In case you didn’t know, today is Tu B’Shevat.
It’s one of the lesser-known Jewish holidays. I mean, talking about this to the world at large makes me feel like Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were when she cooked a brisket and wished her non-Jewish-Robert Redford husband a “Happy Rosh Hashanah.”
But this is really a good holiday because it focuses on conservation, the earth, preservation. Some call this The New Year of Trees, because it traditionally begins a season of tree planting in Israel. But at the bottom of it all is the notion that we must take good care of the earth, not waste it or trample on it or abuse it to death.
Not a bad notion, that.
Also, Tu B’Shevat food is pretty good. You know there’s a food for every Jewish holiday. That’s just the way we are. There is no particular dish that’s traditional, like a Thanksgiving turkey. This holiday is mostly about fruit, fresh or dried. Anything goes, from chips with fruit salsa to lamb shanks with dried apricots to date-orange muffins.
Date-Orange muffins are wonderful for breakfast or snack but you can also use them as a bread for dinner.
4 tablespoons butter
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoons grated fresh orange rind
3/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
1 large egg
2/3 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9-10 muffin tins. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Stir in the orange rind. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, orange juice, egg and melted butter. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir to blend but do not mix vigorously. Fold in the dates and pecans. Spoon the dough into the muffin tins, filling them 2/3 full. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 9-10