Passover Recipes that Will Make Your Mama Say Oy!

Passover is one of those Jewish holidays that I absolutely love in theory yet totally hate in practice. On one hand, you get to eat delicious food with close friends and family while re-telling the story of the Jewish peoples epic flight for freedom in ancient Egypt. And there’s wine, a lot of wine. Four full glasses of wine to be exact that have to be fully drained before moving on to the next one. And when you are using an abridged Haggadah like I did, the gaps of time between each glass is infinitely shorter than they probably should be. On the other, you can’t anything made with flour which seriously limits your daily food intake. But hey, I get to drink four glasses of wine in one go. Can’t really complain with that.

However, Passover is more about drinking until we are too merry to realize that we are slathering our matzoh with horseradish and not butter. Its about celebrating our freedom from slavery. WOOT! Of course there is a whole lot more to the story than just that but I won’t bore you with the details. What you should do is go out and either watch the film, The Prince of Egypt (which is kick-ass) or that episode of the Rugrats. Both do an excellent job of re-telling the story of Passover in a fun and colorful, but also represent an awesome time in 1990s animation.

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The Prince of Egypt currently available on Netflix so do take advantage of the fact that it is out there for easy viewing. Just do not watch Dreamwork’s follow up film, Joseph, the King of Dreams. A cinematic master piece it is not!

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Also, I had a professor who was used as a historic consultant in the movie which only makes the film more awesome!

Now that I’ve skirted around the topic of explaining what Passover really is, I can get to the fun part of this post: THE FOOD!

Believe it or not, Passover is not all about stuffing our faces with matzoh for eight days. Personally, I like to think of Passover as one big epic food challenge. How many dishes can you come up with that do not include any leavening agents? As it turns out, not every Passover recipe has to be a matzoh sandwich with cheese. There are other options out there.

This year for Passover, I decided to try my hand at making something new, haroset. What’s that? It’s an apple based spread that we eat with matzoh. Most commonly, people make a sandwich of matzoh, haroset, and horseradish. At the same time, I absolutely needed to make my mom’s Passover friendly macaroons, a recipe that my sister freaked when she heard I had it memorized. Seriously, they are that good.

Hope you enjoy and happy Passover!

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Passover Macaroons

(Adapted from the always useful, The Joy of Cooking)

One 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk

1 large egg white

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

A pinch of salt

One bag of shredded, sweetened coconut

1 bag of chocolate chips, either normal size or mini.

Preheat oven to 325. Mix everything together in a large bowl until 100% combined.

Break out the cookie sheets and line with parchment paper. Scoop tablespoon sized portions of the mixture onto the cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the coconut has toasted on top and the sides have browned.

My Own Haroset Recipe

3 Fuji apples, peeled and sliced

1 cup of chopped walnuts

1 cup of golden raisins

3 tablespoons of honey

1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (or however much you think is needed)

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/4 cup of either grape juice or a sweet red wine

Combine all together in a big bowl and chill until ready to serve.

My Life in Boston Summarized into Bullet Points

So for those of you who have not yet noticed, I sort of disappeared slightly from the Blog-o-sphere during these past few months [7 if you have been counting]. And while I am not proud of my very long and unplanned hiatus, I realized last night that its high time for me to start blogging and baking again. At this time, I cannot say how frequently I will be updating this blog with recipes since I still am living on a student/shoestring budget, but I will try my hardest to post something here at least once or twice a week. Which brings us to today’s post.

What the hell have I been doing with my life since I last really posted something here?

While I could totally write out a very lengthy overview of my life in Boston thus far, I’ve decided to do you guys a favor and stick to bullets points. If you are super curious about the life of little old me, then you can wait for this blog to become a book, and then a movie with a star studded cast and an over the top budget. ‘Cause that apparently happens to blogs and bloggers these days. Ok, maybe the movie part is rare but the book thing does seem to happen quite frequently. Maybe if I play my cards right, I can get a TV show deal with the CW? Wouldn’t it be cool to see my life played out in a way that isn’t at all close to anything that actually represents reality? I can totally picture it now, Boston would become New York (’cause New York just sounds better than Boston)

Where I really live

Where I really live

Where I should be living

Where I should be living

My status as a student working towards a degree in both library and information science and history would be given the ax and instead, I’d be some twenty-something working in an independent bookstore or cafe, one where the owners are really hip, down to earth people, the kind that probably went to Woodstock or frequent Burning Man every year.

 

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Screw you education

 

Stories about shop girls make for better TV

Stories about shop girls make for better TV

Dream bosses that provide awesome comedic fodder

Dream bosses that provide awesome comedic fodder

And I’d have a cat, ’cause every TV show heroine needs a fluffy sidekick. Now all I need is three super awesome, yet different, best friends, a super rich and successful boyfriend that is way out of my league and BAM! TV brilliance. It’d be like Sex in the City meets Girls. Talk about an award wining idea!

Alright, I’ve stalled enough. Time to catch you up with my life!

  • I am almost done with my first year at Simmons and have ZERO regrets about deciding to pursue my dream of becoming a librarian
  • I now work at the Boston Public Library as a Gallery Attendant for a Map Gallery. On a daily basis, I help people with map-based questions and occasionally, get to write call #s on antique maps from the turn of the century. I’ve been here for less than three months so hopefully, the longer I get to spend here, the more stuff I will get to do
  • I’ve selected my eventual thesis paper topic: 1950s American food and consumerist culture and its impact on gender roles
  • I’m moving! Landlord wouldn’t let me renew my lease so I’m currently hunting for a new place. Hopefully one with larger kitchen that has windows in it
  • I have become something of a hard cider connoisseur. While other people I know freaking love beer (I just don’t get it?), I have started drinking my way through the world of fermented apple juice
  • My diet has dissolved down to essentially cereal, oatmeal, and yogurt. Clearly, I need to start cooking again
  • I can bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies in about an hour now (a personal achievement)
  • I’ve become a big fan of board games
  • I’ve visited one of Harvard’s special libraries and have officially come into physical contact with the letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto!
  • And finally, I’ve tasted sausage for the first time and now totally love it.

So there you have it, my life in bullet points. True it is not nearly as interesting as the life my fictional counterpart probably would have, but I would not trade it for a thing!

Catch y’all later!

Making a Comeback

That’s right, I’m coming back!!!!!!!!

After a very long and unexpected hiatus, I have decided that its time to start baking and rambling again. So much has changed since I last ranted to the world about the woes of being a would-be librarian in Boston and I cannot wait to share it all with you.

*Things to expect from the new and hopefully more timely foodie librarian*

More recipes

More rants

More ABSOLUTE RANDOM AWESOMENESS!!

The semester is coming to an end and my summer schedule has a big black hole of nothingness that is desperate need to be filled.

Get your whisks and wooden spoons ready,

IMA COMING BACK!

 

Super Un-Official Hiatus is Now Over + Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Hey there cyber world, look who is back in action!!!!!!! So I know that I probably have a lot of explaining to do but fear not, all your questions will be answered in a nice, orderly fashion.

  • Where the hell have you been? I’ve been in Brighton, a part of Boston, transitioning from being a lazy college graduate to an over-stressed grad student. Turns out this transition has been a bit trickier than anticipated. I went from having tons of free time to having barely any. Blogging takes some time, not a lot or anything, but it takes some. Between classes, homework, my internship, nannying, and just getting by, its been hard to find some time time. Basically, what I need to start doing is setting aside some time once a week for blogging.
  • Have you been baking? um, this week I did. Basically, this excuse applies to the first one. Time is a big part of baking and finding a good two hours or so to just focus on baking has been tricky but hey, I’m trying to make it work. Especially now that I have some extra money from job. Believe it or not, but I can actually afford to buy ingredients again! YAY! I might not be able to bake or cook something once a week, but I’m gonna aim for once every two weeks.
  • How are classes? Why thank you for asking. Classes have been good. Been learning a lot about the world of library and information professionals such as cataloging, metadata, library history, and the ins and outs of archiving. For the most part, things have been easy, but the assignments for my information organization class (cataloging etc) have been mega time killers. Thank god my classmates are super nice and are open to working together on assignments. You know the saying, strength in numbers.
  • How is Boston? fantastic! I love living here; there is always stuff to do which is a big change when compared to last city I lived in *cough* worcester *cough*. For the first time, I’m not restricted by not having a car. In Boston, you can go almost anywhere with the T or by foot. And since I’m such a big fan of walking, I have really gotten the chance to do some urban exploring. This how I discovered that I live right near a giant reservoir, one that is perfect for runners. I’ve gone jogging there a few times and I really enjoy being around other runners again
  • What else is new? well, a group of friends from home and I have decided to start to book club that we call “The Throw back Book Club”. It’s all for fun but what’s cool is that we are reading books from our childhood. This month we’re reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Remember that one? So far its been great re-reading it, each chapter brings back memories of the first time I read it. What else???? I’m interning at a historical commission for the city of Cambridge which is turning out to be super cool. I basically get to handle old documents, photographs and other things as I sort through them to form a collection. Oh, and I went to Harpoon Brewery’s Octoberfest. That was freak’n awesome!
  • What about those whoopie pies? see recipe below.
Whoopie pie success!

Whoopie pie success!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Recipe adapted from created by The Baker Chick 

Ingredients for the cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • For the Filling
    • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and combine thoroughly Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly mix both mixtures until just combined.

With a small ice cream scoop, form a tablespoon of dough and place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool and repeat with remaining dough

For the Filling With an electric mixture, beat the butter and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and beat until smooth. If you want to a firmer filling, add more powdered sugar.

To assemble, either pipe or use a knife to spread the filling on the flat side of one of the cookies before topping it with another cookie. Press down slightly so the filling spread. Repeat until all cookies are completed. Refrigerate for about a half an hour before serving.

Five Things I have Learned Since Starting Simmons

Soo….guess who has been asked to become a blogger for her graduate program’s admission office? Yes it’s true, it appears that my summer of blogging has given me the necessary skills to blog at the semi-professional/academic level. Yay me!!! Any who, to celebrate my first two full weeks of class, I’ve written up a list of things, in particular order mind you, that I have learned since classes started up, two weeks ago.

But first, some context.

Before I packed up the family car with dad to drive up to Boston for school, my mom decided to impart some advice for me to mull over during the course of my four and half hour long car ride. She said “Keep your mind open, everyday you are going to be learning something new, in and out of school.” I’ve got to give my mom a hand, she doesn’t normally offer such thought provoking advice. However, since I was unable to go back home to Long Island for the Jewish high holidays. I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot lately, especially what she said to me two weeks ago. Thus the birth of the list presented below. It’s pretty remarkable what things a person can think of in between rushing off to class and nannying to young kids. Oh yea, I’m a nanny now. FYI.

  1. Moodle is your best friend: Although this seems like an obvious one, Moodle is a resource that should not be taken for granted. Not only is this the website where we have to upload our assignments, but course readings, syllabi, power point presentations, and other resources and be found there as well.  Basically, everything you need to succeed at school can be found, to a degree, on Moodle. Also, the name is just adorable.
  2. Love the library; they are there for you. Seriously: There is this wonderful librarian at Simmons who sat with my last week and I think she perfectly encapsulates all the amazing things a library can do when administered by a dedicated staff. While I am sure all students who are part of GSLIS (Graduate School of Library and Information Science) already respect and appreciate the library as an institution of knowledge, I’m sure there are people out there who have yet to walk inside. Well, they should and the should do it soon. Those over at Simmons library are not just there to check out our books.
  3. Bring a sweater if you have class in the Palace Road Building.  You are going to need it: While it had was very nice to sit in a cool room during last week’s obnoxiously hot days, I’m going to be honest here, those rooms are COLD. So what life lessons have I learned from having classes in this building? Be smart, bring a sweater with you to class. Having that sweater really makes a difference.

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    It might looks nice but inside is a frozen tundra waiting for its next victims

  4. Your GSLIS classmates are the friendliest classmates you probably have ever had: Perhaps this is just a GSLIS thing, but every student in the program is super friendly. Be it in the classroom or on Moodle, there always seems to be an interesting conversation going on, and everyone is invited to join in. Coming from a school were being mega sociable wasn’t exactly a super big thing, this is somewhat jarring. Seriously, everyday I have to clean out my inbox because all the emails I get are notices from Moodle, telling me that so and so has responded to what’s her face. Now don’t get me wrong here; I LIKE how sociable my classmates are, I really do. But how about we take the talking off the web and into the classroom? Please, my email needs a break.
  5. The professors are fantastic. N’uff said: Just like the staff members over at Beatley Library, the faculty members in GSLIS are not just here to lecture for three hours; they are here for the students. Personally, having an approachable professor is one of those things that is an absolute must for me. How am I supposed to succeed if the professor won’t take time to listen and answer my questions? From what I have experienced so far, I can honestly say that that won’t be a problem here. Trust me, you can never go wrong when an enthusiastic professor can manage to keep your attention for three hours despite it being 9am.
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Proof that I’m not in NY anymore *cries*

Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge: Apples and Cinnamon + a Little Honey

Shana Tova everyone! Or in English, Happy New Year. Now I know what you are thinking ‘she’s lost her mind’ but trust me, I haven’t. You see, last week was the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashannah, or the Jewish new year. However we aren’t just wishing our peers a happy new year, we are wishing for a sweet new year. Why sweet? Well why not? Ok, I’ll admit, I don’t entirely know why we wish specifically for a sweet new year but hey, why spoil a good thing? And you want to know what’s a good thing? Dipping freshly cut apples into gooey, warm honey. Sure Jews don’t get to have the twelve days of Christmas but who needs that when you have apples and honey. Shana Tova indeed!

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Now normally I spend Rosh Hashannah at home or with friends but since I just moved to Boston, heading home wasn’t exactly an opinion for me. However I decided that even if I couldn’t enjoy the holiday with my friends or family, that didn’t mean I had to miss out on all the fun. So, I did what I do best. I baked. Combing the best of both worlds, I made a deliciously festive apple honey cake. But wait, it get’s better! Just as I was prepping for the baking process, Sheryl from Behind the Curtain Baking Challenge posted the flavor theme for the month of September. Apples and Cinnamon. How perfect was that? So behold dear readers, my apple cinnamon + honey cake. I also want to point out that this is the first thing I have baked in my new apartment.

Two sides notes:

1). I didn’t make the icing due to not having the ingredients/ not having it in my budget to pay for powder sugar. Now that I have a job (yay) I hopefully can buy powder sugar soon

2). Please pardon the pictures; without a window and limited lighting, the images have come out a bit dark.

 

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Apple Cinnamon + Honey Cake

Adapted from a recipe found here

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups all purpose baking flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (could also be 1 1/2 tsp depending on taste preference)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 3 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, and shredded

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are frothy. Whisk in the honey, white sugar, brown sugar, oil and vanilla. In a separate medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and spices. Incorporate the flour mixture into the liquid, stir to blend. Fold in the shredded apples.

Spray your 9 inch Bundt pan with cooking spray, making sure to evenly coat the entire inner surface. Pour your batter into the pan. Bundt pan depths vary, so make sure the batter fills the pan ¾ full or less. Do not fill beyond ¾ or your cake might overflow during baking. Use a spatula to gently push the batter to the outside of the pan, pushing slightly up the walls. This will help to get rid of any air pockets that might interfere with the pretty details of the pan. Smooth the batter on the top so it is flat and even all the way around the pan.

Bake cake in preheated oven for 75-90 minutes. When the edges darken and pull fully away from the sides of the pan, and the cake browns all the way across the surface, insert a toothpick deep into the thickest part of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. It’s a very moist cake, so it’s easy to undercook it– err on the side of caution and let it bake a little longer if you’re unsure (but don’t bake it too long or it will dry out!).

Let the cake cool for exactly 10 minutes, then invert it onto a flat plate. Tap the Bundt pan gently to release the cake. If your cake sticks, use a plastic knife to carefully loosen the cake around the center tube and sides. Allow cake to cool completely. Serves about 10

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Greetings From Boston!

This post has taken longer to write than I would have liked but here it is, my first post from BOSTON!!

Its been almost a week since I moved here and I hate to say that its taken just as long to get settled. Waiting for my furniture to arrive definitely didn’t help. One can only sleep on an air mattress for so long before the novelties of a bed become necessary. But hey, the bed is here now, ditto for the dresser. As for my apartment itself, it has so far been pretty awesome. Four bedrooms, two baths, a balcony, and a kitchen without any windows. Yep, talk about home sweet home. Windowless-ness aside, the Brighton/Brookline area of Boston has a blast to explore. There is just so much going on here. Oh, have I mentioned that I now have a Trader Joe’s just ten minutes away from my apartment? This is big news for me since the Trader Joe’s near my house on Long Island was at least thirty minutes away. Truly, it is such a wonderful thing to just be able to hop on the T for five minutes and then BAM, hello TJ’s! And then there is the food. Oh god I am in heaven here. On my first night in Boston, my new roommates took me to this massive Asian-food themed food-court near Packard’s Corner. There was just so much variety there; my mind could barely handle it. I will definitely be going back soon and then I promise to give the place a proper review.

Hmm, I feel like I am missing something….oh yeah, I am officially a graduate student now! Hooray!!!! With my first day of classes this past Thursday and am now taking my first steps towards becoming a librarian while at the same time, slightly hating myself for deciding to go back to school. Over the course of my five month long summer break, I kind of forgot what it is like to be a student. Well, I remember now and have to say, I didn’t miss taking notes and having homework assignments.

I’m going to cut things off here since despite having just moved to a new city to a new apartment, there hasn’t been that much that has actually happened to me yet. But don’t worry, I’ll be posting a new recipe here very soon.

Till then!