Follow Kveller

You are browsing the archive for kosher.

Apr 10 2012

Are You Jewy Enough?

By at 9:36 am

I grew up in a home where “Jewish” meant sneaking into High Holy Day services without a ticket, and “kosher” meant we didn’t eat bacon. We did a raucous version of Passover where one sister always replaced “God” with “Great Spirit,” another referred to the Pharoh’s army as “the band of ninjas,” my mom never sat down, and my grandpa patiently read aloud from the Maxwell House haggadah.

I took it upon myself to be way ahead of the curve and write our own haggadah as a teenager. I didn’t get very far, but I did end up with a ridiculous one-act play in which the punny phrase “A hundred shekels? Oh no! Egypt me!” was shoe-horned into the action.

So I went off to college with only the barest knowledge of what, actually, it was to be a Jewish Jewy Jew. Suddenly living in upper Manhattan, where synagogues are as plentiful as Starbucks, I had a funny little spiritual rebirth and found myself going full-on kosher for Passover. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 9 2012

Organic is the New Kosher

By at 2:11 pm

organic now logoLike another Kveller blogger, my husband and I are getting back to the land. It’s not something we set out to do–when we met, we both worked for large corporations, me as a freelance journalist and sometime marketing writer, him as a video-game producer. Then 2008 happened, and suddenly our cushy corporate jobs wanted nothing to do with us. There we were, with first one kid and then two (thanks to a careless nap-time nooner to “celebrate” my layoff), with no more savings and increasingly impatient parents. What were we to do?

Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 29 2012

My Daughter Keeps Kosher, But I Love Pork

By at 3:15 pm
lobster roll

I love lobster, too...

My name is Rachel, and I’m a treyfaholic. I like bacon, and shrimp, and lobster rolls. I really love lobster rolls. I’m craving a lobster roll right now.

Mmmmm lobster rolls…

My 15-month-old daughter, Adi, is kosher.

How can a 15-month-old keep kosher? I keep her that way. But it’s not sustainable. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 6 2012

Tu Bishvat in Candyland

By at 10:47 am
Tu Bishvat Candy

No time to plan a 15-course fruit seder for Tu Bishvat? Try candy.

The holiday of Tu Bishvat, a.k.a. the birthday of the trees, starts at sundown tomorrow. Tu Bishvat is a field day for all environmentally-conscious families: an ideal ground from which to explore, celebrate and protect all things ecological. Kabbalists gave it a 15-course fruit seder of its own back in the 16th century, which is still observed in some fashion today. But if you want to make this tradition more tangible for your kids, we have some candy recommendations for you.

To read the rest of Joanna’s piece, click here.

Jan 12 2012

Bribing My Way Through Potty Training

By at 3:05 pm
jelly beans

Is it bad that potty training has turned into bribing with candy?

My nearly 3-year-old daughter, D, finally made the declaration shortly before Hanukkah: she was done with diapers, ready for her Rapunzel undies, and no one–NO ONE–was going to prevent her from putting them on.

Naturally, I was overjoyed. Two kids under 3-years-old had long meant two kids in diapers, and with every purchase of a new box of size 5s, I hoped and wished that this box would be our last.

I wasn’t really sure where to start. Friends had successfully managed their toddlers through “potty boot camp” and the hard-core approaches to making the transition. We navigated the onslaught of near-misses and misses, accidents and successes, in our own way, and found that the reward system that worked best for our kid was not in the more preferable forms of stickers and stamps, but in gummy bears and jelly beans.

That’s right, Tiger Moms. I have been feeding my kid a straight, steady stream of sugar for two weeks now. It is all at once horrifying–because yes, like you, I once insisted that the only treats that would pass my kid’s lips would be for special reasons or on special occasions:  Shabbat dessert, birthdays, special holidays, etc. And dammit all if those treats weren’t either in portions controlled by yours truly, or at least had some kind of kosher, organic symbols on them to make me feel somewhat comforted. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 15 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes: I Need ‘Em!

By at 3:17 pm

thanksgiving turkeyI’ve never been a Thanksgiving-er. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for gratitude, family, and big meals. It’s just that Judaism affords us to have all of the above pretty much all year round. Between Passover seders, Sukkot meals, Rosh Hashanah family gatherings, and Friday night Shabbat dinners, there are ample opportunities for us Jews to get our food-and-family on. So the idea of entering the everyone’s-included Supermarket Scrum for things like squash and sweet potatoes seems comparatively unappealing.

My family’s Thanksgiving was always a relatively low-key affair, followed by all of us going to see a movie. I’m not going to miss my movie opportunity this year, accompanied by sleeping baby in car seat (crossed fingers), but apparently I am hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in my life. One word: yikes! Not only that, but I just got the memo that this thing is happening next Thursday! Are you guys all aware of this?

I love perusing Food & Wine, occasionally even making a recipe from there, but apparently a main food group of Thanksgiving is butter – and, being kosher, this doesn’t quite go with the whole turkey thing. I need pareve help: stat!

Let’s share. Anyone got any great recipes for pareve appetizers, soups, sides, desserts?

Oct 4 2011

A Whale of a Snack for Yom Kippur

By at 11:32 am

With a little imagination, a snack and a doll quickly become a Yom Kippur scene.

It’s great to lavish time and effort into homemade, handmade treats for holidays, but it’s also great to find thematic goodies that are instant. As in, open a package and you’re done.  No fuss, no oven, no investment whatsoever except a buck at the Target Dollar Spot.

Which brings me to an ideal nosh for kids at Yom Kippur. It’s instant, kosher, crunchy, cute, cheesy (in more ways than one) and it’s fittingly thematic: whale crackers from Stauffer’s. Why whale crackers? Well, what’s the story Jews hear on the afternoon of Yom Kippur in synagogues all over the world? Jonah and the Whale.

The plot twist is pretty memorable: Jonah gets swallowed by the whale. All part of God’s plan, no doubt. Some say the whale swallowed Jonah to keep him safe, so that the reluctant prophet could make it to Nineveh and finish his assignment—to warn the people to change their ways. And throughout the story, we see that Jonah embodies the values of the High Holiday season: forgiveness (selichot) and repentence (teshuva). But, whether we blame the whale for gobbling poor Jonah or not, to eat whale-shaped crackers right after hearing the story tips the karmic balance just a smidge. At any rate, it’s fun. Plus, our kids can literally embody an element of this elemental story: they eat it.

But the best time to think about this is before Yom Kippur, when the rest of us—not just the preschooler crowd—can eat, too. Make the teeny whales special. They can be eaten out of hand, sure, but consider serving that handful in an ocean-blue, paper cupcake liner.  Whales can top homemade or store-bought mini-muffins or cupcakes, or float on blue jello.  The  dye-free parents among us might sprinkle a few on a small bowl of blueberries. The not-so-careful among us might sprinkle a few on a big bowl of blue M&Ms. It’s all good. It’s all Jewish. It’s all about celebrating and making connections and having fun with our kids.

I had never heard of these crackers till I saw them last week at Target. At first glance, these crackers do look like the ubiquitous (and non-kosher) Goldfish crackers, especially to fasting adults with plummeting blood sugar and dry eyelids. One must look closely to make out the stylized whale and his cheeky grin. But these crackers aren’t fish, they are whales, by golly.  The whale ate Jonah, and now we’ll eat the whale.

My point is that even ordinary snacks, if thematic and if reserved for a particular holiday, can sharpen a child’s anticipation, inject a bit of levity, add a layer of meaning, and stick in the memory as something Jewish and fun. And they are easy. This year, I’m hoping the kids will enjoy crunching mini whales in a moment of role-reversal.  And hopefully, no one will go overboard on the idea and start spewing whales.

Sep 28 2011

I Need Store-Bought, Thematic Snacky-ness And I Need it Now

By at 10:55 am

See? Those Bugles look just like a real shofar.

Every year before Rosh Hashanah I stock up on bags of Bugles: the corn-chip snacks fried in the shape of cones. I don’t even care how fatty or salty they are. I must have them.

Around a holiday, most nutritional considerations get eclipsed in favor of the greater good: transforming the ordinary into something special and memorable. And for my family, this includes Bugles. Why?

Bugles are miniature, edible shofars. Not by intention, but by conversion. They are hollow and tapered like tiny horns of plenty, and occasionally they’ve frizzled in the fat long enough to twist into a convincing arc like a real ram’s horn.

We use them as shofars for the Lego and Playmobil people. We use them as shofars for ourselves. We decorate mini muffins with them and sing Happy Birthday to the World. And we do this whether we are 4 or 14 or 46. They’ve become a taste and toy of Rosh Hashanah.

Until now.

Last week, I came home with half a dozen bags for a children’s program at the synagogue. And then I looked closer at the label. Where was the hecksher, the symbol of kosher certification?  It’s always been there. So, I go online and discover what the kosher world has known since March, 2011: the Orthodox Union (who administers that hecksher certification) has discontinued kosher certification due to “operational changes in the production sites.”

My synagogue has rules about such things. These bags, because of the sudden disappearance of two letters, will not be allowed in the building. I might just as well try serving pigs-in-a-blanket. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 6 2011

Vegan Daddy

By at 2:40 pm

My husband Alex is a vegan. I am not–though I keep kosher. Whenever we used to talk about what to feed our son Aiven we both came away feeling frustrated and empty-handed. I wanted to introduce Aiven to all types of food and let him make the decision for himself as to what foods to exclude. But Alex had valid points as to why we should not introduce certain foods into his diet. To make matters worse, we kept discussing it over and over and over again.

What I worried about was the social aspect to food. Food cannot easily be separated from culture and tradition. To even consider saying no to every cheese pizza, birthday cake, and Bubbe’s chicken soup brought tears to my eyes. Aiven would hate us!

I asked Alex what he would do when his 5-year-old son asked for money to buy an ice cream cone with his friends. Alex said he would refuse. I wondered if there was a better alternative. I knew that if Alex always said no to every request for non-vegan food and didn’t let Aiven choose for himself, Aiven will resent his father. And since Alex did not want Aiven to reject veganism out of anger and rebellion, he started to open up to the idea of not raising him as a vegan.

At 5 months, we started Aiven on solid foods and the discussions became more urgent. In no time at all, Aiven was going to graduate from purees, to chunky food, to real solid foods. How were we going to handle this? Alex and I kept discussing the issue (like I said–we talked about it over and over and over and over again). I agreed to watch a video, Meet Your Meat. It was disturbing but did not sway me. I dabbled in some more research, but not much. I was adamant that Aiven should have all food introduced into his diet.

I went back to the Internet for something, but I wasn’t sure what. Information? Alternatives? Excuses? I came across a message board for parents raising vegetarian children. In reading the messages, a new way of thinking dawned on me. I knew I could never agree to exclude all animal products from Aiven’s diet, but I was wrong in thinking that I had to include everything in his diet. There was a middle ground.

Since I’ve been with my husband I’ve eaten much less meat and chicken, and I hardly miss them. I figured it wouldn’t be so hard to exclude them from Aiven’s diet, and as the message board pointed out, he would still have plenty of other sources available for protein. Socially, it would be manageable, too. It’s relatively easy to explain vegetarianism, and I won’t have to worry about my child starving in the school cafeteria like I would with a vegan diet. As a bonus, since I’m not going to cook separate meals for myself, keeping a kosher kitchen will be a lot easier without having to worry about meat and poultry!

Rather than including until Aiven could decide to exclude, I switched it around. I would exclude a couple of things until he decided if he wanted to include them. I approached my husband and he agreed almost instantly. He even said I could give Aiven gefilte fish!

I am proud of us for finding a compromise–as hard as it was. Every marriage has its share of emotionally-charged issues that can take on a life of their own. It’s up to us to communicate with our partners and work as a team to find a creative solution. It took a lot of patience, but we got our happy ending. That is, until Aiven decides he wants a steak, medium rare.

May 23 2011

Nursing Abroad…On The Bathroom Floor

By at 9:31 am

Did you know there was a kosher McDonald's in Argentina?

When our son Aiven was 15 weeks old, my husband Alex and I took him to Buenos Aires, to meet Alex’s family. I needed to pump plenty of breast milk to keep Aiven happy in taxis and restaurants, but towards the end of the 10-day trip, my pump decided it needed a vacation too.

My breasts could not afford such luxury, and I was forced to nurse more often to compensate for my slacker pump.

Our trip was blessed with excellent weather, but inevitably there came a rainy day.  We decided to go to a famous shopping center. This mall is huge and well known for both its Art Deco interior and kosher McDonald’s.

At lunchtime we went to the food court and Aiven decided he wanted to eat too. With no bottled milk left, I tried nursing him in a booth. He could not get comfortable, nor could I, and his hungry wails pierced the cacophony of the food court.

Of course my husband was nowhere to be found (he was on a mission to seek and devour a vegan meal) so I left the stroller with his aunt and tried to explain in broken Spanish that I was leaving to find a place to nurse. (Alex tells me that what I actually said was “I’m looking milk.”) I made a mad dash to find a quiet comfy corner in this cavernous mall to feed my ravenous son.

Well, I found a place alright, but I wouldn’t exactly call it comfy. I texted Alex and his aunt to come meet me and help me get up:

Yes, that would be me on the floor of the handicapped bathroom.

I had my hands on the floor, so Alex wouldn’t let me touch Aiven. When he was done nursing, Alex lifted him off of me. I washed my hands and arms as best as I could. I don’t think there was any soap or paper towels. YUCK! Alex wanted to dip me in a vat of bleach to disinfect me. Thankfully I remembered my hand sanitizer and gooped it all over me. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and shower.

Although I’ve shamelessly nursed Aiven in a plethora of public places, I must say that this was hands down (pun intended) the most interesting and gross experience I ever had nursing my baby boy.

What about you? I would love to hear your stories!


Recently on Mayim