Archives for: May 2012
We’re about a week away from the Jewish holiday of Shavuous, the commemoration of the Jews receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. It’s a two day holiday, with blessings made over wine and bread at dinner and lunch both days. It’s traditionally celebrated with dairy foods, in contrast to the meat meals usually served at other holidays and Shabbos. Fish and eggs can be served with dairy meals, but not red meat or poultry.
With 3 O’s in the family, dairy meals are a challenge, and are less likely to feel satisfying than meat meals. Sure, we could defy tradition and make some meat meals for the holiday, but the kids would be disappointed. What’s Shavuous without cheesecake for dessert after every single meal? Plus, being a holiday, we want more than tuna and egg salad at every meal- it’s a time to rejoice with special holiday foods that are tasty and fun and don’t make us feel deprived.
It’s a precarious balance between health, enjoyable meals, and the tight food budget. My 17 year old daughter and I have no common cheeses. I’m not supposed to have mozzarella cheese, and she’s not supposed to have ricotta cheese. But last year we made this delicious vegetable lasagna that used both cheeses. It was delicious and satisfying and everybody enjoyed it. We both felt that the semi-compliance was worth it for a once-a-year holiday treat.
Last year, I made this delicious cheesecake with goat cheese and agave. It’s compliant for everybody in the household. We ended up making 4 or 5 recipes’ worth of cheesecake over the course of the holiday, as everybody enjoyed it, even guests who were not following BTD. However, goat cheese and agave are significantly more expensive than cream cheese and white sugar.
This year money is extra-tight, with my ex-husband still out of work and unable to pay child support. I’m going to have to cut some corners with the holiday cooking this year. I need to be extra-careful with my own diet since I’m very sensitive to “avoids” in my diet and I have not been well lately. But my children have been eating a lot of “cheat” foods at social gatherings, and I’m not convinced that one more weekend of sugar and non-compliant dairy will have a significant impact on them.
This year, we’ll be making one small “healthy” cheesecake that I can eat, and a much larger “unhealthy” cheesecake using more traditional, cheaper ingredients. That lasagna recipe may be used as a risotto instead, since rice is a lot cheaper than rice lasagna. I may skip the mozzarella cheese on top for my own sake, or make it in two batches so I can have the mozzarella-free version.
In an ideal world, Shavuous would be a time for cooking with fresh fish and goat dairy, and I would never cook with white sugar. But we don’t live in an ideal world and I need to make the most of what I have.