October 23, 2007

Guilt and Yum.

Hypothesis... People who are masters of guilt tend to be masters of making yummy things. True? False? Is there a connection? Why? Discuss.

Here is a list of some yummy treats I have found recently. Kosher yummy things.

I am not a salesperson, I get no commission here, I am just hungry and staying out of the kitchen tonight. I just don't have room in my gut to feel guilty about anything else.

These are the top 10 specialty items that come to mind immediately.

1. Neshama Sausage

We especially like Breakfast Delight and Country Apple. I make a pareve honey wheat pancake that goes nicely with these on a Sunday morning. And of course, there is always pareve challah french toast. I think it's actually the maple syrup that brings everything together. It's like having the whole country breakfast thing going without the bacon grease.

2. Wise Chicken.

Is this the only company making organic kosher meat? Why is it so hard to find kosher organic meats? Refute. Discuss. List other brands. This chicken ain't cheap, but it's quite good.

3. Graciela Chocolate Souffles

Omygoodness are these yummy... served warm, the center is melty and the outside is brownie-esque, and the whole things is...wait for it....Pareve. Dark, rich and chocolaty.

Did I mention they take only take a minute or so in the microwave, or a few minutes in the oven (the package says 3 minutes, but I think it takes more like 8 or 10). You find them in the freezer section of many kosher food markets.

The only drawback is that I am afraid to keep these in my freezer. I try and only have them around for guests, and can't be alone in the house when I know they are there.

And you can serve the warm souffle with a dolop of cold vanilla Tofutti (see below) for an even more decadent pareve dessert. Great food to eat away emotions with.

4. Miso Master Organic Soy

This is great in marinades and can be used to make salad dressing- and of course it's used in Miso soup. Just find me kosher dashi stock- but that's another rant entirely.

My favorite thing to make is Miso Marinated Fish.
I like Sable (a.k.a. "Black Cod") because it's a meaty, oily fish, similar to Chilean Sea bass (but not over-fished and less expensive).

I use equal parts white miso, sugar and white wine, then add a dash of Sesame Oil and some grated ginger. I let the fish sit in this mixture all day.

I usually prepare the marinade the night before in a zip-lock. Then I get the fish early in the morning, and put the bag in the cooler when I go to pick up the fish. The fish monger will put the fish in the marinade and pack it in ice in my cooler and I am set until dinner that evening.

I bake the fish for about 15 minutes on 400, and then broil the top for another 5 minutes, until the marinade glazes and blackens a little on the top. The fish should flake just a bit. Then I top it it with chopped scallions. This isn't a "budget meal", but it's great for a special dinner, and it's fast and easy. My toddler will eat it.

5. I am going to limit myself to mentioning one very useful, versatile kosher cheese: Gran Duca Grana Padano. This is a less expensive and versatile relative of Parmesan Reggiano. And it's easier to find in our neck of the woods. This is a "staple" cheese for us. It's nice grated on pasta, shaved into salads, or sliced and snacked on alongside a tart green apple.

There are other kosher cheeses that are more luxurious, and more exciting, but this is a nice balance of yum, usefulness, availability and not so much guilt.

Cheese is a painful subject.

Don't get me wrong... there are many options. We can find a lot of basic varieties- Provolone, Brie, Blue, Asiago, Gruyere and Feta. We usually get the cheese needed for a recipe.

But, as a lover of aroma and ash and rind- and the mystery and allure of unknown cheeses- I live knowing there is a whole other world of cheese that for the time being isn't allowed into our house. Not even for a visit. And I miss these stinky, peculiar house guests. The stranger and more exotic the better- and that is the problem with kosher cheese. Part of cheese love is the chase. Strolling into a funky cheese shop and sampling a bunch of enticing, unusual cheeses until you find the most unexpected and sublime treat... having your wedge removed from the larger wheel, discussing the cheese with the shop keeper.... pinpointing the cheese's unique personality and who it should be paired with (we're talking wine here, and I won't even start that rant...)

Sure, you can find decent kosher cheese, but nothing you will struggle to describe, or daydream about once it's gone.

I could go on and on about cheese. I recommend you listen to someone who knows more- even makes cheese- check out the cheese posts at Kosher Blog.net.

6. Bartenura Balsamic Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar Glaze.

How could one live without a decent balsamic vinegar?

We can only find this in specialty kosher markets, but it's worth the finding.

Obviously you can make a zippy vinaigrette with it, but a good Balsamic really gets around. It gets brushed on a roasting portabello mushroom, drizzled on fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella... a little might might find its way into a simmering tomato sauce, or into so many marinades.

We make Balsamic Rosemary Chicken with it (extend it with Heinz Red Wine Vinegar and a dash of soy). Braise chicken, halved garlic heads, and quartered onions. Add rosemary.

7. Tofutti Pints - I love the Vanilla Almond Bark

I have eaten this pareve ice cream substitute after dairy meals. I keep this around more than ordinary ice cream because I enjoy it, and it's simplifies the freezer. Tofutti is just where I want to be on the calories vs. decadence curve. Ice cream purists may scoff, but they are going to get really fat.

This particular flavor is very vanilla-y. The plain vanilla comes in handy for topping off other pareve desserts, like baked peaches (which I make a lot when peaches are in season).

An incredibly yummy and simple dessert is made by taking Grape Nuts Cereal (which is a favorite versatile ingredient, and a post in itself), and toast it in the oven with a touch of honey. Roll a very cold scoop of frozen vanilla Tofutti in the baked cereal mixture and sprinkle the ball with cinnamon. It makes something like a quick and dirty "fried ice cream".

Note- I am pretty sure Grape Nuts are dairy, but you can do this with regular ice cream if you are too cool for Tofutti.

8. Dr. Praegger's Spinach Pancakes

Find them... anywhere. These little life saving patties get spinach into my 2 year old boy, so they had to make the A-list. They are my friend.

They are fast, yummy, and my son eats them as if they were big green cookies filled with sugar crystals and not diced onions.

A nice lunch is to top them with leftover salmon. Unfortunately, there is no such a thing as leftover salmon.

9. Kashi TLC "Trail Mix" Bars

These are good to toss into my bag in case I am stuck somewhere with a certain toddler that screams "cookie" whenever he sees something round. And, because it's not round, I am not really giving him a cookie, am I?

The kind shown is very tasty and satisfying for 140 calories per bar, and I am only eating the last bite of his bar, anyway.

10. Smart Balance Spread

Does regular margarine give you nightmares? Me too.

Well, this is not your "mother's margarine".

It's organic. It's 100 % Vegan. It's Non-dairy. It's non-GMO. It's non-hydrogenated. It has no Trans Fats. It's Gluten Free. It has no MSG. And yet you don't fear it. It's edible. It what the devil *is* this stuff, you ask?

An expeller pressed natural oil blend (palm fruit, soybean, canola and olive). But don't think about that too much. Would, I, during a dairy meal, smear it all over brioche instead of little pat of real butter? Not really, No. But it's doable, and better than margarine. And most major supermarket chains seem to carry it.

11. Chirardelli Intense Dark Twighlight Delight, 72% Cocoa

Did I say top 10? Did you ever see the movie "Spinal Tap"? If not, never mind. This list goes to 11.

I saved the best for last. Mmmmm... "Twilight Delight". What a great name. I want to meet the person who named this chocolate. I want to know what they named their children. I wonder if they have special access to lots of chocolates like this. I wonder if I could befriend this person.

Sometimes I bring a small handful of whole almonds, and alternate bites between the chocolate and the almonds. Usually I just eat a square or two. A little goes a long way, and utterly cures even a PMS-level chocolate craving.

September 30, 2007

I baked my first challah!!!!

I used my sister's virtual challah lesson. They came out really good, but kind of flat looking because I wrapped them a little too tightly with the oiled saran-wrap. But the funny thing is that my guests saw the challah, and said "Where did you get that cool-looking challah?!!?", as if it were an intentional, artistic thing some bake shop does. When I told them I made the challah they were impressed. We also decided that maybe I should keep the flat look, as sort of a signature thing, as it still tasted pretty good.
I still think it will taste better and look better less flat, even though my guests were being pretty kind. I will keep trying.
That tutorial ROCKS.
Also great was my sister's pareve kugel recipe, which is easy and SO delicious. I baked it in a pie pan and cut it up into pie slices, which I served on a circular glass platter, sprinkled cinnamon on top and topped each piece with half a maraschino cherry. I also served it with applesauce I tampered with- adding a little crushed pineapple and just a bit of ginger.
There is nothing like the smell of fresh baking challah in the house- I want to start doing this more.
I also want to post more often, but I am a lazy, bad, delinquent kosher newbie. And things have been crazy busy. But my sister has really applied ferocious guilt, and she is as skilled at that as she is at cooking... Maybe there should be a "Virtual Guilt Tutorial" on her site, too????

August 21, 2007


Where would I be without my frog-juggling sister?
Thank you for encouraging your readers to come here after my absense.
There are many other things I could thank you for, but this isn't the time or the place...
By the way, your site is amazing and addictive.

August 19, 2007


I owe anyone who has read my blog, and has active imagination an apology. After not seeing a post from me for so long, I'm sure you imagined me on my kitchen floor, rocking violently back and forth, in a daze, repeating... "Who puts lard in Granola bars?"

Others, I'm sure have been calling me... what *is* Yiddish for "slacker"?

Or if you have a lot of faith, perhaps you thought the next post was going to be really, really great.

Well, it isn't, but on the up-side, I didn't have a nervous breakdown. I did, however have some "stuff" to contend with- nothing major/life threatening, just, you know- stuff. But I am back. And more kosher than ever! (Well, okay, actually, I think I am just about as kosher as I was when I started this whole thing in April. Which is to say, not very- my kitchen is kosher, and I am well, a steward to that kitchen, but more on this concept in a bit...)

Sigh. It's been a long couple of months. I want to thank those of you who checked in, posted encouraging things, and told me about kosher Manchego (you rock!).

In a way, this little break has allowed me to get into a kashrut holding-pattern. I have standby meals, set ways of dealing with infractions (potted plants on the balcony, for instance, periodically need to get pruned of cutlery.) We have been doing our thing.

We have had interesting interactions with guest; gifts of non-kosher wine, unwelcome baby food, awkward moments... so much fun, and I am just sort of shuffling gracelessly through these experiences, not blogging. What a waste of faux pas! If only faux pas were dollars.

Lament: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish- Not Kosher!!! The injustice. Maybe if I write the company, they can draw on some gills and scales. I mean, they are willing to make them in rainbow colors, after all. My kid loves those little crackers and how does one tell one's friends that they can't feed their kids these innocuous goldfish in my house... Hmmmmm?

So there. I'm back. Thanks for listening.

May 30, 2007


I think it took me a long time to post because I knew I this post had to come next…

It is time to post about K-day.

When last I left you, I was recounting how I had purged my house of non-kosher food, kitchenware and dishes. I had bought all kinds of new kitchenware. My kitchen was bare, and I was living in a state of limbo, using plastic utensils and occasionally running out to the balcony to use a colander or pot.

Don’t laugh, but I actually had two sets of plastic utensils. I happened to have a bunch of left-over blue plastic knives, forks and spoons from son’s bris. I used these as dairy. I had a huge (Costco) set of metallic plastic utensils we use for other casual entertaining- I put some of these in a plastic bag and used them for meat. Obviously this isn’t necessary when using plastic utensils- but it actually helped me (newbie) get into the thinking using different sets while I got ready to use the real ones. It seemed like the habit was already in place when broke out the new flatware.

At this point, I had already asked a local rabbi to come and help me kasher my kitchen, and to answer various questions. He had told me to call after Pesach- on the Wednesday after Pesach. I had tried calling him a few times starting on that Wednesday and for the rest of the week with no response.

I was calling my sister a lot with questions. I was starting to wonder if this would ever happen. Things were dragging. I was in a bad place, losing momentum, thinking about Manchego cheese and what life was going to be like without it in my home…

A week later, I was whining to my sister on the phone about how I wished it was just done and over, she said:

“O.K. This is IT.”

“What?” I asked.

“This is K-day”.

I said something equivalent to, “???????”

“You are going to kasher your own kitchen”, she told me. “You can do this.” She said.

I asked if I need a rabbi to bless it or something. Right? I mean, didn’t it need to be supervised, and pronounced kosher by some authority? Wasn’t there some final blessing that needed to be said?

She said that I did not, but that if I had any questions about it, I did have to contact a rabbi for answers. Then I told her that I was getting no respons so far and almost started a downward spiral of whining when she reiterated, “This is IT. K-day.”

When she told me this, I suddenly felt a strange peace. I would be busy for a couple of days, but it would be resolved. All of the wondering and wavering and running to the balcony to see if I still had a ladle would end. I would finally be eating off my new dishes and using my Le Crueset and moving forward. YES, I thought. This is it. This is K-day.

And she was on call for me for the next 48 hours.

May 22, 2007

I'm Still Here...

1st- Thank You to The Jewish Advocate of Boston, MA for printing an article on my little blog! I appreciate the attention . I especially want to thank the author, Rachel L. Axelbank, for doing such a great job.

2nd- My apologies for my little lapse in posting. I hope this hasn’t completely turned off readers.

I have had a busy week here- some minor things have gone awry- not dish, nor pot, nor even kosher related. Life got in the way for a moment, but I have managed to keep the kitchen running- I just wasn’t able to blog about it. I promise more posts are forthcoming.

For instance… The big day (or two days) that I really got everything done in the kitchen are going to be described in painful detail- we call this “K-day”- my sister coined the term.

I have more topics to discuss: take-out, how I came “out” to my friends and parents (many of whom don’t keep kosher), and how to deal with many interesting little situations- non-kosher friends wanting to bring in non-kosher food to my house, for instance. I am going to show how I organized my tiny kitchen with pictures. I am going to ponder how I am able to lead my “double-life”- keeping a kosher home, and not keeping kosher outside the home. (Please discuss this when the post comes.) I have much to cover. More in-depth posts will continue after Shavuot.

Please keep reading! There is so much more to come (after the holidays)

I hope your Shavuot is wonderful.

May 14, 2007

China Patterns

I was hoping someone would ask me to post my china patterns- and someone did! I will also be posting pictures of my cabinets and how I labeled them. (I took these pictures of my dishes for the labels- I will be posting how I labeled everything very soon).

We went with Villeroy and Boch china: "Limone Twist" for our dairy, and "Alea Caro" for meat. They dishes are a bit similar, but the "yellow band" means dairy in our house and "just the dots" means meat.

Meat Plate

Dairy Plate: