Shelley's Blog en-us Fri, 22 Jun 2018 21:50:33 -0500 (c) 2018, All rights reserved. <![CDATA[The Seven Species]]> Deuteronomy 8:8 praises the land of Israel for being "a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and [date] honey." These agricultural products are known as the "seven species." On the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shvat, the new year for trees, it is custom to eat the seven species. Tu B'Shvat usually falls around late January or early February.

The seven species are the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Replica super foods of the Bible. No modern fad diet holds a candle to this ancient Deuteronomy menu. Packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and the monounsaturated fats, all of our diets could use a healthy injection of each of the Biblical super foods. For the next few months, B'tayavon will be rolling out different recipe options using one or more of the seven species. Stay tuned.

•Wheat (chitah)

•Barley (se'orah)

•Grapes (gefen)

•Figs (te'enah)

•Pomegranates (rimon)

•Olives or olive oil (zayit)

•Dates (tamar)

Shelley Neese is Vice President of


"Susan Michael from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, is church support for Israel merely a tool to convert the Jews?"


"Earl Cox from Israel Always, do Christian Zionists only support Israel to realize the scenario of Armageddon?"


The answers to these questions rarely matter. The question itself attempts to unmask alleged conspiracies of Christian Zionism and expose ambiguities in the alliance between pro-Israel Christians and Jews.


<![CDATA[Sweet Potato Pizza]]> Pizza in Israel has a different flare than pizza in the U.S. For starters, kosher pizza can't have any meat toppings since you can't mix meat and dairy. Since pepperoni and bacon aren't an option, Israeli pizza joints are very creative with the vegetable toppings they offer: tuna, corn, hard boiled egg, etc. One of the more famous pizza chains in Israel is called Pizza Meter. This recipe is an attempt to recreate one Pizza Meter's specialtiues: Sweet Potato Pizza.


1 tube refrigerated pizza crust
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium onion, sliced thin
3 tsp olive oil, divided
black pepper
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated


1) Preheat oven to 425. Unroll pizza crust and press evenly over the bottom of greased cookie sheet.
2) Bake crust 5 minutes and remove from oven.
3) Wash sweet potato and pierce skin several times with a fork. Cook potato in microwave on high for five minutes or until tender. Turn over potato halfway through cooking.<...]]> <![CDATA[Israeli salad]]> The Israeli Salad makes a critical appearance at almost every meal in Israel, including breakfast. Its the base that so many Israeli meals are built on. You can eat it plain but its most commonly stuffed in a pita with some humus, labneh, or falafel. It took me years before I could chop the vegetables as finely as a true Israeli. Really, in this salad, the finer the vegetables are chopped, the better.


4 cucumbers, peeled and diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
5 scallions, diced
½ cup fresh parsley, minced
½ cup fresh mint leaves, minced
¼ cup olive oil
3 tblsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp minced garlic
1 tblsp salt
1 tblsp black pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin

1) Toss the cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper, scallions, and herbs together in a large bowl.
2) In a separate bowl prepare the dressing by combining the oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and seasonings. When ready to serve, toss the salad an...]]> <![CDATA[The noodle kugel]]> "Um, What is a Kugel?" When I first asked this question at a Sabbath dinner, it was like I had just stamped the letters "G-E-N-T-I-L-E" on my forehead.

As it turns out, kugels are as common in a Jewish Ashkenazi kitchen as jambalaya is in my Louisiana home. Kugels are baked puddings, usually with egg noodles or potatoes as the base. Their eggs give them a custardy essence and they are usually served as a side dish for Sabbath lunches. Besides those commonalities, no two kugel recipes are alike. They can be savory or sweet; parve or dairy; fruit based or vegetable based. Over the next few weeks I'll be rolling out my various kugel recipes but feel free to search the vast array of kugel recipes there are out there.

1 pound flat egg noodles
8 tblsp unsalted butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
5 eggs
2 cups sour cream
1 ½ cups milk
2 cups cottage cheese
1 tblsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1 cup of dried fruit (optional)
2 cups cornflakes, crushed
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

<![CDATA[Maimonides chicken soup]]> Chicken Soup is one dish that has reached mythical status in Jewish culture. Known as the "Jewish Penicillin," chicken soup is offered to nurse colds, eliminate headaches, and even comfort broken hearts. There is almost nothing chicken soup is not purported to cure. This idea dates back to at least the 12th century when Maimonides, a famous Jewish theologian and physician, prescribed chicken soup to "neutralize body constitution." Maimonides believed the golden broth would cure disease as serious as leprosy or chronic as asthma.

4-5 pound whole chicken
1 pound chicken wings
2 large white onions, peeled and quartered
1 large purple onion, peeled and quartered
2 parsnips, quartered
3 celery stalks including leaves, halved
5 carrots, halved
3 garlic cloves
6 parsley sprigs
¾ tsp dried thyme
4 quarts water
salt and pepper to taste

Optional add-ins: matzo balls, rice, egg noodles, fresh dill and/or vermicelli

1) Trim visible fat and extra skin from the whole chicken. Empty the cavity of the chicken and discard giblet...]]> <![CDATA[Kibbeh]]> Kibbeh is a popular appetizer in Israel. Made out of bulgur and minced meat, kibbeh is fried and oblong-shaped. The first time I tasted kibbeh it reminded me of the fried boudin balls I grew up eating at the local gas station in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In its own weird way, eating kibbeh in Beer Sheva was like tasting a little piece of home when I needed some familiar comfort food. *This recipe makes a very large batch of kibbeh. I fry half of the balls and the other half I freeze. When they are defrosted they still fry nicely.

3 lbs ground beef or lamb, finely ground and divided
1 cup fine bulgur wheat
2 cups onion, finely chopped and divided
2 basil leaves, chopped (optional)
1 ½ tbsp salt, divided
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp allspice
½ cup toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
vegetable oil for frying


1) For the kibbeh shell, rinse the bulgur wh...]]> <![CDATA[Bedouin tea]]> *Bedouins are well-known in the Middle East for their hospitality. If you've ever had the good fortune to be invited into a Bedouin tent than you have most certainly had a cup of their tea. Bedouin have their own blends of teas that they make from the dried leaves of desert plants (habuck and marmaraya). In the US, dried thyme or sage can be substituted for the desert herbs for a similar flavor. I like to imagine the nomadic Abraham serving this kind of tea to his angelic guests...

2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried sage
2 cardamon pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 teaspoons loose black tea

1) Heat 4 ½ cups of water with the thyme, sage, cardamom, cinnamon, and black tea.
2) Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and seep for 5 minutes.
3) Strain tea and serve with sugar. Bedouin usually pour the tea directly over the sugar in the cup.

*Recipe by Shelley Neese, vice president of The Jerusalem Connection.
Click h...]]> <![CDATA[Lamb with dried fruit]]> *Tu B’Shvat (“New Year of the trees”) is one of the minor Jewish holidays. This winter holiday marks when to calculate the agricultural cycle for the purpose of biblical tithes. Each year on Tu B’shvat, Israelis eat a feast of dried fruits in keeping with the “New Year” holiday tradition and celebrating the seasonality of the fruit tree. This recipe would make a great holiday meal.

2 lb boneless lamb shoulder, cut into cubes
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
cinnamon stick
½ lemon, zest only
½ cup dates, pitted
¾ cup dried apricots
¾ cup dried prunes, pitted
¼ cup golden raisins
2 tblsp brown sugar

1) Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat. Add cubes of lamb and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Add onion with lamb and cook for additional 5 minutes.
2) Add to the skillet 1 cup of water, salt, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest. Cover skillet and cook on low for 45 minutes.
3) While lamb is cooking, boil 1 cup of water in small...]]>