Blogging Ellul: What's your recipe?

Several times recently I've been asked if I can run a session on how to balance a crazy busy work life and Jewish life, particularly shabbat. This post is dedicated to all of those who have asked, and those who haven't. Everyone finds different ways of managing, from those I used to see saying their morning prayers on the underground (not a spiritual exercise that would work for me I'm afraid) to using shabbat to treat oneself to pre- made food or the opposite; cooking until 11pm or at 7am before shabbat. So many of us seem to constantly struggle between our work obligations and the way we'd like to live our religious lives, whatever faith that is. Perhaps it is for some a matter of priorities. For many of us a difficulty with saying no and therefore a need to squeeze ever more in! The question that keeps being asked of me tends to be about how one prepares shabbat, especially meals, and do a full time job. There are no quick answers, other than perhaps don't be ashamed to buy food in if you can afford to, or, as I do, treat cooking as a pleasurable past time which it's ok to do at late hours! Of course having a partner willing to muck in and take some of the load also helps massively, and I certainly couldn't do it without G. But we have over time also developed quick and easy recipes to help organise ourselves more speedily; a slow cooked shabbat lunch which doesn't require much pre cooking, a chicken thrown in the oven before I've jumped in the shower on a Friday morning, or challah dough left in bread machine overnight to be quickly plaited and proven in the morning (though of course our corner shop is even quicker!). My favourite new 'cheat' is an incredibly easy desert which brings back memories of childhood but can be encouraged to grow up! Chocolate crispy crunch cakes! I now try to always have in stock
-chocolate chips -cornflakes -dried peel/ glacé cherries/ crystallised ginger (what I consider the grown up part) -cup cake cases Which can make easy and surprisingly popular home made deserts. Melt chocolate, mix in cornflakes and whichever grown up ingredients you fancy, spoon into cases and leave in the fridge to set.
Do you have a quick, pull out at the last minute recipe? Do share so that all the busy among us may make our own lives a little saner, whilst still enjoying home cooked loveliness. Of course we should probably also all take note to give ourselves the occasional break and not try to be everything to everyone. We are all works in progress though and these things take time to come! Shabbat Shalom


  1. Wow! Those chocolate crunch cakes really brought me back to happy times. Used to get all the kids and their friends to join me i making them. I'm not too big on baking or cooking (certainly nowhere near as keen as I am on the eating..) but I absolutely LOVE doing it with the kids. Messier the better, if you ask me. Shabbat Shalom

  2. Slow cooker a.k.a. Shabbat-friendly-non-judgmental-electrical-Jewish-mother

    I throw in a cup of lentils, usually red, though if I'm really organized I soak pulses overnight and parboil them when I'm in the shower in the morning. Black beans are nice and meaty. Then I add about half the volume of barley and maybe wholegrain rice or whatever grain I'm experimenting with at the moment, millet is nice. Next I chuck in some root veggies depending on my mood, carrot often and maybe some squash. Then I add a generous amount of hot smoked paprika (this REALLY warms you up), a good sprinkle of sultanas or apricots and some veggie stock. Sometimes I pile on some whole mushrooms and they bob happily on the surface, tasting really yummy hours later. Sometimes I also at a whole egg or two, in the shell. This tastes really good after shul and in the winter months and I eat variations of this on most days of the week. Effortless cooking and very comforting. You can't really go wrong…. It’s also fun playing around with the ingredients. This tastes wonderful even with a few simple ingredients, though if the mood takes you can add twenty. You can also add more liquid and blitz it into a soup.


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