It’s Tu Bishvat Time

A Great Time to Strengthen Your Own Family Tree

Just a friendly reminder that Tu Bishvat, the Birthday of the Trees, starts on the evening of Sunday, February 5 and ends on the evening of Monday, February 6. If you need some last minute ideas for food, crafts, and activities, we’ve got you covered.
To Eat
    A common way to celebrate Tu Bishvat is to eat foods that contain the seven species from the Bible: figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, wheat and barley. That means you could make stuffed dates or fig and goat cheese sandwiches. Or you could make a fruity dinner for Tu Bishvat featuring orange and maple baked tofu and persimmon and pistachio cupcakes.
    To keep up with the fruit theme, an orange salad is light and refreshing. And what better way to eat fruit then dipped in chocolate? Here comes in the chocolate fondue with fruit. Lastly, a little adult fun can be had with some homemade sangria using any of your favorite fruits (recipes below).

Fig and Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions
· 8 slices of wheat & barley bread
· 1 large yellow onion, sliced
· 10 ounces soft goat cheese (not crumbled)
· 14 large fresh figs, ends removed and thinly sliced
· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
· Salt to taste
Makes four sandwiches
1. Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat.
2. Add the onions and pinch of salt. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions have softened and turned light brown in color. Remove from heat and set aside (or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two days).
3. To assemble the sandwiches: layer slices of goat cheese, caramelized onions and fig slices, making sure that goat cheese is the first and last layer for each sandwich (it should be touching the bread).
4. To grill sandwiches: In a large sauté pan or on a griddle, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.
5. Place the assembled sandwich in the butter and grill for 2-3 minutes per side, until the bread turns golden brown and crisp.
6. Serve immediately.

Orange and Maple Baked Tofu
Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen
· 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
· 3 cloves garlic, minced
· 1/2 cup orange juice
· 1/4 cup dry white wine
· 1/4 cup maple syrup
· 4 teaspoons brown sugar
· 5 teaspoons soy sauce
· 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
· 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1. Whisk together all ingredients except tofu in a small bowl.
2. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch pieces.
3. Pour marinade into a plastic bag, and add the tofu slices.
4. Seal and allow slices to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, shaking the bag occasionally.
5. Transfer the tofu slices to a baking dish (make sure the pieces do not touch each other).
6. Pour the remaining marinade on top of the tofu.
7. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Remove foil, flip tofu pieces over with tongs, and cook for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered.

Persimmon and Pistachio Cupcakes
Adapted from Spicy, Salty, Sweet
· 4 eggs
· 1 stick unhydrogenated margarine, room temperature
· 3/4 cup pureed persimmon
· 1 cup almond milk
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
· 3/4 cup sugar
· 2 1/2 cups flour
· pinch of salt
· 2 teaspoons baking soda
· 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
· 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
1. Line two cupcake trays with cups and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir together all dry ingredients except sugar in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, combine persimmon, almond milk, and vanilla and set aside.
4. In a third bowl, cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
5. Alternate folding in the flour mixture and puree mixture into the creamed margarine until just incorporated.
6. Alternate folding in the flour mixture and puree mixture into the creamed margarine until just incorporated.
7. Fill cupcake cups until three-quarters full and bake 20-25 minutes until golden.
8. Let cupcakes cool, then top with vegan buttercream frosting and sprinkle with pistachios.

Orange Salad
By Rebecca Bazini
    Have your vitamin C with this refreshing and sweet spiced salad. It’s perfect for a fruit-based holiday like Tu Bishvat, or even as an appetizer on your Shabbat table. Oranges are a delicious fruit in the winter, and this recipe will certainly brighten up your winter days!
· 6 oranges
· 2 scallions
· 7 or 8 pitted black olives (Kalamata)
· 2 tbsp Olive oil
· 1 tsp salt
· 1 tsp Pepper
· 2 tsp paprika
· 1 pinch cinnamon
· 1 tbsp mint (roughly chopped)
1. Peel the oranges and slice them–or supreme them (supreme means to remove the skin, pith, and membranes of the orange and then separate the wedges). Then place on a large and flat plate.
2. Peel the onions, cut them in half and then into thin slices. Spread them over the oranges.
3. Drizzle the olive oil over the oranges. Salt and pepper. Add the paprika and cinnamon.
4. Finally, add the olives and the chopped mint on top.

Tu Bishvat Chocolate Fondue
By Leah Schapira
    My kids don’t like new things. If I could serve the same two rotating dinners, they would be thrilled. But on Tu Bishvat it’s traditional to eat a new fruit that you haven’t eaten the entire season so that you can recite the blessing of shehecheyanu, marking something new.
    Fig sandwiches, spicy olives or date chicken might be delicious and traditional, but they’re not things my little ones will dare eat.
    The solution: Chocolate Fondue! Whip up hot melted chocolate in minutes, set up some fruit–pineapples, cherries, apples, pomegranates, grapes, dried fruit–and just start dipping. You’ll end up with great memories and happy kids. And who knows—the neglected star fruit might just get a chocolate makeover!
· 2 (3 1/2 oz.) bars of good quality bittersweet chocolate
· 1/2 cup whipped topping (non dairy or heavy cream)
· 2 tablespoons liqueur or brandy (preferably fruit)
1. In a small sauce pot, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.
2. While it’s simmering, chop the chocolate into small pieces.
3. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until the chocolate milts. Add the liqueur.
(Note: you can do it the lazy way: place everything but the liqueur in a microwaveable dish. Put it in the microwave and heat on high on 20-second intervals. Check the mixture and mix every 20 seconds until the chocolate is melted. Even though the chocolate may not look melted, mix it to make sure–be careful not to burn the chocolate! When chocolate is melted, mix in the liqueur.)
5. Place the hot fondue in the center of the table.
6. Thread fruit on skewers or long forks and invite your guests to dip the fruit of the choice into the hot chocolate.
    Tip: If you don’t have a fondue pot that you can use a microwaveable bowl. If the chocolate fondue gets too cool for dipping, just stick it back into the microwave and zap it for a few seconds, give it a good mix, and place it back on the table for everyone to enjoy.

Sangria for Tu Bishvat
By Joy of Kosher
    Reprinted with permission from (courtesy of thejewishhostess).
    I love fruity mixed drinks, and this is the best to get you in the festive mood for Tu Bishvat. There are a million ways to make sangria, so don’t be afraid to use whatever fruits and wines you have on hand. If you can let the mix sit for a day, it gives  the fruit the chance to soak up the wine and gives the wine a chance to sweeten from the fruits’ natural flavors. It is best to use a glass pitcher (so everyone can see your beautiful creation!) with an open spout and a wide mouth. This way, fruit will pour into the glasses with the wine, and your guests can use a large spoon to fish out all the tasty treats in the drink.
You’ll need:
· 1 bottle dry red wine
· 1/4 cup brandy
· 1 bunch grapes
· 1 orange
· 1 apple
· 2 fresh figs
· 1/4 pineapple (optional)
· Strawberries (optional)
· Cinnamon sticks (optional)
· 2 (3 1/2 oz.) bars of good quality bittersweet chocolate
· 1/2 cup whipped topping (non dairy or heavy cream)
· 2 tablespoons liqueur or brandy (preferably fruit)
1. Pour the bottle of wine into the pitcher, add the brandy.
2. Cut up the grapes, apple, and figs into really small pieces.
3. Wash the outside of the orange, cut in half, and then slice thin half-wedges.
4. Dump the fruit into the pitcher and give it a stir with a large wooden spoon.
5. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The longer it stays in there, the more flavor it will get!


To Do
Planting Parsley
    Tu Bishvat is all about celebrating trees, and a perfect way to get into the spirit of the holiday is to do some planting of your own. Trees might be a bit too big to handle, but planting your own parsley is a fun way for your kids to get hands-on with this nature-based holiday. And the best part? The parsley should be ready to go just in time to make an appearance on your Passover seder plate.
You’ll need:
· A small flowerpot
· Potting soil
· Parsley seeds
· Paint or markers
·  Water
1. Begin by allowing your child to decorate the pot with the paint or markers.
2. Next, put some soil in the pot. 
3. Make a small depression at the top and put in a few parsley seeds.
4. In Add a bit of water, and you’re done… for today.
    Be sure to water your plant every few days and to place it in a sunny location so that your parsley grows by Passover.

Fruit Mandala
By Sarah Chandler
    Tu Bishvat is all about appreciating trees, and one of their most wonderful gifts to give people is fruit. This fun project is not only a craft, but also something to eat. It can be a beautiful centerpiece for a special meal that then becomes the dessert that everyone shares.
You’ll need:
· Cut up fruit, ideally in different colors. We recommend oranges, grapes, strawberries, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, pomegranate, and kiwi.
· A plate to arrange it on
· Something sticky to help the fruit stay in place: honey, frosting, peanut butter, or chocolate syrup work well.
1. Simply dip the fruit into your something sticky, and arrange it on the plate. You can do a random design, a Jewish star, concentric circles, a tree: whatever you and your child want to do. It is sometimes easiest to create the border first, then fill in the center—especially when working with your child.
2. Another option is for the adult to draw a design on a piece of paper, cover it with saran wrap, and place it on the bottom of the plate. Then your child can try to match the design with the fruit.

Tu Bishvat Bird Feeder
By Joanna Brichetto
    Birds need trees for food and shelter, but trees actually need birds, too. Biological sciences have proven what my gut tells me: when my kid hangs a pine cone feeder in the Sugar Maple, the Sugar Maple likes it. And if the Sugar Maple likes it, well, then it’s a perfect activity for Tu Bishvat, the birthday of the trees.
    If a seed-laden nut-butter pine cone attracts more birds to a tree, chances are good some of those birds will hang around and chow down on bugs. We can keep the birds around with regularly maintained feeding stations that make our yards attractive to nest-building newlyweds in the spring, again augmenting the presence of birds, decimating the bugs, and thus benefiting our favorite trees.
The Jewish Reason
    But there are other reasons we feed the birds at Tu Bishvat–super Jewy, traditional reasons. The Shabbat right before Tu Bishvat is Shabbat Shira, or Shabbat of the Song. A custom for Shabbat Shira is to feed the birds because, well, birds sing.
    Plus, making these bird feeders any time of the year bags the kid-friendly mitzvah of tzaar baalei hayim, the commandment to take care of living creatures.
Re-Gifting is Good
    Really, we’re re-gifting. The tree already gave us the pine cone. We take that gift from the tree, add to it a creamy spread made from tree fruit (almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter), roll it in birdseed (likewise gleaned from the bounty of nature), and voila: a creatively repurposed gift aimed right back at the giver.
    We have so much more to be grateful for to trees than just cones and fruit, of course. They also give us medicine, shade, wood, wildlife habitat, food, beauty, oxygen, carbon sequestration, rainfall interception, and a bazillion products we use every day.
    If you are new to the classic pine cone feeder, here’s a quick How-To.
You’ll need:
Pine cone
Nut butter (peanut, soy, almond, etc.)
Blunt knife for kid to spread with
Shallow bowl or plate
Biodegradable yarn to tie to tree limb
Let child smear pine cone with nut butter and then roll the pine cone in a plate of birdseed.
2. Help her tie yarn to one end of pine cone.
3. Hang from a tree limb that can be seen from the inside of the house, so kids can see birds enjoying the gift.


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