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November 30, 2015 / 18 Kislev, 5776
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Online Kosher: A Brave New World

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We’re all familiar with how kosher cooking used to be (and sometimes still is) portrayed: an endless stream of yiddishe mamas talking about chicken soup and brisket. Now, I love chicken soup and brisket as much as the next gal but that’s just not me; I’m a different kind of yiddishe mama. And I’m not alone.

I do serve chicken soup and brisket, but love to mix it up with other, more exotic non-traditional fare – like creamy butternut squash soup with coconut milk and thyme, or avgolemono soup, a lemony chicken rice soup I call kosher Greek penicillin.

I love avocado and seared tuna steak salad with green and red onions and a light sauce made from lime juice and Tabasco; California avocado salad, dressed in rice vinegar, ume plum vinegar and toasted sesame oil; and beef sukiyaki.

Even simple fare like Caesar salad can be “dressed up” if you add sun-dried tomatoes and homemade whole-wheat croutons. Now, all props to the Salonika Jew-crew, but my ancestors were definitely not messing around with avgolemono soup and beef sukiyaki.

That’s why I think the Web has become the first stop for people looking for information about food and cooking. They can always find things that reflect their lives and interests.

The Internet combines an unprecedented ability to connect people with a treasure trove of information; it’s the natural home for virtual coffee klatches, recipe exchanges and cooking videos.

Whenever I am stuck for a recipe or looking for a creative way to update a traditional recipe, I usually look to the Web first. And there are lots of people out there who do the same thing. Gourmet Magazine, a staple for foodies since 1941, will no longer be appearing on magazine racks, though the name will stick around on the Internet.

Turn on your television and there are cooking shows 24/7 for almost every taste and interest. And while there are no cooking shows dedicated to strictly kosher viewers (there used to be one on PBS with Jeff Nathan, but now it only airs in Israel), the Internet is another matter all together.

I currently host two online cooking shows, “Quick & Kosher” and “Simply Kosher.” And if you need information, try running an Internet search on “kosher food websites.” You’ll get over two million results. Not all of them are kosher stores, blogs or online recipe resources, but the point is, there is a lot of material out there. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but I prefer to think of the surplus of information as enlightening, even educational and enough to keep us cooking our kishkes off forever!

Everyone is online these days (and I do mean everyone – kids, moms, bubbies, grand-bubbies and zaidies, too), or so it seems. Here are some statistics to boggle the mind: According to the website Internet World Stats, which features up-to-date world Internet usage, as of June 2009, 73.9 percent of all North American residents were using the Internet. Since 2000, usage has jumped 132.9 percent. The PEW Research Center reports that 66 percent of online Americans have purchased at least one product via the Web during their Internet lifetime.

In these tough economic times, large numbers of people are choosing not to frequent restaurants but are instead revving up their stay-at-home food repertoires. To facilitate this, many are turning to Internet recipe sites to enhance their home cooking in adventurous ways. And many Internet sites, like Kosher.com, often become online communities where people can share or exchange ideas as well as cost-saving tips like cooking in bulk and freezing ready-made meals.

According to the website comScore.com, which measures the digital world and offers digital marketing intelligence, there were 45.6 million unique visitors to food websites in September 2008, up 10 percent from 2007. Leading the pack is allrecipes.com, which had 7.3 million visitors just in March 2009 alone. In the kosher online world, we can also hold our heads up high. Visitors and their online orders to Kosher.com have tripled since our newly re-launched website went live before Rosh Hashanah.

About the Author: Jamie Geller was "The Bride Who Knew Nothing" - until she found her niche as everybody's favorite kosher cook next door. She is the author of the best-selling Quick & Kosher cookbook series and creator of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine. Join Jamie and the world's largest kosher food community of joyofkosher.com to discover 5,000 FREE kosher recipes, inspiring menu ideas, how-to videos, and more! Follow more of Jamie's Quick & Kosher cooking adventures on Twitter @JoyofKosher and on facebook.com/joyofkosher.

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