Archive for the ‘Kosher Trends’ Category

It’s All about Culture: Our Orthodox Differences

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A frum man and his four kids walk into a restaurant in Central New Jersey.

How do I know they’re not from around here?

First, the man walks into the store, ascertains with one quick glance that there are frum people in the store and immediately feels at ease, knowing that he is, in fact, in a kosher restaurant.

Next, he asks the lady behind the counter, “Do I have to pay the meter?” “No,” she says, “not after 6 pm.”

The family proceeds to make a lot of noise, discussing the merits of ordering this or that dish. It seems like the whole restaurant is in an uproar.

Upon finalizing their orders, the man asks the lady which way is East. He and his two teenage sons immediately begin davening mincha in the middle of the restaurant, with no concern that there are individuals seated or walking in front of them. No, they aren’t from around here.

Then they continue to stand around and wander in the restaurant while waiting for their orders, despite the fact that everyone else is sitting and relaxed, and there are plenty of seats. They are making us all nervous.

One of the daughters is around 12 and is wearing a “biz” skirt and button down shirt. Yeah. Not our town. The other daughter is about 8 and already feels the need to wear huge black sunglasses as a stylish headband. Yeah, that’s not our town either. The father and the two boys are dressed EXACTLY the same as each other – white shirts, black pants, and black velvet kippahs.

Within 5 minutes of their arrival, I know this family is not from around here. If you will allow me to guess, I would guess they’re from Flatbush.

It’s amazing how culture is so specific to location. We are all “frum,” but clearly very different. Anyone know why? Do we create our own culture? What other factors influence us? What aspects of culture do we all have in common?

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Two Recipes That Will Sweeten Your Shabbos Table

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When I was growing up, there was no such thing as carrot kugel or apple crunch. And if there was, it was called Dessert. But about 10 years ago, they were introduced to me as part of the Shabbos menu, right there alongside chicken and veggies. And these dishes are so yummy, that I’ve never looked back!

So in honor of Shabbos, here are my favorite recipes for carrot kugel and apple crunch. They are both incredibly easy and absolutely delicious. And best of all, kids love them!

Carrot Kugel

3 four-oz. jars of baby carrot food (“Stage 2” from Beechnut is OU-Pareve)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil (or applesauce for low fat version)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Preheat to 350 degrees.
Mix everything together in a bowl.

Two Options:

Loaf pan – Grease a pyrex loaf pan, pour in batter, bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Muffin cups – (No need to grease.) Fill cups to 3/4 full, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. (I highly recommend Reynolds “Baked for You – Stay Brite” muffin cups. They stand on their own on a cookie sheet—no need for a muffin pan—and they peel off beautifully.)

Use toothpick in center to tell if it’s done. You want it to be a touch “underdone” for best yumminess (and the blech).

Delicious at any temperature. Muffins may be stored at room temperature for 2 days in a sealed bag.

Apple Crunch

Crunch Mixture
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup shortening (or one stick maragarine)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Other Ingredients
1 can Comstock sweetened apple pie filling (can also use two smaller cans)
Cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat to 350 degrees.

Mix all crunch ingredients until it turns crumbly. (I find two methods work best for this: either a large bowl and a potato masher, or the sealed-bag-mush method. Either way is fine.)

Spread half of crunch mixture onto bottom of 11×7 (or 9×13) inch pan. Spoon apples from can onto crunch evenly. Top with rest of crunch mixture. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar lightly on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until the apples are boiling up the sides of the pan.

…And don’t worry, if you still think of these dishes as “dessert,” that’s ok, we’ll eat them any time!

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The “Gourmet”ing of American Jewry

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American Jewry has arrived. We now have the opportunity to turn our attention to the finer things in life: gourmet foods with a culturally diverse palette, imported elegant wines of the finest vintage, and high quality restaurants with good service. And it’s all kosher. Because we made it so.

In our grandparents’ generation, things in America were simple. You worked hard at your job, you cooked your own food, you spent time with the family, and you were happy. That was it.

In our parents’ generation, there was more wealth to go around. Couples bought houses in the suburbs, new shuls were built, kosher restaurants opened, people you and I know started wearing designer clothes, and the kids went to summer camp. Jews kind of settled in, developed their communities, and got used to American life.

I was one of those kids who went to summer camp. And let me tell you, our generation has a lot of expectations. And it’s not our fault…that’s how we grew up! We want nice clothes, we want two cars, we want expensive vacations, we want nice wines, we want to go to fancy restaurants, we want good service, and we want good quality. And all at the best prices.

This is reality. This is what we want. And in certain parts of our community, we also want a nice chasan watch, a fancy set of china, beautiful bedding, and a chandelier above the shabbos table. We must admit, as a community, we’ve gotten pretty comfortable here in America. Our lives are a far cry from how our grandparents lived.

It’s not a bad thing though – I think it’s great! With our increased wealth, we’ve had the time and energy to devote to creating quality experiences. We’ve had the money to redo our kitchen with granite countertops. We’ve had the energy to open restaurants that non-Jews would hardly guess were kosher. And we’ve been able to buy iPhones for our kids.

It’s a good coming-of-age story. Each generation has seen better and better for its children.
Unfortunately, this is why the tuition crisis is so intense. Because we want everything. We can’t just live the simple life. Once we’ve tasted the Gourmet Life, we can’t go back.

What do you think about the “Gourmet”ing of American Jewry?

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