Friday, September 4, 2015

Food Friday easier to make it at home Edition

Growing up while there were some foods that were made from scratch, there were some foods that we only ate in their packaged form. Pie crust was always bought frozen. Noodles were always purchased from a package, pudding too was Mi-Ti –Fine.


I probably have spent far too much of my time thinking about and reading about the development of the packaged food industry in the United States.


One of the things that has gradually dawned on me is that factory made food is made less because of the difficulty of making that particular item but more because of how easy it is to manufacture the food.

Every time I go into Whole Foods I see packages of “Coffee Spice rub for meat”. Perhaps it is good. I don’t know. But how hard is it to put a little ground coffee in a bowl and add spices that you like, a mix of earthy and hot and mix them up with a fork?


If you are timid you can read the ingredients on the store bought version and recreate it at home leaving out the flavors you hate and adding more of the flavors you love.

It’s a rub so you rub it on the meat. If you are squeamish wear disposable gloves or plastic bags on your hands as you massage the spices into the meat. If you are not just use your naked hands..

Cook the meat until it looks truly dead. I know it looks like two lumps of coal, I assure you that it isn’t. Cool the meat in the fridge so you can slice it into impressively thin slices.


If you plan to warm it up later make some sort of a sweet/vinegary/salty sauce to pour over. Tonight’s was made with the last bit of maple syrup, mustard, vinegar and pomegranate molasses and a bit of olive oil.  If you want to go packaged, you can use an inexpensive barbeque sauce.


Occasionally I am on the supermarket line behind a new mother who is buying a jar of mashed bananas. It always makes me wonder if she knows about the invention of the fork. (Forks did actually revolutionize how food is cooked and served-- three hundred years ago, but I assume that most people have a fork or two in their homes)

  I feel the same way about buying packaged guacamole. How is making this hard?


You need avocado, citrus, cumin , salt and hot, a bowl and a fork. If you want to go high tech you can use your food processor.


I also made humus tonight, a can of chickpeas, a blob of Techina, the juice of 1-2 lemons, cumin sumac salt, pepper and something to give a bit of heat, I used paprika and a bit of cayenne. you need to add a bit of olive oil and a bit of water to the processor to make a smooth mixture. If you like a different flavor profile add the flavors you like. it’s a time commitment of five minutes. It would take me longer to go across the street too buy some pretty good ready made humus.

I’m sorry that I sound like a crank tonight. I still have to make the vegetable portion of our meal.  My son made the challah last week, and we will eat the rose scented berry sorbet that he made.


And a bonus, a shot of Chabad guys at 96th street spreading the word about Rosh HaShanah to all of us Jews who they don’t believe could possibly know about the holiday without their instruction.


I snapped this picture without looking very carefully and once I enlarged it, I see that the Chabad guys are about to ask my friend Pearl if she knows that Rosh HaShanah next week. They needn’t have wasted their time talking to Pearl. She was probably figuring out all the things she needs to do before the holiday as she walks home.


Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Supermarket Tourism

Weird Al Yankovitch has a great song about visiting the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota. I know that some people visit Civil War sites. I have a friend who plans her travels  based on the mountains that she wants to climb. My parents used to plan their trips around beautiful houses of worship.


My husband and I love supermarket tourism. During post morning minyan breakfast on our first day in Cincinnati, ( The synagogue we attended served a big breakfast after services every morning.) we asked about great things to do in the area. We got lots of wonderful suggestions.  Someone laughingly suggested that we visit Jungle Jim’s. They explained that it was a giant supermarket that specialized in international food.


We live within walking distance of Fairway Market which one of my sister’s loves so much that she stops there on her way home from nearly every visit to New York. We also live within walking distance of Zabars, ( Although I would take a taxi or a bus home with all of my bundles.) Visiting Jungle Jim’s did not seem like a priority.

We had spent most of the weekend in Columbus and had returned to Cincinnati on Monday.  Tuesday we were trying to figure out how to spend out last day in Ohio. We discovered that museums tend to be closed on both Monday and Tuesday.


The sculpture garden north of town was open. The weather though was going to be hot and muggy. Not the best weather for visiting a sculpture garden, but we decided to go anyway.

My husband was driving and I had the maps and mentioned that we were an exit away from Jungle Jim’s. It was our moment to see the culinary wonder of the Mid-West.

As you turned into the parking lot this sign greeted us.


We were in the right place. I didn’t take pictures of the fiberglass jungle animals frolicking in the fountain in front of the store.

We went inside and discovered that we had stepped into a six acre food market. Fairway is great, but not  even close in terms of size.


There is a large standard supermarket array of food as you enter. But even there, we found some products that you can’t easily find here in New York.


Yes, we bought a canister for my daughter. Things started to get interesting in the International food section.


I had never seen fresh whole lotus root before.


The selection of Kimchi was impressive.


Would you care for some assorted burfi?


or some boondi ladoo? Or vegetarian haggis?


There was a large haggis selection.


There was an impressive selection of Asian food.


The green jelly actually doesn’t taste bad. The worst thing about it is the name. it’s actually bland and slightly sweet, like under flavored Jell-O.


Nice to see some Knoedel mix. I suppose one could was down the Knoedel with some Frooti.


You could choose which tilapia you were eating for dinner.


This was just one of the many shelves of English candies.



My husband did some price comparisons.



What did we actually buy? Artificially flavored bacon pop-rocks, some spices and bread and cheese and vegetables and a box of Bulgarian pomegranate juice for lunch, and as it turns out, it was our dinner as well.


After a great deal of looking and then eating, we went to the antique mall down the road and had a blast.


The prices were good, but given that we are still processing all of the STUFF from my mother’s house we proved that we actually aren’t hoarders and enjoyed just looking and not bringing anything home.


I had bought these very dishes when I was a college junior. They were .50 with each $3 purchase at the Waltham Supermarket. I think I had six of them.


I loved these Art-Deco sconces.They were a steal  at $17 each.


I know, this coronation mug was a giant bargain. We have a collection but it stayed behind. These are the ugliest images I have ever seen of this particular king and queen.


We also did not buy the truly ugly Gerald and Betty Ford plate or the Mamie Eisenhower cup and saucer. I am sure that someone else will provide a good home for them. 

Fabulous! At 1/3 the size!

We are now back from Cincinnati. The week was packed full of so much, as vacations to new places often are. I am trying to organize both my photos and my narrative of the week so it won’t torture or bore  my readers.
I wanted to start by talking about two great landmarks of the city of Cincinnati that both have corollaries here in New York.
The first is the Roebling bridge.
The baby brother of the more famous Brooklyn bridge was built just after the Civil War.
Kentucky is an easy walk and probably an easy row across the Ohio River. I need to do more reading about what life was like in Cincinnati during the Civil war.
The Roebling Bridge is also known as  “The Singing Bridge”.  As cars ride on the bridge, their weight stretches the cables it’s almost like a harpist plucking the stings of a harp.SAM_4978
It’s kind of a high pitched song that the bridge sings.
We have walked the Brooklyn bridge several times. The Cincinnati version is smaller than it’s northern brother, there is just one lane of traffic in each direction. There is a much shorter approach to the bridge.
The bridge was great for duck viewing.
We walked to Kentucky, bought some sodas and drank them in a park and then walked back to Ohio.
The following day we went with my sister to the Plum Street Temple, the first American Reform Synagogue built as a reform synagogue.
The synagogue was also built in 1865. It is downtown right across the street from a Catholic Church.
New York’s Central Synagogue is a supersized version of this beautiful building.
In post Civil War style, ever surface is ornamented. It’s of the more is more school of interior design.

The walls are stenciled in multiple layered patterns.
We were impressed with the choice of verses that circle the sanctuary. They were all smart interesting choices that are not the sorts of verses that tend to be used in synagogue decoration.
Looking up was a pleasure.
The organ is in good working order.
My sister is a development professional in the Jewish world. We loved reading the plaques that noted funds raised for the synagogue.
The modern equivalents of such lists no longer list the amounts donated.
We loved seeing this monument to Jewish communal generosity.

The synagogue is now used for ceremonial occasions, including ordination from Hebrew Union College. The congregation that owns the building is now housed in one of the northern suburbs and is an active community.
We loved the tour we were given. our only regret was that we had to leave before we were satisfied. We had other obligations and had to rush away.