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Tu Bishvat Fruit Tree Wins Over Superbowl Fans

I’m not a football fan, except when the Rams win the Super Bowl, but I get excited about any sporting or entertainment event that gives my family an excuse to eat in front of the television. The only other show that justifies crumbs on my family room carpet is the season finale of American Idol. Let’s face it—the big game calls for some seriously playful finger food. Best of all, since the nation’s biggest sporting spectacle falls on the same weekend as Tu Bishvat, I thought why not extend the fruit eating ritual one more day and give my guests something truly unique and exciting to nibble on.

Here’s an idea for an edible fruit tree that’s as much fun to make, as it is to munch. Plus, this colorful display of natural sweets is a conversation piece, which comes in handy for me since I have nothing to say about the Colts and Bears anyway.

Your kids will love to help make this project, while they choose their favorite fruits or even try new ones to decorate the tree. To get started, you need the following supplies:
 Cone-shape foam
 Circle-shape foam
 Glue
 Lots of frilly toothpicks
 Green leaf lettuce, clean and dry
 Assorted fruit
 Large serving platter
 Chocolate fondue (optional)

To make the structure of the tree, start with two pieces of foam—one in the shape of a cone and another circular shape for the base. You can buy foam pieces, which are available in different sizes, at any craft store. Put a few dots of white glue or craft glue on the bottom of the cone piece and press firmly to the center of the circle. Allow to dry for several hours or overnight.

When the foam pieces are securely attached, you’re ready to cover the entire structure with green leaf lettuce. First, use frilly toothpicks to carefully poke the large pieces of dark, curly leaves into the entire foam structure, including the base, until the tree is covered in the vibrant green color. Next, use a toothpick to attach each individual bite-size fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, melons, apricots, oranges, bananas, grapes, cherries, kiwi, apples, dates, and whatever you like. In addition to fresh fruit, you also can use dried and canned fruit.

Place your favorite chocolate fondue next to the fruit tree for an extra sweet treat.

According to kabalistic mystics, fruit is a metaphor to God, which makes the Tu Bishvat Seder highly symbolic. For example, celebrants eat three groups of up to 10 kinds of fruits and nuts. The first group consists of fruits and nuts with a hard outside shell that can’t be eaten, such as nuts with an outer shell, pomegranates, and coconuts. The second group has a soft outside but an inedible pit, such as olives, dates, cherries, apricots, plums and peaches. The third category is wholly edible, such as grapes, figs, apples, pears, raspberries, blueberries and carobs.

Each of these groupings represents an increasingly closer relation to God, but on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s the guys in the helmets who need our prayers.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.