The time has come, Rosh Hashanah is here, and the beginning of the Jewish Holiday season is upon us. It is a time for reflection and thought, repentance and prayer, and it is a time where we sit and eat and eat, and then eat again once more. This year particularly, we are faced with the wonderful and daunting task of a three day eating extravaganza due to the timing of the start of Rosh Hashanah and its overlapping into the Sabbath day.
We start off the pre-holiday festivities all gung-ho, ready to prepare everything from Great-Aunt Sadies sweet lukshin kugel , to mother's delicious carrot and raisin tzimmes. Our spirits are high with grand plans to master the newest Gourmet Magazines' recipe for fennel-date stuffed Cornish hens glazed in orange-clover honey and our taste buds are watering with anticipation because of course, we will be making the ultimate decadent dessert to top it all off. Our thoughts are rapidly spinning with recipes and menus and our day dreams are filled with the endless options of delicious foods and sumptuous meals. We are ready and willing to throw the greatest holiday feasts that our families will see this New Year!
But reality is kicking in. A three day holiday is a lot of meals to plan. Many of us (and we know who we are) end up serving the same kugels, side dishes and meat entrées over and over, cooking in multiples. But, the after effects of doing this have becoming draining. In addition, as we sit down to eat we try to pace ourselves starting with the first holiday meal, while those unwanted feelings of tiredness, heaviness and indigestion increase significantly as we indulge meal after meal.
What are we to do? Partaking in holiday meals is not optional and really they should not be considered as something we have to "endure" but rather something we excitedly anticipate.
Don't cook for the sake of cooking. Many of us have a laundry list of side dishes, kugels, entrees, and desserts that you will be cooking, yet do not have a properly planned menu of what will be served at each meal.
Avoid this by planning exactly what you will be serving at each meal and STICK TO IT! Eliminate the need to serve four of the same variations of kugels and three different types of chicken or beef. Be specific as to what you will serve for each course. This cohesive, specific approach to planning your menu, gives you that additional bonus of now going to the grocery store with a detailed shopping list. No longer will you buy unnecessary items out of panic for what you might need, thereby saving you a few dollars.
It's been this way for generations, kosher cooking tends to be very rich and heavy. How many meals have we eaten and finished where we felt that just getting out of our chairs and moving to the couch was a giant effort? Break the cycle of over indulgence by creating light and refreshing meals.
Serve more salads and fresh fruit versus starchy side dishes and sugar laden desserts. Keep your proteins away from thick sauces and avoid deep fried or heavily breaded selections.
If your family loves certain heavier, richer dishes that they just can't do without, serve those specialties at lunch, balanced with lighter foods at their sides. By serving this lighter meal during the day, our natural daily activeness will help make us feel less over stuffed and ready to face another meal in a few hours.
Be daring and adventurous for one meal and serve a Vegetarian meal using a great fish dish as your entrée or go all dairy for a new exciting twist. Your family and friends will thank you for your new approach to the sometimes mundane meal.
Make your load a little bit lighter by making one of your last meals a leftover buffet. You can literally make a buffet of all your leftovers or you can rejuvenate them by creating a few new simple dishes with what's left. For instance, create a fresh cold salad by using some of the left over cooked vegetables, rice, and chicken you might have left. Toss those ingredients into some fresh lettuce add a terrific dressing and presto a delicious one-of-a-kind leftover salad is created.
With these survival tips you can now approach this New Year with all the thought, reflection and importance it deserves. Go ahead now knowing that you will be able to finish it with a feeling of refreshment and energy towards the rest of the Holiday season.