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Category Archives: holiday

Failure to Communicate


I recently started a new job at a new company and once again I am the only Jew (observant or otherwise) on the block. Which means I have to (get to?) educate my manager and team about certain aspects of Judaism when they intersect with work.

Most often, this comes up when responding to the question “we’re running out to lunch. You want to come with us?”.

But sometimes I find myself digging into the details more than I would have predicted when I first started this journey. Like when I was invited to my manager’s house for the annual Christmas party.

He knew I kept kosher, and actually went to great lengths to make sure there was SOMETHING I could eat (he asked me to print out pictures of the kosher symbols, and texted me from the store as he was buying things. It was actually one of the kindest things a manager has done.)

So there we were, sitting around the fireplace playing the obligatory office-party-game complete with prizes for the winners. Which happened to be chocolate candies.

I won a round and was handed my candy, which I began checking for a heksher. As I did the comments from the other people served as a reminder that, if Kashrut is difficult to grasp for Jews, it can be downright incomprehensible to others.

THEM: Is it the nuts? My candy bar doesn’t have nuts so you can have mine if you want.
ME: No, I’m looking for the special symbol that would tell me if it’s kosher. Which would be ironic, since it’s a Santa Claus candy bar
THEM: Oh! Well, mine’s in the shape of a snowman. So it’s probably kosher.
ME: (slight pause) Uh, that might not be true.

In retrospect, I probably should have just told them I was on a diet, and I was going to save the candy for my kids.

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Thanksgiving Seder


NOTE: This post was too fun NOT to share, both here and on The Edible Torah

image courtesy of JoyOfKosher.com

One of the things I’ve marveled at is how, once you start making Shabbat part of your weekly routine, previously “big” holiday meals start to feel a bit empty

Last year I posted links to a few Thanksgiving Haggadot, which gave our American Turkey-centric festival the old Passover treatment.

This year, just in time for your own feast, I’m posting my notes from last year in case you enjoy tormenting your guests and children as much as I do.

Our seder began before we even sat down. You see, on the night before Pesach we hunt for chametz – bits of bread-stuff. So of course a Thanksgiving seder had to include that experience as well. But with all the stuffing around, bread was NOT the target of choice. No, we hunted for… CHOCOLATE!. In this case, we had secreted away some pareve chocolate Hanukkah gelt (we opted for pareve rather than milk chocolate in case some of our kosher-observing guests had already eaten a meat meal before arriving.).

Once we were certain that our house was clear of chocolate, we were able to begin the seder proper with a rousing rendition of America, The Beautiful – all four verses and four (slightly different) choruses, including the one about Pilgrim’s feet (my boys loved that one). You can find the lyrics here.

Next, we said a shehechianu and said the blessings over wine and bread.

We read responsively, sharing the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence together as a group.

That was pretty much the end of the serious stuff. From that point on we borrowed liberally from “Company’s Coming“, with the following additions:

  • When we mentioned “The Bitter Herb”, we produced our ancient beloved bottle of Goldschlager. We keep it around because every year when it’s time to read Parsha Ki Tisa, we say we’re going to drink it. We never do.
  • We included an explanation of the Thanksgiving Seder plate. Of course, we first had to INVENT the Thanksgiving seder plate. Like the Passover counterpart, this plate contained all the items emblematic of Thanksgiving, including:
    • a football
    • a figuring of a pilgrim
    • Pepper (Passover is all about salt – in the water, in the soup, etc. Let another spice get some attention already!)
    • Marshmallows (on top of the candied yams. Nobody in my house ever ate them. It just sat on the table turning into a paperweight.
    • nondairy creamer (as a reminder that this is a fleishig meal)
    • matzo (to remind us of the joy that this holiday brings since WE DON’T HAVE TO EAT ANY!)
    • a cantaloupe

OK, the cantaloupe requires a bit of explanation. One summer, we took a family vacation to visit a friend in Boston. Part of the trip involved going up to Plymouth. But the line to see it’s most famous rock was too long, and the day was already over as far as our kids were concerned. When we expressed our disappointment back at home base, our hostess grabbed a cantaloupe and wrote “1620” on it. She explained that weather and memento-seekers had worn the rock down until it was about that big so we now could say we’d pretty much seen it. Thus, the presence of the cantaloupe on our seder plate.

  • After the meal, we had a rousing hunt for – no, not the afikomen – but the wishbone instead!. The finder of this scrumptious morsel won the right to take it home (her parents were so proud) along with a Sacagawea dollar.

Forgiveness


My friend Phil Setnik started a really good idea over on Google+: community-specific requests for forgiveness. It wouldn’t make sense for me to make some kind of blanket “please forgive me” message everywhere all at once. The context is lost in the same way a letter to both my family and my coworkers would. But I think it’s fair to say the following:

For anyone I may have offended here – in this corner of the internet – by my words or actions or tone as I posted or responded to your posts, I ask your forgiveness.

I would like to wish everyone a New Year filled with prosperity, growth, discovery and joy.

L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem

CROSSPOST: Vegetable CousCous


As I come back up to speed here on GoingKosher, this post from HomeShuling was especially apropos and worth crossposting. Plus, Amy is an amazing writer, parent, and all around person that you should get to know. You can read the original here.

Rosh Hashanah Seven Vegetable Couscous – a recipe and a story

I’m sitting in my kitchen right now, with a pile of cookbooks in front of me. Odd, because I rarely use cookbooks anymore. I almost always go straight to the internet to find my recipes. But, I’m feeling the need to browse. With three days of meals to cook, since Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat are back to back, and lots of company coming, I’m trying to concoct a plan.

I stumbled across a recipe that was faintly stained with spices on a page that was nearly glued to the opposite page – a sure sign that I’d made the dish before. It was Seven-Vegetable Couscous from Nava Atlas’ Vegetarian Celebrations, and once I began to read it over I remembered how delicious this traditional Rosh Hashanah dish is. I’ve put it on my menu for the second night, and since the cookbook is out of  print, I’m hoping it’s fairly legal to post the recipe here:

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon reduced-fat margarine
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions — chopped
2 large carrots — sliced
1 cup finely shredded white cabbage
1 medium turnip — peeled and diced
1 medium yellow summer squash — diced
1 1/2 cups canned or cooked chick peas
1 1/2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup toasted sliced or silvered almonds

6 to 8 servings

Since seven is a lucky number in Jewish tradition, Sephardic Jews serve a seven-vegetable soup or stew such as this one for the holiday meal.

Cover the couscous with 3 cups of boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Cover and let stand until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then stir in the margarine, turmeric, and salt. Cover and set aside.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and sauté over moderate heat until translucent. Stir in the carrots and cabbage and sauté until crisp-tender, adding small amounts of water as needed to keep the bottom of the pot moist. Add the remaining ingredients except the last 2. Cover and cook over low heat, lifting the lid to stir frequently for 15 to 20 minutes. Add water in small amounts until the mixture has the consistency of a thick, moist (but not soupy) stew. The vegetables should be tender but still firm.

Before serving, arrange the couscous on the outer perimeter of a large serving platter. Pour the vegetable mixture into the center. Sprinkle with the parsley and almonds. Guests should place a small mound of couscous on their plates and top it with the vegetable mixture.

What’s on your holiday menu? I’m always looking for new recipes and would love to see your favorites in the comments or on the homeshuling facebook wall.

 

TOP RECIPE: Rhubarb Lemonade


At this point, I can’t give you another Passover recipe. But to give a chametz-dic one would be cruel. So here’s a refreshing quickie from the folks over at Couldn’t Be Parve. You can find the original post here.

Rhubarb Lemonade

Makes 1
This recipe makes a single drink since that is how I have been enjoying it, but feel free to multiply it and make a whole pitcher. I also like my lemonade quite tart so feel free to increase the amount of syrup or decrease the lemon juice to taste.

  • 3 tablespoons rhubarb syrup (see recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 8 oz seltzer
  • ice
  • 1 16 oz glass

Combine the first three ingredients in the glass. Add ice until the glass is full. Enjoy.

TOP RECIPE: Lemon Meringues


Standing at the edge of Passover, I’m bringing you another recipe from Couldn’t Be Parve. You can find the original post here.

Lemon Meringues

makes about 50

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 packed teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 190. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place the zest and sugar in the metal bowl of an electric mixer. Rub it together with your fingers until it is well mixed and very fragrant. Add the egg whites. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch, 2-3 minutes. Transfer bowl to the mixer and whip (using the whisk attachment) until the mixture holds a stiff peak.

Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a medium sized star or round tip (I like ateco #826) and pipe meringue no bigger than one inch. (Any larger and they may crack while baking). Alternatively, use a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off to pipe the meringues.

Bake the meringues for one hour and thirty minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom and front to back after one hour. At this point the meringues will be set and firm to the touch but may still be a bit sticky. Turn off the oven and let the meringues dry in the over night.

TOP RECIPE (Pesach): Quinoa Hot Cereal


This past Tuesday marked the start of the time we could observe the commandment NOT to eat Matzah before Passover (unless you follow the Vilna Gaon, in which case he (like my beloved Pandora) refused to eat it at any other time of year).

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t start planning for that flourless week. And who better to help than the great folks over at Couldn’t Be Pareve. Most of the focus on Passover recipes is what to make and serve during the seder itself. So I thought it would be useful to provide one of their recipes for “morning after” food: Cereal made from Quinoa. You can find the orignal posting here.

Quinoa Hot Cereal

Makes 2 servings

  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup water or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • dried fruit and nuts for topping
  • honey for topping (optional)

Combine the first five ingredients (apple sauce through cinnamon) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the almond butter and sugar are melted and the mixture is hot. Add the quinoa and stir until hot. Divide between two bowls and top with dried fruits and nuts. Drizzle with honey if desired.