Apr 11 2014
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
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
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
I 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
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
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
The 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
There’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
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 →
Apr 3 2012
Tori Avey is a food blogger and culinary anthropologist and you would never guess she hasn’t been Jewish her entire life. Tori found that in many ways food brought her to Judaism and she has explored her spiritual path through immersing herself in traditional Jewish cooking which she shares at Shiksa in the Kitchen. She officially converted to Judaism in 2010 and regularly hosts over 40 people at her house for Seder.
1. Jewish holidays like Hanukkah and Purim are easy to share with non-Jewish family, but Passover, the seder in particular, can be intimidating and sometimes confusing. How do you share this traditional meal with your non-Jewish family?
One of my favorite things about food is that it breaks down all boundaries–a yummy meal is something we can all agree on, no matter where we come from or what our background is. Passover is such a food-oriented holiday, which makes it a great opportunity to bring people together. Taking a moment to explain the blessings–and why we’re doing strange things, like eating bitter herbs–helps everybody to enjoy the evening more. My non-Jewish family actually looks forward to the seder. My mom likes to help me cook. Usually I have 40-50 guests for my seder, and many of them aren’t Jewish, but everybody has fun… it’s a festive evening of storytelling, singing, tradition, and incredible food. As a Jewish family, it’s a way for us to welcome others in, to help them better understand our faith. What’s not to like? Read the rest of this entry →