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Difference of Opinion

12 Aug

I’ve been talking to everybody I know about Jewish food for the last few months. (A lot longer than that, but really focused on it now.)  The most interesting thing to me is that my sister and I have opposite views on the important things.  We grew up in the same house and had the same parents and grandparents cooking for us, so how did our preferences diverge so widely?

For instance:

  • Matzo Balls – I like them fluffy.  Not super-fluffy so they’re falling apart, but fluffy so it’s not like I’m eating a cement ball.  My sister feels that they should be firm enough that they’ll bounce off the floor and hit the ceiling if you toss one.
  • Fried Matzo #1 – I like it sweet with syrup drizzled on top. She likes it savoury with butter and salt or some sautéed vegetables.
  • Fried Matzo #2- I prefer using the pancake method – one single pancake of fried matzo, nice and brown on both sides.  She’s of the “scrambled eggs” technique. You mix it up as it cooks and it doesn’t form that nice crust (“I don’t like it crusty!” says she. “Oh, I do” says I.)
  • Even though we’re (both) Ashkenazi, I like to say that I have the taste buds of an Ashkenazi and her taste buds are Sephardi. A chicken dish I made last week was liked by all, but my lips went a little numb and I made the comment “cut back on the chili powder a little”. Her response “no, it’s good.”

This is just a sampling, I’m sure I could go on.  Check back later for a new  post, potential title “My Mother Prefers More Salt – I Prefer More Pepper”

It’s all about the recipes.

4 Aug

For me, the best part about working on a cookbook is the recipe development and testing.  Well, that’s usually true.  Sometimes the testing can be less than fun — when I’m trying something for the 6th time and it’s still not right.  At that point I’m no longer enjoying myself.

The part I’m not as fond of is typing up the recipes.  I procrastinate and can’t do a long stretch without checking the eG forums and then Twitter and Facebook multiple times. When I wrote the last book I didn’t have these distractions — in fact, I spent a good chunk of time up at the lake doing nothing but typing.

Again, I think this probably has something to do with the self-publishing vs. using a publisher. No one’s setting deadlines for me but me.  So I’m trying to figure out how to lay down the law — with myself.

I’ve been pretty good with the testing.  Every day that I haven’t been at work, I’ve been working on recipes.  I’ve put all of my recipes into a spreadsheet so I can see what I have and what I still need.  It’s looking good and the end is in sight.   I’ve made arrangements to take the rest of the week off from the family business. I’ll spend the next few days working on recipes and there won’t be much left on my recipe to-do list.

I’d like to take a couple of weeks cooking/baking the recipes that I wrote a few years ago.  I haven’t made some of them in 2+ years and I’d like to include weights — something I didn’t do then.  Then it’s on to typing.

I’ve tried to keep up with the typing.  Typing as many recipes as possible between customers at the store.  But I still have a stack of 20+ recipes that need to be typed, plus whatever I get done in the next couple of weeks. Then on to editing and writing the bits that go before and between the recipes.

There are so many things that I have to think about this time that I didn’t give a thought to with the last book.  I’ve started researching printers and shipping, layouts and photos — but I can’t devote a lot of time to these other areas until the recipes are done.

The good news is that I’m still on track  and should be able to have the book done  for Passover 2010, but there’s a lot to do.

Shana Tova! (really belated)

15 Oct

I’d like to wish everybody a happy, healthy and sweet new year. Shana Tova!

Life continues to be hectic, and I don’t find myself with the time to post here.  I’m working on another cookbook, and I’ll post about it when I have some information.  In the meantime, as it’s getting much cooler in Winnipeg, I find myself leafing through the Soup book and planning on making big batches to keep us going through the winter.

I hope the year has started off well for everybody.

Take care,


Two Weeks Until Passover

19 Mar

That’s it.  2 weeks.  Over 20,000 lbs. have food has come in and it’s flying out.  More on the way.  We. Are. So. Busy.

Lots of new products.  Some interesting.  Some strange.  I’ve never tried Passover cereal – will keep a box and try them this year.  Have heard bad things.

Happy prepping to you all.

Passover countdown . . .

22 Feb

Since I’m totally submerged in Passover – I thought I’d keep you updated on what it’s like to work in the kosher biz during the busiest time of the year.

The kosher biz.  By this, I mean that I (along with my parents) own and operate a store in Winnipeg that sells only kosher products (and gifts!).  We also prepare food, though not under any kosher supervision (all of the ingredients are kosher, and we follow the laws, but are not officially kosher).

First of all, the planning started the first week in January.  Tentative product lists started arriving from various suppliers in Eastern Canada.   I’d already been thinking about my orders since September – so I was ready to go through the lists.

For a few weeks, most of the workday and evenings at home were spent going through the lists to see what was new and what wasn’t being offered this year.  I spent hours and hours guessing at numbers and typing up orders. Phone-calls to various suppliers to check on things.  Questioning customers about what they wanted.  All orders have now been sent in except for the final dairy order and some of the meats.

About a week and a half ago, the first of the Passover products started trickling in.  We have chocolates and olives everywhere!  The big orders will start arriving in a week or so. 

For those of you uninitiated, my little food store (I carry approximately 1200 items) is completely turned over for Passover.  Right now I’m trying to sell out items and let stock go down – because anything not kosher for Passover has to be sold or boxed up and put away in the next couple of weeks.  For Passover we’ll be stocking approximately 900 items – that’s 900 different items than the ones I carry the rest of the year.

Last week we started panicking.  Where were we going to put 3000 lbs. of matzo when it comes in next week?  Do you have any idea how much space 3000 lbs. of matzo takes up?  In a moment of brilliance, I called a storage company.  On Monday we’ll be received a 40′ X 8′ storage container that we’ll keep in the parking lot for a month.  So all the dry stuff (matzo, matzo meal, cake meal, potato starch, farfel, chips, etc.) can go in there.  If it would just stop snowing, it’ll be much easier to get things from the parking lot to the store.

I’ve also spent the last two days organizing the storage room.  When we moved our business 2 years ago, boxes never got emptied.  I’ve been able to clear out a lot of room.  Thankfully we’re busy – and everything is selling.  Lots of stuff will go in the next week for shalach manos (for Purim) – and more space will be available.  Do you have any idea how many packages of Bissli I sell each week? 😉

To add to the craziness – I’m waiting on the arrival of a new, programmable cash register system.  So every item in the store will need to be programmed into the system before it can be put on the shelves.

I’ll try to bring my camera to work and show you the progress over the next few weeks.

It’s going to be a crazy month!

Chinese Food

26 Dec

Eating Chinese food and going to a movie on Christmas has been a tradition for as long as I can recall.  Though I didn’t participate in the ritual this year, I did enjoy a song about it.  You can too.  Just click on this YouTube link.  Enjoy.

Passover already?

25 Dec

I don’t mean to be an alarmist or scare anybody, but Passover is just over 3 months away.  For most people, this means very little – you probably won’t start worrying about it for another couple of months – or maybe longer. For those of us in the kosher food world, it’s much sooner than you think.

A couple of years ago Canadian Living magazine asked me to provide them with some recipes for Passover.  At the time, I hadn’t started writing my own recipe columns, and I couldn’t believe how early they needed the information.  For the most part, I’m a cook-as-you-go sort of person.  I can tell you how I do something, but I rarely know the measurements or the cooking times.  Only when I’m writing a recipe for publication do I actually write everything down and time it.  So there I was in December of 2004 hosting a Passover Seder.

I’ve now been writing my column for a year and a half and I remember how hectic last year was.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I run a kosher food store, and you can probably imagine how crazy it gets (or maybe you can’t… believe me, it’s hectic).   Because the store was so busy leading up to (and including) Chanukah, we’ve decided to close for a week.  While everybody else is on vacation, I’m diligently working on recipes.  That’s right.  Tomorrow the cake meal will make it’s first appearance of the season.

Now, I didn’t mean to worry you.  You have plenty of time to worry about Passover.  I’m just getting a jump on it.  By the way – the first of my Passover supplier lists has already arrived.

It’s all over.. Chanukah that is.

24 Dec

Last night was the final night of Chanukah for the year.  I love to see the Chanukiah with all nine candles glowing.  I hope you and yours had a nice holiday and a good Shabbos. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a break from fried foods!

How do you spell Channukkahh..

21 Dec

Please check out the LeeVees.  Watch their video – and click on “Hear the LeeVees!” (scroll down on the left) to hear the latkes frying (or a song aboug it)!

Chanukah oh Chanukah..

21 Dec

As we’re still in the midst of Chanukah it seems appropriate that the first recipe I share is for potato latkes.  There are so many recipes out there – and many of us use the same recipes and techniques that have been passed down in our families for generations.   My recipe is nothing new – but I like the results. 

Before we begin, some latke pointers:

  • Use a box grater to grate vegetables. If making large quantities, use a food processor. Squeeze as much liquid from the vegetables as you can.
  • Grating the onion first, then tossing the potatoes with the onions as you grate them will help keep the potatoes from oxidizing and turning that blueish grey that is so appealing.
  • Use a non-stick or cast-iron frying pan for frying. Heat 1/2″ of canola or vegetable oil over medium (350 degrees). The oil should be hot enough for the latkes to sizzle and bubble as soon as they touch the oil, but not too hot or they will burn before they are cooked through.
  • Drain the cooked latkes on paper towel.
  • Fry one latke and taste it, checking the seasoning before frying the whole batch. If you like things light on salt and pepper cut back my quantities – taste one and add seasoning to suit your tastes.
  • Serve with apple sauce, sour cream, creme fraiche or tzatziki.
  • Latkes are best served hot, right out of the pan (after draining). If you are feeding a group, place the fresh latkes on a baking sheet and keep in a 200º oven as you make them. If necessary, they can be frozen, thawed and reheated on a baking sheet at 350º degrees, uncovered, until warm (about 10-15 minutes).

Traditional Potato Latkes
1 large yellow onion, peeled and shredded
2 lbs. red potatoes (5 medium), peeled and shredded
2 whole eggs
3 T. flour
1 1/2 – 2 tsp. salt
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Grate the onion and potato, drain and place in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, flour, salt and pepper and mix well.

Heat oil and use two spoons to place batter gently into the oil (use about 2 T. of mixture for each latke). Fry for about 4 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, then turn over and cook another 3-5 minutes until both sides are golden brown.

Transfer to paper towel, drain and enjoy.
Makes 12-14 latkes.