Friday, November 13, 2009

Keeping kosher in Israel

In theory, keeping kosher in Israel should be easy. This is the Jewish state, where the religious establishment wields some degree of power. Many laws that protect the kosher consumer, and many stores are certified by one kosher supervision organization or another, many of which are official state-run institutions. It takes some real work to find a supermarket that is literally not kosher; one chain, "Tiv Ta'am," carries pork and shellfish, but there is only one such store in our area. All the other supermarkets - and there are a large number - are under kosher certification. But the "regular kashrut" level is not acceptable to everyone, and there are many gradations. I have several customers who need a higher level of kashrut, either for themselves or for guests or extended family members. In America, that can translate to eating only the "heimish," or strictly kosher brands, with names like Gefen, Mishpacha, Liebers, or Manischewitz. (Won't even begin to contemplate the level of quality these families encounter in their gastronomic pursuits. No wonder cholent is a favorite kosher food!)

Most of the time here in Israel, that means that all the ingredients have to be Bada"tz or OU supervised, which covers about 97% of my ingredients (where that particular number came from, I don't know, but it sounds about right). But this week, a customer who is making a bar mitzvah needed to feed guests who most likely would not accept the OU, so all of the ingredients had to be Bada"tz. That was quite the challenge - anything that contained molasses or corn syrup was out, as were any exotic flavor extracts, as I didn't have the inferior super-kosher varieties on hand. Also did not have much in the way of mehadrin fruit, except for lemons, so my first flavor was glazed lemon cookies. Then I made coffee and cream brownies, sugar cookie ganache sandwiches, chocolate pecan fingers, and cherry oatmeal crumble bars.
I also had a cool thing happen this week - and it's all thanks to Facebook, so shout-out to the world's number one social networking website. And a little shout-out to David, who calls it Tushbook and will have no part of it. Someday he will join the rest of us in the 21st century. On Wednesday, I received a call from a woman who lives in the southern part of the country. She and I share mutual friends on FB, so she had seen my page ("Dvora's Cookie Creations" if you have not yet seen it! And you can even see it if you are, like David, not a member - just google us and it will lead you right to the page.) and always wanted to try the cookies for herself. Since she was going to be in the area on Thursday, she was wondering if she could pick up an order then. And who am I to disappoint a devoted fan?! It was great to meet her; in fact, we definitely recognized each other from college, so it just goes to show you how completely small the Jewish world is.
In any case, she got a a slightly different assortment, which went unphotographed - in place of the cherry oatmeal crumble bars, she received red velvet sandwiches - which my children wanted more of, so that was good - and ginger crinkles, which I tried rolling in demerara sugar instead of plain old granulated. It gave a slightly stronger molasses flavor, and a whole different kind of crunch. I wanted to make sure her platter had a special look. I find the more round cookies, the more impressed the customer. In any case, I hope she and her family enjoyed! So check it out, the Cookie Creations have now gone national. Next up, the world (cue evil laugh...).
Until next time, same bat time, same bat station

No comments:

If you like the pictures you see here but would love to see more updated photos, make sure to check out our Facebook page! In the meantime, we will do our best to keep the blog a little more current.