Thursday, March 24, 2016


I’m taking a weekly Education for Ministry or EfM class with a group from my church. We meet in each other’s homes and share a potluck supper. Recently, we voted to share a Seder meal together and decided who would make what. I said, “Give me something complicated.” (Still smacking my head over that one.)

A Seder is a Jewish ritual service and ceremonial dinner that commemorates the Exodus from Egypt generally held on the first night of Passover (April 22 in 2016).

Many Christians share a Seder meal together during Holy Week to honor our religious ancestry and recreate what many believe to be the Passover meal served at the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.

Over the years, I’ve attended different types of Seders and even co-hosted one with my Jewish brother-in-law. I am grateful to have attended a most authentic one at the home of a family seeped in Judaism who were happy to share some recipe secrets.

One of the main points of a Seder meal is to travel back in time to when Moses led our people out of bondage, the story of which appears in Exodus in the Old Testament. 

Year One of EfM is the study of the Old Testament. So my homework this past week was to read all 150 Psalms and make homemade matzoh ball soup, from scratch, for the first time.

Somehow, mostly because I’ve always mixed up Psalms and Proverbs in my head, I read almost all of Proverbs before I realized I was reading the wrong section.


Anyway, as I promised to my mentors and classmates, this post counts as my reflection on the reading which I completed yesterday.

Aside from time ticking by so fast, I was actually delighted to read Proverbs and then Psalms. Proverbs are little bits of advice - like fortune cookies, only not manufactured in a fortune cookie factory. Psalms are songs that have been sung or spoken for generations upon generations in temples and churches.

I’ve sorted out the ones I believe speak to the spiritual journey. They are listed below in the order they appear in the Old Testament, Psalms first because the 150 Psalms appears before the 31 chapters of Proverbs. Remember, Psalms are song lyrics and Proverbs are sayings. (Silent "p" in Psalms.) I hope they speak to you as movingly as they spoke to me.

HOLY BIBLE: New Revised Standard Version

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 16:7

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy. 16:11

My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. 17:5

Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. 19:14

Make me to know your ways, O Lord: teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. 25:4-5

Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard the sound of my pleadings. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. 28:6-7

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. 34:18

The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. 34:22

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. 36:9

Commit your way to the Lord: trust in him, and he will act. 37:5

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by. 57:1

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 61:1-3

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. 91:11-12

When I thought, “My foot is slipping,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. 94:18-19

Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways. 119:2-3

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 119:105

You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. 139:3

If I take wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. 139:9-10

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 139:23-24

Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 143:8

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. 143:10

HOLY BIBLE: New Revised Standard Version

Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. 3:13-14

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but one who rejects a rebuke goes astray. 10:17

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility goes before honor. 15:33

The plans of the mind belong to mortals, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. 16:1

All one’s way may be pure in one’s own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. 16:2

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. 16:3

The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps. 16:9

Sometimes there is a way that seems to be right, but in the end it is the way to death. 16:25

Desire without knowledge is not good, and one who moves too hurriedly misses the way. 19:2

To get wisdom is to love oneself; to keep understanding is to prosper. 19:8

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom for the future. 19:20

The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established. 19:21

The righteous walk in integrity—happy are the children who follow them! 20:7

The hearing ear and the seeing eye—the Lord has made them both. 20:12

Do not remove the ancient landmark that your ancestors set up. 22:28

My child, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. 23:26

My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, you will find a future, and your hope will not be cut off. 24:13-14

Those who trust in their own wits are fools; but those who walk in wisdom come through safely. 28:26


So, I made the soup and my class and I enjoyed it during our Seder meal on Monday. It was fun trying to make it as authentic as possible. 

Last year, my friends taught me how to make Jewish brisket which I shared in my Visitation of St. Mary post. 

I also shared a recipe for potato latkes from the same cookbook I quote below in my André Trocmé, Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon and the Surrounding Communities post. I highly recommend this book of remarkable stories and authentic recipes of Holocaust survivors! (See below for my photos.)

Martha’s Excellent Matzoh Ball Soup
Contributed by Eric and Bruce Bomberg, chef/owners of Blue Ribbon restaurant, New York City, in RECIPES REMEMBERED: A CELEBRATION OF SURVIVAL
 by June Feiss Hersh

For the Broth:
1 whole hen (3-4 pounds)
4 ribs of celery with leaves (cleaned and chopped)
3 carrots (2-cleaned and chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
2 leeks (cleaned and chopped)
3 cloves garlic (whole)
4 sprigs flat parsley
3 sprigs dill
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Carrot rounds (blanched till soft)
Chopped dill
Salt and pepper

For the Matzoh Balls:
1 cup matzo meal
4 eggs
1 ounce rendered chicken fat (shmaltz)
½ ounce kosher salt
½ teaspoon double acting baking powder
2 ounces seltzer

Procedure Broth

Rub chicken with kosher salt inside and out. Let stand 15 minutes. Rinse WELL under cold water. Pat dry with paper towel. Put chicken in a large pot of cold water covering chicken by 3 inches. Bring to boil. Impurities will rise to the top, then skim off and discard. Add everything. Bring back to boil, skim and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer. After 45 minutes (or until chicken is cooked) remove chicken. Take meat off of bone (save meat for another meal), put bones back in pot. Cook for 1 hour more. Strain through a sieve and cheesecloth and let cool in refrigerator. When cool, fat will rise to the top and solidify, making it easy to remove.

Procedure Matzoh Balls

In large mixing bowl add all ingredients except seltzer, mix well. Add seltzer water and let mixture sit covered and refrigerated for 1 hour. Fill a large diameter pot ¾ full with water and bring to a simmer (190 to 200 degrees). With wet hands roll out 1-once balls. Lower balls into water. Cook until tender approximately 45-60 minutes (test with toothpick or do the famous chef Eric cut in half). Balls should be light and fluffy in the center. Let matzoh balls cool.

For Soup

Slice carrot into rounds. Chop 2 sprigs of dill. Bring broth to a boil with carrots and dill and matzoh balls. Season to taste. Serve when matzoh balls are warm in center.


Bonus Material:

Rule number one of cooking or any type of creating that you then present (including your hair and clothing choices) – never tell the flaws. Most people will only notice the flaws if you point them out. So don’t. I will do so now in the hope that I will save you from making the same mistakes I made:

Follow the recipe and use peppercorns instead of ground pepper, even if you have to go out and buy them. The trick of this liquid gold soup is to strain everything out from the broth except the flavor. Peppercorns are easier to strain out than tiny ground pepper.

Don’t run out of kosher salt. I use kosher salt in most of my cooking. You could say I use it religiously. I ran out in the middle of preparing this recipe and had to use sea salt instead. Okay, sea salt is biblical, so points for that. But it was, shhhhh, pale pink.

Purchase fresh spices. My bottle of bay leaves had a 2013 date code. My daughter said, “It’s fine, it’s a leaf. Use it.” So I used it.

Okay, here’s the worst one. When I separated the meat from the bone, I automatically threw away the skin. Because ewww, it’s so fatty. Oops, I needed that fat! Since I didn’t put the skin back in the pot to render along with the bones, the next morning I didn’t have anywhere near the correct amount of solidified chicken fat on top of the refrigerated broth to scrape together for the matzoh balls.

I used butter. Which was not keeping kosher to the printed recipe and was, in fact, literally, not kosher. Yeah, that’s a big one. On the other hand, I don’t have a kosher kitchen, I’m Christian, and I like butter.

On the other hand, I really wanted it to be authentic. So practice makes perfect. Right? Of course, right.


Debra Carter said...

As always, I enjoy your Saints and Recipes blog posts. I especially enjoyed reading your reflection on Psalms and Proverbs, as I am also in year 1 of EfM. Have a blessed Holy Week and a blessed and Happy Easter!

Maria Nolletti Ross said...

Thank you so much, Debra! You, too!