Exposé: Stock manipulation in progress (beef, not GameStop)

Maybe you read my previous post about how I freeze leftovers, or maybe you didn’t.

Obviously, I think you probably should read every word that I’ve written, but I can hardly be called an impartial judge.

Wire corner shelving with 4 Crock Pot slow cookers of different typesRegardless, I made a nice pot of beef broth in my Crock-Pot the other day.

After leaving it to simmer overnight, I put it out on my snowy kitchen balcony to cool, finally freezing it into useful, recipe-ready pucks using my silicone muffin pan.Frozen broth popping out of flexed silicone muffin tray

Would you believe that a stinkbug made its way into my fridge on the cooling glass mixing bowl full of stock? It was drawn by the heat, no doubt. Thankfully, I’d covered the bowl with Saran Wrap, creating a wisp of perma-garbage, but also keeping the insect on the exterior. Insect bits are almost never Kosher, by the by.

Winter weather in recent days has left me a bit less than dexterous. My arthritis definitely waxes and wanes with something, whether that’s barometric pressure or my star chart. At any rate, I fumbled a little as I used my customary tongs to prize the icy soup circles out of their silicone enclosure.

Touching that chilly stuff is gross—because there’s a dead animal in there!—and also bitterly cold and painful for already aching finger joints. The tongs are useful, but approaching a necessary evil when wielded by hands I’d call ham-fisted if I hadn’t renounced pork decades ago.

I store my home-made chicken and beef stock in a plastic tub in the top, right corner of my freezer. Within that container, I subdivide the two types in a few labeled Ziploc bags that I rinse periodically and re-use for that same purpose.Hand holding stainless steel tongs placing frozen puck of broth into baggie labeled Beef Stock

Slipping the last few pucks into their baggie, I was struck by this thought:

“My gosh, I’m participating in a stock manipulation!

I think that’s probably all I need to say about that, short of admitting I wish I’d had a copy of my kids’ Game Informer magazine (a GameStop publication) to shove position artfully in the background of my photo for this piece.

Ahem.

Larry Levine’s Meats & Deli saves our pandemic Passover with Seder in a Box

If it weren’t for the generosity of local Jewish charities and businesses like Larry Levine’s Meats & Deli of Peabody, Massachusetts, my family would not have had a proper Passover seder this year.

Larry Levine Kosher Meat Market & Deli contact info

Yes, I, too, was googling “how to make matza at home”… but I don’t keep any wheat flour in the house since we cut gluten out of our younger son’s diet due to his autoimmune disease and a relative’s diagnosis with celiac. Things were about to get really artsy-crafty around here. Oh, yes, and I was a nutcase!

On Tuesday, April 7th, I left my house for a public space other than the park/a sidewalk for the first time since March 12, 2020. I went out to pick up a “Seder in a Box” kit at Larry Levine’s kosher deli.

Seder in a Box Larry Levine 2020 pandemic letterOur “Seder in a Box” was organized by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies group out of Boston. I’ve received email from CJP and other local/regional Jewish organizations for years as our family has gratefully enjoyed programs like PJ Library which offers amazing, free monthly Jewish books for kids of Jewish and interfaith heritage.

In case you are wondering, a “Seder in a Box” includes all the elements that need to be represented on a seder plate, a box of matzah, and a small bottle of Kedem grape juice. You’ll still need to prepare the “festive meal” to go along with the kit to make a full and proper Passover seder.

seder plate with bitter herbs, charoset, shank bone, etc.More properly described as a “seder in a paper bag,” the package had everything one needs for the seder plate plus approximately enough grape juice (8 oz.) for a skimpy* solo seder.

crystal goblet filled with wine on silver salverHere’s Elijah’s cup on our table. Poor Elijah, like me, had to make do with mostly grape juice this year.

Manischewitz kosher wine bottle, mostly empty, on silver salver

Luckily, I had a bit of Manischewitz sweet kosher wine in the house and one 32 oz bottle of organic concord grape juice to supplement. The one full box of matzah included in our kit was sufficient for our family of six to celebrate a Passover seder, though I rationed matzah in a way I’ve never done before.

My hope is that each of us can eat at least a bit of the matzah we received in our Seder in a Box every day throughout the eight days of the Passover holiday to fulfill the commandment to eat unleavened bread. Luckily, I feel confident that God will understand if we fall short of orthodox religious interpretation this year amidst pandemic and societal chaos.

I’m not sure if a financially comfortable family like ours is the most deserving recipient of any beneficence, but I clicked through and requested a Seder in a Box immediately when I got the email offer from CJP. I would not have gone into a grocery store for these items; not at this time, not this year. My family would not have continued our tradition of celebrating this very important Jewish holiday in the traditional fashion if we hadn’t had access to this gift.

Here’s what I know: I can’t get a grocery delivery slot from anyone these days, and I am unwilling to visit stores in person while I have ample calories available in my house. The health of my family—especially my septuagenarian in-laws downstairs—demands that I sacrifice all trivial wants at this time.

Passover, to me, isn’t really a trivial pursuit. To be fair, I wouldn’t risk the lives of anyone in my household to honor the holiday, but I will certainly go outside my comfort zone to do my very best to host a meaningful seder.

This year, the Seder in a Box was a lifeline for observing Jewish traditions that date back for millennia. I’m so grateful for what I received, and I hope the people at CJP and Larry Levine’s are aware of how meaningful their gift was to me and my inter-generational household.

* Strict interpretation of Jewish law says we should pour each of the four required cups of wine for a seder into a cup that holds 3.5 oz, and each of us should drink at least ~50 cc per cup. 4 cups x 50 cc = 200 cc = ~7 fluid oz per person.

Note: if you need to drink grape juice instead of wine for health reasons, that is totally okay! If you’re diabetic, I’m less certain. Maybe Passover will kill you unless you’ve got some insulin to inject?