On All Other Nights (What’s Dinner?)

An old Story Revisited:

The seminary’s kitchen was still opened for those girls who did not go home for Pesach. Although it put tremendous pressure on my family, taking a few hours break from cleaning to cook seemed a treat.  Actually the real extravagance came from the opportunity it provided me to visit my rebbetzin from my seminary days.

 

The rebbetzin lives near the seminary, but only for Pesach.  She and the Rav and their children live in Europe guiding and directing their community for most of the year.  But on Pesach and for each child’s wedding, they have returned to the apartment in Bayit Vegan their real home – Eretz Yisrael.  The family arrives a week or so before Pesach and attacks the crumbs of chometz in each nook and cranny from the many visitors during the year.

 

The whole house reminded me of a beehive.  Children running in various directions with dustpans, buckets of water, and bleach bottles. Black bags.  Were piled near the door to be sent off to various needy families.  Within the bustle of action a warmth and purpose prevailed.  Everyone was working toward the same goal as each headed in their own directions.

 

As if years hadn’t past the rebbetzin welcomed me in just as in those days of seminary. Creating an easy atmosphere as I told over my personal news updates, as we would discuss the repercussions over a cup of coffee. But the comfort didn’t just come form the caffeine or intellectual stimuli; the Rebbitzen would set me up to some task.  I became a part of the busy household dusting shelves. With this simple token action I would feel less guilt taking her valuable time and free advise.

 

As I noticed the oven and stove were already Pesachdic, I asked the question that is asked every night until that night that is different from all other nights, “What are you going to feed the family for dinner?”  She smiled and nodded to the slow cooker sitting innocently in the corner.  And then I realized that the comfort and warmth permeating from her house was also physical. The delicious smells wafting from the slow cooker assured the family a justly reward after a long hard day of Pesach cleaning.

 

 

Slow cooked Hearty Chicken

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: in the oven 1 hour and 45 minutes in a slow cooker 4-6 hours

Serving portion: 4-6

1 chicken cut into 8ths without the skin

¼ kilo white and red meat salami cut into strips

3 onions quartered

3 garlic cloves minced

3 red potatoes, quartered

4 carrots, quartered

2 medium zucchini cut in large chucks

2 cups frozen green beans

1-cup tomato paste diluted with ½ cup water

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp oregano

1 Tbls soy sauce

1 tbls red wine

Add all the ingredients into the slow cooker (or if baking a large baking dish) and stir until evenly mixed.  Cover and turn on high for at least the first hour. If baking, cover the pan, and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes.   Serve hot.

Gingered Carrot and Yam Soup

Can be served hot or cool. So make a lot and then serve it straight form the fridge or heat it up in individual bowls in the microwave.

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Serving Portions:  4-6

1 cup chopped onion

2 tsp canola oil

2 tsp ginger (freshly grated is best)

1 ½ cup carrots peeled and diced

1 ½ cup yams peeled and diced

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2 cups water

2 cups apple juice

1 cup white cheese (optional)

In a large soup pot, sauté the onions and ginger in the oil over a medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, yam, salt and pepper and continue to sautés, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are very soft.  Stir in the juice.

With a stick blender puree the soup until smooth and velvety.  Serve warm or chilled with a dollop of white cheese.

Fast and Fun Franks

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: in microwave 10 minutes conventional 25 minutes

Serving Portions:  6

1 bright color pepper chopped

1 onion chopped

2 tsp margarine

1 lb (½ kilo) hot dogs cut in 1-inch pieces

1-cup corn

1 cup chopped tomatoes

If using a microwave, combine the pepper, onion and margarine in a 13 x 8 baking dish.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave at high for 3 minutes.  Add the hot dogs. And microwave at high for another 2 minutes or until hot dogs are hot. Stir in corn, tomatoes.  Blend well.  Cover with the plastic wrap and microwave at high 5 to 6 minutes.  Let stand covered for 3 minutes.

If cooking conventionally, in a medium pot sauté the pepper and onion in the margarine.  After 5-7 minutes add the hot dogs and cook for another 5 -7minutes.  Stir in the corn and tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes and serve warm.

 

 

Microwavable Chili Beef Casserole

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Microwave Time: 13 – 16 minutes

Serving Portions: 6-8

1 lb (1/2 kilo) ground beef

1 medium onion sliced

2 garlic cloves chopped

½ cup celery chopped

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 ½ tsp chili powder

1 ½ cup corn drained

1 ½ cup can kidney beans, drained

½ cup pitted and halved black olives

Combine ground beef, onion, garlic and celery with spices into a large casserole dish.  Microwave at high 6-7 minutes.

 

Add the remaining ingredients.  Stir evenly.  Microwave at high 5-6 minutes. Let the casserole stand covered with waxed paper 3-5 minutes before serving.

Microwavable Mocha Peanut Clusters

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Microwave Time: 3 minutes

Yield: 24 pieces

1 cup semisweet chocolate bits

1/3-cup butter or margarine

16 marshmallows

1 Tbls instant coffee

2 cups salted peanuts

Place the chocolate in a 2-liter casserole dish.  Microwave at medium 1-½ minutes to melt.  Add margarine and marshmallows.  Microwave at High for 1-½ minutes.

 

Stir until creamy and then add the coffee. Fold in the peanuts.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper.  Chill until set.  Store in refrigerator.

 

Tips:  If possible set up a small area to do the cooking while your kitchen is being dismantled for Pesach.  Whether it is a broom closet, the extra bedroom, the garage or just a corner in the living room, make sure there is an electrical outlet a small table to work on.  Supply yourself with a slow cooker, a microwave or even a fairly clean toaster oven or sandwich maker.  Buy lots of paper goods.  And give each kid a night to be in charge of the menu if not also the cooking.

 

Tips:  At least one hot meal a day really goes far to feed the hard working crew.  For the rest of the time serve nice sandwiches (to be eaten outside with a plastic bag), yogurts, nuts and fruit.  Have a lot of non-chometz nosh around.  Don’t forget to use kitniyos. Its crumbs are not chometz.

 

Tips:  With a slow cooker, first thing in the morning start the dinner, and then just forget about it. Good luck on cleaning.

 

 

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