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A Vegan Rosh Hashanah Courtesy of Mariano’s

 

 

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Every day eating is hard for me, let alone Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah. Being vegan has its pluses and minuses. The vegan chopped liver my friend’s aunt makes every year is a joy and aside from missing out on the brisket and honey cake, I usually make do. This year I was asked by Mariano’s, (#MyMarianos) Roscoe Village’s most popular joint, to create and blog about a Rosh Hashanah dish that I could make using only the store’s ingredients.

I’m not the greatest cook, but I was up for the task. Because Mariano’s is in my ‘hood, and because I was making a vegan-friendly salad for my friend’s dinner this Thursday I wanted to try and practice a few sweet salad recipes I read about on Pinterest. Because Rosh Hashanah is all about sweet food.

I have shopped at Mariano’s before and I have always been impressed by their selection and service, even for a picky vegan eater like me. And as I set out to make a salad worthy of the holiday I was a little worried about finding all the specialized ingredients I would need:

  • Baby lettuce such as kale and arugula
  • Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate
  • Figs (2-3)
  • Pecans (about a cup)
  • Orange (1)
  • Red Onion (1)
  • Olive oil, red wine vinegar and dijon mustard for the dressing

I’ve shopped Mariano’s on price and convenience (I’m a rewards card member — it’s worth it), but not on specialty ingredients.

Good thing I was pleasantly surprised. I was welcomed by mountains of fresh produce and helpful staff members who even pointed out where to find ripened pomegranates. (Little did I know there is a big difference- the skin starts to crack at the top of ripe ones.)

And I found lots of other goodies including yellow figs. Who knew figs could be yellow…

 

fresh lettuce #shopMariano's produce #shopPomegranate #shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beauty of Mariano’s produce is apparent!

Then I got started with the salad prep:

I caramelized the red onions:

onions #shop

I candied the pecans:

pecans #shop

And I figured out how to get pomegranate seeds out of a pomegranate. It’s not for the faint of heart, and do not wear a t-shirt you like. Just sayin’.

pomegranate seeds #shop

My salad required dressing, and I made some by squeezing half an orange into a bowl, adding 1/3 cup oil, 1/4 vinegar, tsp of dijon mustard and salt and pepper and whisking it with a fork until it got a little creamy. Yum…

dressing #shop

 

I cut the figs (had to read a tutorial on that), and spread the greens into a big bowl. Best part about the greens I got from Mariano’s is that they were pre-washed. Love that. I put the dressing on the salad and voila, my Rosh Hashanah Sweet Vegan Salad was done!

vegan rosh hashanah salad #shop

 

A big thank you to my local Chicago Mariano’s (#MyMarianos) and Collective Bias (#cbias) for this shoppertunity. I really enjoyed the process and found Mariano’s selection for my Rosh Hashanah dish to be superb. I encourage you all to Like Mariano’s on Facebook, Twitter or both!

And here’s a link to the recent Mariano’s Opera Flash Mob (did you know that Mariano’s has a piano player in the Roscoe Village store? Made waiting in the check out line a little more tolerable :)

Nana’s famous matzah kugel recipe

I don’t cook much, but I have dabbled in holiday cooking occasionally and some of my recipes aren’t so bad.

Herewith, my next recipe to share – my mom’s awesome sweet matzah kugel. I won’t be able to eat much of it this year (thinking of substituting all that butter with… uhm… something else) but for you non-semi-vegans, this is one for the Passover books – I literally ripped the recipe out of mine to scan it today. Enjoy, and Happy Pesach!

The world’s easiest Jewish pastry treat: Hamentashen

I don’t often post about food recipes on this blog, well, because I don’t really cook all that often. Or the food I cook isn’t that interesting. But once in awhile, like, the brisket, comes along another recipe that I can do and it happens to be with the oft-looked over Jewish version of Halloween: Purim.

Purim is the story of how the Jews were saved by the destruction of their society by the wicked Hamen. It involves a beautiful Queen who foiled the plot. Gotta love it. In our modern times, it also involves making hamentashen, little wonderful pastries that represents Hamen’s triangular hat. The filling of hamentashen are sweet – typically hamentashen are filled with jams like raspberry, apricot, or poppyseeds.

My friend Brooke introduced me to the ease of making hamentashen a few years ago and after a bit of a break, I’m ready to make some more this weekend. A bunch of you have inquired about her famous recipe so here goes. Let me know how yours turn out, k?

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
squirt of lemon
1 t vanilla
1/2 t water
2 1/4 cup flour

Instructions:

form into disk.
put in fridge for about an hr.
roll out and use circle cookie cutters (You can use top of a glass)
use whatever filling you like best
pinch well so they dont flatten
bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes

L’Shana Tova Tika – Taco

For those who know me, you know I don’t cook all that much, but I do try to do celebrate the Jewish holidays semi- properly. There was the year that I made the most-delicious-never-to-be-repeated-ever-brisket that knocked the socks off my family. Tomorrow, we are actually going to the family service for Rosh Hashana tomorrow, not the “cop out” tot service. I mean, with the eldest in the Jewish Day School I gotta step it up a notch.

But tonight, I may have had a semi-fail Rosh Hashanah dinner. Typically, dinner should consist of dishes that look like Emily’s couscous salad or what every other blogger except for me seemed to make today – Ciaran’s round challah. It’s pretty, and sweet and uhm, not tacos.

Yeah, this year our Rosh Hashanah dinner did not contain the traditional elements of let’s say, even a roast chicken. I had defrosted the taco meat on Monday in preparation of feeding the kids while we were at services, but when we switched our plans and decided to stay home tonight in exchange for the family service in the morning (see, stepping it up a notch), I couldn’t waste the meat.

So we had apples, honey, store-bought challah, and some good ol’ fashioned turkey tacos.

First we lit the candles in traditional fashion.

Then we had a little guacamole. Just like our fore bearers did somewhere I’m sure.

Rosh Hashanah turned taco night. It ended up being pretty darn sweet.

A happy and sweet new year to you all.

Fallin’ off the frugal wagon

I don’t know what’s happened the past 3 weeks, but I’ve fallen off the frugal wagon.  Maybe I’m being complacent, what, with a new president about to come into office to make things all better.  But whatever it is, people, I’ve been bad. Read bad.

I got a $90 haircut. $90! I know there’s a better way to do it here in Chicago, but I didn’t investigate it.  All I did was ask around to my non-frugal friends about where they get their hair cut and took the first available appointment because it was so much easier and reliable. (Of course, it was totally worth the money.) What to do? At least I didn’t sign up right away for the $350 Brazilian straightening treatment.

I’ve purchased but haven’t cut the tags off a spectacular red leather messenger back that I totally don’t need, but got during a return/ exchange at Nordstrom’s one lonely day. It seemed to be a good idea at the time, and I mean, I had a store credit. For $100, it didn’t seem to be that outrageous of a decision.  But it sure wasn’t frugal.

Our family came to town this weekend and we ATE OUT EVERY MEAL. Not to mention the indigestion I now have from garlic popcorn (delish), we totally overindulged in a 3-course, 4-dessert gastronomic extravanganza. How could I say no? I was counting every Starbucks I’d go without considering there wasn’t an entree on the menu less than $25, but we had company in town. I couldn’t very well pass off my brisket as a gourmet meal out. And, until about the 5th meal out in a row it actually tasted very very good to consume someone else’s cooking.

But now, I must repent to my blog audience. I’ve fallen off the wagon hard and it feels so good, but I know I have to reign in the spending again soon. Help!

Passover self-props

After two days of slaving over a hot stove and oven, I made a nice Passover dinner that even my own Jewish mother was impressed by. (And conceded that my brisket tasted better than hers.)

Ah, my SAHM days are really paying off.  Cooking a meal like this that my family wolfed down in 15 minutes made missing that Disney thing kind of worth it.

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If you care, my brisket is on the right.

Happy Passover!

I think, therefore I blog. I think.

I’m not exactly sure what L.A. Daddy was thinking, but he nominated me for a Thinking Blogger award.  That’s cool, since I didn’t even know what a meme was until today.  Thank you Tim, you’re a great guy, and I appreciate the acknowledgement of a little ol’ blogger like me.  But enough of that gushy stuff.  In order to keep the chain going, and have good blog etiquette (bletiquette?) I would like to nominate five other bloggers who jumpstart my brain (it takes a lot these days.)  Drumroll…

1) Elizabeth at Career and Kids.  Besides liking her as a person, I like her matter of fact posts on working parent stuff. She’s no BS, doesn’t get involved in the “Mommy Wars” and is funny, to boot.  Here’s my favorite post of late.

2) BusinessWeek Working Parents blog.  It’s a group of moms and dads blogging about being working parents who happen to also be big-time journalists.  It takes guts for BusinessWeek and these folks to put themselves out there, so kudos.  Plus, I hear Lauren Young makes a mean brisket.  I could tell you what her secret ingredient is, but then I’d have to kill you.

3) My friend and colleague, Dan, who is the best writer ever. His new blog gives weekly tips on how to improve your writing skills.  We all could use a dose of Dan, couldn’t we?  Plus he is a very stylish dude.  That helps with the writing, you know.

4) Kristen at Motherhood Uncensored. Whoa, nellie. That’s all I gotta say.  I don’t know her well, but she makes my mind spin with her more-than-you-ever-wanted-to-know-but-can-totally-relate-to posts.  I can’t believe she thinks of the things she writes about.  But I can’t stop reading.  For a sampling of what I mean, check out this post.

5) Charlene of Job-Mom. Charlene’s been a good blog friend of mine, and I’m very interested in her new series: The Mom Ramp: From Working Mom to Stay-at-Home Mom. It’s the taboo topic we all think about… what if we didn’t work? Can’t wait to read more.

So there you have it. My Thinking Blogger nominees. Now, just one last question.  Because I was nominated, I get to put this neat little graphic on my site. But I can’t decide which one goes better with my site’s palette. Silver or Gold? Vote and tell me what you think! (Thanks Tamara for this kitschy, yet fun online poll tool.)

 thinkingblogger.jpg thinkingbloggergold.jpg

Which graphic should I use?
Silver
Gold
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

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The fruits of my labor…

Last year, on April 3, after 3 1/2 hours of pushing, I birthed my son - all 8 lb. 9oz of him.

Last night, after 4 1/2 hours of basting, I birthed my brisket – all 7 lb. 6 oz of it.

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Both were well received.  Want to come over for leftovers?

I wish I could pass over Passover

passover.pngOf the many challenges that I knew I would face as a working mom, nothing quite prepared me for the Jewish-holiday-falls-on-a-weekday/ oh-and-its-also-my-son’s-first-birthday conundrum that I face this week.  Technically Passover starts this evening, but due to a weekend filled with family in town for junior’s birthday party and the Ohio State vs. Florida NCAA basketball championship game on, Passover got passed over tonight in my household.

Why is this night different from all other nights?
For tonight is the first time in history that the same two college teams have vied for both the NCAA football and basketball title. Go Buckeyes, Amen.

I did plan ahead, however.  Knowing that I wouldn’t have time to shop or cook over the weekend, and trying to be the “good Jewish wife” that I promised my husband (and mother-in-law) I’d be, I did what any guilty Jewish mother would do – I took the day off of work tomorrow so that I could cook for my family.  I am using one of my cherished “personal” days to baste brisket, peel apples for charoset and stew gefilte fish (I’m ordering in the matzoh ball soup; I can only do so much.)  And even though my husband clearly didn’t marry me for my cooking skills, I just didn’t feel right not honoring our tradition at all this week. 

Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?
For tonight we watch basketball, and we need to be comfortable. 

Luckilly, though, I convinced my husband to go grocery shopping with me after work.  I’m guessing he must have been feeling guilty too that tonight we are celebrating his alma mater instead of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.  Not to my surprise, the store was packed with other last-minute Passover procrastinators.

Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either bread or matzah, but on this night we eat only matzah?
Because God wants to test the fortitude of your intestines.

And in some cruel twist of fate, tomorrow happens to be my son’s first birthday as well.  It’s like the “guilt Gods” lined up all at once to strike down their wrath on me. How could you work and not cook a home cook meal on his birthday?  Let alone Passover?! Ok!! I hear you! I will use my valuable, precious, significant day off to serve you!

So while you’re sitting pert and pretty at your office desk tomorrow, I will be slaving over a hot oven basting six pounds of meat covered in juice and whole milk (we can drink that now that we’ve turned ONE.)  For tonight, our religion is college sports. Tomorrow, it’s family.

Dedicated to my dear husband.