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Nov 13 2014

School Lunches Are the Enemy

By at 12:47 pm

School Lunches Are The Enemy

School lunches are my enemy.

Well, not the actual lunches, just the process of making them. You see, my kids go to a Jewish Day School, which means that their lunches must either be parve or dairy. I have no problem with that, as we keep kosher and therefore won’t make the mistake of accidentally sending in shellfish or a ham sandwich. Rather, the issue I have with lunches is that my kids constantly tell me how they no longer eat this or no longer like that. They change their minds as often as a new parent changes a diaper.

My kids eat perfectly well at dinner time, despite sometimes saying that they don’t like something my husband or I are serving. But lunch is a different story. Things that they would normally eat at home or even order in a restaurant are somehow off-limits when they come out of a lunchbox. I don’t get it. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 11 2014

My Mother Was a Master of Passover Cooking & I Still Don’t Know How She Did It

By at 1:59 pm

My mother was a master of Passover cooking and I still don't know how she did it.

Of all the Jewish holidays, Passover was the one my mother really owned. It gave her the perfect excuse to commit entirely to two of her most beloved occupations: cooking elaborate dishes and listening to Beethoven, preferably simultaneously and definitely the violin concerto. In my memory she cooked for two weeks in advance of the seders, for over 20 guests on each of the two nights.

While my grandmother set me and my sisters to work polishing the silver and the cleaning lady labored mightily, heaving the vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs, my mother reigned in the kitchen. She made everything from scratch–richly concentrated chicken broth that she simmered and skimmed until there wasn’t a speck of fat, fluffy kneidlach, gefilte fish from three types of white fish purchased at the most expensive fish shop in town and then ground by hand at home, roasted chickens, tzimmes, three different green vegetable dishes (including steamed asparagus with lemon sauce), brisket cooked in a mustard-garlic paste, individual meringues that she served with sweetened fruit for dessert, and sponge cakes. And I am pretty sure I missed a few things. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 13 2014

Why I Added Some Jewish Learning to My Over-Scheduled Life

By at 12:15 pm

why I added Jewish learning to my life

I am undoubtedly overwhelmed, overextended, and stretched too thin on any given day, at any given moment. A 3-year-old son, almost 10-month-old twin daughters, a home to maintain, a small business we are trying to grow, a new photography venture, articles to write, a cooking club, and a few other activities all make my life insanely chaotic and wonderful.

Then why did I commit myself to one more thing? Because, if you notice the list above, there was nothing dedicated to being Jewish. I am committed to raising my children in a Jewish home, but was I doing enough to achieve that just by sending my son to the daycare at the local JCC? So when I was invited to join Chai Mitzvah, a women’s learning group at my synagogue, I jumped at the chance. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 17 2013

FYI: You’ve Probably Been Using Aluminum Foil Wrong

By at 1:45 pm

Attention balabustas and other savers of food: There’s a good chance you’ve been making the whole “pulling out a sheet of aluminum foil from the box” way more difficult than need be. Thanks to this how-to video made by a fake scientist-looking guy who goes by “CrazyRussianHacker” on YouTube, our minds have been blown, our worlds changed.

Please watch the video and see for yourself. You’ll never wrap up those leftovers the same again.

Happy wrapping, mamas.

H/t to Jews News for posting this helpful tip! 

Mar 13 2013

Learning to Share All My Food with My Daughter

By at 9:45 am

slice of chocolate cake with two forksI understood Joey Tribbiani. When I was single, I wouldn’t have liked a date who took my french fries either.

I’ve always been particular about my food. But my understanding of food–its meaning and purpose–has also evolved somewhat over time.

At every stage in my life, there’s been a loved one who loved my food and wanted to share. In my earlier years, it was little sister, Nina. Regardless of what we were eating–say, homemade vegetarian pasta–Nina always thought it looked tastier on my plate. So, she’d ask for some. If I said no, she’d gaze hungrily at my food, while I noted that we were eating the same meal. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 21 2013

8 Tips for Raising Competent Little Chefs

By at 12:45 pm

Back when my bigger boys were small, it seemed we had plenty of time at home to hang around. What we needed was stuff to do.

So, along with reading and doing puzzles and playing with trains, I took my cue from cookbooks like Molly Katzen’s Pretend Soup, a bright cornucopia of recipes explained with words and pictures like those simple picture books that preview reading with images in the place of certain words. Together, we made bagel faces and carrot pennies. We baked. We sampled the batter. As the boys got bigger, things got busier; school schedules and activities filled up that unstructured time–and another baby arrived. Our together-in-the-kitchen projects evaporated like so much steam. And then, another baby–years later–joined our family. She is 4, and this time I’m heading back to the kitchen more conscientiously. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 8 2013

In Praise of the Meal Train

By at 4:08 pm

I’ve never once been told not to eat when it came to my Jewish family. In fact, the opposite holds true. I’m usually not eating enough.

Have some more matzah balls.

Did you try the stuffed cabbage yet?

Here, take a little bit more tzimmes.

There’s never enough food. The food itself: warm, rich, and soul-satisfying made me feel loved and taken care of, just like I felt about the women and men who prepared it all for me growing up. I’ve taken many of the food-focused life lessons I learned in my Jewish household and have continued to practice them in my adult life. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 13 2012

I Love Rosh Hashanah But I Hate the Cooking Part

By at 1:00 pm

microwave disasterThe holidays are upon us, and once again, I find myself swimming in a sea of ambivalence. There is so much I enjoy about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; I find so much meaning and inspiration in the words and observance of my friends and community, both online and in real person.

But there’s this one thing that gets me every year, and every holiday. It starts with the constant barrage of recipes on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and all my favorite blogs. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Kveller. And I don’t appreciate it.) It ends with me in a state of near panic and desperation. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 7 2012

Food Challenges: My Husband’s a Vegan & My Son’s Hooked on Pouches

By at 10:27 am

fruit juicerThere’s an old saying that you can put three Jews together and get four opinions. Well, that’s the way it is with diets in my family. My husband is a vegan, my son is a vegetarian, and I am an omnivore who is abstaining from meat and poultry for the summer. I am going crazy trying to figure out how to feed everyone.

My husband has never tried to veganize me. He has encouraged me to be more informed about my food choices, but until recently I resisted. I was so overwhelmed with learning a new way to cook for him that I couldn’t stomach any more education. Tempeh? Soy? Seitan? I can make chicken soup so good you can taste it in your soul and roast chicken, briskets, and noodle kugels that practically forced me to start a waiting list for Shabbos dinners at my place. I used to pride myself on being a fabulous Jewish cook. Now it feels like I have to start all over and it is very, very hard at times. Read the rest of this entry →

May 21 2012

Week 28: Will My Kids Get to Know the Real Me?

By at 9:52 am

I absolutely love to cook. It’s a love that has grown over several years, starting as I watched my mother make her annual gefilte fish from scratch for Rosh Hashanah (not from live fish she kept in the bathtub, like her mother did, but close enough). It expanded as I started to keep Shabbat in my teens, and flourished during the time I spent living steps away from the Machane Yehudah market in Jerusalem.

Cooking is something that connects me to every phase of my life so far, and I value it not only for the experience itself but as a thread that weaves together very different experiences and parts of my personality. The fact that I keep kosher now has at times complicated things, but has also increased the joy I get from translating different foods to my own cultural palate. Read the rest of this entry →

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