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Pam R

eG Foodblog: Pam R - I dare you to PASSOVER this one

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Ummm... I realize I'm posting a whole lot here - two reasons.  Although this blog is only for one week, Passover actually started last week.  To get a feel for what I do at work, I think it's a good idea to show you what went on last week too.  I hope nobody minds my turning this into a 2-week thing (all within the one week of course).  The other issue is that I actually made it home before 8 pm tonight - that's not likely to happen for the next couple of days, so I'm taking advantage of that opportunity.

Ok, Im a bit confused. I'm Jewish too and even though I dont keep kosher and I hardly even recognize the holidays( Im more culturally Jewish than anything) I thought Passover starts on April 23rd. Do you mean it starts for you because of your preparation?

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If anybody has looked at this threadyou would have seen that we can't use flour during Passover. Many of the things we eat (matzoh, kugels, matzoh balls, etc.) contain flour but there are so many rules about flour use, that home cooks just don't use it. First of all you have to use special flour that I have never seen for sale. Then,. once you mix your flour with any liquid, it must be prepared and baked within 18 minutes to avoid any rising. So what happens is that in matzoh plants, they have machinery (although some places make it by hand) that produces matzot, basically large crackers, within the alloted amount of time. These big crackers are then ground up and that is what I use to bake with (along with potato starch).

gallery_28660_3_14110.jpg

On the left we have potato starch, cake meal in the middle (matzoh ground as close to flour as possible) and on the right is matzoh meal (ground about the size of breadcrumbs and used for things like kugels, passover rolls).

Because these things have already been baked, they don't have the same properties as flour. That's why we use cases and cases of eggs to try to get some lightness into out baking. Whatever you do, Passover baking does not taste like any other baking.

This holiday, btw, should come with a cholesterol warning. I was going to try to keep a running total of the eggs I used in the two weeks. I lost count at 16 cases (15 dozen large eggs per case). And that's just me. Everybody else in the kitchen is using 'em too.

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Ummm... I realize I'm posting a whole lot here - two reasons.  Although this blog is only for one week, Passover actually started last week.  To get a feel for what I do at work, I think it's a good idea to show you what went on last week too.  I hope nobody minds my turning this into a 2-week thing (all within the one week of course).  The other issue is that I actually made it home before 8 pm tonight - that's not likely to happen for the next couple of days, so I'm taking advantage of that opportunity.

Ok, Im a bit confused. I'm Jewish too and even though I dont keep kosher and I hardly even recognize the holidays( Im more culturally Jewish than anything) I thought Passover starts on April 23rd. Do you mean it starts for you because of your preparation?

Yep. Sorry, that's exactly what I meant.

BUT, if you want to know the truth - Canadian Living Magazine had 7 of my recipes in their magazine for Passover this April - and I had to get them the recipes by December. So my friends and family enjoyed a Seder in December. Then I was testing recipes for several newspapers for the last 2 months - so I'm almost Passovered out! But officially Passover begins on Saturday, April 23rd and ends on Sunday May 1. (I should have mentioned that earlier)

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This is really interesting. Please forgive some ignorant questions from this shiksa, but I'm likely to have a lot of them!

It surprised me that canola oil isn't kosher. Any idea why not? Or is "why not" a useless question? Is olive oil kosher? And what other oils are acceptable, either usually, or even during Passover? For instance: could you drizzle baked potatoes with walnut oil? The potatoes and no-butter thing got me to thinking about substituting oils for the butter. That can be a good substitute, given the right oil.

I hope this isn't too far off-topic, but I'd also like to know about the timing of Passover. It doesn't seem to follow the same timing as Easter, and I thought they did.

Sorry for asking such basic questions. I look forward to learning a lot this week. Despite my ignorance, I know enough to be impressed - and astonished - that you're willing to blog this week! Thank you!

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First of all you have to use special flour that I have never seen for sale.

I read this in another thread. Why is it not available? Lack of demand seems like an obvious answer given the time constraints of Passover baking. Could you order it through a company that makes Matzoh?

Also is Kosher salt itself Kosher in some way or is it called Kosher salt because it's used for Kashering?

I grew up with a lot of Jewish friends who were barely Kosher or just acted Kosher when they were around their grandparents or for holidays. I'm not entirely unfamiliar with the 'culture' so to speak, but Passover Kosher is just blowing me away. :huh:

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This is really interesting.  Please forgive some ignorant questions from this shiksa, but I'm likely to have a lot of them!

Nothing to forgive. Isn't this what the blogs are for? To share these things with each other?

It surprised me that canola oil isn't kosher.  Any idea why not?  Or is "why not" a useless question?  Is olive oil kosher?  And what other oils are acceptable, either usually, or even during Passover?  For instance: could you drizzle baked potatoes with walnut oil?  The potatoes and no-butter thing got me to thinking about substituting oils for the butter.  That can be a good substitute, given the right oil.

Usually, most oils that are plant based are kosher as long as they are processed in a factory that is supervised. So olive, soy, canola, vegetable, corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, nuts and peanut oils can all be kosher. During Passover, whatever is forbidden, is forbidden in any form. The oils have to be designated kosher for Passover on the label (as most things do), but you can find kosher olive, cottonseed, safflower and sunflower oils for Passover. (Though sunflower (and for some safflower) are considered kitniyot - which means that only some people will use it)

I hope this isn't too far off-topic, but I'd also like to know about the timing of Passover.  It doesn't seem to follow the same timing as Easter, and I thought they did.

Not at all off topic, and this is how:

I don't know much about Easter actually... but I'm pretty sure that it generally follows the lunar calander (which most Christian holidays do not). All of the Jewish holidays follow this calender, so it makes sense that the two holidays often coincide. (Please excuse my ignorance here - but the painting the Last Supper is actually said by some to be a Passover Dinner... I'm just not sure how exactly the painting is related to Easter :hmmm: ) This year though is a leap year in the Jewish calender. And we don't do things half-way. So instead of adding an extra day or two, we added an extra month and actually had the month of Adar 1 and Adar 2. This threw off all the holidays - everything is late and I think it's been about 20 years since it has been so late.

Sorry for asking such basic questions.  I look forward to learning a lot this week.  Despite my ignorance, I know enough to be impressed - and astonished - that you're willing to blog this week!  Thank you!

Don't be sorry! I appreciate the questions, and I'm happy to answer whatever I can. Thanks for asking them :biggrin:


Edited by Pam R (log)

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This is really interesting.  Please forgive some ignorant questions from this shiksa, but I'm likely to have a lot of them!

It surprised me that canola oil isn't kosher.  Any idea why not?  Or is "why not" a useless question?  Is olive oil kosher?  And what other oils are acceptable, either usually, or even during Passover?  For instance: could you drizzle baked potatoes with walnut oil?  The potatoes and no-butter thing got me to thinking about substituting oils for the butter.  That can be a good substitute, given the right oil.

I hope this isn't too far off-topic, but I'd also like to know about the timing of Passover.  It doesn't seem to follow the same timing as Easter, and I thought they did.

Sorry for asking such basic questions.  I look forward to learning a lot this week.  Despite my ignorance, I know enough to be impressed - and astonished - that you're willing to blog this week!  Thank you!

You can find kosher canola oil during the rest of the year, but it's rendered from ingredients that aren't allowed on Passover.

The oils available in the everyday kosher kitchen are pretty much the same as anyone who doesn't keep kosher has - provided someone manufactures it with supervision. A wide variety of kosher olive oils are available - Italian, Spanish, Israeli, etc. And olive oil does not need special passover certification. Nut oils are also available - but no one makes them KFP (kosher for passover). Sesame oil is available as well but again, not KFP. You can even find kosher white truffle oil.

As for the timing of Passover. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar and the date that Passover falls is the 14th of Nissan. Although Passover usually falls out around Easter this year is a leap year and we added an extra month -- Passover is required to be celebrated in the spring and without the extra month the holiday would have fallen out too early. This is the latest date possible that Passover can start.

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I think it's been about 20 years since it has been so late.

The lunar calendar is on a 19 year cycle. And the there are 7 leap years within that cycle.

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First of all you have to use special flour that I have never seen for sale.

I read this in another thread. Why is it not available? Lack of demand seems like an obvious answer given the time constraints of Passover baking. Could you order it through a company that makes Matzoh?

Also is Kosher salt itself Kosher in some way or is it called Kosher salt because it's used for Kashering?

I grew up with a lot of Jewish friends who were barely Kosher or just acted Kosher when they were around their grandparents or for holidays. I'm not entirely unfamiliar with the 'culture' so to speak, but Passover Kosher is just blowing me away. :huh:

I think lack of demand is probable. Most of us don't know how to handle it to ensure that all of the laws are upheld and it's easier to just buy it. Honestly, until somebody asked on the other thread I'd never even considered buying it - and I'm assuming most people are the same.

It's sort of just known that you don't use flour for Passover unless making matzoh. Somebody else might be able to give us a little more insight though.

Almost all salt is kosher. (I have heard of one specific type of salt that is not, but what type it is escapes me now). It is called kosher salt because it was, and is, used in the kashering process. Something about the shape/size/very essense of kosher salt helps draw out more blood - and that's the goal.

My work kosher-level and my home-kosher level and my restaurant kosher-level are all different. Some people consider this somewhat hypocritical, but I say whatever works for you. At work we maintain the highest level we can. All of our ingredients are either labelled as kosher or are considered to be kosher by the local standards. At home, I do mostly what is considered 'ingredients' kosher. Read all the ingredients on a package and assuming I know what they all are make the decision. Most of my friends and family do the same.

In some large cities, as a business owner you cannot get kashrut supervision unless you are a religious person who follows all of the Jewish laws. In smaller communities the rules are more flexible because there just are not that many religious people and it's better to do what you can than to do nothing at all. That's how it is where I am. (although as I said before, we're no longer under supervision, so this doesn't apply to us)

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First of all you have to use special flour that I have never seen for sale.

I read this in another thread. Why is it not available? Lack of demand seems like an obvious answer given the time constraints of Passover baking. Could you order it through a company that makes Matzoh?

It will never be made available to the general public -- no certification agency would never certify it for retail.

If you were too ever go to a matzoh factory to see how matzoh is made you would be amazed at all the devices in place to guarantee that the water and flour don't come into contact until the proscribed time.

Also is Kosher salt itself Kosher in some way or is it called Kosher salt because it's used for Kashering?

Salt is actually one of the few items that doesn't need supervision (although you'll see it anyway). The reason the salt is called kosher salt is because the crystal size was the perfect size for the process of kashering.


Edited by bloviatrix (log)

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Goodnight. I'm about to crash. See you tomorrow!

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I know I said before that salt doesn't need supervision but I need to clarify further -- that only refers to plain salt: table, kosher, sea. As soon as you start doing things to it like smoking it or adding other flavors, then you need a certification.

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Pam, this is fascinating. And, thanks for the background on the prep at work for this celebration and the associated rules and regulations.

I recall clearly going to an estate sale one time. This house only had one kitchen, but it was almost like two kitchens. On one side a sink, stove, cupboards. Mirrored on the other side. Two pantries -- one off the side of each kitchen. Cooking utensils marked with little dots of paint on the handles.

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Ahh. I thought the Hebrew calendar was lunar, but I didn't know about leap years. So now, Passover will fall earlier each year again until another leap year? And, is spring defined by the equinox? Do the months stay more or less at the same time of solar year because of the leap-year month?

Easter is semi-lunar but also tied to spring: for the Protestants and Catholics it falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. The Orthodox calendar is a bit different, and the holidays are about a week apart, but I'm not sure of the specifics. I just know they're always a week or so later.

Contrariwise, and I hope this isn't too far OT, the Muslim calendar is strictly lunar, so Ramadan moves steadily forward something like 10 days each year (don't quote me on the number of days). That means you may observe Ramadan during all the seasons if you live long enough. (Ramadan in the summer. Yowza.)

Oh yeah - and the question about the Last Supper? I believe they were celebrating Passover at the time, but it was just after that supper that Easter was invented, so to speak.

Edited for clarity.


Edited by Smithy (log)

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I know I said before that salt doesn't need supervision but I need to  clarify further -- that only refers to plain salt: table, kosher, sea.  As soon as you start doing things to it like smoking it or adding other flavors, then you need a certification.

Do you know what they'd check before certifying it?

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Wow. I used to have a friend who kept kosher, but... I never realized how difficult that must have been for her. I think I'd get very, very frustrated.

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Enjoying this blog!

A random bit of trivia regarding kosher l'pesach--my understanding is that several foods considered off-limits by Ashkenazic authorities are traditionally allowed for Passover in many Sephardic communities (kitniot such as rice and legumes).

A random bit of comparative-religion trivia: the painting "The Last Supper" is in fact meant to be Jesus and the disciples at a Seder; Da Vinci constructed that scene based directly on verses in the Gospels which describe that meal as being a Passover observance. (However, I don't think Da Vinci knew a whole lot about Pesach, because it looks like at least a few food items in the painting are puffy little bread rolls! :shock::biggrin: )

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(However, I don't think Da Vinci knew a whole lot about Pesach, because it looks like at least a few food items in the painting are puffy little bread rolls! :shock:  :biggrin: )

Maybe they were matzoh meal rolls! :wink:

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(However, I don't think Da Vinci knew a whole lot about Pesach, because it looks like at least a few food items in the painting are puffy little bread rolls! :shock:  :biggrin: )

Maybe they were matzoh meal rolls! :wink:

Did they look anything like mine?

gallery_28660_3_14879.jpg

gallery_28660_3_53305.jpg

This year I only had to make about 350 large ones and 150 mini-rolls. Last year our restaurant was open so on top of all of our orders, I had to bake enough for dinner rolls, hot dog and hamburger buns.

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Good morning!

Of course I need to post before leaving for work, even though I should be leaving in about 5 minutes. (That's not going to happen)

Let me explain some of the mechanics of Passover. About one month ago, my parents and I sat down to come up with the list of what we're offering. (Does anybody want to know the complete list... even if I personally am not making the items?)

We always say that there will be no additions or special orders and there always are. :angry:

The official cut-off day for people to order their food was on Friday. The problem is that we start cooking almost a week before we have all of the orders - so we use the numbers from the year before to get a basic idea of what to make. Of course things change. For 20 years somebody orders everything for their seders from us - then they or a spouses passes away, the children take over the seders and they only order a couple of things. Or the reverse, a new generation gets the seders and they order everything from us.

So while we have basic ideas of how much we need to make, we often end up with extra of one thing ... or like this year, I've had to make batches and batches of komish because the orders kept coming.

Now I said cut-off day was Friday. So this weekend I did a count of everything we needed. Then my father (and his sister who's helping answer phones and help customers this week) kept taking orders on Monday and Tuesday. For most things that's ok. But we now have no idea what our numbers are - and this morning both my mother and I will be going through the sheets and recounting. I put everything into a spreadsheet, but things have become so comlicated I don't think I can make the changes on it.

The most interesting order we had yesterday?? Well the jail of course! It's not the first time they've ordered from us... but not for a holiday. We actually used to sell stuff to the jail often - for either those who observe kashrut or halal... but it's been a couple of years. Now we're all wondering who needs this food... :huh:

The other issue we're having with food prep this year is that we're providing baking for the Winnipeg Symphony next week. They are having a special Holocaust program next week and I thought they needed bakign for 300 ... yesterday I was informed that it was 450. (We're providing baking for them that's kosher for PAssover on Tuesday for 450 and not for PAssover on Friday and Sat. - which I won't even think about until next week)

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I think I mentioned somewhere that a large part of our business is reselling poultry and other kosher products. Well, over the last few weeks we've brought in almost 20,000 lbs. of poultry. My father has been running around like a chicken with his head cut off :biggrin: delivering to the synagogues and hotels and there has been a constant line of people in the store to buy stuff.

All of you fans of fiddler on the roof must know what L'Chaim means right? Well here's some of our poultry:

About 1/3 of the boxes from a delivery last week.

gallery_28660_3_80250.jpg

A close up of a label: (notice it says kosher for passover on the left - the poultry is KFP all year round)

gallery_28660_3_75570.jpg

And these arethe turkeys that were put in the cooler yesterday that we will roast on Thursday:

gallery_28660_3_60621.jpg

So back to the Fiddler and L'Chaim. Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that a slaughterhouse is named Chai which means life in hebrew?

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OK. I'm going to grab another bottle of my caramel iced coffee, and apple (probably a fuji today) and some nuts and get to work. I'll be back later!

Any questions?

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Im wondering how much the chicken costs?

I've posted before on another topic regarding the high cost of chicken in Canada. ( Mostly for boneless skinless breasts). Thus, I rarely buy that kind of chicken here, rather I skip over to Michigan and bring back a stock. Id love to eat Kosher chicken year round( to me, the flavor is uncomparable), but alas there is NO place in this small town and driving to London when I feel in the mood isnt feasible( especially in winter).

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Pam, this is so interesting. It's amazing that you're doing this, with so much to do. (Most of my neighbors have been cleaning furiously for the last week or so, in preparation for Passover. Wow, and I thought my 30 minutes with a vacuum cleaner once a month-- :blink: --were exhausting. :wink: I had no idea what keeping kosher really involved until we moved here; then again, since we're not Jewish, we'll probably never know!)

There are all kinds of KLP cookies appearing in shops and bakeries, here, and I am now addicted to the macaroons--and intend to try the rest of the pastries in the next couple of days. What kinds of desserts or pastries do you have on the menu for your clients?

Thanks for blogging!

edited to clear up a typo


Edited by Rehovot (log)

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