So since social distancing has become the new norm I have started posting videos on Youtube. I am attaching one below and will continue to post new videos as I make them.
I've started a GoFundMe fundraiser and would really appreciate it if you can help me share it with your friends. The first couple of days are critical to determining whether my fundraiser will be successful, so every extra share will help!
Here's the link to my fundraiser: http://www.gofundme.com/f/sy54j7
If you are on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, please also consider sharing on these or any other social networks.
Keeping myself busy during quarantine has been more than a challenge. From the day that the city said to self isolate and maintain social distancing I watched my personal chef service dwindle to almost non-existence. So I wiped off the dust and came up with a plan. In mid March I took it upon myself to start making video demos and posting them on my very own YouTube channel. To support this financially I started a Facebook fundraiser. With the funds I have raised so far I have been able to create professional quality (I hope) intro & outros to my videos. Over the next few weeks I will continue to upload new videos.
Being at home has also given me time to work on new recipes and themed menus, much to my DH enjoyment as he gets to sample everything. My garden is planted and sprouting. Veggies and flowers outside, herbs in the kitchen until they have matured enough to plant outside. When choosing flowers my I went with flowers that would work – marigolds to repel mosquitos and coneflowers to attract bees to pollinate my vegetables.
This has also been a time to continue to practice reduce, reuse & recycling ideas in my home. I love making my own salad dressing but I hate storing it in plastic containers so I started buying salad dressing cruets when I see them on sale or in places like Aldi. They make mixing and storing my homemade dressings more practical and much more presentable from fridge to table (see pictures below). One of the hardest parts about grocery shopping with home delivery services has been the excessive packaging. The worst culprit is Amazon Fresh. In plastic inside of sealed plastic shipping bags – really? They couldn’t think of a less impactful way to package things. I miss going to the store with my reusable canvas bags and mesh produce bags. Oh let’s be real I miss going grocery shopping. My options are limited, but so are everyone else’s.
I do hope you cross follow me on all of my social media as I often post on Instagram and Facebook. If you have any ideas for videos please let me know.
So it seems that as I head into the post Chag season I have fallen into an old bad habit. I have been neglectful of writing and posting here and sharing my culinary adventures with you. So I am challenging myself to break this habit and start a new one. Bzrt’H (with help from GD) I am going to post a new post by Tuesday of each week. If you don’t see it email me! Some weeks I will post recipes others just anecdotes from my life as a personal chef, wife, mother and grandmother. Now I know myself pretty well and this is seriously going to be work. It is widely accepted that it takes on average 66 days to make something a habit. Three times as long as scientists originally thought. So like my Reduce, Reuse, Recycle project I am diving in headfirst. So long old habit, hello posting at least once a week habit!
After a crazy busy winter and an even busier Pesach (Passover) it’s time to catch y’all up on my Reuse, Reduce & Recycle campaign. It is in full swing. In my house we have stopped buying disposable bake ware, plates, cutlery and storage containers. Now I didn’t throw out any of the above that were already in my garage or pantry that would have been counterproductive. Learning how to store foods without using Ziploc bags and plastic containers is definitely a challenge. Not using disposable plates over Pesach proved to be uber challenging. So much so that at one point over Yom Tov I actually had a baby melt down and caved in and used fancy disposable ‘china’. I keep thinking big lasting change comes by making little steps. Here are some things we have changed and seem to be able to keep doing.
All of this has taken time and practice. I make mistakes as does my husband but we are working on it daily. The herb and vegetable garden happened because I couldn’t get enough of my neighbors interested in a food co-op. The co-op that I really like is just too far to make it feasible for me to join and purchase from weekly so after looking into a few more local options I decided that growing my own was the next best thing. It has taken planning and research and knowing that I could end up with little to show for all of the effort but I think in the end it will be worth it. The herbs I purchased from an organic nursery and they are potted and shelved on a rustic old plant stand just outside of my kitchen. The vegetable garden is a work in progress. My husband and I purchased the lumber and built a 4’ by 8 ‘ by almost 2’ frame and placed it in the yard. The plan is to create a permaculture style lasagna bed. Tomorrow I will make my second trip to the organic dirt farm about 30 minutes from us to pick up ½ yard of organic soil and ½ yard of organic compost and a bale of pine straw. These will be layered with cardboard, dry organic garden waste (twigs, cuttings, etc.) as well as cornhusks, coffee grinds and guinea pig droppings. Since I live in southern Texas our planting season is longer than what I am used to from the northeast. We will be planting corn, watermelon, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, sunflowers, peppers and marigolds to start out. The herbs are doing well and I expect to be able to take clippings of them to use in the kitchen relatively soon. Hopefully in time to use in the recipes I will be making for Shavuot. Here are some photos of the work in progress.
It’s been two weeks since I jumped head first into the Reduce My Footprint Mode and so far the biggest challenge has been changing the mindset in our home. We agreed to use the disposable products that we already have and that when we those products are nearing an end they will be replaced with the best reusable choice. I have slowly started buying more dishtowels anticipating the end of the paper towels. My research into various non-disposable storage methods has continued – mason jars are seriously unbelievably versatile. I made a trip to an organic, non-GMO bulk store that has a CSA. There are details to work out and I ma looking at more local alternatives as well. The little changes are easy and mostly go unnoticed but changing things that impact the convenience factor in my home seems to be the hardest hurdle so far. Old habits took time to form and making change is almost always painful and takes more time. The first of the reusable silicon zipper bags is in my fridge – no complaints yet. Our progress will be slow but I hope steady and your insights would be greatly appreciated.
Another area we are attempting to make change in is being less wasteful with our leftovers. That means on my end being more thoughtful of the portions I prepare when cooking but also coming up with creative repurposing of food that is left over. Sometimes the challenge is a no brainer – left over chicken can be shredded and made into a multitude of things – chicken salad, egg rolls, stir fries, etc. But other foods are less amenable to being repurposed. This week for our Shabbat lunch I served a very hearty vegan chili. Full of beans, veggies and an assortment of slightly spicy seasonings served over a bowl of brown rice, it was perfect. We even had it again Motzei Shabbat as an evening meal. The problem is there is still a good bit left and shy of freezing it for another day I decided to use it as the base of my meal for tonight’s Meatless Monday entrée. Knowing my household though nobody is going to be up for another round of brown rice and chili. How to use it in a creative tasty way, staying true to the theme of the evening, not breaking my budget while doing so became the impetus of tonight’s recipe.
What I came up with may not be a complete overhaul of the chili but hopefully will give it a lift and new life for one more meal. The weather here in Houston has been on the cold side and those low temperatures while mild for people that reside in northern parts of the continent are bone chilling to those of us that are used to more mild temperatures. I am taking advantage and have made soups and stews and thought that perhaps the chili would meld into one of those but wasn’t so sure my husband would buy into that, Meatless Mondays are a hard sell to my meat and potato guy to begin with. That was the thought that gave me the “AHA!” moment. My first thought was to make chili stuffed baked sweet potatoes with vegan sausage crumbles, something different but not really changing the chili too much. Then it hit me vegan Chimichangas! Ok maybe not a complete flavor profile change but definitely a reinvention of leftover chili. To satisfy my husband’s need for meat I will add in the vegan sausage to the filling and we will go with the following toppings: salsa, guacamole and vegan sour cream and cheddar shreds.
Left over vegan chili (recipe at the bottom)
Flour tortillas – as many as you need to use up your chili, using about ½ cup of filling in each chimichanga
Vegan cheese shreds (I use Daiya cheese, it smells a little funky but melts nicely and loses the funky smell as it cooks)
1 egg beaten to seal the edges of the tortilla
Grape seed or other oil for frying
Toppings & Sides
Vegan Sour Cream
Lay the tortilla out and fill with ½ cup of the chili and a small handful of vegan cheese shreds. Roll the edge of the tortilla over the filling and then fold the sides in to create and envelope – similar to rolling an egg roll. Roll the tortilla over to close sealing the edge with beaten egg let the chimichanga rest seam side down for a few minutes to make sure it is sealed. Meanwhile while you are wrapping your chimichangas heat a few inches of oil in a deep frying pan or in a stockpot. When the oil is hot place one or two chimichangas in the oil seam side down. Let fry for a few minutes then turn the chimichanga should be golden on the fried side. When the second side has cooked drain on paper bags. Serve on a platter with the sides in small bowls.
1 46oz. can black beans or dry beans soaked over night to equivalent amount
1 46oz. can kidney beans or dry beans soaked over night to equivalent amount
2 cans Ro-Tel Original Tomatoes
2 small cans Diced-Tomatoes
1 small can diced Green Chili Peppers
1 large white /yellow Onion diced
2 or 3 whole Jalapeno Peppers
½ bottle Dark Lager (you may need more)
4 or more Tablespoons of Chili powder
1 Tablespoon of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tablespoon (you can use less if you like it less spicy or more) Chipotle Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste
Put all of the ingredients into a large crockpot making sure the liquid is up to the top of the ingredients. Set at low and cook 10 hours or overnight. Serve over brown rice.
It is time for The Out of Town Cook’s first challenge and it’s a doozy. For a while I have been trying to figure out how my husband and I are able to generate so much waste and garbage on a daily/ weekly basis. We recycle, we compost occasionally, we are aware . . . so what are we doing wrong. I started to do a little research about recycling and discovered that like everything else recycling is big, I mean seriously BIG business. Where the recyclables you put at your curb end up really in the end depends on where your municipality sends it – who buys it. The largest buyer of recyclable waste is China and well its mindboggling. This is a good article https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/climate/recycling-landfills-plastic-papers.html
and so is this
Reading these and other articles that I found was rather depressing and didn’t make me feel better about the waste my household generates. It got me thinking about what is taught in schools regarding trash. It isn’t just about recycling it’s about reduction and reusing what we have. The more I thought about this the more I realized that the waste my family generates is overwhelming. By no means do I think I can reduce my waste to a handful as I have seen some bloggers do, but in reality I started to think that with a little effort we could vastly reduce the amount of waste. It isn’t going to be easy, it is going to mean that there will always be dishes to wash – no more disposable plastic/ paper dishes, no more plastic cutlery, bakeware, napkins or paper towels. As I started looking into the non-disposable alternatives I realized that although there is an expense involved in the long term I wont be (literally) throwing my money away. Here is a list of the things we plan on replacing with non-disposable alternatives over the next few months.
Disposable aluminum pans - USA brand baking pans & Pyrex baking dishes
Paper towels - cloth dish towels
Paper napkins - cloth napkins
Plastic storage containers - glass storage containers
Ziploc bags - glass containers / silicon reusable washable zipper bags
Plastic/paper grocery bags - canvas & insulated grocery bags
Super market plastic produce bags - reusable mesh bags
Food packaging - mason jars to store bulk bin purchases
Kcups - refillable washable cups
Disposable plates - bulk purchase of simple glass plates (20 place settings)
Disposable cutlery - bulk purchase of stainless cutlery
Plastic drinking cups - glasses in assorted sizes
Disposable water bottles - stainless steel reusable bottles
Gallon water bottles - water filtration system for tap water
It seems daunting but in reality we spend a fortune on things we throw away – that we buy knowing we will throw them away. So I am not jumping in and ordering all of the non-disposable items today but as I get to the end of a non-reusable item or close to the end I will replace it with a reusable item. So instead of spending around $25 for a bulk package of Bounty paper towels that maybe will last a month to six weeks I will order a bulk pack of 24 dishtowels for $17.99. Just there the savings over the course of the year is over $200.00. What is even better when the dishtowels are too dingy for my liking I can donate them cleaned to an animal shelter. I am starting to like this.
Who is game? Join me in the Reduce & Reuse Challenge. Let support each other and help clean up our little corners of the world. Share your inspirations, solutions, questions etc to my facebook event page. Let’s share our creative ideas!.
So the past few weeks have been busy. Cooking for new clients and teaching cooking classes twice a week. I’m grateful for the work and wouldn’t change anything (ok well maybe I would want a little bit more but things are good). I know I have been running all around Houston. Going to different markets daily to find the best ingredients for my customers. Strategizing new marketing ideas and writing recipes. When I started this weekly parsha salad post I wrote an outline and came up with some interesting salad to parsha connections. The posts actually were the inspiration for my children’s weekly parsha cooking class. This has been an amazing class and each week the children and I prepare something that like the salads is connected to the parsha of the week. So here I am all set to start class today and as I say the name of the parsha to the children it hits me like a brick – the recipe I have planned isn’t connected to this weeks parsha at all but next weeks and when I have an opportunity to look at my outline for the salad of the week it’s another palm to forehead moment. I somehow missed a parsha!
When I arrived home out came the Chumash and I dove in. Usually I try to read a little everyday but well I have been busy. The parshiot of the next few weeks have always been ones that I found easy to teach when I was in a preschool classroom. When my own children were younger I remember learning these with them as well. I am not sure how my perspective has changed but I find different images and meaning to the text as I am learning it now but there is still something about the image of Yosef parading about in his special coat his father gave him that mesmerizes me. The fury that his older brothers must have felt to be taunted and then to have their younger brother rub salt into their already damaged egos with his dreams. The disfunctionality takes sibling rivalry to a whole new level. Does Yosef crumble into despair and depression. No he has emuna and he trusts in Hashem. He holds true to the values he learned form studying with his father. He keeps his faith close and doesn’t allow himself to be tempted even though it lands him in prison. Somehow in his actual imprisonment he loses his arrogance of youth and becomes the man we refer to as Yosef Ha’tzadik. The transformation is in some ways a nes (miracle). He changes; perhaps the splendid colorful coat was a foreshadowing of the transformation he would undergo. A reverse butterfly going from a primping boastful boy to a man of virtue and character.
Hopefully this weeks salad will entice you with its vibrant colors and hold you with it’s depth of flavor.
Technicolor Dream Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa or 2 cups cooked cous cous
1 cup shelled cooked edemame
1 cup diced cooked sweet potato (cooked until still firm)
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup diced red & yellow bell peppers
1 cup seeded & diced cucumber
1 medium red onion diced finely
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro / parsley
½ cup low sodium tamari sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine / apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 scallions chopped using both the white & green parts
1 tablespoon sesame seeds – if you have black sesame seeds use those
1/8 to ½ teaspoon sriracha sauce depending on taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine well. In a measuring cup or small container combine the dressing ingredients and blend well. Pour over salad and toss to evenly distribute.
Yaakov is on his way back to Eretz Canaan after living in his uncle Laban’s tents for 20 years. He has amassed wives, children and material wealth. He hopes to reconcile with his brother after all of these years. Sadly he is told that his brother is headed toward him with hundreds of men on a warpath. Yaakov does all he can to prevent this, he davens, he prepares for war if he must, he prepares gifts for Esav and sends his family across the river Jabbok to protect them. While he sleeps he is visited by Esav’s malech (angel) and Yaakov wrestles with this malech all thru the night. During his struggles his hip is injured but in the end he wins. The angel imparts a new name on him. He calls him Yisroel, meaning “he who prevails over the divine.” As I was preparing a recipe for this week’s parsha salad it this stood out as the first thing I remembered about the parsha before I actually read it again. So in that merit this week the parsha salad will be my take on the humble but delicious Israeli Salad.
Israeli Salad ala Shoshana
2 large hothouse cucumbers seeded and cut into ¼ inch dice
4 medium roma tomatoes seeded and diced
1 medium red onion diced
1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
3 or 4 depending on the size Israeli pickles diced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
juice from 1 large lemon
½ cup olive oil
1 or 2 teaspoons onion powder
salt & pepper
Mix all of the chopped veggies in a bowl. Add herbs and seasonings. Add lemon juice & olive oil. Mix well. Serve at room temperature. You can change the veggies you use but keep the cucumbers and tomatoes as your base, see what you like. Also lime juice in place of the lemon juice is a nice change as well.
Hi, I'm Chef Shoshana. I have been cooking as long as I can remember starting out in both of my grandmothers kitchens learning by observing and practice. Over the years I have cooked my way through all of life's moments; cooking for family, friends, and clients. For me cooking has always been an expression of caring and love. Each meal I prepare is a reflection of that. When I cook for a client I want them to feel as if the meal was made by a loved one especially for them. The blog section of my website is where you will find recipes & anecdotes from my daily experiences in the kitchen with both clients and family. I hope you enjoy!