We just came back from a fun ski vacation at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. The skiing went well, despite the fluctuating ski conditions (rain one night) and up and down weather. My daughter now eagerly skis a longish trail on the side of the mountain called Lower Tamarack.
On the food front, finding food for us to eat for 3½ days is a bit of a struggle. This year, I packed various homemade food over the past two months that I had frozen in advance for vacation. The potato latkes from Chanukah, for example, were OK since I had packed little applesauce cups as well, so they had a nice condiment to go with them. Spaghetti pie (recipe in Honest Pretzels by Mollie Katzen), however, normally one of my daughter’s favorite dishes did not freeze and defrost nicely into a tasty dish. Most of it got thrown out, unfortunately. The homemade mushroom barley soup was a hit, but the prepared Tabatchnick’s frozen mushroom barley soup not as much. My kids normally like macaroni and pizza slices, but how many of those can one eat? Ditto for Streit’s canned minestrone soup – all my kids like that soup, but not for every meal. My family eagerly consumed leftover chicken soup last night when we got home.
For myself, I made brown rice in the crockpot two nights in a row (1 part rice to two parts water). I bought scallions and parsley in a supermarket right before we got to Stratton. Scallions are an improvement over bringing an onion and a knife and then ignoring the onion for the duration of the trip. You can cut scallions with a plastic knife, if necessary. Also, one year I brought lettuce on our winter trip, only to find it had frozen and wilted on the journey. Parsley holds up better in the winter weather. I’ve also learned to bring a few bags of frozen vegetables – easy to store, easy to prepare.
If you bring your own food on vacation, what tips do you have for storing, preparing or serving the food?
True confession: I’ve never tasted these. But my kids and my father loved them.
- 4-6 baking potatoes (make more so you can eat some after the baking and still have some for the recipe)
- canola oil, enough to coat the potatoes
- 1 heaping tablespoon ketchup (or tomato sauce if you want to avoid the high fructose corn syrup)
- required spices: black pepper and garlic powder
- optional spices: white pepper, onion powder, turmeric, allspice, paprika, cumin, oregano
Bake the potatoes for over an hour. Take them out of the oven when you can stick a fork in them. Eat a few of them, but make sure you have at least 4 large ones left for this recipe. When they are cool, you can either stick them in the refrigerator for a day or two, or continue with the recipe right away. Cut up the potatoes in cubes, without the skin. Toss them in oil and ketchup (or tomato sauce). Sprinkle with salt and spices. Bake for about twenty minutes. Serve warm.
My kids like bagels. So we spend time going to bagel shops.
If any of you grew up within 600 miles of New York City, you may know that New York is well known for its bagels. And bagels are often associated with folks of those parts as a “Jewish” food.
Well, it may or may not surprise you to know that in the early days of the State of Israel, the 1950s – 1970s, it was very difficult if not impossible to find a bagel in the Jewish State. I was first in Israel in 1980, and I cannot remember eating bagel while there. I remember pizza, especially Richie’s pizza. But not bagels. Pita, fresh rolls, yes, but I don’t remember bagels.
It was a nice surprise on this past trip to Israel (my fifth time visiting) that we enjoyed not just one but two bagel shops in the city of Jerusalem. At left my son is happily chomping on a poppy seed bagel from Bonkers Bagel in the Old City.
Below you will see my daughter munching a pizza bagel at Holy Bagel on Rechov Yaffo:
How did these bagels shops rate? Hey, they were happy. And that makes mommy happy.
However, the bagel story in our home town of Highland Park, New Jersey is a bit of a sadder tale. We used to have this wonderful bagel shop just over the border in Edison on Rte. 27. They served delicious fresh bagels, and I remember buying the egg salad bagel with tomato and red onion when my son was a mere babe. However, at some point that bagel store departed, and a new one opened in Highland Park. The new bagel shop wasn’t nearly as good as the old one, both for reasons that the bagels weren’t as good and the service was, well, lousy. The new bagel shop changed owners and then closed completely. There is a Bagel Dish Cafe here in Highland Park, but alas, it is not kosher.
Now when we want bagels in Highland Park, we go to: Dunkin’ Donuts!
I should tell you the best part of our Dunkin’ Donuts is great service. Part of the way they give great service is they yell at you if you are chatting online, and it’s your turn to give your order. They keep the line moving fast, and the people behind the counter remember you. And what you ordered last time. The friendly service is quite nice. Personally, my favorite is the multigrain bagel, because of the oatmeal and sunflower seeds on top.
During the school year some teenage boys ran a service where you could order bagels from Teaneck. I don’t know much about the service or about the Teaneck bagels, but as my son will be going to school in Teaneck in September, I expect I might ask him to buy a few bagels for us.
Years ago when my husband and I were dating we used to go to a nice bagel shop on 72nd Street on the West Side in Manhattan. They served bagels, coffee, orange juice and scrambled eggs for one price, and under the glass on the tables were comic strips. Whatever it was called, it probably is no longer there.
In Brookline, Massachusetts (I grew up in nearby Newton) at Kupel’s Bagels on Harvard Street you could get green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day. Probably still can.
Any decent bagel shops where you live?
If you haven’t had enough photos of bagel shops in Jerusalem, visit Dina.
I used to make noodle kugel with a stick of margarine. A WHOLE STICK. After I learned about the evils of margarine, for a long time I did not make noodle kugel. At some point recently, after craving a good noodle kugel, I put together this easy recipe. At the end I include options that might make the kugel more interesting, tasty or healthy. However, the “plain” version is the one my kids eat. And it tastes good to me, too.
- 8 oz. thin egg noodles
- 4 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Enough canola oil to grease the bottom of the pan
Boil water and prepare the noodles. Preheat oven to 350°. Strain the noodles, and mix with the eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grease the bottom of the pan with oil (I use pyrex; sometimes I make two pans of kugels, one for Friday night and one for Shabbat lunch). Preheat the pan(s) so the kugel will be a little crispier. Add the kugel mixture, and bake for about 30 minutes or until the kugel starts to get crispy.
Options: chopped spinach (frozen is easiest), chopped onion, bits of hamburger meat (I’ve never made it this way, just tasted others, but it’s delicious)
A while back, Lion of Zion posted this about how one might lessen stress on a Friday afternoon. My response to his suggestion of eliminating some of the side dishes was “But those are the healthy dishes!”
Here’s a post of quick, healthy side dishes and not-quite-as-quick-but-worth-the-effort side dishes. And some kid-friendly ideas, too. If there’s no link to a recipe, maybe some day I’ll write up a recipe.
Quick Side Dishes
- Sweet potato: Put in a baking dish and bake along with other foods. Takes about 1.5 hours to bake, but if you are baking other things at the same time, it’s only 5 minutes of your time.
- Avocado: Buy an avocado or two on Tuesday or Wednesday. By Shabbat, it should be ripe. Mash and mix in salt, garlic (optional, and we have cubes in the freezer so as not use garlic press on Shabbat), lemon juice (again, we have lemon juice in bottle so as not to squeeze lemon on Shabbat), possibly some hot sauce.
- Beets: If you are in the kitchen anyway, boil some fresh beets. They take 1.5 hours to cook (quicker with a pressure cooker), but most of your work time is spent cutting the ends of the beets off before cooking and peeling after cooking (10 minutes). You can mix them with cucumbers, olive oil and dill right before serving.
- Steamed cauliflower or brussel sprouts: both taste good cold or room-temperature the next day.
- Garlic Spread
- Spinach : use frozen spinach–don’t cook it but take it out and put in a baking dish. Then put it on warming tray before Shabbat for Friday night dinner.
Quick Sides for Kids
My kids don’t like salads. So here are some ideas of what you can put on the table in front of the kids while you are enjoying your salads:
- Carrot sticks
- Cut up melon pieces
Healthy Sides (not-quite-as-quick-but-worth-the-effort)
Years ago, I took a course on Environmental Economics, in which I learned that the poorer a country, the less it can afford to spend on the environment. It seems that is also true with health; if one is busy making money to pay for tuition and groceries and whatever else is in the budget, it is harder to take the time to cook lengthier dishes. At the same time, some people just don’t like cooking. And then there are those who would rather be cooking than working. Personally, I’d rather write a blog post about cooking than work or cook. Because I get an excuse to draw those little veggies at top right with my kids’ markers.