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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
Celebrating under Thatched Roofs & Stars
Photo @LizRueven

Celebrating under Thatched Roofs & Stars

Sukkot, the Jewish holiday marked by festive meals and eight days and nights of communal gatherings in a Sukkah (temporary dwelling) was certainly modified this year. Despite the many adaptations, I’ll remember Sukkot in the time of Covid as an opportunity for creative expression and joyful, intimate gatherings under thatched roofs and stars.

More than ever, each Sukkah felt like some bit of protection for our small gatherings of friends. Sukkot’s requirement that we dine outside was just what we all needed.

Here’s a glimpse at what our week looked like, along with some menu highlights.

Sukkot in CT 2020
Photo: Liz Rueven

In the beginning of the week, we gathered at P.’s and B.’s with a twilight visit to their vegetable garden. P. and her hubby are hard at work many months each year, starting seeds inside, reinforcing  fences, pickling and preserving and trying out new crops. As we wandered through the end-of-season tangle of stalks, P. continued to harvest veggies to add to her  magnificent, seasonal dinner.

Autumn veggies in CT Kosher Like Me Sukkot
Photo: Liz Rueven

We pulled spicy daikon to slice and eat with pre-dinner noshes. The dairy dinner, with simply seasoned grilled salmon, provided an opportunity for  her mother-in-law to bake a classic cheese kugel. An array of roasted squashes and grilled shishito peppers had all been harvested that afternoon.

Kosher Like Me Sukkot in CT
Photo: Liz Rueven

I jumped on the opportunity to bake a dairy cake (kind of exciting when fish is served) and chose Ina Garten‘s moist, deeply chocolatey cake, called Beatty’s Chocolate Cake found on the Food Network site. We’ll wait for a birthday to indulge in her buttery icing. I use my Mom’s 1970’s cake plate whenever I can. It reminds me of her love of bold color and a good party.

Sukkot Classic Chocolate Cake Ina Garten
Photo: Liz Rueven

Because so many of our friends keep kosher kitchens, we often turn to each other to borrow platters and plates, decor and lights. P. was happy to re-use and recycle some evergreen boughs and lights from E., our host a few nights later.

Sukkot CT Kosher Like Me
Photo: Liz Rueven

When seven couples gathered at E. and H.’s Sukkah it was the first time we had been together as a group since early March, when we hosted Shabbat dinner at our place. I wanted this photo of us (first image), masked, to show our grandkids one day. Hopefully, this Covid pandemic will be a distant memory. The kids probably won’t believe that we gathered with masks and ate at separate tables during a holiday.

CT Sukkah Kosher Like Me
Banner: May the canopy of peace and well being grace this space.

 

CT Sukkot Kosher Like Me
Photo: Liz Rueven

E. and H. turned to Jewish Senior Services in Fairfield, CT. to order individual boxed dinners for each person. It was a community-minded and delicious solution. If you’re in CT, this full service catering company has great choices for all occasions. The company is called B’Tayavon (203-396-1023).

vegan kosher pumpkin cupcakes
Photo: Liz Rueven

Since we were avoiding any shared utensils, I whipped up pumpkin cupcakes with maple pecan frosting from Nora Cooks, a vegan blog one of my besties shared with me. My icing skills need work, clearly. Baking and frosting were never my strong spots but periodically, I try.

Since the need for individual portions will surely force a resurgence in the popularity of cupcakes, You may want to consider this cupcake carrier. I used it when my kids were younger and have fallen in love with it all over again. Because of the flexible design, it can carry 24 cupcakes, a 2 layer cake, tiers of brownies and cookies and even a quarter sheet cake. Two trays flip from being cupcake ready to flat and each part snaps together in different configurations. Smart design!

Sourdough loaf Kosher Like Me
Photo: Liz Rueven

Finally, a small group gathered to share a friend’s birthday over lunch in L’s Sukkah. She and her family chose themes for decorating each year. Their theme of 2020 was “we are all in this together” as Covid’s ravage has crossed every border and affected all people. Bright flags from countries across the globe decorated their beautiful Sukkah with a bittersweet message.

Each guest brought something to the table for this potluck celebration. Of course, at least one committed baker in the group has learned to make sourdough during our seven months of being at home. We relished M’s moist crumb and mouthwatering tang in her generous loaf. For more on how to learn everything you can imagine about sourdough, check out my friend, Sarah Leitner’s classes at The Sourdough Institute.

Deconstructed salad Kosher Like Me
Photo: Liz Rueven

Another dairy meal gave me my third opportunity to bake in one week.

Classic yellow birthday cake Kosher Like Me
Photo: Liz Rueven

When my birthday friend said she loves classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting, I turned to The Kitchn for this buttery classic recipe. The chocolate buttercream frosting is my favorite from The New Food Processor Bible, an updated version of a book my parents gave me in 1982 when I got married. The Canadian author, Norene Gilletz, never mentioned that her books are kosher but they all are. And they’re among my favorites.

Lastly, we had plans to share Shabbat in friends’ Sukkah but all plans were cancelled as they discovered that a visitor had recently tested positive for Covid. Even with masks on, we continue to be very cautious.

Wishing you all a healthy autumn as we remain strong and (mostly) at home.

Did you have any special moments during your holiday week? Visits with family and friends in novel ways? New recipes tried and loved? Please share in the comments, below.

xo

Liz

Disclosure: When readers purchase items through some of the links in this post, Kosher Like Me may benefit by receiving a small percentage of that sale. There is no cost for the buyer. Thanks for supporting this blogging habit of mine.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for your fun and informative blog.
    I love Ina Garten recipes, and own most of her cookbooks. I used to love her shop in East Hampton when we rented there when my kids were young. In fact, I would bake Beatty’s chocolate cake annually for their birthdays,& it is still my “go-to@ chocolate cake, although instead of the fudge icing that she recommends, I make it with cream cheese frosting.

    • How great that you knew INA way back when. The Beatty’s cake is new to me but will surely be my go-to from now on. Cream cheese frosting sounds divine. The contrast of black and white must be a real stunner :)))

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