Day 7 of Quarantine - יום שביעי של בידוד
Shabbat Shalom from Tel Aviv! It is Friday afternoon and extremely quiet outside. It is raining and unusually cold for this time of year. Today marks the halfway mark in our lockdown and while that is good news, we really don't know what will be waiting for us when the 14 days are up.
Yesterday or the day before (can't remember) I moaned about my metadata woes. They haven't gone away. I never imagined myself quarantined with an assignment that is better suited to a MLS student than to me. It has been years since I worked "in the weeds". The last time I coded anything, it was for fun - to see if I could build a website from scratch using xml and a style sheet. Not my forte. The site was actually quite nice and I was able to satisfy myself that I hadn't totally lost it, but the constraints imposed by xml are too reminiscent of my typesetting days. The whole thing can fail because of a missing angle bracket. This kind of work does not interest me. The reason I became a programmer (no one uses that term anymore) was because I like to solve complex problems - in my own way. New generations of CS languages have solved these problems and packaged them. The challenges are different now.
For years I worked in systems. First as a SysAdmin and then as a failover expert. I learned a lot about dependencies and logistics. If anything, I am more suited to R(esearch) O(perations) - if they even call it that anymore. Probably the reason I worked in the Strategy Office. So the nitty-gritty of metadata mapping is a challenge to me. I was not the best cataloguer in college. Many people are brilliant at this and really enjoy describing, labeling, tagging, categorizing and so on...data. I'd rather build a search engine.
But here I am with a task and I will keep at it until it is resolved.
Fridays are usually very hectic in Israel. Everyone is trying to get to the shuk before it closes. Challah must be bought. Flowers need to appear. People are out having coffee and enjoying their time off.
I do my best to have everything in the house no later than Thursday. To face the crowds on Friday is madness. Of course, things are different now. Everyone is staying at home unless they have to go out. The shuk is empty. Many stalls have shuttered, perhaps for good. This makes me very sad. There has been talk for years about "renovating" the shuk. I am afraid when the crisis passes, that developers will take this opportunity to "fix what is not broken" and remake the market into a mall. If that happens, I may leave the country.
Yesterday, Noa helped us order vegetables from a משק (farm). We got the 30 shekel package. He said they would be here early afternoon. Early afternoon turned to late afternoon. Late afternoon turned to "another 15 minutes". Finally at 6:00 p.m. they arrived. They must have been overwhelmed and flooded with requests or it is an Israeli thing where estimating time becomes a challenge worthy of a physicist. But what a haul. Lettuce and basil and bok choy and a mess of other green things. Sent some extra lettuce over to our neighbors.
I'm glad there is an alternative to the shuk - for now. Will not be happy if I can't roam among the stalls.
It's ערב שבת (Erev Shabbat), so this morning I went down to the freezer to get something for dinner and discovered that we did not have any whole chickens. Until now, I have been relatively panic free, but the realization that today we are using up the the last of our chicken supply is sending me into a tailspin.
It really is absurd. The world is going to pot and I am worried about my access to good chicken. This is the essence of Jewish angst - and the possible script for a sitcom - "The Day The Shuk Closed".
But we still have to eat. So I am making an ersatz tagine. Using all the flavors and a few extra, but an ordinary cocotte and with potatoes, not rice. I don't know what to call this meal, but the recipe is below follows.
As with all the recipes it will be also be published later under a Creative Commons License. The attribution is important to me. If you enjoy the soup, let me know and don't forget the shout-out.
BT's Desperate Times Ersatz Mediterranean Chicken
1 and 1/2 cups (400 ml) goats milk yogurt
2 large cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fruity olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) cardamom powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) dried thyme
3 grinds black pepper
6 large chicken thighs - deboned
2 tablespoons (30 grams) flour
1 large yellow onion
5 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon (4 grams) ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) preserved lemon flakes
2 whole cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) harissa
1 fresh lemon
8 moroccan olives
6 dried apricots
3 medium potatoes
6 tablespoons (90 ml) safflower oil (any vegetable oil or ghee will do)
10 oz. (290 grams) cooked whole chickpeas
1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine (optional)
4 cups (950 ml) water or chicken stock
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
Pinch of sugar
Fresh coriander and mint
Wash chicken thighs thoroughly. Mix all the ingredients for marinade and add chicken. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
In a heavy gauge pot add whole coriander and preserved lemon flakes. Turn heat on medium. Dry toast. When coriander begins to color, remove from heat. Add half the vegetable oil to pot.
Peel onion. Slice on the bias into thin wedges.
Return pot to heat. When oil or ghee begins to bubble add cumin, cinnamon and harissa. Stir for until coated.
Add onions and cook until they are translucent
Cut lemons into eighths. Add to pot
Add wine and a pinch of sugar
Add olives, apricots and chickpeas and 2 cloves of garlic
Turn down heat to low
In a separate fry pan add remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of oil. Dredge the marinated chicken in flour and brown
When chicken is brown add the chicken to the pot with the onions
Deglaze the frying pan with the stock of water
Pour pan juices into pot with chicken
Add bay leaves
Put in oven at 400 F. (200 C.) for 20 minutes
While chicken is baking, peel potatoes. Cut into wedges
Add remaining oil to fry pan. Brown potato wedges on all sides.
When 20 minutes are up remove pot from oven. Add potatoes. Return to oven for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the meat is tender.
Remove from pot. Remove bay leaves. Garnish with fresh coriander and mint.
Serve with spinach smothered in oil and garlic and labane. Enjoy! בתיאבון