HBO’s much-anticipated documentary series “The Weight of the Nation”, aired on May 14th and 15th, generating many conversations about the obesity epidemic in America. As a registered dietitian I am familiar with the statistics and research on obesity and chronic disease in this country. I expected that an HBO project would reframe the way we currently approach health in an exciting and innovative manner. In that sense it missed the mark and as I struggled to find a way to articulate how and why. I found a fuller explanation by coupling the film with the Jewish tradition. Pirkei Avot, the portion of the Mishnah known as Ethics of Our Fathers is commonly read on Shabbat afternoons, especially during the weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, precisely when “The Weight of the Nation” aired. One of my favorite passages has three simple clauses that unexpectedly bore meaning on my viewing experience.
May is bike Month! Besides getting outside in fresh air for the first time since last summer, the extra activity means that cyclists of all levels will be looking for a little extra energy. Cycling is not a free pass for indulgence, but it definitely requires you to consume more calories. It’s not just more calories; you will also need to fuel your body more efficiently for endurance.
The best eating plan for a cyclist is one that includes high carbohydrate foods, and protein to provide energy. Carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy for cycling, and since you are burning carbs to fuel your cycling, you must regularly replace them with a high carbohydrate diet.
If Shavuot is all about dairy, then making your own cheese is the ultimate celebration. Sure it’s well and good to make blintzes and cheesecake, but this year why not go the extra step and create their fillings from scratch? While it may sound intimidating, it doesn’t take a professional fromager to produce a basic soft, white cheese at home, with ricotta being a great place to start. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment, although a thermometer and cheesecloth help.
There are plenty of ways to arrive at fresh, homemade ricotta. Most recipes start out with whole, pasteurized (but not ultra-pasteurized) milk, which gets curdled by heat and an acid — either distilled or white wine vinegar, lemon (or even lime) juice, or buttermilk. Some add heavy cream or even yogurt for extra richness. My preferred method calls simply for milk and buttermilk, and works like a charm every time.
Yitzchak Bernstein and Eitan Esan have a real thing for bacon. One might think this would be a problem for a couple of Orthodox kosher caterers, but it isn’t. In fact, it is their obsession with this taboo food that is bringing them and their new Oakland, California-based business, Epic Bites, a lot of attention. The word is out among Northern California’s observant Jews that if you want to buy your bacon and be able to eat it too, you call these guys.
“Let’s face it — Jews want what they can’t have,” Bernstein told The Jew and the Carrot in a recent interview over Skype. “I love bacon. It’s the ultimate taboo. People think our bacon is too good to be kosher,” he said. Bernstein, 28, actually got a chance to eat the real thing — pork bacon — when for a period in his life, he moved away from religious observance. But, now he is back to living as an Orthodox Jew, and he’s not about to give the stuff up. Esan, 27, has never eaten pork in his life and is finding this whole kosher bacon thing “phenomenal.” He has been astounded that “even non-kosher people are asking for it.”
What would a gastronomical visit to New York be without a stop on the Lower East Side for some traditional Eastern European Jewish food? That’s exactly what the producers of The Next Food Network Star were thinking when they sent one group of contestants to the area on this weekend’s episode.
The episode was all about ethnic food in New York, with Alton Brown’s group checking out the Jewish food, Giada De Laurentis’s crew headed to Little Italy, and Bobby Flay’s team checked out Harlem. The assignment was to visit several landmark culinary businesses in the neighborhood, and then to make a dish inspired by them.
A successful off-Broadway show is one thing, but if you really want to know whether you’ve made it in the big city, check the menu at Carnegie Deli.
Last week, the Carnegie Deli unveiled its massive “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn Sandwich” (shown) in honor of Jake Ehrenreich’s off-Broadway show of the same name, about growing up in 1960s East Flatbush, the child of Holocaust survivors.
The mostly comedic show — which includes personal stories and music — is being immortalized with a sandwich made of corned beef, pastrami and turkey with lettuce and Russian dressing on rye. It’s topped with a broccoli flower (the “tree”).
“How much time do I have?” Gil Marks asked towards the end of his presentation at the 92Y last Tuesday. The answer (two minutes) didn’t seem to perturb him in the slightest. “Great. Well, in the next two minutes, let me take you through about 2,000 years of Jewish history.”
That was pretty much the theme of the evening, as cookbook author and Forward columnist Leah Koenig interviewed Marks, also an author of several cookbooks and, most recently, the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” during a talk labeled The World of Jewish Cooking, part of the 92Y Talks series.
For insight into last week’s happenings at Trader Joe’s grocery stores nationwide, referencing the vintage TV sensation “Supermarket Sweep” might not be a far stretch. The contestants were kosher customers, the prize, semi-sweet chocolate chips. The last of the pareve ones, that is.
The chocolate chips, which have been regarded for years in kosher households as some of the best for desserts following meat meals (and at the best price, a twelve-ounce bag for $2.29), will soon have their “pareve” label replaced with the “OK-D” label for certified dairy (non-Cholov Yisroel). The notice by Kashruth Administrator Rabbi Don Yoel Levy was released on Wednesday.
Owners of soon-to-open kosher restaurant Jezebel in SoHo hope to turn the idea of kosher cuisine on it’s head. [Wall Street Journal]
10 suggestions for how to add bacon’s smoky flavor to dishes with vegetarian ingredients. [The Kitchn]
YouTube is set to launch Hungry, a channel dedicated to food, July 2 and plans to have 12 shows by the end of summer. [Eater]
Cross posted from Jewess with Attitude.
One hundred and ten years ago today, something surprising happened. Jewish immigrant housewives in New York City — concerned and angry about a sharp rise in the price of kosher meat from 12 cents to 18 cents per pound — launched a kosher meat boycott that lasted nearly a month, spread to several other boroughs of New York, sparked violent riots and arrests, and attracted much media attention before ending with the successful lowering of meat prices.
Unlike most other immigrant activists of the period, these boycotters were not young workers—they were housewives with children. Their average age was 39, and most had four or more children at home. Though women had historically been involved in popular protests around issues like food prices, the kosher meat boycott of 1902 stands out as a pioneering example of women’s strategic political organizing and effective use of local networks.
In early May of 1902, small butchers had responded to the skyrocketing price of kosher meat by boycotting the wholesalers (known as the Meat Trust) in an attempt to lower prices. But when the butchers settled with the Meat Trust without achieving a price reduction, housewives of the Lower East Side decided to take matters into their own hands.
To read more, visit Jewess with Attitude, the blog of the Jewish Women’s Archive.
She delivers freshly-baked challahs to customers’ doorsteps (or their doormen), but she doesn’t use wings to get there… she drives a Honda Pilot.
The Challah Fairy, a.k.a. Chanalee Fischer Schlisser, sees her business almost as a calling, hoping her tasty challahs will encourage more Jews to enjoy Shabbat.
“People have a much better experience of Shabbos if they have a special challah and not some gross supermarket challah,” Schlisser said.
Schlisser’s challahs have garnered a following in the New York area, specifically specialty flavors like cinnamon and chocolate. Her “best-ever” chocolate babka is also popular.
This is the first of a series of a monthly column by Rabbi Noah Farkas called Turning the Tables.
This column is not about food. It’s about living with meaning and purpose, and there’s no better meeting point of the personal and communal, the mindful and the prophetic, the historical and the contemporary than in our food.
When I started thinking about my life, I realized that the most banal experience — putting a morsel of food in my mouth — is the common denominator for all religions, races, classes and cultures. Every person thinks about eating multiple times a day. Yet, thinking about eating and thinking about food are different things. Everyone gets hungry, but most people are asleep at the wheel when it comes to thinking about food. Most Americans have a vague idea where their food comes from, its ingredients, and whom it empowers or impoverishes along the way. Our epicurean narcolepsy is destroying our environment, making us sick and enslaving human beings to one another. How can we be so complacent? What we need is something that unsettles our souls. This column, Turning the Tables, will look at food from a spiritual and moral perspective in the hopes of inspiring and pushing ourselves to think deeper about our relationship to what eat.
As we opened the door of my Sephardic immigrant grandparents, Nonno David and Nonna Giulia’s Manhattan apartment, we might be greeted by the seductive sounds of Eartha Kitt singing Ushdakara, the Turkish lullaby, or perhaps Melina Mercouri’s Ta Pedia Tou Pirea. Nonno David, who had little formal schooling, spoke eight languages and often played some of his favorite music before Shabbat. I loved watching him happily dancing in the living room, getting in the mood for a splendid meal with family.
The smells of Nonna Giulia’s delectable cooking, which we all looked forward to, filled the apartment. There was usually a plate of Borekitas waiting for us — little pies filled with either spinach, eggplant or cheese, to wet our appetites before dinner. Of course, the house was immaculate, the table was set with her special Shabbat cloth and the candlesticks were ready to be lit on the living room coffee table.
In America, the traditional culinary practice of pickling and preserving foods has enjoyed a recent revival in restaurants and home kitchens alike. Now in England, Chef Jason Freedman at The Minnis — a farm (and sea) to table restaurant about an hour-and-a-half east of London in Birchington — is helping to re-introduce the joys of fermentation across the pond.
A 27-year veteran of professional kitchens, Freedman only recently started experimenting with fermenting and pickling foods. Luckily for diners, he quickly “caught the bug,” turning The Minnis’ menu into a playground of preservation — think: herring pickled with bay leaves and nutmeg, or cold smoked salmon served with horseradish aioli. Chef Freedman took some time to speak with The Jew & The Carrot about why pickles piqued his interest, his brand new smoker, and how he gets his regular fix of Jewish cooking.
For more on pickles and preserves, check out Leah Koenig’s article on Jewish pickling traditions from around the globe.
I grew up eating pickles. Every few months, my uncle would send me a half gallon of “Uncle Phil’s Dills” — a delicious, salty, garlicky, creation of his own full-dill pickles, and I would eat the entire jar on my own. As I’ve grown up, my love of pickles has never ceased; I love new-dill pickles, fried pickles, even dill pickle chips (McClure’s makes a great chip). In college, I spent a semester in Spain and spent a majority of my free time eating olives and people watching. Now that I’m living in New York City for the summer, I’m on a quest to find the best pickle in the world.
Jews have a history with pickling. My grandfather, who grew up here in the 1930’s, tells me stories about the pickle-sellers on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the Jewish areas of Brooklyn. Hearing him talk about the barrels full of brine water, garlic, salt, dill, and other spices, I imagine it was a pickle-lovers dream. There were the traditional pickled cucumbers, of course, but there were also pickled green beans, tomatoes, and cabbage — there were even pickled apples and watermelons! Pickling was an affordable and convenient way of preserving vegetables without refrigeration for many Jewish and Eastern European immigrants. Many Jewish school children would often spend their pocket money on pickles and candy. Despite their pervasiveness in society, however, not everyone loved the pickle, and one author even went so far as to call it “a seething mass of rottenness.”
Cross-posted from JTA
As the minutes on the clock tick away, the chefs run about their kitchens furiously trying to complete their Taj Mahal-themed desserts.
“What have I got for you now?” booms the thickly accented master pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel as he overlooks the chefs’ workstations. “Another mandatory ingredient — tahini paste!”
This is “Sweet Genius,” the hit Food Network show that recently began its second season.
Chefs compete to earn the coveted title, win $10,000 and impress Ben-Israel, the show’s host, judge and original sweet genius, who often asks competitors to include ingredients not typically found in desserts.
Our family moved from Roslyn, Long Island to Portland, Oregon in 1993. That spring, while standing on the sidelines on a soggy soccer field another mother asked me: “Have you done your canning yet?”
No one had ever asked me this in Roslyn.
When I arrived in Roslyn from Chicago twelve years earlier, one thing became quickly clear to me about my new residence: nobody made anything that could be bought in the store. Friends expressed surprise that my potato salad didn’t come from the deli and my children’s birthday cakes didn’t come from the bakery. I drove half an hour to buy a spool of thread. In Roslyn I was Earth Mother Incarnate.
So it was humbling to learn that in Portland I was a DIY neophyte.
“Kosher,” it turns out, is kosher – at least in New York.
That’s the ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court, which has dismissed a lawsuit implying that labeling requirements of New York’s 2004 Kosher Law Protection Act interfered with religious freedom.
The plaintiff was a Long Island deli and butcher shop called — irony alert — Commack Self-Service Kosher Meats, Inc.
This wasn’t Commack’s first time at the kosher rodeo. According to Reuters, the same Circuit Court allowed a 1996 lawsuit by the shop which claimed the law at the time wrongly stepped into religious matters by defining kosher as “according to orthodox Hebrew religious requirements.”
Amid Buenos Aires’s Once-Abasto area — a tight knit urban oasis of kosher restaurants, stores, butcher shops and synagogues — sits the large but crowded flagship store of the wine producer Tariag 613. Fighting for shelf space are crates of matzo, kosher food stuffs and wines from the San Juan area, a lesser known wine region close to the more famous Mendoza region in the shadows of the Andes Mountains. The various crates are marked by their varietals — Malbec, Torrontes, various blends and sparkling wines. Here I met Ariel Hurtado, the young son of one of the owners of the wine company which launched in 2006. Hurtado tells me, “the whole idea of this enterprise, this business, is to introduce the Argentine culture of kosher wine to the whole world.”
Gail Simmons, Alan Richman, Melissa Clark, and Gabriella Gershenson will talk Jewish cuisine and the influence of their mother’s on their love of food in a program called “Like Mama Used to Make” this Sunday in Manhattan. [Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust]
Just incase you don’t already have enough apps on your phone, here are five kosher ones including one with kosher vacation suggestions. [JPost]
Part 2 of Zach Kutsher’s interview. This time he talks Borscht Belt and schmaltz. [Village Voice]