The Complete Passover Cookbook

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The Complete Passover Cookbook

The Complete Passover Cookbook, by Frances R. AvRutnick, is not a new book. In fact, my copy was published in 1981.

And though I have newer Passover books, with color pictures and recipes by brand name chefs, this oldie but goodie is still my favorite. Ms. AvRutnick’s recipes are consistently tasty, don’t require hard to find ingredients, and are quick to throw together.  That’s all I ask for from a cookbook.

So far, I’ve made seven recipes.

The Matzo Brei recipe was the first thing I tried.  It’s a classic Matzo Brei recipe, available in almost any cookbook. I just added shredded cheese at the end (per my son’s request) and we loved it.

A few days after I made the Matzo Brei, I tried the Matzo Brei Variation. This recipe is similar to the original, with the difference being that only one egg is used instead of four. The result is a lot healthier, without any loss of taste. Btw, I changed out the water for vegan/parve chicken broth.

The Basic Farfel Stuffing is the best Passover stuffing I have ever had. It combines chopped and fried onions and celery with matzoh, broth and seasonings. I followed the basic recipe pretty closely, just reducing the oil, skipping the parsley and using chicken broth instead of water. The only major adjustment I made was to bake the stuffing in a covered pan instead of inside a bird.

The Potato Pancakes recipe was actually turned into a very low fat kugel. I used the exact ingredients listed, but instead of frying the resulting mixture, I baked it. I ate the kugel as soon as it came out of the oven and it was GOOD.

Next was Farfel Pudding, a combination of matzo farfel, nuts, fruits and a little sugar, baked into a sweet side dish or not so sweet dessert. I made this dish several years ago, so I don’t remember much about it, but I have a large notation saying “very good!” next to the recipe.

Another winner was the Apple Cake 1. This delicious dessert used cake meal, sugar, oil and apples. It’s covered with a streusel topping (minus the flour, of course).

The only recipe that wasn’t enjoyed much was the Hamburger Popovers. The popovers were bits of dough, shaped into a muffin tin and stuffed with seasoned meat. I didn’t taste this dish, since I’m a vegetarian, but the other diners said there was too little meat for the ratio of dough. I believe the problems with the dish were my fault, since I did use slightly less meat than was called for.

Even though The Complete Passover Cookbook is out of print, it is still available used at Amazon.

By the way, I loved this book so much, I immediately decided to get the other cookbook written by Frances R. AvRutnick. It’s called Kosher Cookery, Classic & Contemporary.

Read More: Book Reviews or Home

Free Chevron Cross Stitch Pillow Pattern

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Chevron Cross Stitch

Here’s a free Chevron Cross Stitch Pillow pattern for you to try out. You may need to enlarge or shrink it to fit the dimensions of your pillow.

Since the pattern is hard too see, a close- up is pictured below.

Chevron Cross Stitch 2

This pattern also has other applications. It can be used as a pattern for a curtain sash, the trim of a girl’s dress, the border on a tablecloth, etc.

In addition, this pattern can also be used without any modifications, for needlepoint, latch hooking and a mosaic edge as well.

Read More: Needlepoint or Home

Nishnishim Salad

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Nishnishim Salad

source: Kelly Garbato

Nishnishim Salad is one of the most popular foods I serve.  People actually beg me to make it! It’s that good.

I would love to give credit for this recipe, but I don’t know who the originator was. I got this recipe from a friend, but I have no idea where she got it from. If anyone knows, please email me and I will be glad to give credit where due.

By the way, the salad ingredients aren’t set in stone. These happen to be the vegetables I enjoy in a salad, but if you have other preferences, use your choices. However, I would avoid pickles, olives and capers since their distinctive tastes will clash with the sweetness in the dressing.

Dressing Ingredients

1/4 c. water
1/2 c. oil
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
4 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mustard

Salad Ingredients

1 head lettuce, chopped
6-8 small cherry tomatoes
1 red pepper, chopped
2 – 3 cucumbers, chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 handfuls sour cream and onion crackers


In a large bowl, combine all lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, cucumbers, red onion.

Using a blender, combine all dressing ingredients, and process till garlic is completely liquefied.

Right before serving, crumble crackers onto salad and add dressing to taste.

Note: Dressing is good for two weeks, so if you double the recipe, you can have the salad for several meals.

Frugal Cookbooks That Save You Money

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Frugal Cookbooks That Save You Money

source: ethan john

I do a lot of things to save money on food. I comparison shop, buy on sale and use up leftovers. Most people already know these tricks.

However, there is one thing I do that a lot of people don’t know about. What is it? I choose and use the right cookbooks.

The right cookbook can make all the difference between a dinner that costs $13.00 and one that costs $3.00. Cookbooks that require exotic seasonings and imported cheeses, are going to cost you big bucks at the grocery store. Cookbooks that are heavy on expensive cuts of meat, are going to be heavy on your pocketbook.

That’s the bad news. The good news is, if you know what to look for, it’s easy to spot a frugal cookbook. Here are some tips:

1) Consider buying a vegan cookbook. Many vegan meals use beans as their main source of protein. Use caution however, as many veggie cookbooks lean towards the expensive condiments and fresh herbs.

2) Look at cookbooks based on your region.  Regional cookbooks  will use ingredients that are common, and therefore cheap, in your area. I live in the Middle East, so those are the regional cookbooks I frequently use. Recipes using chickpeas, pita, olives and zhatar, are all dirt cheap for me.

3) Try some cookbook from poorer countries.  The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook uses only a 1/4 pound of meat to serve 4 people.

4) Track down some older cookbooks. The original Joy of Cooking, Good Housekeeping Cookbook and Betty Crocker use almost no expensive convenience foods or exotic ingredients in their recipes.  Instead, the good flavor came from everyday foods, carefully prepared.

5) Buy cookbooks that take advantage of your resources. Since bread in the Middle East bread is cheap and delicious, I own a sandwich cookbook. My sister has a father-in-law that gives her vegetables all summer long, so she has a salad cookbook.

6) Use cookbooks that allow for a lot of choice in ingredient selection. For instance, Pam Anderson’s How to Cook Without A Book, encourages the reader to combine their favorite (cheap) ingredients with her basic recipe templates.

7) Get a book on substitutions.  I own two books on substitutions that I use whenever I am missing an ingredient in a recipe. For instance, it is almost impossible to get water chestnuts where I live, but thanks to my substitution books, I know to use jicama instead.

8) Purchase a cookbook specifically labeled as frugal. I frequently use an excellent book called Good Recipes For Hard Times by Louise Newton.

9) Invest in a cookbook on specific frugal foods. For instance,  I have two cookbooks on rice cookery and one cookbook on making dumplings. Not only do the recipes from these books make great side dishes, but I sometimes add a bit of cheese or a 1/4 pound soy meat and turn them into a main course.

10) Check out other people’s recommendations.  I recommend The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. While this is not actually a cookbook, the few handfuls of recipes scattered throughout the book are so good, they make it one of the most valuable books I own.

If you have any frugal cookbooks that you would like to recommend, please leave a comment below.

History and Culture at Beit Hatfutsot

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Beit Hatfutsot Outside View

source: Talmoryair

I’ve had a friend from the US staying with us for the last week, and yesterday we went to Beit Hatfutsot (or The Museum of the Jewish People) in Tel Aviv.  She was told her husband was in a 35 year old photograph, and she desperately wanted to see it. We never did locate the picture, but we did have a great time.

Beit Hatfutsot Inside

source: Ricardo Tulio Gandelman

Beit Hatfutsot uses an enormous assortment photos, videos, paintings, and sculptures to explore the history and culture of Jews from all over the world. The exhibits are not in chronological order, which I would have preferred, but each section is very clearly presented in both English and Hebrew. There was never any doubt as to what we were viewing.

We didn’t see everything the museum had to offer since we were on a tight schedule, but I did spend a lot of time enjoying the exhibits on art and artifacts from everyday life. There were a couple of objects that really made history come alive for me.

Beit Hatfutsot Haggadah

source: Sodabottle

One was a replica of a centuries old haggadah which I believe was made from leather. Just looking at it made me realize, in a very visceral way, how many years the Passover tradition has been celebrated. It made me feel very connected to the generations of Jews that came before me.

Beit Hatfutsot Painting

source: Beit Hatfutsot

Another favorite was a painting of the Jewish slaves leaving Egypt. When I’ve heard the story of the exodus from Egypt in the past, it has always sounded like an army marching across the desert. In the painting however, it was depicted with groups talking, a mom nursing, people lagging behind, etc. More of a communal walk and less of a carefully orchestrated march. Again, an important part of history became more real for me.

So, how do finish up a very serious afternoon of history and culture? With food and music of course!

After leaving the museum we took a train to Jerusalem and shared a truly amazing meal at Cafe Ne’eman. It consisted primarily of delicious whole wheat bread, butter, omelets, israeli salad and tuna. Plus, there were tiny little cups of fruited tabouli salad, jelly, olives, all kinds of cheeses and both avocado and herbed tahina spreads for the bread. For dessert, chocolate and nut yogurt and two tiny rugelachs (pastries) were included. To top it off, the entire meal was elegantly presented on a three tiered serving piece. Only Israelis could come up with a feast like that!

When our sumptuous meal was completed, we took a bus to the city center, watched a couple of very talented street performers and then headed back home to sleep.

All in all, it was an exhausting, but completely memorable day.

Read More: Living In Israel or Home

American Heart Association Quick & Easy Cookbook

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I had the American Heart Association Quick & Easy Cookbook sitting around my house for many years before I finally used it. I had picked it up about 7-8 years ago at a library sale, and it just sat on a shelf in my basement.  I was afraid that cutting back on fat would mean losing good taste so I never tried it out.

Abruptly, two years ago, I was told by my doctor I needed to lose a lot of weight.  Suddenly, it became my go-to cookbook.

I’ve made quite a few recipes from the Quick & Easy Cookbook and I’ve compiled a list of them. Since I am a vegetarian, all of these recipes are either vegan or dairy.

Below, I’ve listed all the recipes I have made, including my opinion on their tastiness.

5 Star Recipes

My variation on the Delicious Low-Fat Herb Spread was posted a few months ago. In short, the recipe calls for combining dried herbs with low-fat cream cheese. In the book, the spread was used in Cucumber And Herb Cream Cheese Sandwiches, but I skipped the cucumber. The result was wonderful.

From the soup and stews chapter, I tried Three-Bean Chili. This recipe required a little tweaking since it calls for beer, which I don’t like. Three cans of beans are combined with canned tomatoes, beer, cumin and chili powder. After the mixture cooks for a short while, it is topped with yogurt. I made this chili with onion soup instead of beer and it was delicious.

The Broccoli With Easy Mustard Sauce was delicious. By preparing the sauce while the broccoli was cooking, the entire dish was completed was completed within five minutes. The recipe also comes with a version using new potatoes, but I haven’t tried that one yet.

For a snack, I tried the Layered Pesto Spread. If you skip the optional toppings, this recipe is a two ingredient winner. Rinse, drain and process cottage cheese till smooth.  Add in purchased pesto and chill. Yum!

4 Star Recipes

The Stuffed French Toast was made from French bread, slit open and stuffed with a low-fat cream and orange mixture. Since I’m not crazy about the taste of orange and cream cheese I substituted peaches. The bread was then dipped in egg whites and fried in Pam. I enjoyed this recipe but I believe that next time I will mix the cream cheese with cherry preserves or try a savory filling. Pizza sauce and shredded cheese may be nice.

The Thirty-Minute Minestrone was the only soup recipe I tried. This soup turned out fine, but since I already make a very similar dish,  which I like slightly better, I won’t make it again.

3 Star Recipes

I didn’t love the Open-Face Vegetable Sandwich but that may be my own fault. English muffins are spread with mustard, layered with fresh vegetables and topped with cheese. The sandwich is then heated till the cheese melts. Theoretically, the sandwich tasted fine, but melted cheese on fresh vegetables does not appeal to me.

The German-Style Noodles also came out okay, but it just wasn’t for me. This dish is a combination of cooked medium noodles, carrots, cabbage, low-fat sour cream or yogurt, green onions, caraway, salt and pepper. The problem was that I don’t like caraway. With other seasonings though, I probably would have enjoyed this.

I’m not sure why I didn’t like the Sesame Pasta and Vegetables, but I think it was because I held back a little on the fat.  The recipe calls for both margarine and sesame oil and since that seemed a bit much for my diet, I skipped the margarine.  To be fair, I might try making this one again, this time using the exact ingredients called for.

Recipes I Still Want To Try

There are still plenty of recipes that I still want to try; Peppery Spaetzle, Toasted Barley Pilaf, Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce and the Savory Snack Mix.


All in all, I believe the American Heart Associate Quick & Easy Cookbook is a winner. The recipes are fast and healthy, don’t require exotic ingredients, and range in taste from 3-5 stars. There is a good nutrient analysis plus some scattered cooking tips, which are very helpful.

Get your own copy of the American Heart Association Quick & Easy Cookbook at Amazon. Sadly, this book is out-of-print so you will need to purchase an inexpensive used copy.

Read More: Book Reviews or Home

Corn and Vegetable Salad

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Fresh Corn And Vegetable Salad

source: Alanna Kellogg

This corn salad has lots of taste, but it’s not as tangy as many corn salads are. Sometimes, depending on my mood, I enjoy that.

The recipe comes from a Jewish cookbook belonging to a neighbor.  I made some small changes, but the basic dish remains the same. I would love to give credit to the cookbook, but sadly, the cover and first few pages were missing.



2 can of corn (drained)

1 cucumber, diced

1 red pepper or tomato, diced

2 pickles, diced

1 purple onion, diced


3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp prepared mustard

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (original recipe called for lemon juice)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.

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