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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.

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Making Kosher Salads
Posted: April 23, 2013 By: Leah Jaffee

One of the unexpected consequences of writing this blog is the incredible increase in the catering business (Thank G-d, thank you, customers). Originally, closing left the community without a bakery and erev Shabbat take-out counter. "What do we do now?" was more important than "What are you going to do now?" I thought that if I showed people how easy it is to cook and bake, if I gave them my recipes, if I made videos for some of the items, that everyone would be happy.

Since then, I've had the self-realization that very few people's happiness is dependent on what I do! In fact, some people's frustration is very dependent on what I don't do. For instance, the 7-layer cake isn't an attractive project unless I'm doing enough for 250 people as a dessert to a caterered dinner. The way I make it is too involved, too time consuming. Someone calls and asks if I will make one. I mention that the recipe and video are on my website. They reply that they know that and that is why they called. They don't want to make one and her friend from New York really loves 7-layer cake. She wants to give one to him for his birthday. I explain that it isn't cost effective to make just one cake. I'd have to charge a fortune. "How much is a fortune?" With all the Microsoft gazillionaires in Seattle, I think for all of 2 seconds....bottomline; I really can't make just one cake. I need some time to work on the website. Sigh, another dissatisfied almost-customer.

Veggies - work in progress

Anyway, back to the unintended side-effects of being so busy. I'm short on time I could spend writing on the blog and uploading recipes. Maintaining the website to the level I'd like to is a full-time job for about 4 people! I'm scrounging for a few hours here and there. Last week I decide to make a list. Sitting with my sister Leilani, I list all the things I want to do with the website. It is a 'desire board', a call to consciousness to organize my thoughts and work through a process of goals toward accomplishment.

My goal for this week was to put up 5 new salads; who-hoo! I just finished! I have to thank my sister for her assistance in picking out recipes....and, reading them to me as I worked. This is the same sister who would read me recipes before I could read so I could make chocolate cake. THAT was a long time ago. I also need to thank Gordon of Modin Video for all his photoshop work. Looking through greasy eye-glasses, I don't always take the best photos.

I guess I gave my mashgiach a quick lesson in organizing for cooking for large events. After Rosh Hashana, he came and told me how he and his wife adopted the system of making pareve items first, then the meat. He said that it made cooking so much easier. I wondered how many people don't have a system for all the cooking observance requires.

So, today, I start with salads. I figure out what I'm making, make the ingredient list and find out what I need to buy. I highlight what I have on hand and then condense the shopping list by store. For my large events, I'm at about 5 stores for everything I need.  Tracking down kosher products in this town requires a real hunter and gatherer's soul.

Veggie - bounty

Veggie Bounty

When back at the kitchen, items are either organized on the prep table or in the refrigerator. Many land on the prep table nearest the veggie washing sink. I have 11 sinks in the professional kitchen. At home, I installed a 3 compartment sink for the purpose of washing produce. It is stainless steel so I can easily change the status from dairy or meat. It is easier for me to wash everything first and then start chopping.

Veggie prep sink

What's with all the washing? Mostly, we have rules about eating bugs. No one wants to eat bugs but if there isn't careful checking, it happens. To me, careful washing is enough. I don't avoid berries, broccoli, etc. A sudsy wash is great for removing dirt, too. At first I thought all the washing was excessive. Now I see how dirty the water is, I see the bugs, and I'm sure things like pesticides are washed off a little bit better with a soak and rinse. In short, I love my sinks.

veggie - bugs

Little bugs need to be washed away.

Veggies - wash herbs

Washing and checking herbs.

With everything washed, it is easy to just keep chopping. My sinks are then available for draining pastas and rinsing out pots and bowls. My sister sits opposite me at the counter as I slice, dice, julienne, snip, mince, chop and tear. With 3 cameras, we hope we get the shots I need for the website. Now, I'm multi-tasking - new ideas for the catering business, new recipes for the website and food for a family party.

veggies - making salads

 Cleaned and ready to work.

Our salad project will become part of my mother's 84th birthday celebration. We're going gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. I should have gone nut-free but blew it on the Szechuan Pasta Salad. Looking at this photo of my neice, daughters, and sisters, I see we were even fragrance-free....paper flowers!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Veggies - family


Posted 09-01-2013 by matt

How do you clean the sink well enough to trust puttin food in it?

Leah: Clorox!

Posted 04-23-2013 by Manisha
P.S. Happy Birthday Miss D! Miss you bunches and have a great birthday year. Manisha

Posted 04-23-2013 by Manisha maj1500@hotmail.com
Dear Leah, thank you for beng such an inspiration to me. I so appreciate your recipes, pictures and blog. I am not of your faith, but rather love the food. Thanks again for all the great memories of working with you down at 65th and at Hillel. Thanks again Manisha

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