Category Archives: Food

#72 Passover Traditions from Jewish Cultures Worldwide–Guest Blog by Rachel Landau

I miss being with my family on Passover. It was a really big deal in my house where, in addition to recalling the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, we regularly recalled the Seder in which the children accidentally got the real wine while the adults wondered why their wine, actually grape juice, had no kick. This year, while enjoying a holiday brunch at my in-laws’ house, I began to wonder why some of the foods they served where different than those I’d grown up with. So I googled my question and this article is what I found. I thank the author, Rachel Landau.

Beyond Victoriana

This Monday is the first night of Pesach, or Passover. In the days when the Temple was standing, every Jew was required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple and make an offering there. Around the world and on six continents, Jews still follow the same structure for a Passover seder, as outlined in the Haggadah nearly two thousand years ago. But Jews are not monolithic: each community adds its own variations and customs to the mix.

A picture from the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest Sephardic Haggadahs in the world. The Haggadah is the text that contains the order and the ritual traditions of the seder meal.

There are roughly three different strains of Jewish cultural movements, all of which have many different subgroups. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans forcibly removed Jews from their homeland and scattered them throughout the Empire. Thus, three distinct…

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The U.S. Census and Adoption

I don’t want to dwell on being adopted. It really shouldn’t affect my life. I got the family I was meant to have. I believe it. However, I’m surprised how I’m constantly reminded I’m an adoptee.
I got a form from the census bureau in the mail today. I was instructed to go online and answer some questions. One in particular really surprised me. They wanted the relationship of children living in the house. They listed the usual: son, daughter, parents, etc. then they added step children and adopted children. What does being adopted have to do with the census? I thought, by the process of adoption, one became the “real” child. Why make this distinction?
Then, they wanted to know my ethnicity in detail. The country of my origin. What about adoptees who don’t know their background? They don’t have a check mark for “don’t know.”
Really.
This morning on The View, actor Jay Thomas announced how he recently reunited with his son. And they were so much alike. What about the non-celebrities who can’t find their birth families?
My favorite. I just received test results warning me that I am pre-diabetic. After cutting out almost all sugar from my diet and adding exercise, my numbers are getting worse. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have recently learned this condition, for me, is genetic. My two bio half-sibs had, have diabetes. One passed away very young.
Like it or not, an adoptee rarely forgets they are adopted.
I know I don’t.

What reminds you about your adoption?

My memoir. How I found my bio family.

My memoir about how I found my bio family.

Adoptee Gives Thanks During Thanksgiving

pumpkin pieI always made the pumpkin pie. My mom never made a pumpkin pie. But she taught me how to make a great turkey. (I don’t eat turkey anymore, but I still have my memories.)

The first time I ever helped Mom make a turkey, she told me to go ahead and clean the bird. She kept busy doing other work, making stuffing, preparing the vegetables, making the sweet potatoes, while I went into the kitchen, alone, to prepare the bird. At twelve years old, this was a milestone. Being trusted with the bird.

I went into the kitchen, carefully removed the packaging from the frozen turkey, pulled out the neck and the “guts” like I’d seen Mom do many times,  and I washed it. Thoroughly. When I told Mom the bird was ready, Mom told me how to season it. Her secret ingredients were soy sauce and paprika. My dad being Hungarian, Mom used paprika a lot.

The turkey came out beautiful. Mom proudly carried it to the table where Dad was prepared to carve it. Oh, how Norman Rockwell. Everyone watched as my Dad, the butcher, went to work. Until he stopped. It was at this moment that I learned an important lesson. There are two cavities in the bird. Mom pulled out the giant plastic bag from the turkey’s tush and began to laugh. Everyone laughed. They didn’t laugh at me, they laughed with me.

The year after my dad passed away, my mom came to my house for Thanksgiving for the first time. She cooked and carried a turkey on the airplane. Way before 9/11. Both Mom and Dad are gone now. And my birthmother passed away before I ever met her. I like to think she would have also had a good laugh when she found a plastic bag in the Thanksgiving turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Enjoy your loved ones while you have them. By birth, or adoption, family is important.

I can’t wait to see my out of town family soon.

Who Moved My Cookies?

cookies cover 3Jessie Newman was a smart, sexy, successful Weight Watchers leader, who had it all, until she caught her cheating husband, in the act. After tossing him to the curb, she had to quit the part-time career she loved and wound up stuck in a dead-end job, watching her butt grow. Now, married to a prominent and handsome neurosurgeon, who happens to think she’s cute, cellulite and all, Jessie is ready for a change.

Although it kills Jessie to leave her family, when her new husband, Dr. Tad Newman, gets offered a job in our nation’s capital, this former weight loss guru, still reeling after her failed first marriage, considers this the opportunity she’s been waiting for to quit job she hates, drop the twenty pounds she’s packed on, and embark on a new career.

Happily married at last, Jessie looks forward to letting go of her former life and embarking on a journey of self-improvement. In Who Moved My Cookies?, Jessie sets out to start a new career during a time when companies are downsizing, not hiring. In between tackling online job applications, Jessie works on figuring out the perfect diet while fantasizing about fitting into those clothes she’s been saving since shoulder pads were the height of fashion, even if it means giving up meat and cookies. But not M&M’s. She has her limits. Most importantly, Jessie is determined to make this marriage work, in spite of the many hours her husband is now spending with his sexy new assistant, who just happens to become the subject of the murder mystery she is writing????

As a former Weight Watchers leader who helped thousands lose weight on the Weight Watchers program, I know what it is like to stand in front of the freezer, sneaking a few bites, licks and tastes from the half-gallon containers of mint chocolate chip ice cream and tubes of frozen cookie dough I kept hidden behind the frozen broccoli.

If you can relate to Jessie, or just want a really fun Bridget Jones- type of read, please take a look at Who Moved My Cookies?

Food Porn and Weight Watchers

Did you ever notice how packaged ice cream is at its peak of perfection the moment you bring it home from grocery shopping? OMG…Stop me now.

My sixteen-year gig as a Weight Watchers group leader in the Cleveland suburbs was like doing eleven shows a week at the Improv. Standing in front of a packed house— 20 to 100 members on average— I would mime sneaking a taste of my newly purchased 1/2 gallon container of Pierre’s chocolate-chocolate chip. Opening the lid immediately after placing it on the kitchen counter, not even caring if my other groceries spoiled from neglect, I would attack the carton like a vulture going after his prey. I just needed one taste. One perfect mouthful. I’d swirl my plastic, (yes it had to be a plastic spoon so as not to give a metallic taste to the ice cream), around the top, savoring the creamy goodness at its peak of perfection. I would glance around the room, noticing my members at the edges of their seats, living vicariously through my experience. I’d watch their eyes tearing up, their lips quivering, as if they were watching pornography. In a way, this was our pornography. Food porn. And we loved it. We craved more. We needed to hear other members’ experiences to learn how to deal with our own issues with food. And to know we were not alone in our struggle with our weight.

During the sixteen years I taught Weight Watchers, I feared that if I no longer had to do my weekly/monthly weigh-ins, I’d put back on the weight I had lost years before. That was scary.

Eventually I had to give up my meetings and I have been struggling with the scale ever since.
I’m sharing some of my weight challenges, along with many experiences members have discussed in thousands of my meetings through the voice of my fictional character, Jessie Newman, in my novel: Who Moved My Cookies? available now on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G3Q91CS.

Tomorrow’s Diet

I will give up
My favorite treats
From food made with sugar
To food made with wheat.

No more spaghetti
Or tart lemon drops
No more sandwich cookies
Or Tootsie roll pops.

No more ice cream
Or crispy French fries
Or buckets of popcorn
Or even fried rice.

No more lasagna
Or BBQ food
No more large pizza
Unless I’m in the mood.

If I get too hungry
Or get really mad
I know I’ll succumb
I know I’ll be bad.

So forget my new plan
It’s way way too crude
I’ll just be more sensible
When choosing my food.

Veggies and fruit
Fresh, no cans
I’ll be good tomorrow
Tonight, I have plans.

I’ll clean out the fridge
The pantry of Pringles
Polish off the cookies
The ice cream, with sprinkles.

Once all the goodies are
Out of the house
I’ll face my new scale
And so will my spouse.

One More Try for Love

Courage is fleeting
I don’t know why
I’m stuck in the corner
Afraid to try.

Tears are a waste
As night passes slowly
I’ll go out tomorrow
Forget feeling lonely.

Men come and go
Dates seldom work
I’ll wait for right one
Instead of a jerk.

Forget the diet
Bring me the bread
And chocolate and wine till I’m
Light in the head.

Keep my chin up
There’ll come a time
When singing and dancing
And fun will be mine.

Love don’t come easy
That is no lie
Yes, I have the courage
To give it one more try.

How are You Doing?

How are you doing?
Say I’m just fine
That’s what we tell them
All the time.

That is the answer
They want to hear
Not the state of your diet
Or the pain in your rear.

Don’t tell of food plans
Or losing five pounds
Or fights with the boyfriend
Or errands around town.

Forget the new hairdo
Or trips to the doc
Tell them you’re all right
Leave out the schlock.

Everyone’s got issues
Some have the flu
If you sneeze hope for tissues
And a heartfelt Bless You.

My Three Minute Meditation

My three minute meditation

I’m sitting
I’m waiting
For my stress to flee
Leaving my body
Like leaves from a tree.

Just three little minutes
That’s all that it takes
For stress to take flight
And leave me…
I’ll wait.

The three little minutes
He said it will work
To lower my blood pressure
I feel like a jerk.

Just three little minutes
Are driving me crazy
I could have washed dishes
Instead I feel lazy.

Just three little minutes
That’s way way too long
When one bar of chocolate
Would make me so strong.

Just three little minutes
Thank God they are done
Forget about stress relief methods
I’m going out for some fun!

Valentine Courage in a Bowl

Tickled I am
Though not fully pink
I laid down my pencil
And picked up my ink. 

I started to write
Jotting down notes
Dazed and confused
I don't get a vote. 

With hands that were trembling 
No fear in my soul
I tackled my feelings
Then dove for the bowl. 

My bowl filled with ice cream
Glistened with delight
It tempted and cajoled me
On this lonely night. 

Green swirls and brown
Chips in there too
Swimming in fudge sauce
Only the best would do. 

Liquid courage came next
Kahlua worked well
To ink down on paper
What the hell. 

With heart in my hand
Without fearing I'd fail
I signed sealed and stamped the words I love you
And sent them to mail. 

Whatever the result
If he loves me too
We'll know sooner or later
I hope sooner, wouldn't you?

Now time for sleep
My lover away
I pray for his answer
I worry what he'll say. 

We can't always get
The answer we want
Life's just not as easy
As picking a font. 

I long for the day
He answers my prayer
With a bushel of roses
Or scarf, showing he cares. 

I hate Valentine's Day
So much on the line
Hearing I love you
Will you be mine?

If its meant to be
It will
We all know that's true 
I told him my feelings
That's all I can do. 

My cell just beeped. 
A text from my man
"I can't wait to see you
I've made a big plan."

OMG what is this?
He just got my letter
He'll say that he loves me
He'll commit now, he better. 

He stands in my hallway
Drops down on one knee
Darling I love you
Will you have me?

Yes!