Polenta with mushrooms
Polenta with mushrooms
Polenta with mushrooms

Kiss The Kosher Cook

By Malkie Hirsch

I don’t know about you, but when my kids come home the week before winter break and the homework duties are minimal, I almost don’t mind having them home all week.

Almost.

I’d venture to say that that is my favorite part about winter break. It’s a homework break for moms far and wide, and on behalf of us everywhere, I’ll take this time to thank the teachers and admin for the nice midyear vacation from nightly homework, tests, and projects.

Whether you find yourself booking exotic destinations for yourself and the family, or prefer a staycation at home, food is always at the forefront of everyone’s minds. For the past two years, we’ve been going to a popular ski resort in Pennsylvania. Last year was our first time at this hotel, and there were a few neighboring restaurants that offered takeout for each night that we were there, so we decided to take advantage and order out for burgers, fries, and other family-friendly eats.

But this year? Moshe had other ideas.

I try keeping my mention of my husband to a minimum, because he likes to be a behind-the-scenes kinda guy. He’s the type of person who talks little and does a lot, but wants no credit. I walked into the house on Sunday before our departure to our winter-break destination, and saw him tooling around with some type of contraption on the dining room table.

Me: “Mo, I thought you went out to buy snacks for the trip. What’s that?”

Moshe: “Oh, I saw this small grill and thought it would be great for dinners at the hotel. I also picked up steaks, burgers, and nuggets.”

Me: “You picked up a grill. Right. And where are we putting this grill?”

Moshe: “On the porch of the hotel room. Don’t you remember the layout from last year? It’s the same room.”

Me: “Do I remember what I ate for breakfast today? How am I supposed to remember the layout of the hotel room from last year!”

So, he expertly puts together this grill, and packs it up in the car.

And you know how there’s always a sports player that’s the MVP of a game? Well, this grill was most definitely the MVP of winter vacation. And though I find myself trying to deny this often, he was right.

He’s always right.

Well, almost always. I gotta give myself something.

And though part of the fun of winter break is ordering food from different eateries, there’s nothing like making it fresh and eating it right away. Moshe also remembered the right accoutrements–pickles, ketchup and mustard, barbecue sauce, and some basic seasonings. He packed every imaginable type of hamburger bun, sliced bread for grilled cheese, and other breads because they looked good. He packed instant soups, several boxes of pasta, butter and cream cheese, cans of tuna, and eggs.

He packed for the varied tastes of our children, and the food part of the trip went off without a hitch.

Now that we’re back in school and normal life has resumed, so have our weekly dinner menus and homework duties. It’s nice having time off but equally nice to get back into the swing of things.

Being the mother of a boys club, I try to take notice of the little sporting events happening from time to time. This Sunday is the Super Bowl and I promised to:

  1. Get to know which teams are playing before Sunday.
  2. Make a fun Game Day dessert for our annual Super Bowl party.

Dessert duty is always a fun task for me. If anything, my imagination runs a little too wild and, before you know it, it’s Thursday and I haven’t resolved which dessert to make. And although we’ll be attending a party with kids and adults, I just love the reaction I get when I bring out a kid-friendly cake. I’m thinking back to a video that popped up earlier this week–an ice-cream cake adorned with quartered ice-cream sandwiches, an Oreo-cookie crust and three layers of different flavors of ice cream, topped with whipped topping and more cookies. Who can refuse that? As for game-day grub, that’s our host’s doing, but typically it’s a variety of deli sandwiches, chicken poppers, sliders, and fries.

You know, health food.

I’ll be in the ladies section, eating Pad Thai and watching the commercials while tuning out during the game.

Like a true mom of boys.

What’s that line of scrimmage anyway?

Never understood football . . .

 

This Week’s Menu

Monday. Pulled chicken/beef pizza (repurposed Shabbos leftovers)

Tuesday. Creamy polenta with onions and mushrooms, ricotta lemon pancakes

Wednesday. Sweet-and-sour meatballs with basmati rice, broccoli

Thursday. Green shakshuka with Israeli salad, pizza

“What is polenta?” you may ask.

Polenta is made from cornmeal and water (or milk, if being prepared as a dairy dish). Cornmeal can be prepared as a sweet dish (such as farina) or as a great savory dish, like polenta. It can be prepared loose or put into a sheet pan and cut into slices and grilled. It’s a great vegetarian option; my favorite way to prepare polenta is with sautéed mushrooms, parmesan, and finished with truffle salt. It’s a filling and hearty alternative to pasta or rice.

Malkie Hirsch loves to cook and shares her ideas freely on her Facebook group, Kiss The Kosher Cook.

What’s sweeter than sugar and with fewer calories? Hearing from her readers. Feel free to write with questions, comments, and suggestions to koshercook@5tjt.com.

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