Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Filling the Duncan Hines Void - Pareve Brownies!!!

Very easy folks!

1 1/2 sticks margarine
3/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips or nuts (optional).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan (or use the disposable half sheet pans). In microwave, melt margarine. Stir in cocoa until well mixed. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Stir in flour and salt. Stir in chips or nuts if using.

Pour batter into pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Pesach Kiddush Clubs Rejoice!

Gee, and I thought the only thing you could get to drink was slivovitz!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Afikoman Treasure Hunt

I'm always looking for new ideas to make the seder more interesting for the kids, to really engage them. This year we have seven kids at the seder, all boys, ranging in age from 9 to 15 plus a one year old. Five of the six boys are getting day school educations, so really ought to be able to find their way around a tanach - especially my boys - 8th and 10th grade.

I saw online an afikomen treasure hunt - with clues, but didn't love their clues so I came up with my own.

Here's how it's going to work (I hope!)

Step 1: Afikomen is hidden. I'll put the clues into their right places once the seder starts.
Step 2: When it's time (about 10 minutes after the main course is put out, the kids are done and starting to get bored...), they'll really be looking hard for the afikomen at that point, I'll hand one a tanach, with a post-it note pointing to the first clue.... and they'll have to go from there....

Clues and locations:

Oven Door
Exodus 8:3The Nile River will swarm with them. They will come up out of the river and into your houses, even into your bedrooms and onto your beds! Every home in Egypt will be filled with them. They will fill even your ovens and your kneading bowls.

Kitchen sliding door overlooking garage
Judges 5:28: "From the window Sisera's mother looked out. Through the window she watched for his return, saying, `Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why don't we hear the sound of chariot wheels?'

On the toothpaste
Song of Solomon 4:2:Your teeth are as white as sheep, newly shorn and washed. They are perfectly matched; not one is missing.

Mezuzah at front door
Deuteronomy 6:9:Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Bathroom scale (where the afikoman will be!)
Deuteronomy 25:13:"You must use accurate scales when you weigh out merchandise,

Cross your fingers for me that it works. All I'm going to leave them is the reference (book, chapter verse) and make them think!


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Seder Menu

As promised, following is my menu for the first seder. This menu is basically what I make for the first seder every year, with a few extra side dishes because of a brilliant idea from YS. This year, we are up to 18 people, and even with an extra table, the dining room maxes out at around 17 (and is pretty uncomfortable!). So we've decided to rent tables and use the living room as the dining room and leave the dining room table in the dining room, so YS suggested that the main course be served as a buffet. Brilliant! I hate when people are helping clear the table after the meal and say things like "ohhh, you made those good potatoes, they never got passed to me". At a certain point the table and the platters are too large, and a buffet works better. But I thought I should add a few side dishes to make a more interesting and fill the table out.

So here goes......

Hard Boiled Eggs

Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls and Soup Nuts (I make my own soup nuts, and gebrokt away, even on the first night!)

Brisket (my mother's recipe, improved a bit)
Israeli Orange Chicken
Mini Sweet Vegetable Kugels
Steamed Asparagus with Toasted Almonds and Garlic
Twice Baked Potatoes
Spinach Pie -Extra #1
Tossed Salad - Extra #2

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Chocolate Cake
Sponge Cake
Almond Candy

All of the desserts are homemade, including the almond candy. If you're interested in any of the recipes, let me know. I share happily.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pesach Overview & Organizing Tips

Freedom at last - at the expense of annoyance. For this first time in twelve years, we are going out for the second seder. A break was in order, unfortunately OS was less than thrilled. He'll survive! Anyway, I'm having people Friday night too, so he'll have enough "mommy" food to satisfy him!

Anyway, when planning for pesach, the best thing to do is get a big pad, a pencil and your datebook. Start with a general idea for each lunch and dinner for each day. By three weeks before, you'll know where you are for sedarim, and if you've been invited for lunches - So you can start the game plan. If you put together a master plan of meals, you can also be more specific about your shopping lists. And this is the time to add more invitations if you feel like it.

Once you've finished go meal by meal, start expanding. Start with the meals where you have company, and want to make the best impression and use your most successful dishes there. Then fill in the other meals, making sure not to be too repetitive. And remember, everyone will feel much better if you concentrate more on vegetables over matzah-meal filled kugels. The days after the sedarim don't need more than matzah pizza (or some such easy thing) and sliced veggies or a salad.

Once you've got each meal planned, it's time to start with making shopping lists - four separate ones: 1) butcher, 2) grocery (dry goods), 3) fresh veg & fruit before the cooking starts, 4) last day before chag fresh stuff. Go item by item for each menu, and note the things you need on the correct list. Use the cross-hatching system (totaling bags of carrots for example), so you don't need to cross out, or you don't end of writing carrots six times on the list!

Next it's time to figure out what you're making when. Try to group similar items - for example, all the carrot recipes. This will cut down on washing. If you're making a tzimmes with sliced carrots, and a kugel with grated carrots, the same peeler, cutting board, food processor can be used without going near the sink! Ditto with garlic items..... It's harder to do with baking, as pesach cakes tend to be in the oven for so long, but doing prep in between each cake uses your time efficiently.

Check back soon, I'll post my menu for the first seder -

And for all you newbies out there - breathe and HAVE FUN!


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