What’s In Your Pantry, Melanie Weiss?


What’s in Your Pantry? is a recurring feature where I ask women to tell us more about their food and eating habits by opening up their kitchen pantries to us. This week I’m featuring Melanie Weiss. Melanie is the Director of Education at Beth Israel Congregation in Waterville, Maine, and the Co-Director of Summer Programming for the Center for Small Town Jewish Life. She also presented a Ted Talk on Finding Yiddish.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in New York, and have also lived in Israel. I’m married to the awesome Rabbi Rachel Isaacs. We have 2 daughters under 3. We lead very food-centric lives!

How do you typically feel, emotionally, when you open your kitchen pantry?

Ready to get to work!

What’s your process for organizing your food pantry?

I try to put the most breakable things where the shortest people (under the age of three) cannot get them. We have two kitchens, so I have one kosher dairy kitchen and one kosher meat kitchen. That makes the sorting much simpler!

What’s inside your pantry right now?

Macedonian tahini with cocoa (the brand I love is Taxini Me Cacao).

Hibiscus Rose kombucha from the Urban Farm Fermentory.

Kabob spice mix from the spice shop in Kibbutz Hulata, Israel.

Fresh rhubarb from the Portland, ME, farmers’ market.

Goat Cheese Paneer from Kennebec Cheesery.

What’s inside your healthiest item you keep in stock?

Living in Maine, we are never without local kale!

What about your guilty pleasure that you always have on hand?

Girl Scout cookies in the freezer!

What are your go-to cookbooks?

Not a huge cookbook fan, but Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food is a holy text for me. I “read” anything Ottolenghi for the food-porn pictures.

Compared to your mother, how is your pantry the same or different than what you grew up with?

My pantry is more similar than different — lots of organic, lots of fresh produce, lots of whole grains. That said, we have a much stronger emphasis on local foods and seasonal foods, and probably a more eclectic spice rack, too.

If you could change anything about how your pantry is now, what would it be?

If someone wanted to give me a kitchen 2-3 times the size, I would not say no.

Your turn:  Melanie gave a list of local Maine products in her pantry.  Which one would you try first?

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