Friday, March 30, 2012

New American Haggadah {review}

I was very excited to receive the my review of the New American Haggadah, especially after this piece in the New York Times, which made me giggle a little.

And then I opened it. It is gorgeous.

It's hardcover, with beautiful illustrations. The translation is very interesting and literal, and the commentaries are creative and actually add something new to the text, which I truly appreciate. There's a very interesting timeline of Jewish history running throughout the book.

It is a fantastic study document, and I recommend it to all Seder leaders. You will learn something new, you will gain different and lovely insight into the Haggadah text, and you will be able to enhance your family's Seder with these ideas.

That said, I cannot imagine ever using this Haggadah at my family's seder. Firstly, there are no transliterations. Its sheer size and bulk make it really unreasonable to use as a family Haggadah. The commentaries are on their own separate pages and you have to turn the book to read them, and the timeline also requires you to turn the book, but the opposite way! I know that much has been made of the design of this book, and it is so beautiful, but it really doesn't seem like it would be a very realistic book to use during a Seder, itself.

In addition, I have spent most of my life struggling with translations that are masculine-based. In fact, I put my own Haggadah together many years ago in order to restructure the translation into something gender neutral. It's really not that hard, yet Nathan Englander chose to translate using masculine language. I'm disappointed, really, since I would imagine that a New American document would be a little more gender sensitive. (According to that same New York Times article, even the Maxwell House Haggadah has become gender-neutral.)

So, I definitely recommend that this book grace your shelf. It is beautiful to behold and there are new insights, definitely. But I recommend that you find a different Haggadah to use at your Seder table, if you are still looking.

What Haggadah does your family use?
P.S. Today over at my other blog, the #blogExodus prompt is Redemption, and I talk about my family's Haggadah...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Using up the Chametz {recipe}

So it's that time of year when I'm using up the chametz.
And I am trying so hard not to buy any more.

So when Sam asked for French Toast, I was so excited to remember that I had a challah in the freezer just begging to be sliced up.

I love French Toast, but I just don't always have time to stand at the stove and flip the bread. (Um...4 kids!?) And many years ago, I discovered the overnight baked French Toast deliciousness. But sometimes, I don't plan ahead...and then I figured out how to make baked French Toast without the overnight part and...voila...French Toast is a basic, easy to make meal!

I adapted the recipe from here....

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey (I don't measure. I just squeeze it in the pan.)
2/3 cup orange juice (or milk if you don't have any)
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (who measures?)
1/4 teaspoon salt
glug of vanilla
6 (1/2- to 3/4-inch) thick slices of Challah

Heat oven to 375.
Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray and then put butter and honey into then pan. Heat in oven until butter melts and honey is bubbling, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and stir well.
While it's heating, in a large wide pan, whisk together juice, eggs, spices, and salt. Dip bread in, turning it once to coat it well, let it soak about 2 minutes per side, then carefully set each piece of bread into the honey-buttered pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until well-browned. Before serving, flip over each piece so the honey-butter side is up.

It smells and tastes amazing.
What do you do to use up the chametz in your house?

Looking for #BlogExodus? Check it out over here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

#BlogExodus and #Exodusgram Update!

What a fun project this is turning out to be!

I was hopeful that #BlogExodus would inspire some new bloggers or some "retired" bloggers out of retirement....and it has!

Here are some of the BlogExodus posts I've seen so far... (titles are blog titles, not post titles!)
(Follow #BlogExodus on Twitter for other posts that I may have missed)

Sh'ma Koleinu
The Table
Jane the Writer Writes
A Good Question!
Cookie Crumbs
Under a Tree in Oconomowoc
Blessed Little Bird
oh, I almost forgot my own posts!
Thoughts from Rabbi Phyllis 

Are you posting for #BlogExodus and I missed it? Let me know in a comment!

And, very cool, I'm really enjoying the different ways that people are interpreting #Exodusgram, the photo project.

You can see some of them here, using Webstagram and others at a Twitter search for #Exodusgram.
Make sure to check out the Bible Belt Balabusta's creative Lego Exodusgram pics!
(It is much trickier to link to other people's pics, so I'm going to have to get you to go click around to see them. Trust me, it's worth it. Very cool.)

Are you doing Exodusgram and I've missed it? Help me out!

Here are some of my Exodusgram pics.... (which you can follow on Instagram or my Tumblr)
Learn and Teach (Day 3)
The Narrow Places of Mitzrayim (Day 1)

Chametz (Day 2)
 Remember, there aren't any if you haven't started, there's still time to join in! (Feel free to rearrange the order of the days to suit yourself!)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tasty Manischewitz Treats {review}

Back in January (!) I received an awesome box from Manischewitz, with the following contents:

My kids were so excited, they immediately opened the container of (Sugar Free) Macaroons and consumed half the package before I even realized it. And then they proceeded to eat them over the next few weeks. "The best macaroons!" they pronounced them. I must admit, that was a good enough review for me and I didn't get even one! (Do you like macaroons? This is a love-hate thing, I've found. I found a recipe for Pesadik brownies that uses chopped up that's delicious.)

Then, I made a whole (almost) Pesadik dinner for the family. I used the gluten free pasta to make a baked pasta dish, and I made the Red Velvet Cake. First...the pasta dish:

I didn't tell them it was gluten free pasta. It was a little gummy while cooking, and it definitely isn't the same as the "regular" pasta that I usually make, but my kids ate it with no complaints at all! My brother-in-law, who often eats gluten-free products, said that it was quite good gluten-free pasta. High praise!
Then, the cake:
Now, if you've been around here before, you've noticed that I'm a baker.
So I don't usually buy mixes like this, on Pesach, or ever! But how could I not try it out? 
 I must admit, it smelled like matzah meal and I didn't have high hopes as I mixed it up.
 And I thought the frosting had an odd flavor when I tasted it....

But my kids ADORED it. In fact, Sam asked if I would make it for his birthday next year.

Uh-huh. Totally not kidding.

Which doesn't mean that he's going to get it for his birthday. But I thought that was amazing praise.
It actually tasted quite real red velvet cake! Impressive for a Pesadik baked good that came out of a box.

As you can see from the picture above, we also got some White Chocolate Covered Matzo - which we thought was too sweet, and some Mediterranean Matzos, which I think will make awesome Matzah Pizzah.

The other notable thing in the package were the Guiltless Gourmet Crunches - a sweet, crunchy cashew snack food that was really delicious. I would definitely eat that year round.

Thank you to Manischewitz for the samples! you head on out to do your Pesach shopping, these are some of the new offerings you might find on your shelves! What new products are you going to try this year?

(Disclosure: I received the package from Manischewitz and we tasted the food. I was not compensated in any other way for this review!)

P.S. If you're looking for #BlogExodus, head over to my other blog,, and if you're looking for #Exodusgram, head over to my tumblr,

Friday, March 23, 2012

#BlogExodus and #Exodusgram start tomorrow!

Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first of the month of Nisan. Don't blink, because that means that there are only 14 days until Erev Pesach.

I will just pause for a moment and let that sink in.'re screaming a little too loud for me. calmer?

Got it.

Anyway, back to the blog post.

Tomorrow (which is Shabbat, so my post will go up after Havdalah) is the first day of #BlogExodus.

There have been some questions raised about it, so I thought I'd answer them!

Do I have to have a blog or use Instagram to play along?
No. It's just a way to think about these topics each day of the two weeks leading up to Pesach. Do you Facebook? Are you on Twitter? What other means would you like to use for sharing your thoughts? There are no "rules." Using the hashtags is helpful, though, so everyone can find your posts. It also builds interest and piques curiosity!

What do you have in mind for photos/blog posts/etc?
Um....nothing. I don't have anything in mind, which will make it tricky for ME to participate in my own project! No, seriously, I am hoping that everyone will come up with their own creative touch.

How do I share my stuff with you?
Well, you don't have to share with me, but I am hopefully going to do some aggregating of the photographs and links to blogposts on a semi-regular basis here at my blog. I think it will be fun for people to see what others are doing. That's where the hashtags will be helpful to me, so I can find the posts.

Do I have to post everyday?
No, silly. Didn't you read the answers to the first question? No rules means no guilt, no requirements, no nothing. Pick and choose which topics you like. Or...set up a personal challenge to try them all. It's really up to you. I'm just trying something out.

So....just a reminder, here are the topics. Feel free to use this image on your #blogexodus posts, or share it on Instagram or Facebook or wherever.
Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!
Chodesh tov!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

#BlogExodus and #Exodusgram

There's always a lot to get done to prepare for the holiday of Pesach.
Not only do we have to get our homes ready for the week of leaven-free dining, there's an important spiritual aspect to preparing ourselves for the experience of the Exodus.

Luckily, there are a couple of weeks prior to Passover in which to get ready!

A few years ago, I participated in Tweet the Exodus. It was one of the most fun online projects I've ever participated in! I'm not sure we could reprise it even if we wanted to!

So onto new and different projects.

This year, I'm inviting YOU to join me (yes, you. The person reading this post...friend, family, colleague, blogger, reader...) in two projects during the first part of the month of Nisan, the month in which Passover falls. You can do one or both...or just jump in at your whim!
The first is #BlogExodus. This is pretty simple. I've provided topics for each of the first 14 days of the month of Nisan...just write a blog post about that topic on the assigned day! Use the hashtag to share your post, even in your title. This might be a great way to kickstart your blog (are you new at it?) and it might be a great way to get yourself ready for the themes and ideas of the holiday! I've decided to post my #BlogExodus posts over at - my "rabbi" blog. (But I'll tweet them at @imabima!) If you don't blog, and want to participate, maybe you want to tweet the topics, or use your Facebook posts to explore these themes...

The second is a little more...blurry. to interpretation. I'm totally into Instagram (I'm imabima, of course) on my iPhone. I have noticed all sorts of fun daily challenges on Instagram, and I've decided that I'm going to take photos related to these themes. I think this will be far more challenging than merely writing about the themes and I'm hoping that it is a fun challenge. Also, if you don't have a blog or don't feel like writing...take a picture instead! (And you don't have to use Instagram to share your photos, you can share them on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr (I'll admit, I have one but I don't use it, any ideas?)...whatever makes you happy!) Whatever you do, don't forget to tag it with #Exodusgram so we can all share.

The themes are totally up for your own interpretation! I tried to think broadly about what the general themes of Pesach are, and how they would translate into blog posts, photos, etc.

Feel free to grab the picture above and share it....and use it in your posts, etc.

Are you going to play along? Let me know! Leave me a comment here, send me a tweet, or send up a signal fire...
(And yes, I know that some of the dates are Shabbat. I don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat but I will post after Shabbat is over. I'm good with can do it any way you like.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Purim Palmiers

I didn't even know what a palmier was.
My friend Barrett mentioned that she had made them for Purim, using Tina Wasserman's recipe.

I looked it up...and, oh my, they sounded delicious.
Thank goodness for Google, since I could look it up without feeling stupid. Oh, but now I've told all of you....okay. Well... you love me anyway, right? 
Plus, I had two packages of puff pastry languishing in my freezer.
(I think that Purim is a baking holiday just to help us get rid of the chametz right before Passover!) 

So I learned a little about palmiers. They are a French-Jewish Purim treat that are meant to represent Haman's misshapen ears. (Purim has so much silliness.)

Oh, and they do taste amazing. Purim is all about delicious.

 Tina's recipe is here. It was super easy.

 My recommendations - it took longer that 30 minutes to defrost the puff pastry to be workable. Almost an hour. I thought I'd be able to roll out hamantaschen while waiting for them to freeze, bake, etc, but it seemed silly to clean up all that sugar on the board so I couldn't really multi-task. They baked for much shorter than the time suggested, only about 8 minutes on the first side and 3 on the second side so watch your oven.

Rolling up the puff pastry:
What they look like all rolled up:

After rolling, you freeze them for 30 minutes and then slice and flatten them out:

The finished product:
The verdict:
2 out of 4 of my kids loved them.
I am a big fan and planning to make them a new part of my Purim baking routine!
I'm not giving up on hamantaschen though.