Archive for January, 2004

That’s kosher

26 January 2004 at 4:59 pm
by Jonah

Knoxville, TN

After taking a detour north, we’re finally heading west. Memphis is tonight’s stop (and the last chance for Krystals). I-40 our home for today and tomorrow.

We left the Schwarzbarts’ this morning (well, a bit after noon). Visiting them is always interesting, particularly because they keep a kosher kitchen. Food becomes a major production because we can’t help or clean up after ourselves. As Arnold put it the first time I visited them, cleaning up incorrectly makes life a lot more complicated for them, “So just let us do it.”

Keeping kosher means not eating meat (beef, chicken, etc…) and dairy for the same meal. Each has its own dinnerware and utensils. The Schwarzbarts’ kitchen has a butcher block bar in the center, divided in half by two grooves that go around each side. One side is for eating meat and the other for dairy, with the grooves keeping spills from contaminating the other side. Parve foods (that contain neither meat nor dairy, like fruit, vegetables, grains, eggs, fish, etc…) can go on either end of the bar.

Kosher meat is a little more difficult to get a hold of than other foods. Animals like pigs and shellfish cannot be eaten. A clean animal must not be sick when killed; it must be slaughtered humanely, it’s veins removed, and all the blood drained out. Arnold and Mary Linda’s favorite brand of kosher chicken costs a couple times over regular chicken in the grocery. But it also tastes much better.

Typically, we have dairy for breakfast (usually lox) and meat for supper. When Arnold discovered I liked herring, he broke out some of his special stash, and I had some last night for a late night snack, as well a few bites this morning. Both Arnold and Mary Linda are wonderful cooks. Berck’s challa bread recipe comes from Mary Linda, though his is his own creation and not exactly parve, since he uses butter instead of margarine. Berck makes challa only on special occasions, while Mary Linda tries to make hers often enough to keep a supply on hand. Smoked salmon and cream cheese doesn’t seem to go with it as well as with rye, so I’m afraid we put quite a dent into Arnold’s bread supply he imports from New Jersey.

We had omlettes our first morning this trip, a dish that Arnold has perfected the process of making. Berck arrived at the bar later than I did and exclaimed, “Mushrooms?!”

Arnold looked at him. “What would you suggest as an alternative ingredient?”

“Bacon.”

Good Shabbos

24 January 2004 at 2:47 pm
by Jonah

Knoxville, TN

I’m celebrating my first Jewish Sabbath. I really shouldn’t be typing on the Sabbath because that’s work, but we went driving around all last night and today, so it’s probably okay. That and I’m not Jewish.

Mary Linda and Arnold Swarzbart live in Knoxville, Tennessee and are pillars of the Jewish community, so since we arrived on a Friday afternoon, we attended Shabbos dinner with them at their friends’ house. Then we attended services at their synagogue this morning. Apparently, the service lasted a lot longer than usual because they didn’t have a reader for the Torah reading, and the Rabbi doesn’t read very quickly. The whole service is sung in Hebrew except for the sermon (which, this morning, appeared to be an amusing skit put on by the kids about the 10 plagues of Egypt). Keeping up with the transliterations of the Hebrew to sing along to is tricky, since the service jumps around the prayer book pretty sporadically. Afterward, we went into the “fellowship hall” and ate challah bread, pickled herring, and gefilte fish with horseradish (it’s one of those foods that really needs a lot of horseradish to be edible). Then we went to Harrold’s deli for the traditional after shul lunch.

This afternoon feels like a lazy Sunday afternoon except that mail comes today, and we’ve got another day of weekend tomorrow.

The nature of north Georgia yacht clubs

23 January 2004 at 12:25 pm
by Jonah

Young Harris, GA

We spent last night in Young Harris, Georgia with old friends of Berck’s family, Dave and Beth Brackin. They took us to the Yacht Club for Mexican Night (or, more importantly, the $3 margaritas). I put on my nicest flannel shirt for the affair, but as I discovered, in north Georgia, you don’t have to dress up to go to the local yacht clubs.

The Brackins have a very cool house that overlooks the lake (which is 10 feet low, leaving all the floating docks lying on dry clay). The entire front of the house is a gigantic screened porch. Inside looks like a mountain lodge with rooms branching off in three directions. Every wall and some of the ceilings are covered in stained pine. They’ve done a lot of renovations, transforming the kitchen into a chef’s dream and adding onto the master bath by including a shower worthy of a locker-room. Berck and I tried it out this morning after Dave and Beth had left for the college where they teach Psychology and Music. There’s a huge shower “stall” with a shower-head at each end, each attached to its own hot water heater. The floor is heated, and a room heater keeps the bathroom at a balmy 80 degrees. I want one.

We’re off for Knoxville.

Berck forgot his modem card for his laptop, so we’ll only be able to post journal entries from people’s houses who have the necessary equipment and services (and when we have the spare time) … until we get it sent to us.

The road trip begins

21 January 2004 at 7:42 pm
by Jonah

It’s a month into winter, and we’re finally on our way. Our itinerary looks like this:

Atlanta
Young Harris, GA
Knoxville, TN
Memphis, TN
Norman, OK
Irving, TX
Austin, TX
Big Bend, TX
Carlsbad Caverns, NM
That Big Meteor Crater, AZ
Canyon de Chelly, AZ
The Grand Canyon, AZ
Some Petrified Forests
Moab, UT
Zion National Park, UT
Hoover Dam, NV
Lake Arrowhead, CA
Big Sur, CA
San Jose, CA
Yosemite National Park, CA
US Route 101
Portland, OR
Seattle, WA
Vancouver, BC

…or in some similar order. In Atlanta we’re going to visit our favorite pub on this side of the Atlantic, buy Berck some boots, try to find some long underwear for both of us, open a joint bank account, and … I think that’s all.

We’re off!

21 January 2004 at 2:16 pm
by Jonah

Dad’s mechanic took a listen to the Miata and said, “Your timing belt is on too tight. That’s why it’s squeaking. But not tight enough that you have to fix it. It’ll loosen up.”

So we’re off today for Atlanta. Maybe we’ll swing by your neighborhood soon!