Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pesach (Passover) Almond Cake

Usually during Pesach I throw caution to the wind and we often eat things that I generally don't let my family eat during the rest of the year. I was hoping that this year I could find some Pesach cakes that are a little bit less nutritionally void than our Pesach family favorite jelly roll. Today I made a Pesach (Passover) Almond Cake and the kids and I think that it's really good. It has a lot of almonds so at least there's some real food in it, not just empty carbs! I'm not sure it will be replacing jelly roll as our favorite but it will make a good breakfast or a snack.

3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar (I used demerara)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup tapioca starch or potato starch
1/2 cup almond milk or orange juice
1 3/4 cup of almond flour or finely ground almonds

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 7x11 pan and then fit a piece of parchment paper into the pan. Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks with the sugar on high for about 5 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla extract, potato starch and orange juice and beat on low for about 2 minutes. Add the finely ground almonds and beat on low until combined. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry and fold them into the batter. Place the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pesach (Passover) Brownies

I really like to use extra virgin coconut oil for these brownies. Extra virgin coconut oil gives the brownies a delicious coconutty taste and has lots of good for you medium chain fatty acids. I called the OU and was told that any extra virgin coconut oil can be used for Pesach (like extra virgin olive oil). You may need to gently warm the coconut oil up so that it's liquidy but it often liquefies by just sitting in a warm kitchen or cabinet. Do not use cotton seed oil because it is totally toxic (full of pesticides!)l. It will also give these brownies an off tatse.

I will also be using demerara sugar. Demerara sugar is less processed than white or brown sugar (although during the rest of the year I use sucanat which is even less processed.) You can find either Florida Crystals demerara sugar or Domino demarara sugar with an OKP on it.

3 cups sugar.
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil.
5 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup matzoh cake meal
Vegetable oil for greasing the pan
Potato starch

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 pan with oil and lightly flour with potato starch. Combine the sugar with the oil. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the mixture. Then mix in the vanilla extract, salt, cocoa powder, and cake meal. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

High School, Homeschool and Pesach

It's been a full month since I last posted. Thank G-d everything is fine but my brain has been very busy these past few weeks. Z finally got accepted at his elementary school's high school but not without a little drama! Due to all sorts of reasons, we did not get our acceptance letter right away. It was very nerve racking because we had not applied anywhere else. The whole incident kind of sucked the life out of me for a while. We have never been so happy to send the school $2000 as we were when we sent in Z's registration fee for next year! Of course there was part of me hoping that he wouldn't get in because then I would be forced to homeschool him!

Possibly being "forced" to homeschool Z brings me to another thing that has been keeping my brain busy . I have been spending a lot of time thinking about homeschooling the girls next year (thinking about things obsessively is something that I'm really good at!). I've been doing some research, talking to to some frum and some plain old homeschooling families and reading my favorite homeschool blogs. The blogs are so inspiring and they almost always make me feel like I could homeschool and truly be happy doing it.

I do worry about having a homeschooling chevra even though every frum homeschooler has told me it's not as important as I think. There are a bunch of people in NYC who do homeschool so my kids would not be isolated but this would be a much easier decision if I new there were more frum homeschoolers out there. Any frummies who are homeschooling or thinking of homeschooling in the NYC area or anyone who knows frummies who are homeschooling or thinking about homeschooling out there in the NYC area please email me! (In my mind the NYC area is Manhattan, Riverdale, Bergen County, Passaic, Westchester, Monsey, Queens and Long Island.)

I've also been busy preparing for Pesach (Passover). I've done most of my shopping for food and other things I needed for the kitchen but I haven't been doing a crazy amount of cleaning. I try very hard to remember not to confuse cleaning for Pesach with spring cleaning. This is not the time to go through the boxes of old clothes on the top shelves of our closets. The truth is because we live in an apartment, because I can't stand clutter and because we have an amazing cleaning woman Gloria we just don't have a lot of cleaning to do. The biggest job the kids and I had was cleaning off all of our folding chairs.

I went through the girls clothing and toys right after Purim so I knew what we needed for the holiday (just a few new tee shirts). Z feels the same way about clutter that I do so there was not much to do in his room either. The only thing he needed to do was put some books that he didn't have room for in some storage containers that we put in his tiny closet. It's a little crowded in there right now but this is not the time of year to buy new book shelves. I'll deal with it after Pesach.

Of course I know that I am experiencing a bit of a false calm. I haven't yet decided when I am going to finish turning over my kitchen. I hate to be at the mercy of Pesach food for any longer than I have to be. I have an Ikea cabinet in my kitchen that I store my Pesach stuff in so all I need to do is take the tape of the doors. I have also cleaned my oven, turned over one cabinet for food and cleaned the refrigerator in my kitchen (I have a second one in my maid's room). I also keep my Seders pretty low key so there is not a ton of cooking to do. I don't invite a lot of people to our Seder and I don't serve a lot of food. No one is ever hungry after eating all the matzo that you have to eat before dinner even starts. I usually just serve some meat, a vegetable and a little dessert.

So that's what's been going on here. I am a little disappointed that we really didn't have time for any Pesach crafts. I had some project ideas that I wanted to do but I just never found the time. Of course I still am hoping to do a little bit of crafting with the girls before the chag starts!


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