Passover Granola

March 19th, 2013

I am posting this again, because it is still my favorite and I have been receiving requests. More Pesach posting to come!

This is my favorite Pesach recipe. I got it from “Stove Tops Personal Chef Service” several years ago when speaking about Pesach at a local Hadassah meeting.

I have talked about the Pesach granola so much that everyone is tired of hearing about it. But it is easy to make, yummy to eat and with yogurt is a million times better than pesach cereal for breakfast.

You can substitute or omit most of the ingredients. I recommend mixing it right in the pan you bake it in. My hope is I am giving you enough time to buy the ingredients.

If you make it, PLEASE post a comment.

4 c. matzo farfal, or broken up pieces of matzo
1 c. slivered almonds
1 c. dried raisins/cranberries
1 1/2 c. sweetened, shredded coconut
2 tsps cinnamon
2/3 c. veg. oil
1 c. honey
2 tsps Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Toss the matzo, almonds, fruit, coconut and cinnamon together in a large bowl ( I do it in an aluminum pan I am baking in). Pour the oil and honey over the mixture. Stir until the mixture is thoroughly coated. Add the Kosher salt and toss.

Spray pan with non-stick spray ( usually don’t do this step.) Pour mixture onto the sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the granola and cool on the sheet pan. Stir occasionally as it cools. Store the granola in an airtight container.

Variations: you can add chocolate chips when cool, add more dried fruit, change or add more nuts.


Seven Stones

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I  have an old friend (can you say that after nine years? What if it feels like you have always been friends?) that I rarely get to spend time with. We are different ages,  at different stages of our lives with different schedules. Recently we got a precious hour to catch up over some of her delicious warm soup.

Her company feels like “comfort food” as much as the soup.

Yet the conversation we had, like so many that we do, was not a comfortable one in some respects, and did not involve much in the way of what our respective children are up to lately, or any small talk. We wound up in a debate of sorts, that was, for me, enlightening, refreshing, challenging and real – the precise words I would use to describe this friend.

She and I come from very different Jewish backgrounds. While we arrived at an observance that is quite similar in a lot of ways (we have both studied at the same women’s beit midrash, davened at the same shul… ) we very often disagree about aspects of Orthodox Judaism, especially as it relates to women.

This particular conversation revolved around the idea that Traditional Judaism is a Patriarchy, one that has not created a suitable status for women with an expertise of Torah knowledge, one that has not created a voice for women’s thoughts and ideas on the Torah, one that has arbitrarily unilaterally* dealt with women’s observance of certain halachot without their say, and one that has not sufficiently encouraged and inspired women to learn, teach, interpret, think, or speak out.

That is what I believe is her opinion… you see, it isn’t mine. [ Dear friend if you read this and I have gotten it wrong, please forgive and feel free to let me know, comment away, and clear up the misunderstanding. ]

How much we need to “trust” the male sages of our Talmud that their decisions are what are best for women as well as men is a real source of disagreement for us.  I don’t want to see women as Rabbis. I don’t want more access to “male” halachot, and I don’t want to spend time exploring if some of them actually should also be my obligations as a woman.  I think there is a lot of wisdom in many of the decisions that the male sages have made about women, many that are antithetical to modern sensibilities of women’s roles in families, societies and Judaism.

Of course I believe that when it comes to gender issues(as well as lots of other things) there are problems within Orthodoxy. There are lots of groups of people who are serving Hashem in lots of ways that I may think are, well, misguided. There are also whole religious societies that have certain areas that need a lot of work…. but I think they are parts of a body that need healing, not an affliction from within that must be uprooted or defeated.

She did make an interesting and very compelling point to me, one that has stayed with me: we live in an age where women live more years than every before with grown children. Those children customarily don’t live around the corner, meaning in our times women have more time available for Torah study than ever before. More time to attend shul, more time to sit in a beit midrash.

This huge shift was pointed out to me several years ago by another friend and amazing woman who is the past president of her Conservative Temple. She said: ” I don’t have to be home to take care of anybody. I have time now. I am not a mom to young children. I am not a grandmother. My children didn’t get married after high school, they are busy pursuing their careers. So I have time as a Jew – and what is the Jewish world offering me to do with that time? Where is the establishment putting that decade of my life to good use as a member of the Jewish people? Why are they telling me not to use it to be Shul President? Were would they like it to go? Away?” I had a momentary desire to drop everything at that moment and write a book. Because what ARE we doing with that new-found decade (or more) in the lives of Jewish women? What are we offering them to help cleave to and serve Hashem? And what is the establish doing to work on the problem?

One answer is that we have more resources for Torah learning for womenthan ever before.  In Israel, in New York, and on-line. I have friends in this in-between stage who are consuming Torah classes at places like at an astounding pace — because they simply have the time.

So a woman who is a true expert in Torah? My friend is right when she says that there are now scores of women with far more Torah knowledge than an average Talmud Torah 3rd grade male teacher bequeathed with the title “Rebbe”.

So, what are we to do?  I want women’s roles to stay far away from those that men have. I have stated before on this blog that I am a sexist, and with strong reasons. I don’t think women encroaching on male territory is good for men, and therefore I don’t think it is good for the perfection of our society. But these women have accomplished something that is often taken seriously by the people who know her, yet isn’t acknowledged in any systematic way.

Personally, I like the idea of a “Hachama“, which could be translated as “wise one”.  I would like to see “hachamot” in schools. I think it would confer an understanding that some women – like this friend of mine – are head and shoulders above the rest of us in their Torah learning, due to the hours and years of study that have been put in. I would like Yoetzet Halacha Shani Taragin, for example, to be “Hachama Shani Taragin” because at the end of the day, she is an expert. She cannot perform the duties of a Rabbi, and she cannot give halachic rulings, but she certainly can teach Torah rings around most Rabbis and Torah scholars I know.  She certainly could be consulted as an expert on a lot of Torah topics. And she should be called something other than Mrs. when she teaches at the many Torah institutions that she does. She will soon be a “Dr.”, but do we really want our Torah credentials coming from the world of secular academia? I don’t think so.

So, while we may not agree on the solution, at least I was positively persuaded of the need. I hadn’t missed it, not being a hachama myself, but when pointed out to me, I do understand the lack.

Long after arriving home from this visit with this debate still percolating in my head, it occurred to me that one reason that we have such different viewpoints is because we arrived to a similar spot from opposite directions… with one thing in common. We both have a Jewish voice that was silenced in the past.

My friend grew up in a traditional household with a traditional education….if you can call moving around the world going to zillions of Jewish schools traditional. I don’t know much about her family life growing up and I would never presume to describe how her parents taught her to view women in Judaism. But I do know that she had a lot of experience with women learning Torah… for the purpose of teaching their sons. Or girls being limited in what they could learn – and what they could say – within Orthodoxy.

“Don’t speak, don’t think out loud – you have to fit our mold“.

I grew up in the seventies, with feminism at its strongest, including within the Conservative Jewish world I lived in. I was encouraged to daven, read Torah, learn Torah, wear a tallis, be a Cantor – forge ahead in helping women being everything a man could be in Judaism.

But I wasn’t taught women’s halachot. And I was told that it isn’t okay to want to stay at home and raise children, or change diapers rather than make it to shul. (Not only is it not okay to do, but it really isn’t okay to want to.) It wasn’t okay to let my husband’s career take precedence, or to view myself Jewishly in any way different than a man. When I chose to be Orthodox I was told I was “chaining myself to a stove”. Why would a woman want to do that to herself? It would not have been socially acceptable to admit I am a sexist in my former life. To say such a thing was a “shanda“.

For the record, I have spent a great majority of the last decade barefoot, pregnant and/or nursing and cooking! Because I want to and I love it. It nurtures my family, it has made me happy – and I resent being told that it simply isn’t a valid option – it is only a symptom of oppression!

“Don’t have those goals or desires – you have to fit our mold“.

So, I want a place for the traditional woman’s role to be elevated and valued by society, including secular society. And my friend wants a place for women to do more, take on more, say more, be heard more and have it elevated and valued by society, not just secular society. But I think both desires come from a place of being invalidated.

The Girl Scouts have a saying which has become a life-mantra for me: “Always leave a place better than you found it.” I think they must have gotten that from the Torah somewhere,  Tikkun Olam and all.

This friend? Well, a short get-together over warm soup leaves me better than she found me.  And I think that is a sign of a great friend and a real “hachama“.

*the wording where crossed out was changed at the request of this friend.

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Banana Bread

May 23rd, 2010

We had too many bananas getting ripe, so I tried this Banana Bread recipe, and it was really good and easy – my favorite kind of recipe. I needed it to be pareve, so I used margarine. I also used some whole wheat and some white flour.  I sprinkled walnuts on one of them, but would love to sprinkle choc. chips the next time:

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter (I used margarine to make this pareve).
1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

This recipe is from:  Simply Recipes

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Send yourself an email.

April 6th, 2010

We are in the middle of changing the house back after Pesach. I am actually not procrastinating by blogging, but rather making good use of a break forced upon me to nurse the baby to sleep.

I still want to write an email about our sedarim. Lack of Hol Hamoed combined with all of the strep throat in our house has made it tough for me to write.

Every year, around this time, I have developed the habit of sending myself an email. If I write myself notes for next year, I will lose them.

I can send it to myself, or save it as a draft. I have a  list of the recipes that worked, the number of boxes of matzah we needed (4 more than last year,) and what spices and other things I am packing away for next year, vs. what I have to buy.

This is more or less what mine looks like this year:

Only spice needed to buy is paprika. Saved the rest. Have dill. Two sippy cups left, and no bottles.

Don’t buy coffee filters; they are w/ the coffee m aker.

Do buy saran wrap.

steam bags are in with pareve stuff.

Handle on “nice” negelwasser broke off.

New tablecloth liner for the dining room – keeping it for all year round.

New dish towels, and new fridge liners; shelf liner as well.

One roll of white duct tape.

No pesach plata anymore.

Mashed potato kugel worked well, and choc. chip cookie recipe from – try to cut and paste into here.

I have plastic fancy plates and cutlery for both seders for 2011.

Need a matzah cover (mom? )

Need fleishig tupperware, at least a couple.

Use timers in the house, that worked.

20 boxes of matzah, at least 4 batches of granola, and 3 cream cheeses were enough. Salami, and kobanos.


esadich mousse cake was good, kids liked the sorbet cups.

Stuffed mushrooms with CAKE MEAL

20 pounds of potatoes and 9 dozen eggs.

mashed potatoes, often. Liked the most.

Chicken legs doable, instead of 8 piece cut up.

Fire poppers: bake schnitzel with matzo meal breading. cut into pieces. Mix half a bottle of ketchup w/duck sauce and chili pepper flakes and brown sugar. Bring to boil, then pour over chicken and bake. (Mindy’s recipe).


Have you sent yourself an email yet?

Hope it was a great holiday for you. (It was for us.)

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Brief post: Pesach memories

April 1st, 2010

Chag Sameach. I hope your seders were as uplifting and meaningful as ours. I will look forward to writing about them in the coming days.  I unfortunately fell ill with strep this year, which is amazing given that I actually had less stress going into the holiday than ever before.  But it certainly translated into lots of sleep and time alone with the family as I quarantined myself.

Today I just want to share my earliest and fondest Pesach memory:

Coming downstairs in the morning to my maternal grandmother “Nanny” in an old and ugly housecoat standing over the stove making the best matzoh brie I have ever tasted. I am sure there was a stick of butter in the pan.

She was the only one of my grandparents to live long enough to have a relationship with my kids, and we all miss her.

Today was the first matzoh brie of the holiday, and it always makes me think of her.

Chag Sameach.

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Purim prep – post #1

February 20th, 2010

I attempted to make hamentashen with 6 children last night.

Dear stepson is 15 and interested in lots of things; baking with 6 little kids not being one of them.

My 22 month old wasn’t really baking, more like “interfering”, but he definitely felt part of the process, and wore an apron sewn by Safta just like everybody else. My ten year old patiently showed him how to “pinch pinch” and then had the restraint to let him try while she sat on her hands, so to speak. There are many times a day that I am struck at how much better a mom she will be than I am. Thank G-d.

We used Homeshuling’s  “Best Hamenstaschen Ever” recipe, which is my new favorite. If it isn’t the best ever, it is the best I have ever used.

Interestingly (at least to me) her daughter and mine both came up with the “mini hamentashen” version… I would argue there is a direct connection to Polly Pockets. Hmmmm………………..

mini hamentash

So my lesson-learned-the hard-way of the day:

We made two batches. With the first, everyone took turns doing everything. We went in turns measuring and pouring the ingredients, and then took turns rolling the dough, cutting circles, filling, pinching, etc. Sounds great, right?

That was not really a lot of fun. No one was happy with their lot, and they all spent a lot of time “critiquing” their fellow chefs. While trying to manage them all at once, the baby somehow managed to spill popcorn kernels all over the floor.

There was a time in my life that would have phased me, too.

Second batch: I made the dough, told them to deal with that; they had to let me do that part. I then rolled 5 approximately even balls of dough, and let them each choose one to make into hamentashen from start to finish, one at a time, in ascending age order.

I believe that such plans aren’t necessary when you are baking with two. But baking with six (five, really), well, it made a huge difference.  Everyone had their chance, without interference, to do it “their way”. They each had the same number of hamentashen come out of their “batch” (6) and peace and order (relative of course) was restored.

In my own defense, batch number two probably wouldn’t have gone as smoothly as it did without the “tutorial” of batch number one that we did together. Still, next year we will bake together — separately.

5 kids in aprons sewn by Savta

5 of the 6 all in aprons sewn by their Safta.

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