Thursday, September 02, 2010

To Cook or Not to Cook on Jewish Holidays

For those who don't live strictly according to Jewish Law, the title of this post makes no sense.  And I don't know how my jblogger friends who keep Reform and Conservative Shabbat feel about it, or what their exact Shabbat restrictions are.

On Shabbat all sorts of cooking, changing matter, is forbidden.  You can heat already cooked food but not boil water or liquefy solid fats.  Jewish Holidays don't have these restrictions unless they fall on Shabbat.    Shabbat overrides everything but Yom Kippur.  And we have a Shabbat-Yom Kippur this year. 

Back to topic, some people love cooking on chag, Jewish Holidays, because it means that they have less pre-Holiday preparations.  Other people cook, because their families insist on "fresh" food.  Decades, generations ago, prior to reliable electric refrigeration on had no choice.  Food would spoil, so on Shabbat the cooked food stayed cooking until it was eaten; that's chulent.  And on Holidays, especially during the two day Rosh Hashannah you had to cook.  And a year like this one when Shabbat is immediately after Rosh Hashannah, there was no way to store cooked food safely.  It's even permitted to slaughter animals for food on Jewish Holidays.  And that's what people did, and to make things even easier, they cooked the meat or poultry on an open flame, so there was no need to do all the usual salting and soaking which takes hours.

I already have some chicken and meatloaf cooked and frozen for the three day Rosh Hashannah-Shabbat weekend.  That means less work next week and more space in the refrigerator. 

My plan is to cook all the food that needs to be cooked before Rosh Hashannah begins.  All I'll have to do is cut the salad before each meal and make sure food is thawed out.

One of the reasons I prefer having everything cooked in advance is that I want to be able to go to synagogue and pray.  I don't want to be a slave to the kitchen.  For me having all the food cooked in advance frees me.

Chag Sameach
Shana Tova
Gmar Chatima Tova

Just a reminder to send your links to the Kosher Cooking Carnival.  It's more than just kosher recipes!  And if you'd like to host one, please let me know.  Thanks!


Risa Tzohar said...

I'm absolutely with you on this one! I've already got most of the meat dishes done. I am going to shul and staying put. I make a list of food & when it's for and we put it on the fridge so I don't forget anything I worked hard on and that's that.

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

I have always wanted to be one of these uber-baalabustas who just pulls neatly-labelled trays out of the fridge or freezer, pops them in the oven and sits down to her gorgeously set Yom Tov table.
... but I'm not!
I usually manage to get enough honeycakes frozen to last us through Chanukah. ;-)
If I'm lucky, one or two more things as well. Tonight I'm starting challahs for the entire Yom Tov, which should be a help.
And on Sunday, dh is off, so I'm planning a mega-cooking day. Or a trip to the cemetery. Or crafts with the kiddies. Something always comes up to thwart my baalabusta ambitions!
Shanah tovah to you!

Batya said...

Ahh, Risa, so much in common. I left out the list in my post, because many times with all the food made I'd forget what to serve when and find untouched leftovers in the fridge.

Jennifer, instead of a marathon cooking day, for the month or more before the holidays, cook extra each week with your Shabbat cooking and freeze. Double the kugel, chicken etc.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

fascinating post. love what you shared and seriously love how organized and prepared you are!

Cucee Sprouts said...

Shana Tova to you! Great post – thank you. I am making Vareniki for Rosh Hashana this year – a festive addition to the holiday meal!

Batya said...

Minne Ma, do I really sound organized? Wow! I don't feel organized. It's a matter of priorities. Either you want to be stuck in the kitchen or you want to get out and enjoy the shul experience, dovening, social etc.

cs, sounds good!

Mara ~ Kosher on a Budget said...

Yup, I'm totally with you. I've done it both ways, and have decided that I definitely prefer to cook in advance. I doubled or tripled most things I made for RH, so now I have a good head start on at least one Sukkot meal, which is nice, too!

Batya said...

Mara, great idea. Too late, but good for the future.