Happy Tu B'Shevat, Everyone!'
Tu B'Shevat is the day that marks the beginning of the Jewish "New Year for Trees," and occurs every year on the 15th day of Shevat. It is during this time of year that the earliest-blooming trees in Israel awaken from their winter hibernation and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.
The day is celebrated by eating fruits (especially the kinds identified in the Torah: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates) and planting trees.
Celebrating any holiday in the Foreign Service always turns out a little differently than it would if you were back home, and this one was no exception.
In order to make any change to your home, you must first obtain permission from the GSO (General Service Officer), who must in turn obtain permission from the landlord. The US Government doesn't own these properties, and neither do the officers, after all. Permission was easily obtained, however, as you are quite unlikely to find a landlord that would not think it's a good idea to let the tenant improve the property. With the tree taken care of, it was time to move on to the yum-yums.
Going to the grocery store in a foreign country isn't as easy as it is in the United States. Well, perhaps that's a misconception. I suppose it's quite easy for the locals to go to the grocery store. The trouble is that things that are popular at home might not be popular in a foreign country, and product locations/availability will vary as a result.
And so it was that I found a delicious sounding recipe for a 15-fruit salad (to commemorate this 15th day of Shevat) and another for apricot chicken (which I must really love, because I just realized that I made a variation of it on Rosh Hashanah). And then I went to the store and couldn't find 15% of what I needed for the fruit salad. And so I improvised. And then I came home, and realized that I couldn't find the apricot chicken recipe. And so I improvised some more. Did a pretty darned good job, if I do say so myself.
It's funny, as I thought the first time I shared a recipe on this blog, it would be Mexican cuisine. I actually have that recipe all picked out and everything. But that's just not the way it was meant to be, I suppose.
The great thing about a fruit salad is that you can put whatever you want, in whatever quantity you desire, in it. Here's what sounded good to me:
2 Anjou Pears
1 Gala Apple
1 Granny Smith Apple
2 cups, Strawberries
2 handfuls, Green Grapes
2 handfuls, Red Grapes
1 can, Pineapple
1 cup, Blueberries
1/2 jar, Maraschino Cherries
Directions: Cut/Dice fruits into chunks, then hand-toss fruit in the following mixture:
1/2 cup, Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
2 tbs, Pineapple Juice (from can)
1 tbs, Maraschino Cherry juice (from jar)
Let salad marinate in refrigerator for one hour before serving.
Baked Apricot Chicken
1-2 lbs Chicken Breast
1 jar, Apricot Marmalade
1/2 cup, Sour Cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (175 degrees Celsius).
Combine sour cream and marmalade in a small bowl, mix until consistent. Add salt, pepper, and cinnamon to taste.
Place chicken breasts in a baking dish, cover with sauce. Cover in foil, bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, bake for another 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired.
Dinner is served!