Sweet potatoes for a sweet year

Today marks Rosh Hashanah of the year 5777 and if you want to be Jewish for a day, you should eat. Because you look tired. Your cheeks look sunken. Are you eating enough? Here, I have something in the fridge, no, no, it’s no trouble, it’s just a nosh—

steinbergYou know about apples and honey for a sweet year. How about sweet potatoes? Inelegant to look upon, beloved of babies but not a lot of other people, the sweet potato usually arrives in its multitudes around the time of the Jewish new year. Let’s open From the Jewish Heartland: Two Centuries of Midwest Foodways to see what authors Ellen F. Steinberg and Jack H. Prost found to add a bit of starchy goodness that we need to face the autumn chill.

The name “tzimmes,” which means something akin to “mish-mosh” in Yiddish, accurately describes this baked casserole. Tzimmes, which sometimes contains only vegetables with dried fruit, can be baked or stewed. Unlike those, this version is a mixture of vegetables, starch, and meat. Originally from Turkey and well-known throughout the world, carrots, both white and orange, grow easily in the Midwest, keep well, and are normally a fairly inexpensive vegetable to purchase in stores or farmers’ markets.

Sweet potatoes, a tender New World tuber, are commercially produced in the southern United States, where the weather is warm and frost-free during the growing season. Around the time of the Jewish New Year in September, they are plentiful, and cheap. Feder’s carrot- and sweet potato-based beef dish is, therefore, thrifty, as well as being suitable for Rosh Hashanah dinner, when sweet foods symbolize hope for a sweet new year, for celebrating Sukkot and the Sabbath. Because it can be prepared beforehand, and is essentially a one-pot dish, it is a real time-saver.

Carrot Tzimmes

8 carrots 5 sweet potatoes 1 onion 1 lb. lean beef. Season to taste, cover with water and bake in covered [pot] at 350°oven until meat is tender. Pour 1/2 cup honey over top. Heat through. Thicken with 2 tsp. potato starch in 1 cup cold water. Pour in casserole and bake. Can be prepared ahead.