Welcome to B’tayavon by Shelley Neese
In June 2000 I married my college sweetheart. We had a big wedding in Moss Bluff, Louisiana at the church my father pastored for thirty years. Three weeks later—barely getting the “just married” scribble off our car—we packed everything we could in four check-in suitcases and moved to Beer Sheva, Israel. We lived there for three and a half years doing graduate work at Ben Gurion University.
Before Israel, this small-town Southern girl had never so much as touched a cutting board or peeled an onion. I learned quickly, however, that student loans and eating out don’t go together. So learn to cook I did! I never left a Shabbat dinner without a new recipe which I would take to the grocery store with Hebrew dictionary in hand. Those first trips took me several hours as I deciphered how to say things in Hebrew like buttermilk and baking soda. In the end, food is what taught me Hebrew and our stomachs fell in love with Israel.
Now my family lives in Texas where Israeli cooking is hard to come by. It’s up to me to keep those culinary traditions alive. And it is these recipes that make me feel close to Israel still. They are well loved and they show it; large sections are often illegible because of stains from splashed olive oil or smeared paprika. In an effort to preserve them, I typed them up and now I’ve decided to share them with you. I will be adding new recipes on a regular basis so be sure to sign up for our emails (top right corner of this page).
So if you are hankering for some comfort food—Mediterranean style—you have come to the right place. As they say in Hebrew, B’tayavon!