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Food Focus: The Seder Plate

By admin | April 6, 2012

Photo: mollyjade

Photo: mollyjade

By: Michael Engle

On Friday and Saturday nights, April 6 and 7, 2012, Jewish families worldwide will commemorate Passover with seders.  Seder is actually the Hebrew word for “order,” because there is a strict order to the festivities during these first two nights of Passover.  In addition to components such as ritual hand-washing, reading the haggadah, asking “The Four Questions,” and leaving drops of wine on the side of your plate, there is much more to a seder than just a Passover dinner.

Two food-centric centerpieces that appear on every seder table are the three-sheet pile of matzo and the seder plate.  The seder plate has six food items; each one carries its own symbolic element. Read More

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What Exactly Is Kosher?

By admin | April 5, 2012

Photo: Henk Kosters

Photo: Henk Kosters

By: Michael Engle

With Passover just about to begin, many may be wondering what in fact makes a food kosher or non-kosher. Few non-Jews truly know the meaning and reasoning for the kosher food label. Kosher food can be dated back to the beginning of the Jewish religion and are known as a framework for foods that are fit to be eaten by those practicing their Jewish faith.  But with little knowledge of what exactly is in our own processed food nowadays, it can seem a daunting task trying to figure out if something is kosher or not. Imagine having to, while grocery shopping, inspect every single label not just for calories and allergens, but also for religious approval. Luckily, kosher supermarkets exclusively stock kosher products, allowing observant shoppers to focus more of their energy on menu planning.

Kosher food products are specifically approved by trained kosher inspectors; they certify that each kosher item was made with kosher ingredients in a kosher facility.  By Jewish law, all kosher inspectors are graduates of rabbinical school.  Read More

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Everyone’s Favorite Jewish Dish: Matzo Ball Soup

By admin | March 30, 2012

Photo: devlyn

Photo: devlyn

By: Michael Engle

Exactly one week from now, Jews all over the world will be observing Passover (Pesach, in Hebrew, as well as in universal Jewish common vernacular) with the first of two seders.  Technically, by that time, all Jewish homes should be completely ridden of chametz, or leavened bread products.  During Passover, five common and normally-kosher grains: wheat, barley, rye, oat, and spelt, temporarily become forbidden in all forms, except for Kosher for Passover matzo.  In addition, beans and legumes are widely avoided, as per Eastern European tradition.  This is why certain high-fructose corn syrup-dependent products, such as Coca-Cola and Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup, make special batches with refined sugar, in order to maintain sales during Passover.  (Because of this seasonal change, certain food purists and enthusiasts, whether Jewish or gentile, buy these items in bulk during Passover.)

The most iconic Passover staple, matzo ball soup, is now in a class of its own.  No longer a week-long phenomenon, it is enjoyed year-round.  In fact, it is a very simple dish: all you have to do is make matzo balls, place them in a bowl with kosher chicken stock, and serve it!  Even spare dill sprigs or celery or carrot chunks can be considered superfluous.  Read More

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Passover Seder Dinner

By mahir | April 18, 2011

passover 2010

Tonight is the first night of Passover. At the Passover Seder, families gather around the dinner table to read the Haggadah, learning about the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Read More

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