Chickweed and my Jewish Farming Retreat

Last weekend my family attended this amazing retreat in Baltimore, the Beit Midrash at the Pearlstone Center.  You can read my article about the retreat in the Jewish Daily Forward here. I absolutely love pluralistic Jewish events, especially when we get to talk about farming.  I have been thinking a lot more about the idea of shmitta, the once in every 7 year sabbatical from farming and I am sure I will be writing more about that soon. One very compelling piece of shmitta is the idea that if you had to feed your family without any farming, you would …

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It’s Tu B’Shevat – Happy New Year to the Trees

(Note: This piece originally ran on 1/24/13 in the Washington Jewish Week). Did you know Tu B’Shevat coincides with Shabbat this year and starts tonight?  A January Tu B’Shevat is one of the first signs that the Jewish holidays will come early this year. You may have heard that the first night of Hanukkah will fall on Thanksgiving this fall. We will have to stay on our toes and keep our Jewish calendars close at hand in 2013. It’s not just the Jewish calendar that seems to be coming fast this year. Spring is on its way to Washington early …

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A Little Shoe Repair with Antique Thread

Those of you imaginary readers who have followed my blog closely from the very start might have noticed that I originally thought I would write a fair amount about sewing.  Sewing was even in my tagline.  When I started this blog, I was in the midst of a sewing obsession that swept through like a passing storm, fast and intense and leaving lots of unused fabric in its wake.  I do still hope to get back to it sometime. So tonight I was happy to pull out one of my sewing boxes for my first ever attempt at shoe making.  A piece of leather …

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Sukkot

Sukkot is one of my favorite Jewish Holidays, and it is wonderful and fun for kids.  You get to build a club house and decorate it with all of your awesome art and crayon creations. You can eat, play, and sing in it, and, if you are lucky, camp out under the stars. From a farmer’s perspective, the holiday makes lots of sense.  Sukkot falls during the peak of the fall harvest. I find it very natural to feel a direct connection to our ancestors who built sukkot long ago. And from a mother’s perspective,  shifting meals outside is a …

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Matzah in the Sandbox

Nobody wanted to leave the sandbox at lunch time today. With the perfect spring breeze shaking the new Bradford Pear leaves over our heads and the soft afternoon sun warming our cheeks, we were all content to keep playing. Plus, there was a new bucket of plastic sand toys for digging and building. But I was hungry too, so I ran into the house and grabbed a box of matzah. I have noted the irony of the impressive onslaught of matzah crumbs beginning the moment the house has been cleaned for Passover. The near constant shower of matzah crumbs around …

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Can you Say She-hech-ey-a-nu

I first learned the shehecheyanu as a young 20 something, and it quickly became my all time favorite blessing.  My friend and I were strolling through a vineyard on a drive through Napa Valley.  We were giddy New Englanders discovering California and finding great amusement in the paper booties we were required to pull over our shoes during our visit to the vineyard.   The farmers were trying to prevent tourists from tracking in pests as they wandered through. I can’t remember exactly what my friend experienced as “a first” that day, perhaps her first time seeing grapes actually still attached to the …

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On Challah

by Tanya Tolchin Most Fridays, I bake two loaves of challah for Shabbat dinner.  Sometimes I have no other plans for dinner beyond the challah, and we need to scramble to add something to complete the meal. I use a standard recipe, which varies based on how much whole wheat flour I add, whether there are raisins on hand, how much time there is for rising, and the temperature and humidity of the kitchen.  They come out differently each week and even between the two loaves on the same week there is often variation, one dough compliant and neatly braided, …

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Welcome to the Lettuce Edge

post by Tanya Tolchin Welcome to the Lettuce Edge, a new blog on farming, gardening, sewing, parenting, Jewish life and living green. The name refers to a few things. First, I recently read that many people consider lettuce to be the quintessential vegetable, possibly representing the very essence of vegetable-ness.  I live on a small family organic vegetable farm, so lettuce (and beets, and garlic and flowers) are at the center of our lives and table. And secondly,  I am beginning to sew and many mothers of little girls can tell you that the “lettuce edge” is as lovely as …

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