The only reliable season in Israel is summer. Like an annoying relative, it arrives too early and invariably overstays its welcome. Israeli winter, on the other hand, plays it hard to get – showing up for a few days and then vanishing without a trace. Here I am, writing this post with December almost upon us and believe it or not, I‘m wearing a sleeveless dress. I can almost hear the envious sighs of my North American friends. I know I shouldn't be complaining – the weather is warm, sunny, perfect. But, frankly, I am fed up with warm, sunny and perfect. I miss the clouds and air so cool you can almost drink it and most of all I miss the rain. Rain that will fill up our depleted Sea of Galilee (a sorry sight after 5 straight years of drought) and color the grass green again. I want to wear a sweater and my lovely new boots, and I want to cook a wintry stew – one you eat with a spoon and a thick slab of bread.
A chef friend of mine once said ‘In Israel one looks for winter not in the sky but at the greengrocer's,’ So true! Winter is the best season for vegetables and the markets are bursting with goodies – fragrant fennel, sugar-sweet beets, freshly picked carrots, and – my personal favorites – leafy greens. I always end up buying more than I planned and cooking up a storm with all the bounty.
I’ll be making these three recipes, all based on seasonal produce, for our next Shabbat meal - come rain or shine.