Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mi Sheberach - Crockpot Potato Squash Gratin

Yesterday I had to use my cane for part of the day.  I haven't needed to use it in a long time, and I found it to be demoralizing.  My trial did not finish as expected.  It is difficult to know exactly how long a witness will take on the stand (although expert witnesses are pretty predictable) and I have no idea how long a defense attorney is going to need for cross examination.  I'm not sure they know either, until they hear what my witness has to say.  Bottom line is that estimates are just that, and our trials involve complex matters arising from human nature.  I try to proceed with respect for the feelings of the parents as well as the family members I often have call to testify against their own, and that takes time and a gentle touch.  I can't always anticipate how many objections defense is going to raise, or how the services of a foreign language interpreter will affect my timing.  So in addition to the damn cane, I found the fact that my trial did not finish to be demoralizing.  It was that kind of day.

More upsetting has been the recent spate of serious illnesses and surgeries and chronic illnesses plaguing a number of folks that I like, and some of whom I care for very deeply.  On a purely personal level, I pray for many things at various times, and so I have been praying for each of them.  Generally speaking, I am not a formal prayer kind of person, although I am definitely not opposed.  I figure God listens to me, no matter what the form of delivery.  Blogging my prayers are a new one, but I'm sure they will get to the right place.  Being a bit more formal today (I'm typing this during my lunch break at work, and so I am wearing pantyhose, which for me is very formal) I am saying the Jewish prayer for the sick, the Mi Shebarach.  (The Reform version, in case you couldn't figure that out.  Hello, Matriarchs!)

May the One who blessed our ancestors
Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah
bless and heal the ones who are ill:
Terry, Chris, Donna, Barbara, Carol, Cristina, Steve, George, Rick, Margie, Kaleb.

May the Holy Blessed One
overflow with compassion upon them,
to restore them,
to heal them,
to strengthen them,
to enliven them.

The One will send them, speedily,
a complete healing - 
healing of the soul and healing of the body
along with all the ill,
among the people of Israel and all humankind,
without delay,
and let us all say:  Amen!

Work in progress.  That's all I can really say about the recipe for the potato squash gratin.  Despite what I consider to be a nice combination of flavors and textures, the finished product lacked something.  My tastebuds are always suspect especially in the evening, so I asked Cory what he thought and he said it was good, not the superlative I was hoping for, but at least a positive starting point.

There are things I might do differently next time, starting with cooking it in the oven rather than the crockpot, and uncovering it for part of the cooking time.  Definitely more cheese, one that melts better than the feta and also imparts more flavor to the dish.  More basil, plus other herbs like thyme and oregano.

3 medium yellow squash
2 large zucchini
4 medium red potatoes
4 very large whole mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
small amount of crockpot caramelized onions
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, cracked and peeled
1/2 cup half and half
1/8 teaspoon Raging River Five Pepper Blend (optional)
3 medium basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Use a mandoline to slice the squash, potatoes, and onions into very, very thin slices. Toss the sliced vegetables with the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl.  Spray or oil the crockpot lightly.
Place 1/3 of the slices in the bottom of the crock - no need to layer them neatly, just spread evenly -then season with salt and pepper.  With a fork strew a few tablespoons of the onions on top of the vegetable layer, then scatter over half of the feta cheese.  Repeat with another 1/3 of the vegetables, seasoning again with salt and pepper and topping with more of the onions, and the remaining feta cheese. Finish by layering on the final 1/3 of the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and a few more onions.  
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic cloves.  Cook for a minute or so over medium low heat.  Add the half and half, the Raging River, and the basil chiffonade.  Turn the heat to low and let the half and half simmer for a brief while to infuse flavors of garlic and basil.  Take off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Pour the half and half over the gratin, cover the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours.  Cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

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