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eG Foodblog: Pam R (2011) - Passover Part III


Pam R
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!חג פסח שמח or Happy Passover!

This is not the first time I've done an eG Foodblog during Passover. It's hard to believe that the first one was in 2005 and the second one, just one year later in 2006. Since it's been 5 years since I last blogged, I thought it was time to do it again.

For those of you who don't know me, I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. If you take a look at this map of North America you'll find Winnipeg right in the center - about 100 km north of the US border (we border North Dakota and Minnesota) and dead centre between the east and west coasts of Canada.

I work in the family business - we call it Desserts Plus, but the emphasis is more on the Plus and less on the Desserts. We're kosher caterers and have a kosher food store in Winnipeg. Tomorrow (Monday, April 18th) marks the end of the 3 busiest weeks of the year for us -- we expect over 150 catering orders to go out over a 4 hour period, plus customers coming in for last-minute items before Passover starts tomorrow evening.

You probably won't hear much from me tomorrow -- unless there are some lulls during the day. But if you have any questions, please ask them! I'll get to them as soon as possible.

The plan for the week is a small seder dinner on Tuesday night and a lot of home-cooking over the holiday.

It's 11 PM and I have to go finish packaging the chopped liver -- I've been here since 8 AM and have to be back by 8 AM tomorrow - and there's still stuff to do before I go.

(This is about 1/3 of the 90 lbs. we made this year)

IMG00133-20110417-2045.jpg

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Good morning! I'm not in bad shape here, so I thought I'd post before things get crazy.

Got to work about half an hour ago - and it's a crisp, clear day. (-4 C at the moment)

IMG00135-20110418-0802.jpg

Breakfast was at my desk. Very exciting breakfast too.

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Awww (I'm not sure I agree with the sticker . . but they weren't bad:

IMG00137-20110418-0809.jpg

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Speaking of matzo . . there are many brands and many types. Matzo is usually made with ingredients: flour and water. But you can get some made with egg, whole wheat, spelt, oats (gluten-free), extra bran, "lite" (thinner boards), handmade or machine made and it goes on.

Generally speaking, I like the Israeli brands (King David and Yehuda are the most popular brands we sell). But I'm partial to the Streit's spelt matzo.

Anybody have a favourite?

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Good Pesach to you, Pam! (Hope I said that right.) Great to see you blogging. :cool:

Generally speaking, I like the Israeli brands (King David and Yehuda are the most popular brands we sell). But I'm partial to the Streit's spelt matzo.

Interesting. I never know which brand to buy. Howard, who does not keep kosher, prefers egg matzoh and, ahem, chocolate covered matzoh. I like to buy Streit's, but will now check out one of the Israeli brands, assuming I can still find them.

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Can't wait to follow along this week! I know almost nothing about Kosher food and/or Jewish food traditions...I'm excited to learn some new things.

:smile:

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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Pam, I understand that "kosher for Passover" is more strict than regular kosher rules, but that's as far as my knowledge goes. Could you explain the difference?

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Speaking of matzo . . there are many brands and many types. Matzo is usually made with ingredients: flour and water. But you can get some made with egg, whole wheat, spelt, oats (gluten-free), extra bran, "lite" (thinner boards), handmade or machine made and it goes on.

Wow, whole wheat and spelt. I think I may have seen whole wheat but never spelt. I'll have to look and see if I can find some here. It's been ages since I've had matzo. I don't like warm butter and I remember from the 'peg the challenge of spreading cold butter on matzo without turning it back to flour!

I see your shop is in the hilly part of town :biggrin:

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Happy Passover Pam!! Watching your preparations are making mine seem rather simple. Though I'm not hosting, I'm in charge of charoset, and horseradish as usual, as well as helping my hostess with the cooking at her house. We got together last Thursday evening and made the matzo balls for the soup, quinoa pilaf and banana "bread" for dessert. I made the horseradish on Friday. I'm finishing my charoset right now. One of our seder attendees (hostess' brother) is vegetarian so we try to accommodate as much as possible. Veggie broth in the soup, no schmaltz in the matzo balls, quinoa pilaf as a side, etc. She even made vegan gefilte "fish" for him this year with kelp granules, dulse, carrots and ground almonds. I'll let you know how that turned out... :unsure:

Looking forward to seeing the pictures of your seder. I'm certain it'll be mouthwatering!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Will be fascinated to experience your Seder via the blog, Pam. Anxious to learn about all kinds of food with which I'm not familiar!

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Good Pesach to you, Pam! (Hope I said that right.)

That works, thanks!

Interesting. I never know which brand to buy. Howard, who does not keep kosher, prefers egg matzoh and, ahem, chocolate covered matzoh. I like to buy Streit's, but will now check out one of the Israeli brands, assuming I can still find them.

We usually open a few boxes every year and let customers try them. Some people are loyalists -- they've used the same brand for 50 years and they're not going to change now! Some shop price -- in Canada the Israeli brands are all cheaper than the American (and just as good . . or better :wink: ) I have never been a fan of chocolate matzo - I don't remember ever having it growing up. Manischewitz came out with some new chocolate covered matzot this year -- one had dark AND milk chocolate on it (ohlala) and they also had small squares of matzo covered with mint flavoured chocolate. The mint chocolate was pretty good . . but it still had matzo in the center. :angry:

Can't wait to follow along this week! I know almost nothing about Kosher food and/or Jewish food traditions...I'm excited to learn some new things.

:smile:

If you have any questions, please ask! I'll try to cover some of it but I know I'll just touch the surface so let me know if you have any specific questions.

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For the record, the Ge-faux-te fish was pretty tasty. Not terribly fishy (and that's certainly not a bad thing) and colorful with a lot of texture. The perfect horseradish delivery system, which is exactly what it needed to be. The non-vegetarians all got a small piece alongside their traditional gefilte fish and everyone liked it enough to request it again for next year's festivities.

Rounding out our seder menu was the vegetarian matzo ball soup, salad, spinach kugel, vegetable casserole, Passover "stuffing", tomatoes Provencal, quinoa pilaf w/almonds and dried cranberries, and potato/horseradish crusted salmon and Balsamic chicken for the non-vegetarians. Dessert was macaroons of various sorts, a huge fruit salad, Passover biscotti and the banana bread we baked the other day. I'm feeling fat and happy.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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You crazy fool, blogging during and after a massive holiday. :wink:

So what have you learned about the Passover crush since 2006?

Two peas in a pod, we are (though I'm not allowed to eat peas during Passover . . .)

Things have changed a lot in the last five years. Our business has changed -- the retail part of it is very different than it was 5 years ago. In 2006 we had just moved our store across town. We had a restaurant in the old location, not a retail store, and it took a couple of years to learn how to order and plan for Passover. The first couple of years I ordered so much matzo we were left with a few hundred pounds after the holiday. Right now there might be 100 lbs. left in the store -- and we're open on Thursday and Friday and will sell more. I've started writing notes for myself at the end of each season, telling me what to do next year. And a couple of years ago we put in a new cash register system that keeps track of all of the sales -- best thing ever.

The catering . . I don't know if I can tell you what's changed exactly, because things have changed slowly over the years, but I can tell you that things went really smoothly this year. Ten years ago we would be at work until 3 AM the night before Passover -- we'd be carving turkeys, decorating cakes, packaging and labeling and organizing the store. Then we'd be back by 7 AM to do the last-minute things before customers came to pick up their orders.

Last night, instead of 3 AM, we were all gone by 11:45 PM. Great staff that have been with us for years, cousins that have been coming in to help with Passover since they were teenagers -- it all helps.

It's still exhausting. :wink:

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Pam, I understand that "kosher for Passover" is more strict than regular kosher rules, but that's as far as my knowledge goes. Could you explain the difference?

That's right. The same rules that apply all year (no milk and meat cooked or eaten together, certain animals not allowed, some cuts of otherwise kosher animals not allowed, etc.) apply during Passover. But we also have restrictions against eating leavened bread and Chometz. We can't eat foods that are made from wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt. Of course, we do eat things made from these grains (matzo being the most important) but they are prepared under special supervision following strict rules. The issue is that once flour made from any of these grains is mixed with water it has to be baked completely within 18 minutes. It's hard for a home cook to ensure that this happens, so we just eliminate flour completely for the week.

So, instead of using flour, we use matzo in various forms for cooking. Very finely ground matzo is called cake meal and is comparable to flour. Matzo meal is coarser and used where you would use breadcrumbs.

Now, there's another issue. For Jews of European decent (Ashkenazi), we have a tradition of not eating kitniyot. Things off limits during Passover because they are 'kitniyot' include beans, corn, rice, mustard , most seeds and their by-products (like oil).

That's a brief explanation -- I'm sure I'll say more over the week!

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Wow, whole wheat and spelt. I think I may have seen whole wheat but never spelt. I'll have to look and see if I can find some here. It's been ages since I've had matzo. I don't like warm butter and I remember from the 'peg the challenge of spreading cold butter on matzo without turning it back to flour!

I see your shop is in the hilly part of town :biggrin:

I know Melbourne has a large Jewish population but what's it like in your area? Can you find matzo in the local shops?

I'll talk more about why I pointed to the map of Canada later, but one of the reasons is that outside of Winnipeg it's hard to find kosher foods for hundreds of kilometers in any direction. We have customers in provinces on either side. :smile: And yes, it is the hilly part -- there's a bump in the road nearby. :wink:

For those of you who have never been here, Winnipeg may be the flattest place on earth (I don't know this as fact, but it must be). As soon as you drive beyond the city's perimeter during the growing season you can see fields of canola (developed here) and wheat for miles and miles in all directions.

Looking forward to seeing the pictures of your seder. I'm certain it'll be mouthwatering!

Once upon a time I went to seders on the first night. But people got sick of everybody in my immediate family falling asleep at the table. Today people kept saying "I hope you're not doing anything tonight" to us. How tired do you think we looked? :unsure: But tomorrow there will be a seder!

Put your feet up, Pam. I'm excited to see what you'll post tomorrow -- rest up now.

Thanks, Maggie. Lots to post tomorrow. With pictures and everything!

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For the record, the Ge-faux-te fish was pretty tasty. Not terribly fishy (and that's certainly not a bad thing) and colorful with a lot of texture. The perfect horseradish delivery system, which is exactly what it needed to be. The non-vegetarians all got a small piece alongside their traditional gefilte fish and everyone liked it enough to request it again for next year's festivities.

Rounding out our seder menu was the vegetarian matzo ball soup, salad, spinach kugel, vegetable casserole, Passover "stuffing", tomatoes Provencal, quinoa pilaf w/almonds and dried cranberries, and potato/horseradish crusted salmon and Balsamic chicken for the non-vegetarians. Dessert was macaroons of various sorts, a huge fruit salad, Passover biscotti and the banana bread we baked the other day. I'm feeling fat and happy.

That sounds like a delicious menu! Chag sameach, Katie. We have no vegetarians at dinner tomorrow. . and there will be meat. Brisket anybody?

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I'm turning in for the night, but I thought I should mention what I had for dinner. No pictures tonight -- and no cooking. From work: turkey with a mushroom/onion kugel and strawberries (that really tasted like strawberries!) and a toasted coconut and cocoa meringue for dessert.

Goodnight.

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Pam, I can't imagine how you manage everything in your normal workweeks, never mind adding a blog to a busy holiday like Passover! But, we are all fortunate you are making the effort for us!

So, you have about 100 pounds of matzoh left so far- how are other Passover items faring?

I ADORE Ashkenazi food- especially gefilte fish and matzoh balls!

We're hosting the second seder here at the Coop and tonight I finally taught my daughter how to make the Ashkenazi charoset that I love- with apples, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts and wine!

What kinds of charoset do you sell?

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