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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Summer Food Fun

Friday, July 1st, 2016

It’s baaaaack!

Yup, summer is here for real, bringing with it that vacation vibe and, even for those of us who still have to report to work every day, there is something in the air that makes you feel like a kid again. County fairs beckon invitingly, the nearest pool seems to be calling your name and it just feels like the right time to pack up a picnic and head for a local park for a few hours of chill time or a night full of fireworks. Somehow, no matter how you choose to spend your down time, food always manages to factor into the equation. Let’s face it: our culture really does revolve around food, so why not stock your kitchen with items that make your life easier?

Eller-070116-SodastreamSeltzer makers have become a hot item in recent years and for good reason. With the ability to make fresh carbonated beverages on the spot and dozens of varieties to choose from for those who prefer flavored sparkling water, Sodastream may forever redefine your beverage consumption. While this nifty appliance’s reusable bottles may draw the environmentally conscious, not having to shlep soda from the store or find a place to store all those bottles has an even more universal appeal. A few things to know about Sodastream: If you want to be able to use it on Shabbos, be sure to get one that doesn’t use electricity and be vigilant about only carbonating plain water and not overfilling the bottle. Trust me when I tell you that not following instructions may result in a very wet and soggy kitchen counter. Sodastream offers a large variety of OU-certified flavors, both sugar-free and sugar-full, with kid-pleasing choices like Kool-Aid Tropical Punch and Fizzy Blue, and more gourmet choices like Stevia Grapefruit Lemongrass, Green Tea Litchi and Eboost Acai Pomegranate. Watch the sales, especially around holiday times, and chances are you will be able to find a good deal on a Sodastream, making it an even more appealing addition to your kitchen.


While hot weather equals barbeque season for many, grill pans give you the ability to capture some of the benefits of outdoor cooking without ever leaving the air-conditioned comfort of your kitchen. Because of their ridged bottoms that catch drips and juices, grill pans allow you to produce nicely-seared, fabulous burgers and so much more (think fish, chicken or succulent steaks) with those mucho-appetizing grill marks. While there is no doubt that cast iron pans offer superior heat distribution and other advantages, I can’t deal with a pan that requires so much TLC, making Cuisinart’s dishwasher safe CastLite series the answer to my dreams. Made out of enamel-coated cast iron with a non-stick interior, it provides the best of all possible worlds, producing great results with easy cleanup. While this pan may be almost 50 percent lighter than a conventional cast iron griddle, I strongly suggest you not drop this one on your toe; weighing in at five pounds, it still packs quite a wallop. What size grill pan to get? That depends on your priorities – a bigger pan will give you more cooking area, but requires more storage space, so choose accordingly. Me? I am loving my 11-inch square griddle, but if space is at a premium, a smaller model may make more sense.

Eller-070116-TrivetSpeaking of storage considerations, it is important to remember that no matter how big your kitchen is, it will quickly become cluttered and disorganized if you fill your drawers and cabinets with stuff you never use. You know what I mean. The pastry blender that hasn’t been used since we last had a Clinton in the White House. The turkey baster that you got as a gift at your bridal shower and is still in its original packaging even though your youngest kid is now 15. Give them away to a friend, donate them to a needy cause or throw them all out and then stock your kitchen with items that work for you. In my case, the last gadget that I thought was practical enough to have earned real estate space in my kitchen was a Joseph Joseph Stretch Expandable Trivet. What makes this silicone-nylon trivet so practical is that while it opens to a generous 21 ½ inches to hold hot pots or pans, it folds down to a surprisingly svelte 3 inches, taking up just a tiny little spot in your drawer. Whether you go with the funky lime green or the more discreet black, this is one product that definitely works for you.


Although the Westbend On Demand Corn Popper does take up a heftier amount of kitchen space than the trivet, you may just find that this machine has slimming possibilities of its own. Pour popcorn kernels into the dispenser of this sleek stainless steel hot air popper and with a press of the lever it pops a single serving of popcorn, a great, low-calorie high-fiber snack. Want to make a bigger batch for the whole family? No problem. Just depress the lever three more times and get ready to enjoy those white, fluffy bits of goodness. Best of all, this popper, which holds 28 ounces of popcorn, does all the measuring on its own, leaving you with nothing harder to do than to grab a bowl and a salt shaker so that you can crunch away.

Eller-070116-Tovolo-KnivesEntire volumes can and probably have been written on the importance of high-quality knives but I can tell you right now that I am not qualified to discuss the merits of one knife over the other or the superiority of a $150 knife. As someone who is not a gourmet chef and likes to keep things uncomplicated, my criteria are fairly simple: give me a knife that feels good in my hand, isn’t too heavy and, most importantly, does a good job cutting. While there are plenty of great candidates out there that are an asset to any kitchen, I am finding myself very impressed with my newly-acquired Tovolo knives. While they may be best known for whimsical items like smiley face spatulas and rubber ducky ice molds, the nice folks at Tovolo have also made a serious line of knives in a full range of sizes that can tackle just about any kitchen job. Made out of high carbon stainless steel with comfort grip handles, these knives get the job done. My favorite? The five-inch prep knife, which is big enough to handle most jobs without being overly cumbersome. Does the fact that these knives come in a rainbow of colors make me love them even more? Yup. Guilty as charged.

Alright, everyone, time for me to say farewell for now. I am going to take my own advice and toss both my pastry blender and the turkey baster, leaving me extra room for more cool kitchen toys!

Sandy Eller

Chabad Rabbi Wins Second in Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Competition

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

One can find a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary almost anywhere in the world — but how many viewers expect to find a rabbinical expert on kosher laws competiting for the top prize on the Food Network’sChopped‘ show?

The irrepressible Rabbi Hanoch Hecht, 31, actually won second place as a contestant on the popular program, in an episode titled “Leap of Faith” in which he competed alongside a priest, a pastor and a nun.

Hecht grew up in Brooklyn, NY as one of 10 children and told Chabad.org that he managed to stay in his mother’s good graces by helping his mother in the kitchen. Those skills came in handy later in life when he began whipping up Sabbath meals at home with his own wife, Tzivie; the two are co-directors of Chabad Dutchess-Rhinebeck Jewish Center in Upstate New York.

The clerics were tasked with preparing an appetizer, entree and dessert using secret basket ingredients revealed at the start of each round, timed in 20, 30 and 30-minute increments.

It was the rabbi’s expertise in kosher laws that he said brought him to the show, which he saw as an opportunity to educate millions about kosher food, and to debunk some myths about it as well.

“The experience was phenomenal,” Hecht said. “The producers were very accommodating and sensitive to my needs and requirements.”

Those requirements were part of the agreement for the rabbi’s participation on the show, which found him due to his role as a guest lecturer at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. It was one of CIA’s professional chefs that nominated him to appear on “Chopped.”

Hecht said he’s “always enjoyed cooking,” so before he appeared on the show, “some of the chefs at CIA coached me and gave me lessons” as a way to reciprocate for his lectures of past years.

The rabbi noted that the experience emphasized for him “how no other religion requires both the ingredients and food preparation to be within certain guidelines. The other contestants didn’t have the same restrictions… [It] helped me to appreciate even more the responsibility and reward of keeping kosher.”

One of the biggest challenges, of course, was the fact that because the studio kitchen was not kosher, the rabbi could not taste any of the food. To compensate, Hecht asked the pastor to sample the condiment levels in his dishes for him.

For those who are wondering what a Chabad rabbi might create as a gourmet chef for the Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ competition, the episode (Season 28, Episode 13) aired on June 21 and is set to be rebroadcast. It is also available on demand.

Rabbi Hecht created a salmon stew for the appetizer that included raw white honey and Ezekiel bread. His entree was a Lebanese-style lamb and rice dish with a jalapeno-based relish he called “the rabbi’s heat.” But his most successful dish was the dessert — a rugelach made with fig, macadamia nut and hamantash filling (the latter was a basket ingredient), alongside a rainbow carrot tzimmes and fresh non-dairy whipped cream (since meat was served in the main dish).

The spirit was congenial among the competitors and the judges, said the rabbi. As Sister Sara Marks noted, “We all have God in common.”

Hana Levi Julian

New Bill Revokes Get-Refusing Inmates’ ‘Mehadrin’ Kosher Food, Boarding Privileges

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

The Knesset on Wednesday debated a bill submitted by Habayit Hayehudi Chair MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli revoking the special privileges of prisoners who refuse to grant their wives a get-religious divorce. The bill singles out Orthodox Jewish prisoners who are entitled while behind bars to stay in the prison’s “religious” section, participate in Jewish studies, and eat a stricter-standard “kosher l’mehadrin” meals. The idea is to use the loss of these privileges to force the prisoner to set his wife free.

To be clear, the law does not deprive the Orthodox inmate of his basic Jewish needs, it merely takes away elements of his “ultra-Religious” lifestyle.

Some Orthodox prisoners are actually sitting in jail for their refusal to grant the get, so that by freeing their wives they can set themselves free. But in the case of these Orthodox men, prison often resembles their normal everyday life, and in some cases may be an improvement — in prison they can sit and learn all day with a group of other Orthodox men, celebrate Shabbat and the holidays, and not have to worry about parnossah (making a living). MK Moalem hopes that removing those prisoners’ ability to live a full Jewish life behind bars and inserting them in the general population might help change their outlook on life in prison.

MK Moalem-Refaeli said, “A man who turns his wife into an aguna and refuses to obey the judges’ order to stop abusing her is not truly a man who values halakha and maintaining a Jewish lifestyle. He tramples the most essential Jewish principle, Love your fellow man as you would yourself, only to make his wife’s life miserable. Therefore he is not worthy of enjoying the plethora of privileges prison affords religious inmates.”


Annals of Obesity: Israeli Kids Drink More Soda than Americans, Arabs More than Jews [video]

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

At least 50% of the world population suffer from overweight and obesity, compared with the situation in the 1980s, when only 10% of the population was obese, according to worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. If the rate of weight gain remains as it is today, close to half the people on planet Earth will be obese by the year 2030. Israel’s figures are relatively good compared with the rest of the OECD countries, but still, according to the Israeli Health Ministry, 1.7 million Israelis, or 25% of adults and 14% of children, are obese, and out of those 700 thousand are considered pre-diabetic, and 500 thousand already suffer from type 2 diabetes. Also, adding those who are overweight (BMI of 25 and up) to the 25% who are obese, shows that almost half the population in Israel is overweight.

To illustrate, according to The Marker, in one of the meetings of the commission to promote a healthy diet, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said ironically, “We fail to understand how come 50% of the population are not overweight, considering the current consumer culture.”

The Health Ministry has recently launched a campaign against the consumption of soda drinks, which are a kind of statewide plague. A survey conducted in local schools has shown that Israeli children are at the top of the world average in their daily consumption of sweetened drinks. The world average for consuming sweet drinks is 25% of girls and 32% of boys. The average in the US is 30% among girls and 37% among boys.

In Israel the average is 41% for girls, 45% for boys — while for Israeli Arab children it is even higher, as 51% of Arab children ages 11 to 15 consume a sweet drink at least once a day.

© JNi.media

© JNi.media

It is well-known today that an overweight child will likely suffer from obesity in adulthood. In Israel every fifth first grader (20%) is overweight, and by the seventh grade 30% — one in three children — are overweight.

Among Arab children the situation is even worse, with close to 40% of Arab seventh graders suffering from overweight.

In Israel, some 70% of the food being consumed is processed, which is why Israeli children and teens consume 12 grams of sodium daily, easily double the recommended amount.

Diabetes in Israel harms the weaker population strata, most notably the Arabs. The rate of diabetes among the poor is three times higher compared with middle and upper class Israelis. An estimated 25.5% of Israeli poor are diabetic, compared with 7.1% Israeli middle and upper class. The rate of the rise of diabetes among the poor in Israel is swift and alarming, jumping in 12 years from 7.8% in 2002 to 25.5% in 2014.

According to the Health Ministry, the cost of obesity is estimated at $1.55 billion annually, with a third of the cost coming from direct care for obese patients and two-thirds from indirect losses, such as reduced earning ability, sick days and nursing care. Israel’s largest HMO, Maccabi Health Services, has submitted to the Health Ministry data suggesting it spends on diabetic patients 53% more than it does on the average insured member.

Israeli Health Ministry’s anti-soda drinking campaign


Jewish Agency Launches Food Co-Op in Druze Village

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israel Venture Network (IVN) this week launched their fourth food co-op in the Druze village of Beit Jann. Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, IVN cofounder Itsik Danziger, spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, and leaders from Beit Jann and the Druze community attended the grand opening.

The new chain of food co-ops is a joint venture of the Jewish Agency and IVN, in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York and the United Jewish Endowment Fund of Greater Washington, aimed at lowering the cost of living and strengthening communities across Israel. The first three branches are located in the southern Israeli communities of Sderot, Yeruham, and Arad. The new branch in Beit Jann was launched in partnership with Ofakim LaAtid (“Future Horizons”), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering young leadership in Israel’s Druze community. The food co-ops operate as social business ventures, offering consumers significantly less expensive groceries and investing profits in local social empowerment initiatives. The chain is expected to reach forty branches across Israel and is based on close cooperation with local communities and various nonprofit organizations.

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: “I first heard about the ‘covenant of blood’ between the Jewish people and the Druze community while I was still in the Soviet Union, fighting for our right to immigrate to Israel. But that bond must also generate a covenant of life, and we must do everything to ensure that that covenant is strong and enduring. I am confident that this new joint venture between The Jewish Agency, Jewish Federations, and Israeli business leaders will enable us to help narrow the socioeconomic gaps within Israeli society and strengthen Israel as a whole.”

IVN cofounder Itsik Danziger said: “This new chain represents a substantial new step by IVN to promote the model of social businesses, an innovative model aimed at correcting market failures in Israel. The launch of the fourth food co-op in Beit Jann demonstrates that social businesses can generate sustainable, socially conscious activity while fortifying their financial viability with independent profits. The new chain helps lower the cost of living in Israel and we look forward to expanding it into additional communities across the country.”

Spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif said: “The decision by The Jewish Agency, headed by our friend, Natan Sharansky, and IVN to launch a branch of their new food co-op chain in Beit Jann is more than a statement – it is a fitting act, because Druze communities are worthy of investment and constitute an integral part of the State of Israel.”


Israeli Food Exports Gain Popularity as Economic Ties Expand in East Asia

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

{Originally posted to The Tower Magazine website}

As Israel’s economic ties expand across East Asia, so does the popularity of the Jewish state’s food products.

Costco stores throughout Japan hosted an Israeli food festival last week, featuring pita, matza, Wissotsky teas, Angel cookies, Adafresh spices, Hanasich tahini, and a variety of Israeli wines. The festival was sponsored by the Israel Export Institute and the economic attaché of the Israeli Ministry of Economy office in Tokyo.

“In 2015, the government decided to take steps to strengthen the economic relations between Israel and Japan. The Israeli and Japanese prime ministers held reciprocal visits over the past several years under this framework,” Ohad Cohen, exports manager for the Ministry of Economy, told Ynet. “We’ve seen great interest for Israeli products and technological cooperation from Japanese companies in a variety of fields including the medical, communications, pharmaceutical, and automation fields,” he added.

The initial contacts between dozens of Israeli and Japanese companies has led to over $1 million in exports.

Another promising market for Israeli food products is opening in Vietnam, which last week hosted an Israeli food festival in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The events featured cooking demonstrations by Israeli celebrity chef Ruthie Rousso and others. Israeli dishes prepared at the festival included majadra, musabaha style hummus, fresh pita made on site, malabi with pistachios, and sweet Israeli meatballs made with date honey, Ynet reported.

“Over the last several years, Vietnam has greatly developed economically and presents a great opportunity for Israeli industry and food exports,” said Caroline Nevo, the head of the Food and Drink Branch of the Exports Institute. She added that her organization has “seen more interest and demand for Israeli flavors and products in the east, and conversely, we have been expending great efforts to open up markets which will facilitate the entry of Israeli products and fully realize the potential of these markets.”

In addition to the food festivals in Japan and Vietnam, four Israeli wineries — Adir Winery, Morad Winery, Psagot Winery, and Binyamina Winery — attended the China (Guangzhou) International Wine & Spirits Exhibition this year, the largest exhibition of its kind in China.


The Tower

Colel Chabad ‘Charging’ Ahead on Passover Preparations

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The nationwide Colel Chabad social services organization is already moving full speed ahead on its pre-Passover preparations. The organization, which has been running programs in Israel since 1788, is working with the government to implement a food security project for the holiday.

“The organization is working to help thousands of Israelis who are struggling with poverty,” said a spokesperson. “To prepare for the holiday, food and staples for Passover will be delivered to the homes of more than 20,500 families around the country,” she said.

An additional 20,000 people will be provided with full seder meals at Chabad houses around the country, the spokesperson added.

In addition, the organization has launched a debit card program that enables its clients to go to designated supermarkets and purchase their own chosen holiday necessities.

“They can do so with dignity and self-respect, without having to feel embarrassed that they cannot afford what they want or require,” Colel Chabad director Rabbi Mendy Blau told Chabad.org.

The program began at Purim time and is now in full force as Passover arrives. Blau noted that “a debit card program such as this also enables us to channel and monitor funds so that they are being used in ways that will truly help the beneficiary.”

Colel Chabad has partnered with local supermarket chains, as well as with IsraCard (the local operator of MasterCard) to create the smart card. Purchases can be made for any items at the designated markets, other than hard liquor or tobacco products.

The cards are funded by charitable donations. Donors can designate beneficiaries who fall within a specific category, such as widows, Holocaust survivors, lone soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, victims of terror, etc. Anonymity is maintained to prevent undue embarrassment to the recipient.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/colel-chabad-charging-ahead-on-passover-preparations/2016/04/14/

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