Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Borei Minei V'samim

4 of the Tenth Month 5768

Too late for Hanukkah, this spice mixture, gift idea is good for any occasion, year round.

This is not a new idea, of course, but that does not make it any less creative, personable, and useful in the performance of a misswah, the misswah of Havdalah.

It also makes a great project for kids in the classroom or at home. They do not only create something, but can also learn about the spices' involved, according to their grade levels. Cloves used to be used as a meat preservative. Cinnamon is a natural stimulant, as well as an ant repellent (I've tried this, and it works, but not 100%). Cardamom is added to coffee in Israel. You can also find out which spices were used in the Qetoreth (Temple Incense).

Other interesting Jewish facts about spices include the Stropkover Rebbe's, SHLIT"A, custom of making a blessing over the smelling of spices after the night time Shabbath Qiddush, and before eating bread.

Here I reused an old plastic spice bottle for myself. You can use the container of your choice, ceramic, metallic, glass, wicker, store-bought, hand-made, etc. The spices will keep their potency longer a sealed container than in an unsealed one.

Here's a favorite recipe, which comes from a Satmar friend of mine.


Cloves - ציפורן
Cardamon - הל
Rosebuds - ניצות ורדים
Star Anise - כוכב אניס

Cinnamon Sticks
Cinnamon Sticks - מקלות קינמון

Start with cloves, spooning in a tablespoon's worth, then the same with cardamom, then rosebuds. If you use a transparent container, you will see the layered effect. After the first layers, take two cinnamon sticks, and wedge them into the middle of the container. Continue layering the first three spices, occasionally wedging in some star anise against the side, so that its star shape is apparent. Continue until a couple of centimeters below the top, so that the cinnamon sticks remain visible.

Mix and match spices you find at you local shuq or farmers' market. Experiment and enjoy!

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