I don’t mention religion around these parts. I made you guys carrot cake pancakes for Easter morning and I am worried what I’ll do when the Reese’s eggs disappear for the rest of the year, but I most enjoy the Jewish holidays because they are filled with good memories and most importantly, good food. I wasn’t planning on sharing a recipe today – considering you probably already went to your one big Passover seder if you celebrated at all – but this blog also serves as a place for me to keep my favorite recipes to look back on, and I wasn’t going to let this gem disappear. I have a lot of love for Jews in all places, and we seem to find each other easily, so it’s easy to appreciate my religion for these connections.
I want to remember that this was the first year that I spent Passover with my second family, Noah’s. That I feel lucky that my beliefs align closely with the people I love and hold the closest, and that we got to spend Monday night reading through a modern Passover Haggadah (the text that leads you through the Passover seder) and talking about what we can take out of history. We cooked a lot of good food, too, and I love sharing that with people.
I want to remember that my dad, the gentile, forwarded me a Passover Menu listserv email from the Jewish Community Center in Portland letting me know “there is competition” for Passover-friendly recipes and that I need to step up my Jew thang around these parts. The hilarious part is that he got this recipe list in the first place, having never attended any events with the JCC. But it was a good reminder that these are holidays I’ve celebrated with family and friends over the years, whether in Portland, Washington DC, South America, or Denver.
I want to keep these feelings of community alive, because sometimes it’s easy to feel small and isolated- especially as I work to expand my social network here in Denver. It’s almost been a year since I moved, and while I never feel alone, there is the day here and there when I wish for more. It’s reminding myself that what I’ve built here, and elsewhere, is by being outgoing, compassionate, and humble, and by projecting kindness outwards. These are all things that I owe, in part, to my community growing up, and all the wonderful Jews and non-Jews who were a part of it.
Traditional Ashkenazi Charoset (makes 4 cups)
- 4 apples (Gala or Fuji)
- 1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 cup+ 2 tablespoons red wine
Charoset is a fruit and nut mixture eaten at Passover Seder. I prefer my version of the traditional Ashkenazi version, but there are also amazing Sephardic versions that incorporate cayenne pepper, dates, orange juice, etc. The texture is meant to represent mortar, or clay, that the Israelites used to make bricks in Ancient Egypt.
In a food processor or by hand, chop the nuts until they are in crumb sized pieces- some smaller, some bigger. Move them into the serving bowl. Next, finely dice apples with their skin and add them to the serving bowl (this can also be done by pulsing ~15 times in the food processor). Drizzle the apple and nut mixture with honey, cinnamon, ginger, and red wine. Toss and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. The mixture can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and I still love the taste on day 5.
Serve on matzoh and use any leftovers as a topping for ice cream or mixed into oatmeal. #wineforbreakfast!