Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shavuot tov!

Tonight starts the holiday of Shavuot, the commemoration of the day the Torah was given to Moshe Avienu on Mount Sinai over 3300 years ago. Every year on this holiday, the Torah is given again, and we accept it again. Tonight, the tradition is that we stay up all night studying it.

In a much more plebian sense, lots of people think of this as the festival of cheesecake – why? Because we traditionally eat diary foods on this holiday, and when you think of dairy foods, there’s hardly any finer example than cheesecake.

(Okay – so why do we eat dairy foods? Several reasons, but one is that because from the moment the Torah was given, we became obliged to observe the laws of kashrut, the separation of meat and milk, including the proper slaughter of cattle. But the Torah was given on Shabbat, when no cattle could be slaughtered. That meant there was no meat to eat – so we ate dairy foods. Until today, the tradition remains: dairy foods on Shavuot.)

So cheesecake will be on the table in a lot of homes tonight – but for once I decided to try something different. A few weeks ago I ran across a fantastic old-fashioned Rice Pudding – a creamy, dreamy, rich dairy dessert that’s a whole lot easier to make than cheesecake, and is awfully good for a change.

Just in case you’d like to try it, here it is:

Shavuot Rice Pudding

¾ cup white rice, cooked in water
2 cups milk
1/3 cup white sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
2/3 cup raisins
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter

Combine the cooked rice, the milk, the sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.

Beat the egg slightly, and stir it into the cooked rice/milk mixture, and cook for two minutes more.

Stir in the vanilla and the butter.

That’s it! Enjoy!
Shavuot tov, everyone!

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