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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

A recipe to die for

Following my post the other day about a cool blog I discovered that explores the art, history, and social commentary of New England gravestones, my friend Mandy sent me the following photograph of an Israeli gravestone.

Where Western burial practice involves burying and setting a flat stone either upright or flat over the head of the grave, Israeli stones cover the entire grave in stone, perhaps to keep scavenging animals from… well, never mind.  This affords the opportunity either for brevity (Theodor Herzl’s grave says simply, “Herzl”) or more fluency of expression.

Most stones I’ve seen give the deceased’s name, birth and death dates, and parents’ (or father’s) names.  In Poland, I saw Jewish gravestones with engraved icons of broken candlesticks (denoting a woman whose death was untimely), a hand inserting a coin into a tzedaka box (indicating that the person was renowned for giving charity), or a hand pouring water from a ewer over another pair of hands (showing that the deceased was a Levi).  The stone in this photograph has none of that information.  Instead, it has the recipe for “Grandma Ida’s Nut Cookies.”  I kid you not.  (At first I thought it was a Photoshop job, but since I can’t prove it, I’m willing to believe it’s genuine.)  Here’s the recipe:

Dough

200 grams butter     1 egg yolk     1 [container?] sour cream

Add 350 grams self-rising flour gradually

Place dough in refrigerator for an hour

Filling

300 grams strawberry preserves

150 grams ground pecans  +  vanilla sugar  +  tablespoon cinnamon

Turkish delight cut into thin rectangles

Preparation

Divide into four [parts] and flatten into rectangles

Spread a thin layer of jam

Sprinkle the nut mixture in a thin layer

Arrange on the edge of the rectangle a border of Turkish delight and roll

Put into an oven heated to 180 degrees for half an hour

Slice diagonally while cookies are still warm

After cooling sprinkle [with] powdered sugar

Some people are stingy with their recipes.  When I once asked a friend how she made her lasagna, she answered, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”  My mom had to figure out for herself how Lois Callahan made her scrumptious bean dip.  And in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” Gareth’s recipe for duck a la banana dies with him.

I think it’s immoral to withhold good recipes, and I like this family’s style.  Rather than letting Savta Ida take her beloved nut cookie recipe with her to The Beyond, the family had it chiseled in stone for posterity.  Now that’s a legacy.

As for the recipe itself, I’ve never baked with Turkish delight and don’t plan to start now.  But I might get curious enough to make these cookies without it.

The best part, though, will be telling raving fans where I got the recipe.

[Thanks again, Mandy!]

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This is the seventh (and last) in a series on my favorite home cooks.  (Read previous posts about Mimi, Leora, Batya, Ilana-Davita, Sigal, and my mother here.)  I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but one of the first things the Cap’n and I nixed when we went on an austerity plan (i.e. when we had children and I opted to stay home) was eating out.  The pickin’s were slim in Boston for kosher food anyway, and my tastes ran to slightly more exotic cuisine than deli, pizza, and Chinese.  Since I’ve learned to cook the stuff I like, I can’t help but be one of my favorite cooks.

Please introduce yourself in a few sentences.

I’m Shimshonit, the authoress of this blog.  I was born in Seattle, but lived in 13 houses in six states (in New England, the Deep South, and the West Coast) by the time I was 18 years old.  I have a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and underwent Orthodox conversion in 1998.  I’m 42, married with four young children, and live in Efrat (Israel).  I love to read recipes, cook, and of course, eat.

From whom did you learn to cook?  (If not from a person, how?)

The first time I entered the kitchen to do anything other than get a snack or wash dishes after a meal was when my mother had just learned from a friend how to make chicken marsala and decided that my brother and I should learn to make it too.  (I was 20 years old.)  I left home armed with a few simple recipes, but no real idea of cooking technique.  I am largely self-taught, with some help from cookbooks, friends, and—joy of the modern home cook—the Internet.

In what style do you cook predominantly (e.g. Mediterranean, Jewish, Asian)?

When I was young, my family ate out once a week.  In the early days, it was pizza, burgers, and eventually, Chinese.  As we got older and our tastes broadened, it would sometimes take us hours to decide where to eat out.  Mexican? Thai? Japanese? Greek? Moroccan? Italian? Lebanese? Kashmiri?  Once I began to keep kosher, I realized that if I liked ethnic food, I’d have to learn to make it myself.

My day-to-day cooking is vegetarian, centered around lentils, beans, rice, a little pasta, and vegetables, with some grated cheese or plain yogurt on the side.  My style is largely Tex-Mex and Mediterranean, and I go through a lot of onions, garlic, and crushed tomatoes.  For Shabbat meals, I often make chicken and several vegetable dishes.  One of my favorite cooking inspirations was when we lived in Newton (Mass.) and subscribed to an organic farm; whatever vegetables arrived in a large crate on delivery day was what was for dinner.

What dietary guidelines do you observe (kashrut, vegetarian, vegan, Paleolithic diet)?

We keep kosher, and eat very little meat.

What are your favorite foods?  What food aversions do you have?

Mushrooms and green peppers are not to be found in the Crunch household.  Favorite foods include chicken soup with matzo balls, split pea soup, vegetarian chili, salads of all kinds, bittersweet chocolate, and sourdough bread (which I still haven’t got the hang of baking yet).

What is your relationship to your kitchen, to food, to cooking?

My kitchen is small but lovely, with blond maple cabinetry, dark green granite work surfaces, and two enormous sinks.  My oven is small but ample for most of my needs.  However, about one-third of my cooking and baking vessels (including all of my cake decorating supplies) live in the basement in cupboards because my kitchen cannot store them all.

One of the things I realize from the fast days in the Jewish calendar is how much time I spend thinking about food, planning meals, shopping and cooking.  One of my primary roles in the Crunch family is to see that the children take wholesome food to school and eat well at home.  I enjoy having guests on Shabbat, and am willing to undertake any challenge to meet our friends’ dietary needs when coming up with a menu.  (We have friends who are vegans, have Crohn’s Disease, lactose intolerance, food allergies, avoid beans or margarine, and break out in hives if they ingest MSG.)

I waver between feeling like an artist and a slave in my kitchen.  I love to create, and prefer home cooking to eating out.  I like making the food to my (and my family’s) taste, and knowing exactly what goes into it.  On the other hand, my kids can be picky eaters, and I often have to refrain from making things I like because I’ll just have to make something else to suit my kids’ more pedestrian tastes.

What do you think cooking and food say about identity?

I made up this question, but I don’t really have an answer to it.  (I was more interested to see if other people did.)  I do know that any time people are asked to name something that identifies them as being part of an ethnic group, it’s usually something to do with food.  As to the relationship between personality and food, I know some people who only eat 30 things, yet are very open-minded and accepting.  And I know others with very cosmopolitan tastes who are not so open-minded.

I have traveled widely and enjoyed the cuisine of almost every place I’ve visited.  Now that I keep kosher, I am making an unambiguous statement that I am Jewish by only eating food in that category.  But in my heart I am still a world traveler and enjoy a variety of styles of cooking, modifying recipes to fit my dietary limitations.

Please share one of your favorite recipes, either from a blog post or from your own repertoire.

One of the features on the “Bend It Like Beckham” DVD has Gurinder Chadha, the director, cooking aloo gobi (curried potato and cauliflower) under the critical eyes of her mother and her auntie.  The feature was very amusing to watch, and aloo gobi quickly became a favorite with the curry-loving adults in my extended family.  A humorous note: The recipe calls for the whole tomatoes to be grated with a vegetable grater.  In the feature, Chadha says she adds the tomatoes whole and breaks them up with a spoon while they’re cooking to avoid a mess.  Her mother and her auntie shake their heads and say, “Doesn’t matter!” and insist that they must be grated.  Do what you have time and patience to do for this step.

Indian food can be a potchkee, but once you start cooking, it goes quickly.  Eliminate stress by making sure you have everything chopped and measured before you begin cooking.  (I love making aloo gobi because I get to use all those lovely glass nesting bowls I got for a wedding gift.)

ALOO GOBI

Allow extra time for it all to cook, as it takes longer than the directions say.  And remember: “Anyone can make aloo gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?”

½ cup vegetable oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

Large bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), separated into stalks and leaves, coarsely chopped

3 or so small green chilies, minced

1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets

3 large potatoes, well scrubbed, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 can whole peeled tomatoes, grated with a vegetable grater

Fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about a 2” or 3” piece)

Fresh garlic, minced (about 4-5 large cloves)

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons garam masala

Heat oil in a large frypan.  Add onion and cumin seeds.  Stir together and cook until onions become “creamy golden” (her mother’s words) and translucent.  Add coriander stalks, turmeric, and salt and mix.  Stir in chilies and tomatoes.  Add ginger and garlic; mix.  Add potatoes and cauliflower and a few teaspoons of water.  Stir vegetables to coat with curry sauce.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes or so.  (Stir periodically and check for doneness.  When I make it, it actually takes the vegetables closer to 40-50 minutes to cook.)

Add garam masala; stir.  Sprinkle coriander leaves over.  Turn off heat, cover, and leave as long as possible before serving.  Delicious as leftovers or gently rewarmed for Shabbat lunch.  Chadha says she loves it the next day between two slices of white bread.

Mrs. Bhamra says you'd better finish all your curry or you won't get your kulfi.

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This is the sixth in a series of interviews with my favorite home cooks.  (Read my interviews with Mimi, Leora, Batya, Ilana-Davita, and Sigal here.)

My mother may not have been a fancy cook, but she was my favorite cook for years.  I loved how she put tuna and mixed vegetables into my macaroni and cheese.  I loved her version of scalloped potatoes (which she describes below), with ground beef, potatoes, and tomato soup, layered like a non-pasta lasagna.  To this day, no one makes mashed potatoes like she does.  And when she used to fire up the grill to make a gorgeous marinated flank steak, look out.

She developed an interest in cooking when I was a young adult.  Although she didn’t have much to teach me about gourmet cooking, we have enjoyed learning more about preparing balanced, nutritious meals together, and are forever sharing recipes and looking through each other’s cookbooks.  Her inspiration for fine cooking, her Italian-American friend Elena, has also been my inspiration.  I’m working now on developing a kosher cioppino recipe (tomato-based fish stew) which I’ll share when I have it down.

And now, without further ado, my mother.

I am Shimshonit’s mother and have a great interest in cooking. However, that interest was not always there, and was in fact a long time coming. I have great admiration for young women who are confident and capable in the kitchen early in their lives as that was not my experience and later I felt it had been a significant loss. Now, though, I feel I have almost made up for it and then some.

I grew up in northern Vermont where food was pretty much just meat and potatoes (and vegetables, of course). My mother was a good cook and seasoned things well, but she wasn’t inventive and we never veered away from the traditional fare for that region. When I was maybe ten or twelve years old my cousin, who was a home economics teacher, gave the family a recipe for homemade pizza and when my mother served it for our dinner one night she was actually thrilled and very excited, couldn’t stop talking about it—the first time I had ever seen her do that with any meal she had served. The pizza was her one main adventure, though she used to make some sort of tamale pie which my brother loved and I hated.

My mother did nearly all the cooking in our house. When I was quite young I put together, with her instructions called from the laundry room where she was ironing, tuna noodle casserole. I didn’t enjoy doing it and only repeated that one dish when she asked me to for her own convenience, but at least I did like eating it. My sister (three years older) did only a little bit more in the kitchen than I did.  When she, our brother, and I did dishes together (no dishwasher), it was made a bit more interesting than cooking by our singing rounds which was rather fun.

When I married, I made the few things I had grown up eating and liking, including a dish we called scalloped potatoes, but which in our version had hamburger, onion, and tomato soup with the sliced potatoes instead of a cream sauce. Our menus were boring (my dear children never complained and even their father only once in a great while mumbled something about our having a change) but I just didn’t have much interest in cooking. We managed to survive but it’s a wonder.

And then we moved to California. That was 1981, and in 1982, I went to work in my husband’s business office. A young woman worked in the pathologists’ office next door and we used to gab.  When we found we lived near each other we became very friendly, often walking together at the middle school track in the neighborhood when we got out of work in the afternoons. Our topic of conversation most often was about food, menus, and recipes, a subject I was surprised to find actually becoming much more interesting to me. Elena was fifteen years my junior but she was Italian and a marvelous cook.  One of the first things she taught me was that I did not have a stocked refrigerator unless I had a bag of fresh parsley in there. I henceforth had a bag of fresh parsley always available, and began trying some of Elena’s recipes. She had many, and suddenly I discovered that cooking was fun! Not only that, but my family appreciated my efforts! I had a new attitude toward cooking and found it most enjoyable and challenging.

When we moved to Oregon in 1988, I got a computer. It took a while for me to get the hang of it but once I found how to get into the Web and look up recipes, I was off and running. I don’t think I ever had as much fun as the enjoyment of tracking down what looked like a good recipe and making it successfully. I began keeping them in my “computer cookbook,” which also became a place to enter and store all those recipes from the cards in my recipe box I’d collected through the years from friends and family.  Most of them I’d never used, and typing them into the computer allowed me to read and evaluate them for taste and popularity.  Our family has always enjoyed ethnic food, all kinds, and it was an easy step to begin looking up recipes for some of those dishes as well.

When Shim showed signs of also being interested in cooking, it was fun to share ideas and now she has far surpassed me in exploring new sources for foods and dishes. I think, like me (and  perhaps even more so), she has found cooking to be most gratifying and creative. It gives me great pleasure to feed people food I have given a great deal of thought to and carefully prepared.  If anyone had told me when I was young that I would be such a happy camper in the kitchen I would not have believed them.

The recipe I would like to share is for “15-Minute Chicken.”

4 chicken breasts halves, cut into finger-sized pieces

¼ C. flour

¼ C. olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste

1 T. rosemary (fresh is best but dried is fine)

3 T. fresh lemon juice, sherry, or any wine (I use a mixture of white wine and lemon juice)

1 T. finely chopped parsley

Roll chicken in flour and cook over high heat in oil for 3-5 minutes, until no longer pink. Stir in salt, pepper, and rosemary. Add liquid to deglaze pan, simmering the chicken slowly for just a few minutes. Sprinkle parsley over the top.

Note:  I found a recipe similar to this recently only it called for slicing a few potatoes, cooking them in the microwave, then stirring the slices in with the chicken to brown.

Another note:  Sometimes I like an excuse to use capers in a recipe, and this is one where they are a lovely addition. I omit the rosemary.

Thank you, mother dear.

A very Vermonty-looking room (not my mother's house)

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This is the fifth in a series of posts on my favorite home cooks.  (Read previous interviews with Mimi, Leora, Batya, and Ilana-Davita.)

My friend Sigal is one of my few sabra friends, though from her perfect English one would never guess she was born and grew up in Israel.  She has always amazed me with her delicious Shabbat meals (served on plates she made herself as a skilled potter) and tireless dedication to making her own “processed” foods such as almond paté, nut and grain crackers, and granola.  She and her husband recently decided to become vegan, but it hasn’t slowed her down a bit.

Please introduce yourself in a few sentences.

My name is Sigal I have lived in Efrat for the past 13 years. I am a mother of four, homeschooling three kids and one about to go in the army.

From whom did you learn to cook?  (If not from a person, how?)

I learned to cook from my mom and then anyone else that I felt I could learn from, as well as from cookbooks.

In what style do you cook predominantly (e.g. Mediterranean, Jewish, Asian)?

I don’t think I have one particular style but I do cook a lot of Mediterranean dishes.

What dietary guidelines do you observe (kashrut, vegetarian, vegan, Paleolithic diet)?

I keep kosher and am vegan myself, i.e. no animal products with the exception of honey.

What are your favorite foods?  What food aversions do you have?

Favorite food? Tomatoes, garlic, I can go on but it seems that I like fruits and vegetables A LOT!

What is your relationship to your kitchen, to food, to cooking?

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. Sometimes I can’t get enough and sometimes I wish we could pop a pill, go on with the day, and not have to think about food shopping, food preparation, cleaning up, washing dishes, etc.

What do you think cooking and food say about identity?

I don’t know what food says about my identity and why would it?

Please share one of your favorite recipes, either from a blog post or from your own repertoire.

This is my homemade granola recipe:

6 – 8 cups rolled oats

4 – 6 cups  mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruit

½ – ⅔ cups oil (sesame or mild olive oil are best)

1 – 1½ cups maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Mix all the ingredients except for the raisins and dried fruit.  Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the granola mixture about ½ – ⅔” deep.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly brown.  Take out and mix well.  Put it to bake in the oven for 5 -7 minutes more, remove, and mix again.  Add the raisins and dried fruit and bake for 5 more minutes.  Cool.  Keep mixing the granola and breaking it up until completely cool so it doesn’t form into one lump.  Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Thank you, dear friend.

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This is the fourth in a series of interviews with some of my favorite home cooks.  (Read my previous interviews with Mimi, Leora, and Batya.)  Ilana-Davita has been one of my favorite bloggers for some time.  She and I share a profession as well as a love of gardening (though her garden is far lovelier than mine), of good home cooking, and blogging, of course.  I also admire her photography and enjoy following her travels around Europe, to her beloved Sweden, and to the Far East.

Please introduce yourself in a few sentences.

I am a French English teacher and have been so for over twenty years; after teaching in a middle school for seven years, I now teach in a high school. I live in a middle-sized town in the North of France. Religiously I consider myself a traditional Jew and attend a Conservative shul when I am in Paris and a small Orthodox one in my town.

From whom did you learn to cook?  (If not from a person, how?)
I learnt to cook from my mother. She is a wonderful and creative cook who always comes up with new recipes and ideas. I learnt by observing her and when I left for college I really started to cook my own food and attempted to find my own style.

In what style do you cook predominantly (e.g. Mediterranean, Jewish, Asian)?
My style tends to vary according to whims and seasons. In the summer, it is more Mediterranean while in the winter it is more traditional. My recipes are also influenced by the places where I have lived (England and Scotland) and by my trips, mostly those to Hong Kong and Sweden. My love for curries certainly dates back to eating lamb curry in an Indian restaurant in England more than twenty years ago (in my pre-kosher years).

Finally I  try to cook healthily – with emphasis on vegetables – and try to avoid buying processed food. Besides I don’t like my food to be bland and always welcome tasty recipes.

What dietary guidelines do you observe (kashrut, vegetarian, vegan, Paleolithic diet)?
I keep kosher and don’t cook meat more than a couple of times a week. I now tend to eat more fish and my meals are often vegetarian in the evenings.  I had never heard about the Paleolithic diet before this interview.

What are your favorite foods?  What food aversions do you have?
I like to eat fish and curries. I do have one food aversion: fat! Food swimming in fat makes my stomach churn.

What is your relationship to your kitchen, to food, to cooking?
I enjoy cooking especially when I have the time to do it, and also to shop beforehand. I love cookbooks and reading recipes. When at the hairdresser’s I browse magazines for new recipes.  I also love to read and adapt the recipes I find on the Internet. Your previous interviewees (Mimi and Leora) are probably those whose recipes inspire me the most.

What do you think cooking and food say about identity?
I’d say that my cooking reflects what is important for me at different stages of my life. Thus at present it probably reflects my concern with health even though I can easily be tempted by less healthy stuff; pizza comes to mind.  I am also fascinated by the influence of history on Jewish cooking and how much it has contributed to forging specific and diverse Jewish identities.

Please share one of your favorite recipes, either from a blog post or from your own repertoire.
Can I suggest a few rather than one?  Since winter is round the corner here is an easy and wonderful soup from Sweden, a carrot soup which is always a success and a recipe for salmon which echoes my taste for Asian food.

Thank you for this series of interviews.

You’re welcome!


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I hope she won’t be offended, but I consider Batya Medad the grande dame of Jewish food blogging.  As the founder of the Kosher Cooking Carnival and a longtime dedicated Israeli blogger (her blogs are called me-ander and Shiloh Musings), she enjoys a dedicated readership and combines her love of food, Judaism, and the Land of Israel in her blog posts.  This is not to say that she is a lover of 20-step recipes; on the contrary, what inspires me about her cooking is its uncomplicated method and blending of flavors that naturally go together.  Remembering a friend describing how her sister dreaded Shabbat because of the volume and formality of cooking, I would love to have steered her toward Batya’s recipes.  (This is the third in a series.  If you haven’t had a chance yet, go back and read my interviews with Mimi and Leora.)

Please introduce yourself in a few sentences.

I’m American born, made aliyah after getting married 40 years ago, so I’m just short of two-thirds of my life in Israel, and since we’re 29 years in Shiloh, close to half my life here.  I wasn’t raised in a religious home.  Got introduced to Torah Judaism through NCSY when in high school and then learned about Zionism from other “Jewish activists” in Great Neck, NY.

From whom did you learn to cook?  (If not from a person, how?)

I learned very basic cooking growing up, nothing fancy.  I’m still a “simple” cook and always will be.  That doesn’t stop me from cooking everything, as you can see on me-ander.

In what style do you cook predominantly (e.g. Mediterranean, Jewish, Asian)?

I cook healthy, simple, kosher, Ashkenaz Jewish Israeli.  Very me.

What dietary guidelines do you observe (kashrut, vegetarian, vegan, Paleolithic diet)?

We’re strictly kosher, and I’ve been low carbohydrates for almost two years.

What are your favorite foods?  What food aversions do you have?

I love vegetables. I can live without carbs.  When I eat them I have no control.  Since I changed my way of eating I’ve done some diet coaching and would like to do more.  My favorite food I shouldn’t eat is Haagen Dazs 5 mint ice cream (or regular mint chip.)  Actually I love ice cream, not chocolate, and can eat ridiculous quantities so I’ve made a rule: I limit myself to my Haagen Dazs mint when abroad, in the States.  I can polish off an entire pint on my own as a meal. When in Arizona it’s convenient, since proper kosher meals aren’t easily available.

What is your relationship to your kitchen, to food, to cooking?

Strange question.  I didn’t know much about kitchen design when we built the house, but we do have some good things, like slightly lower upper cabinets so I can reach both shelves.  Most Passover stuff is in the kitchen in the second tier of upper cabinets.  We have a very useful “pantry wall.”

I try not to obsess about food. I was a vegetarian for 25 years and drove people nuts, so now I try to be nicer.  I do like things clean and cringe when seeing how people touch food without washing.  I was cook in the baby day care center for four years and there were no cases of food poisoning nor stomach trouble from the food.  I’m a lazy cook, simple and easy recipes for me.

What do you think cooking and food say about identity?

I’m not out to prove anything, compete in terms of  fancy or quality.  I’m more secure about my cooking than I used to be.

Please share one of your favorite recipes, either from a blog post or from your own repertoire.

My “fancy vegetables”  and also my vegetable soup.

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Today’s post is the second is a series about my favorite home cooks.  (Click here to read the first.)  Today’s favorite foodie is Leora, whose beautiful photos and paintings inspire the mind, and whose healthful, family-friendly, palate-pleasing recipes inspire my own cooking.

Please introduce yourself in a few sentences.

Professionally, I build and maintain websites.  In my “spare” time, I’m a mom of 3, wife, and daughter (my eighty-year-old father lives two blocks away).  I would love to be more of an artist or a potter again – my plan for when my kids are a bit older, especially my youngest.  I was born in New York City and grew up in Newton, Mass. – 17 years in New Jersey hasn’t taken the New England girl out of me.

From whom did you learn to cook? (If not from a person, how?)

My first teacher was my mother (z”l).  At first, she taught us how to make various recipes. When we were teens and she went back to work full-time, she showed me where my favorite recipes were listed, so I could make them for the family.  She had many cookbooks, and I learned how to vary recipes to meet one’s needs (or the ingredients available in the house).  My favorite recipes as a kid were lasagna and chocolate mousse.

In what style do you cook predominantly (e.g. Mediterranean, Jewish, Asian)?

I will call my style the “accommodating” style.  If my kids want beef, I make beef.  If they want tuna noodle casserole, we make that.  When they developed a taste for Chinese food, I learned how to make homemade wontons.  My husband likes bake goods, so I have learned many cake recipes since I got married.  To “accommodate” myself, I’ve been making a variety of vegan dishes, especially cooked salads like umeboshi radishes or cole slaw with ginger or mustard.  I also enjoy making soup – I make a variety of pareve soups, and my family’s favorite is my chicken soup.

What dietary guidelines do you observe (kashrut, vegetarian, vegan, Paleolithic diet)?

We keep kosher.  I am lactose intolerant, so I rarely cook with milk.  I never use trans fats in cooking.

What are your favorite foods? What food aversions do you have?

Favorite – those cooked radishes seasoned with umeboshi paste.  Also, organic chicken cooked with orange and herbs and served on a bed of brown rice.  Food aversion to milk – it makes me gag.  This has been true since childhood, when “they” told me that white smelly stuff was somehow supposed to be good for me.  My boys have been trained to empty their cereal bowls before putting them in the sink, so my contact with milk can be minimized.

What is your relationship to your kitchen, to food, to cooking?

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” – I don’t like much bought food, anyway, so I might as well enjoy being in the kitchen.  Blogging about food helps me connect with others who feel similarly.

What do you think cooking and food say about identity?

“You are what you eat, from your head to your feet.” That’s from Pajama Sam, one of the software programs my kids used to play.  I do spend a lot of time monitoring what I eat, for health reasons.  But I also get tempted easily by fatty meat or by chocolate… yum.  I love my own cakes, especially blueberry or peach cake.  As we go to a Sephardi shul, I have learned about foods from some of those countries, like from Turkey or Morocco.  I can never remember the names, but food is a wonderful way for Jews from eastern countries to keep their traditions.  The foods from Eastern Europe, well, I’m not exactly a kugel lover.  My mother, who was born in Russia, used to sometimes make borscht; my contribution to the Russian tradition of beet-making is fresh beet salad.

Please share one of your favorite recipes, either from a blog post or from your own repertoire.

I have 77 posts with recipes, and you ask me to pick ONE?  Oh, dear.  Here’s a post with soup recipes, which has a wonderful illustration (by me):
http://www.leoraw.com/blog/2009/11/soup-beautiful-soup/

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