Jul 16 2014
Every time my daughter goes away to overnight camp, there is something different about her when she returns home.
The first year she went away, she came back practically self-sufficient. I was so impressed at how well she took care of herself. I didn’t have to remind her to brush her teeth. She didn’t need any help in picking out her clothes. She even made her bed without my asking for a short period of time—and then she went back to forgetting how to do it altogether.
Last summer, she got into the car and had something important to say. I could tell that there was a big announcement on the horizon. She had a look like she knew something that we didn’t know. I could tell she was taking a moment to enjoy that with a satisfied smile on her face. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 25 2014
I am a southerner. My husband is an Isreali. On the outset, many people think it is a strange pairing, but in fact, our backgrounds share much in common. We are both from communities made up of tenacious people of faith whose circumstances inspire ingenuity and who are intensely tied to the land.
I was not raised Jewish, but my spiritual journey to Judaism began long before I met my husband. I converted on my own terms, yet my decision to go kosher was one that was venturing into a new and frightening territory. It was encroaching on the little piece of home that I had left, my kitchen.
Living in New York, most Jewish food is of the Ashkenazi fare. Either sweet or salty, it often tasted bland to my palate, and completely foreign to me. I never had a vegetable that wasn’t cooked in bacon grease until I moved here. Nor would I believe you, if you had told me I would never go to another crawfish boil again. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 16 2014
When I was the age my oldest daughter is now, some of the adults in my life decided my weight was a problem. The way I looked in my figure skating leotard at age 9 brought on discussions of diets and food restrictions that I struggled to understand.
In pictures, it is clear that I was no longer a scrawny child, but I definitely wasn’t fat. Even so, I can remember the skating moms asking my mom what she was going to do about my weight in the same way you might ask what one will do about a bad hair cut.
I have so many memories of adults trying to limit my food, or ask if I really “needed” that candy or ice cream that the other children were eating. My aunt once wondered aloud why my parents gave me two pieces of toast if I was supposed to be on a diet. Was I supposed to ignore my hunger? Was my hunger unnatural or just generally “bad”? Read the rest of this entry →
May 23 2014
Planning an Israeli-themed spread for your Memorial Day celebration? Make sure to double check your hummus, as nearly 15,000 pounds of the delicious chickpea dip from Target and Trader Joe’s have been recalled over possible listeria contamination. Oy!
Massachusetts-based Hot Mama’s Foods (good name, right?) recalled the hummus after potential for contamination was found during routine testing. According to the LA Times:
Some of the affected products were shipped nationally and include 10-ounce and 2-pound containers of Target Archer Farms Traditional Hummus marked for use by June 11, and 8-ounce containers of Trader Joe’s Edamame Hummus with April 28, April 29 and May 14 use-by dates. A full list of recalled products can be found on the Hot Mama’s Foods website.
So double check your hummus, folks. And when all else fails, make your own.
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May 7 2014
I recently hosted a play date for several moms and their children, two of which happen to have food allergies. One child, a little boy, doesn’t have it so bad, at least according to his mother. He can’t eat dairy or drink regular milk, but for the most part, his parents are able to take him to restaurants and other people’s homes without having to worry about something going horribly wrong. The other allergic child–a sweet little 3-year-old girl–is not as fortunate. Her mother told me horror stories about her darling daughter breaking out in hives and gasping for air after eating foods that were supposedly nut-free, but somehow contained nut traces nonetheless. And so when I decided to have these children over, I told myself I would need to go above and beyond to make sure my home was truly nut-free.
The first thing I did was purge my kitchen of all the nuts and nut-related products I could find, and store those items down in the basement, where they wouldn’t be accessible. I then proceeded to disinfect my countertops, kitchen table, chairs, and floor, even though I’d done a pretty thorough job of cleaning and sweeping several days prior. In my mind, it was up to me to scrub away all traces of nut, no matter how long it took.
When my husband found me on my hands and knees, he asked why I was once again cleaning the floor. “To make sure nut particles didn’t somehow get lodged in the hardwood,” I told him. (His response was something along the lines of “you’re a nut particle,” but I took it in stride.) Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 10 2014
It’s official. I am finally an adult. I will be hosting Passover seder, first and second night, in my own home with my tablecloths, fancy wedding registry dishes, and glasses. I’m also making the matzah ball soup for the first time ever this year. Last year, my husband and then 1.5-year-old daughter Charlotte and I were living at my parents’ condo for the year and had a bi-coastal Passover (1st seder in New York, 2nd seder in Seattle). Of course we helped with the cooking, singing, and clean-up at our respective parents’ houses, but I didn’t have to sweat all the details, like do we have enough folding chairs for 16 people and is anyone a vegan or gluten-free, lactose intolerant, or pescatarian?
I’ve had many memorable Passovers in the past; eating curry and mangos with a Baghdadi family in Bombay, a seder in Russia when my sister was spending the year in St. Petersburg, Passover in Uganda with the Abuyudaya, and once, bringing a box of matzah for a spring break to Cuba. My favorite Passovers of all time though, are the Passovers I have with my family. We do the whole Haggadah, sing lots of songs, and weave in new traditions while keeping the old. My brother-in-law recently introduced the practice of whacking your table neighbor with a green onion when singing Avadim hayinu (We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, now we are free.) We each have our favorite readings and like to point out the crumbs and brisket stains in the Haggadot from Passovers past. This time of year, my mouth waters when I think about the perfect bite of matzah with a big spoon of haroset, topped by a slice of gefilte fish, with a dollop of horse radish on top.
We’ve been talking about getting ready for Passover for the past month and Charlotte is super excited for all the visitors, especially her new cousin, baby Galit. We listen to Dayenu on repeat from her PJ Library CD in the car, and I hope this will be the first Passover she actively remembers. I’m looking forward to sharing and passing on all our Passover schtick to her over the years. Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday, despite the matzah crumbs, which descend like cherry blossom petals all over the place.
Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 8 2014
In many ways, I’m the last person who should be writing an article about cooking for Passover. My family went on a Passover cruise the year I turned 12, and after experiencing what it was like to opt out of cleaning and cooking, my parents never looked back. So I’ve never really cooked for Passover. Don’t hate me for that, though, because I cook Passover food every day.
My husband and I adhere to a Paleo diet, which means that we don’t eat any grains, legumes, soy, dairy or refined sugar. We aren’t doing it to be trendy, or even to lose weight (though it’s a welcome side effect). Eating this way reduces inflammation in the body and is a very effective way to fight off chronic illness. The secret to sticking with it lies in the kitchen. Paleo recipes are so delicious; I never miss the things I used to love.
By default, any Paleo recipe that doesn’t include seeds (if you avoid kitniyot), pork or shellfish is Kosher for Passover. Accordingly, Paleo opens up a whole new universe of Passover recipes. Let me get you started with five of my favorite Paleo recipe blogs. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 7 2014
This Passover, I’m in charge of the brisket.
In our family, briskets are served steaming with a large measure of pride and a pinch of vanity.
In my house growing up, holidays meant eating in the dining room on the large chairs with rose velvet cushions, and using our fancy china with tiny pink flowers. And despite the fact that my father always bought my mother a gigantic bouquet of flowers on the eve of a holiday, the brisket was the real centerpiece of our dining room table. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 26 2014
I hate the phrase “Working Mom.” I was home with my daughters for almost three years, and I promise, that was work too. But it is a different kind of challenge than working in a paid profession. I returned to my job as a guidance counselor this past September, and it’s been an interesting few months. (Read: It’s slightly insane. Moms of many and single mothers, I salute you.) But I confess, I’m doing things that I never thought I would:
1. I make three dinners.
My husband is a picky eater. Each night, my mother-in-law would come home from work and cater to her son’s “discriminating” tastes by cooking a separate meal. “Not me,” I swore. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 5 2014
I recently wrote about my local kosher market’s announcement that it was closing after 74 years in business and how devastating the news was to so many people in our community. I regretted not shopping there more often and wished I had a chance to do things differently. But how often do we get second chances in life?
With immense pride in my community and gratitude to our leaders for coming together, we all have that second chance in the Greater Hartford area. Our beloved Crown Market has been saved, and I for one will be shopping there all the time. I will not make the same mistake twice. I hope everyone who was affected by this story takes to heart that our local businesses truly need our continuous and community-wide support.
In the many Jewish communities I have lived in over the years, I have never seen people put aside their differences and work together as decisively as this. Our Jewish community acted swiftly and cohesively to rescue one of our most prized institutions, but it could so easily have ended differently. The Crown Market was at the brink of closing, and in other communities around the world, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men are not enough to put their institutions back together again. Don’t wait until your community’s institutions are on life support before mobilizing to save them! Read the rest of this entry →