Sunday, April 29, 2012

Adventures in Gefilte Fish


For Passover this year I made gefilte fish. From scratch. Why? First, our family follows the Chasidic custom of not eating wet matzoh (gebroks in Yiddush, Shruria in Hebrew). That means we don't eat matzoh balls or matzoh bri on Pesach. We also don't eat most processed/manufactured foods during Pesach for kosher and health reasons. Second, I like a little food adventure, especially in traditional food making techniques.

I started with a whole frozen carp. It came in an opaque bag, so I didn't exactly know what I was getting.  I had to start with frozen since my husband won't let me bring a live carp home and keep it in the bathtub.  You see, carp are bottom feeders and their taste is greatly improved when they are kept in clean water for a couple days.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stuff I Love - Spring 2012

For today's "Kitchen Tips Tuesday" I wanted to give a little shout-out to some products and foods I enjoyed this Passover. (In no particular order.)

Parchment paper baking pans - Lightweight, cheap, stackable. You can cut in them without ruining the pan or your knife. No need for extra oil, they are totally non-stick. I used them for all my kugels and brownies.


Homemade chocolate syrup - I used Alton Brown's recipe with honey instead of corn syrup, and with homemade vanilla sugar.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Giving Tree: A Lesson to Take to the Market

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to share a little something I wrote a while back. Below is a brief recap followed by my personal thoughts on Shel SIlverstein's The Giving Tree. If you haven't seen it, check out the original motion picture narrated by Shell Silverstein (below).

“There once was a tree… and she loved a little boy.”  The little boy played games in and with the tree, napped in her shade, and ate her apples.  “And the Boy loved the tree… very much. And the tree was happy.”  The boy grew and had different needs as he aged.  The tree is always happy after giving, but the story never again mentions the boy’s love for the tree.  Eventually “the boy,” now an old man, wants a boat to sail far away.  The tree selflessly suggests he cut down her trunk to make a boat.  (He has already taken her apples and her branches in his younger days.)  Here the narrator admits, “And the tree [now a stump] was happy… but not really.”  He eventually returns as a very old man, and lucky for the tree, all he wants is a place to rest. 

Shel Silverstein clearly left the story open to interpretation.  After my husband read the book to my children, my daughter said “It’s a mitzvah tree,” a tree doing good deeds.  I had so many other ideas; I had to write some down.  Maybe this story illustrates that we should do good deeds and charity work until it hurts a little, but stop before we have nothing else to give. 

The story got me thinking about renewable resources.  As soon as my daughter made that comment, I wanted to say, “Stupid tree!  Had she quit after only giving her apples, she would have had more next year!”

Friday, April 20, 2012

What's In Season - Spring - Artichokes

There is a beauty to produce that is not available year round. This morning my husband actually seemed excited that we had artichokes. "We haven't had those since you were pregnant!" Yup, that's how seasonal food works!

I went to the shuk this Tuesday and got four artichokes, two packages of strawberries, chard, giant pink lady apples, and a bunch of flowers (among other less exciting things).

Right now I have the artichokes roasting in the oven. I've never made them in the oven before, but I used Chef John's technique for Simply Roasted Artichokes.

Baby Food For Thought

Ideas about what and when to feed baby vary greatly with time and culture. My little Avi is mostly nursing, but eagerly devours hummus from my fingers. I wanted to share two somewhat conflicting ideas about feeding infants.  I found both the following article and video to have very useful ideas for feeding babies.

In "Don’t Wait too Long to Start Solids", my friend Hannah Katsman, IBCLC, interviews Shoshi Belkowitz, a speech pathologist, Lactation consultant, and specialist in feeding and swallowing issues. I read the article several months ago, but one of the main points that stuck with me was the idea that baby's need for "solid" food coincides with their ability to sit up, grab small objects, and swallow. Teeth are not really necessary for mashing most foods.  Shoshi says:

... some nutrients need to be added to the baby’s diet at around six months, when iron stores from birth are starting to be depleted. While the iron in breastmilk is well-absorbed, iron is only present in small amounts. Also, at around this age, babies’ mouths and digestive system develop the physical ability to deal with solids. There is a psychological element too—at this age babies enjoy tasting, using their mouths, and experimenting with textures. 

Baby Canter's video "How to make baby food at home" has helpful tips for making and storing pureed baby food. I think that the actual need for this style baby food is limited. However, many parents find it an easy, convenient solution. My 2.5 year old has shown a sudden interest in baby food, so maybe I will try making and storing food like this for my little ones. I bet my older kids would also like eating frozen cubes of sweet potato!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Is it Kosher for Passover?

During the week of Passover (around the end of March or beginning of April) Jews abstain from all leavened grain products, including things that may have come in contact with the five grains. Laws, traditions, and family stringencies can be more complicated, but this generally includes all breads, crackers, cereal, cakes, and anything else made with wheat, barley, spelt, oats, or rye, except for kosher for Passover matza.

Jews use potato starch, matza meal, and other creative cooking to make filling and festive food during this week. Can you guess which of the items below cannot be eaten by Jews on Passover?


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Instant Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cupcake-Muffins

If you're looking for healthy muffins try my popular carrot-zucchini muffins or the no sugar added variety.  The following "recipe" is a quick technique you can tweak to make lots of varieties: Peanut butter and jelly, white chocolate macadamia  nut, dulce de leche, carob or butterscotch chip... None of which are healthy, of course, but you can whip them up in a jiffy!  And, boy, are they good!  



1. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C.

2. Fold together:
  • One box of pancake mix (whole wheat is fine)
  • The specified amount of water
  • About half a bag of chocolate chips (you can use more or even a different kind of chip)
  • About 3 large spoonfuls of peanut butter

Do not over mix!

3. Spoon batter into a muffin tray to fill up each cup about halfway.

4. Bake about 10-12 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Passover Ideas

My friend Tammy just emailed me, "Any ideas for Pessah lunch?" Here are some ideas off the top of my head.

I love Passover crepes. I make the crepes in a pareve (not meat or dairy) nonstick pan with minimal oil. Then I can put cheese on them and let it melt. Fillings include:
  • Tuna with melted cheese and lettuce
  • Homemade tomato sauce* with melted cheese and (optional) basil
  • Fried or baked bananas with (optional) honey
  • Sweet cheese ("gvina levana" and honey)
  • Sardines (my kids LOVE sardines and my favorite brand is kosher without kitnyot.)
  • Avocado and tomato salad
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