The Film: Ha-Ushpizin [Ushpizin] – Israel
There are a lot of things, culturally, which can divert our attentions. Trivial things, stressful events, cards, and gifts are given piles of energy while the meaning behind it all waits patiently for us to find it again.
In Ushpizin there is a different holiday being celebrated — the Orthodox Jew succoth, the feast of tabernacles. Seven days celebrating life’s essentials in a sukkot. But Moshe and Mali are childless, broke, and praying for a miracle. Suddenly, their prayers are answered and two men arrive on their doorstep just in time to be their ushpizin – their guests. But when the miracles become trials devout Moshe struggles to make it through the holiday.
The stars are amazing characters who are real-life husband and wife. Shuli Rand, who plays Moshe also wrote the film and his wife, Michal, in a genuine performance which alone is watching the film for, had never acted before.
The trials of Moshe and Mali pull you in, make you laugh, break your heart, and give you joy. Ushpizin is like nothing I’ve seen and everything I’ve felt. The desire to make things the best which becomes a stress, wanting to succeed when trials arise, finding a way back to reason for all of the effort — sounds like Christmas to me.
Holiday Spirit: +5
The Food: 4 Vegetable Latkes and Baked Salmon
One of the reasons I wanted to have a global Christmas was to keep my thoughts on the whole world instead of just the world in front of me. The big picture easily gets lost, especially this time of year.
4 Vegetable Latkes
I was inspired by this recipe because it called for toasted breadcrumbs, which I already had. I used the four vegetables as a way to reduce the starch and add flavor.
- 1 Carrot
- Half a large sweet potato
- 1 Zucchini
- 2 Red potatoes
- 1 Medium onion
- 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 Tablespoons toasted bread crumbs
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- 2 Teaspoons baking powder
- Dash pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
Shred the vegetables. I used an electric shredder but you could use a food processor, mandoline or box grater. Be sure to wring out excessive liquid from the white potatoes, onions, and zucchini. I found the carrots and sweet potato to be dry enough.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, bread crumbs, salt, baking powder, and pepper. Stir in the vegetables and mix well. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop the mixture by spoonfuls into the pan. It’s important not to make them too thick.
Flatten latkes slightly while cooking, and turn only once. Fry until golden. Serve topped with yogurt or sour cream.
Because the salmon only takes around 15 minutes, be sure to start the latkes before you put the salmon in the oven.
You can place the finished latkes on a baking sheet in the oven on a rack away from the heating element for a short period of time while you finish making the rest of the latke so they don’t get cold or soggy. Just be careful not to burn them in the hot oven!
This recipe from Chow was dead on. I used equal parts mayonnaise with grey poupon in it and spicy brown mustard. I also added garlic powder and equal parts panko and toasted breadcrumbs.
Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat an area about the size of the fish with olive oil; set aside.
Place the measured oil, mustard, and parsley in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Lay the salmon on the foil, skin side down, and season it generously with salt and pepper. Evenly spread the mustard mixture all over the top. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mustard mixture until it’s completely covered, then gently pat to get the panko to adhere.
Bake the fish for 12 to 15 minutes, then check for doneness. The center should spring back to the touch and the breadcrumbs should be golden brown. If it’s not ready, return the fish to the oven for a few minutes more. If the fish is ready but the breadcrumbs aren’t browned, broil about 2 minutes more or until golden brown.
Holiday Spirit: +5