who's in the kitchen: judy joszef

Football’s back, and not a moment too soon


It was Sunday after Labor Day, and you knotw what that means. FOOTBALL is back!

Football couldn’t come fast enough. The baseball season was torture for me this year. My Braves were not easy to watch. I’m hoping my Miami Dolphins are decent, at least.

Jerry was watching his beloved Giants in the study. Unfortunately, I can’t watch my game, as we’re in New York, so I settle for The Red Zone, where they zip around the NFL teams and I can see every touchdown, from every game and all the special moments.

I heard Jerry’s shouts of glee, and every now and them he’d dance his way to me, doing the “Jerry.” For those of you who haven’t seen it at weddings, it’s sort of like the “chicken” dance the kids learn in preschool. Towards the end of the game, he went wild, even more so than the regular “Jerry” wild. I literally had to calm him down. He explained, that I didn’t understand how important this was.

He went on to explain that it was Victor Cruz who caught the touchdown pass that put the Giants ahead. I knew who Cruz was. He was the player who danced the Salsa every time he scored a touchdown. I think it was a tribute to his grandmother, who had passed. It seemed this time was really special, because 700 days ago, Cruz endured a season-ending injury that most people thought he would never be able to come back from. But he did, and in a huge fashion, and he broke out in his famous Salsa dance that he hadn’t done since Sept. 21, 2014.

Making this even more special was the fact that it was on 9/11. His late father was a firefighter who spent a lot of time at Ground Zero. He said he wore his “fireman cleats” during warm ups and his “USA cleats” during the game.

In contrast to Cruz’ physically challenging comeback, we were moved by Michael Phelps’ parallel emotional and psychological challenge, which enabled him to come back and compete in the 2016 Olympics. When he retired after the 2012 London Olympics as history’s most decorated and perhaps greatest Olympian, he was quoted as saying, “I accomplished every goal I ever wanted to … I’ve done everything I ever wanted to do.”

He stopped exercising regularly after he retired, and his life became inherently unstructured, which exacerbated Phelps’ ADHD symptoms. He began to act impulsively and dangerously. At a therapeutic facility, he became introspective for the first time in his life. He began to read and study in order to develop himself emotionally and intellectually and began to redevelop personal relationships.

Phelps’s longtime coach, Bob Bowman visited him at the facility and he told Bowman that he was inspired by Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl’s “Man in Search Of Meaning’”in his own journey to achieve personal meaning and health in his life. Phelps turned his life around in all respects and successfully returned to the Olympics in Rio, earning another five gold medals and one silver. He was able to retire as a more mature, healthier and well-rounded Olympian both in the pool and in his personal relationships.

While some athletes came back this year, others have retired. Two such athletes are Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan aka The Big Fundamental.

While both were amazing athletes over long careers, they retired very differently. Kobe had a season-long farewell tour, while Duncan just retired. Duncan’s longevity and sustained greatness are beyond amazing. He was a 5-time NBA champion, 3-time finals MVP, 2-time NBA MVP, 15-time All Star, 10-time All-NBA First Team, and 15 time all defensive team. And if those accomplishments are not incomprehensible, what makes it even more so, is the fact that he was able to do it while being one of the most unselfish and beloved teammates in the league.

Harvey Araton, of the New York Times said that “he played without seeking fanfare and retired on his own wordless terms. With no explanation posted, on The Players’ Tribune, no tears-stained news conference, and most characteristically, no farewell tour. Consequentially, Duncan’s retirement was as quiet as Kobe Bryant’s was colorful and voluble.

So farewell Tim, Kobe and Michael, and welcome back Victor Cruz. Seems like the Salsa is back in vogue in the NFL. Now, you know what that means: It’s time for a…

Salsa recipe!

… which can be served over chicken, fish, veal, beef or anything else you might like to put it over, or as a side or a dip for your chips while watching the games.


4 vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered

2 small yellow onions, cut into wedges

6 garlic cloves, peeled

1 Serrano chili peppers, stemmed (use less for a milder salsa)

1/4 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon cumining is as well as watching it!

1/6 cup cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 


Preheat the oven on broil. On a rimmed baking sheet, place the tomatoes, onions, garlic, whole chile peppers and vegetable oil directly on the prepared baking sheet and mix around with your hands. Broil until softened and charred, about 12 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables and juices to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the salt and cumin and pulse until cilantro is chopped. Add the cilantro and fresh lime juice, and pulse until the cilantro is chopped. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and more lime juice if necessary. Be sure to add enough salt and lime to bring out all the flavors. Transfer to bowl and serve warm, at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Contact Judy Joszef: Columnist@TheJewishSar.com