Friday, December 4, 2009

Shabbat preparations

I always like to do as much of my Shabbat preparations as possible beforehand, on Thursday and even Wednesday, but no matter what, my Fridays are always packed. There are things that are better made fresh, like bread and salads, there's always some cleaning and there's also the matter of getting all three of us bathed before Shabbat, which means around 4 this time of year.

Someone asked me to write about my Shabbat to-do list sometime. Cooking is the main part of what I do on Thursday and early Friday. I make chicken and sometimes fish, side dishes, soup, a variety of salads and finally, bread (which is something my husband likes to do, so I usually leave it to him). I also usually bake a cake, preferably on Wednesday when I still have enough time.

I sweep and wash the floors, change the sheets and the towels, and do general tidying up. My husband does what is needed to keep electricity working without us actually turning on any appliances during Shabbat, such as turning on the hot plate and programming the living room lights to go on and off at desired times.

We clear up the areas we're going to use during Shabbat from things that are not to be touched or used, such as small electric appliances, pencils, and such like.

Another lady asked me whether I might sometime include a photo of our Shabbat table. I'm sorry but right now I don't see how to do it, as I can't use a camera on Shabbat and I'm usually not organized enough to have my table set and waiting in advance. I can tell you, however, that we usually start with bread and salads, which I display in little serving plates on the table, and then proceed to the main course. During the week, our meals are casual and usually include just one dish and "something on the side" (soup and bread, pizza, pasta...). We eat vegetarian during the week. On Shabbat our meals are fancier, served more prettily, and include a bit of meat and/or fish.

I like to make quantities of food that would be plenty for the three Shabbat meals. However, sometimes it's difficult to strike a balance. For example, I still have beetroot salad from the previous Shabbat. And we only just finished eating the rice-and-lentils I made a week ago. I suppose this requires some re-evaluation.

Well, and now I truly need to get busy.


Anonymous said...

I had to laugh when you mentioned having to have the THREE of you bathed by Shabbat. We need to have the seven of us all showered by then. Three is a piece of cake! With every shower, there is laundry, a wet floor, etc...and one needs to keep the boiler on for hours in the winter.

For several years now I have set my Shabbat table Friday morning. Before the house is clean or the food all cooked. It doesn't take long to do, and it puts the house in a real Shabbat atmosphere. Plus it's something I enjoy. I buy different napkins each week, put a little vase or different accessory out - my own creative outlet.

Of course, it helps that I have a separate dining table. Otherwise we'd have no place for Friday lunch.
Shabbat Shalom,

Emilie said...

Hi Anna,

I am not Jewish and I live in an area where I don't have any exposure to Jewish ways. I apologize if this question is very basic! Could you explain the rules of Shabbat to me? You've mentionned not being able to use electricity or pencils during Shabbat. Is this because it would encourage you to work? What if you write for pleasure? Would using a pencil be okay then?
Your blog is a fascinating eyeopener for me - thank you!

Anonymous said...

I can't help chuckling a bit Anna! When your tribe increases, it will be more food, more baths, and more pencils to collect ( particularly if you homeschool your children)...Ahhhh, a husband with a knack for baking...what a blessing! ;)

Just curious...are you not permitted to eat leftover Shabbat foods the following week or incorporate them into your meal plans? or are those foods just for Shabbat?

Heather said...

Would you mind explaining sometime how it's okay to use electricity during Shabbat? I know that with timers, you are not having to do work by turning on the lights. But why isn't having a timer turn lights on and off still considered work since it takes work (albeit at the power company) to make electricity for the lights? As an outsider looking in, this strikes me as keeping the letter of the law but not keeping the intent of the law. Please don't think that I am trying to be contrary; I'm genuinely curious as to how the Orthodox have determined what is and is not permitted.

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Would love to have the recipe for this bread.

I enjoy your blog and hope to catch up on past writings.

Tracy :)

Bethany said...

Thank you for these posts. I find them fascinating!

I have a question about how you store food. Are you allowed to open and close the refrigerator? Is the light bulb undone? Or would that light not count? You've got me so curious! :)

Erika said...

I love that you shared your shabbat prep in your post today.
I am not Jewish but I try to get things organized for Sunday for us. I try to do it on Friday so that Saturday is free for us to do family things etc. But over the last couple months I have been sorely lacking in the get up and go department. We are usually so rushed during the week dinner isn't a fancy affair but to make the table Saturday night nice for Sunday is something I think I will work on. I do have a meal already ready in the crockpot Saturday night and just pop it in the base in the morning and turn it on. So its all cooked when we get home from church at noontime. And I don't make dinner on Sunday night. But I know I could at least put more prep into something to easily snack on but I don't always.

Thanks for the inspiration to get back on the bandwagon.


Paulina said...

Thanks for sharing!

Now I too need to go and get busy because it'll be dark soon!

Blessings and shalom,

Caroline said...

Hello Anna,
I nominated you for an award at my blog, She Walks in the Woods!
Stroll on over to copy and paste it into your own blog if you'd like.
Take care and have a wonderful weekend!
xoxo Caroline

Anonymous said...

Hello Mrs. Anna T.,
thanks for posting!
I really appreciate your lifestyle: especially that you have a vegetarian diet during the week although your husband is not a "strict" vegetarian.
It is an expression of your respect for other creatures, a frugal and simple lifestyle and a healthy decision, too!!
If all people eat less meat it would be possible to eat once a week high quality and organic meat (withour antibiotics and without intensive farming).

Miss Rachel said...

Hello... I was reading over your blog, and saw that you had a recipe for challah, or challot as you call it, :) and was wondering, what kind of flour do you use for it? You didn't specify in the recipe. :)

I make the challah/challot for our Shabbat dinner too, and I've tried a few recipes. I sometimes use all wheat, which flattens the bread more, and then there are some times I use pastry/wheat mix and its fluffier. I would love to know. :)

my blog is -

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear friends, thank you for commenting.

The laws of Shabbat are many and complex, and I couldn't possibly find time to discuss them all on my blog. If you want general info, Google "Jewish Shabbat laws" and you'll find a multitude of articles and FAQs.

Yes, we definitely use leftover Shabbat foods during the week. It sustains us for 2 days at least :o)

Yep, having a separate dinner table would have. We have just one table however, for all meals and for sewing and ironing and kneading bread, so having it free since Friday morning wouldn't work for us as much as I'd love it.

And I expect that as our family grows, I'll find new sources of flexibility and creativity when I'm challenged with the task of having the 5, 7, or 10 of us showered on time. :o)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Tracy, the bread is the onion bread; I posted its recipe not long ago. Only without the onions. :O)

Miss Rachel, we just use all-purpose flour.

Sasha said...

I have a curious question - do you eat the meat and fish you make for Shabbat?

Mrs. Anna T said...

I eat the fish but not the meat. :o)

Chedva said...

When your daughter is older she can sweep and wash the floor in the living room and set the table on Thursday night. (That's what we did in our family.)

Anonymous said...

my mouth is watering! That bread looks so yummy! U are an amzing person!