One of the winners of the New York Ride mini grant from Hazon last year was Temple Beth Shalom in Mahopac, New York, a Conservative synagogue situated “where the country begins,” according to their local tourism slogan. The synagogue is led by Rabbi Eytan Hammerman, a 2010 Jewish Theological Seminary graduate and long-time friend of Hazon, from time of the organization’s founding. Rabbi Hammerman moved to Putnam County several years ago from White Plains, New York where he was the synagogue’s Rabbinic Intern. A highlight of his time in White Plains was his participation in the Tuv Haaretz CSA program which operates out of Temple Israel Center. He enjoyed the fresh fruits and vegetables that Tuv Haaretz provided each week. Upon moving to Putnam County (by bicycle, one Sunday morning – that’s another story), he surprised by the lack of CSAs or farmers markets “in the country.” He felt that the area was prime for a farmer’s market and wanted his synagogue to host the market. Coincidentally, a local landscaping business had the idea at the same time. After their first trial year, the synagogue and other business, together, opened the Mahopac Farmers Market, located each Sunday in the parking lot of the synagogue, at a central location in town.
Picture this scene: city-dwelling children running with wild abandonment under a canopy of fertile fruit trees in a Jewish orchard, each tree emblazoned with a blessing bestowed on it by a community of orchard care-takers. Standing outdoors, not a car horn to be heard, a child grabs a pear from a tree, like taking candy from nature’s vending machine. Peaceful, right?
With this image as inspiration, one year ago, Yoni Stadlin and Jonah Adels, of Eden Village Camp and Jewish Farm School respectively, applied for a mini grant through Hazon’s New York Bike Ride. Their dream was to build a Jewish orchard of 100 trees, able to provide local, carbon neutral organic fruit for community events on the Farm at Eden Village and to bring into being a permaculture laboratory and fruit forest that will one day be the scene of a lot of happy and satiated children.
This past December, an opportunity involving fish and plants swam into my life. At work, I was tasked with finding answers to the question: “Could aquaponics viably produce healthy organic produce faster and more efficiently than conventional soil- growing?” In seeking to answer that question, I became part of the small but growing world of Aquaponic farming. That’s aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water, rather than soil) combined. Individuals who farm aquaponically are usually experienced with either aquaculture or hydroponics, and are drawn toward aquaponics for the added benefits that flow from marrying the two. Over the past six months, I have embarked on quite a journey–I’ve met inspiringly innovative individuals, I have grown to understand fish needs, and I’ve learned way more Chemistry than I bargained for.
I’m blessed to work at a glorious place called Urban Adamah, a nonprofit Jewish farm & education center in Berkeley, CA, where I have quickly become an aquaponic farmer. Though currently, I’m working on living up to the title. Rising Tide Aquaponics installed our beautiful system, and now I have the privilege of managing it. I’m finding that there is quite a learning curve when one begins farming aquaponically. I haven’t yet developed an eye for when spraying worm casting tea on the leaves could boost plant health, or the knack to know when adding chelated Iron might provide necessary nutrition. My mentor has a background in ecology and evolutionary biology, and it sure shows. This, however, is not to say that aquaponics requires a specific degree. The technique is fairly straightforward; training, research, and an experimental approach will suffice to equip one with the tools to become an aquapon.
I grew up avoiding garlic. Pesto did not exist in my house, garlic bread was unique to summer camp, and dishes would begin with plain cooked onions. My family was the antithesis of everything culinary ethnography told me was Jewish.
Apparently, we are “the people of garlic,” but if you had spent any time in my childhood home, you would think we were vampires. Spending two weeks at Yiddish Farm harvesting garlic scapes and embracing this bulb was a very different and fragrant experience.
Shortly after leaving Egypt, Goshen, and the burdens of slavery, the Jewish people yearned for the garlic and onions they had enjoyed in Egypt (Bamidbar 11:5). In a handful of places in the Talmud, we are referred to as garlic eaters. Throughout the Ashkenazi experience in Europe, Jews were notorious for their alliumic odor (for more on this, read Maria Diemling’s article in Food and Judaism). And now, this is the largest crop of the new, Jewish, organic-certified farm in the Catskills.
As Israel engages in a tumultuous debate over what to do about African migrants, other conversations, more personal and friendly, are taking place between Israelis and asylum seekers. As part of a social art project called Sihot Mitbah (Kitchen Talks), which takes place every weekend in Tel Aviv, African migrants give cooking workshops to groups of curious Israelis.
The people behind the project are Yael Ravid and Goor Somer, both in their early 30s. For more than a year Ravid, an artistic photographer, has volunteered at the Soup4Lewinsky project, which brings hot, nutritious meals every day to homeless asylum seekers living in Levinski Park. Kitchen Talks is her graduation project for her studies in curating at the Contemporary Cultural Center in Tel Aviv in cooperation with Kibbutzim College. Somer’s first encounter with migrants and meals was held on the last World Refugee Day, in connection with the first Sudanese restaurant in Israel.
The two have recruited workshop instructors from across the African continent: Claudine of the Ivory Coast, who caters out of her home for events and for the embassy; a Nigerian woman, who runs a restaurant near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station; Hassan, a well-known cook in the Darfur community, and Yemane, from Eritrea.
“We tell them it’s a project for bringing people together,” says Ravid of the participants, who heard of the initiative by word of mouth, spread from a library in South Tel Aviv, kindergartens, restaurants and human-rights groups. The price for the vegetarian workshop in NIS 130, says Ravid, and the cooks are paid for their work.
Read more at Haaretz.com.
During the winter I long for summer meals — laugh if you must, but I dream of grilling and cold beer. There is nothing better than food that’s been cooked over an open flame and is served only moments later on a table in a backyard. Since Shabbat comes late in the evening during summer months, Friday afternoons are the perfect time for grilling. The season’s fresh vegetables and fruit also opens up options for the menu, so I like to leave tradition behind and prepare an entire Shabbat meal on the grill with a little Mexican flare.
Here’s one of my favorite summer menus.
Back in 1995, it seemed the only way the Soup Nazi rolled was with “No soup for you!” But that was well before the current food truck craze. Now, thanks to a franchising operation, it’s possible to literally experience soup-ordering hell on wheels.
Remember when you used to have to have to line up at the original Soup Kitchen International in Midtown Manhattan to be abused by soup-maker-par-excellence Al Yeganeh (aka, the Soup Nazi, as “Seinfeld” fans know him)?
Well, those days are long gone, as are hopes for a revival of the classic television series that made the soup vendor famous beyond New York with an episode that skewered the soup nut’s totalitarian rules for ordering. (By the way, Yeganeh was apparently so incensed by the parody that he warns people on his website never to use “the N-word in relation to him or his soups”).
“There’s no joy. There isn’t a lot of strength. Everything is dead inside,” said Dina Kit about the emotional experience of losing a child. Kit speaks from personal experience, having lost one son to cancer and another, an Israel Defense Forces soldier, to a terrorist attack.
One of the things Kit and other mothers are not usually able to bring themselves to do in the wake of their children’s deaths is to cook their sons’ and daughters’ favorite foods. The tastes and smells, and even the going through the motions of the preparation of the dishes, are too overwhelming. “We cry when we prepare the food,” Kit told The Jew and the Carrot in a phone conversation from her home in Jerusalem.
However, Kit, who used to make meat kebabs on a bed of mashed potatoes and spinach for her fallen son Ofir, kept coming back to the notion that food might be the best way to memorialize her children. “I wanted to write a book that utilized food as a way of remembering,” she said.
We think the name Hakodosh BBQ is fitting for an amazing kosher pop up. But not everyone in the kosher community agrees. Some are fighting to change the name. [Yeah That’s Kosher]
Here’s summer Shabbat dessert that you can make after work — and still impress your guests with. Seven steps to the perfect galette. [Food 52]
Veggie burgers are tricky beasts — they’re often bland and brown. This sweet and smoky beet burger recipe couldn’t be further from those frozen slabs of “grains.” [Food 52]
Lower Manhattan is getting a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf — and it’s kosher to boot! [Yeah That’s Kosher]
Friend of JCarrot Louisa Shafia shares the five essential ingredients you need to make excellent Persian food. [Food 52]
Compost is a touchy subject. As anyone who’s collected food scraps in her kitchen can tell you, some people see a container full of cucumber peels and egg shells as a step toward sustainability, while others smell a stench. Last week, New Yorkers filed into each of these categories — and a few in between — when they learned that the Big Apple will start composting.
Thanks to successful pilot programs, “the Bloomberg administration is rolling out an ambitious plan to begin collecting food scraps across the city,” the New York Times reported last week.
The compost program could reach the entire city by 2015 or 16, with a requirement to separate unwanted food from other trash not far behind. As with New York’s recycling program, those who do not comply could face fines.
For some Jewish businesses, city composting would align with an interest in environmental responsibility or the sense of a religious imperative to care for the Earth. And, many well-known forces in the city’s Jewish community, in fact, already embrace the practice that has divided residents. But for others, it’s not a chief priority.
I walked into the Chobani store in New York’s Soho neighborhood for the first time last Sunday. Like every store in this neighborhood, it’s effectively a hallway transformed into a functional retail outlet. It’s a beautiful, rustic wood paneled room, filled with an eager staff that immediately stick menus into your hand with delicious dairy food porn on the cover.
Effectively, I paid four dollars to watch someone do what I do almost every morning: put a bunch of ingredients into Greek yogurt (though I’m much more into kefir these days). What they do in white coats and chefs hats on display in a stainless steel kitchen, I do in my pajamas in my Formica Brooklyn kitchen at 7 o’clock in the morning. I joked with my roommate, who does professional marketing, about the incredible marketing strategy this place uses, which gets hundreds of people in the door for a pretty ordinary breakfast.
If you’re a kosher-keeping sports fanatic, there aren’t many places to catch a game and grab a bite. Until recently, Stamford, Conn. hosted the only kosher sports bar in the country, Kosh.
But, last week it got some company. Gotham Burger opened its doors on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The new spot boasts eight flat-screen televisions, a fun take on kosher bar food to be washed down with one of six beers on tap, a well-curated wine list, and signature cocktails.
“When you analyze kosher eateries around the city, there’s a lot to choose from,” says Avi Roth, the psychologist-turned-chef who opened Gotham Burger with partner Michael Chill. “The question for us was how to give people an experience that maybe they haven’t had and weren’t used to.”
The partners placed their bets on comfort food, a hit at Gotham Burger’s first restaurant in Teaneck, NJ. Once Roth and Chill decided to ramp up their beverage program in Manhattan, a sports bar “seemed like a natural progression,” Roth says. “I played baseball in high school and college. I love sports. A lot of people do. And a sports bar was a way to distinguish ourselves in the kosher world.”
If you’re on the hunt for a taste of the shtetl in New York City, there’s no place better than the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Home of the Lubavitch community, the neighborhood streets are lined with signs in Hebrew letters, hat makers, wig shops, and displays of silver Kiddush cups, candlesticks, and challah covers in store windows. If you stroll through the neighborhood, you just might catch a whiff of freshly fried schnitzel or the aroma of baking strudel wafting in the air.
Located in the heart of the neighborhood, Kingston Avenue has excellent places to nosh, from great supermarkets, to small prepared-foods shops, to mouthwatering Jewish bakeries. I recently spent an afternoon eating along the avenue; click through the slideshow below for a guide to some of the street’s best offerings.
It was a warm Monday night last Summer. We all dressed in black, though this was more for the thrill of being illicit than necessity. We piled into David’s car, silent until we reached our destination: Trader Joe’s. Well, not quite — behind Trader Joe’s — in their dumpster. It was my first time dumpster diving, and we gleaned an impressive haul: over a dozen eggs, zucchini, edamame hummus, and an entire, still cold chicken.
Before last Summer, I had only heard of dumpster diving in passing. As I considered it more, I went from being downright repulsed by the idea of sitting in a dumpster to adopting the stance, “that’s cool but it’s not for me.” Most people agree that the less food waste, the better. With dumpster diving, this is made all the more sweet by the alluring price tag: free. Last Summer, while interning at Urban Adamah, I learned that there is a whole philosophy behind dumpster diving. Most importantly to divers, dumpster diving cuts down on food contributed to landfills. In the landfill, this food would eventually become methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Even if the food found on a given night is no longer of good enough quality to eat, much of it can still be composted.
If, like me, your Bubbe doesn’t speak Yiddish, take a lesson from the ladies who do. The latest Yiddish cooking video (with English subtitles) by Rukhl Schaechter and Eve Jochnowitz, shows us how to make fluden, an oft forgotten Jewish pastry from France and Germany. Rolled and baked into a log, the rich dough is stuffed with apricot preserves, chopped dates, walnuts and raisins and sliced into pieces while it’s still warm. Serve it with a glass of tea — make that a glezl tey.
Lovers of bourekas, one of Israel’s national foods, had better brush up on their geometry. The Chief Rabbinate has issued new guidelines on the shapes of the pastry pockets — and no, we’re not kidding.
Until now, consumers have relied on signage by storeowners or package labels to discern among meat, dairy and pareve bourekas, which closely resemble turnovers, only with greasier dough. Now, the kashrut authority is apparently trying to standardize things across the country to keep consumers from accidentally breaking kosher laws.
A letter sent by the Chief Rabbinate to factories and bakeries states that beginning August 7, all kosher-certified dairy bourekas made from puff pastry must be triangular, while non-dairy or pareve ones must be square or rectangular in shape. Oh, and, there are different rules for bourekas encased in phyllo dough. These ones must be triangular or spiral shaped if they are non-dairy, and round or cigar shaped if they contain dairy. It’s all enough to give grown adults scary middle school math exam flashbacks.
New York City gets its first kosher sports bar! Which team will you root for at the new spot? [Eater]
Don’t get us wrong, we love a good bagel and shmear. But, sometimes, life just calls for bialys. Try making some with the help of this easy tutorial. [The Kitchn]
Throw a falafel party! Here’s a step-by-step guide. [Food 52]
Who invented the Reuben sandwich? [New York Times]
As a consummate foodie, my mind makes instant connections between food and people. It’s like I’m wearing Google Glass with an app that sends me food information about everything I see, whether I know it or not. The other night, for example, I was attending a function at a beautiful home in Beverly Hills and when I got to the backyard with a highly manicured lawn all I could think of was how many veggies I could grow with a lawn like that! In my mind’s eye I imagined row after row of chard, carrots, or tomatoes! The same type of thing happens when I think of my friends and family. Take my Bubbie for instance, I can’t listen to her voice or see her picture without immediately thinking, “stuffed cabbage!” It’s not because she looks like stuffed cabbage (I’m a nice Jewish boy) but because that was her favorite special dish to cook. She spent hours boiling down cabbage and stuffing them with rice, meat, raisins (I’m Hungarian) and spices. I’ve come to naturally associate her with the stuff – it’s how my brain works.
The same is true for other family members. My wife – burritos (black beans not pinto) It was one of our first date foods. My sister- Brussels sprouts-because she hates them. My brother – French fries- because of the way his finger guides them into his mouth like the crunchy potato stick was on training wheels.
When it comes to my pop, it has to be a well-done steak.
How do you make the world’s tallest kosher sandwich? The Jewish community in Budapest decided it was high time to find out.
When Andras Borgula started planning the Budapest’s sixth annual Judafest, a cultural street fair celebrating Jewish life in Hungary held June 9, he had an ambitious thought: Why not set some kind of Jewish record?
Borgula, 38, founder and director of the Jewish Golem Theatre and artistic director for the festival, said the idea came to him as he tried to come up with something that would be both Jewish — and Hungarian.
“There isn’t so much Hungarian Talmud or Torah,” he said. “But we’re pretty strong in the kitchen. We like to eat, and we like to cook. So, why not a kosher sandwich?”
Borgula’s dream was almost cut short when he found out that the Guiness World Records did not have a category for unusually tall kosher fare. After much pestering and pleading, the world’s arbiter of unusual and outrageous things agreed to create a special category, with the requirement that the oversized lunch be at least two meters (almost 7 feet) tall.
And so, as the 7,000 attendees of Judafest (put on by the Budapest chapter of the American Joint Distribution Committee) crowded into Kazinczy Street in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter this week, Borgula and 25 volunteers were preparing over 400 sandwiches, to be stacked one on top of each other as “one big club sandwich.”
Sadly, they fell just short of the world-record setting goal, running out of bread just as the sandwich reached 1.9 meters.
But, “even if we had more,” Borgula said, “the tower was start[ing] to fall apart.”
Despite the setback, Borgula, who positioned the individual slices of white bread, kosher turkey, hummus and pickles himself, is proud of his community’s achievement. “It’s not an official record, but still, this is an unofficial tallest kosher sandwich of the world, built by myself, and I’m not an engineer,” he said.
So, what to do with such a masterpiece? Borgula thought of that too. With record-level flooding threatening Budapest, volunteers were put to work to fortify the banks of the Danube. Rather than letting the hundreds of sandwiches go to waste, Borgula and other festival-dwellers carried them down to the river and served them to people working to fight the rising tide.
“I think most of the people never heard about Jews, and never tasted kosher [food] in their entire life,” Borgula said. “They were pretty amazed by this.”
When it comes to wine and Judaism, only one word comes to mind: Manischewitz. At some point, we’ve all spent time mocking the sweet, concord grape nectar that gave most Jews their first hangover some time after their bar or bat mitzvahs. However, it seems that these days, the application of this wine in the world of cocktails and beverages may end those jokes.
Today, sweet wines are typically served after meals in the form of Muscats and Ports, but for decades, Jews have been using this brand as a staple for Kiddush during Shabbat dinners and other holidays. With it’s sweet taste and low price point, Manischewitz is a natural fit for cocktails. We scoured the country and asked some of the top talent in the bar scene to craft some tasty Manischewitz cocktails to spice up your Shabbat dinner.
With recipes like these, how could you not break out a bottle, mix a few cocktails and drink L’chaim to the summertime?