Hallie

When you take food to somebody recovering from major surgery - must it be bland?

Unless their stomach is very sensitive to any sort of spice or strong flavorings they will appreciate some nice food just like you and I.

There are too many to list recipes for but you should be able to find ones that work for you quite easily.

You could do cottage or shepherd's pie (can make without tomato sauces), all kinds of pasta like boscaiola, mac & cheese or with pasta with pesto, almost any soup, very soft roast veg, risotto, pasta bake (these need not contain tomatoes/tomato sauce), stuffed zucchini/courgettes, fish and/or veg patties, most cooked fish really, baked ricotta, quiche/frittata.

I'm sure you've tried googling for easy to chew foods for post-surgery but you'll also have a lot of success searching for lap-band/gastric-band friendly foods. These will also tend to be more creative (and healthy!) as these people live with a soft diet for LIFE, so they're wanting something more than just mashed potato for a week or two.

If it must be bland you can never go wrong with chicken noodle soup. Or a chicken broth they can add noodles and chicken too.

This is my base recipe for stocks:

In a stock pot, combine the equivalent of 1 chicken (chicken quarters are so cheap) with excessive fat removed, one onion, quartered and unpeeled; 3-5 celery stalks, cut into pieces a few inches long; a large carrot, unpeeled and cut into 3-6 pieces; bay leaf; thyme/ rosemary/ ect, fresh if possible.

Let cook over night/ through the day, just under a boil. Skim the foam/ scum whenever you happen to pass by. Once ready, strain and discard used veggies. Season to taste with salt/ soy sauce, black pepper, mirin, sake, white wine, rice vinegar, MSG, or anything else to make it taste like awesome. You can add most of these at the begining if you like, except the salt and pepper. The pepper will turn bitter and if you try to salt early it will concentrate it as the liquid evaporates. If an alcohol is added, bring back to a boil to cook out the alcohol.

The chicken can be used again, but it will have almost no flavor. You can cook it with chicken bouillon to bring back a strong chicken flavor and sear it, once it dries out a bit, with light seasonings to add later.

This will let your friend decide between a light or a medium meal and allow them to freeze any extras with no issue.

Hallie

Potty training is so hard because it is so dependent on their personality. With our middle daughter the only thing that worked was to just switch to underwear and be prepared for accidents for a few days. She was completely good after a few days - we just had to stay outside or on the hard wood floor.

Knowing your child is ready is, knowing your child.

Ask yourself, does she show signs of being ready?

One good sign is her diaper is dry in the morning when you wake up. Another good sign is she can tell you she needs to use the restroom before she goes.

My youngest son (three years old) needed to move up a class in Montessori school but he had to be potty trained to do so. I had been trying pull-ups to no avail.

Finally, I did what one of the other moms stated and just put him in underwear and dealt with the accidents.

Number one took about 2 days and number 2 took almost two weeks but it worked. I don't think he liked the feeling of being wet/dirty.

Anytime he had an accident, he had to help me clean it up and I would explain to him that big boys use the toilet and that he is a big boy. Also, I read the book to him called "Everyone Poops" which has a boy but there are other books about potty training you can read to your little girl.

Hallie

In the heat one thing really makes for a nice treat.

Fruit salad.

Fruit salad is great for the heat and less expensive this time of year. Mix 1/2 pack of vanilla instant pudding mix with the pineapple juice from a can of pineapple to make a mildly sweet sauce. Add the pineapple, apples, mandarin oranges (in juice but don't add the juice), peaches, grapes, blueberries, kiwi, cherries, blackberries, plums, apricots, and whatever else you love or is on sale.

Pulled pork is a good main dish; drop a Boston butt in the crock pot for 8 hours and shred with a fork and add or offer BBQ sauce. You could offer slider buns too.

Homemade mac n cheese works great for a cookout since even if it isn't super hot it still tastes great.

I'm a picnic-er. I probably do one or two a week.

  • Mark Bittman is my herofor this list of 100 picnic ideas
  • I'm having a moment with roasted zucchini. It is great at room temp and would travel well (although it won't look like this picture since it doesn't really brown.) This recipe is also great with a touch of paprika.
  • If you don't mind taking things in separate containers this panzanella recipe is very good. You could combine everything but the bread beforehand and just dump the whole thing over the bread when you get there.
  • Lots of sandwiches (and salads!) work better if you let them sit. My fave is buttered toasted onion roll blue cheese roast beef or steak thin sliced red onion horseradish. Or kings hawaiian roll sandwiches without pork.
  • For a nice picnic I'm a fan of charcuterie. Pick 2 or 3 hard cheese, a meat or two, some cornichons and crackers. Done. Depending on what you've got some fruit might be nice (prosciutto and cantelope, blue cheese and figs, etc) For a more downscale I just make adult lunchables (turkey deli cheese good crackers grapes or apples)
  • Elote is amazing for picnics.
Hallie

Is a Kosher diet a healthier lifestyle or is it really just a mitzvah?

Yes and No.

What these laws did was it effectively standardized the Jewish diet. It made sure that our food was prepared safely and it made sure that contamination of food was low.

1) Separating meat and dairy cuts down on food contamination.

By creating separate storage situations for both meat and dairy, we would never have a situation where ALL of the food went bad. If the meat went bad then we would still have the dairy and vice versa.

Not eating meat and dairy together also cut down on food poisoning. If I eat meat and I'm forced to wait a few hours before I can eat dairy (as to keep it separate from inside my body) then this means I'm not mixing two types of food.

2) Kosher slaughter ensures that meat is "pure."

Kosher Slaughter involves bleeding out the animal before we process it. Most disease is spread through the blood. The flesh inside of the body is sterile for the most part. By separating the blood from the flesh, we ensure the purity of the meat by making sure it will not be tainted.

3) Certain types of Shellfish contain toxins which can kill you or harm you.

The blanket ban on Shellfish ensures that we are never putting ourselves at risk of poisoning. Certain types of shellfish contain toxins which can either harm you or even kill you. Today we can differentiate which shellfish is dangerous and which is safe but we still honor the laws because they were as they were given.

4) Eating animals which only chew their cud ensures we aren't eating the flesh of animals which have inefficient digestive (purification) systems.

Animals which chew their cud have extremely efficient digestive systems. They break down their food efficiently and they do it slowly over a long period of time. This means they have the ability to purify their bodies of toxic materials in a more efficient way.

  1. The digestive system of the pig is extremely short (around four hours) and doesn't remove toxic materials efficiently. A cow takes about 24 hours to fully digest food which allows it to fully purify materials from its body. This means the meat and fat aren't storing toxic crud we shouldn't be eating.
  2. Pigs lack a number of sweat glands which other animals have. Sweat glands are part of the purification system of the body. This means pork holds a higher amount of waste material.
Hallie

A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is an affirmation that someone has reached the age where they are obligated in Mitzvot.

It's definitely never too late to have a ceremony.

So, as long as you are over that age, the ceremony can be done at any time. While it is not required, the ceremony often involves doing a mitzvah that you couldn't do as a child, but that you can do now. This is why most people read from the Torah as part of their ceremony, because a child can't do that. Orthodox synagogues don't let women do this, but if you attend a Conservative or Reform synagogue, you should be allowed to read from the Torah as part of the ceremony if you want to.

If you have the ceremony on a holiday where there is a Megillah reading, another option is to read from the Megillah.

Hallie

So we added an Xbox One to our family game night. And here are a couple suggestions. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood will be GREAT for your 4-year-old. I played it with my 4 & 6 year old daughters when it came out & they still ask to play it every other week.

On top of that look into:

  1. Rayman Legends the 2nd player can't really die or negatively affect progress so it's a great game to play WITH your kid
  2. Child of Light another great game where you can play WITH your child. I played this with my oldest (the younger one watched & liked it too) and I would use the support character to keep her alive
  3. Lego Games always good family co-op
  4. Minecraft the kids go crazy over it
  5. Peggle 2 can't go wrong with Peggle
  6. Skylanders the games are fantastic; the caveat being it can get EXPENSIVE. I've managed this game by staying a generation behind & have had great luck getting figures for cheap
  7. Guacamelee co-op beat 'em up with good character
  8. PvZ: GW Plants vs Zombies FPS that you don't have to worry about the violence being gratuitous
  9. Chariot good co-op puzzle platformer

Terraria is perfect.

It is a 2d sidescroller like classic old Mario games, so it fits that description. But this also makes it easier for him to understand. Its also a Minecraft clone (which is another strong suggestion, as it is this generation's Mario) and provides dozens of hours of depth with item variations, mining, crafting, boss fights, etc... It also has up to 4 player splitscreen, so it can accommodate your whole family.

I have a 5 year old that is obsessed with it. He knows all the super complex recipes and gathering strategies. My 3 year old does well for himself. He can move and attack and he just likes going around and killing the bad guys. He'll hand me the controller if he gets stuck in a hole that is too deep to jump out of, as he doesn't know how to dig yet.