Archive for the 'Pesach/Passover' Category

The Haroset Taste-Off

Thanks so much for this great guest post from Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal.  Rabbi Rosenthal is the Director of Education at Congregation B’nai Zion in El Paso, TX.  Before moving to El Paso, she worked as Shabbat and Holidays Coordinator at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City.

Charoset

Passover is a perfect time to learn about Jewish communities from around the world, since there are so many different customs that surround the seder and Passover observance in general.  Whether it is the Afgan and Iranian custom of smacking your tablemates with scallions during Dayenu or the Hungarian custom of decorating the seder table with jewels to commemorate the gold, silver and precious stones that the Israelites took with them from Egypt, Passover can really give us a glimpse into the practices of Jewish communities other than our own.  Haroset is one of the ways that people can learn about other communities and their seder customs, since it seems that every Jewish community (and perhaps every Jewish family) has their own way of creating this seder plate staple.

Yid Dish: Homemade Matzah

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“This is the bread of affliction”, my father would drone every Passover as he opened the familiar blue square box. “Matzah is tasteless and dry, not meant to be enjoyed. Eating it should remind you of the sufferings of our people.”  As he went on and on and on with his yearly lecture on the harshness of slavery and unleavened bread I sat there slathering on salted butter, devouring sheet after sheet of crispy goodness. Although bland and stomach binding, this so-called ‘bread of affliction’ was a welcome change to the squishy, faintly chemical smelling Wonder loaves my mother bought the rest of the year. Despite the family mandate that matzah eating required a certain degree of complaining to make it religiously significant, my appreciation for the magical combination of flour, water, and fire was born.

Where I grew up in the Midwest during the 1970’s there were only two kinds of matzah available. Manishewitz and Streit’s. Both perfectly square and almost identical in taste, matzah was matzah; or so I thought. It was not until decades later at a community Seder that I discovered that matzah could be round, organic or made from non-white flour.

Yid.Dish: Maple Pecan Matzah “Granola”

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On Passover there are at leat 13 ways of looking at matzah;  Matzah Pizza, matzah lasagne (meat and dairy version), matzah farfel stuffing, matzah brittle, brussell sprouts with garlic matzah crumbs, matzah layer cake, chocolate covered matzah, matzah ball soup, matzah meal chicken nuggets, matzah brei, matzah rolls….. And now,  maple pecan matzah “granola”.  This one is for my kids- who are already tiring of  cream cheese and jam on matzah for breakfast, and vowed to never take a simple bowl of  sweet crunchy morning cereal for granted.

Maple Pecan Matzah Granola

1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. maple syrup

Interfaith Hillel Sandwich

If Peeps were made with kosher marshmallows, could this become an acceptable alternative to the traditional Hillel sandwich? You decide! Chag sameach.

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Seder for the Under Six Set

“Seder” is Hebrew for “order.”  In my playgroup last week we tried to recreate the order in this three-thousand-year-old carefully choreographed ritual (the Passover seder) while exploring the symbolic seder foods.

The children made seder plates. They got large biodegradable bamboo plates, onto which they glued round cardboard prototypes, with six blank circles for the six seder plate foods.  Onto those blanks they stuck stickers representing the egg, lamb shank (we subbed yam), parsley, romaine lettuce, charoset and horseradish.

Win A Copy Of the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam

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Every year come Passover there is the great dessert dilemma. Do I try to fake the cake using matzo meal, or forgo carbs and make meringues?  A few years back I put out fruit with a dark chocolate fondue, but you can really pull that rabbit out of the hat just once.  Invariably, I would pause on almonds, which are delicious, protein filled, fragrant, and fraught with biblical meaning.  Many scholars believe that Moses’ rod was an almond branch, as was Aaron’s.  It is also believed by some that the staff of the messiah will be an almond branch.

Last-Minute Locavore – Chicago Style

So you promised your boss you would go to work 1/2 day Monday, but you haven’t finished your shopping for the big night.  It’s Chicago.  It’s winter.  OK technically it’s Spring, but we’re all still wearing parkas and fantasizing about the sun returning.  And most importantly, the farmers’ market season in Chicago doesn’t really being until April.

Or does it?

A little-known gem is thriving right under your L stop in downtown Chicago!  Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand, located at 66 E. Randolph Street, is practically under the Randolph/Wabash stop, across from the Millenium Metra Train station, and open 6 days a week ALL YEAR.

Yes, Elisheba, There IS A Farmers’ Market (In Chicago)…

B'nai Abraham Zion of Oak Park Helping Market shoppers for Passover

…during the winter

…on a day other than Saturday

Those of us organic, sustainable foodies in Chicago are keenly aware of the famous Green City Market which stays open year-round by moving into the Nature Museum November-April.  But for us who observe Shabbat, the Saturday-only schedule they keep in the in winter months is sad news indeed.

So I finally kvetched – kvweeted? – to all the Chicago farmers market Tweeps I follow about how Jews are blocked from farmers market goodness in the winter.

Passover Cleaning: Year One

(Originally published at The Forward)

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One day last spring, at 11 minutes to midnight, I was on my hands and knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor. My jeans were streaked with dirt and my hands covered with those chalky, yellow rubber gloves that scream, “I’m in serious cleaning mode, people!” There was something soothing about the rhythm of plunging my sponge into the bucket of sudsy water and attacking the grimy tile. And heaven knows, I needed some soothing; I was waist-deep into preparing my kitchen for Passover for the first time, and I was terrified.

As a home cook who had done my share of scrubbing beet juice from the grooves of cutting boards, and coaxed stubborn islands of cheese from the bottom of lasagna pans, I admittedly should not have been so intimidated by a little cleaning. But getting ready for Passover felt like serious business. On top of the usual kitchen cleaning, every last crumb of bread, which is forbidden during the weeklong holiday, needed to be accounted for. If a rebellious Kashi flake fell through the cracks, my home would be unfit for the celebration. To crib from the Hebrew National hotdog packages, Passover cleaners “answer to a higher authority.”

This Year in the Food Desert…

Thanks so much to Justin Goldstein for sharing with us his post from Jewschool. Justin is a rabbinical student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University and a regular contributor at Jewschool.com.  He lives with his wife in Los Angeles and is active and interested in issues of food and economic justice, is an at-home amateur organic vegetarian chef, a farmer’s market enthusiast and a vocal advocate and all-around cheerleader for the work which Hazon does in the world.

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For many American Jews, the Passover seder is an intimate and annual Jewish experience that is possibly the only time of year they will have such an experience. Not just Jews, but even many non-Jews in America enjoy participating in a Passover seder. There is something unique about the Passover seder which forces us to contemplate our role and status in society, our historical memory and our diet. Whether one observes the laws of dietary restrictions for the full 7 or 8 days of the festival, or if one simply partakes in the unique cuisine, one cannot help but reflect on our typical diets in the face of the temporary changes.

In our contemporary society we have the freedom to visit supermarkets and specialized stores and purchase food from around the world irrelevant of the season or distance. And yet, at the Passover seder, we are forced to recall what it means to hastily prepare simple loaves transported on back. We recognize, in a certain regard, between the stark difference of experiencing food in servitude and experiencing food in freedom. And while we have the freedom to buy and eat what we want, for a series of reasons we in the 21st century have less freedom and awareness in choosing or understanding how our food is produced and what type of story our food has from farm to table.

Make Kwanzaa Cake for Passover–If You Dare

I don’t watch a lot of Food Network. I like cooking, but I really don’t watch much TV anymore, and when I do, I want to see people fighting and then making out, not stirring things. The point is, I don’t watch the Food Network, but I once saw about 15 minutes of Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee and it pretty much made me lose all hope in humanity. She was all, “Buy a cake! Spread insane amounts of icing on it! Your kids will love it!” I’m sorry, but do we need a show to tell us that? No, we don’t.

New Podcast – RideCast Special

Happy Rider

Check out this new special Ride Edition Podcast! If you haven’t heard, Hazon is allocating funds raised from the Bay Area Ride a bit differently than past rides. It’s pretty exciting and really putting the power in the hands (or cycles) of Ride participants, who will get to decide where to allocate the funds they raise.
Also, if you didn’t hear about last year’s NY Ride engagement story, Marc tells us what he was thinking the day he proposed on the Ride.

Check it all out by clicking here!

Watch Live Tonight: LA Hunger Seder 2010

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Bobbi Rubinstein is a publicist, journalist and green activist.  She’s chair of the Valley Beth Shalom Green Team and co-founder of Netiya: The Los Angeles Jewish Coalition on Food and Environmental Justice Issues

Tonight at 7pm Pacific Time, Angelenos will ask a fifth question:  Why on this night are millions of people going hungry?

With 1 in every 8 Angelenos experiencing food insecurity and 1 in 10 Angelenos using a food bank in 2009, Los Angeles is now known as the “hunger capital” of the United States.

Yid.dish: What’s a farmer to do with all of those beautiful Meyer Lemons?

emily's lemon pudding
Out here in Northern California during the winter months, Meyer Lemons are dripping off the trees like perfect golden globes.  You can recognize a Meyer Lemon tree from far away because their coloring is such a strong and deep shade of yellow and the smell of their blossoms is pungent and plentiful.  Currently, my house is overflowing with bowls of Meyer Lemons from various friend’s trees and I can’t bear to let these delicies go to waste so I am always looking for new Meyer Lemon recipes.