The 2 Ways to Live a Good Life: Parashat Chayei Sarah

In Lech Lecha, Avraham is given the most difficult trials of his lifetime, amasses his enormous fortune; safely travelling far and wide with his beautiful wife, Sarah, and lives a very eventful, challenging, and rewarding life. That is, until the Akeida. 

Parshat Chayei Sarah immediately follows Parshat Lech Lecha and creates a stark contrast in not only pacing, but the story-telling puts these two parshot at extreme opposition with one another. It feels almost contradictory to what’s happened.

The Akeida is not only Avraham’s greatest test, but it is also the trial that changes the course of his story. The fallout between him and Yitzchak is irreparable and the two are never together again. Not only does it ruin his relationship with his favourite son, but the shock of the news kills even his wife.

Following through with G-d’s command had serious repercussions for Avraham. If he had known this, would he have still been so eager?

After the climax of the Akeida and Sarah’s death (ironically called, “The Life of Sarah”), Avraham’s life totally changes when Yitzchak leaves after they come down the mountain. After Sarah is buried in the Cave of Machpeila, the father and son part ways forever and Avraham is left to settle down with a new wife and start another family: a new phase of his life that fulfills the rest of G-d’s blessing to Avraham, but only after securing a bride for Yitzchak. Despite the fact his son won’t talk to him anymore, Avraham still insists on ensuring his son is cared for.

This is when we go from learning about the an unimaginable, incomparable, one-time sacrifice that ruins an entire family of Patriarchs, to focusing on the seemingly mundane life-cycle events of Jewish burial and matrimony.

In many ways, these parshot could not be more different. In another way, it is commentating on these events accurately. Despite the drama of it all, there couldn’t have been a more solemn time in Avraham’s life than mourning the loss of his most beloved wife and son, and meets the end of his old life all at the same time; both losses being a direct result of his own actions. Perhaps it’s fitting that these seem almost like two separate authors.

I can’t help but wonder what Yitzchak was thinking after coming down the mountain. Perhaps he left his father not only because of the trauma of the Akeida and losing his mother, but he wouldn’t take part in “Avraham’s Adventures” any longer. I didn’t even like being dragged to the grocery store by my parents, never mind a three-day journey to a mountaintop to be used as a sacrifice.

Maybe Yitzchak leaves his father to start his own spiritual journey, independent of Avraham’s legacy. Yitzchak chooses to serve G-d in his own way; in a tranquil field, awaiting the love of his life.

It also feels like a bit of a sick joke that Avraham is promised generations of righteous descendants, but G-d never shared that it would not be with Sarah; who was only given one son. But it also shows Avraham is willing to accept the repercussions of his actions and continue to do his best to follow G-d’s path for him. Avraham decides the end of his own story by choosing creation (and procreation) over self-destruction. Even if the end of his story is plain and uneventful, he chose it.

There is more than one way to choose to do good. We don’t need to live the most exciting lives at every moment. Everything we do doesn’t need to consciously contribute to some grander scheme. We can not always be making miracles–there comes a time when we need to settle down and enjoy a peaceful existence and Yitzchak demonstrates living our lives with intention is enough. But we must also be like Avraham, always ready to answer our call-to-action.

Cheap + Delicious Vegan-Kosher Jambalaya

1-pot recipe
Makes 6-8 servings
Total Time: 50-60 minutes

INGREDIENTS

PANTRY
– 2 cups of Short grain brown rice
– 1 box of vegetable broth
– 1 can of crushed tomatoes
– 1 can of black beans
– 1/2 a can of black olives (diced)
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil

FRESH
– 2 bell peppers (diced)
– 1/2 a large yellow onion (sliced)
– 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

HERBS
– 3 dried bay leaves
– 5 sprigs of tyme

SPICES
– Paprika
– Cumin
– Salt
– Pepper

SUGGESTION:
I wish I had added some finelt chopped serano peppers to this to give it a more authentic flavour, I just didn’t have any on-hand.

NOTE:
I “salted” and “peppered” at every step.

STEPS
1. In a large sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fry your FRESH ingredients.
2. Immediately add HALF of your SPICES and stir to evenly coat everything.
3. Let it fry for 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
4. Add the black beans and black olives and fry for another 3 minutes.
5. Using a sieve, rinse the rice under cold water for 3 minutes. Continuously stir the rice until the water runs clear.
6. Combine the rice in the pot and fry it for 5 minutes or until it is crisp, stirring every 60 seconds.
7. Add the remaining INGREDIENTS and SPICES and combine.
8. Heat to a boil and then let it simmer for 35-45 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked. Stir occasionally, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom.

Serve with some warm corn bread (or just corn on the cob) and indulge in comfort!

Vegan-Kosher 1-pot Pulled Pork Recipe

I couldn’t find an quick and easy “pulled pork” jackfruit recipe online, so I made my own! I want to try this next in my slow-cooker for Shabbat… Is that “Kosher”?

Kosher, Vegan and can be made gluten-free

I wanted the cheapest vegan pulled pork in as few steps as possible. This is also a 1-pot recipe, so all you will need is a cutting board, knife, a sauce pan, spatula, and something to break apart the jackfruit.

The only things in here are jackfruit, onion, oil, spices and vegetable broth. If you’re in a pinch, water will do. That makes this less than 5 ingredients! 

All this food from the clearance bins was less than $6:

-$1.67 for jackfruit

-$1.99 for 2 heads of iceberg lettuce (of which I only needed 1/2 of 1)

-$1.49 for the buns (regular $2.99) In actuality those buns were in my freezer from last week, but I added its cost for posterity.

Ingredients:

The onion, leftover broth, and spices I already had at home, so you can round the total up to $6 if you like. I shop at dinner hour during the week, which is the best time to find half-off fruits, veggies and bread. The stuff that gets thrown away at the end of the night is sometimes even more than 50% (like the iceberg lettuce I got).

Directions:

  1. Sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of oil with spices and cook until brown (about 5 minutes)
  2. Add jackfruit and fill the pan with broth until the jackfruit is mostly submerged. 
  3. Cover the pan and let it simmer until the jackfruit is soft (for 10-15 minutes).
  4. Once the jackfruit is soft, add the barbecue sauce and cook until hot. 
  5. Put on a bun (or gluten-free alternative), top it with some crunchy lettuce and it’s ready to serve!

These with a side of coleslaw or potato salad, I see this being my favourite summer comfort food. This was my first attempt, so I’m looking forward to trying it again.

Next time I would like to make my own barbecue sauce, but I was being really lazy… If you tried making this yourself, let me know what you loved or may have done differently in the comments below!

My Easy 1 Pot Baked Mac N Cheez (Vegan, Nut-free)

When I’m in artist-mode I don’t take care of myself. I’m more than guilty of getting lazy and slipping up with my self-care. Self-employed people work endless hours, skipping meals and losing sleep over our work.

When it comes to being lazy and trying to cook, they usually don’t go together. It’s always the same thing: I need a break and go to make something to eat, I’m too tired to think of something to eat—never mind find a recipe—and then just order pad-thai for the second time this week instead.

If you’re finding yourself in a dinner-funk, this one is for you!

I will be using “cheez” rather than “cheese” because this is a vegan recipe. There is no dairy in this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of elbow macaroni (or any pasta)
  • 2 cups of milk substitute
  • ⅔ cup of cheez powder (recipe below)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ⅓ cup of vegan cheddar cheez
  • bread crumbs

Directions for Pasta:

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil: set stovetop to medium-high until boiling
  2. Once boiling, add 3 cups of elbow macaroni (or any pasta) and cook according to package—I was unfortunately out of macaroni noodles and had to use penne
  3. Add a pinch of salt and stir occasionally
  4. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit
  5. Remove pasta from heat and turn stovetop down to medium-low for the cheez sauce
  6. Strain the pasta and put it in a casserole dish for later

Directions for Cheez Sauce:

  1. Add milk, salt, pepper, and minced garlic to your warm saucepan (the pot from before)
  2. Whisk all the clumps out before melting in the vegan cheez
  3. Melt cheez over medium-low stovetop, pour sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir evenly
  4. Press the pasta down to pack it into the dish before adding bread crumbs
  5. Add 3 fist fulls of bread crumbs and the rest of the cheez on top 
  6. After the last of the cheese, I added an extra fist-full of bread crumbs for good measure
  7. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, at 350° Fahrenheit

Ideas for variations:

  • Add buffalo wing sauce to your cheez sauce to spice things up (I’m the only spicy food lover in the house, which is the only reason I didn’t try it)
  • Add onions when you bake your pasta for some more variation in texture
  • Make it more kid-friendly by adding extra cheez and swapping macaroni for bow-tie noodles—I halved the recommended amount of cheez to reduce the cost-per-portion, but you can never add too much cheez!

So that’s my easy 1-pot baked vegan macaroni and “cheese” recipe for lazy artists and busy people. Let me know how easy this was if you tried this at home and how it turned out—if you’ve been looking for an excuse to use your pretty pyrex dishes, here it is!