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Sukkot Meals: Recap

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The long weekend was indeed long. We had two groups of young men with us for the past three days. The first two were high school students Benjamin Andrew Deardorff and Benjamin Jaeger from Boston. The boys are spending a semester in Israel in the Hod HaSharon area.

The other group of boys were from Yeshivat Mevaserret Zion. Zachary Sax and Daniel David are from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Eitan Finkelstein is from Toronto, Canada. Yeshua Kylman is from Tea Neck, NJ.

Food wise, the chicken wings were WOW. We didn't even make the sauce. Next time, I'll make the sauce also. This recipe was simple and just great. Highly recommended.

The Chicken Paprikash is pretty much no fail. I would strongly suggest de-greasing and reducing the sauce. It makes so much liquid that the chicken gets lost in the serving.

Only four more days until the next holiday!

Sukkot Meals: Part 3

After the first day, we had Friday to recover and prepare for the weekend. We were invited out for lunch, so it was only the 16 of us for dinner. The four boys staying with us were tired from the three day holiday. Our two younger guests spent the day studying. They must go to a really good high-school.

Sukkot Shabbat Dinner - 16
Pumpkin Soup
Chicken Paprikash with Pargiot from The Frugal Gourmet: On Our Immigrant Ancestors
Restaurant-Style Buffalo Chicken Wings
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Garlic Bread

For Shabbat Lunch, we brought cold steamed broccoli and cold Asian noodles.

Suckot Meals: Part 2

OK, forty minutes before the start of the holiday and I think everything is set. Our numbers changed last night, so its 24 for dinner and 23 for lunch. Its good that we are eating outside and that our Sukkah is large.

Final Menus:
Dinner - 24
Mushroom Barley Soup
Deli Roll
Hot Dogs
Beef in Wine Sauce
Turkey Mole
Rice
Cabbage and Ginger
Brussels Sprouts
Spaghetti Squash

Lunch - 23
Corned Beef
Pot Pie
Cajun Chicken
Pititim
Spicy Cabbage Salad
3 Bean Salad
Green Beans and Garlic
Quinoa

Happy Holidays to all.

Sukkot Meals: Part 1

Another holiday and another set of guests. This Wednesday night and Thursday we will host my parents and four post-high-school boys. Our oldest son will also be home, so our base number is 14 for each meal. Add to that a family of eight Wednesday night and a family of 6 on Thursday lunch, our numbers are a very respectable 22 and 20.

The weather here is typical for this time of year. In the low 80's, hot in the sun and comfortable in the shade. Fortunately, there is not much I need to adjust with respect to the food. Anything we serve on a regular weekend should go over fine.

Our community has a food auction for charity tomorrow. Two weeks ago, residents submitted a list of items that they would make for the auction. Last week, we sent in sealed bids on those items that appealed to us. Thanks to our children's bids, we "won" 40 large pickles, a Deli roll, tuna casserole and lots of dessert items. We will certainly serve these items during the holiday!

The fi…

Yom Kippur Recap

The pre-yom kippur meal was very nice. The poached chicken and the purred carrots came from Suzie Fishbein's Kosher by Design. I made the puree without the soy milk and it still came out creamy and tasty. The poached chicken should be made immediately before serving. It takes just a few minutes to cook. This time, I let the chicken in the poaching liquid with the heat turned off until it was served. The chicken had over cooked... I would suggest instead just poaching until it is just done and then making a sauce our of strained poaching liquid. My sauce tasted wonderful, but (as usual), I used too much flour as a thickener.

It may sound like lots of little failures, but the food went over well and everyone enjoyed it.

The fast itself was pretty easy. No outside guests, so its was just family. I feel positive that the day was successful and that this year will be a good one for myself and my family.

Pre-Yom Kippur Meal

Today we prepare for the fast with a light, low-spice meal. Our guest count is 14. Yom Kippur is traditionally an "in" Shabbat for the post-high-school programs because they don't need to feed the kids and it is spent almost completely in Shul. The schools shut down for Sukkot, and the kids are usually looking for places. We already have four boys for the first days of Sukkot!

Today's menu contains few surprises.

Pre-Yom Kippur meal - 14

Chicken Soup with Vegetables
Kreplach
Poached Chicken
Shnitzel
Mashed Potatoes
Pureed Carrots
Green Salad
Quinoa
Birthday Cake - Grasshopper Pie

The Kreplach are an experiment. I fried up some ground chicken and onions. I cut squares of phillo dough and filled them with a very small amount of the fried mixtures. I dropped them into boiling water until they float.

I initially tried to make triangles. That did not work well as the triangles tended to open in the water. I then used a trick that I recalled from an asian cooking show. Make …

Rosh HaShana Recap

We were honored to host Rachel and Tzippy, two young ladies from Midreshet Yeud in Jerusalem. The organizers of the weekend choose to have the guests spread out across the community, and so although the girls slept at our house, they only ate one out of six meals with us. We hope they come back so that we can get to know then better.

As is our tradition, I took a photo of the girls to put in our guest book. I'm very concerned not to put any of our guests in uncomfortable positions, so I asked if I could post their picture on this blog. They politely declined. I wonder if this is going to be a pattern for this year. Neither of these girls use facebook, so perhaps it depends on the particular people in question. For that same reason, I'm not posting their family names.

The Cuban chicken was a big hit. It sounds scary from the recipe, but it tasted great even two days after I made it! We served it for two meals and both groups liked it. Once we got to the actual meals, …

Rosh HaShana Menus

Here we go. Its a three day Rosh Hashana and that means guests, company and food! Of course, it also means prayers, repenting and atonement. I find that Rosh HaShana is the time to review the past year and prepare for the coming year. We make our choices on Yom Kippur with a 25 hour day of fasting to drive home the implications of our choices.

On this Rosh HaShana, we are hosting two young ladies (don't know who or from where, check the next post for details). Alas, I have been told that they are only eating one meal with us. Our community is hosting at least 10 post-high-school students this holiday. We will have the opportunity to be both hosts and guests over the next 6 major meals (lunch and dinner only).

We have a pretty set invite list for Rosh HaShana. Local families that we have been friendly with for more than 10 years will eat with us and visa versa. This sometimes makes for very large meals, but that's what makes it fun!

We have been invited our for two meal…

Beginning of Cooking Season - recap

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This weekend, we hosted Jeremy Watman, Chaim Frankel and Rafi Lipschitz. Jeremy is studying at Mevaseret Zion, Chaim and Rafi are at Netiv Aryeh.

The stuffed pargiot went over very well. Our final numbers were 18 for lunch and we were just a bit light on food. Very little leftovers. No really bad recipes.

Beginning of Cooking Season

This weekend is the beginning of the holiday cooking season. Two meals this weekend as usual, but then three days of meals next week on Thursday, Friday and Shabbat. So, up to 10 major meals with company in 8 days. As it turns out, we were invited out (a rare occurrence) for two holiday meals, so I only have to plan 8 major meals. Leiah and I worked out our meal plans last night. I'll post the holiday meals next week.

For this weekend, we have three boys visiting as well as our eldest son who is usually away at school. We also have a family coming over for lunch. We expect these numbers to be pretty representative of the school season....

ParshatZetzavim-VaYelech
Dinner - 11
Elliot's Oriental Potato Soup
Roast Chicken w/ Garlic and Lemons
Rice
Pickles
Corn salad

Lunch - 16
Curry Pargiot
Pargiot stuffed with beef and spinach
Brussels Sprouts
Fajitas and Tortias with fresh veggies
Cucumber and Pepper salad (Israeli style)

Here are some of the recipes. For the most part, I start with a …

Why do we do it?

Here's a very interesting post by a fellow Israeli. Their family was hosting two young women for Shabbat and they were asked "why would you open your house to strangers for a weekend".

What I found most interesting is that the blogger was full of examples of hospitality, but found it very hard to answer "why".

So why do we open our house? Here are some of my reasons.

1) Its a Jewish tradition
2) I love meeting new people
3) Its something that we can give back to the community
4) It is a great role model for our kids
5) I get tremendous enjoyment from cooking and feeding meals
6) Good hospitality is a public relations bonanza. It reflects positively on us, our community, our nation and our faith.
7) You never know when a comment or kindness will transform a persons life. The reverse is also true, so I would prefer to work hard on the positive side!

May we always have the abililty to open our house and share with strangers.