Saturday, November 05, 2005

Rugelach, a pepper, and a pomegranate. And Harry Potter.

I picked up Menticia at school yesterday. She got her report card lately ("I didn't do too good - I got a 'C' in writing") so we talked over her schoolwork on the way to TCBY where she put away an enormous quantity of strawberry and chocolate ice cream.

We stopped at the grocery store to pick out some things for dinner. I asked, "what vegetable would you eat?" and she looked at the vast displays with a dubious eye. Her unspoken answer was "not a one of them," but she reluctantly allowed as how a green pepper would be OK.

Then we swung by Blockbuster, a place I loathe, but we'd been talking about Harry Potter (I've got her reading #4, Goblet of Fire, in preparation for the movie coming here in a couple of weeks) so we got #3, Prisoner of Azkaban, which she hadn't seen yet. The thing about Harry Potter - it's kind of flat and repetitive, and not written so well, but the plots suck kids in, and we adults would do anything to see them reading, so if it means we have to watch the movies too, so be it.

When we got home we started making rugelach. This is a delicious Jewish cookie and here's my wonderful recipe.

Our dough had to chill for an hour, so we worked on one of our projects - translating Spanish picture books into English for the little kids I read with at her school. I print out her translations and tape them into the books.

She takes this seriously and has gotten better and better at it. I want her to be proud of being bilingual - I see too many young Latinos giving up on their native language and eventually losing it because they're so determined to fit in. It seems like a terrible waste.

Anyway, this book is called "Oye, hormiguita" (listen, little ant) and is a conversation between a boy - his huge foot suspended in the air over the sidewalk - and an ant, standing under the foot's menacing shadow, carrying two tiny shopping bags full of cake crumbs. We haven't finished so I can't tell you how it turns out but I have an intuition the ant doesn't get squished.

Then we made the rugelach. Menticia is still awful at fractions. For instance: the recipe directed us to divide our lump of dough into six; she cut it in half and then in half again and stared at her four lumps, stymied.

I thought it would be a good fraction workout, rolling out wheels of dough and using the pizza cutter to divide them into eight wedges each. It was fun. Our wedges were - extremely individualistic.

Then it was time to make the filling. When I dumped the giant dates in the food processor she gasped and said: "they look just like cockroaches," which made me laugh, but she was serious. She stared with horror into the bowl and pointed to them, "look at that one, look at that one, see, they're just like cockroaches!"

She calmed right down after we chopped them up with walnuts and raisins and sugar and cinnamon. In fact, both of us kept sampling this filling the entire time we were rolling the individualistic wedges.

They baked up just right. When she popped the first cookie into her mouth her eyes actually opened wide in surprise! She pronounced it "absolutely delicious!" Hah! Menticia places high value on being "calm" and likes maintaining a deadpan expression. Score one for high-calorie Jewish cooking.

We made dinner and carried our trays upstairs and watched the movie. She consumed just two (2) slender spears of green pepper. Oh, well.

Pomegranates have been wonderful lately, so I'd bought one. Menticia had never eaten one before and was fascinated to see the red juice flow out. "Just try one little seed." [Pause as she nibbled one cautiously.] "Actually," staring at me soberly, "it's good." I liked watching her slim little fingers rapidly rooting out seeds as we finished the (stupid) movie.

Menticia has seen scads of scary movies - on the order of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" - and has always told me they don't scare her at all. But she flinched plenty at this Harry Potter movie. And she kept marvelling at how dark it was outside. She was hesitant to step out in the carport when it was time to go home and admitted she's afraid of the dark. As we were driving I suggested that maybe all the scary movies she's seen have actually scared her more than she realized and she said, "yeah, maybe I should stop watching them."

If you want to have this kind of fun, be a mentor!

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At 9:05 AM, Blogger Mirty said...

What wonderful experiences for both of you.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger mar said...

Is por favor nicely enough to get your Jewish cookie recipe? Spanish is my mother tongue. Loved your post. Is Menticia a family member? I have to go on reading your 100 things about other people!Michele sent me your way, I am glad she did.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger melinama said...

Hi Mar,
I've added a link to my original "be a mentor" post - it's almost a year now since I joined the Blue Ribbon Mentor/Advocate program in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro city school system. It's really a hoot.

At 10:37 AM, Blogger Aginoth said...

Do you have a Challah Recipe as well? Please?

Michelle sent me

At 4:05 AM, Blogger mar said...

Thanks for the link! Michele sent me your way again.

At 4:28 AM, Blogger Dak-Ind said...

Hello, Michelle sent me here this morning, and i have to admit, i sure wouldnt mind seeing that recipe. my mom can cook anything and make it yummy, so i will also admit that i would cart that recipe straight to my momther and beg her to make it. im hopeless in my own kitchen. I have never, as far as i know, tried any jewish (oh except i had kosher coke once because our grocery had some on the shelf and it sounded kind of neat, the people at the register told me that they had kosher things in honor of a jewish holiday that i cant spell but i can pronouce that falls in december) ok my comment is too long, but please, cookie receipe me!

At 4:46 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I've yet to eat my first Pomegranate, and I don't think I'd recognise one if I saw one.
I've never read a Harry Potter book as my children were too old by the time the books came out for me to read them to them. Those I know who have, tell me that the books don't read aloud particularly well, unlike some of the old classics. That said the worst book I ever read out allowed was The Water Babies, which made painful reading.

One of Michele's if you haven't already guessed.

At 4:50 AM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a wonderful post! I would love to have that recipe! Not sure I would make it, but I'd love to know I could..I'm new here, (thanks for stopping by my blog, by the way), so I was wondering how old your little mentee(?) is? What a terrific thing to be doing!

I'll be back, I'm sure!


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