Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish faith. Yom Kippur is marked by a 25-hour fast which began at sundown yesterday. Today is traditionally spent at home with family in self reflection, quietly atoning for the sins of the year. The fast is broken by a feast at sundown tonight.
I’m not Jewish, but I’ve just married a Jewish man (last Saturday, in fact!). In an effort to connect with his family, I’ve begun learning about and practicing the food traditions he grew up with. I’ve always found it fascinating to learn about a new culture through food. And in Judaism, there are some fascinating – and delicious – food traditions!
At Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, apples and honey are traditionally served, along with other sweet dishes with the hope of a sweet New Year. During Passover, leavening is avoided so traditionally matzo ball soup is served which is made from matzo meal, or unleavened bread. I’m told this is because when the Jews were leaving Egypt, there was no time to make their normal bread, so they made what they could without the yeast. A seder plate is also prepared which typically contains parsley, horseradish, an apple/honey mixture called haroset, a roasted lamb shank and a boiled egg, all of which are loaded with symbolism. Hanukkah is celebrated with fried foods to symbolize the shortage of oil for the lamp to light the temple that should have lasted for only one day but miraculously lasted for eight.
Beyond their tastiness and convenience, what’s most important about these cookies is the tradition of them. I loved hearing about my husband’s memories of his grandmother’s kitchen, and eating these cookies with her. And I look forward to making these cookies – and lots of other traditional foods – for our family in the years to come.
This article also appeared in the Tennessean.
Charlotte's Split Second Cookies
Yield: About 2 dozen, depending on how you slice them
These cookies are addictive!! I made mine with raspberry and blueberry jam. Apricot is also delicious.
3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raspberry jam (or any flavor jam)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well, until a soft dough forms.
Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Shape each into a 12-inch x ¾-inch log. Place 4 inches apart on two greased baking sheets. Make ½-inch depressions down center of logs. Fill with jam.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, till lightly browned. Cool in pan for 2 minutes. Cut diagonally into ¾-inch slices. Put on wire racks to cool.