Rosh Hashana

Reds of a Pomegranate

Pomegranate, watercolor on paper, 2008
Pomegranate, watercolor on paper, 2008

This is a re-post of my pomegranate painting I did last year. The pomegranate has many seeds; some say there are as many seeds in a pomegranate as there are mitzvot in the Torah (613). Well, years ago, my brother and I counted the seeds of a pomegranate one afternoon. We put the seeds in bowls spread across the table. Then I reported back to the teacher that indeed this pomegranate had way more than 613 seeds. His response: “Did the pomegranate grown in the Land of Israel?” I responded no, as it probably grew in California. Anyway, it is customary to eat a pomegranate on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. You can read more about the symbols for Rosh Hashana in last year’s post.

For more images with a little red or a little of red, visit Ruby Tuesday:

Squash in Watercolor

Three Squash, watercolor on paper
Three Squash, watercolor on paper

This coming week is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and it is traditional to put certain symbolic foods on the table (see my post from last year about the simanim). Yesterday I did this watercolor of three squashes (or simply ‘squash’ – looks like the plural can be with or without the ‘es’).

What to do with squash? One of my friends said she will make my squash into a delicious squash soup. Will she share the recipe? Hmm. I could chop up the zucchini and saute it with onions, fresh garden basil and a bit of tomato. The little pumpkin, I told my son, is too tiny for a jack o’ lantern, but I told him we could buy a bigger one for that purpose for Sukkot (holiday in three weeks). I will probably make a stuffed squash for Friday night.

triangle2Stuffed Squash Workshop

Weekly Review with Beet Watercolor

Beet Leaf, watercolor on paper, 2008
Beet Leaf, watercolor on paper, 2008

Images on My Blog

Gull over the water by the beach at Cape May, New Jersey   Chalfonte Hotel, Cape May, New Jersey (built in 1876)   Ghost of Cape May on Lafayette Street

Hibiscus Outside a Restaurant in Cape May, New Jersey   beachfront   southern_franklin

Thanks to everyone who commented on my new “Websites for Small Biz” blog project. This morning I tried to put a fancy magazine theme on the new blog; the fancy shmancy theme crashed the blog, so I had to delete it. I will be experimenting with themes for a while on that blog. There are lots of details to fine tune on a new blog.

Would love to get some comments on my Anne of Green Gables post (thanks, Mrs. S., for being #1!).

I am excited to have another guest blogger that I interviewed. She is from New Jersey, and she writes about: playgrounds! Come back on Wednesday to learn more.

Rosh Hashana is coming next week – for the Jewish New Year, Jews around the world are (supposed to be) preparing themselves spiritually for the day. I approach the upcoming holiday by exploring the simanim, the food symbols that we put on the table. Beets, pictured in the above watercolor, are one siman. More on the simanim next week.

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

These bloggers wrote memorials for 9/11:

Looking for recipes for the upcoming Jewish holidays? Visit:

Our Simanim Experience

Black-Eyed Bean Salad
Black-Eyed Bean Salad

I wanted to have all the simanim (food symbols) on the table for the first night of Rosh Hashana. I got really close. I just forgot the dates. Oooops. Only my husband missed them, as he’s the only one who likes dates.

In the past, I would say to my husband a few days before Rosh Hashana, now, what are the special foods we need to get? And he would mention maybe carrots and beets, and we would say a yehi ratzon on the carrots in the soup. When I was growing up, I don’t remember doing the yehi ratzon prayers at all. In fact, my father, who joined us for most of our Rosh Hashana meals, thought we should save the pomegranate for the new fruit, which one does on the second night of Rosh Hashana. My husband pointed out that we had eaten pomegranates within the last year, and one is really supposed to say the shehiyanu, the prayer for something new, on a fruit that one has not eaten in the past year.

So this year, because I did all this research on the simanim (thank you, readers, for your encouragement along the way as I posted various foods), I was the expert.

Back to the first night…so we have all these simanim on the table. With the help of Mimi’s Israeli Kitchen, I made the black-eyed beans (peas?) into a bean salad. She used: “seasoning it with a little chopped onion and a handful of mixed, chopped, cilantro, parsley, and celery tops. Lots of fresh lemon juice, to balance the earthy taste of the peas (which are really beans, but never mind) – salt and white pepper.”

Here’s my bean salad ingredients:

  • Black-eyed beans, soaked overnight and cooked in a crockpot
  • Chopped red onion
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Some olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

I was considering making a beet salad (Mimi made one: “some thinly sliced onion, salt, pepper, a little cumin, olive oil, a little sugar, and vinegar”), but as time didn’t allow (I was chaffeuring kids to play dates and art class in between cooking and doing a little of my web work), I just made steamed beets and cut them up.

What to do with leeks? Mimi posted a delicious leek tart (same post); I decided to incorporate the leeks with my chicken soup and with my roasted chicken with apples and mushrooms (I stuck one leek inside the chicken). I had more leeks than I needed, as I bought two sets; the first set of leeks didn’t look so good, and I had to go back to the supermarket on Monday morning anyway, so I bought a fresher set of leeks. The not-so-nice leeks are now resting in my compost pile which will hopefully be decomposed by next spring and will provide a new spot for growing tomatoes.

I made stuffed squash for the k’ra, the siman that can be a gourd, squash or pumpkin. I used Mimi’s stuffed artichoke post for inspiration on the stuffing. Hers had more ingredients; I had chopped meat, onion and spices in mine. I added chopped fresh ginger, too.

For the carrots, I went for simple. I liked the idea of cutting the carrots like coin-shapes.

Do you think I put a fish or lamb’s head on the table? I did the same thing I did last year, which was cut a piece of gefilte fish into the shape of a fish head and use a bit of cooked carrot for the eye.

Finally, I did one “joke” of a siman, which was to steam a “head” of broccoli.

The problem was, it was late, we were all tired, and my eldest son only liked the pomegranate. So after doing the apple dipped in honey (my daughter had us doing this one at every meal), we ate the pomegranate. It wasn’t nearly as juicy as ones I have eaten in the past. I bet the ones in ALN’s backyard taste better.

Next we ate the gefilte fish. Or five out of seven of us ate it. It turns out there is a special yehi ratzon for fish, separate from the “head and not the tail” one — “she’nif’reh v’nir’beh ki’dagim” (that we be fruitful and multiply like fish).

At this point, we just started eating the rest of the meal. Did we say any more of the yehi ratzons? I don’t know, but everything got eaten, at any rate. I enjoyed the meal, and it didn’t last nearly as long as a Pesach seder.

Watercolor: Pomegranate

One traditionally eats pomegranate on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, and thus I have been working on a watercolor of a pomegranate as part of my series on the food symbols of this holiday.

The prayer that one says, the yehi ratzon, is as follows:
“she’nirbeh ze’chu’yos k’rimon”
“…that our merits increase like (the seeds of) a pomegranate.”

 You can read more about the pomegranate in this Jewish Action article.

 About the watercolor painting process

Enjoy the watercolor pomegranate!

Watercolor: Carrot

Here’s my carrot watercolor. I used both watercolor and gouache.

Carrots are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashana, and a “yehi ratzon” is said on the carrots:
“Yehi ratzon milfanecha she-yikara roa gezar dinneinu, v’yikaru lfaneacha zakiyoteinu”
“May it be God’s will that the evil decrees against us be torn up and our
good merits be read out before You”.
The play on words here is the Hebrew word ‘gezer’, which sounds like gezairah, the Hebrew word for “decree.”

The same “yehi ratzon” will show up again for squash, as the Hebrew for squash is kra, which sounds a bit like the Hebrew for “tear up.”

I discovered that some display carrots in slices to resemble coins, as we hope for prosperity in the new year. You can read more about the history of these food symbols from the Rebbetzin’s Husband.

A traditional dish made with carrots that one might eat on Rosh Hashana is tzimmes. Some recipes (I haven’t tried these, no endorsements here):

I prefer mine plain (naturally sweet!) and raw. The tsimmes salad sounds best to me, though it seems a stretch to call that recipe ‘tsimmes’.

Finally, a request to all pomegranate lovers: if you find a link to a pomegranate photo that you like, please leave the link in a comment. I’m going to have to work from photos in order to paint a pomegranate.

Kids’ Books & Carrots

A few recommendations for Rosh Hashanah books for young children:

Children’s books are often a great way to learn a new topic. For example, when I was learning needlepoint about twelve years ago (I was pregnant with my second child and wanted to do something creative that required little clean up and one could sit), I found some nice books in the children’s section of the library.

Meanwhile, I am struggling over a carrot. Did you know that carrots’ leaves, the frilly part anyway, are far from the carrot top?

carrot with piece on top
carrot with piece on top, greenery is broken off top and placed on the carrot

carrot leaves winding around the carrot
carrot leaves winding around the carrot

My plan is to do a watercolor of the carrot. I have the paper set up, and the watercolor nearby. But first I need to decide on a composition. I’d like to have some greenery with my carrot, but I can’t decide on where to place it. I don’t want it on top, as in the first photo.

Note to pomegranate lovers: Not yet in season here. So I either have to work from a Google photo or copy this stamp. Not my ideal choice.