Pesach is coming!

Pesach is coming! 2
Pesach
Pesach is almost here

Pesach happens every year and yet; how the speed at which it arrives has so many of us running in panic.

Last year, for me for the first time, there was no panic and, as expensive as Pesach is, the cost was spread out over 3 months.

The reason for this is the ingenuity of a few ladies. The first is Lindy Fohrman and her WhatsApp group called Prep for Pesach.  

This group was started 5 years ago and has grown tremendously.  There are 2 other admins on the group, as well as 2 Telegram groups for Pesach Recipes and Pesach shopping.

It started in 2017 and was very useful , even though I didn’t use it to its full potential.  In 2018 I used her weekly postings and Pesach arrived with about half the stress it normally does.

The posts start in January and even though it seems so far away and that prepping for Pesach in January seems illogical, it works.

Starting off with a small school note book, which you can use each year to make notes of suppliers you found.  After Pesach you make a list of the non-perishables you can use for the next year as you will already have them in your Pesach cupboard.

Week 1

The first week starts off with checking your kitchen for food items that need to be used up before Pesach.

Debt
Planning for Pesach

This is where meal planning works well.  Having an inventory of everything, allows you to create meals with what you already have.  It avoids wasting food that would need to be thrown out just before Pesach.

The next is to look at your disposables;  items such as tin foil, plastic wrap, storage bags and disposable cutlery and plates that get taken to work during Pesach.

Check you appliances and replace or repair what you can. I have a simple gas stove for Pesach so I have had my tanks refilled now and won’t have to worry about there being a shortage when the rush starts or running out half way through cooking. This has happened previously.

Also, if possible,  try and put away a little money each week in preparation for that big final shop!

Week 2

In the second week Lindy reminds us to buy our toiletries; items such as mouthwash , toothpaste and new toothbrushes.

Also it is time to measure your kitchen counters to buy the plastic you are going to use with which to cover them.  If you have precut tops for your counters that can be reused, make sure the ants haven’t gotten in and that they are not damaged.

Week 3

Week three and it is time to buy candles for Yom Tov and Shabbat as well as Yartzheit candle, matches and lighters.

If you haven’t been able to keep the dish towels from the previous year then now is time to do so. Sponges and scourers cannot be kept from year to year.  Sponges in general should be changed monthly.  See my article on general kitchen hygiene. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/is-your-kitchen-actually-clean/

Buy your tissues and serviettes now and also start checking to see that you have enough wine and drinking glasses.

With just under 3 weeks to Pesach, it’s time to start buying now.  I will post week 4,5 & 6 helpful tips next week.

If you would like to join the group here is the linkhttps://chat.whatsapp.com/KyOHa32nMsH654utqjsXxT.  There is no commenting allowed on the group and only admins can post.

How ready are you for Pesach?

Pesach 2019

Pesach
Pesach 2019 3
Matzo, bread of our affliction

Pesach, a word that often brings tears to Jewish households everywhere. Not only tears for the story of Pesach but also tears at the thought of all that needs to be done.

I know we are still two months away but Pesach is an expensive endeavour to do properly and for those starting out it can be quite daunting. Starting early can reduce the stress a lot.

Pesach 2019 4
I have managed to earn enough points for a shopping voucher

During the year I build my Pesach fund by using WUHU deals and SNAPnSAVE as much as possible. Usually by the time Pesach comes around I have a few hundred rand saved and shopping vouchers from my points on WUHU.

Eezee coupons
Phone app from Checkers

I am one of those lucky people who have a separate kitchen, so when I see something on special that I will be able to use during Pesach I buy it and put it away.

Please check with your Rabbi for items that may be used during Pesach without the hechsher.

I have a little gas stove for Pesach so as soon as the week is over I fill it up. It is one less thing to worry about for the next year.

I am also able to store my spices in the small freezer to use again, without needing to buy more.

Last year a lot of supermarkets put the previous years stock on sale for amazing prices and I stocked up. I am watching carefully for this year.

One of the ways is to buy early and store is to use a trommel (trunk) that can be used to store your purchases. Air tight containers to keep spices fresh in your normal freezer are a good idea if you have the space.

Expiry dates are often just when the manufacturers no longer guarantee the quality of their product. To read more about this go to my article http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/how-old-is-it-2/

I always have a list at the end of each Pesach of things I would like for the next one. The wish list doesn’t always get fulfilled but I sometimes manage to get one or two items.

One day I would like to go on one of those Pesach retreats where I wouldn’t have to worry about, cleaning or preparing for the Seder’s. After 25 years of hosting Seders though I am not sure I would know what to do with myself!

Are you ready for Pesach 5779?

Are you Proud of your Pantry?

What’s in the pantry?

Your pantry cupboard is an important part of your kitchen. If this is in a mess and dis-organised, it is not only difficult to decide what to make for dinner, but it also wastes money.

Are you Proud of your Pantry? 5
I got this cluttered grocery cupboard picture off frugalfindsduringnaptime.com

How many times have you gone to the store bought something only discover on your return that you already have 2 or 3 of the same product in the cupboard already! I own my kitchen, do you?

Hoarding Cans

Being kosher means that we can’t always get a lot of food stuffs, so I developed a habit of buying unusual kosher products, which then sat in my cupboard for years. Last year I got rid of 2 cans of waterblommetjies. They had expired 3 years before.

Expired food

The expiry dates on canned good is not really an expiry date but more of a date of when the producers will no longer guarantee the quality of the product inside. As long as the can is not bulging your food is safe to eat.

I did think, however, that having sat in my cupboard at least five years and still not been used in a recipe, it was unlikely that I would ever make a waterblommetjie bredie (stew). There were also other products that needed to be tossed.

Keeping your pantry cupboard tidy and organised is a must if you want to stop wasting time and money. If you ask a family member to look into a disorganised pantry cupboard and pick something to make, 9 times out of 10 the answer will be, ‘there’s nothing to eat’!

Keep like with like

Keeping items of a similar kind together will definitely make your time spent in the kitchen easier, cut down on your grocery bill and allow you to use up products before they expire!

My very neat pantry
My Pantry cupboard is still the most organised place in my house

It doesn’t need to be OCD tidy to be organised. If you have all your baking ingredients, your pasta’s and cans on their own shelves, condiments together on another shelf and spices together on a different shelf, you are what I consider organised. Items don’t need to be alphabetised or facing the same way, unless that’s what you want of course, but being arranged like with like will be enough.

Join us

Follow in the group as we get through the week with short daily tasks to organise the pantry cupboard https://www.facebook.com/groups/gettingsorted/.

Flaming- The Open Flame

Flaming- The Open Flame 7

Last week we were very lucky, as we won some money on the Lotto and decided to use it to have the garage door fixed.  This cost us a lot less than expected, so after a really bad day at work, I asked my husband if we could use some of the money to get some takeaway pizza’s as I just didn’t have the energy to make the spaghetti bolognaise that was on my meal plan for that night.

Instead of getting takeaways we decided to go out for supper as a family.   This is an extremely rare treat as there are 6 of us in my family and, bless my husband and son, they are very big eaters. We decided to take the kids to a steak restaurant for dinner. The two younger ones had never been to this particular restaurant as Kosher restaurants are much more expensive than non-kosher ones. We went to ‘The Open Flame’ a kosher meat restaurant in Glenhazel.

The service was good, the tables and décor in keeping with the type of restaurant that Open Flame aspired to be, the lighting was dim, possibly too dim as I like to see what is on my plate. They serve a little platter with pieces of pita bread, with a small pickled salad, humus, crushed garlic in oil and green chilli salsa for dipping.  This was gone in seconds.

The waiter took our order, writing it down in his note book, our drinks arrived timeously and then it all went downhill.

The few times we have been to the Open Flame Restaurant, we have had the most amazing meals, so I thought this would be an easy review to write.

My son had almost finished before I could get a picture
My son had almost finished before I could get a picture

My husband, son and two daughters ordered the ribs, one daughter ordered it with onion rings and the others had chips. My eldest daughter and I ordered the scotch fillet medium rare and I chose onion rings. The meal arrived with chips for everyone! We sent it back.

My family thoroughly enjoyed their ribs which were ‘finger licking good’!   However, when I cut into my steak, I found that the steak knife was dull and thought this was the reason I could not cut into, what should have been, a butter soft steak. I turned on the torch on my phone only to discover that, besides dull blades, my steak was actually still raw. Back went my food!

Take two and I cut into my now, supposedly medium scotch fillet, and still struggled.  The steak was chewy and not tender at all and I then discovered there were still places where the meat was raw.

The head waiter was very professional, offering to take my steak off the bill. However, since I had already eaten 90% of it, this would have been wrong, in my opinion. He did give us a complimentary ice cream which was very welcome.

We saw some friends there eating burgers, which looked amazing! They were very happy with their meal.

Due to us being on a fairly strict budget it will be a long time before we eat there again, and probably longer, following the bad meal.

The rest of my family really enjoyed their dinner last night and are keen to go again.

Passover

Passover 9

If you live in certain areas of the country, you may have noticed that Pick n Pay Hypermarkets, in some areas, have aisles set aside with really odd foodstuffs that have ridiculous prices! This is the beginning of the madness called Pesach or Passover.

Pesach is a Jewish festival lasting 7 days in Israel and 8 days in the rest of the world.  For non-Jews, this is recognisable by the boxes of Matzos on the shelves.

Matzo, bread of our affliction
Matzo, bread of our affliction

The Jewish holiday is a remembrance of the years of slavery, the 10 plagues and the exodus from Egypt in the time of Moses and Pharaoh. The Israelite nation had to leave Egypt in such a hurry that the dough the women were preparing did not have time to rise into loaves of bread.  Since then Jews are forbidden to eat any leavened bread during Pesach. The stringency is so exact that observant Jews change everything in their entire kitchen for those 8 days.

Our kitchens during Pesach look a little bizzare with all the counters covered
Our kitchens during Pesach look a little bizzare with all the counters covered

The first 2 nights of this Jewish holiday find families sitting together for the Seder (festival dinner). There is a special order to the way the meal is eaten as well as food to represent those different aspects of that time in Egypt.

The focal points of the Seder are:

  • Eating matzah.
  • Eating bitter herbs—to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites.
  • Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice—a royal drink to celebrate our newfound freedom.
  • The recitation of the Haggadah which is a book that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfilment of the biblical obligation to recount to our children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover.

A different set of crockery and cutlery is used during this time, matzo is eaten instead of bread and no products containing flour are allowed to be eaten or brought into your house!

Unusual foods are eaten at this time such as, Danish herring, matzo balls in chicken soup, horseradish and minced fish (gefilte fish), chopped herring, hardboiled eggs in warm salt water (delicious!) and much more. here are links to my recipes.

Danish HerringQuick Matzo Ball RecipeEasy Chicken soup, Horseradish- Chrain, Chopped Herring

The traditional greeting at this time is either Chag Sameach or Chag Kosher L’Pesach.  If you are celebrating Pesach, I wish you Chag Sameach.

Quick Matzo Ball Recipe

Matzo balls in soup
Matzo balls in soup

We are coming up to Pesach, and what would Pesach be without Kneidlach/ Matzo balls? Jewish or not this is a great meal, when served with the traditional chicken soup or even with a thick tomato or butternut soup.

Here is a quick and easy way to make the perfect soup accompaniment. This recipe is fast, easy and practically fail proof.

Ingredients

30 mls of oil or schmaltz (chicken fat)

2 large eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

a pinch of cinnamon (1/8 tsp)

3/4 cup matzo meal

 

Method

In a bowl, lightly beat your eggs, oil, seasoning and cinnamon together.  Add the matzo meal and mix well, it should form a soft dough, that you can roll into balls.

Take a teaspoonful of dough and roll into a small ball, remember the balls will double in size as they cook.

Add to rapidly boiling salt water or a large pot of soup and allow to cook for a minimum of 20 minutes, the longer they cook to softer they are.

It is very important that the soup or salt water that you will be cooking your kneidlach in, is actively boiling when you put your balls in otherwise, they break apart. Matzo balls should be soft and fluffy, and cut easily with your soup spoon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrBX35Pj7KU

Kasheringyourlife’s Training week 1

Kasheringyourlife is undergoing training! I am learning how to improve my blog for a better experience both for you and for me.  I have been participating in a 30 business blog challenge. http://www.sarkemedia.com/30dayblog

Training to write better blogs!
Training to write better blogs!

Today I have been tasked with recapping my first week of training. I have definitely noticed an improvement and I hope you all have too.

My first post was about decluttering your mail and sorting it. The blog received its normal response. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2016/02/08/its-in-the-mail/

Do you still get post?
200+ reach

The next one was on the 12th with a blog post about Valentine’s Day. This too received the normal number of views. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2016/02/12/the-legend-of-valentines-day/

During this time I had started working on the steps that had been given to me in order to improve the reach of the blog.

My 3rd post was on Sunday and it was about a visit to a coffee shop, whose coffee I really enjoy drinking. It was not a review as much as the reason why I choose to go there. This got 4 times the viewership than I normally get! http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2016/02/14/jozi-blue-the-coffee-experience/

Coffee
Jozi Blue for great coffee- over 1000 reached

My next post was about getting rid of the junk and clutter in your computer’s email box. Monday posts are usually for my decluttering group, so they get a limited response at present but are growing as the membership of the FB group increases. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2016/02/15/email-boxes-and-unsubscribing/

On Tuesday I posted about the benefits of garlic. This post saw double the usual response! http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2016/02/16/the-amazing-garlic/

garlic cloves - over 700 reached
garlic cloves – over 700 reached

In the meanwhile, I am working on the assignments that I am sent every morning, and doing my actual work for my actual boss, who is paying me. So, I am not getting a lot of sleep at present.

I skipped posting on Wednesday as I felt, both you, my readers and me, the writer, and my mom, the editor, could do with a rest!

Thursday I posted about saving money and used some of the tips I have learned so far. The post reached double the number of FB views. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2016/02/17/10-tips-help-save-when-shopping/

look at the shelf talkers, often tell you about sales that are aligned with your loyalty program - over 1500 reached
look at the shelf talkers, often tell you about sales that are aligned with your loyalty program – over 1500 reached

Behind the scenes, my actual website is getting more visitors and views. I am also getting ready for the first workshop of the year; I have ordered my first branded merchandise, which will be on sale from the 1st March.

There is much more to learn and posting almost every day for 30 days is going to be a challenge all on its own!

I am working on improving all aspects of my online presence, including Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and hope to eventually I move on to Twitter as well!

Quite proud of myself, FB, Instagram, Tumblir, ?,Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube, 8/9 not bad for knowing my social media?
Quite proud of myself, FB, Instagram, Tumblir, ?,Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube, 8/9 not bad for knowing my social media?

Remember, the blog is about Housekeeping, Meal and Menu Planning and Money Saving Tips. I am happy to do book reviews of books covering these topics, reviews of kosher establishments or vacation places, and sales specials of food and home related places. If you have suggestions of things you would like to see, that are in keeping with the blog, please send me a message.

Jozi Blue-The coffee experience

My youngest daughter and I went to my favourite coffee place. Jozi Blue, a small unassuming coffee shop, in the heart of Glenhazel, Johannesburg.

Coffee
Jozi Blue for great coffee

I must admit, I am not a great coffee drinker at all, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you about the different beans and their flavours that are on offer for you to drink there, but the aficionado’s rave about the choices. It is not the décor that draws me to this shop either, because that is mostly plastic tables and chairs. It is the vibe, to use a much abused cliché.

Plain simple decor, because the coffee is more important
Plain simple decor, because the coffee is more important

When you walk in, you are greeted like an old friend, whether you were there yesterday, 6 months ago or it is your first time!

I have to admit that it feels like Jozi Blue has always been around, but that’s possibly because of the accolades they have already accumulated in the fairly short time they have been open. They celebrated their 3rd birthday this year.

They have certainly made their impact on the coffee world here in Johannesburg!

Pippa Rowney of Coffey and Cake blog, visited Jozi Blue on trip to Jo’burg and raved about it in her blog http://www.coffeyandcake.com/2014/08/joziblue! Listed as one of the top 10 coffee shops in Jo’burg by Travelstart http://www.travelstart.co.za/blog/10-best-johannesburg-coffee-shops/. Listed at #2 on the Tripadvisor website for coffee and tea places in Johannesburg, how can anyone not want to try their coffee?

Shmuel and his staff really seem to enjoy what they do.

The staff on duty today, really seemed to enjoy their work
The staff on duty today, really seemed to enjoy their work

One thing you can’t do is leave without eating. They are not a restaurant and do not claim to be, they are a coffee shop that offers food, and what yummy food it is too.

I absolutely love their muffins, the caramel muffin is my best, actually maybe it is the Bar One muffin, or maybe the Top Deck muffin, I can’t really tell you as I like them all, however, it usually takes me a while to finish one if I am eating it on my own as they are enormous.

Delicious top deck muffin
Delicious top deck muffin

Today I had a pizza, not a regular pizza, but a banting pizza. If you don’t know what banting is, you obviously don’t live in South Africa, it is a new phenomenon of low carb, high fat eating for weight loss developed by controversial Dr. Tim Noaks.

My daughter had an ice tea.

My Macchiato, I love the little pictures in the cups
My Macchiato, I love the little pictures in the cups

The owner, Shmuel Montrose introduced a brilliant idea, or rather 2 brilliant ideas. The first a pre-loaded card, this is basically a card that you put money into and you can then get your coffee using that, the more money you pre-load the bigger your coffee discount, so when you don’t have cash, you can still get coffee. Snapscan is also available to pay with your smartphone.

My coffee card
My coffee card

The second thing he introduced is the Whatsapp order, you order your coffee via the Whatsapp line and then he will reply to say your order was received, all you have to do is drive passed and fetch it! I’ve driven passed in the mornings and seen them bring the coffee out to the people in their cars.

Whatsapp your order and they bring it to your car!
Whatsapp your order and they bring it to your car!

Go in early and it is filled with people having meetings, mid-morning its more meetings and ladies having coffee, in fact it seems to be full most of the day. There are plenty of plugs for your computers and WiFi available too. I have actually gone to work there when my ADSL line went down for a few days.

They have spent their time investing in their main ingredient, coffee, so if you want a chic, fancy coffee shop, don’t go there, however, if you want good coffee and tasty eats, it’s the place to go.

Serving dishes already needing to be replenished and it was only 10 am
Serving dishes already needing to be replenished and it was only 10 am

They also offer a fish braai (barbecue) every Sunday, which smelled absolutely amazing when I was there today. I may have to dump the kids (they don’t like fish) and take myself out to lunch one day. I might take my husband, we’ll see.

Most Sunday's you will be able to have braaied (barbecued) fish
Most Sunday’s you will be able to have braaied (barbecued) fish

For those who want it, they also offer a non-dairy option and Chalov Yisroel.

Dairy free options and banting options are available.
Dairy free options and banting options are available.

Take yourself for a true coffee experience.

The Jozi Blue staff with owner Shmuel Montrose front left.
The Jozi Blue staff with owner Shmuel Montrose front left.

Food for Thoughtful People

Food for life

Food is not only a big part of Jewish life, but is necessary for everyone. If you are a working women, coming home and still having to make dinner can tempt you into buying fast food.

As part of the cooking section of Kasheringyourlife, I  be posting recipes that help you stretch your meals and will not cost you a fortune. Most recipes will also not take more than 30 minutes to make.

I will be posting my own recipes as well as recipes from guests, the topics will be wide ranging and so will the cost of these recipes. Not all the recipes will be healthy and some will definitely fall under the indulgent category.  They will also range from novice to experienced, vegan to carnivore, and everything in between.

Is there any heathly food left?

If you read Facebook, you will notice that just about everything from tap and bottled water, to certain previously healthy foods, has come under discussion.  All the adverse effects and ‘poisons’ are highlighted to such an extent that it feels like we may be better off not eating anything and just taking a pill.  Just about everything causes ADHD, eczema, constipation, diarrhoea, and even, G-d forbid cancer, (spit three times here!).

I try to be conscientious about the foods we eat but eating healthy is often very expensive. The dietician costs money, the diet clubs cost money, recipes that are healthy often don’t cater to the South African palate or the ingredients are not available here and the measurements are imperial (USA) when we and most of the world use Metric.

guide to converting metric to imperial

I dislike exercising at the gym, as I hate being around sweaty people (all those germs- sorry I am nurse). I lack the discipline to exercise at home.  I know I am not alone in this. Exercise is great, it makes you feel good (once the pain stops) and it gives you energy. You won’t always lose weight while exercising because you may not be doing the right type of exercise.  What happens to the people that are too large to go to the gym and too shy? How do they get healthy?

food and excersise

BMI vs Body weight

I do not go by how much you weigh but I do go by your body mass index (BMI), this is especially good with teen girls, as peer pressure to be thin is very strong.  I remind my girls, as long as your BMI is within the healthy zone, whatever you weigh is the right weight, up to the age of 20.  Also go by your clothes. Those very tight waists on your skirt or pants – are they a little more comfortable, then great.

The formula to work out BMI is your weight in KG divided by your height squared (e.g. 55kg/ (160cmx160cm)= BMI), this is only for adults over 20 years old. www.cdc.gov has a downloadable Excel,  BMI calculator to work out the acceptable children’s BMI.

Please note that this is only a guide, pregnant women and athletes should not use this formula. Muscle weighs more than fat. Your BMI also does not indicate your percentage of body fat or muscle mass ratio. This would need to be measured by a qualified person. It does mean, however, that you could have a skinny person who is ‘overweight’ due to the amount of body fat they carry, or a large person who is ‘underweight’ as they do not have enough body fat.

I needed and still need to lose weight, so I spent a lot of time on the internet trying to work out how to go about this. Calorie counting has come up over and over again as a way to lose and keep your excess weight off.

Here comes the problem. We live on a tight budget, we also keep kosher and as stated I don’t exercise. Walking to Shul doesn’t count as exercise. Sorry.

The exorbitant price of kosher meat has always been in contention. I will not be getting into the subject on this.

For a lot of people it has become more and more difficult to cook with meat and fish is even more expensive per kg than meat.

Over the past few months I have been following a blog called http://www.loseweightbyeating.com/.  In it Audrey talks about her journey from 125 kg to 68 kg in one year.  She is unable to do a lot of exercise due to a medical condition. She designed her own weight loss program using calorie counting and meal planning. I am down 3kg with very little effort and no exercise.

The first thing to do is to plan your meals for the week or month ahead.  Secondly, count your calories. Women may consume between 1200-1400 calories per day and men 1800-2200 calories per day.  This also depends on your job.  If you have an office job, use the lower number in the range, if you are active, then you use the higher number, but never less than 1200 for women and 1800 for men.  Thirdly, increase your water intake (a problem for me as I really dislike the taste of water) Audrey suggests fruit infused water – not flavoured water. Lastly, and definitely very important, increase your physical activity.

Before putting children and teenagers onto a diet, they must, at least, see a dietician but should also see a paediatrician. Teenagers should also, as a guide, consume the same calories as an adult.

Remember, the more active you are, the more calories you burn. So even if you sit in a chair and watch TV, you can do simple things like leg raises and tightening your abdominal muscles (tummy muscles). http://www.rd.com has a nice set of exercises to do while cooking, but you can really do them anytime.

arm chair exersises

I have posted a mince recipe on the recipe page of the blog, with a calorie count.  It is suitable for diabetics and hyperactive kids as it has a low GI (Glycaemic Index) count. It also uses much less meat that normal.  It is really delicious.  I have adapted it from the book ‘Eating for Sustainable Energy’. Basic Mince recipe

Do you have ideas on how to cut costs and improve your health without cutting the quality of the food your serve, if you do please share with us?