January Reflections & Cooking Tips for 2023.

One important thing about “Customs and Traditions” is that they are constant, they repeat every year and become part of our life, part of what defines our beliefs, our tastes, and our sense of what is right and wrong.

At school, I used to read the same stories about multicultural religious holidays every year. Students heard them in Kindergarten, and by the time they heard them again in fifth grade, not only did they know them by heart, but, they could actually feel the difference in comprehension from when they heard it the first time, and that was precious. They understood a great deal more about diversity, and why some of their friends could not participate in sports if they were fasting, or why some of them had different religious beliefs than others.

Sometimes we had guests like musicians, and groups that would perform a dance from a specific culture. At home, my children helped me choose the best stories, i.e. The Fourth Question, or Hershel and the Hannukah Goblins,  and not only did they know them, but we would also cook foods that complemented those stories.

But, the most important thing about these stories and repeating them every year was that the students and my children learned to appreciate the myths and legends and the art from different cultures. In my children’s case they also learned to appreciate the food, and the music as well. We try to go to every cultural festival in our city every year, and taste their delicious food.


In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.
Quote by Baba Dioum.

There are some elements that appear in every celebration regardless of the religion or culture, there must be LIGHT, there must be FOOD of our labor,  BREAD, to break with grateful hearts, SALT, to zest our lives, SWEETS to makes us smile, WINE to makes us LAUGH, and TEA to makes us relax. So, to be prepared for the coming year’s celebrations, there are some things you must have readily available in your pantry, and a good Pantry cookbook to put all of these together!

Reviewing the “Tips and Shurtcuts, let us start the year using shortcuts to give us more time to read and spend time with our family.

1st. Most dishes that start with saute an onion, should saute “Onion, Celery and Carrot” – Mirepoix (mirh-pwah) a.k.a. – Sofrito. It definitely elevates any dish. So, instead of making sofrito every time you cook something for lunch or dinner, make it ONCE, enough sofrito to last you 3 to 4 days so you shorten the cooking time, but do not cut short the flavor.

 2nd.Use good quality pre-packaged sauces to save  time.

 3rd. Use egg batter to make vegetable patties and cover them with a light tomato sauce and farmer’s cheese for a light supper.

 4th. If you are going to follow a recipe, read the “Directions” First, then gather the ingredients.

 5th. Whether cooking with your family or having a potluck, try to incorporate recipes that involve a “hands-on” approach to get everyone involved and talking.

Cookbooks about setting up an essential pantry.

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