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Meet Truman: Jewish Matzah Ball Lover of the Week!

From WWOOFing on an organic farm in Texas, to working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to meeting his girlfriend on GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent retreat – Truman Braslaw has some fascinating life stories to share. Also, he really likes matzah balls. So if you know epic recipes for matzah ball soup – please share in the comment section 🙂

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Truman: I’m from California originally. After living there for a while, I had an itch for adventure. I wanted to move to a  new city, have new experiences, and reinvent myself. So, I moved to Texas and lived on my aunt’s couch for a while, and spent a few months WWOOF-ing on an organic farm. After that, I decided to move down to DC because I’d always been interested in politics. Since moving here, I’ve had amazing opportunities in politics – from working on the Hillary Clinton campaign, to interning at a local Think Tank, to now, becoming a staffer for Virginia’s House of Delegates member Wendy Gooditis.

Allie: What is the most challenging part of working in politics?

Truman: The path to winning can be pretty demanding – it takes a lot of administrative, non-glamorous work. But, when you have legislative success and make policy changes that will impact people’s lives – it’s totally worth it.

Allie: How did you get involved in DC’s Jewish community?

Truman: When I moved to DC, I went to a couple of the Moishe Houses – Columbia Heights and Capitol Hill. From there, I went to coffee with someone from GatherDC, which is how I wound up getting involved in the local Jewish community.

Then, I heard about GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent retreat through a friend, and applied because I was interested in connecting to other young Jewish people. I didn’t know many other people who were going, but I wound up meeting a few amazing people who I’m still really close with — including my girlfriend of over a year now, Molly Cram.

Allie: What would be your dream day of fun in DC if money and logistics were no object?

Truman: I’d start at Open City for brunch and order everything on the menu – since I can never decide what to get. I’d take a few bites of each, and take the rest home as leftovers. Then, I’ll fulfill one of my long-standing dreams to take an open air bus tour of DC on a nice, sunny afternoon. Finally, I’d go somewhere relaxing, like Tryst, and reminisce on the wonderful memories of those experiences.

Allie: What is your Jewish food?

Truman: I’d have to go with matzah balls. Especially the kind when you pack them in so they’re really dense – that’s probably like one half of what I need in life. My dad makes really great matzah ball soup. My girlfriend Molly also makes some matzah balls that are pretty good – for vegetarian ones.

Allie: Any resolutions for the New Year?

Truman: One, learn to make my own matzah ball soup. Two, do what I can to contribute to finding justice in our society with all the racism and intolerance going on.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to de-stress?

Truman: Sometimes, I’ll read statistics textbooks because it’s nice to focus on something completely different for a little, and it helps me figure out answers to so many types of questions. I also like doing ink drawings of weird, abstract shapes. And I love listening to Podcasts, like “Rationally Speaking,” “Freakonomics,” and “Rabiolab.”

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Truman: People can find a place where they belong.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

GTJ’s Satirist Brian F. – MatzoBrawl To Feature Simon vs. Garfunkel, Streisand vs. Gene Simmons in Xmas Eve Boxing Matches

NEW YORK, NY – (@TheComedyNews) – Jewish Americans will have a new reason to get down with some holiday cheer this winter:  the first-annual MatzoBrawl is set to take place live from Madison Square Garden on Christmas Eve.

MatzoBrawl will feature one-on-one boxing matches between prominent Jewish celebrities.

HAPPY GILMORE vs. BILLY MADISON

Fresh off his recent suspension from the PGA Tour, golfer Happy Gilmore will be certain to have some  aggression to blow off in the boxing ring.  The hockey player-turned-golfer is known for his short temper, which will serve him well in the later rounds.

Knibb High School physical education teacher Billy Madison’s best hope for a knockout hinges on two factors:  keeping the trash talk to a minimum, and showing up to the fight with a blood-alcohol level below .08. Special guest referee:  Rob Schneider 

Favorite Gilmore

BARBARA STREISAND vs. GENE SIMMONS 
Gene Simmons, the Israel-born frontman to K.I.S.S. will clash with Barbara Streisand—an equally as overrated popstar who’s relevance was also left in the 1970s.  Since both competitors refused to “condescend to wearing frumpy boxing gloves”, officials have allowed both Streisand and Simmons one foreign object.Streisand is expected to use one of her eight Grammy awards as a weapon, while Simmons will likely do something that involves either fake blood or his grotesquely deformed tongue.  Still, both celebrity-boxers are expected to quit the fight when their excessive makeup starts to smear. 

Favorite: Streisand.  

PAUL SIMON vs. ART GARFUNKEL
Having been buddies since their elementary school days in Queens, folk rockstars Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have gone in and out of personal clashes.  While they have been reportedly getting along for the last decade, both Simon and Garfunkel will reunite in the center of Madison Square Garden to box their way into another hiatus.  Favorite:  Garfunkel

SARAH SILVERMAN vs. SARAH JESSICA PARKER
In what is being billed as “The Battle of the Sarahs”, comedian Sarah Silverman will fight Sarah Jessica Parker in the opening boxing match of MatzoBrawl 2012.Stipulations:  If Parker wins, Silverman has to go a week without using profanity.  If Parker loses to Silverman, Silverman gets to have a night-on-the-town in Chicago with Parker’s husband of fifteen years, Matthew Broderick.   

Favorite:  Parker

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at www.TheComedyNews.com, and enjoy his late-night jokes at www.BrianFishbach.com.  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

Matzah Ball Soup: I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Pot

The combination of the snowfall this past weekend and the fact that everyone around me is coming down with the plague has put me in a funk. In an attempt to embrace the cold weather and give my immune system a warm and tasty boost, I decided to hunker down and make some matzah ball soup. There are a plethora of recipe options out there for matzah ball soup. What attracted me to this particular recipe was that the matzah ball mix called for 4 tablespoons of chicken fat. It’s going to be a rough winter folks, and it would behoove us all to pack on a few more pounds in preparation.

My recommendation for those who want to attempt this recipe is to either a) buy a small chicken or b) buy or own a very, very large pot. Funny enough I bought a pot specifically for making soup. Not funny enough, the pot was barely able to accommodate the bird and all the fixings. When the recipe told me to pour the broth from my large pot into another large pot I started to laugh. Clearly the recipe was mocking me and my dearth of large cookware. Luckily I had enough small pots to accommodate, but it was a close one, that’s for sure.

So how does the whole experience rank? On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “bad” and 5 being “good”:

Prep time: 3

After cooking so many desserts of late it was nice to cook an actual meal! I get a lot of pleasure out of chopping and cutting various ingredients and then deliberately dropping them into a pot. It made me feel very professional. The matzah balls add an hour in prep time, though, as the mix must be refrigerated for an hour before you get to mold them into little balls.

Overall ease: 3

This recipe was rated as “intermediate” on the cooking channel website and I think that’s accurate. Any recipe with multiple parts adds complexity, and in my case, frustration. I’m all about efficiency in the kitchen. (I wash my dishes and cooking implements as I go.) But with this recipe, I couldn’t start on the matzah balls until the soup was done, as I had to skim off the fat from the broth to mix into the matzah ball mix. It doesn’t make for added complexity, but it was a bit frustrating and made for a time-intensive process.

Cook time: 2

The majority of this recipe was of the “set it and forget it” variety, which is ideal when you’re watching halloween movie marathons. I would recommend keeping the matzah ball mix in the fridge for a tad longer than one hour (as the recipe suggests). The mixture was a little too wet and sticky (almost glue-like), making it really difficult to mold them into balls.

Cost: 2

The 5 pound chicken was the biggest expense coming in at about $13. Go vegetarian if you want to slash the price.

Taste: 2

This soup was delicious, but the matzah balls were too dense for my liking. It was quite disappointing after so much preparation and cooking. I’m definitely going to try another variation of this recipe, hopefully one that results in fluffier matzah balls!

Ingredients

Chicken Soup:

  • 1 (5 or 6 pound) hen
  • 2 large celery stalks with leaves, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, sliced in big chunks
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Matzah Balls

  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons chicken fat (from the above soup)
  • 1 cup matzah meal
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 12 cups salted water

Directions

Wash the chicken with water and place in pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off bubbling foam as it forms. Add celery, carrots, onion, herbs, salt, and pepper. Simmer, half-covered at lower heat, for at least 45 minutes, until the chicken seems done. The chicken will come away easily from the bone. Pour soup through strainer to get a clear broth. Let cool. When broth has completely cooled, skim off the fat and save for the matzoh balls.

In a mixing bowl, mix together 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons chicken fat. Stir in the matzah meal and salt. Add 1/4 hot water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Form the matzah dough into balls the size of walnuts. Bring the salted water to a boil. Add the matzah balls, cover, and cook for 20 minutes (don’t even peek!). Bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Remove matzah balls from hot water with a slotted spoon and add to the simmering chicken broth just a few minutes before serving.