Tu BiShvat, called the "New Year of the Trees," falls at a seemingly incongruous time of year.
Tu BiShvat is a minor festival whose provenance dates only to the time of the Second Temple. However, the kabbalists who clustered around the great fifteenth-century mystic Isaac Luria of Safed placed great weight on the holiday, creating new festivities, gatherings at which hymns were sung, fruit (particularly carob) was eaten, and four cups of wine were taken (as in the Passover seder).
This is not your traditional applesauce. For one, it calls for pears. And second, this fruit concoction is cooked in a good amount of honey. It takes just a few minutes to prepare. Serve it warm or cold, latkes or as a stand-alone side dish.
One favorite dish of the Ashkenazim that survived the move from the shtetl to North America was the hearty mushroom-potato-barley soup called krupnick.
For the past several weeks my mailboxes, both virtual and real, have been overflowing with messages urging me to “buy, buy, buy.” As a result, I have been spending a lot of time hitting “delete, delete, delete” and tossing torn envelopes and catalogs into the recycle bag to t