Turkish Charoset

 

9358_10151427679423821_1164540230_n

 

This is the BEST recipe I’ve ever had…not that I’ve had that many, but it’s got great flavor. I like to have this with my matzah throughout the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not just on Pesach.

Ingredients: 

  • 15 pitted dates, halved
  • 1 lg golden delicious apple, chopped
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and separated, chopped
  • 1 cup white or dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons (kosher for Pesach–I like Mogen David Concord Grape) sweet wine, or till it’s slightly wet

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, coursely grind all ingredients and add wine to moisten slightly

Easy, right?

Chag Sameach! Happy Passover, everyone!

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Loaded Baked Potato (VEGETARIAN!) Soup

photo 2I don’t know about you, but since coming to the Torah life, I have missed potato soup. Primarily, because the only potato soup I ever had that I liked had bacon fat in it, with more bacon crumbled on top. The thought of eating that now? Well, it kind of makes me a little sick just thinking about it…

So I bought a huge bag of russet potatoes with the intention of finding a totally grubbin’ recipe for my family, and if I couldn’t I’d adapt one to our tastes. Tonight was the taste test, and my family LOVED this soup, so I want to share its yumminess with you! Once you’ve tried it, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium/standard-sized russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • a few cranks of ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill (add 1/4 tsp first, taste, then double if you love it!)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan/romano cheese, grated
  • 8 oz. cup mild cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheeses, grated

Directions:

  1. Place potatoes, onions, butter, garlic, dried spices, and salt and pepper to the vegetable broth.
  2. Bring to a boil then lower temp to medium high heat, cover and gently boil for 30-40 minutes or until potatoes and onions are completely soft.
  3. Add cheeses; stir until melted.
  4. Use a potato masher to break up the potatoes and onions. (If you want it to be more of a puréed soup, blend with an emersion blender or add to regular blender).
  5. Serve immediately, top with greek yogurt or sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, and/or chopped green onion.
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Tu B’Shevat and You


When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:23-25

Grape-Fruit-Tree-Wallpaper-Wide
The concept within Judaism of the “New Year of the Trees” comes from the verses above. The idea is to plant new trees on Tu b’Shevat, so that it can be easily calculated when they will be considered a source of food for the nation and abroad. But what does this have to do with you and I? What spiritual application can we get from Tu b’Shevat?

In the Bible we find that men are often times compared to trees:

For Man is a tree of the field.

Deuteronomy 20:19

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the Torah of Hashem,
and on his Torah he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

In the NT, we see that Yeshua healed a blind man, but before his sight was fully restored, he sees something very interesting:

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Yeshua laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

Mark 8:2-25

Yeshua also describes us in terms of a branch on a vine.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:1-11

Paul uses the analogy of grafting to describe those who were formerly Gentiles being attached to the Tree of Israel, whose root is the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Hashem Elohim.

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Romans 11:13-24

Hashem speaks to us through parables, nature. Everything in the physical realm declares His glory. Everything is here to teach us something about Him, and something about ourselves. I believe the root of Israel is the faith of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their faith in Hashem became the source of the nation’s strength. It is the source we always go back to in order to gain strength for us to keep growing and bearing fruit.

But just as there is a time to sow, and plant, there is also a time to reap and gather the fruits. Why does the Word compare men to trees? What can we learn from this? Every good tree bears good fruit, but every good tree needs time to train up, to discipline through pruning, so that the tree will be healthy and bear much fruit.

I found this on a pruning site and thought it was so interesting how it explains the nature of a fruit tree correlates to the command in Leviticus 19:23-25:

“Prune bearing trees to maintain a balance between vegetative growth and fruit production. The first three years should be spent on training only, but by the fourth and fifth years, the trees can be allowed to produce a light crop.”

The first three years, any fruit that appeared on the tree was not considered food. The fourth year, all the fruit was to be consecrated to the LORD; it was to be taken to the Temple for the priests. The fifth year, the fruit could be harvested and sold for profit of the owner and benefit to the buyer.

As I see it, our faith in Hashem, especially those of us coming into the Torah life should be seen in the way of a newly planted tree. The first three years of our walk should be committed to training and instruction in righteousness through the understanding of the knowledge of foundational Torah concepts. We should not seek to teach others in any great capacity, for we are ourselves still learning, and as I am sure many reading this will know, our understanding in the first three years will be constantly shifted ever so slightly in order to grow us up and mature us in our faith, so that we will eventually be able to teach others.

The fourth year, is when we consecrate our lives to service of Hashem, this is when we should be seeking Him as to what He would have us do for the Kingdom. This is when we should be pursuing the discovery of any and all of our gifts, our strengths and weaknesses, and work on any and all character flaws that could hinder proper fruit bearing.

The fifth year is when we can confidently move into our calling, knowing that if we’ve allowed for proper training, we will be fruitful and will be able to handle the weight of responsibility that comes with what Hashem has called us to do.

In the end as was in the beginning of time, there is a tree that’s fruit is for food and its leaves for the healing of the nations. I believe that we are to make it our aim to mirror the Tree of Life in our own walk of faith:

And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

Ezekiel 47:6-12

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of Elohim and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of Elohim and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for Hashem Elohim will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-5

My encouragement to all of you, my lovely readers, is this: take the time to be trained and disciplined by the Word. When you’ve gained a solid grasp of essential concepts, wait for Hashem to make your calling clear, and then when He has given you all you need to bless others, you can walk in that calling in complete confidence that you are right where Hashem wants you. And when you are right where Hashem wants you, you will bring food and healing–LIFE–to all who desire it.

Leave a comment

Filed under faith

Starting a Fire and Keeping it Going

Fire_flames

Okay, I know most of you have probably started fires before, but Abba had me do it this morning, so I could have an object lesson. Here’s how to start a fire and keep it going:

Start small. Start with a goodly number of small dry sticks and use some kind of fast lighting material like newspaper. Don’t use too much paper, or it could not allow adequate air supply. Also, be careful to wait till the fire is really going before adding bigger logs.

Air is VERY important. When arranging your kindling make sure you arrange it so that air can get to the bottom of the sticks, so they can be fully engulfed in flame. When adding more fuel always look for a way to make sure you are still allowing for adequate air supply.

Wind is essential. If your fire starts to look like it is going to go out. Blow. Blow gently, directing it toward the wood you want to catch fire.

Be watchful and nurturing. Getting a fire started is an especially watchful process in the beginning. You need to make sure you have what you need so you don’t have to go looking, or it could potentially go out, and you’ll have to start the process again. I found that blowing on the fire once you have a bed of embers is the best way to get the flames licking the wood again.

And what does that teach me about my spiritual walk?

Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself with big concepts. Start with foundational easy to understand concepts.

Air is very important. Allow for some gaps in your understanding. Realize that we’ll never have it all figured out, and we may even change our minds about certain things we believed in the beginning of our walk of faith.

Wind is essential. From time to time we may feel overwhelmed or like we just can’t keep going–we just too tired and weary. Allow the Holy Spirit to refresh and revive you. He can bring back those cooling embers back to life and reignite the fire of your soul so that you can keep going.

Be watchful and Nurturing. Know that our Abba in Heaven sees us and is watching over us to tend to our needs so that we can continue to shine our lights and bring warmth to everyone who comes close to us.

Leave a comment

Filed under faith

Broccoli Cheese Soup

image-e1382304510205

This is the perfect soup on a cold day. As someone who tries to save on the grocery bill every month, I try to take advantage of the vegetables and fruits that are cheaper because they are in season. Now is great time to find broccoli and carrots for a low price. Remember: when possible buy local!

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups half-and-half cream (or 2 cups half & half/ 2 cups whole milk)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 lb fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cups carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces grated mild cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces grated Monterrey jack cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook melted butter, onion powder, and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and add the half & half.
  2. Add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the broccoli and carrots. Cook over low heat 20-25 minutes.
  4. Add grated cheese, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with your favorite bread or a crisp salad.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Butternut Squash Shells & Cheese

photo2-e1384391036584

This recipe is a yummy variation on the classic comfort food–macaroni and cheese. It has creamy, sweetness from the squash and ricotta and the sharp, nutty taste from the Parmesan. It is sure to become a family favorite on cold winter nights!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz. Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package shells, macaroni, or rotini noodles, cooked according to directions
  • 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Steam butternut squash in pressure cooker; once it reaches pressure, cook for 5 min. then quick release (or you can steam in large pot with steamer basket till tender).
  2. While butternut squash in cooking, sauté onions in oil and butter over medium heat till softened, about 5-7 min.
  3. Add flour and cook for 1 minute and then add milk to make roux.
  4. Once the roux has thickened, lower the heat to low and add the ricotta cheese and cooked butternut squash; use a potato masher to smash the squash till smooth in texture.
  5. Add the Parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly, then stir in noodles and serve.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

Law Abiding Citizen or Legalistic Lemming–Revised and Revisited

The article below has been revised and revisited as the original quote said to have been from Constantine was actually a Profession of Faith from the Church of Constantinople (See B: PROFESSION OF FAITH, FROM THE CHURCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE.)

________________________________________________________

There is a misconception in the Christian church today that tells God’s people, if one keeps the commandments found in the “Old Testament” then that person is legalistic.  I believe one of the greatest deceptions Satan ever came up with was to tell God’s people that they don’t have to keep His commandments to be in covenant with Him, that they can have all the rewards of the covenant–the blessings and inheritance–without any responsibility to keep the terms of the covenant, i.e. His commandments.

Many think that Constantine is responsible for the church as it is today since he made Christianity the religion of the Roman empire.  In fact, I did, until I heard a message about anti-semitism and the church, and did a little more digging. Come to find out, this disdain for God’s Law and His people goes all the way back to the second century, and maybe farther.

What did Constantine say?

“It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast [Passover] we should follow the practice of the Jews… Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd“

Constantine’s Nicene Letter 325 C.E – “Life of Constantine,” Eusebius, v.3, c.18-19

Much of the modern Christian doctrine can be attributed to not one man, but many men–Marcion, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Augustine–to name a few.  These men were the early “church fathers” of Christianity. Not only did they teach others to NOT keep the commandments, but it usually went hand in hand with anti-semitic rhetoric.  By the time Constantine came around to the religion of Christianity, the ideas and doctrines of men were widely accepted.

What did the early church fathers say?

Marcion of Sinope (ca. A.D. 85-160) believed that the God of the “Old Testament” was different from the God of the “New Testament”.  He felt that the “Old Testament” was inferior to the “New Testament” and that because it was inferior, it had no place in the life of the Christian. He called the god of the “Old Testament” the Demiurge, a god of battles and bloody sacrifices.  The god of the “New Testament”, however, was a god of love and compassion. Marcion held to the belief that the Heavenly Father (the father of Yeshua) was an alien god; he had no part in making the world, nor any connection with it.  We can conclude that if he believed there were two different gods in the Bible and the “Old Testament” had no place in the Christian church, then he didn’t believe the Torah should be kept.

Justin Martyr (in a dialogue with a Jew in Ephesus named Trypho said,

“We too, would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and in a word all your festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and your hardness of heart…”

Dialogue 18, 2

Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and supposed student of John the Apostle, is attributed with first arguing for changing the Sabbath rest to Sunday or as He calls it the Lord’s Day.

Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless. For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace…. If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny … how shall we be able to live apart from Him? … It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practise Judaism. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity — Ignatius to the Magnesians 8:1, 9:1-2, 10:3, Joseph Barber Lightfoot translation.

Augustine of Hippo, another “early church father” has this to say concerning the law of the Lord:

They who receive the wild doctrines of Valentinus and Marcion, and of all whose minds are similarly diseased, exclude the Law given by God to Moses from the catalogue of the Divine Scriptures. But Jews so revere the Law, that although the time has come which annuls it, they still contend for the observance of all its contents, contrary to the purpose of God. But the Church of God, avoiding either extreme, has trodden a middle path, and is neither induced on the one hand to place herself under its yoke, nor on the other does she tolerate its being slandered, but commends it, though its day is over, because of its profitableness while its season lasted.

Treatise on the Priesthood, Book 1, 4

I ask you, how and where does it say in Scripture that the observance of the Torah is contrary to the purpose of God?  What is His purpose if not to love Him and keep His commandments?  It does not, though some would argue Paul’s letters say this.

Jerome who lived at the same time as Augustine recognized that there were, in his own time, believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who also embraced the testimony of Yeshua:

“In our own day there exists a sect among the Jews throughout all the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, ‘born of, the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe. But while they desire to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other….
If, however, there is for us no alternative but to receive the Jews into the Church, along with the usages prescribed by their law; if, in short, it shall be declared lawful for them to continue in the Churches of Christ what they have been accustomed to practise in the synagogues of Satan, I will tell you my opinion of the matter: they will not become Christians, but they will make us Jews.”

Jerome, in a letter to Augustine (AD 404)
Letters of St. Augustine, Second Division, Letter 75, Chapter 4
published in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vol. 1, p.654

Additionally, in approximately 364 AD, the Council of Laodicea wrote, in one of their canons:

Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day. Rather, honoring the Lord’s Day. But if any shall be found to be Judaizers, let them be anathema (against) from Christ”.

Constantine, in effect, only popularized this new religion, adding to and taking away from the original faith of the Bible, the faith that Yeshua, Paul, and the apostles knew to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life to all who accept it. He made the law of God of none affect and upheld pagan traditions of men in higher esteem than the Holy Scriptures themselves.

So what does the Bible really say?

The argument of many in the church is that to keep the Sabbath, the feast days, and a kosher diet of the “Old Testament” is legalistic.  In a way, this can be true.  If we keep the commandments of God for any other reason than out of a great love for our Creator, then it is legalistic, but the Torah of God in itself is not legalistic.  To the contrary, it creates law abiding citizens sanctified for the Kingdom of Heaven.  The Torah shows us how to love God and how to love others.

Yeshua did not come to do away with the Torah; he came to fill up its meaning, to bring understanding, to expose the legalism of the Pharisees and scribes who held the “oral Torah” above the commandments of God that are found in the Torah (first five books of the Bible)1, and to defeat the power of sin that made it harder for us to keep His commandments.2 He says His yoke is easy and His burden is light.3

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Yeshua answered and said,

“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.’4 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’5 There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-3

God is not a kill-joy, but a loving God, and Yeshua, as God’s ambassador to earth, came to explain the true nature of God and His commandments.  God wants us to obey Him out of a heart that loves Him.  And when we know how to love God, we know how to properly love others. God’s commandments are not burdensome, nor are they impossible to keep. All the Father asks is that we not add to or take away from His Words so that we can keep them.

‎”For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”

Deut. 30:11-14

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you…Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

Deut. 4:2, 6-8

In closing, I will leave you with this:

Legalism suffocates the Spirit, and amputes God’s plans for us. Legalism doesn’t need God. A legalist says, “I can obey God in a different way than He asked me to; I can do it better.” Legalism adds to and takes away from God’s commandments found in His Torah, turning one man’s opinions into another man’s burden.

___________________________________________________________

1 – Matthew 15:1-9

2 – Romans 8:1-4

3 – Matthew 11:28-30

4 – Deuteronomy 6:4,5

5 – Leviticus 19:18

5 Comments

Filed under faith