Purim

 

Cowboy and Cowgirl Purim Menu

 

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We like themes.

The men, have rebelled though, and won, for the past few years.


 

Non-Dairy Purim Treats with Candy Sushi

 

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With Purim right around the corner there is a lot of excitement in our house right now.  My son asks me every day “how much longer until purim”? One of the fun things about Purim is that it is an opportunity to get dressed up and act with a kind of irreverence that most of us don’t have in our everyday lives. On Purim things are not always quite what they seem, and that is a wonderful thing. In that vein this candy sushi is the perfect treat for a Purim party or to send in misloach manot. It looks like sushi but tastes like candy. While it is not an elegant treat by any stretch of the imagination it never fails to bring a smile to people’s faces. The kids absolutely love them! They would be adorable packed in bento boxes for mishloach manot, maybe with a small bottle of sake and some nice chopsticks.

 Candy Sushi


 

Secrets to a Healthy Purim

 

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With the chance to dress up in costume and stock up on treats, Purim is a favorite holiday for kids of all ages.  But since its also high season for candy and sugary snacks, it can also be frustrating for parents who want their kids (and themselves) to choose healthy foods and limit sweets as part of a balanced nutritious diet.

On the one hand, you want to indulge and enjoy the holiday, after all Purim is one of the few one day holidays where you can visit out of town friends and relatives and hop from party to party.  On the other hand, you don’t want to undermine all the work you do the rest of year and confuse kids with mixed messages.


 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Hamentashen

 

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Purim is my absolute, hands down, favorite holiday!  I don’t only love it because it happens to be my birthday (I was born on Shushan Purim), but for other reasons as well.  Getting dressed up in costume is super fun; who doesn’t love to play pretend from time to time!  I also love coming up with fun themes for my shalach manot.  I don’t go overboard, I keep them simple- Pesach is approaching, after all, and who needs so much candy in the house.  Now for my favorite part which should be obvious since I am a pastry chef…I love baking hamentaschen.

Hamentaschen are probably the perfect cookies in my humble opinion.  What is better than a sweet cookie filled with delicious jam?  When I was younger, my mom and I had to make so many batches of hamentaschen because my family and friends would gobble them up so quickly.  My mom tried to hide them so we wouldn’t have to keep baking them every night, but that never worked-someone always found them.


 

Mishloach Manot Ideas

 

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Truth be told, generally, when I think of Mishloach Manot, I always think hamantashen. I mean, they’re the best known Purim treat, once you get set up, it’s easy to produce a lot and they’re great for packing up and transporting. But there’s no law that says that hamantashen must be included.

You do need to include at least two different items, so if you feel you must include hamantashen, that’s OK, but here are a few suggestions for other treats. Include one of these with your hamantashen or skip the hamantashen this year and just send these!


 

Not Just Hamantashen

 

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It is often thought that the tradition of giving Shalach Manot baskets of sweets for Purim was the invention of clever housewives who wanted to clear their cupboards of flour in anticipation of Passover when many baking ingredients would be forbidden. Whatever the origins of the tradition, we all benefit from the treats that are shared!

Did you know that Mohntashen were popular in medieval Central Europe before they were adopted as a Purim treat by the local Jewish communities who called them by a similar sounding name Hamantashen? Prune filling became an Ashkenazi custom in 1731 when plum preserve merchant, David Brandeis was acquitted of poisoning a magistrate and let free just before Purim.  To celebrate his release the townspeople in Jungbunzlau (Bohemia) put his Povidl, or plum preserves, in the Hamantashen and called it Povidl Purim!


 

Purim Party Ideas For Fun and Whimsy

 

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Shavy Weiss has been an event planner  for over a decade.  Shavy offers amazing party ideas in our Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine every issue and this month we are highlighting some of our favorite parts of her Purim table right here right now.  This Purim, Shavy suggests a fun, whimsical, and gilded Persian inspired table.


 

Why Do We Drink on Purim?

 

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Drinking on Purim is based on a Talmudic statement that it is a mitzvah to enjoy and celebrate on Purim. It is not a mitzvah to drink so much that we act in a non G-dly manner. However, we do drink more than usual on Purim. This is based on a number of reasons, such as the idea that “the wine is drunk, the secrets are revealed” and since Purim is all about the inner aspects of our love for Judaism and G-d being revealed, we drink more wine than usual.


 

Spirit Recommendations to Lift Your Spirits This...

 

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Ah, Purim. As we return to the Heroics of Esther and Mordechai, I remember the bumblings of King Ahashverosh that much more. At the very least, he lightens the atmosphere of the story. It’s in this light-hearted theme that I like to imbibe on Purim. Don’t get me wrong, given the weather this time of year, I generally prefer heavier, smokier, more brooding spirits, but for Purim, it’s hard to say “Blessed be Haman” over a big, brooding dram. Instead, I tend to enjoy lighter, more “fun” beverages.

For vodka, my choice this month is Bootlegger, made in Gardner, NY.


 

Purim Gift Basket Ideas – May the Force Be With...

 

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I always loved making hamantashen with my mom and prepare Mishloach Manot, the food gifts we give to friends on the holiday of Purim.  Despite my mother’s artistic background, she has a Masters of Fine Arts, her idea of a gift basket was an assortment of goods on a paper plate covered in tinfoil with the recipient’s name written on top with magic marker.

When I started creating my own Mishloach Manot,I didn’t really know there were other creative ways to celebrate the holiday.  After college, I was living in Washington, DC and became friends with a real New Yorker from Brooklyn who told me all about themes for Purim.  She regaled me with stories of some of the crazy extravagant baskets she received over the years.  Apparently, people became competitive over making the best and most creative Mishloach Manot.  Since she had moved to DC, she was excited to be able to recycle old ideas in this new community that didn’t really know from themes either.  From then on, I embraced the world of themed Mishloach Manot and have not looked back.


 

Creative Mishloach Manot From Recycled Containers

 

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One of my greatest pleasures each Purim is giving creative mishloach manot, almost always made from recycled containers. Now it’s true, my deliveries haven’t been grand as far as the quantity of edibles goes, because it’s a bit of a challenge to find a recycled container that’s large, but I know that my creations have always been greatly appreciated and in many cases saved to enjoy throughout the year. So while everyone of course does have to make a personal chesbon about what is realistic time wise, I’d say that it’s a great investment to go handmade with your containers, and if not for all of the mishloach manot you need to make, then at least for some of them.

And if you find yourself in a bit of a creative slump, wondering why you decided to get crafty all of a sudden, just ignore those voices, carry on, and be glad you’re not me, the creator of creativejewishmom.com, so no one will have any expectations! And in any case, whatever you do, it will be great! Of course if there are kids around to join in the fun, then all the better! My kids know that when the dining table is covered in stenciled cereal boxes, Purim must be just around the corner, and everyone is welcome to join in on the fun!


 

The Ten Best Hamantaschen Recipes

 

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It’s that time of year, our sleeves are rolled up, the dough is rolled out, and we are making dozens of hamantaschen for inclusion in our Mishloach Manot.

Here are some wonderful suggestions for you for this year – from the classic to the decadent chocolate filled, you will find a hamantasch for everyone.


 

Purim Cake Pops

 

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I’ve totally jumped on the bandwagon. I am a huge fan of putting treats on sticks. I’m pretty sure that any treat, no matter how delicious, fun, cute or enticing can be made infinitely more exciting (at least in a child’s eyes!) when placed on a stick.

It’s not just me. Everywhere you go, everyone is making and serving cake pops. This trend is great all year long, but there is no better time on the Jewish calendar for fun treats like a cake pop than Purim, a day when treats are plentiful and fun is the order of the day. Want to be the coolest mom on the block? Make some purim themed cake pops with your kids, and then give them the amazing satisfaction of distributing them to friends in Mishloach Manot.


 

Is Purim the Jewish Halloween?

 

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It has become a wide spread custom to dress up in costume on Purim. One reason is because of the hidden nature of G-d in the story of Purim. The Megillah is the only book in all of Jewish scriptures where G-d’s name is not mentioned. So Purim represents the idea of G-d “hiding” Himself in this world, and performing hidden miracles, as opposed to revealed miracles (think Passover and the plagues) on behalf of the Jewish people. We represent G-d hiding Himself, by also hiding ourselves in costume. Clothing is also mentioned many times in the Purim story, with Achashverosh dressing up at his party, to Mordechai wearing sackcloth and ashes, then Haman dressing up Mordechai in fine clothing before he parades him through the streets of Shushan, and Esther dressing in her finery before she walks into see Achashverosh.

As you can see, Purim is a very deep and important holiday for the Jewish people, and is on no way a “Jewish Halloween”! On the contrary, the deeper Jewish sources say that if you break down the words Yom Kippur you get, “Yom, K, Pur” which means ” a day like Purim”, but only “like” Purim, but not as good. We can connect to G-d through fasting, but can reach much higher levels though physical enjoyment!


 

A Purim Seudah To Celebrate

 

 

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Ask any adult if they remember what costume they wore, as a child on Purim and I guarantee you it will bring a smile to their face.  It certainly brings a huge smile to mine and my husband’s.  In fact, most times a giggle, when we think back as to how we  dressed our poor, innocent children for Purim!  At least one of them would go as a walking advert for our butchery, Nussbaums Kosher Butchery, with biltong (Jerky) and dry sausage hanging around their necks, stickers pertaining to every cut on the forequarter stuck to their white coats and a butcher’s apron filled with prepacked cold cuts ready to win over the toughest of teachers!   What were we thinking?

Probably the same thing my parents were thinking when they dressed us as doctors and painters – my grandfather was a doctor and my father had a paint factory!  My “baby”   brother went 5 years running as a clown in the orange and white family  hand-me-down clown outfit until the costume got so small for him it finally became a health hazard!