Archive - December 2014
As Chanukah draws near (Tuesday evening, 12/16), we remember and celebrate the ancient victory of the Maccabees, restoring the Temple and our freedom to worship there. It inspires us to think of contemporary issues of freedom and liberation in general. The word “Chanukah” itself means “dedication”, so perhaps this holiday is a time to re-dedicate ourselves to seeking freedom/liberation for those who are unable to do so for themselves.
When I first learned about the issue of trafficked child labor in the cocoa fields, I immediately thought of the gelt that I’ve eaten every Chanukah since I was a young girl. The sweetness of its taste in my mouth while playing dreidel is deeply embedded in my memory. Now I was being introduced to its true bitter-sweet character.
Today, young children are trafficked and forced into working on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, where more than half the world’s cocoa is grown. Many have been kidnapped from surrounding countries and brought to the Ivory Coast against their will. They are forced to work long hours, often without pay; they do not receive any education. Their work involves hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and the dangerous use of machetes.
The gelt we eat on Chanukah is a reminder of the freedom our people won many years ago. There is a choice that leans towards freedom – Fair trade certification prohibits the use of child labor.
The Talmud teaches that we don’t rely on miracles (Kiddushin 39b); we must take action ourselves to bring about redemption. On Chanukah, we celebrate the miracles of ages past, and we strengthen our resolve to make miracles happen today. Choosing Fair Trade Chanukah gelt moves us a step closer towards ending child labor and modern slavery around the world.
Here is a kavannah to enjoy with your fair trade gelt (Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, California):
“I hold more than chocolate in my hand. This product I have purchased is a mixture of bitter and sweet flavors, but it contains no taste of slavery. As Chanukah is an eight-day reminder that light can penetrate darkness, may this experience of tasting sweet freedom, the bounty of free people’s work, inspire me to add more light to the world”.
You can find fair trade gelt and free resources for Chanukah on Fair Trade Judaica’s website.
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (keep some handy for your work surface)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or peanut oil
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup Divine 70% Bittersweet or Milk Chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a large metal bowl, stir together warm water and yeast. Let stand until foamy, around 5-7 minutes.
2. Add 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt; mix until well combined. Add egg yolks and remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, then knead dough in bowl. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead a few minutes until smooth. Knead in butter.
3. Transfer dough to a well-oiled bowl; turn dough several times to coat entirely with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
4. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to form doughnuts, remove dough from refrigerator to come to room temperature. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into an 11 inch square about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter (or a glass), cut out about 24 rounds, dipping cutter in flour as needed to prevent sticking. Re-roll scraps and cut out about 16 more rounds.
5. Line a baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg whites. Brush edge of a dough round with egg white, then mount 1/2 teaspoon jam or chocolate bar pieces in center, or both. Top with another round and press edges to seal. Repeat process with remaining rounds. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; let doughnuts rise until puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.
6. Heat a few inches of oil in a large (4-5 quart) heavy pot until it registers 360 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer or a scrap of dough sizzles upon contact. Working in batches of 4 to 5, carefully slip doughnuts into hot oil. Fry, turning once until golden brown, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain.
7. Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. While doughnuts are still hot, toss them in sugar, turning to coat. Serve immediately.
*** Developed by New York City pastry chef Keyin Fulford, inspired by a recipe from “Peace, Love and Chocolate”. Recipe reprinted from Divine Chocolate website
SHEHECHIYANU! We can finally eat chocolate on Passover that’s been certified not to have been made with trafficked child labor!
Chocolate Charoset Recipe (by Philip Gelb, vegan chef and caterer)
Mix all ingredients together. Let chill an hour before serving.
Why is this so important? Every Passover we gather as family and community, to celebrate our people’s freedom. We are obligated to tell the story of the Exodus, our journey from slavery to liberation. As we celebrate this freedom during Passover, we are compelled to reflect on how freedom continues to be elusive for other people. Our history of slavery awakens us to the plight of the stranger, and to the alarming occurrence of modern day trafficking and slavery. For how can we celebrate our freedom, without recognizing that so many individuals still have not obtained theirs?
There is much documented evidence about the role of trafficked child labor in the cocoa fields in the Ivory Coast and West Africa, where 40-50% of cocoa is grown and harvested. Hundreds of thousands of children work in the cocoa fields, many of whom are exposed to hazardous conditions where they:
- Spray pesticides and apply fertilizers without protective gear
- Use sharp tools, like machetes
- Sustain injuries from transporting heavy loads beyond permissible weight
- Do strenuous work like felling trees, and clearing and burning vegetation
But we don’t have to eat chocolate tainted by child labor, especially as we celebrate our people’s freedom on Pesach. We CAN CHOOSE to purchase chocolate from companies that certify their supply chains through Fair Trade monitoring and certification, committed to eliminating child labor.
And this year, we are able to celebrate with Fair Trade Kosher for Passover chocolate! Equal Exchange produces soy-free (lecithin-free) chocolate. Last year, Rabbi Aaron Alexander, Associate Dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University, gave a Rabbinic ruling that specific chocolates can be eaten on Passover, and this year, they are also included on the Conservative Movement Rabbinical Assembly’s Approved for Passover 5774 list.
The gift of freedom our people received generations ago bestows upon us the obligation and responsibility to work for the liberation of all people. How can we fully celebrate our freedom without acknowledging millions of people today who are still forced to work, thousands of them young children who work in cocoa fields to bring us our delicious chocolate? What better way than celebrate with a Chocolate Flavored Charoset?
Here’s a special reading for eating Fair Trade Kosher for Passover chocolate: Using mortar and bricks, the Jewish slaves built the pyramids. The charoset reminds us of the mortar, a symbol of unrewarded toil. We remember how our ancestors’ work enriched the Egyptians’ lives, and challenge ourselves to think about the ways that we currently benefit from exploited labor. Tonight we eat chocolate charoset to remember all the trafficked and enslaved children in the Ivory Coast who toil in the cocoa fields, harvesting the cocoa pods from which our favorite chocolates are made. For Jews, the descendants of slave laborers who build the pyramids, such profit should never be sweet. We eat charoset that is made with Fair Trade chocolate, the only chocolate that is free of child labor. We take the sweetness of this charoset as a symbol of resistance and the possibility of liberation for all.
This post was written for and published in “The Jew and Carrot Blog” in the Jewish Forward
Originally written for and published in The Jew and The Carrot
I’ve started noticing hamentaschen (recipe below!!) showing up in local bakeries, and it made me wonder if one of the reasons we say “Purim Sameach/Happy Purim” is because we know that we’ll be eating lots of hamentaschen, the traditional Eastern-European Purim dessert. This joyous day celebrates the repeal of the death decree against the Jewish inhabitants of ancient Persia (“They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”).
The word “hamantashen” is commonly known as a reference to Haman, the defeated enemy of the holiday. It turns out that there are many different interpretations of the word’s derivation:
- In Hebrew, they are called Oznei Haman, meaning “Haman’s ears”. This name may have come from the Midrash which says that when Haman entered the King’s treasury, he was bent over with shame and humiliation (literally with clipped ears).
- The word tasch means “pouch” or “pocket” in Germanic languages, so the reference may be to “Haman’s pockets”, symbolizing the money which Haman offered to King Ahasuerus in exchange for permission to destroy the Jews
- Another folk story is that Haman wore a three-cornered hat, thus its triangular shape.
- The original Yiddish word montashn, or the German word mohntaschen, both mean poppy seed-filled pockets or pouches; the name was then was transformed to Hamantaschen, likely by association with Haman
- Naked Archaeologist documentarian Simcha Jacobovici has shown the resemblance of hamantaschen to dice from the ancient Babylonian Royal Game of Ur, suggesting that the pastries are meant to symbolize the pyramidal shape of the dice cast by Haman in determining the day of destruction for the Jews.
Another big debate about hamentaschen is the type of dough they’re made from; one is thicker and more bread-like, and the other is thinner and more cookie-like.
And then, there’s the question of what to fill them with. The original Hamentaschen filling was made with poppy seeds. Others that I grew up with include prune, or a variety of fruit preserves or marmalade, including apricot and raspberry. In doing some research, I found that chocolate filled hamentaschen are popular in Israel! Seems like a tradition we should include here.
One of the deeper themes of Purim is that we are told to celebrate the holiday, and make it possible for those less fortunate to also join in the festivities. When we feast or send food packages, are the products we use harming or benefiting the workers? In many situations, those “less fortunate” are the people who grow the food we use to celebrate our holidays. They suffer from market-driven forces that pay them less than the food’s real value; they don’t have access to world markets and get taken advantage of by local distributors or large corporations; and prices on the world market fluctuate, so they can never be sure what price they’ll receive when it’s time to sell a crop.
Choosing fair trade chocolate and sugar for our Hamentaschen better assures that the farmer who grew the raw ingredients for those foods, has received a fair price; and therefore is more able to adequately provide for his/her family. Fair trade is based on the following principles:
- Farmers are guaranteed a fixed price that exceeds their production cost, even when the market rate falls below that
- They receive an extra fair trade premium per pound
- Trading relationships are long term and transparent, allowing producers to reduce costs, gain direct access to credit and international markets, and develop the business capacity necessary to successfully compete.
Here’s a link to find Fair Trade Kosher chocolate products.
Below is a recipe for Chocolate-Filled Hamentaschen by Ruth Reingold. Enjoy!
Chocolate Filling (for about 25-30 Hamantaschen)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (look for Fair Trade certified products)
- 1 T. butter or cream cheese
- 1 T. milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla (look for Fair Trade certified products)
- 1 egg
Melt chocolate in microwave. Add sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla. Stir, and return to microwave very briefly, just to melt butter. Gradually, stir beaten egg into chocolate. Use this filling immediately before it hardens.
Now that we’re in the month of Elul, I’m starting to plan my Rosh Hashanah meals – yummy round raisin challahs, some kind of fish dish, vegetable tsimmes, apple noodle kugel, several salads and vegetable dishes, and of course, ending with a delicious honey cake (see recipe below)!
Many of us are deeply concerned about the declining numbers of bee colonies around the world, partly because we love watching bees at work and also because they are the major pollinators for most of our food crops. Major contributing factors include widespread use of pesticides and fungicides and parasitic mites in beehives. One of the ways each of us can help is by supporting small and local beekeepers, especially those practicing organic farming, both near our communities and from beekeepers around the world.
Fair Trade Sweetens the Deal
In the US and Europe, a large percentage of the imported honey is produced by impoverished bee keepers in developing countries in Latin America and Asia. Most bee keeping families live in remote areas, with limited access to transport or market information. They often lack the infrastructure to store and transport the honey without negatively affecting quality, and haven’t received training that would help them identify the different types of honey, thus losing the opportunity to sell their product at a higher price.
As a result, many beekeepers are dependent on local middlemen to buy their honey. Given this weak bargaining position, they’re forced to sell it at fraction of its real market value, and are not able to make a sustainable livelihood.
Fair Trade offers producers an agreed upon minimum price, independent of market rates. Bee keeper cooperatives are linked directly to Fair Trade buyers, cutting out the middlemen, and creating longer term sustainability.
Fair Trade standards for honey assure that:
– Producers are small family farms organized in cooperatives (or associations) which they own and govern democratically
– The minimum Fair Trade price is paid directly to the producer cooperatives, allowing producers to cover their production costs
– Environmental standards restrict the use of agrochemicals and ban genetically modified plants
– Pre-harvest lines of credit are provided to the cooperatives if requested, up to 60% of the purchase price
– No forced or child labor is involved
– A Fair Trade premium is included in the purchase price; the cooperatives choose how to use this additional support for social and economic investments, such as education, health services, processing equipment, and loans to members.
One Fair Trade bee keeping cooperative, Miel Mexicana, based in Morelos, southern Mexico, has 42 members. It produces nine different types of honey produced from local plants—sunflower, chamomile, mesquite, orange, avocado, cactus, Mexican lilac, campanula and morning glory. It was founded in 2001, producing about 3 tons of honey. After being certified organic and Fair Trade in 2004, it now exports 500 tons, and has won many national and international awards for sustainability and honey quality.
One of its members, Sara, is the cooperative’s first woman beekeeper and serves as the cooperative’s treasurer. She joined the co-op after her father, a long time co-op elder, passed away and Sara inherited his beekeeping operation. Sara’s bees forage on pristine, organic wildflowers deep in protected jungles. She also helps maintain the cooperative’s organic community garden.
The cooperative unites indigenous people, women, elderly, youth, and adults. With the Fair Trade premium that they receive, the community is building schools and healthcare centers, as well as providing their members with continued training on fair trade and organic practices. This enables cooperative members to maintain ties to their ancient indigenous cultures while participating in the global marketplace. One of their goals is to create jobs to help stem migration to the United States, which negatively affects the family and community structure. Since 2003, there has been zero migration of its bee keepers to the U.S.
This Rosh Hashanah, sweeten the beekeepers’ lives as well by choosing one of these certified Fair Trade and Kosher honey products:
BossBodywords is an online Etsy store featuring natural products. She has a variety of organic fair trade certified and kosher (Earth Kosher) honey products for sale, many of which are flavored with natural herbs (e.g. cinnamon, cherry, fennel, turmeric).
Heavenly Organics gathers honey from naturally occurring wild beehives in India and the Himalayas. It is 100% raw organic, fair trade certified and OU Kosher certified. You can purchase online or visit their store locator to identify where to purchase the honey near you.
Trader Joes’ Organic Raw Honey also comes from bee-keeping cooperatives in Mexico, and is simply the uncooked “unadulterated nectar” of jungle wildflowers. I t has Circle K (OK) Kosher certification and is available in all their stores.
Wholesome Sweetener’s Organic honeys (raw, amber, bottles/jars), certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, come from Fair Trade cooperatives in Mexico, so the farmers also receive a “sweet” and fair wage. You can now purchase their products online at their Amazon store.
Majestic and Moist Honey Cake
Marcy Goldman, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup honey
- 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup rye or whisky (see Note)
- 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)
Make cake at least 1 day before eating.
Use a 9-inch angel food cake pan, a 9 by 13-inch sheetpan, or three 8 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the pan(s). For tube and angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper. For gift honey cakes, I use “cake collars” (available from Sweet Celebrations) designed to fit a specific loaf pan. These give the cakes an appealing, professional look.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice, and rye or whisky.
Using a strong wire whisk or an electric mixer on slow speed, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom of the bowl.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) – fill about half way as the batter rises, and sprinkle the top of the cake(s) evenly with the almonds. Place the cake pan(s) on 2 baking sheets stacked together and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center. For angel, bake for 60 to 70 minutes; loaf cakes, 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet-style cakes, the baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. This is a liquidy batter and, depending on your oven, it may need extra time. Cake should spring back when gently pressed.
Let the cake stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
This summer is breaking lots of high temp records, all across the country. The best antidote to the heat is staying hydrated, and there’s only so much plain water one can drink! We’ve gathered some awesomely delicious cold drinks that you can make at home, with a focus on Fair Trade ingredients!
Why Fair Trade? Because it’s such a Jewish form of ethical consumerism! Fair trade assures living wages, safe working conditions, no child labor, environmental sustainability – all basic Jewish values. For a matrix matching Fair Trade principles with Jewish Values, click here:
But where do I find Fair Trade products, you ask!
These companies produce fair trade sugar and/or vanilla:
– Camino/La Siembra (for Canadian customers)
Here’s a variety of iced cold drinks you can easily make at home!
Berry Basil Lemonade (Recipe from Global Gallery Coffee Shop)
Ingredients – Makes 1 gallon
2 cups organic fair trade sugar 2 cups organic lemon juice 2 cups hot water 9 cups ice water 1 cup fresh organic basil 1 cup fresh local berries
Dissolve sugar in hot water until saturated. Add lemon juice and stir until sugar has dissolved the rest of the way. Crush and add the basil. Depending on the size of the berry you’ve chosen (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries yield the best results), halve or quarter and add them to the mix. For extra berry flavor, crush about half of the berries before adding. Add ice water, stir, chill to taste, and serve! If you’re feeling extra adventurous, pour the mix into an ice cube tray and make mini popsicles, or use the lemon pops in place of regular ice cubes in your favorite fair trade iced tea!
Iced Coffee – Cold Brew For Home Brewing – makes 7-8 small glasses of iced coffee (Recipe from Fair Trade Wire)
4 oz coarsely ground Fair Trade organic dark roast coffee Water (filtered where necessary) 2 pitchers 1 strainer 1 wooden or serving spoon a little time (8-12 hours)
Combine 4 oz. of coarsely ground coffee with 64 fluid oz of water (1/2 gallon). Stir with a large spoon. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight, or for about 8-12 hours
Pour coffee into a serving container over a strainer or a fine mesh sieve to separate coffee grinds from liquid. Pour over ice and serve!
Note: Once the coffee has had a chance to brew for 8 hours, it can be stored in the refrigerator to be kept cold. Above portions can also be increased as needed- 8 oz. of coffee : 1 gallon of water, etc.
Iced Mint Tea – Makes one serving (Recipe from Equal Exchange)
3 teaspoons Fair Trade sugar
2 organic mint green tea bags
Pour sugar into a glass and place tea bags in the glass so that they are at the bottom. Pour just enough hot water to cover the tea bags. While steeping, gently stir the sugar to dissolve in the water. Take out the tea bags after no more than 1 1/2 minutes, then add ice to fill the glass. Pour in cold water, stir, and enjoy!.
Snow Mocha – Serves 2 large (drinking glass) servings, or 4 small (coffee mug) size servings (Recipe from Fair Trade Resource Network)
2 cups Fair Trade black coffee – brew a little bit stronger than you would usually drink
2/3 cup milk
1-1/2 Tbs. Fair Trade brown sugar (darker is better)
5 Tbs chocolate syrup (make your own from Fair Trade cocoa powder**)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Brew the fair trade coffee and freeze it solid. Once it is frozen, put the milk, chocolate syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon into a blender. Blend ingredients until well mixed. Place the blender into the freezer to chill. Do not let it freeze solid. Meanwhile, remove the frozen coffee and chip
it into small slivers. An ice shaver does this really well. Take out the blender and add the shaved coffee to it. Blend the mixture until it is completely blended. You may have to help the blender out by stirring the top portion of the mix. Place blender back into freezer to chill some more.
**Homemade Chocolate Syrup Recipe
1 cup Fair Trade cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 cups Fair Trade (white, brown, combination)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1 Tbs. vanilla
Combine cocoa and sugar and blend until all lumps of cocoa are gone. Add water and salt and mix well. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil slowly, stirring constantly. Continue stirring on the stove for just a couple more minutes, being careful not to let the sauce burn on the bottom of the pan. The sauce should still be fairly runny. Remove from heat and let cool. The sauce will thicken up as it cools. When cool, add vanilla. You can keep your chocolate syrup in a glass syrup pitcher in the refrigerator; the syrup should not be too thick to pour.
This blog was published in “The Jew and the Carrot’ in The Forward on July 3, 2013.