Kitchen tools are everyday objects that can be mundane or special.
Here is a beautiful knife made my UK blacksmith and toolmaker Dan Prendergast.
Dan makes his knives entirely by himself. He forges, grinds, glazes, heat treats, sharpens each knife himself. Each knife is made entirely from high carbon steel and sustainably managed hardwoods.
Dan’s knifes offers superior function, solid craftsmanship and a simple, rustic aesthetic. This knife can become an everyday kitchen tool that you will enjoy for years to come.
Ever since I discovered Dan’s knife in my brother-in-law’s kitchen in Burlington VT, I have wanted one for myself. The knife’s raw beauty attracted me and it cuts, slices, and chops easily. It feels like slicing through butter.
I went on the website and read about his work and felt admiration for his approach to making tools. I bought myself one for my 40th birthday. The buying experience was personal. You write to him via his contact page, he replies, there is a brief discussion about the knife size and color handle you want, he makes your knife to order, and when it is finished he ships you your custom made impeccable knife in the mail.
In the exchange, he even reminded me a few times how to care for my knife, making it very clear that he cares about the objects he sends into the world. He wants you to take good care of your knife so it lasts and stays in good condition.
I use Dan’s knife everyday in my kitchen and it makes my cooking experience easier and more enjoyable. A good knife really does make a difference.
Today, Dan is giving one lucky reader a knife. To enter, leave a comment below and sign up to for Jewish Food Hero email newsletter right here (if you are not already on the list). A winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday December 26th. Good luck! Thank you for participating.
Thank you so much, Dan!
If you are interested in offering a giveaway of your purposeful product, service or experience on Jewish Food Hero, start a conversation with me here.
Thank you for supporting the brands that support Jewish Food Hero.
“What’s on Your Holiday Playlist” is a recurring feature where I ask one woman to create a holiday inspired soundtrack for us.
This Hanukkah, I asked Shifra C. Penkower to build a Hanukkah mood for us.
Shifra is an accomplished “multipotentialite” whose talents span the humanities, STEM fields, and beyond. She is an experienced stage, screen, and voice actor, director, artist and designer, singer, dancer, writer, editor, sleuth, mother, and DIY-er—whether that involves learning HTML, fixing a VCR, or creatively solving other acronym-related challenges. Shifra co-founded The Women’s Performance Community of Jerusalem, and when she is not planning their monthly events or directing their shows, she is participating in other theatre productions in one way or another, onstage and off. A natural creative problem solver, Shifra has been a trusted team member for many projects and businesses (large and small) since the 90s, and plans on keeping that up at least until she reaches her 90s. Then she’ll probably catch up on all the reading and painting she’s been putting off for a while.
What mood are you building with this playlist for yourself?
My musical taste tends to be quite eclectic, so this playlist is no different. It transitions between the classical and the contemporary. The orchestral and the off-the-beaten-track. Instead of strictly selecting songs which are obviously associated with Chanukah, I thought about themes and practices surrounding the holiday and let them lead me to songs which represented those ideas. While honoring and preserving tradition is key when it comes to keeping our customs and beliefs alive from generation to generation, I think it’s important to incorporate our unique perspectives, experiences, and passions into our observance, as well. It helps ensure a personal connection to and “ownership” of our traditions, even as times are a-changin’. (Bob Dylan didn’t make the cut this time…sorry.)
What do you imagine us “doing” while we listen to this playlist?
Anything and everything! That’s what we do over the course of our day, right? Think of this playlist as a road trip along an undulating highway, passing through pastoral landscapes, bustling cities, and everything in between, with a couple of rest stops along the way. Roll the windows down, turn the volume up, and vroom onward, my friends.
Aaron Copland – Fanfare for the Common Man
This piece has been called “a magnificent tribute to the human spirit” and that’s exactly what it is. The first time I heard this live in concert, the opening heralding notes of the trumpets flew straight to my soul and I started to cry. At the same time, I felt as though I wanted to climb the highest mountain and let out a victorious yell. The Chanukah story is about triumph of the few over the many, how the mighty fell at the hands of the weak. Even the common man can achieve great things. Do we not deserve our own fanfare?
Benedetto Marcello – Maoz Tzur
This liturgical poem is usually sung after lighting the candles every night of Chanukah. Interestingly, no matter where you go in the world, Jews everywhere tend to sing the same tune for this song.Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to learn another melody when I joined an a cappella group in college. The harmonies of this composition really put me in the holiday spirit—and they sound even more glorious when rehearsed in a stairwell. Pro tip, FYI. When searching for a YouTube link for this piece, I came across a performance of it by the very choir with which my husband sang in the early years of our relationship. I took it as a sign that this song should be included in my playlist.
Flory Jagoda – Ocho Kandelikas
This catchy tune about our holiday’s “eight little candles” and festive atmosphere was written in Ladino, a Spanish-derived language which originated within the Sephardic Jewish community and became an official dialect of the community after they were expelled from Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century. I’ll be directing a show about the Spanish Inquisition next year, God-willing, so I’ve admittedly got Ladino music on the brain nowadays. However, this particular song has an extra special place in my heart, as I translated a segment of it into Hebrew for an informal performance when I was in a language-immersion program in Israel a few years ago. Maybe I’ll put my Hebrew lyrics in the comments below…
Avital Macales – Count the Stars
Speaking of having a soft spot for songs and connecting past, present, and future…this next piece was composed by a dear friend for an original musical that she co-wrote with another dear friend, Sharon Katz, and which I had the privilege to direct. Two other dear friends, Amit ben Atar and Ellen Macales arranged the music and harmonies. No matter the season, I find myself coming back to this composition and connecting in new ways to its message. When I watch the music video, I identify with its characters. True, the lyrics are almost a near-direct-translation of the Biblical text describing God’s covenant with Abraham and the promise for a brighter future even after his descendants would endure many trials and tribulations. Ultimately, though, this song is about hope and light. Bingo. Chanukah bullseye.
Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek
On a superficial level, the song title counts as a nod to one of the integral elements of the Chanukah story: that last hidden cruse of oil which was found and then miraculously kept the Menorah burning for eight days and nights. From there, my train of thought went on to ponder hidden vs. open miracles and how they each impact our lives. I started deconstructing the lyrics and finding parallels in historic events. Then I said “Shifra, enough with the analyzing…just enjoy this unique song with its mesmerizing harmonies and let it go.” Ahhhh…hypnotic.
Steve Schuster – Miraculous
A hitchhiker to whom I’d given a ride on a cold night a few weeks ago fell in love with this song on the CD I was playing and asked me to repeat the artist’s name a few times before getting out of my car, determined to look him up immediately upon returning home. If that’s not a good enough recommendation, I don’t know what is. (OK, my kids love this whole album, too, so there’s that. “Sweet Gems.” Look it up.) Title, lyrics, and upbeat style make this a natural entry for my Chanukah playlist. [If this video is inaccessible in your location, you may listen to the song here.]
La Bottine Souriante – Ciel d’automne (Autumn Sky)
Ah, Nature… Autumn ends on December 21st, so technically, Chanukah still <ahem> falls out during autumn in 2017. Time will tell whether the season’s colorful leaves will be replaced by icicles by the time the eighth set of candles has burned out beneath one of the last autumn night skies of the year. Until then, enjoy this sweet stringed sonnet of sorts. There are no lyrics. It can feel a touch repetitive at times, but it’s so calming that it almost becomes a meditation. Put it on in the background while frying your latkes, reading or writing holiday cards, getting dressed, setting the table, folding laundry…whatever. It is what you make of it. (I walked down the aisle to this song, by the way. At least, I think I did. I remember tracking down contact information for the artists and excitedly receiving the sheet music to give to our wedding band. Sixteen years later, though, my memory is fuzzy about that whirlwind day and I think I may have walked down to a tune from Song of Songs. I should ask my psychologist husband what he thinks this means. Hey, at least I remember my anniversary date.) If you’d like to bring this playlist full-circle and end on a more grand orchestral scale, check out this version of the song instead.
During the 8 days of Hanukkah, we can make the food healthier and still enjoy the holiday foods.
Lets honor our bodies and the environment this Hanukkah by including more whole plant-based foods on our tables. Let’s eat more fruit, vegetables, tubers, legumes, and whole grains this Chanukah/Hanukah.
Here are 7 simple food tips for our healthier Hanukkah.
Serve cut up apples as an appetizer
The benefits of serving cut apples as an appetizer are multi-layered. First, you incorporate a part of your daily serving of fruit into your meal for a complete diet. Second, next to vegetables, fruits are a high density, low calorie food. Although apple’s take up a lot of physical space in your stomach, they do not contain a lot of calories. On average one medium-sized apple has about 95 calories. What does this mean? If you eat an apple for your appetizer you are less likely to overeat during the main course of your meal.
Bake your latkes instead of frying
If you choose one of these healthy tips, let it be this one. Please, bake your latkes instead of frying. Frying foods introduces partially hydrogenated oils into your diet and it has a number of negative health associates. Fried oils have to be heated to a high temperature, this causes oxidation of the oils and starches produce Advanced Glycation End products. This is a fancy term for your food becomes carcinogenic. Avoid over consuming fried foods whenever you have the choice. If you are looking for a baked latke recipe, you can find it right here.
Add a salad to your table
Adding a salad to your table provides a number of the same benefits as the apple appetizer, high density foods that take up space but do not have high caloric values associated with them. The other benefit, fiber, we all need more fiber during heavy holiday meals to help everything digest smoothly.
Bake your sufganiyot instead of frying
Over consuming fried foods is bad enough for your health it’s worth mentioning twice. Bake your typically fried foods for a significantly healthier Hanukkah season. Your stomach and your family will thank you. If you are looking for a baked sufganiyot recipe, there is one in this Jewish cookbook.
Make your own applesauce instead of serving store bought
When you choose to make your own foods at home, you have so much more control of the ingredients you put into the recipe. Making your own applesauce allows you to pick the quality of the apples and your other ingredients. In the long run, this is usually a more economical option too. Not only are you eating healthier, you’re spending your money wisely too. If you are looking for a simple applesauce recipe, you can find it right here.
Make vegan sour cream using tofu
Tofu is a wonderful high protein, low fat food. Use it as a replacement for condiments in your meals where animal-based products may normally be used. This will increase the overall protein value of your meal while eliminating the overconsumption of animal products. There is a tofu sour cream recipe in this Jewish cookbook.
Serve water based drinks like fruit infused waters, soda water with natural syrups rather than soda and boxed juices.
Next to removing fried foods from your holiday table this season, getting rid of sugar-heavy beverages is the easiest change to make to have a healthier Hanukkah. There are an overwhelming amount of benefits to reducing your overall sugar consumption. From reduced health risks to better brain power to clearer skin, there’s a reason for everyone to lower their sugar consumption for themselves and their loved ones.
To our healthier Hanukkah!
Your turn: Share your favorite healthy tip for Hanukkah in the comments below.
This open letter focuses on Chabad food operations worldwide, with a proposal to adopt a meat reduction approach, and to incorporate more plant-based foods into the meals they serve worldwide to Jews and non-Jewish guests.
Good to know: This open letter does not suggest that the Chabad movement adopt vegetarianism or veganism.
First, I want to thank all the Chabad houses and emissaries who have welcomed me since I left the US in 2005. Thank you specifically to the Chabad houses with whom I have had personal contact: India, Democratic Republic of Congo, Switzerland, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, and Puerto Rico (read about their relief efforts here).
The four most vital things Chabad has shared with me are:
A space to pray
A priceless sense of belonging to a global Jewish community
Access to their libraries
If you are reading this letter and do not know about Chabad’s impact, here are some astounding stats (all from Chabad.org)
Chabad-Lubavitch is the largest and fastest growing Jewish organization.
Today, 4,000 Chabad-Lubavitch emissary families, or shluchim, operate 3,500 institutions, in 100 countries, with activities in many more.
Chabad on Campus provides services to students and faculty at 400 campuses, with 200 permanent campus centers.
Chabad on Campus is active on dozens of campuses outside of the United States. Some countries include Canada, Israel, UK, Austria, Germany, France, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Argentina, China, and Australia.
Our 12-year (and still going strong) relationship really started in 2005 while I was volunteering in Chennai, India with the American Jewish World Service. I called Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg (may they RIP) at the Chabad house in Mumbai. They spoke with me and warmly invited me to Mumbai for the High Holidays. The experience of knowing I had a “Jewish home” wherever I was in the world made an impact on me.
When I moved to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 2006-2008, my husband and I rented an apartment across the street from the Chabad house by coincidence (if there is such a thing) and our relationship got much more serious. We spent almost every Shabbat and holiday with the DRC Jewish community. My happiest memories of my time in DR Congo are of being at Shabbat dinners hosted by Rabbi Shlomo and Rebbetzin Miriam Bentolila.
Today, even though we live five hours away from the Chabad synagogue in Phnom Penh,Cambodia, we attend holiday services. RabbiBentzion and Rebbetzin Mashie Butman communicate with us regularly and send us Jewish props and books for holidays by taxi (I am serious, they really do this for us!).
During all these years, I read the following books (all of which I highly recommend):
I donate money to Chabad every year and I can honestly say that even though I am not transitioning to orthodox Jewish life, I appreciate and value Chabad’s mission and work. If I was writing on social media, I would write I 💗 Chabad. (FYI that is the “growing heart” Emoji).
I also have an appreciation for the thousands, maybe tens of thousands of kosher meals Chabad serves to guests, every week and all over the world. Chabad’s food service operation is an extraordinary logistical feat. It includes procurement and transport of kosher food worldwide, cooking huge quantities of food in their kosher kitchens, and feeding our global Jewish community in their dining rooms and restaurants.
Hence, Chabad’s food operation has a big impact on our health and environment because of the sheer volume of food and the number of people served. The food that Chabad’s choose to serve has an immediate and lasting impact on kosher animal husbandry and slaughter, our environment, and on our physical and spiritual well-being.
What Chabad might consider doing to use its incredible influence to support best practices:
Serve more fresh vegetables and fruits.
Serve more tubers, whole grains, and legumes.
Serve less meat, dairy, eggs, highly processed foods, and less vegetable oil (including margarine and mayonnaise).
Serve animal protein in only one course at each community meal. In today’s world, there is no need to have an animal protein appetizer and an animal product based soup and then an animal protein main course.
Serve smaller portions of meat: If we focus on meat, fish, and dairy as condiments, not the focal point of the meal, we can serve smaller portions of animal products. As a guideline, no more than 4 oz (113 g) or less per meal.
Consider preparing and hosting 1 vegan/vegetarian Shabbat dinner per month or quarter.
Why am I proposing these positive dietary shifts? Here are some benefits to eating plant-based food:
Benefit #1: Mood and Energy Levels
Ever notice how a few hours after you eat that cookie, your energy plummets and your mood worsens? Eating plant-based food can stabilize your mood and energy levels throughout the day.
Benefit #2: Environmental
Food consumption and agricultural practices impact the health of our environment, too. In particular, factory farming and other large-scale meat and dairy production contribute to climate change.
Benefit #3: Disease Prevention
Here’s a sample of the common health problems that can be prevented or improved when you eat a plant-based diet: diabetes, heart disease, obesity, acne, intestinal diseases, depression, fatigue, liver disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and more.
The changes proposed may increase the joy of Chabad community meals while positively impacting tens of thousands of Jewish people and the environment, now and in the future.
Jewish Food Hero Founder
Your turn: In the comments, share other constructive ideas to improve our health and the environment.
Yes, it is true that for Hanukkah to feel like Hanukkah, we will eat latkes and sufganiyot. One way to make Hanukkah healthier is to bake the latkes and donuts, rather than deep frying them.
Recipes for baked latkes and baked strawberry glazed sufganiyot are available in the Jewish Food Hero cookbook right here.
Another way to make Hanukkah healthier is to simply add more healthy food to our holiday table. Just eating latkes and donuts (even if they are healthy versions of these foods) will not leave us feeling satisfied. Add some some fresh vegetables to your Hanukkah table this year.
This salad includes beets, chickpeas, walnuts, and fresh green lettuce. The pink dressing is tangy-sour from citrus and creamy from walnuts.
From the Jewish Food Hero Kitchen: Georgian Beet Chickpea and Walnut Salad
Jewish Food Hero
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Large salad bowl
2 small prep bowls
3 cups beets, large dice
1 cup chickpeas
1-2 shallot, sliced thin
1-3 cups of green lettuce, chopped
½ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
¼ cup lemon juice
1-2 garlic cloves
4 walnut halves
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp rapadura sugar
Garnish: chopped walnut pieces
A few hours before making the salad, boil the beets until tender and set aside to cool
Soak the walnuts
When you are ready to make salad:
Peel and dice the beets into large cube sized pieces and set aside
Combine the beets, shallots and chickpeas into a large prep bowl
Place all dressing ingredients into blender and blend into smooth
There are two ways to present this salad:
Option 1: Dress the beets, shallots, and chickpeas and allow to marinate in the dressing for up to 24 hours. This makes the dressing pink and also creates a lovely taste. When you are ready to serve, mix in 1-3 cups of chopped lettuce. Garnish with crushed walnuts
Option 2: Keep all the ingredients separate (as shown in the photo) and serve the dressing on the side. If you want pink dressing, add a few pieces of cooked beet to the dressing before you blend it. Garnish with crushed walnuts.
These cards feature a simplistic design with natural elements, to make these cards feel extra special to the recipient. You can print the card on a heavy stock paper or paper with a texture that enhances the design.
This Hanukkah card is available for immediate download and comes in a high quality (300 dpi) PDF file for ease of printing. When you download the file you will receive one PDF that contains three Hanukkah illustration cards.
These Hanukkah gift tags are available for immediate download and comes in a high quality (300 dpi) PDF file for ease of printing. When you download the file you will receive one PDF that contains eight Hanukkah gift tags.
These printable Hanukkah gift tags are simple to make.
A4 white cardstock paper
single hole punch
color printer (a home printer works fine for these and going to your local print shop is also a good option)
Twine or ribbon
You can make these alone and also enlist your children to help.
Use these to decorate gifts for your family, friends and co-workers.
May these tags make your gifts more beautiful. Chag Sameach.
Women are thoughtful. For most Jewish women Chanukah means buying something for someone else; for her parents, her partner, her children, and even her boss.
In this gift guide for women I wanted to give ethical gift ideas to delight woman for Hanukkah.
In this guide you will find varied products of different price points. The thing they have in common is that they are made by companies whose mission is ethical.
Here are 9 ethical gift ideas for good women:
Vrai and Oro– The gift of jewelry is classic, ensure that you are gifting your loved ones ethical and responsibly sourced jewelry. Vrai and Oro have a selection of elegant, simple pieces and ensure the cost of the jewelry reflects the craftsmanship of their work, without the jeweler’s typical markup!
Kishe Coffee– Do you have a coffee lover in your life? Gift them beautiful high-quality, sustainable Guatemalan coffee beans. Kishee coffee aims to embrace organic agriculture while providing financial stability to Guatemalan farmer families. Pick between the Volcan, Woman, or Reserve beans each with their own unique attributes both ethically and in the roast of the bean.
Maine Sea Salt– Maine Sea Salt was founded by a loving couples passion for food. This is a beautiful, natural process, Kosher sea salt straight from Buck’s Harbor, Maine. The salt water is taken from the harbor and evaporated in shallow pools creating natural sea salt that does not contain any drying agents.
Hu Chocolate– This amazing chocolate was born out of self discovery and the slippery slope of asking, what’s really in our food? Hu Chocolate contains no additives, preservatives, gums, refined sugars, or any of the typical ingredients you find in regular processed chocolate. Give the gift of something that tastes so good they won’t believe it’s also good for them.
Crystals– Kacha Stones focuses on providing ethical, hand mined crystals working closely with individual miners that they’ve shared relationships with for years. These beautiful crystals are consciously stored in a way that prevents unwanted energy being picked up by the stones until they make their way to your recipient.
Nicely Noted– For the writer in your life this monthly stationery subscription could be just the perfect thing. Each month they will receive beautiful letterpress cards fit for every occasion. These simple designs allow the writer to speak from the heart and send along a cards whenever they need to, without an added trip to the convenience store.
Seed + Mill Halva – We all eat sweets during the holidays so giving healthier sweets is more supportive for women. Halva is made from nutritious sesame seeds. Seed + Mill offer a gluten-free, kosher and vegan halva that is divine! Their selection includes traditional halva varieties like marble, pistachio or rose oil. They also offer more unique flavor combinations like white chocolate & lemon, ginger, cardamom or sea salt dark chocolate.
Sabonato Soap- What touches our bodies is important and most women I know like to use natural products in the shower or bath (we want to feel clean in that organic sort of way). The Keshet family takes special pride in its all natural soap. Each bar a fusion of pure, high quality oils, authentic Dead Sea mud, salts and minerals, and organic, fragrant plants. The soap has “good vibrations” and gives you a healthy washing experience that cleanses the body and awakens the soul with its intoxicating scents.
One of these knives!– I personally own one of these beautiful knives and I would love to give it away to one of you. Keep an eye out for our December blog post where I’ll have a link for you to enter a drawing to win one of these knives. Crafted from fine carbon steel with bog oak handles these knives have a rustic feel with the pleasure of being artisan made.
P.S. I created a Hanukkah 2017: Non Tech Hanukkah Gift Guide for Calm Kids right here.
Most of the children I know don’t need more things. Most children I know could benefit from more uninterrupted hands-on experiences with adults.
This year, I want to focus on non tech gifts we can do with our children to bring more calm energy into our children’s homes and hearts.
Here are seven calming gift ideas that you can order online:
Hands On Experiences
Potholder loom – This potholder loom is a childhood classic and wonderfully simple, allowing you to enjoy this activity with your child at home, on road trips, and at family gatherings. The soft pieces of fabric come in fantastic bold colors to allow individual creativity to be expressed in their weaving. Hand-weaving has a traditional history and adds value as a way to include education in your child’s gift.
Plump Flump Beginner Knitting Kit – Do you know a child who has restless hands? Knitting is a great way to keep hands occupied with the enjoyment of seeing the results of your work as you go. Enjoy learning a new skill with your children with this perfect beginner’s kit, everything you need is included in the gift to get started. This product is artisan-made and supports a small business owner.
Growing Crystals – If you have a curious child, these growing crystals are a perfect way to get them involved with a hands-on science experiment. This kit includes a fun display case for them to keep their crystal creations in and contains enough solution to create 7 crystals in all. This gift is best for children 10 and older and does require some adult supervision.
Indigo Tie Dye Kit – Enjoy this natural dyeing kit with your children and see what wearable art you can create together. The kit includes gloves, rubber bands, dye, and instructions to get started. Teach your children the beauty of unpredictability by not knowing exactly how your creations will turn out. This kit is able to dye up to 15 shirts or 5 pounds of clothing.
Pop up Paper house – A beautiful idea that is economical, space-saving, and engaging from start to finish. Allow your child to make their own pop up paper doll house with easy to follow guides and eight rooms of playtime fun. This wonderful gift is designed to be easy to pack up and put away, rarely seen in children’s dollhouses which makes it pleasing for the whole family.
Lakeshore Build-It-Yourself Woodworking Kit – This is another wonderful building kit with simple but more detailed construction. With 80 pieces in all an instructions for multiple projects you and your child can work on building toys together that have a simple, clean design. What I enjoy most about these pieces are the lack of plastics or branding, keeping your child’s toys free from branding messaging allows their imagination to soar.
Djeco puzzles: Paris, Abracadabra,Poetic Boat – Puzzles are a simple and classic family pastime, with 100 pieces these beautiful and heavily illustrated puzzles allow your child to explore each piece and the puzzle as a whole. Each puzzle offers a different scene with many visual elements displayed throughout.
3-D puzzles: Taj Mahal, The Colosseum – These are fun puzzles with a twist. Include an added element of challenge with 3-D interlocking puzzles. Many of these puzzles come are historical pieces of architecture or from moments in history like The Titanic. Beautifully constructed, these puzzles can be displayed afterwards as a collectible item for your child that allows them to engage and discover history through architecture in a unique way.
Taking time to thoughtfully plan meals is an supportive way to eat healthier anytime. This is even more true during the holidays. Meal planning templates will also help you feel more organized and calm before and during Hanukkah.
This Hanukkah meal planning template is available for immediate download and comes in a high quality (300 dpi) PDF file for ease of printing. When you download the file you will receive one PDF that contains two Hanukkah meal templates.