ilana-Davita.

Mrs. S. reminds us: “Sephardim begin reciting Slichot (the penitential prayers) at the start of the month. Ashkenazim wait until closer to Rosh Hashanah.”

Food in Elul

Ah, finally, you say. Some are already prepping for the holidays ahead (see challot by G6). I’m trying to remember the simanim or symbolic foods to display on the Rosh Hashana table:

carrot watercolor squashes watercolor
leek watercolor Pomegranate, watercolor on paper, 2008 apples
Beet Leaf, watercolor on paper, 2008 bean salad  dates in front of palm tree, watercolor on paper

What do you think of as signifying Elul?

Review with Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial in August 2010
Lincoln Memorial in August 2010

Last year: Sephardi Piyut of Rosh Hashana
Remembering: September 11, 2008

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

Symbols for Sweet New Year

Click on each thumbnail to find out more about the siman (symbol) of food that is eaten the first night of Rosh Hashana:
carrot watercolor squashes watercolor
leek  apples
Beet Leaf, watercolor on paper, 2008 bean salad   dates in front of palm tree, watercolor on paper

Simanim for Rosh Hashana

Some people use the head of a lamb (that we be like the head and not as the tail). I now have a post on dates. And I may put out celery, for a raise in salary. Past post of simanim details here.

Here is a post from G6 of new fruit for the 2nd night of Rosh Hashana. I bought a sabra, a papaya, some fresh figs and a starfruit. The idea is you need a fruit that you haven’t eaten all year, so you can make the blessing called “shehiyanu.”

Did you get everything you need?

Review with Carrot Watercolor

carrot watercolor
Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is in less than one month. So I started looking at past posts I wrote about the holiday. I have an idea for a new way to present the simanim (symbols) – I plan to post it next week.

On My Blog

mugs at Lazy Bean Cafe Pure Turkish Emery three men outside Friede Woolens
doorway to a building in Batsto Village dinner at Longstreet Farm: ham, bread, asparagus, blue china butterfly
Agnon, Joyce, Woolf and Kafka
What Happens When You Raise Taxes

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

I read Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali – she has led a difficult life, and what she has to say is not easy to hear, but she is a good writer and her story is gripping. I read the book in only two days. I can’t say I agree with her conclusions, but her story of growing up in Somalia, Kenya and Saudi Arabia, then running away to Holland because she doesn’t want to marry the man her father has chosen for her is quite a tale. I amazed that she has made it as far as she has in life (at one point, she was a member of Dutch Parliament; now she is a fellow at American Enterprise Institute).

Sweet Vegetarian Stew

Adapted from Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World by Gil Marks
vegetarian stew
Gil Marks calls this “Moroccan Vegetable Stew for Couscous.” I used white beans and brown rice, and I left out the cabbage. I also changed the amounts and cooked it all in a crockpot. Still delicious!


  • 6 cups vegetable stock (I used water – I’m not one to make stock for a stew)
  • 12-16 baby carrots (or 6 big carrots, cut up)
  • 1 large onion, sauteed (the original recipe says 3 onions and doesn’t say sautee)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 stick of cinnamon (original recipe said 3)
  • 1 Tbsp. turmeric (the original recipe said only 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut up into pieces (or use butternut squash)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 2 turnips, peeled and quartered (they look like potatoes in the finished dish)
  • 3 zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups cooked beans (original recipe said chickpeas – I used white Northern beans)

If you use dried beans, soak the beans overnight the night before you prepare the recipe. If you use a can of beans, add the can towards the end of the recipe. Cook the beans in your crockpot for a few hours until soft. Add carrots, sauteed onions, sweet potatoes and turnips and cook for another hour in the crockpot. Add spices, the zucchini and cooked beans (if you used canned beans – if you started with dried beans, they should already be in their cooking). Cook until zucchini is tender, about twenty minutes. Sprinkle the parsley on top at the end.

The original recipe says serve on couscous, but I served it on brown rice. Drizzle the liquid on top like it’s gravy.

Gil Marks suggests this stew as a dish to serve on Rosh Hashana (yes, the Jewish New Year is the next holiday on the Jewish calendar, unless you count Tu B’Av). I think of it as a summer stew, because you can get delightful fresh garden vegetables to include in the stew at this time of year.

Sephardi Piyut of Rosh Hashana

Many of the piyutim (liturgical songs) that we sing at Congregation Etz Ahaim on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are beautiful, memorable melodies, but one that stands out in particular is Et Sha’arei Ratzon (see the piyut on Sefaria). The poem was written by R. Yehuda ben Shmuel Ibn Abbas in the 12th century; it is a haunting retelling of the Akeida, the story in which Avraham brings his son Isaac as a sacrifice and then he is stopped by an angel. The repeated verse that most remember is “Oked veHanekad VeHamizbeach” – “the binder, the bound, and the altar.” Here is Avraham the binder bringing his son the bound on the altar – a scary, hard to explain, difficult to comprehend episode in the Torah. It seems like we too on Rosh Hashana are coming before God; like for Avraham, it is the “Et Sha’arei Ratzon” – the time of the gates of grace or desire. The Akeida is part of the Torah reading for Rosh Hashana.

My husband explained some of the midrashim of this song. The first is a lie that Avraham tells Sarah, that he is taking Yitzhak (Isaac), her beloved only son, to study Torah. In the next, Avraham, Yitzhak (Isaac) and his servants are approaching the mountain, but at some point the servants are told to stay behind because, according the English translation in the Sephardi siddur, they are not “spiritually worthy.” The Hebrew, however, calls them Hamor (may possibly be translated as donkey). When Isaac is taken to be sacrificed, he worries about his mother Sarah, how she will weep for him. The angels ask that Isaac be spared, that there shouldn’t be a world without a moon (i.e., without Isaac, who is compared to the moon).

The poet, who starts the poem with gates of “ratzon” (desire?) ends with gates of “rahamim” (pity, mercy) and a call for salvation.

Et Sha’arei Ratzon (Oked Vehanekad), sung at Congregation Etz Ahaim in Highland Park, New Jersey, on Rosh Hashana, is a poem written by R. Yehuda ben Shmuel Ibn Abbas in the 12th century; it is a retelling of the sacrifice of Isaac.