Cooking for Sukkot Part 3

Tonight, I finished the pre-holiday cooking. It was pretty uneventful, which is good, because I’m hella tired. 

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken – I sprinkled on cumin, turmeric, coriander, ginger and some canola oil. I couldn’t tell you how long I cooked it for if I tried. I was seriously thisclose to falling asleep when I put it in the oven, did a bunch of things around the house anyway, prepared the upcoming carrot cake and then eventually checked on the chicken and it was done. Maybe 40 minutes on 350? Maybe more? Seriously, who knows?

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake – followed this recipe minus the walnuts: Can’t remember the last time I baked following a recipe exactly. Hope it came out good.

The good news is, with all the cooking, I still fixed a sukkah, ate dinner (for reals!) and watched Fox’s new comedy block minus The Mindy Project. God, I missed New Girl. 

Still to cook (but won’t blog because it’ll be sukkot already):

grilled asparagus, peppers, zuchinni, eggplant

corn on the cob

green beans (sauteed with garlic)


pineapple fritters (fried pineapple coated in garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika…you can also bread it if you want but I’ll likely be lazy).

roasted pears (seasoned with tarragon, ginger, and brown sugar; might not do the tarragon this go-round)

roasted carrots (seasoned with salt, pepper, and rosemary)

Grill pans are the greatest invention of all time. If you don’t have one, buy one. Best gift I ever got. Except maybe an M&M dispenser filled with M&Ms in the exact color order I wanted without my knowledge. That was a good gift, too. 

Less good gift? The hives that keep appearing on my neck sporadically. Kind of think they’re exhaustion related since I’m not eating. Are exhaustion hives a thing?

No matter. Grill pans, chicken, carrot cake, and half my cooking done means I can rest happy.

Cooking for Sukkot Part 2

The cooking saga continues…but tonight’s dishes were a little less intense. Which may be why I decided to make beef ribs at 11:30pm for lunch tomorrow?

I’ve been to three different grocery stores this week so far – Whole Foods (per usual), the kosher market (also usual, though less frequent than WF, which I’m now calling WF, so get on board), and Ralph’s which I go to almost never.

And I have suspicious feeling I’ll need to go again. Because three zuchinnis does not feed 8 people. Though, I also have about a hundred peppers (or three packages) for one meal of 8 and one meal of me, and two unnecessary circle boxes (what is the word for those yellow containers?) of tomatoes, so maybe I’ll make a medley of sorts. Even though veggie medleys with tomatoes remind me of ratatouille at Brandeis which was/is the bane of my existence because it was a)gross and b)full of hidden mushrooms which meant that c)it made my allergies worse. But anyway. I digress.

Tonight, I cooked:

White Rice

White rice. Now don’t get excited. It’s plain white rice with a little salt. For instructions, see a package of rice. I believe this is Indian Basmati if we want to get really specific.

Curried Sweet Potatoes


Curried sweet potatoes –

thinly slice sweet potatoes. Place in pan that’s coated with oil (I used safflower). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and parsley to taste.  Drizzle on more oil til moist. Mix. Cook until potatoes are soft. This totally depends on your oven. Usually it takes me 30 min at 400, but this time it too me 50 on 350. So whatever works for you. Bottom line is these taste like chicken and are awesome. And also I stole this recipe from a friend, so thanks, Al.



Lentils – self explanatory. Follow the instructions on the bag. I use red lentils. I just added salt, pepper, and garlic to the water. Not sure I made enough though, so may have to revisit this tomorrow, too. We’ll see.

Potatoes with Rosemary

Potatoes – slice thinly. I liked to halve and quarter the slices, too. Coat the pan in oil. Again, I used safflower. Any will do. (Like Joseph’s dreams. Damn, I’m tired). Sprinkle on rosemary, garlic, and salt to taste. Then a teensy bit more oil, mix, and cook. See sweet potatoes re: timing, as in oven times may vary, etc. but these take about 20 min on 400. These should be soft yet crunchy. So like not mushy but not raw. You know a cooked potato when you see one because it takes all your willpower not to eat it.

And for funsies, my lunch for tomorrow — beef ribs and tomatoes: put on grill pan. Add rosemary. Cook until desired tenderness. I like them well done but also I’m tired so I can’t care much.

Grilled Beef Ribs with Tomato

Did I mention I also have the lofty plans of watching Sleepy Hollow and The Newsroom tonight? Oh, but it’s midnight. This is that other kind of Cinderella story, where midnight comes and screws things up.


Cooking for Sukkot: Part 1

It’s holiday season in Jewish land! Which means a TON of feasting. And a ton of cooking.

This time of year has been scary for me the past few years, because I have to figure out how to cram multiple feasts into my lifestyle, keeping in mind my three times a week rule and the everything homemade rule.

First of all, I need to give a shoutout to my mom and sister who made Rosh Hashana so much easier than it would have been. They slaved for a while to make sure I could eat well.

And now, it’s up to me to finish off the season with Sukkot. Luckily, I’m not cooking ALL six meals (Wed dinner – Sat lunch, not including breakfasts). Just 3 large ones, contributing one dish to a potluck, and having small meals that are just for me. Still, this kind of task can be daunting. For anyone, but especially when it comes to specific dietary needs.

But I am proof that it’s doable!

Here’s night one of cooking — recipes are either stolen or from my gut, or a combo. My apologies for the low quality pictures. Just go back in time to when Blackberries were the bomb diggity, and you’ll be like, WOAH, your phone took that picture???

Also, these are for two separate meals. More sides for each of these meals to come…

Herbed Chicken

Herbed chicken:

chicken , canola oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, black pepper. Cook at 400 until the juices run dry, anywhere from 30-45 minutes

Butternut Squash Kugel

Butternut Squash Pie/Kugel

In the above recipe, I use frozen butternut squash cubes that I stick in the food processor. It’s also AMAZING with oat flour, but use 3/4 cups instead. This is my first time making it with maple syrup and cinnamon. Substituted ginger for nutmeg.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Sauce: tomato puree, garlic, oregano, thyme, parsley, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper

Cook in layers: sauce, small pieces of eggplant, pizza cheese, sauce, eggplant, pizza cheese, sauce, eggplant, cheddar cheese, sauce, parmesan cheese. Cook at 400 for 30 min covered, then 10 uncovered.


Gnocchi in maple butter sauce


Gnocchi in maple butter sauce

Gnocchi: (make sure to follow this recipe. I recently tried to make this while I was exhausted, and wound up reading the instructions wrong and mixing the flour without the sweet potato. And then I had this whole to-do where I burned my fingers. And then the gnocchis wouldn’t stick. I wound up with what I call inside out ravioli casserole. It was DELECTABLE. But ugly. Not that these gnocchi are gorgeous, but they are at least a shape.

Sauce: – I substituted parsley and garlic for cinnamon, pepper, and sage. We’ll see how it goes!

Tons more to cook before Wednesday. But I’m happy and proud. I can eat really interesting, fun dishes. No need to be bland just because there are foods I can’t eat!

What Happens In Vegas…Teaches Us Valuable Lessons

Okay, so there are a ton of things you can learn in Vegas. Like, how a lot of people are shady but awesome at the same time. How casinos have their ceilings painted like the sky so you forget what time it is. How craps actually works. What the Venice canals kinda sorta look like. The list goes on and on. Vegas is the best place, ever.

But what I learned on my most recent Labor Day trip to Vegas is that being able to roll with the punches is the most important skill a person with food allergies can have (that and a steady hand for injections, but hey).

Traveling with my allergies can be difficult, especially now that I’m not eating out in restaurants outside of LA (and even most LA restaurants) and that I’m limiting my processed foods. I used to head to Vegas for a weekend and stop at the kosher restaurants or the supermarket and grab some bread and sandwich meat and baby carrots and call it a day. But now I have to bring my food with me and cook in advance. Whatevs, no bigs. The good thing about Vegas especially is that I typically go for a day, mayyybe two. I haven’t been on a vacation longer than a weekend in a few years — unless you count an AMAZING work trip to Sundance, but then I had a full kitchen in the condo — so I can’t really say how I’d deal with that scenario. But for these overnight trips, I just cook in advance, pack a cooler, and get a fridge in the hotel room.

This time, though, the fridge was broken.

And of course, I had no idea until 12 hours after it was delivered and supposedly keeping my food from rotting.

So here’s the scenario. We arrive at the hotel, I eat lunch, throw my food in the fridge, the room service guy says it’ll get cold in 20 minutes, but I have 24 hours in the city so I run down to the casino. Gamble, look at art, grab a bag of chips bc that’s what Walgreens sells that I can eat, shop, gamble, see David Copperfield, gamble, head back to the hotel for dinner…and the fridge is warm.

Like, WARM.

In a desert.

In August.

I freak out. What can I eat? The hard boiled egg, string cheese, grapes and roll I had for lunch isn’t going to cut it. I can’t get another bag of chips.

I smell my turkey. Smells fine. Taste it. Not fine. Spit it out.

Realize it was dumb to start with turkey since I keep kosher and wait between meat and milk. Consider that since I didn’t swallow any turkey, maybe it doesn’t count. Look at the cheese. It’s floppy and mushy.

Can’t eat an egg or I’ll overdose.

The carrots smells disgusting.

Need a break from the grapes, can’t repeat from lunch.

And then I look on top of the fridge. And notice, in all its glory, a can of corn.

A can of corn I packed as a backup, in case.

In case of what, who knows? Not in case of a fridge breaking (though that would have been smart). I got tired of cooking, really, and thought, “What if we’re stranded on the side of the road and I get hungry, I could cook more or just take this can of corn.” Thank god for laziness!

Then I realized I didn’t have any utensils. Room service said there was an hour wait and a charge of $3.25 for silverware. No thank you. Too lazy to go down to the buffet or restaurants — when the front desk clerk asked if we were ok with the rooms farthest from the elevators, I had laughed, but in that moment, I wished I’d said, “put us in the lobby, please.” (Ok, maybe laziness isn’t that great).

So I did what any sensible, mad, hungry person trying to make the most of their day in the glorious city would do.

I stuck my hand in the can and ate corn like it was finger food.

I got through half a can, grabbed some chocolate (I’m not sure where I learned this habit, but since high school, with the exception of last year’s chocolate abstention, I don’t leave my house without chocolate in my purse, and yes, I think that’s the best idea ever), decided to cheat with wheat and have a few more bites of  my roll (it was Sunday after all). Satiated enough, I returned to the casino. But not before I replaced the fridge, with the hopes of salvaging the grapes and egg for the next day (I did).

I was so proud.

I could have cried. I could have gotten sullen. But I realized that this was not the first time in my life my food plans had gone awry, and that bucking up and making the most of it — even if that means finger corn — is not that hard. We take food for granted sometimes. Even I did when I packed for Vegas and relied on the fridge. But it’s not. It’s special, it’s necessary, and we’re lucky enough to have enough of it. In my moment of realizing I had nothing to eat, I decided not to feel sorry for myself. I had something to eat. I wasn’t going to starve. I just had to be creative. To improvise. Which isn’t that new for me. I improvise in the kitchen every day. I make do. You get what you get and you don’t get upset, you know?

I can get upset about my allergies from today til tomorrow, but the fact of the matter is, I had a can of corn. And bread. And chocolate. And not terribly spoiled food. People have lived on worse. They’ve survived on worse. I was lucky. Was it the vacation dinner of a lifetime? No.

But I don’t go to Vegas for the buffet.


Food Challenge Round 29: Cindy vs. Onion Powder – The Rematch

Onion powder.

That pesky little food that you don’t think much about until you can’t have it anymore and you realize it’s everywhere.

In people’s cooking. In sauces. In processed foods. In restaurants. In “spices.” Everywhere.

Last time I challenged onion powder, I barely passed. The doctor’s instructions were basically, “If it happens by accident, don’t panic, you won’t die, you’ll just need to take Claritin and lie down for a while.” So in the interest of not wasting time lying down, I avoided onion powder. Until this morning, when I decided it was time. The olive oil gave me courage to re-challenge, and hurrah! I passed! Like, for reals.

I don’t think I’ve felt this good since I retook the SAT and my score jumped 130 points (though I’m ashamed to say I needed to use a calculator to figure that out. Ugh.)

These totally uneventful challenges are super fun. They don’t make for great blog fodder, but I love waking up early, eating breakfast with the doctor (or, you know, a piece of chicken with onion powder and nothing else), and getting on with my day after some friendly chitchat. Way better than the eventful sickness-y ones.

I’m taking a break from challenges for Sukkot, but I’ll resume in October with pasta: the rematch. The thing is, whichever brand of pasta I try, I have to ONLY eat that one. So, dear readers, which pasta brand would you try if you could only ever have that one?

Food Challenge Tally

Cindy: 21

Allergens: 5

Up Next: Pasta