One for the Kids…

I have recieved a few e-mails, surprisingly about Kosher Baby food. This shocks me, but then I thought about it and realized it could be a difficult problem for new Jewish parents, so let’s look into it. First off, Earth’s Best is an excellent organic Kosher baby food (Excluding the ones with meat). Also, Beech-Nut Baby Foods has a wide variety of baby foods that are Kosher, including some Kosher for Pesach (I can hear some mothers screaming at me over the internet now… “You meshugganah, you! You couldn’t shlep your way to a computer and post this BEFORE Pesach?!?” No, I couldn’t, now hush.)

Now, for my family, my mother settled this by just using a blender or food processor to puree whatever her & my Father were eating, or so I’m told. I’ve heard from many others this is a very effective process, but it can have complications. Do we really want to see what brisket, mashed potatoes, corn, and challah look like processed into a paste? *shudders* But, there are alternatives! Yes, your babies need not fret, for Uncle Steven is here to help! For those that prefer not to buy premade baby food use a food processor to make the table’s dinner the little one’s, we can look at some easy recipes to provide them with kosher food! Now, I know… What’s this MAN know about feeding babies? Very little, but I know good food! So, I put on my thinking cap for SOME recipe for this article…

An additive in a lot of Gerber baby foods now is the Taro Root (also known as Dasheen), an Polynesian tuber sold in most asian grocery stores that is high in vitamins, minerals, low in calories, and is just all around good for you. Now, while thinking of how to best use this root, I remebered that the Hawaiians, in their wisdom, allready HAVE a use for Taro root that can make an excellent baby food: Poi!

Poi

1 medium-sized taro root
water

After washing the root, toss it into a pot and JUST cover it with water. Boil it in the pot until soft, which can be anywhere from 30-40 minutes.

Taking out the root, let it cool back down before tossing it into a food processor with about a tablespoon or two of water.

From here, you can add a little bit more water to keep it thick and creamy as it’s mashed and mixed, or add a lot to make it almost soupy.

Now in Hawaii they will sometimes put it in a bowl and cover it for a few days with a clean towel to sour it slightly, but this is for BABIES! We want it as sweet as we can get it so they’ll eat it. This being the case, just store it in a sealed container. It is great eaten plain, or as a dip for veggies, or atop Matzos, or whatever you prefer. Like Hummus and Baba Ganoush, it’s quite versatile!

Now, for those on a budget, there are standbys that are classic. Cherrios are a famous standby for teething, and even before then they can be soaked in milk or soy milk to soften them for eating. Likewise, another healthy yet cheap baby food is to pop up some popcorn and soak it for about 5-10 minutes in milk or soy milk to soften it. Make ABSOLUTELY sure not to give them an unpopped kernel, of course, but my mother had me eating this after a few weeks as she couldn’t keep up with my hunger. (Yes, even as a baby I loved food!) There’s also the standby of grits with a bit of jelly or honey stirred in. It’s nutritious, filling, and does the job! Also, talk with your local Jewish Federation if you are ABSOLUTELY without any budget for food for you or the little one(s). They will likely have a food bank of some sort to assist Jewish families who are in need and/or may have financial assistance to help those Jewish families that are NOT wealthy.

Now, I’m hoping this article has been of use to some of you out there. In closing I also reccomend looking to find Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. This book includes over 300 recipes to feed your child up to age 3 with a healthy diet. While some recipes are trafe (Nobody’s perfect…), the number that can be kept kosher are enough that the book is worth purchasing. All in all, I do hope this has helped somewhat. I’m slowly working back up to more updates, and update when I can. So, until next time, Shalom and Good Cooking!

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April 26, 2006. advice, recipes. 1 comment.

You scream… I scream… We all scream for Ice Cream!

Okay, I’m sorry for the last entry. I was just exhausted, had little food in the house, and couldn’t figure out what to write about. For GOOD news, Tuesday is Free Ice Cream Day at Ben & Jerry’s. All of their sorbets are non-dairy Kosher, last I heard, so… Enjoy free ice cream!

Thinking of ice cream has ice cream on my mind and my cooking. It has me thinking of the tasty joy it brings to people, and the sweet, sweet numminess! Also, if you want, there’s Klien’s Kosher Ice Cream & Annabelle’s Ice Cream for some very delicious Kosher ice creams, for example. Also, check the freezer section for other yummy kosher goodness. But, I do digress. Today, I want to look at Fried Ice Cream, one of the most delicious desserts on earth:

Fried Ice Cream

3 cups Grape Nuts
6 scoops of your favorite Kosher Vanilla Ice Cream
1 package of Fantastic Tempura Mix (Only Tempura mix I’ve found that’s certified Kosher)

Start by scoopint the ice cream into balls and keep aside in a metal bowl that’s been chilled in the freezer. You want to keep the scoops as COLD as possible. In fact, setting the scoops BACK into the freezer for another 30 minutes before making the dessert’s a great idea.

Once the ice cream is nice and hard, take the scoops and roll, roll, roll zem in ze Grape Nuts, trying to cover as MUCH of the ice cream as you can. These are going to be what gives your fried Ice Cream it’s cruncy shell.

Put scoops in your chilled metal bowl, cover the bowl with waxed paper before setting them in the freezer overnight (Or at least 6 hours). This is to give the ice cream & the grape nuts time to fuse together, forming a permabond that will keep them from falling apart.

When it’s time to make the dessert itself, mix up the tempura mix according to package before taking the ice cream balls out of freezer.

Now, I assume that you ALL have a deep fryer of some sort that’s been warming up vegetable oil for your delight. If the oil’s nice and hot, we’ll get to the fast step. You quickly roll the balls in the tempura mix, then immediatly drop each scoop into the ice cream. It won’t take long to fry them, and you’ll know the scoops are done when they float atop the oil. DO NOT OVERCOOK!!!

A lot of people like to top their fried ice cream with powdered sugar and honey like a fry bread, U-Bet chocolate syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon… The toppings really are endless. It’s best to top and serve once finished cooking, so the ice cream inside is still cold when the thin shell is broken to reveal the creamy delight inside. On a side node, as I end this article, I did want to mention the new Coca-Cola Blak. While certified Kosher Dairy, in my personal opinion it is not that good of a drink. Of course, Ramune drink and espressos are my personal favorites, so what do I know? Just, if you try it, go for a SMALL bottle before getting a full 6-back. Trust me. It’s taste is rather… Unique. Anyhow, until next time, Shalom and Good Cooking!

April 24, 2006. dessert, drinks, News, recipes. 3 comments.

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Is it wrong to be happy Pesach is over? I’d like to think not, myself. It’s a joyous yet difficult holiday for those involved. And, for those who are vegan Jews, I do hope you happily enjoy all your nummy soy products once again. Also, I’m hoping to take part in Blogathon 2006 following the alternate shabbat schedule, of course… Anyhow, I need to find a charity to raise money for, preferably one that has a web-based donation way. Basically how it works is ever 30 minutes for 24 hours I’ll be posting kosher recipies to raise money for the selected charity. What I want is suggestions for GOOD groups to donate to. Something food-oriented and/or relating to the Jewish people. Any suggestion works, and I’ll have my descion in a few weeks.

Now then, lots of foods have been running thru my head this past week. I almost strangled a gentile friend who thought it’d be ‘cute’ to eat a double bacon western cheeseburger in front of me, but I restrained myself. Anger is not wise to ever use, of course. But, there’s not much food in my house, so I can’t really cook that much until I go to the store. *cries* Surely there’s something I can cook! So as I wait to cook, I am going to share a simple snack I ate all the time growing up. Since Chametz is now ALLOWED again, I felt like reliving my youth:

First take two slices of plain white bread and butter it lightly. Dairy-free margarine can also be used, if you’re vegitarian/vegan.

The next step can be one of two ways: You can either gently shake sugar onto the buttered bread, or use a cinnamon/sugar mix. For things like this and topping sugar cookies, I like to keep either sugar or a sugar/cinnamon 50/50 mix in salt shakers marked CLEARLY as such on my spice rack.

Finally, dust off the excess sugar by gently tapping the back of the bread & eat. The good thing about this snack is it’s very light yet filling, it’s surprisingly healthy, cheap to make & eat, & kids can even make it & feel like they’re getting a special treat.

I promise, AFTER shopping I’ll do more recipies… But, with Passover just ending… I need sleep… Zzzzzzzzzzz… OH! I forgot! Shalom and Good Cooking! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

April 21, 2006. recipes, snacks. Leave a comment.

MY seder dinner…

As promised, I’m going to go over what I’m preparing for my seder dinner. First off we start with the charoset! I use 2 cups chopped apples, 2 cups chopped walnuts, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, & 2 tablespoons sweet red wine all tossed into a food processor for about a minute and serve it on the table. It’s basic, but it gets the job done. Now, as for the MAIN dishes, I have several recipies. Let’s start with what I call TRUE Shephard’s Pie:

1/4 cup non-Dairy Kosher for Passover Margarine
1 cup pearl onions
2 pounds ground lamb, cooked & drained
1/4 cup Matzos Meal
2 cups Lamb broth
2 cups diced celery
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups cooked peas
a pinch of thyme
a pinch of rosemary
4 cups mashed potatoes
4 tbsp corn starch

In a large saucepan, heat margarine and saute onions for 5 minutes.

Add lamb and sprinkle with matzos meal.

Blend in lamb broth and celery.

Stir over medium heat until bubbly and thickened, then let it simmer on low for about 5 minutes.

Mix in carrots, peas and the dry (Or fresh, if you have ’em!) herbs. At this point you canalso add in sone Kosher Salt and freshly-ground pepper for taste, if you want.

Pour the ENTINE mix into your standard casserole dish and set aside for a moment.

In a separate bowl, combine the mashed potatoes and the corn startch.

Next, take the potato mixture & spread it evenly over the nummy meat & veggie mixture.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until top is brown.

Next up, for those that don’t eat meat, I HAVE to have salmon. Now, I get Wild King Salmon, just because it has better flavor, in my opinion. Yes, some may disagree, but that’s because they’ve never COOKED it right! Here’s the EASY way to cook salmon:

Wild King Salmon

1 whole salmon fillet
1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup kosher white wine

Take a standard baking sheet and set it out.

Next, take a LONG piece of aluminum foil out, making sure it’s wide enough for your salmon filet AND to wrap it up.

Put the fillet on the pan and foil, skin side down.

Salt and pepper lightly, and then squeeze the fresh lemon over top (REALLY soak it, trust me).

Pour the wine over the salmon and wrap it up in the foil.

Bake the filet at 350 degrees F For about 20-30 minutes or until salmon flakes apart.

Trust me, this will come out with the BEST salmon you’ve ever eaten. Serve it with lemon wedges on the side, and your guests will be applauding you for years to come. Now, a CHEAT I’ve found for cooking salmon freaks some people out. Taking the filet, prepare it as usual. BUT, triple wrap it in foil so NOTHING can get at the lemon & wine-soaked salmon goodness. Then, toss it into your diswasher on the top rack with NOTHING ELSE, and just run your dishwasher for a cycle. Believe it or not, it’ll cook up just as if it were in the oven. Don’t ask how I found this out, but trust me in saying it works.

Now, next up, as our first side dish, we have steamed carrots. steamed carrots are pretty easy, to be honest. Just use 2 cups of baby carrots and microwav them in a covered glass dish with 1/2 cup of water for about 10 minutes. When done, drain the remaining water and top the carrots with cinnamon. Tres’ delish! Now, for a bit of a dessert, I also offer Candied Yams:

Candied Yams

6 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup Dairy-free Kosher for Passover margarine
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbs. vanilla extract
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°.

Boil potatoes in skins until about half done.

Drain water from potatoes , remove skins, & cut in lengthwise slices.

Place slices in a greased baking dish & dot with margarine.

Make a syrup by boiling together brown sugar, water, & vanilla.

Pour over potato slices.

Bake 45-50 minutes, basting frequently with the syrup – cooking until the potatoes are transparent.

I also reccomend a nice salad and of COURSE Matzos Ball Soup, which we covered in a previous article. Let’s see… That’s about it for this year’s cooking plans. I hope my tidbits on cooking helped, have a good Passover, stock up on Matzos, and of COURSE Shalom and Good Cooking!

April 10, 2006. dessert, recipes, salad, seder, side dishes. 1 comment.

The cleaning!!!!!!!!!!!

When it rains, y’know? Atop of being sick (It came back just as I thought I was feeling better. Bleugh.), I’m without internet for quite a while. While this saddens me greatly, as I do miss sharing culinary kosher tidbits with my dear readers, it does give me time to research other culinary avenues. After all, when all you can do is lie in bed, it’s a GREAT excuse to read cookbooks and culinary textbooks for ideas! In all seriousness, though, Passover is soon coming upon us. Rather than go over the food preperations today, I wanted to look more at what food you have to get OUT of your house for Passover, mainly cleaning for chametz.

I feel for Jewish women, this time of year – especially those with families! All the cleaning and cleaning and cleaning… Women, I sympathize! As a house husband, I’m the one who has been doing all that fun cleaning. Of course, having just MOVED is a blessing as we were able to rid ourselves of much chametz. But, even in that, it was still a chore. And no, I do NOT reccomend moving just before Pesach… It is NOT fun.

Now, for those of you that may not know, Chametz means levened bread. ANY type of levened bread… From Bagels to bread crumbs, it ALL has to go. Why? Well, in Exodus 12:19, the Torah commands: “For seven days, leaven may not be found in your home.” The law is so strict that the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet — being cut off from the Jewish people. Now, I love my people! I don’t wanna be cut off from them! So, I, like a lot of Jews, clean.

But how hard is it, you may ask? Well, you clean and clean, and find a few crumbs from that old wedding cake… Or remember that delicious bagel and shmear you ate by the com puter a few weeks back and crumbs got in the keyboard? Or remember that garlic bread in the back of the freezer? You start to see WHY this is such a chore.

Now, at the end of all this, there are two ‘games’ we can do. One is to use a feather to symbolically ‘clean’ the last bit of chametz from the house, thus getting the kids involved (Gasp! Kids! Cleaning! It’s unheard of!). Also, we set aside a small piece of bread that we’ll burn away symbolically as part of the Passover rites. But, this is alkl stuff most know from growing up.

Now, for me, there’s some chametz I can’t bear to get rid of… Rare pastry bases and flours with yeasts for cooking that I just don’t want to loose. These, I tape up in a cabinet, seal the cabinet, and just don’t open that door during pesach. What?!? Don’t give me that look, we ALL do it! Anyhow, all it all, I wish everyone a good time searching thru every nook and cranny for every last crumb of chametz right now. I swear, children & gentile roomies love to stash this stuff in the wierdest places. Why a GROWN ADULT has a half-eaten sandwich under the sofa…

*sighs* Sorry, where was I? Ah, yes. So, this article may not have been too much about cooking, but I just wanted everyone to know I’m suffering with you all. But, to keep with cooking, let’s get rid of some of that chametz via COOKING!!! Because, as we know, if they EAT it, you don’t have to throw it out!

Bread Pudding

6 slices Texas toast bread, day-old (Or 12-14 slices recular white bread)
4 Eggs, separated
1 pinch Salt
1 cup Raisins
6 tbsp Sugar
3 cups Milk
1 tbsp Vanilla extract or flavor
1/2 stick butter – melted
1 tsp Cinnamon

Rip the bread into pieces before tossing with melted butter and a 1/4 cup of milk.

Place in a large casserole dish.

Beat sugar and egg yolks together until well blended; add remaining milk and mix well.

Blend in vanilla, cinnamon, and raisins.

Pour mixture over bread, then place dish in pan of water and bake in 350 F. oven for 40 to 50 min. or until knife comes out clean.

Beat egg whites until foamy.

Add salt; gradually add 2 tbs. sugar and continue beating at high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread whites on top of pudding.

Return to oven, raise heat to 375 F. and bake until meringue is brown.

So, chametz bad, this time of year. Let’s get rid of the chametz! Boo on chametz! But, I do sympathize with getting rid of it. And YES, I will share my seder menu when I have more internet access! Until then, Shalom and Good Cooking… And woe be to the poor soul who brings more bread into my house! I will give them such a pinch!!!

April 5, 2006. dessert, recipes. 1 comment.