Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Trees

Tomorrow, Jews will celebrate Tu B'Shevat, the 15th day of the month of Shevat -- the birthday of trees. What better holiday could there be for an environmentalist with the first name Ilana (Hebrew for Tree Sapling) and middle name Tamar (Hebrew for Date Palm Tree)? While a relatively minor holiday in Jewish tradition, Tu B'Shevat has been central to my life. I was married on Tu B'Shevat (technically, since it was after sundown, it was no longer Tu B'Shevat, but you get the idea), and my Bat Mitzvah was also the week of Tu B'Shevat. Clearly, my parents knew the kind of person I'd grow up to be when they named me.

Given its importance to me, the very least I could do to mark the occasion is to post a Tu B'Shevat recipe. Traditonally, Jews eat foods that grow on trees on Tu B'Shevat. Here is my very simple no-bake treat comprised entirely of tree products:

Tree Bars
1 cup dried, unsulphured apricots
1 cup dried, unsulphured figs, trimmed of stems
1 cup dried, unsulphured dates, pitted
1 cup raw almonds
2 cups coconut butter

Grease a 13x9 inch glass baking dish. In a food processor, combine the apricots, figs and dates. Process until chopped well (some small chunks can remain). Transfer to a large mixing bowl. In the processor, chop the almonds until well chopped (small chunks can remain). Combine the almonds with the dried fruit in the bowl.

Soften the coconut butter, either on the stovetop or in the microwave, until it is just spreadable. Add the coconut butter to the dried fruit mixture and combine thoroughly, using your hands (and your kids' hands!).

Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the baking dish. Cover and chill in the fridge for one hour. Cut into squares and serve. To store, wrap each bar in parchment or waxed paper and keep in the fridge.

Makes 24 bars.

Note: For a less rich, less fatty option, cut down the coconut butter to 1 1/2 cups.

While you're celebrating Jewish Earth Day, check out a few mitzvot (good deeds) that go well with the Tu B'Shevat spirit:
- 5 Actions You Can Take in 15 Minutes to Protect Forests
- Help Protect Forestry & Ecology in Israel
- Protect the World's Remaining Rain Forests, Including the Amazon
- Plant a tree in your backyard

No comments: