As we move forward, lets clean our souls &mdash and our refrigerators

Cheshbon nefesh — to take an accounting of your soul before the New Year — is a concept that is often studied this time of year.

It’s when you examine all the aspects of your behavior over the past year, discarding the less desirable components and developing the best parts to take into the next year.

At least twice during the year, before Passover and before Rosh Hashanah, I do the same thing in my kitchen.

Careful examination of the pantry and refrigerator reveal a multitude of surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant.

The bad things are cast away, a tashlich for the kitchen, never to be seen again.

And the good stuff is groomed and developed into delicious dishes.

The really revolting, unidentifiable things are thrown out, no questions asked. The moldy salsa is discarded, the jar rinsed and recycled. The wilted celery, onion skins, sprouted potatoes and tired carrots are put in the compost heap. The mold from the cheese is removed, and the various odds and ends are shredded and made into cheese soufflé. The condiment shelf is re-evaluated — do we really need to keep the last tablespoon of horseradish? What can I make with red Thai curry paste? Pomegranate molasses from last spring — I think I can use it for glazed chicken.

Reusing and recycling rather than wasting is part of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

Although our home kitchens make up a tiny part of the world, they are a good place to start.

As we get ready to begin 5767, let’s move forward by cleaning our souls and homes, and resolve to make ourselves, and therefore the world, a better place.

Violet’s Asian Noodles | Serves 6

2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. grated ginger
1 clove garlic, through the press
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 zucchini, cut into matchsticks
3 green onions, peeled and sliced
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Thai curry paste
1 lb. angel hair pasta
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped basil
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan until very hot. Add the ginger, garlic, carrots, zucchini and green onions. Sauté until the vegetables are fairly soft, about 4 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
Pour the water, coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce and curry paste into the pan where the vegetables were cooked. Stir until smooth, and simmer the sauce until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and toss with the sesame oil. Add the sauce and vegetables and toss very well. Place in a large bowl; garnish with the peanuts, mint and basil. Serve warm.

Glazed Chicken | Serves 6-8

2 small chickens (3-4 lbs.), cut into serving pieces
coarse sea salt
2 Tbs. chopped flat leaf parsley
For the glaze:2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, through press
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. tomato paste
Mix together ingredients for the glaze. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, and place chicken pieces in an oven-safe baking dish. Brush chicken pieces with the glaze and roast them in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until done, turning the pieces over every 10 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with the chopped parsley.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a certified culinary professional. Visit her Web site at She can be reached at [email protected].