Raising a Thanksgiving Toast this Chanukah

This Chanukah will offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a Thanksgiving toast to the lights of the festive candles. With the table decked with rich and decadent fare, these wines will make the perfect accompaniment to the Thanksgiving turkey (and Chanukah latke).

Gilgal Pinot Noir 2011
The elegant and complex flavors in a Pinot Noir make it a great pairing for the Thanksgiving turkey. Pinot Noir is an example of a niche varietal, which suits those looking for a subtle yet sophisticated wine and for those who do not seek an overwhelming fruity flavor.

Newcomers to this varietal should try the Gilgal Pinot Noir, which is eminently drinkable and an ideal introduction to the distinctive pinot flavors. The 2011 Gilgal Pinot Noir displays aromatic strawberry, sour cherry and mulberry fruit characters, which are perfectly balanced by its floral and spicy notes.

111513_Raising-a-Thanksgiving-Toast-this-Chanukah1Galil Mountain Meron 2009
The Galil Mountain Meron is a lusciously rich blend of Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The Syrah is the predominate grape in the Meron blend and has in recent years become Israel’s star varietal. Otherwise known as Shiraz, the Syrah’s distinctively rich flavors shine through, and the Meron showcases a beautiful blend of wild berries, blueberries and red cherries, complemented by a hint of oak. This strong and well-balanced wine exhibits a silky texture and a long velvety finish that fills the palate with its rich flavors.

The Galil Mountain Winery is situated in the ever-changing Northern Galilee region. Each
season brings new views, which are reflected in the winery’s unique labels. The Meron, likewise, evolves during the meal with new flavors expressed with every sip.

Yarden Merlot Odem 2007
This limited-edition Merlot comes from the Odem organic vineyard located in the Upper Golan Heights. Single vineyard wines are produced from the very best grapes grown in a single, and special, vineyard. The Odem vineyard uses unique methods to maintain its organic character, and winemakers have commented that since going organic, they have seen a significant improvement in the quality and color of the fruit.

111513_Raising-a-Thanksgiving-Toast-this-Chanukah2The Yarden Merlot Odem is aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, giving it a long finish and wonderful aging potential. Floral, spice and earthy notes enhance the distinctive Merlot characters of cherry and blackberry, which are especially identifiable in this single vineyard wine. While this is definitely a wine to wow your guests, it will also make a truly special Chanukah gift for someone who appreciates a fine wine.

And Don’t Forget the Shmaltz … Beer! >>

Anna Harwood writes for IMP Media.

Read also, Thanksgivukkah: Thanksgiving And Chanukah … Together! >>


It hasn’t happened since 1888, and it won’t happen again until 2070 and 2165. After that, it will be 70,000 years until it happens again. So grab your dreidels, latkes and gravy boats, because this year Thanksgiving and Chanukah collide.

Yes, the first day of Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28. Time magazine calls this event “the best excuse for overeating since sliced potatoes.”

Most are calling the holiday “Thanksgivukkah” — a word coined and trademarked by Dana Gitell, a 37-year-old marketing specialist from Boston.

Gitell said she hit on the idea in 2011 after seeing a calendar that showed Jewish holidays over the next five years.

“I was driving and thinking about what you would call that day and rolling the words around in my mind, and I came up with … Thanksgivukkah,” she said.

Gitell started a Facebook page for Thanksgivukkah that has taken off.

Thanksgivukkah has inspired enterprising commercial interests and ordinary folks alike. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature a dreidel balloon. You still have time to order Thanksgivukkah shirts and gifts from ModernTribe.com. I found lots of fun ideas and things to see online. You can find several terrific Thanksgivukkah videos on YouTube. Click here to see Stephen Colbert’s hilarious tribute to Thanksgivukkah. I laughed out loud when he tried making a hand menorah instead of a hand turkey.

Gil and Margie Brodsky’s Thanksgivukkah version of the Chanukah song featuring lyrics such as “Come light the menurky” and “Let’s have a party with latkes and turkey” is also a riot.

Another entertaining YouTube video is “The Ballad of Thanksgivukkah,” a lively song performed by the entire staff and student body of the Kehillah Schechter Academy of Norwood, Mass. Creative lyrics include a transition from Plymouth Rock to “Rock of Ages.”

And check out PJlibrary.org: PJ Library is a fantastic “Jewish family engagement program” dedicated to providing free, high-quality Jewish children’s literature and music to families across the U.S. On its site are links for child-friendly Thanksgivukkah crafts such as a pumpkin menorah made with real miniature pumpkins, a Star of David napkin ring and ideas for toddlers.

For foodies, this day is a true fantasy feast. There are unlimited ways to combine Chanukah and Thanksgiving recipes. On past Thanksgiving days, many Shabbat-observant Jews didn’t pay too much attention to serving turkey on that Thursday. This is because the very next day was Shabbat, so they often saved the turkey for Friday night. But this special Thursday event deserves the full-on turkey treatment. You even have time to order the Star of David or dreidel mold for potato pancakes at theKosherCook.com.

You might consider Thanksgivukkah a fad because, let’s face it, it’s not going to happen again for a long, long, long time. But think of the many Jewish babies that will be born on this day. They surely will be celebrating the event for generations to come.

I asked Larry Levy, owner/chef of Biddle Street Catering, what he’s doing for Thanksgivukkah, as he is always on the cutting edge of food fads. Levy said his more adventurous clients are asking for more creativity for Thanksgivukkah, and he can deliver just that. I tasted his new menu additions and can attest: Levy has a great option for Thanksgivukkah gravy. His fabulous lighter Bordelaise sauce is made with wine, and he has another one that he braises the turkey in, with Manischewitz wine as an option. His yummy pumpkin cheesecake (pareve or dairy) has a delicious cranberry topping. And his homemade doughnuts are infused with jelly or pumpkin mousse. The uniquely roasted brussels sprouts have pieces of sautéed crisp pastrami. His apple/potato pancakes and homemade cranberry relish are other wonderful items that combine the holidays in delicious ways. And Biddle Street makes gorgeous garnishes of large turnip flowers, leek daisies and spaghetti shreds of carrots.

For an easy and unique turkey presentation, I use fresh kale, fresh sage, canned spiced apples and fresh cranberries or grapes to decorate my turkey platter. You can slice and prepare these herbs and fruits in advance. If you decide to plate each person’s dish, think about placing the sliced turkey on top of a large potato pancake and then drizzle with gravy.

Pumpkin pie and other pumpkin dishes can easily be made pareve by using non-dairy coffee creamer in place of the evaporated milk. Non-dairy cheese such as Tofutti can be used to make pumpkin cheesecake or dips.

I always love food mash-ups, so Thanksgivukkah suits me fine. I combine two different stuffing box mixes, such as cranberry and cornbread, and add some sautéed onions and dry sage for a homemade taste. For quick, good gravy, I mix turkey gravy with beef gravy (can, jar or powdered mix) and add some essence from the turkey. My mother always combined the gravy she bought from the deli: one pint of beef and one pint of turkey.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Carrot Dill Soup >>
Biddle Street’s Brussels Sprouts With Shallots And Pastrami Crisps >>
Biddle Street’s Apple-Potato Latkes >>
Cranberry Crumb Bars >>

Tips & Tricks
Here are a few recipes and tips to make Thanksgivukkah delicious and memorable. Gobble Tov to all!
• Try substituting Tofutti cream cheese and sour cream.
• Make a thin potato kugel and use your Jewish star cookie-cutter to shape potato kugel pancakes.
• Spice up some store-bought apple sauce with red cinnamon candies. Heat to dissolve the candies and create pink potato latke topping.
• Fill mini-cannoli shells with pumpkin mousse or the filling from pumpkin pies. Dip the cannoli ends in cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.

Ilene Spector is a local freelance writer

Read also, Raising a Thanksgiving Toast this Chanukah >>

Kosherfest And More

110813_kosherfest-and-moreThis year, the annual Kosherfest celebrated its 25th anniversary. A lackluster economy may be the reason that the 2013 event seemed scaled down. However, there was no lack of enthusiasm by the many attendees, who scoured the aisles for delicious products to sample.

Each year, there are competitions for the best in show in many categories. Best New Gift or Novelty Item went to AGIV Ltd. Publishing for its Passover haggadah in the shape of a wine bottle. Best New Kosher for Passover Item went to Finchi’s decadent chocolate mousse by Aunt Rashi’s Goodies. Premier Tasty Meats won Best Meat/Poultry/Seafood for its hickory smoked beef brisket — sliced and packaged for retail sales.

A neighbor of mine smoked a brisket this year, and it was fantastic, especially sliced thin. I will let you know if and when Premier’s Brisket is available in Baltimore. (Hint: A smoker would be a great Chanukah gift this year.)

I was not part of the judging, but I had my own Kosherfest favorites. I loved the new Star of David shaper for potato pancakes by The Kosher Cook. I was also delighted by artist Nina Sabaq’s magnificent hand-painted wine bottles. They are available online at drinknstylecorp.com, but you truly have to see these glasses up close to appreciate the labor of love and talent put into them.

A few booths did acknowledge the upcoming Thanksgivukkah. Leave it to Manischewitz to have a Thanksgivukkah recipe contest. Go to its website manischewitz.com for details. Hurry, though. The deadline is Sunday, Nov. 10. If you enter an original Thanksgivukkah dish using at least one Manischewitz product, you could win some real gelt. Both holidays are so steeped in traditional recipes, it shouldn’t be hard to do.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that may inspire your creativity. Thanksgivukkah tov to all!


Tips & Tricks
• I make homemade potato pancakes using Manischewitz’s homestyle box mix and add fresh or refrigerated shredded potatoes and chives. Freeze ahead.
• Look through your photos for pictures of your guests to place on a toothpick in mini-pumpkins, apples and pears for great place cards.
• Big Lots has an extra-large bag of chocolate gold coins for $5 to spread all over your table.

Ilene Spector is a local freelance writer.

Dancing With Chickens In 10 Easy Steps


(David Stuck)

What’s Shabbat without chicken? What’s any day without chicken?

With meat and fish prices soaring, chicken is still your best bet for nutritious and economical meals. But it’s easy to get stuck in a chicken rut. Here are some ways to shake up your routine and add new culinary steps to your chicken dance. If your regular Shabbat meal is roasted chicken, roast an extra — or buy another rotisserie chicken. You can never have too much,
because there are so many ways to use the leftovers. I prefer to either shred or chop cooked chicken on a diagonal for more tenderness. And never throw away the frame of any cooked chicken. Freeze it for a rainy/snowy day to make chicken soup. Store-bought rotisserie chickens make the best chicken soup, as the herbs season your soup beautifully. And cooking time is much shorter.

Here are 10 ways to dance with chickens — seven ways to incorporate leftover cooked chicken and three from-scratch recipes.

1. CHICKEN SLOPPY JOES: Sauté some finely chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic until translucent. Add finely chopped cooked chicken to warm. Stir in equal parts of marinara and barbecue sauce, and spoon onto soft buns to serve.

2. THAI PASTA WITH PEANUT SAUCE: Combine about 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, one teaspoon sugar, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic and a dash of hot sauce in a saucepan. Add enough coconut milk to thin. Warm on the stove, then toss with cooked pasta noodles, shredded cooked chicken, chopped roasted peanuts and chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.

3. CHOPPED SALAD: Combine chopped cooked chicken, chopped apple, chopped red onion, raisins and almonds in a bowl. Toss with a pareve salad dressing. I like the Asian ones.

4. CHICKEN LETTUCE CUPS: Chop chicken and toss in a little cornstarch. (2 tablespoons for each whole chicken). Sauté chopped garlic and ginger over medium heat until golden brown and nutty aroma. Add chopped shiitake mushrooms and chopped water chestnuts. Drizzle with soy sauce, rice vinegar and a touch of sugar, scraping the bottom of pan. Add the chicken and cook until sauce thickens and chicken is done. Drizzle over a little more soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil to taste. Serve in lettuce cups topped with chopped roasted peanuts and green onion.

5. CHICKEN COUSCOUS: To cooked couscous, add diced olives, diced red onion, sautéed garbanzo beans, chopped cooked chicken, raisins, diced dried apricots and diced dates. Flavor with fresh chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley, ground cinnamon, cloves, coriander and squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

6. CHICKEN TACOS: Try the new stand-up-straight taco shells, one packet of low-salt taco seasoning and about 1 cup shredded cooked chicken. In a small saucepan, add about one half the packet of seasoning, some water and the chicken. Simmer for about five minutes, stirring until almost all liquid is dissolved and chicken gets all the flavors. Place lettuce on bottom of taco shell, then chopped tomato, chopped onion (optional), chicken and sliced avocado and end with some good salsa.

7. CHICKEN TAQUITOS: Roll shredded seasoned taco chicken in small tortillas and then deep fry. Serve with great salsa.




Ilene Spector is a local freelance writer.

Novel Flavors

Each Jewish New Year, as we greet each other with a joyous shannah tovah, I add a happy birthday for myself. Being born on Rosh Hashanah, a holiday with a tradition of tasting new food, as well as being the owner of The Classic Catering People, I relish in the discovery of novel flavors.

Rosh Hashanah is associated with many food customs, such as eating apples and honey, that are meant to symbolize a sweet New Year. The holiday is a natural reflection of local and seasonal foods prepared by using what’s available wherever you are. So, just as Jewish people have settled in different parts of the world, meals served during this time should be adapted based on what’s accessible in that region.

This Rosh Hashanah, I am approaching meal planning in a way that pays homage to the old and introduces unexpected elements of the new.

First. Why not seek out one of the many varieties of heirloom apples that continue to delight shoppers at Baltimore’s farmers’ markets? The blend of old and new that these apples represent serves as a tangible reminder of Rosh Hashanah and its meaning: reflection of the past year and the celebration of the New Year to come. This year, slice several types of apples to dip into honey, or mix an heirloom variety of apples in a traditional cake or cobbler.

Second. Pomegranates are often an expression of the New Year because they are a fruit that arrives in early fall, and eating them is a ritual that encourages us to appreciate all the fruits of the earth. Furthermore, the pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds, equal to God’s 613 mitzvot. This Rosh Hashanah, try toasting the New Year with a nonalcoholic libation made with pomegranate juice as the base. Another way to enjoy pomegranates is to add its red-colored seeds to a salad or its sweet-tasting juice to a vinaigrette dressing.

Third. For the daring, seek out the fruit of the Pawpaw tree. Pawpaw trees are native to Maryland, and, until recently, the fruit could only be found by foraging. Today, it is available during select weeks in the fall at farmers’ markets or can be purchased frozen in pulp form. The Pawpaw tree is a part of American history; it was grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, and the seeds traveled across the county with Lewis and Clark. It is often compared to a banana in taste, has tropical characteristics and is perishable. Its fleeting nature is a wonderful expression of celebrating the moment and a new ingredient that can enliven your Rosh Hashanah menu.

While Rosh Hashanah is a time of tradition, it is also a time of celebrating new and exciting things. This year, consider adding an unexpected twist to your holiday meal.


Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Harriet Dopkin is president of The Classic Catering People in Owings Mills.

Never Too Early …

It’s not too early to start planning for the High Holidays — or to think about Chanukah. Yes, I said Chanukah. This year, Chanukah is so early, it falls on Thanksgiving Day. This calendar event will not happen again in our lifetime. So, after a summer of warm weather, vacations and staycations, it’ s time to get ready for a very busy fall and early winter Jewish holiday season.

Rosh Hashanah is up first, as always. It’ s a new year, so I like to add new twists to my food. Traditional recipes help preserve our past, but putting a unique spin on a dish gives it a personal signature — and creates new traditions to honor in the future. I have included traditional recipes to get you started, along with some tips for the best ways to blend the new and the old. You may not have to start cooking yet, but you can begin by taking small steps, such as assembling your holiday guest list. Be realistic and be good to yourself.


Plum Tomatoes With Cumin-Cornbread Crumbs


Rice Pilaf With Fideo (Angel Hair) Nests


Traditional Chicken Soup With An Asian Twist

Tips & Tricks
• Try grated orange peel, orange juice in place of some water and chopped dates in your favorite challah recipe.

• Add some tiny red and green crab apples and/or old family photos on sticks (chopsticks) to your flower centerpiece.

• Manischewitz Recipe & Holiday Guide is a new app available for download on all Apple and Android devices and contains a large selection of recipes for any and every occasion and holiday.

Farm Fresh

071213_farm_fresh1The Maryland foodie’s hallmarks of summer used to be a proliferation of snowball stands, then tomato stands, then stands for silver queen corn. In the past few years, the demand for healthy, organic and local food has popularized a new culinary staple of summer in our state: the farmers’ market.

It starts right now and continues until the end of August. Make the most of local Maryland bumper crops of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can visit a local farmers’ market almost every day of the week. It’s where you will find artisan breads, organic herbs and vegetable plants, along with a weekly array of home-grown items, fresh flowers, crafts and wines. Homemade baked goods (even gluten-free) are featured at many farmers’ markets and are usually from “made-from-scratch” recipes. Some markets feature farm-fresh eggs from chickens and ducks and heirloom tomatoes. I love the Tuesday afternoon hours of the Pikesville and Kenilworth farmers’ markets. Look for Calvert Gifts at Kenilworth for gorgeous, delicious heirloom tomatoes.

Photos by Justin Tsucalas

Photos by Justin Tsucalas

Having a party or Shabbat dinner? Plan your menu after visiting a market. July 20 is Tu B’Av, a.k.a. Jewish love day. Why not invite a bunch of singles to your Shabbat lunch? Ask each one to bring a three-minute Jewish food story for fun conversation.

Become a savvy farmers’ market shopper by following the tips below. For a list of all Baltimore City and County farmers’ markets go to mda.maryland.gov/maryland_products.

How to successfully navigate a farmers’ market:

  • Bring cash, preferably $1 bills in a fanny pack.
  • Take a walking inventory of the entire market to compare prices before making purchases.
  • Bring a sturdy tote bag, or better yet a canvas shopping cart with wheels (empty egg cartons work well to transport berries and figs); don’t forget a cooler for the drive home.
  • Don’t be shy; ask for a taste before buying, and ask the farmers’ favorite recipes for their produce.

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped shallots or red onion
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons sliced sun-dried tomatoes, softened
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, optional
scant 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place cleaned string beans in a large saucepan. Fill with enough water to cover beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. In a bowl, stir together shallots, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and oil. Pour over green beans. Scatter pine nuts on top. Cover and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight. Serve cold. 8 servings.

2 14-ounce cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
lemon juice to taste
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
3 leeks, white portion only, chopped
3 green or other colored peppers, cut into strips
6 asparagus spears, cut into pieces
1⁄2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
4 10-ounce cans of vegetable or Oriental broth
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh parsley, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
6-8 ounces thick sliced fresh mushrooms
salt & pepper to taste
3 5-ounce packages saffron-flavored yellow rice*

Sprinkle some lemon juice on the artichokes and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onions until soft. Stir in tomatoes, leeks, artichokes, peppers, asparagus, peas and 1 can of broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Stir in remaining cans of broth, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Add rice, stirring well. Simmer, covered, over low-medium heat for about 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, before serving. 6-8 servings.

*You can substitute 12⁄3 cups long-grain rice and 1⁄4 teaspoon turmeric for packaged yellow rice.

1 pound carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Splenda
1 clove finely minced garlic
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or powdered curry
1⁄2 cup raisins

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add carrots and continue to boil until just tender, about 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water, drain and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, Splenda, and garlic. Add cumin, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in carrots and raisins and toss all together with dressing. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. 4-5 servings.

1 prepared 9- or 10-inch pie crust
1 small package of crumbled goat’s cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 large Vidalia onions, halved and sliced
3 medium-to-large Maryland, Jersey or heirloom tomatoes, sliced
grated Parmesan cheese

Bake pie crust according to directions to lightly brown. Cool. In a large
fry pan, heat olive oil and butter. Add sliced onions and caramelize them, stirring often. Sprinkle goat’s cheese on bottom of pie crust. Place onions on top. Layer tomato slices over onions. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. 8-10 servings.

Ilene Spector is a local freelance writer.

Simply Delicious

071213_simply_deliciousMove over hamburgers. Out of the way, hot dogs. There is something new to bite into — and it has nothing to do with meat.

Jennifer Polt, a stay-at-home mom who recently turned vegan, this summer debuted Sound Bites crackers and granola. Selling the product at the Towson farmers’ market on Allegheny Avenue from 10:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Thursday, she said Sound Bites is a healthy, naturally dehydrated food made from organic and locally grown ingredients.

Founder and chief producer, Polt started the company to “give people a healthier choice no matter what kind of diet they eat.”

On a recent visit to the market, Polt had a line of customers curious about her bites. Many took a taste of the crackers, which come in flavors ranging from onion to caraway to zucchini flax to walnut.

Polt’s new career really began over a decade ago, when she was in her 20s. She worked tirelessly in multiple cake, bread and cookie bakeries and said, “I would eat pretty much anything.”

However, a little over a year ago, Polt’s diet took a drastic shift, and she became a raw vegan. The diet forced her to “create interesting things” for her husband Rich and sons Sam and Ethan to eat. Her crackers “come out of my own personal journey.”

But even nonvegans seem to really like the product.

Customer Michele Miller called Sound Bites snacks “simply delicious. My body thrives on all of those vitamins and enzymes.”

Vicki Kordell, another customer, said she enjoys the “freshness and flavor. It’s a guilt-free snack.” Kordell has visited the market each week to buy more crackers.

Polt would like her company to be socially conscious, too. Days after its founding, she partnered with Apex Food Company’s Honey Bee Restoration Project, which seeks to combat the rapidly declining honeybee population in the Baltimore area. In addition, Polt purchases all of her products from a local farm company, Baltimorganic.

She said she also sees the company as a vehicle for sharing memories from her childhood through food.

“The crackers bring me back to Jewish holidays as a child,” Polt said, something her raw vegan lifestyle has generally prohibited her from savoring.

“Even though I’m now restricted on what I can and cannot eat, the crackers give this new diet a sense of warmth and help invoke a lot of the same feelings, emotions and memories,” Polt
explained. “Whether people are on similar eating paths as I am or not, my crackers have universal appeal.”

Do you want to try Sound Bites? Visit soundbitefoods.com or email jennifer@soundbitefoods.com.

Justin Hayet is a JT intern — jhayet1@binghamton.edu

OU Kosher Presents: Top Consumer Questions Received For The Summer

OU Kosher presents frequently asked questions to-date on the OU Kosher Hotline (212-613-8241) by consumers received for the summer. Questions may also be submitted to kosherq@ou.org.

These questions are answered by Rabbi Benjamin Geiger, the voice of OU Kosher’s Consumer Hotline; the OU’s Webbe Rebbe; and Rabbi Eli Eleff, rabbinic coordinator and consumer relations administrator. Rabbi Moshe Zywica, OU Kosher executive rabbinic coordinator, supervises the OU Consumer Relations Department. The responses were reviewed by Rabbi Yaakov Luban, OU Kosher executive rabbinic coordinator; and Rabbi Eli Gersten, rabbinic coordinator and halachic recorder.

1. Q: Can one eat in an ice cream or yogurt store product that has been scooped from a container that bears OU certification?

A: In some instances, the OU certifies an entire store. In such cases, the OU letter of certification will state that a particular store located in a specific location is under OU supervision. Obviously, one can eat everything in a certified store. However, it is often the case that the OU certifies a brand name ice cream or yogurt, but the OU does not certify the store that sells the product, even though the store has the same brand name as the product. In this latter instance, the OU only certifies sealed containers bearing the OU symbol. Once the container is opened, the OU no longer vouches for the kosher integrity of the item, as the scoop may have been previously used for non-certified flavors.

2. Q: Can I drink coffee at a non-certified restaurant?

A: There is a halachic concern about coffee prepared in non-kosher restaurants because the equipment used to prepare the coffee may be washed in a dish washer with non-kosher items. It is possible that even so, the coffee equipment may remain kosher. There are a number of variables which could impact the kosher status, such as, the introduction of soap, the temperature of the water, the method of washing (kli rishon versus kli shaini), etc. Nonetheless, due to the uncertainty and ambiguity of each situation, as a general rule, the OU does not recommend the consumption of coffee prepared in a non-kosher restaurant.

3. Q: Is coffee from convenience stores, rest stops, and kiosks acceptable to purchase without certification?

A: In contrast to the response given regarding coffee prepared in a non-certified restaurant, it is permissible to purchase a cup of unflavored coffee from a convenience store, rest stop or kiosk. This is because these types of establishments generally do not prepare non-kosher food, or, even if they do, dishes and utensils are washed by hand in a sink and not in a dishwasher.

4. Q: Can one purchase slurpees at a 7-Eleven?

A: The OU certifies a number of Coca-Cola syrups that are used in slurpees. To purchase slurpees, it is necessary to verify two things: Is the syrup made by Coca-Cola, and is the specific syrup OU certified? Irrespective of store claims, one can only be certain that a Coca-Cola syrup is used by checking the label on the syrup box. However, the Coca-Cola labels on syrup boxes do not bear an OU symbol, and one must also determine that the specific syrup is OU certified. If uncertain about a particular Coca-Cola syrup, one can verify its certification status by calling the OU Kosher office at 212-613-8241 or by checking special tags that are sometimes displayed on the slurpee machine that display the Coca-Cola logo and an OU.

5. Q: There is a new self-serve soda fountain appearing in public venues called Coca-Cola Freestyle (also called 100 Flavors of Coke in Canada) which allows consumers to create their own mix of flavors. Are all of the flavors certified and can the machines be considered kosher?

A: The Coca-Cola Freestyle machines (also called 100 Flavors of Coke in Canada) are OU certified in the United States and Canada.

6. Q: Must one wait six hours to eat meat (for those who wait six hours after meat to eat dairy) after eating aged cheese?

A: One must wait six hours to eat meat after eating cheese that is aged for six months or longer. The following are a few of the more popular aged cheeses that are aged for six months: Dry Monterey Jack, Cheddar (Medium, Sharp and Aged), Marble Cheese, Parmesan, and Picante Provolone.

For the complete list, please see OUKosher.org’s Aged Cheese List.

7. Q: Can a BBQ be used for both meat and fish?

A: The Gemara (Pesachim 76b) teaches that it is a sakana (danger) to eat fish and meat together. As it is extremely difficult to clean a grill, the same grill rack should not be used for meat and fish. Either the fish should be double wrapped in aluminum foil or separate grill racks should be used.

8. Q: Is it possible to cook on a BBQ that was previously used for non-kosher food such as BBQ’s at parks and campsites? Also, can an outdoor gas or charcoal grill be kashered?

A: Since food is roasted directly on the grill, the grate must be heated until it glows (libun gomur) to be properly kashered. This can be done either with a blowtorch (which should only be used by qualified and experienced individuals) or by sandwiching the grates between charcoal briquettes and setting them on fire. In addition, if the grill has a hood, the empty gas grill cavity must be kashered by cleaning, closing the hood and setting it to the highest setting for one hour (libun kal). Alternatively, one may replace the grates and kasher only the grill cavity as explained above.

9. Q: Can in-room hotel ovens or microwaves be used without kashering?

A: It is possible to use a non-kosher microwave or oven by double wrapping the food item. If using a microwave, one may poke a small hole in each cover so that the steam can escape and the package will not explode.

10. Q: Is it possible to obtain hot, kosher meals on a cruise ship?

A: The only practical option for hot meals on a non-kosher cruise ship is to eat certified pre-packaged meals that are double wrapped, such as those found on airplanes. These may be heated in any oven as long as the seals are intact and the package remains closed. (There are other halachic concerns that arise on a cruise ship pertaining to Shabbat that have not been addressed here. Please ask your rabbi for guidance.)

11. Q: Is it permissible to take antihistamines without certification?

A: First, please remember, that anyone with a life-threatening condition should take whatever medicines are necessary without hesitation. In general, tablets are preferable to liquid medications which may contain problematic ingredients. If no tablet alternative is available, the liquid should be diluted in water, juice or any liquid by a ratio of one to six, which is one ounce of liquid to one teaspoon of medication. This ratio should be done only in consultation with your doctor.




Restaurant Offers Gluten-Free Fusion Fare

Combine classic American fare with a little South-Asian fusion. Toss in some Caribbean spice. Then, make sure that whatever is served — bun and all — is completely gluten-free.

Welcome to Meet 27 Bistro, a new restaurant in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood. The creation of Paul Goldberg and his business partner Richard D’Souza, it boasts an extensive menu of burgers, entrees and desserts.
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