Purim – the celebration of Esther and Mordechai’s triumph over wicked Haman – is filled with amazing traditions. On Purim night, we rejoice through recounting Esther’s story and through drinking, wearing masks, and partying. We also give back to our community – by giving mishloach manot (gifts of food) to friends and donating to charity. Here is a number of suggestions as to how you can celebrate Purim in a sustainable, fun, and festive way!
The Whole Megillah. Hazon’s staffer, David Rendsburg, adds a kick to his Megillah reading, by chanting in the voice of the different characters. If you’re reading Megillah this year, make sure to practice your most evil Haman sneers and huffiest Ahasuerus demands.
Start your Pesach parsley. Purim is the perfect time to plant parsley to eat at your seder. The best part is, you can do it even in the tiniest apartment kitchen! Here are all the tips and tricks you need to plant your own parsley.
Pamper yourself. Treat yourself like royalty this Purim. Go to an eco-spa, or shake away winter blues with a Bikram Yoga class. If you’re feeling crafty, make yourself a natural facial mask at home (Purim is all about masks, after all!). Learn how to make a homemade banana face mask.
Throw a Purim Banquet. Invite your family and friends back to your palace after the Megillah reading for a fabulous Purim feast. King Ahasuerus was probably not into potlucks, but you can be. Ask each friend to bring a dish, decorate your living room with tapestries, pillows, and candles and party like it’s ancient Persia.
Make a “Green” Mask. There are many great ways that you can incorporate “green” learning into your Purim carnival activities. A fun, useful, and easy idea to use whether you are having a carnival or not, is to use recycled materials to make masks for this holiday! If you have enough people, or if it is at a carnival, you could even have a contest of who uses the most creative recycled material for their mask!
Recipe originally from The Jew and The Carrot
Persian Sweet Rice
- 3 cups Basmati rice
- 8 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 cup finely slivered orange zest
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups water
- Pinch of saffron threads
- ¾ cup roasted slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoon rose water
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 4 tablespoon vegetable oil
- pinch of saffron
- 2 tablespoon water
Wash the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Soak in cold water and let stand for at least 3 hours. Drain and rinse.
In a large heavy saucepan, bring 8 cups of water to a boil with salt. Add the rice and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse again under cold running water.
To make the orange layer: Fill a small saucepan with cold water. Add the orange zest, bring to boil, drain, then repeat.
In a medium saucepan, combine the zest, water, sugar and saffron and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until syrupy, about 20 minutes. Let cool, then stir in the rosewater and cardamom.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Stir in the turmeric, then 2 tablespoons water.
Spread one-third of the rice in the saucepan. Scatter half of the orange zest over the top, cover with half of the remaining rice, then the remaining filling, and finally the balance of the rice. Poke 7 deep holes into the rice. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
Place a paper towel over the top of the saucepan and cover with the lid. Cook over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender and the bottom is crisp, about 30 minutes.
Carefully remove the orange layer from the top and set aside. Remove the rice layer and place on serving platter. Place orange zest on top of the rice. Break crust from the bottom of the pot and scatter over the top of the orange layer and garnish with the roasted almonds.
Recipe originally from The Jew and The Carrot
- 1 jar Simon Fisher Prune Lekvar
- 1 jar Apricot butter
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Zest of one orange and one lemon rind
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine all filling ingredients and set aside
Cream sugar, honey, oil, eggs and lemon juice
Combine dry ingredients, add to above and blend
Sprinkle extra flour to remove dough from bowl
Roll onto floured board to about 1/4 inch think
Cut with 4” diameter glass
Bake 350 degrees for about 18-10 minutes.
Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/136120/mishloach-manot-recipes-from-jcarrot-readers/#ixzz1ySHO4hpg
SUSTAINABLE SNACKS & SPIRITS
Ditch the dry hamentashen.Crumbly, store-bought hamentashen stuffed with artificially-flavored jelly are a crime against Purim! Fight back by baking your own. Experiment with substituting whole wheat flour and agave nectar in the dough, and think outside the traditional fillings box. Pick up some local jams at the farmers’ market, or make your own apricot jam. Try pinching a dab of Nutella or a dollop of maple-sweetened Mascarpone cheese in the center of your cookies. Your belly will thank you.
Go savory. Who says hamentashen have to be sweet? This year, nix the sugar in the dough, and fill each “cookie” with a mix of sauteed onions, mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, or crubmled feta and spinach – or try making Pizzatashen!
Edible Groggers. Serve crispy, crunchy, NOISY foods this Purim (try things like: fresh veggies and yogurt-dill dip, blue corn chips and salsa or home made pita chips with your favorite store-bought or home made hummus). As guests snack away, their crunches will let Haman know what a wicked, wicked man he really was.
Can the canned fruit! You may want to buy fruit for your hamentashen filling, but try your best to avoid fruit from a can! Buy your fruit for your hamentashen in glass jars, or use fresh fruit. Cans (and most plastics) are lined with a chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA) which is an endocrine disruptor, and a chemical that all should try their best to avoid. Learn more about Bisphenol-A from Grassroots Environmental Education.
Sustainable drinks. Don’t forget to drink sustainably this Purim. Pick an organic wine from our kosher, organic wine list. For some celebratory Whiskey for Purim, check out the Koval Distillery in Chicago for organic spirits. Or mix your drinks using freshly-squeezed juices (orange, grapefruit, carrot/ginger, wheat grass – it’s up to you!), natural sodas, Ginger Brew, or even homemade seltzer. And if you’re going alcohol-free, these delicious mixers taste just as great on their own.
SUSTAINABLE MISHLOACH MANOT
One of the sweetest traditions of Purim is the giving of mishloach manot, gifts of food, to family and friends. Traditionally, one is required to give at least two items of food (one of which should be prepared) to at least two people. But there’s no reason reason to stop there! Here are some tips for adding sustainable flair to your mishloach manot:
Write it Down. Including a note with your wishes for a sweet Purim in your mishloach manot basket is always a nice touch.
Sweeten the pot. Equal Exchange sells fair trade treats (chocolate, coffee, and more) for your mishloach manot basket through their Interfaith Program. Or, try one of our recommended sustainable, kosher chocolates from the Hazon Food Guide.
Brew Peace. Through the Thanksgiving Coffee Co., you can purchase fair trade coffee for your mishloach manot, grown by a collective of Ugandan Jewish, Muslim, and Christian coffee farmers.
Add some color. Tuck in a few beautiful, locally-grown apples, beets, carrots, or other root vegetables in your mishloach manot basket, right next to the hamentashen. Spring is right around the corner, so now is the best time to celebrate the winter harvest, one last time.
Purim offers two additional opportunities to give: Mechazit Hashekel (literally “giving half a coin”) and Mataonot La’Evyonim (giving gifts to the poor). Fulfill these mitzvot with a contemporary twist.
Donate Your Time. Commit to volunteer at your local synagogue or JCC – or prepare food for an Emergency Food Provider. Find opportunities to voluneer at VolunteerMatch.
Suggestions from Fair Trade Judaica:
- Bake your hamentashen with fair trade certified sugar, vanilla, etc.
- Give fair trade certified kosher chocolates, dried fruit and nuts in your mishloach manot
- Deliver your mishloach manot in fair trade baskets
My Jewish Learning - Purim 101
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