Hanukkah Chili

As winter descends over Philadelphia, we get to drive away the darkness with our Hanukkah lights. One way to make our Hanukkah parties more festive is to cook a large pot of chili. Served with corn chips or some fresh crusty bread and assorted garnishes, it is the perfect main course to enjoy before the latkes, sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), and chocolate gelt make their appearance. [Read more…]

The Bounty of the Sea

Photo by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Photo by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris.

It is common to visualize the Thanksgiving feast as a beautifully set table with a large, golden-brown roasted turkey at the center, surrounded by fall vegetables and cornbread. Perhaps it would be more accurate, though, to feature a platter of fish. The Wampanoag tribe, who celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1621, depended on the Atlantic Ocean for much of their sustenance. The Native Americans foraged for mushrooms, berries, wild herbs and nuts to supplement their diet, and they shared this bounty with the Pilgrims.

One of the most plentiful species of fish found in the Atlantic Ocean was cod. The recipe below is inspired by ingredients that would have been easily available to the Native Americans and Pilgrims. [Read more…]

The Savory Pumpkin Pie

How can you make something for Thanksgiving dinner in a hurry? Many people dread having to cook all the traditional dishes. They lack the time and expertise to roast the perfect whole turkey. One dish that combines many of the traditional fall flavors associated with Thanksgiving is the savory chicken pumpkin pot pie.

This delicious pie can be prepared using convenience and canned goods from the supermarket. It is a very versatile recipe, and you may use any fresh or frozen vegetables at hand to enhance it. If you prefer, you may use a store-bought roasted turkey in the recipe instead of the chicken.

Photo by Alvin Smith https://www.flickr.com/photos/heather_joy/

Photo: Alvin Smith.

Chicken Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 roasted chicken, cut up
  • 1 can of plain pumpkin puree
  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/2 cups fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. chicken broth
  • 2 frozen pie crusts or individual tart shells
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy pot.
  3. Brown the onion over medium heat.
  4. Add the minced garlic.
  5. Mix in the flour, and then add the broth.
  6. Stir until you have a smooth sauce.
  7. Place the chicken, pumpkin, parsley, and sage in a large bowl.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Stir the contents of the bowl into the sauce.
  10. Pour the pumpkin-chicken mixture into the pie crust or tart shells.
  11. Top the pie crust or tart with the second pie crust or flattened tart shell, pinching the edges shut.
  12. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow the steam to escape.
  13. Bake for 45 minutes for a large pie, around 15 minutes for individual tarts.

Sukkot Snapshots from Israel

Photo credits: Adriana Katona

Sukkot is one of the three pilgrim holidays when the Israelites would go up to Jerusalem to celebrate. It was an agricultural holiday, as well as a reminder of the 40 years wandering in the wilderness before entering the land of Israel. Agriculture was central in their culture, so Sukkot was an important holiday. Today, Jews from all over the world travel to Jerusalem to celebrate.

Celebrating at the Kotel.

Celebrating at the Kotel (the Western Wall).

A selection of etrogs.

A selection of etrogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a mitzvah to give gifts to the poor during Sukkot. What type of gift? The farmers of Ancient Israel were required to give a tithe, ma’aser, of their harvest (Numbers 18:21-24) to the Levites. This harvest consisted of wheat, barley, oat, spelt, and rye.  In addition, they had to give a tithe of their production of wine, olive oil, fruit, and cattle.

Examining a lulav.

Examining a lulav.

Blowing the shofarot.

Blowing the shofarot.

Ful Nabed: Sukkot Fava Bean Soup

When the Ancient Israelites left Egypt, they carried the memories of the foods they enjoyed with them. Of all the vegetables, they missed fava beans the most. Fava beans, which have been in Egypt for over 8,000 years, have been found in the tombs of the pharaohs as part of the indispensable items that must be brought to the afterlife. Egyptian Jews have retained the tradition of eating fava beans when celebrating happy occasions. On the sixth night of Sukkot, a delicious soup made with fava beans, called Ful Nabed, is served. [Read more…]

American Jewish Committee: The Dean of American Jewish Organizations

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) The AJC was founded in 1906. The impetus for creating this organization was the news of the pogroms against Jews in the Russian Empire. The AJC’s mission was to “prevent infringement of the civil and religious rights of Jews and to alleviate the consequences of persecution,” no matter where they were occurring. The AJC is still going strong today, advocating for religious pluralism, Muslim-Jewish relations, and Jewish students on campus. One of the AJC’s most important areas of activism is in combating the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement. [Read more…]

The Healthy Break-Fast

Glass of water. Photo: Derek Jensen (Tysto) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Derek Jensen (Tysto)

At the conclusion of the 25-hour Yom Kippur fast, your body deserves some tender loving care. The foods that are traditionally served to break the fast do not necessarily provide this. Here are some tips on the scientifically healthiest ways to replenish your body with nutrients.

Note: If you are reading this before the start of the fast, check out Strategic Feasting Before Fasting.

Water

The first thing to give your parched body is water. Indulge in one or two glasses of water before you approach the food.

Display of carved fruit. Photo by Tracy Hunter https://www.flickr.com/photos/tracyhunter/

Photo: Tracy Hunter

Fresh Fruit

While fresh fruit is usually served toward the end of the meal, following a fast it is good to begin with the fruit. Fruits are easy to digest, and give your body additional fluids and sugars. Apples, grapes, watermelon, pears, and melons are good choices. Avoid citrus fruits, as they may be too acidic at this point.

Salad of dark green leafy vegetables. Photo by Connoisseur 4 The Cure https://www.flickr.com/photos/73887528@N08/

Photo: Connoisseur 4 The Cure

Fresh Vegetables

A salad with a base of romaine lettuce, kale, or Swiss chard will provide vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to bring your body back into equilibrium. Add some chopped raw carrots, celery, and beets. Avoid commercial salad dressings, which contain too much salt. Make your own simple dressing with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a little lemon, or a yogurt (with live cultures) dressing.

Egg. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Eggs

Eggs are the most complete sources of protein. They are easy to digest, and quick to prepare. Serve some boiled eggs with the salad to renew your energy.

Vegetable Soup

Whip up a quick water-based vegetable soup with whole grains such as unpearled barley or brown rice and legumes such as lentils or beans. Use fresh vegetables, and to save time, canned legumes and quick cooking brown rice or barley.

Here is a recipe for a quick and easy vegetable soup that you can make from scratch:

Photo by Katrin Morenz https://www.flickr.com/people/26242865@N04

Photo: Katrin Morenz

Vegetable Soup
Adapted from About Food

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot.
  2. Add all the chopped vegetables.
  3. Sauté for 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the dry spices.
  5. Pour in the 8 cups of water.
  6. Bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes.

You may add cooked beans, lentils, or garbanzo beans.
Serve with quick cooking brown rice or another whole grain.

Strategic Feasting Before Fasting

During the 25-hour fast of Yom Kippur, many people suffer from dehydration, low sugar levels, and lack of caffeine. It is much easier to persevere and achieve success if you prepare well in advance.

Wean Yourself From Caffeine:

Photo: Nevit Dilmen

Photo: Nevit Dilmen.

The one thing regular coffee drinkers miss the most during Yom Kippur is coffee. They miss caffeine even more than water.

Coffee consumers should taper off their caffeine consumption during the week before Yom Kippur.

Avoid Dehydrating Foods:
[Read more…]

Sephardic Stuffed Rosh Hashanah Vegetables

Some Sephardic families have the tradition of not preparing any black foods during Rosh Hashanah in order to avoid the appearance of mourning. The mothers and grandmothers of these clans are famous for their delicious stuffed vegetables. For Rosh Hashanah, this dish is still prepared, using everything that is in season, except eggplants, black olives and dark raisins. Stella Cohen, the author of Stella’s Sephardic Table, shares her recipe for the queens of stuffed vegetables. [Read more…]

Back-to-School Bento Box

“What should I pack for lunch?” is a question many parents grapple with at the beginning of the school year. It’s not as simple as it seems to provide a healthy, nutritious meal that will actually be eaten by your child. One fun and creative solution is to send your child to school with your version of the Japanese bento box. [Read more…]