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Passover Prep – Organize the Pantry

 

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Growing up we didn’t have a pantry (or a larder as it was called in London), but here in NY it seems almost everyone has some kind of food storage closet. Some are walk in closets, some are just a couple of kitchen cabinets earmarked for food storage. Every time I go on a cooking marathon I tell myself I need to organize the pantry so that I know what I have in stock.

Whether you sell your chametz or finish it up before Passover, now is the time to take inventory. See what you need to finish up – and plan your menus accordingly. If you still have most of a 10lb bag of flour – get baking! If you have a bountiful array of beans, make a chili, or a bean soup, or any bean dish.


 

Passover Seder Makot Matching Game

 

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The plagues with which the Egyptians were punished because they would not allow the Jews to leave Egypt are called the makot.  This fun matching game will help children remember the names of the plagues as well as what happened to the Egyptians during that time.  This game is quick and easy to make as well as to play. Laminating the cards will make them more durable; this can be done at a local copy shop.

Makot Matching Game


 

Passover Prep – Clean Out the Car!

 

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Some people leave cleaning the car till the last minute. However, I prefer to have this done way ahead of time, so that I can do my Passover shopping without worrying that there is any chametz left in my trunk that will *somehow* wend its way into my chametz-free groceries that I just spent the second mortgage on!

Now you could do it the easy way and just take the car to the local car wash and have them vacuum it inside and wash and wax it. Or, if you want to make sure that it is done properly you can do it yourself. (Or supervise the children doing it.)


 

Passover Prep – Let’s Get Started!

 

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Purim is over, so now we are allowed to mention the other P word – Passover, Pesach, whatever you call it, is less than four weeks away. No need to panic though – take it slow and steady. We will bring you advice and tips and tricks to get you through this preparation period.

When I start my cleaning – and let’s be honest, most of us use Pesach Cleaning as an excuse for spring cleaning too – I start with the closets….. I have the kids go through their closets and drawers (us parents do the same) for clothes they no longer wear, things they no longer use. We make piles – clothing still in good shape to be passed to the younger child, clothing still in good shape to be given away, clothing in bad shape to be cut into rags and used for cleaning.


 

A Pirate Purim Party

 

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Hi Everyone! I’m so excited for purim! It is my favorite holiday. I remember as a kid rushing around with my mom to get all the fun items for our family mishloach manot. My mom always came up with a poem, theme, or found a cute container. All these years later I’m still doing the same thing.

Every year I try to figure out what my kids will be interested in. Over the years we’ve done Pinkalicious, Dr. Seuss, dogs, and the list goes on and on. This year my kids decided they wanted to be Jake and the Never Land Pirates. I figured that would be easy. Get them all pirate costumes and we’ll do some sort of treasure hunt. As I started to plan I decided to take it one step further. The Usdan Family became the Shushan Pirates!


 

How To Make The Perfect Cocktail

 

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Purim is coming, we’re so happy, we’re gonna make cocktails! Now that the especially long February is over, it’s time to spring into March with some class. Here are two delicious cocktails with my tips on how to get the most out of your drink.

For a full list of cocktails for Purim click here.


 

Purim DIY packaging Ideas

 

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I am not the most creative person nor am I really very artistic, but I sure do appreciate the beautiful work of others.  I know the way I love to make delicious treats others like to create cute little containers to package them in.  Does anyone want to partner? I will make the treats and you make the packaging?  Let me know.

Anyways, over the past few months I realized that we can get so many great ideas for our Purim Mishloach Manot from everyone else’s holiday packages.  Take a look at some inspiring ideas and let me know if you decide to use one and when you will be sending them over.


 

Dress Up Yourselves and Your Table with These Easy...

 

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Dressing up on Purim is so much fun and something most children look forward to the entire year. Use these instructions to create an array of hats and accessories to enhance a variety of costumes.  In the time it takes to say “abracadabra” (okay, just a bit longer than that) you can craft a cape worthy of any good king, queen, or “magician.”  The most incredible part is that it’s done with no needle and thread involved. How’s that for a Purim miracle!

Crown

Materials


 

Brown Butter Apple Galette With Your Kids

 

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The way I see it, there are two kinds of pie in this world: Perfect pie and imperfect pie.

To make a perfect pie, you have to get all the steps and proportions and assembly just so. But if you make a galette, you can relax. This free-form pie is supposed to be rustic and homey — not bake-shop perfect. And don’t worry, it tastes just as good (if not better).


 

Kosher Shopping At Asian Markets

 

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Eight years ago, when I came back from a vacation in Thailand, I wanted to find all the new ingredients I learned about and I searched everywhere for an Asian market.  I discovered an incredible selection of produce for amazing prices.  If you live near a large Asian market you should try to do most of your fruit and vegetable shopping there.  Not all Asian markets are created alike, some are better than others and you have to find the best one near you.  Here is why it is worth the hunt.

Asian markets have large and impressive produce section with a tremendous variety of fruits and vegetables.  They have so many green vegetables that you can cook for a month without eating the same thing twice.   I’ve tried sweet potato greens, Yu Toy, Bok Choy, several new kinds of cabbages, and my favorite, Thai Basil to make a Thai Slaw or Thai Pesto you will love.  You can find pomelo, dragon fruit and Asian pears.  You will also find an incredible array of inexpensive mushrooms to make a delicious Roasted Mushrooms, yum.


 

Adventures with My Pasta Maker

 

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I always dreamed about making my own pasta, but it seemed way too daunting.  An Italian family in our building invited us over last year for dinner and served three different kinds of homemade pasta.  My foodie son (who won’t eat dried pasta) licked his plate.  Soon afterwards, my friend David revealed that he also makes his own pasta.  Apparently, his mom used to sell pasta machines and he ended up with an extra and offered to let me try it out.

What David had was actually what they call a Pasta Extruder.  The best way to describe it is like one of those play dough machines you used to enjoy as a kid. You take the dough and push it through a tube with the shape of your choice to make ziti, penne, tubitini and macaroni.  I found a recipe and tried it out. The kids had fun, we made a mess and we ended up with a nice bowl of fresh pasta that everyone loved.  Still, it felt like a lot of work for not much more than small bowl for each of us, but I knew I had to try it again.


 

Cooking By Heart

 

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Everyone has a few dishes that are their standbys. The dishes that you can make without opening a recipe book (or looking up the recipe on your iPad), the recipes that are so familiar to you that you can make them in your sleep. For each chef this list is different. Mine is pretty basic. And the recipes that I use I am not sure I have written down anywhere although some I have shared here, forcing myself to figure out quantities. I measure quantities by eye or by feel, only sometimes by taste. I am the kind of cook that feels like she is conducting a symphony in the kitchen, and I try to be one with it. But I have children. Oneness and peace when I am cooking is not something that happens very often.

I can make my challah with my eyes closed. Truth be told, most of the time on a Friday morning I have the dough rising before the sleep is even cleared from my eyes. I have made it so many times, it just gets done without me thinking about it.


 

Declutter Your Closet With a Party

 

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Tu B’Shevat, coming up this year on February 8th, is the New Year for the Trees. What better time to think about how reducing closet clutter can help the environment? How many of the outfits in your closet have not seen the light of day for months or even years? Probably more than you care to admit! Here is a fun and easy way to reduce some of that clutter, give your clothes a new home, and your closet a fresh new look.

Invite over a group of friends for a Tu B’Shevat clothing swap party. You can make some delicious holiday hors d’oeuvres and help your friends go through and streamline their closets in honor of this festival of renewal. Ask each friend to bring over at least 10 pieces ofclothing. Here are some tips to share with your friends to help them as they brave their closets:


 

Kids Recipes – Cooking with Kids

 

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In the Purim issue of Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller, Julie Negrin shares the perfect Mishloach Manot filler, Mini Quiches.   (more…)


 

Spin the Globe Dinners with Your Kids

 

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Everyone is always talking about getting the kids in the kitchen.  Get them involved in the preparation and they will eat the food, the theory goes. WhileI love cooking with my kids, for most weekday meals, it just isn’t going to happen.  They make such a mess and we have so little time after school and homework.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to get your kids involved.

A few months ago, my kids came up with a game.  It was one of the many yom tov days that I was hoping the kids would sleep in and let me relax a bit.  When I awoke (much later than normal) I found them enjoying a game of spin the globe.  On their own they thought up this game where one of them would close their eyes and point a finger on the globe while spinning it.   When it landed they would open their eyes and read where on earth they were.  Then they would talk about all the food they would eat if they went to that country (they are my kids after all, foodies from birth).