Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tu B'Shevat - The New Year for Trees

Tu B'Shevat is a fun day which is so easy to forget if you are living outside of Israel. On the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar (which happens to be on the 20th of January 2011) is the day that marks the beginning of a "New Year for Trees" or in other words, the first day of the spring. It must be a challenge this year to think about Tu B'Sheva as the first day of spring, while in Israel some snow is falling around Jerusalem and rain is falling everywhere else.

This time of the year is usually the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in Israel emerge from their (very short) winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

We mark the day of Tu B'Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the bible in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. On this day we remember that "Man is a tree of the field" (Deuteronomy 20:19) and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue.
This is so important today, more than ever, when most people eat convenient food and some have no recollection of how to grow their own foods, let along having the garden space and time space to do that.

In a prefect world, we all should eat healthy foods, super foods, bake our own bread and grow our own vegetables and fruit in the backyard. This is the perfect day to remember that this is what our bodies designed to do.

What a better way to get back to the basics with a simple but yet tasty bread recipe. I've made it this week with added nuts and you can add any dry fruits of you liking too, to celebrate Tu B'Shevat with me ;)

Simple and basic Bread

Ingredients for 1 loaf of bread:
3.5 cups of Whole grain flour
1.5 ts of Salt
15g of Fresh Yeast  or 2 ts of Dry Yeast
1 dessert spoon of Sugar (can use Low GI Sugar)
1.25 cups of Water
2 dessert spoons of Oil
Nuts and Dry fruit of your choice

How to:
1) Preheat the oven to 200c on fan bake
2) Mix all the ingredients together. I like using warm water as it helps break down the Dry Yeats I'm using but if you are using Fresh yeast, you will need to use cold water.
3) The important part of making good bread is kneading the dough. Basically the more you knead and the more you are aggressive with the kneading, the better.
4) Let the dough rise for about 30-60 minutes or until the dough have doubled its size. 
5) Knead the dough and let it rise again.
6) Put the dough on a tray with baking paper. Give the bread a shape of your liking (you can make it a long loaf or round) and cut a few lines at the top, but only half way into the dough to create these cutting - see image
7) Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the bread browns
8) Slice and eat fresh