Goodbye, guys (for now)

By | April 23, 2015

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Well, this is sad. After nearly four years, 553 posts, testing endless recipes, taking so, so, so many photos, buying props in random places, reviewing awesome cookbooks, and meeting so many of you in one way or another, I’ve decided I have to say goodbye.

When I began blogging, life was much simpler. My husband and I had just moved to our yishuv, I was working a couple hours a day from home, and there weren’t any little people walking around. Two (amazing) kids-who-are-home-all-day-with-me later, I can’t keep up. And to me, having a blog that I can’t maintain on a decently regular basis is worse than not having a blog.

I thought about taking a short break, like a few weeks. But I don’t think that’s realistic. I’m not going to have any more time or energy then than I do now. Maybe one day I’ll start this up again. That would be great. I’ve loved this space and interacting with all of you, and to have that chance again at some point would be terrific.

For now, I hope I can appreciate the reasons that my plate is so full: two healthy kids who I am fortunate enough to keep at home, and freelance writing and editing jobs that I truly enjoy.

To the 155,000+ real live people who have visited More Quiche, Please, thank you so much. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting, and thank you for making this whole thing so much fun.

Carrot beet burgers

By | April 15, 2015

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

The first time my son’s nurse at tipat chalav (the well-baby clinic) said he should put on some weight, I laughed it off and said he must have my husband’s skinny genes. But when the number on the scale became the focal point of every appointment, it became frustrating.

In his first few months, the baby’s weight was more or less average. But somewhere between six and nine months, his measurements started hovering right at the bottom of the chart. If there had been other reasons for alarm, I could have understood why it was a big deal. But my son was perfectly happy and healthy, developing beautifully and hitting all his milestones. He was home with me and getting tons of attention, and I put a lot of effort into making meals that were varied and free of sugar, processed foods, and refined flours. Was I doing a bad job?

When he was nine months old, the nurse suggested that I revamp his meal times. Instead of a bottle at 7:00 am and lunch at 12:30, she instructed me to follow the bottle with a snack at 9:30, lunch #1 at 11:30, and lunch #2 at 1:30. He also ate at 4:00 pm and had a second bottle of formula before bed.

I figured she was the expert and did as I was told, all the while feeling that it was a bit much. Everyone said those weight charts were outdated, and besides, if he was being compared to all the other kids out there, of course his weight was lower! They were probably eating processed snacks, and he had never even had a rice cake! Could it be that seared fish fillets, cheesy omelets, and all my homemade chummus were doing us a disservice?

A few months and so very many meals later, my son passed his first birthday and was still at the bottom of that dreaded weight chart. I wanted to phase out one of his daily bottles in favor of a “real food” meal now that he was getting older. But the nurse said I’d better continue the formula — it had so many vitamins and good calories, and he could certainly use those. She also advised me to slather techina or peanut butter on anything and everything, and to add olive oil to soups and grains. I said again that it must just be his natural build. If you look at a family album, you’ll see that not only is my husband (very) tall and (very) thin, but so is his entire family. Entire extended family, practically. It’s simply how the Simons are.

Even so, she said. I promised to get a big container of techina, as well as schedule an appointment with the pediatrician, as per her suggestion. Fortunately, the doctor wasn’t worried. He told me to weigh my son in another two or three months and then come back to see him. In the meantime, my husband and I took the liberty of replacing the bedtime bottle with a real dinner that the three of us ate together.

Around the age of 15 months, my angelic baby became a professional food thrower. As he learned to feed himself, at least half of every meal ended up on the floor. This would have been frustrating for me no matter what he weighed, but the pressure to move away from the bottom of the chart made it worse. I worked for almost every bite he took, telling stories, singing, playing music, bargaining, praising, and cajoling. Most days, I was still skeptical that something was off, but sometimes I definitely questioned whether I failing in my basic role as a mother. Was there something terribly wrong with the way I was feeding my child?

At 18 months, the nurse suggested that we see a nutritionist to rule out any problems. I didn’t know what to say anymore. My son was still perfectly happy and healthy, still developing beautifully and hitting his milestones, and still eating healthy and varied foods. It was time to check in with the doctor anyway, though, so I did that first. He calculated my son’s weight percentile — a whopping 3 — and said to follow up again in another two months. The nurse said the doctor had the final say, and I hoped for the best.

That final say was what I’d been waiting for all along. My son was now 20 months and in the 2.8 percentile. But the doctor said that wasn’t a sign of a problem; when a parent is tall and skinny, it makes sense for the kid to be the same way. He added that a child’s weight is only part of the picture. Baruch Hashem, the rest was good, and so his weight was officially pronounced okay. A friend of mine joked that we should throw a party to celebrate — and serve up extra cake.

In the course of preparing healthy meals for my son, I came up with a rotation of vegetarian burgers made from different combinations of vegetables, grains, and beans. Typically, I make a double or triple batch for the freezer and pull them out for him a few times a week. Some of them have tasted just so-so, but others, like these carrot beet burgers, are so good that they have to be marked with our toddler’s name if I don’t want my husband to finish them first.

This recipe and story first appeared in “From Tali’s Kitchen,” my cooking column in Binah magazine. And guess what? A few months after this went to print, at my son’s 24-month visit, the nurse mentioned that all the charts had been updated. Can you guess what happened next? She plotted my son’s numbers on the new chart and found that he now placed a lot closer to the middle than the bottom. In other words, completely and utterly fine.

{95 recipes!} Pesach roundup 2015

By | March 25, 2015

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Congratulations to Cara and Sharyn, the winners of the giveaway for The New Passover Menu! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Hi there, 95 Pesach recipes. I’m still mostly in denial that I’ll need you soon. I’m still trying to finish the last 30 pages of that book I’m proofreading. I’m still juggling work with, I don’t know, between 10 and 13 hours a day with the kids. I’m still at the “haven’t started yet at ALL” stage of my cleaning. Hmm.

For all of you who are more on top of your game than I am, I’ve officially updated my annual Pesach roundup to include all of the Pesach-friendly foods I shared here since this time last year. There are additions all over the list, and I hope you find what you’re looking for to make your menu pop.

For more ideas, browse my full Pesach menus from 2014, 2013, and 2012. Good luck with the yom tov prep!

Disclaimer: You know your family’s minhagim better than I do! Please check any recipe you’d like to use to make sure it’s in line with the way you cook for Pesach. In case of doubt, always check with your rav.

cream-cheese-11.jpgAppetizers, Dips & Nice Little Tricks

 matzah-ball-soup-1a.jpgSoups

honey-balsamic-tomato-salad-1.jpgSalads, Dressings & Croutons

veg-meatballs-1.jpgSide Dishes (pareve)

carrot-feta-latkes-1.jpgLatkes, etc.

matzah-mac-cheese-1.jpgFish & Dairy

pesach-blintzes-6.jpgBreakfast & Brunch

amaretto-truffles-6.jpgDesserts & Snacks

grape-granita-1.jpgDrinks & Things

Cookbook Review & Giveaway (2 winners!): The New Passover Menu {CONTEST CLOSED}

By | March 16, 2015

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Want some help planning your Pesach menu? There’s nothing like a gorgeous new cookbook to inspire your cooking (and cleaning)! Read on and scroll all the way down to enter this giveaway for your chance to win a copy of The New Passover Menu!

The basics

The New Passover Menu is Paula Shoyer’s third book, and the first one with savory recipes (you might know her from her other works, The Kosher Baker and The Holiday Kosher Baker). The book’s 65 recipes are organized into eight holiday menus, plus sections on brunch and dessert. The layout is crisp, clean, and very reader-friendly.

The writing

The recipes are not only easy to follow, they’re quite thorough, as each is headed by not only the yield, prep time, and cook time, but also how to prepare it in advance and what equipment will be needed — a nice touch for a Pesach cookbook, since many people have pared-down Pesach kitchens. Thanks to the inclusion of Paula’s personal Pesach memories, even the introductory sections are fun to read.

One thing to note, though, is that because the recipes are organized by menu, you’ll have to do some skimming if you’re looking for something specific: side dish, soup, etc.

Photography

The photography makes this book really beautiful and classy. You won’t turn a page without finding a professionally styled image of some size, and some dishes are even featured in more than one photo. The seder plates and tablescapes used in the photos are a special variety of eye candy.

Recipes I’ve tried from this book:

  • Gratin dauphinois (i.e. sliced potatoes cooked in heavy cream)
  • Crumb cake muffins

Some recipes I can’t wait to try:

  • Caramelized onion and sweet potato soup
  • Zucchini basil soup
  • Potato gnocchi with pink sauce

Who would enjoy this book?

Well, anyone making Pesach, for starters. Seriously, though, there’s a nice variety of dishes here. Only 10 of the 65 recipes are meat/chicken, so there’s what to eat for a vegetarian. And for those who don’t eat gebrokts, a minority of the recipes fall into that category. If you don’t like to patchke, you might be disappointed with the dessert chapter, though. Several of the 15 desserts have lengthy directions and involve multiple steps.

Who wants to win?

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this post that answers this question: What is one thing you’d like to add to your Pesach kitchen? Limit one entry per person.

Bonus (optional) entry: Subscribe to More Quiche, Please and then leave a separate comment on this post telling me that you did. (If you leave a single comment answering the question above and saying that you subscribed, I will have to count it as one entry only.) Limit one bonus entry per person.

To subscribe, just click the link under the words “Subscribe to More Quiche, Please” that can be found on the upper right side of any page on the blog (and then follow the directions that come up on the screen). If you already subscribe, just leave a separate comment to let me know.

The giveaway ends at midnight EST on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Time is short because I want the winners to get their books in time! TWO winners will be chosen via random.org and notified by email. (If you’re related to me, I’m sorry, but you are not eligible for this contest. Come for dinner instead!) The cookbook prize can be shipped to the U.S. and Canada.

If you just want to buy the book, you can do that right here on Amazon. If you buy it through that link or any of the other Amazon links in this post, a (very) small portion of your purchase supports More Quiche, Please. Thank you! 

Disclaimer: Sterling Publishing is sponsoring this giveaway and provided me with a review copy of the book but as always, my opinions are my own.