The Jew And The Carrot

Israel's School Lunches May Get a MObama-Style Makeover

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Thinkstock

One of the signatures of modern Israeli cuisine is fresh, flavorful food made with fruits and vegetables that grow almost year round in the country’s temperate Mediterranean climate. So, it might be a bit surprising to learn that Israeli kids are eating school lunches that are as lacking in freshness and good nutrition as some of the worst American school lunches.

Armed with examples of fixes for the problem, like First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution campaign, Jerusalem City Councilmember Rachel Azaria is leading the fight for healthier school lunches in her city and throughout Israel.

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New York's Newest Kosher Steakhouses

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Thinksteak

It’s a kosher carnivore’s delight lately in Manhattan. Hot on the heals of news that The Prime Grill is moving to a larger location in order to accommodate more diners, we learn that La Brochette is coming to 340 Lexington Avenue in Murray Hill. The new kosher steakhouse, is replacing La Carne Grill, whose name leaves no doubt that it served a similar cuisine.

The owners of La Brochette plan on renovating the two-story property, which they are renting for a cool $25,000 (give or take) per month, to create a higher-end kosher eatery (possibly with a roof deck). According to the Commerical Observer, La Carne Grill was appreciated by the kosher-eating community and served as a neighborhood hangout for many years. However, some patrons had been recently noting that the restaurant was in need of upgrading and redecorating.

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10 Ways To Make Tu B’Shvat More Sustainable

By Elizabeth Traison

Hazon

Tu B’Shvat is one of 4 new years in Jewish Tradition. Celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat, this holiday gives us a chance to think about and celebrate the earth. Beginning with the rabbis in the 15th century, it has become a tradition to honor Tu B’Shvat with a Tu B’shvat seder. Below are the top 10 ways you can celebrate Tu B’Shvat this year in a healthy and sustainable way. To find out more information and suggestions from Hazon for Tu B’Shvat, visit the Hazon Tu B’Shvat Resource Page.

1) Go Out and Plant!
Tu B’Shvat is a great time to start your garden, and gives you sufficient time start growing so that you can use it during Passover! Take the time during this holiday to plant with your family and you can experience picking and eating your very own homegrown fruits and veggies. No space for an outdoor garden? There are plenty of ways to grow veggies and plants in an indoor garden. Check out ways to start your indoor garden from a gardening expert!

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Mixing Bowl: Brisket Trend; Ethereal Hummus

By Devra Ferst

Thinkstock

Where can one find a good black and white cookie these days? Max Falkowitz has the answer. [Serious Eats]

How do we love hummus? Let us count the ways (and places to eat it). Here are 14 of ‘em. [Serious Eats]

If you would rather make your hummus, the great Deb Perelman has a recipe for “Ethereally Smooth Hummus.” [Smitten Kitchen]

Is Jewish food taking over Chicago? We can only hope. [Serious Eats]

Brisket is finally a trend! Or, atleast a trendlet. [New York Magazine]

From the looks of this round up of 2013 cookbooks, the cookbook industry is doing very well. [Eater]


Dining in the Dark at Nalaga'at

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of Nalaga'at

One doesn’t usually expect restaurant patrons to eat high-end cuisine with their hands. But that is precisely what guests will be encouraged to do when they dine in total darkness at a special pop-up restaurant called BlackOut in New York later this month.

Not only will the restaurant be pitch black, but its waiters will all be blind. The special dining opportunity is part of a temporary transplant, of Israel’s Nalaga’at Center (the name means “please touch”). The one-of-a-kind experience offers sighted and hearing people a taste of what it is like to live with a loss of some of their senses.

The other aspects of Nalaga’at are a stage production called “Not By Bread Alone” performed by deaf-blind actors, and a café called Kapish staffed by deaf waiters. “We are essentially recreating the Nalaga’at Center, located at the Jaffa port, in New York,” explained Adina Tal, Nalaga’at’s founder and artistic director, by phone. “We did the same thing in London a couple of years ago, and it was very successful.”

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A Bubbie as Sweet as Sugar

By Yael Kornfeld

beyondbubbie.com

How do you remember the people you love?

Whenever I remember my Bubbie Ruth, I think about her sugar cookies. Anytime my family would stop into her Elmira, NY home, I would look forward to tasting her brightly colored, sugar-y cookies.

Sharing the story of my Bubbie and her cookies is the reason why I uploaded her recipe to Beyond Bubbie, a website that shares the recipes and stories from the people who made us who we are. The brainchild of “Save the Deli” author David Sax, Beyond Bubbie, is meant to inspire a communal, culinary conversation that spans religions and cultures.

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What's Jack Lew Eating at the Inauguration?

By Devra Ferst

Getty Images
What’s for Lunch?: Jack Lew might go hungry at treyf Inaugural Lunch.

What will the Orthodox White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew be eating for lunch on January 21st?

We’re not quite sure, but his dining companions will be feasting on a meal that’s as treyf as they come.

Earlier today the menu for the traditional Inaugural Lunch in Statuary Hall was released and it starts with steamed lobster topped with clam chowder, features bison as a second course and apple pie with sour cream ice cream to finish.

The menu was chosen by native Brooklynite and member of the tribe Senator Charles Schumer, who chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. “This Inaugural luncheon menu incorporates foods that the first Americans enjoyed, but with a modern, forward looking approach,” he said. “I’m confident that Democrats, Republicans and representatives from all three branches alike will enjoy these incredible dishes from all corners of our nation.”

Well, everyone but those who keep kosher.

Perhaps someone should send Schumer a Zabar’s care package and remind him of his own culinary roots?

Check out the full menu below.

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Eating In For 31 Days

By Rhea Yablon Kennedy

Creative Commons

At the dawn of the new year, I found myself with a stocked kitchen, a few reusable sandwich wrappers, and a giant knot in my stomach. I had resolved to spend the first 31 days of 2013 eating in. That meant for the month of January, I would eat only food made at home or bought minimally processed from a grocery store. I was destined for four-plus weeks without restaurants, coffee shops, take-out, or Starbucks. And I didn’t feel ready. The knot came despite the fact that I had resolved to do this weeks before, and despite my rule that I didn’t have to actually eat at home – I could bring homemade food wherever I went.

What I lacked in preparation, I recouped in reasoning.

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Are Turkish Simits the New Bagel?

By Molly Yeh

Courtesy of Simit and Smith

Last week, a new bagelry made a bold move.

A few doors east of the Frank Bruni-approved 72nd Street Bagel on New York’s Upper West Side, Simit and Smith, a shop offering thin Turkish-style bagels called simits, opened its doors.

The company launched its first of 20 stores the same week as a popular article on First We Feast circulated the net bemoaning the decline of the New York bagel.

So could the bagel’s skinny Middle Eastern cousin stand up to the New York original? We had to go investigate for ourselves.

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The Politics of Healthy Food

By Alon Tal

Hazon Flickr

With the Israeli elections imminent, it is well to consider the issue of public policy and food. For instance, the Green Movement, as Israel’s green party has recently joined Tzipi Livni’s HaTnuah party and considers regulation of food production to be a significant componet in improving the country’s environmental policies. Livni, herself a vegetarian since age 12, will be convening a gathering of vegetarians next week to highlight areas where a more sustainable food policy should be pursued.

There are two underlying motivations behind the necessary policy reform. Environmentally, the pollution produced by agricultural operations, particularly from livestock is enormous. Six years ago, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the international meat industry produces18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, even more than transportation. The contribution of pesticides and fertilizers to water pollution is well known. In a recent long-term study of Israel’s stream, a research team I headed found that non-point source pollution, largely from agricultural sources, were the primary contributor of pollutants to Israel’s streams, rather than industry or even sewage.

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New Year's Resolution Recipes

By Emma Rudolph

Thinkstock

I did the most stereotypical thing one can do after the New Year. I went on a juice cleanse. Three full days existing on nothing but sludgy, vitamin and mineral-laden juice. I’ve experienced a variety of feelings: cleansed (yes, seriously), hungry, exhausted, slightly delusional, energetic, sated and, did I mention hungry? My one constant was my ever-present desire to cook. You can pump me up with all the kale juice in the world but you can’t take away my inherent need to cook.

Why did I deliberately submit myself to 72 hours of pure juice torture?

The most obvious reason: the holidays. It’s safe to say I put back enough Nutella, red meat, wine, cookies, and other unmentionables to sustain me through the entirety of 2013. I needed a detox.

Reason two: I wanted to test my self discipline.

Reason three: call me crazy, but I thought juicing might lend itself to a sort of spiritual experience.

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Mixing Bowl: Giving Matzo Balls a Rest; Resolution Recipes

By Devra Ferst

Bubbes around the world share pictures of themselves cooking in their kitchens. So cute, we almost want to pinch someone’s cheeks. [The Kitchn]

Give the old matzo ball soup a rest and try carrot soup with tahini and crisped chickpeas. [Smitten Kitchen]

Things are getting real! Here are 20 unspoken truths about the food world. [First We Feast]

Can’t wait for the Downton Abbey Season 3 premier on Sunday? Neither can we. Here’s a menu to celebrate the occasion. [Food52]

Virtuous meals to start the new year with (and to help keep those resolutions). [Serious Eats]


On the Move: Prime Grill Heads West

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Thinkstock

The Prime Grill, the fine dining kosher steakhouse New York Magazine calls “the go-to spot for the city’s kosher-observant movers and groovers,” is pulling up stakes on East 49th St. and moving to the west side of Midtown Manhattan.

Owner Joey Allaham promises that the new space, which will seat 360, boasts a wood burning oven and “more menu options.” No details yet on what those options will be, but regulars are certainly hoping that their favorites — like a dozen varieties of dry-aged steaks, a full sushi menu and appetizers like Crackling Duck Salad — make the move over to West 56th street.

Diners will be able to wash down the new fare with rare vintages of Herzog kosher wine, and will be able to arrange tastings and pairings with a Herzog sommelier in a private dining room.

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Turning The Tables: Food Resolutions for the New Year

By Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas

Valley Beth Shalom

If you’re like me, January prompts you to reexamine a few bothersome behaviors — and make a few (or more) resolutions for the coming year. Making resolutions is a dangerous proposition, of course. A strictly goal-oriented approach gives us a flat, “all or nothing” mandate that can lead to failure. By February, our resolution has dropped off our spiritual radar, and we marinate our inertia in the guilt of giving up. As the negative emotions pile up, we risk (as the rabbis say), “begetting one sin with another” — creating a vicious cycle that leaves us in a spiritual mess. Instead, let’s take a deeper approach. Make a few life adjustments — for promises that you can keep.

Since writing about this idea in 2012, I’ve received some great comments and suggestions. So in that spirit (and with a little nudge from an editor-friend), I’ve expanded our list to include five new ways to make life more meaningful. We can accomplish this by deepening our relationship to the food we eat, based on Judaism’s ancient wisdom.

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Holy Cow! Bill Averts Dairy Cliff

By Reuters

Thinkstock

A deal approved by the U.S. Congress late on Tuesday to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff” also includes measures to avert the “dairy cliff” - a steep increase in milk prices.

The tax agreement contains a nine-month fix for expiring farm subsidy programs by extending a 2008 farm law. That gives lawmakers time to come up with a new five-year replacement.

Without the fix, the farm law would have expired and dairy subsidies would have reverted to 1949 levels, meaning retail milk prices could have doubled to about $7 a gallon in coming weeks or months. Lawmakers have so far failed to finalize a new $500 billion, five-year farm bill to replace the 2008 legislation, which authorizes spending on food stamps and crop subsidies.

They had agreed to eliminate $5 billion in annual direct payments to grain, cotton and soybean growers - subsidies deemed wasteful at a time of high prices and record farm income.

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Shabbat Meals: Grown-Up Macaroni and Cheese

By Emily Shire

Thinkstock

Last week, I impulsively decided to host my first Shabbat diner. Like buying a far too expensive pair of black patent leather pumps, I had hastily decided to embark on this meal on a gutsy whim with little foresight into the physical and emotional ramifications. One cab ride after being defeated by four bags of Trader Joes groceries, four (or more) glasses of wine, and several dishwasher loads later, I am here to tell my tale.

Shabbat dinners in my twenties have been the perfect way to catch up with friends while providing an excuse to go through multiple bottles of wines. More intimate than a house party and with far better food, these meals have produced the funniest and richest conversations about jobs, families, relationships — and, most importantly, which character on Girls we each most resemble (I’m a cross between Hannah’s lack of professional commitment and Shoshanna’s innocent neuroticism, in case you were wondering).

I relish these evenings, so when I moved into my first apartment, hosting a Shabbat dinner was one of my first goals. But the limited space and number of chairs (five) in my humble abode, as well as my fear of cooking stymied my Shabbat meal plans. I love reading food blogs, watching cooking shows, and playing sous-chefs to my friends in the kitchen. But, I have an intense, panic attack-inducing fear that if I cook on my own for others, my food will be so bad, they will starve to death before my very eyes.

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The Exploding Wok: A Cautionary Tale

By David Chudnow

David Chudnow
General Tso’s Chicken

As many of you, my co-religionists out there, may have done, I chose to spend my 25th of December as I have for much of my life: I ate Chinese food and watched movies. So what’s with Jews and Chinese food? I mean, I love the stuff, but you have to admit, this is a pretty ridiculous tradition. Songs and literature have been written on it; this year social media was even buzzing with mock halachah on why Jews eat Chinese food on X-mas. But as ridiculous as it is, it is pretty delicious, so I’m going to keep doing it. But this year was the first year that I decided to cook the Chinese food myself, which proved a lot more difficult than I would have thought.

Menu planning was the easy part. I just posted a question on Facebook, asking what I should make, and sure enough, I got upwards of twenty suggestions within a few hours. The bill of fare: string beans, mu shu beef, sweet and sour chicken, and general tso’s chicken.

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Lawmakers Rush To Finish Farm Bill Extension

By Reuters

The U.S. House and Senate agriculture committees are working on a short-term extension to the expired U.S. farm bill, and plan to vote on the extension by Monday, the final day of 2012, lawmakers and aides said.

The proposed extension to farm legislation that expired in September could be for six months to a year.

If an extension is passed the United States would avoid reverting to 1949 “permanent law” and a potential spike in the retail price of milk to as much as $8 a gallon in 2013.

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Mixing Bowl: New Year's Edition

By Susan Armitage

Thinkstock

East-coast transplants are elevating the Bay Area bagel. [New York Times]

Check out a menu preview (with schmaltz and rye noodles!) for much-anticipated Ivan Ramen, coming to the Lower East Side from Jewish ramen whiz Ivan Orkin. [Eater]

You can certainly get your fill of best-of lists this time of year. Top dishes of 2012 include bialys from NYC’s Hot Bread Kitchen [Serious Eats], Israeli cuisine [Serious Eats], best Shabbat chicken and homemade pop tarts [Nosher].

A post-New Year’s hangover cure: the kosher prairie oyster. [Kosher Nexus].

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Food Touring in Israel

By Anna Hanau

Courtesy Of: http://eincamonim.rest-e.co.il/

It’s no secret that the kosher-keeping set in America often look longingly at the options available to our non-kosher-keeping friends. Gooey ripe cheeses. Local meats. Restaurants with certain character and flair. Even fresh-baked bread isn’t as easy to find as we might like. So when the chance came to take a vacation – the first in several years – my husband and I immediately knew we were headed to Israel. To eat.

The trip did not disappoint, and for a couple of foodies – albeit already well-connected in the kosher sustainable food world – we found delight after delight of kosher foods that we just can’t get at home, many of them also local, sustainable and reflecting the specific palate of Israel. Here are a few highlights:

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