Generative Activities

Short post here.

I write, but I also bake and cook. Bringing food to people is, for me, very similar to giving the literary nourishment of poetry of fiction. After a drought of creativity in the kitchen I’ve been (financially) kickstarted into the kitchen. Here’s something that’s slipping out of culinary favor this time of year: cholent.

It’s a simple recipe, that folks tweak for every different village and family. Orthodox Jewish law doesn’t allow for cooking on Shabbat (the sabbath), and it’s hard to keep, for example, a nice steak on hold for eighteen hours until it’s Saturday lunchtime.

Enter cholent. Take ingredients, toss ’em into a pot, cook it until it’s mostly done before Shabbat begins (a little before sundown on Friday), then go to the baker and stuff it into the bread oven. Overnight. And most of the morning. When it’s pulled out, it’s a heavenly, creamy, yummy thing. Below is the one my mom made, which pegs it to Sosnowiec in pre-WWII Poland.


  • 3-4 oxtail bones
  • 1-2 lbs. Flanken. Well, my mother would say ‘flanken,’ but I think we’re talking about a skirt steak kind of beef. Given my mom knew 9 languages and my dad 10, I think fuzzy would be a good way to describe her recipe ingredients. At any rate, a fatty piece, in one piece.
  • 5-6 kartofel. That one’s easy: use huge Idaho baking potatoes with thick skins. My mom skinned some, but kept others unskinned. In either case, cut in half.
  • 2-3 medium onions, whole and peeled.
  • Garlic. At least a 1/2 bulb. Peeled but whole.

That’s it. Put it in a crock pot until there’s no more room. Put the lid on, then leave it be on low heat for about eighteen hours. When you open it up, the potatoes are brown and buttery, the beef fat and oxtail marrow is everywhere, and basically it’s salted and then a feeding frenzy ensues until it’s all gone.

Some folks put whole eggs, in shell, into the mix. Or (shudder) red or garbanzo beans. Or bulgar. Or other travesties upon the pure Holiness of the recipe above. They shall be purged when the Truth is Known. 🙂

Okay. I feel better now…

On to writing.