What is your preferred non-hametz pasta substitute?
jakke

I can’t say there’s really anything during Passover that I prefer. The truth is that after two days of Passover, I’m ready to be done with Passover.

But, to answer your question, I’ll go with matzah farfel.

Relatedly, who has Kosher for Passover recipes for me so that my family and I won’t be totally miserable for eight days?

# Judaism # food # Passover # holidays

In my last post, I wrote about explaining the laws of kashrut to our nanny and I ended with this paragraph:

Keeping kosher is something we do; it’s part of our tradition and part of who we are. But it’s not the easiest thing to explain. I mean, it’s easy enough to say, “There are a bunch of passages in the Torah that are all about dietary restrictions and Jews have stuck with those for an awfully long time.” But it takes a good deal more than that to explain why those dietary restrictions are ones that we — in this house in this time and place — still find meaningful and worth following, especially since we don’t read the Torah literally and we don’t take to heart all of the rules-and-regulations passages from right alongside the passages about keeping kosher. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor to try to explain oneself to others … despite, or perhaps because of, the difficulty that often attends making sense of one’s beliefs and actions.

And so a number of people wanted to know why I keep kosher.
In the first place, it’s a return for me to the way I did things when I was growing up. My grandparents kept a kosher home and so did my parents; I went to a private Hebrew day school from kindergarten through eighth grade. So keeping kosher was the standard for me until high school. I didn’t keep kosher in high school, college, or graduate school. Returning to it now that I have a family of my own is a sort of homecoming for me.
But it wasn’t necessarily a choice I would have made for myself. It was my wife’s idea and it was important to her; when we drove out to Nebraska from Virginia back in 2008, she suggested it and, over many hours in the car, we debated and decided to give it a try. It was actually pretty difficult to do when we lived in Lincoln; there was no kosher meat available in the city until Trader Joe’s opened shortly before we moved, so we had to drive to Omaha and stock up on frozen meat. Most of the time, we were de facto vegetarians. Despite the challenges, I have to say that it was a great feeling to know that my grandparents could eat anything in our house, using the proper dishes and silverware, when they came to visit. My grandfather never would have said anything, but I’m sure it was a concern when he visited me during my grad school stint in North Carolina. 
Having moved to Omaha, it’s much easier. The Jewish community is larger here and there are many more kosher items available in the grocery stores.  Buying kosher meat, separating dairy from meat, choosing to have a whole bunch of sets of dishes, or asking questions about ingredients when you’re at a restaurant are all things that could be a hassle but, at this point in my life, they bring a sense of intentionality to a meal. Rather than just choosing anything from the fridge and putting it on a plate, each meal represents an opportunity to pause and consider what’s important to me.
Finally, and very much related to the last point, keeping kosher has become something that’s a part of our identity because we’ve joined a vibrant Jewish community here in Omaha and we’re raising our kids in that community. Keeping kosher is something we do to explain Judaism to our kids; it’s a connection with the history and tradition of the Jewish people. And it’s part of consciously creating a particular identity as Jews in a place where Jews are a very, very small minority. My sense is that this will pay dividends as the kids get older, as their Judaism always will have been a clearly defined part of who they are just as it was for me.

In my last post, I wrote about explaining the laws of kashrut to our nanny and I ended with this paragraph:

Keeping kosher is something we do; it’s part of our tradition and part of who we are. But it’s not the easiest thing to explain. I mean, it’s easy enough to say, “There are a bunch of passages in the Torah that are all about dietary restrictions and Jews have stuck with those for an awfully long time.” But it takes a good deal more than that to explain why those dietary restrictions are ones that we — in this house in this time and place — still find meaningful and worth following, especially since we don’t read the Torah literally and we don’t take to heart all of the rules-and-regulations passages from right alongside the passages about keeping kosher. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor to try to explain oneself to others … despite, or perhaps because of, the difficulty that often attends making sense of one’s beliefs and actions.

And so a number of people wanted to know why I keep kosher.

In the first place, it’s a return for me to the way I did things when I was growing up. My grandparents kept a kosher home and so did my parents; I went to a private Hebrew day school from kindergarten through eighth grade. So keeping kosher was the standard for me until high school. I didn’t keep kosher in high school, college, or graduate school. Returning to it now that I have a family of my own is a sort of homecoming for me.

But it wasn’t necessarily a choice I would have made for myself. It was my wife’s idea and it was important to her; when we drove out to Nebraska from Virginia back in 2008, she suggested it and, over many hours in the car, we debated and decided to give it a try. It was actually pretty difficult to do when we lived in Lincoln; there was no kosher meat available in the city until Trader Joe’s opened shortly before we moved, so we had to drive to Omaha and stock up on frozen meat. Most of the time, we were de facto vegetarians. Despite the challenges, I have to say that it was a great feeling to know that my grandparents could eat anything in our house, using the proper dishes and silverware, when they came to visit. My grandfather never would have said anything, but I’m sure it was a concern when he visited me during my grad school stint in North Carolina. 

Having moved to Omaha, it’s much easier. The Jewish community is larger here and there are many more kosher items available in the grocery stores.  Buying kosher meat, separating dairy from meat, choosing to have a whole bunch of sets of dishes, or asking questions about ingredients when you’re at a restaurant are all things that could be a hassle but, at this point in my life, they bring a sense of intentionality to a meal. Rather than just choosing anything from the fridge and putting it on a plate, each meal represents an opportunity to pause and consider what’s important to me.

Finally, and very much related to the last point, keeping kosher has become something that’s a part of our identity because we’ve joined a vibrant Jewish community here in Omaha and we’re raising our kids in that community. Keeping kosher is something we do to explain Judaism to our kids; it’s a connection with the history and tradition of the Jewish people. And it’s part of consciously creating a particular identity as Jews in a place where Jews are a very, very small minority. My sense is that this will pay dividends as the kids get older, as their Judaism always will have been a clearly defined part of who they are just as it was for me.

# Judaism # food # Nebraska # Omaha # kids # religion

On Nannies and Keeping Kosher

We hired a nanny a little over a month ago, both because we wanted our daughter to have some one-on-one care before she becomes a middle child and because we don’t see a lot of benefit in putting an infant in full-time daycare.

The whole thing is working out really, really well. The woman we hired is fantastic; she takes our daughter to the park or to the library and, when she’s taking care of both kids (our son goes to daycare three mornings a week to hang out with his friends), she takes them to a museum or to the zoo. The kids took to her immediately and all the behavior issues that crop up whenever there’s a big change were quick to dissipate. They’re napping much better at home than they ever did at daycare and, as a result, we get to spend more time (and more quality time) with them after work.

Interestingly, the biggest challenge to having an entirely new person spending a great many hours in our house is trying to explain the notion of keeping kosher. The simplest part is showing her the different sets of dishes and silverware, and explaining which is used for which type of food. Then there’s a basic list of commonly-eaten kosher and non-kosher animals. From there, it gets trickier: “Also, don’t mix milk and meat. And, for some reason, chicken counts as meat but fish does not.” And then, “We have to read all the packaging of everything before we buy it because, for example, a lot of the cheese you might find in a grocery store is made with animal products and is, thus, not kosher.”

But all of that is ultimately just a memorization game. The hard part, as expected, is explaining why. Keeping kosher is something we do; it’s part of our tradition and part of who we are. But it’s not the easiest thing to explain. I mean, it’s easy enough to say, “There are a bunch of passages in the Torah that are all about dietary restrictions and Jews have stuck with those for an awfully long time.” But it takes a good deal more than that to explain why those dietary restrictions are ones that we — in this house in this time and place — still find meaningful and worth following, especially since we don’t read the Torah literally and we don’t take to heart all of the rules-and-regulations passages from right alongside the passages about keeping kosher. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor to try to explain oneself to others … despite, or perhaps because of, the difficulty that often attends making sense of one’s beliefs and actions.

# kids # daddy blogging # nanny # Judaism # food # religion

reblogged from

Chevron issues what is undoubtedly one of the worst apologies in the history of terrible apologies, in the form of an expiring coupon for a large pizza and a two-liter, after a fracking-related explosion:

When the tiny town of Bobtown, Pa. was stirred by an explosion at a nearby Chevron fracking site last week, residents feared toxic chemicals were being released into the air as a fire raged for five days.

[…]

The Feb. 11 explosion was so intense that it shook the ground in Bobtown and left Ian McKee, a contractor working at the well, missing and presumed dead, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

That sounds bad, of course, but nothing says apologetic and “responsible member of this community” like the Special Combo at Bobtown Pizza.

HT: Scott Hammond.

(Source: weather.com)

# Chevron # Pennsylvania # fracking # environment # terrible apologies # apology # food

Several people have politely asked for my guacamole recipe, in light of my recent post on the topic. I’ve also been challenged to a guacamole in three different states; we’re just looking for corporate sponsorship now.
In truth, I don’t really have a recipe … even though I learned from my grandmother that the most infuriating thing someone can say to someone else is “I don’t measure; I just look at it and taste it.”
But here’s a list of the ingredients I use:
Avocado
Green onion
Vidalia onion
Garlic
Cherry tomato
Cilantro
Jalapeño
Lime
Salt
Mash some of these ingredients; dice, sprinkle, or crush others.
And then you’ve got my guacamole. But not really because there’s a secret ingredient.
[The secret ingredient is love.]

Several people have politely asked for my guacamole recipe, in light of my recent post on the topic. I’ve also been challenged to a guacamole in three different states; we’re just looking for corporate sponsorship now.

In truth, I don’t really have a recipe … even though I learned from my grandmother that the most infuriating thing someone can say to someone else is “I don’t measure; I just look at it and taste it.”

But here’s a list of the ingredients I use:

  • Avocado
  • Green onion
  • Vidalia onion
  • Garlic
  • Cherry tomato
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeño
  • Lime
  • Salt

Mash some of these ingredients; dice, sprinkle, or crush others.

And then you’ve got my guacamole. But not really because there’s a secret ingredient.

[The secret ingredient is love.]

# food # comedy

True story: When I interviewed for my job, the most serious question the graduate students asked me was what item I would bring to the department’s holiday potluck. Without hesitation, I answered with the best recipe I’ve got, perfected over a decade of experimentation: Guacamole.
Needless to say, that’s what landed me the job.
I’m not humble about my guacamole, people; it’s just plain better than yours.

True story: When I interviewed for my job, the most serious question the graduate students asked me was what item I would bring to the department’s holiday potluck. Without hesitation, I answered with the best recipe I’ve got, perfected over a decade of experimentation: Guacamole.

Needless to say, that’s what landed me the job.

I’m not humble about my guacamole, people; it’s just plain better than yours.

(Source: thejewinjcrew)

# food # Nebraska # comedy

reblogged from Apoplectic Skeptic
I'm not Jewish. Is it wrong that I feel weird when Jewish friends willingly and happily eat pork or other non-kosher foods?
roguepriest

Well, I can’t tell you how you ought to feel.

But I’ll say this: People, Jewish and not Jewish, often apologize to us when they order non-kosher food in front of us. I’m not sure why they do this, especially those who aren’t Jewish, but I’d say it happens two-thirds of the time.

And I don’t think we’re especially “judgy” about keeping kosher. What we typically explain to people is that we keep kosher in our home and we’re vegetarian or pescatarian (if the fish is kosher) when we go out to eat. This position is, in itself, a compromise; we know many people who wouldn’t eat at a non-kosher restaurant at all. Given that we make this compromise in order to be (relatively) observant of ancient dietary laws in our modern world, we know that what we do doesn’t have any bearing on what other people do or what we expect of others.

This works for us and we’re comfortable with it. We wouldn’t presume to tell other people what’s good for them.

# Judaism # questions # religion # food


Kosher cops: Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is seeking to establish a “kashrut police” in effort to broaden the authority’s power over businesses that present their merchandise as kosher but have no rabbinate-issued kashrut certificate. Inspectors of the “kashrut police” would wear identification badges and even uniforms.

Who will procure for me an official identification badge and uniform so that I can present myself as the “kashrut police” for both Purim and Halloween 2014?

Kosher cops: Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is seeking to establish a “kashrut police” in effort to broaden the authority’s power over businesses that present their merchandise as kosher but have no rabbinate-issued kashrut certificate. Inspectors of the “kashrut police” would wear identification badges and even uniforms.

Who will procure for me an official identification badge and uniform so that I can present myself as the “kashrut police” for both Purim and Halloween 2014?

# Judaism # Israel # comedy # food # Halloween # Purim # holidays # religion

reblogged from

Oh, a comedian!

But seriously, my Christmas afternoon and evening involved helping out at the synagogue for the annual Men’s Club Kosher Chinese Buffet. This year, we had more than 125 people in attendance and more entrees than a Friday night dinner at my grandmother’s house.

We set up, we cooked, we ate, we served, we ate, we cleaned, and we ate a little more. My sense is that no one went home even remotely hungry and we still had plenty of food left over to take home and to give to others.

Major thanks is really due to the core crew — especially David, Ben, and Mike who came in early and stayed late — so that a slacker like me could swoop in for a few hours during naptime and after bedtime.

If your synagogue isn’t serving up a ridiculous amount of kosher Chinese food every Christmas, well, you just might want to think about moving to Omaha …

# Christmas # Judaism # holidays # food # Omaha # Nebraska

What will you be eating for Christmas dinner?
Anonymous

I’ll be having Chinese food, as is the custom of my people.

The Men’s Club at our synagogue sponsors a very well-attended annual Chinese dinner buffet on December 25. Between the food and the company, it’s really not to be missed.

# food # holidays # Judaism # questions

Attention, lovers of freedom:

Pregnant women, babies and kids should not drink raw or unpasteurized milk, a group of pediatricians said on Monday.
Because of infection risks, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Nutrition also said sales of unpasteurized milk, cheese and related products should be banned in the U.S.
Pasteurizing kills bacteria that can be present in raw milk. It involves heating the milk to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 15 seconds and then rapidly cooling it.

Yeah, but what do they know, right?
HT: ShortFormBlog

Attention, lovers of freedom:

Pregnant women, babies and kids should not drink raw or unpasteurized milk, a group of pediatricians said on Monday.

Because of infection risks, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Nutrition also said sales of unpasteurized milk, cheese and related products should be banned in the U.S.

Pasteurizing kills bacteria that can be present in raw milk. It involves heating the milk to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 15 seconds and then rapidly cooling it.

Yeah, but what do they know, right?

HT: ShortFormBlog

# food # kids # politics

I’ll say this: I take Thanksgiving dinner pretty seriously.
Happy Thanksgivukkah!

I’ll say this: I take Thanksgiving dinner pretty seriously.

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

# food # holiday

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