Shopping At TJ Maxx With The Kids

tjmaxxI was approached by a PR firm to see if I was interested in how many kid friendly and back to school items I could find at TJMaxx and Marshall’s. The good news is that I was given $25.00 to spend in both stores.  The good news is I love shopping at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, the bad news is that it is hard for me to just spend $25.00. I have never spent less than $100 at either store and I didn’t know what to expect. Not so easy a task with three kids in tow (four, two, and one). I had to plan for eve” shoesry possible situation, so I brought some juice boxes to tide them over so I could quickly search for their “back to school” sneakers since it was something that they really needed (you know how these kids grow out of a new pair of shoes in five seconds). 

We decided to go to the TJ Maxx on New Hyde Park Road near Lake Success and easily accessible from either the LIE or Union Turnpike. As soon as we arrived my kids were already clashing over who would push the stroller with their baby brother in. I knew instantly that this shopping trip would be a very fast one. Then, my four year old daughter said that she “had to make”.  Having been in this prediciment  before at this same store, I knew we had to go through the houseware section to get to the restrooms. I love this section and I always find unique bowels and picture frames.  I also found a turquoise body pillow that was soft and fluffy for $12.99. You should have seen my kids testing out these pillows (yes, they laid down on them right in the middle of the isle) and that is what they wanted.  I’d show you the picture but I had to return it because it was not good for my very allergic husband.

As we were on our way out of the store, my kids spotted the food section. I thought I had it easy because what food would TJ Maxx have that was kosher certified by a symbol (kosher authority) that I knew and trusted? I was pleasantly surprised when I found a couple of cookies (I initially noticed them because of their style of packaging) that I bought for the kids to snack on and as well as a flavored bottle of water drink that my daughter just had to have. The Late July Organic Mini Milk Chocolate Bite Size Sandwich Cookies (kosher OUD) late july organic mini milk chocolatewere very good and chocolaty. Not only is the packaging very colorful, but it features endangered animals and Late July is donating 10% of the profits to the Jane Goodall Institute. The original price was $4 and TJ Maxx had them for $2.99 for a 5 oz box. This is more than I would want to spend on cookies which I don’t even buy anymore because it is easier to just make your own (my husband has an awesome oatmeal cookie recipe). Since %10 of profits donated to the Jane Goodall Institute, it was worth it to me. I could only find one package of these USDA certified organic cookies but they can be found at Whole Foods or latejuly.com. Not to worry, a few inches away I spotted a box of Market Squares Vanilla Circus Cookies. These cookies are all natural and do not contain Trans Fats. A 2 oz package sells for $2 and TJ Maxx sold them for $1.29. Again, these are kosher certified by the cRcD (Chicago Rabbinical Council Dairy). I was originally drawn to this box because of the cover with two lions roaring at each other. No wonder, the owner of the company and his partner have a background in advertising, design and photography. They produce each and every design themselves. These cookies are also very tasty. In fact, Market Square was founded in 1982 by James L. Lockhart and his son David. James L. Lockhart is also a well known wildlife artist and his work can be seen online at Walden Press Museum Editions. market sqaure vanilla animal crackers

I love shopping at TJ Maxx and even though I didn’t find the shoes that I wanted for my kids (this TJ Maxx did not have shoes for kids) we found some yummy organic kosher snacks that had never heard about before. I still have a $20.00 credit because I returned the pillow and I am going to use if for when the Halloween costumes arrive and shop ahead for Purim costumes (Jewish holiday commemorating how G-d performs hidden miracles and we are hidden behind costumes). This holiday is especially fun for kids because they wear costumes to synagogue and school. I will be

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Big-name groceries cutting into mom-and-pop’s kosher turf – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Big-name groceries cutting into mom-and-pop’s kosher turf – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Sukkot Break Is Here, Do You Know What To Do With Your Kids?

At first, I looked at the calendar with eight days home with three kids, four and under as I downed my third cup of coffee. With a very limited entertainment budget to spare, I needed a way to keep my kids happy. I posted my concerns on facebook and the ideas came rolling in from friends also in the same predicament. Things started to look much better and our first activity of the week was a great success and it cost me only $14.                                                                                                                

When my friend suggested that we go to the Queens Zoo, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it be smelly and overcrowded? Would my kids be able to walk the entire route or would the get kvetchy and fight for the stroller? Everything worked out perfectly, and I have my very professional and mother of five to thank for this. When my two year old almost climbed over the fence to hug the goats, she was there. When my one year old put his bottle back in his mouth after it had dropped on the ground, she was there.

In order to keep this visit to the zoo affordable, bring your own food and drinks. She brought a bagel with cream cheese and red pepper, water bottles, animal cookies, and cucumbers. Those cookies really saved the day when my two year old would not part from the barnyard. I brought juice boxes, whole wheat crackers, and cheese. No matter what I bring, my kids always end up eating what the other kids have in their bags. A special thanks to the moms that have this in mind when they pack their food. Speaking of food, all of the kids loved feeding the sheep, llamas, and goats. You can buy a hand full of grain for fifty cents, just make sure you have quarters because the machine is not sophisticated enough to take nickels and dimes. If you don’t have any change whatsoever, the animals will eat leaves as well. There are some other fun activities to enjoy while at the zoo. Our kids ran round a bit at the Migration Playground. It was a bit too advanced for my one year old because it is high up and there are open areas where he could fall. He knows I get scared when he tries to go down that way, he already has a sense of humor. It was hard to pull the kids away from the playground, this is where the juice boxes and cookies also came in handy.

On our way out, we treated the kids to a ride on the carousel. Originally installed here for the 1964 World’s Fair, this turn-of-the-last-century wood merry-go-round with 64 “jumping” horses (some with flying manes and tails), seven standing horses, a lion and two stand-alone chariots had my kids in awe. This ride is a piece of Jewish history, who would have known? The beautiful wood carvings were created by Lithuanian-born Jewish carver Marcus Charles Illions. He not only created carvings for carousel figures during the early the late 1800s and early 1900s, but he also was known to have created four sets of Ark lions for Brooklyn synagogues. As I found out more information about the history of the carousel, more Jewish names came up; Solomon Stein, Harry Goldstein, and Charles Carmel. These Russian Jewish immigrants used their skills from carving Torah Arks and channeled them into a trade that would provide food for their families in America. To see more images from the exhibition or to purchase a copy of the exhibition catalog, Gilded Lions And Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel, is also available at the American Folk Art Museum. Or call 212-265-1040 or www.folkartmuseum.org. sflamm@folkartmuseaum.org

 

 

 

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“America’s Most Wanted Recipes” Get Kosher

America's Most Wanted RecipesA couple of weeks ago, I sent my husband to a foodie event in Manhattan promoting “America’s Most Wanted Recipes,” a new book just put out by Simon and Schuster. The part that had me most interested in this event was that they had requested that people make a kosher version of the over 200 secret recipes from 57 of America’s most popular food chains. As a kosher mom blogger and advocate for kosher food, I just had to be there. Unfortunately, my babysitting budget had been depleted so that I could attend the OU Advanced Kashrut Seminar for Women, a week long seminar that discussed what kosher is and what kosher is not. I learned so much and met some incredible people (I was even quoted in both The Jewish Press and OU.org). So, I sent my husband and main chef in our home, to the event. I advised him to schmooze with the people from the media and get the scoop.

 My husband had fun at the event and even came home with an assignment for us. We were asked to cook one of the recipes and convert it to a kosher one. When I saw one of my favorite appetizers from Houston’s (I used to eat there before I started keeping kosher), I couldn’t wait to get started. I remember eating at Houston’s in Chicago with my friends and sharing Houston’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Now, I could make a kosher version of this appetizer in my own home and eat as much as I wanted (that is a really scary thought). Another recipe I wanted to kosherize was the Olive Garden’s Salad Dressing. I remember the days of all you can eat salad at Olive Garden topped off with a tangy, basil balanced salad dressing. I also saw this as an opportunity for my husband and me to get creative with date night as well as good content to post on my blogs, which would also be posted on Epicurious.com.

We agreed to take a shot at a kosher version of Chili’s Southwestern Egg Rolls. Right off the bat we saw something we needed to change with the recipe. The recipe had a combination of chicken and Monterey Jack Cheese. Not kosher! Milk and meat (meat and dairy) are never mixed together. So, we decided to make the dish dairy. We both felt that the cheese was a key component to the success of the recipe. My husband and I both love large amounts of melted cheese on eggs, potatoes, Challah, pizza, and bagels and there is no shortage of cheese in our house (thanks to Costco and their affordable and delicious Natural & Organic Kosher Cheese). Yes, I do get very excited when discussing cheese! We substituted the boneless, skinless chicken breast with Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Chik’n Strips, also kosher pareve. In order to get the grilled like sensation, we threw the pieces into a pan with a little canola oil for a few minutes. Yum. We also made our own avocado-ranch salad dressing with Hellman’s mayonnaise, avocado, and oil. All of the other ingredients were okay to use in our kosher version of the recipe. The final result, delicious and a new addition to our Shabbos and Yom Tov meals.

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Something Old And Something New For Every Body At Kosherfest 2009

kosher symbols good oneI was very excited when I read the following press release from Vicki Garfinkel from Andover Communications. I love kosher food, especially kosher food and beverage products that everybody can enjoy! Here is the press release sent from Andover Comunications describing what’s in store, and what will be in stores in the months to come!  If you are a kosher foodie, you will definitely want to attend this event.   I will be on site interviewing both exhibitors and attendees about their food and beverage products. Note to self: start diet after Kosherfest 2009.

From Andover Communications – New trends emerge at the #1 kosher food and beverage trade event serving the retail, foodservice, manufacturing and distribution industries.  Once again, Kosherfest will take place at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ October 27 – 28, 2009 (www.kosherfest.com). The show will give visitors a taste of the latest & greatest in the kosher food & beverage industry from around the globe, with more than 13 countries represented.  According to research by the Mintel organization, kosher was the leading claim on new products in 2007 and 2009.

New Products Competition – Marriott, Glenpointe, NJ – Oct 15, 2009

Calling all new kosher product manufacturers!!  Exhibitors are invited to enter their new kosher products in the Kosherfest New Products Competition, which awards prizes in 17 categories.  The Competition will be held in New York City prior to the trade show on Oct 15th, where a panel of culinary experts will select the winners of these coveted awards. Winners will be announced and products will be showcased at the show. For product entry deadlines and more information visit www.kosherfest.com or contact Vianna DiGristina at vdigristina@divcom.com or 207-842-5583. Want to know who took home the awards last year?  Take a look at the 2008 New Products Competition Winners.

 2nd Annual Kosherfest Culinary Competition

Have a favorite pastrami or corned beef sandwich? Noted chefs will prepare their kosher deli sandwich and side of choice at the 2nd Annual Kosherfest Culinary Competition (last year the competition was for the best kosher sushi).  A panel of industry professionals will judge and decide who takes the title at the show.  For more information on entering the competition please contact Vianna DiGristina.

 Kosherfest Keynote Presentation – Tuesday Oct 27
State of the Kosher Industry: The Kosher Symbol: A License to Greater Profitability

Time: 9:00am – 9:45am

As the kosher food industry continues to grow, more than 100,000 products carry a kosher symbol. This can be an enormous marketing opportunity for those who wish to capitalize on it.  Over ten million Americans buy kosher food and U.S. supermarkets are seeing a greater growth in this market over non-kosher sales.   Menachem Lubinsky, founder of Kosherfest, will discuss how the industry can use its kosher status to make inroads with different segments of the food market, including retail and foodservice.

 Speaker: Menachem Lubinsky, President, LUBICOM Marketing/Consulting
Kosherfest Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Time: 10:00am

Be there for the excitement of the official 2009 show floor opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the #1 kosher food and beverage trade event.

 About Kosherfest
Kosherfest hopes to attract more than 6,000 professional attendees and more than 350 exhibitors from all over the world. For information visit www.kosherfest.com or contact Vianna DiGristina at vdigristina@divcom.com.

Free Press registration at: www.kosherfest.com

Kosherfest is produced by:
Diversified Business Communications
121 Free Street, P.O. Box 7437
Portland, ME 04112-7437 USA
Phone: (207) 842-5504
Fax: (207) 842-5505

E-Mail: info@kosherfest.com Website: www.divbusiness.com  

Diversified Business Communications (DBC) is a multi-national trade exhibition and publishing company based in Portland, Maine. DBC organizes dozens of trade shows around the world, including several trade shows under the Cultural Food brand, in the United States. DBC organizes All Things Organic, the International Boston Seafood Show, and Cultural Food Los Angeles including Expo Comida Latina and All Asia Food. They also produce trade-industry news media for the cultural food industry, including Kosher Today, Comida News and All Asia Food News.

Kosherfest is co-produced by: 

Lubicom Marketing and Consulting
1428 36th Street, Suite 219
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Phone: (718) 854-4450
Fax: (718) 854-4474

E-Mail: info@lubicom.com Website: www.lubicomkosher.com

LUBICOM Marketing and Consulting, founder and co-producer of Kosherfest, also produces Jewish Marketplace, the Great American Desserts Expo and a host of other special events. Menachem Lubinsky, founder and president of LUBICOM, is the world’s leading marketing authority on the kosher food industry. LUBICOM also provides comprehensive marketing services for an impressive list of clients.

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The Rush of Rosh Hashanah

img_challahEven though Rosh Hashanah is just a few days away, families in Kew Gardens Hills, NY (Queens) have been preparing for the Jewish New Year for over a month or more. No matter how far in advance we plan, there is always something that comes up and we need to run out to the store and buy more eggs, apples, honey, challah, chicken, or pomegranates. On Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, there is no shortage of these items whatsoever. The bakeries have been working overtime and the sweet smells of honey cake and challah are in the air! This is a really fun time to visit the local bakeries and take some of these sweet desserts home. We just love G & I Bakeries, located at 69-40 Main Street. We always purchase a few delicious round challahs for our meals on Rosh Hashanah.  What s challah? Challah is braided bread that we eat every Shabbat and holiday, except for Passover when we eat only Matzos for eight days. Challah is usually a braided loaf of bread, but for Rosh Hashanah we eat round challahs to symbolize the continuous cycle of life. Even though our grandparents are not with us physically, they are with us in spirit. I look at my children and I am in awe of how they represent the past, present, and future of our Jewish heritage. They have a piece of all of our family members that are no longer with us and those that still are in their young faces and that is pretty awesome.

 Rosh Hashanah is a time for focusing on good things for the year to come, so we add extra sweetness to our menu. How sweet it is! Honey, honey cake, and raisins are added to challah to bring on the extra sweetness. Chicken and side dishes are topped with honey, oranges, and raisins. We also say a special blessing before taking a slice of apple and dipping it in a cup of honey. This blessing is one that we say to request that the new year be full of good “sweet” things in our lives.

There are some more eclectic food items that add meaning to our Rosh Hashanah meal and most of them can be found in the stores on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills. Not your typical, everyday side dishes, but definitely significant for the new year. On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, apples are eaten, but on the second night, the not so familiar fruits are eaten for the purpose of welcoming the new season. When we eat this new fruit, we say a special blessing, or shehechiyanu to thank G-d for providing us with these new fruits. Fruits like pomegranate, which have 613 seeds, is  the same number of mitzvot or  “good deeds” that we should provide for our friends and family. There is a great fruit store on Main Street between 76th Road and 76th Avenue and right before Shabbos and Jewish Holidays this place is packed. If you’ve been to open markets in ethnic neighborhoods, the scene at this fruit and vegetable store will  be quite familiar.  My husband always comes back home with bags full of exotic new fruits. Thank G-d he loves to shop.

Yes, that is a fish head on the table. Since, Rosh means “head” in Hebrew, we eat the head of a fish because we should always be the leaders of our people and perform acts of kindness to all people. Fish also symbolize fertility and abundance, something we should always aspire to achieve in our lives.  
Here are some other symbolic dishes and food items with a straight forward explanation from  about.com  http://judaism.about.com/od/roshhashana/a/shana_food.htm 

Head of Lamb, Sweet Chicken or Meat Dish
Head of lamb symbolizes our hope that the Jewish people will lead other nations through their righteousness. The sweet entree symbolizes our wish for a sweet year.

Tzimmes
Tzimmes is an eastern European recipe for honey baked carrots. The Yiddish word “meren” means carrots and to increase. Carrots symbolize our hope that we increase our good deeds in the coming year. Some tzimmes recipes add prunes, sweet potatoes or even meat to the sweet carrots.

Spinach
Spinach symbolizes a green year with plenty of produce.

Rice
Rice symbolizes abundance.

Honey Cake
“This day is holy to God, your God; do not mourn and do not weep…for the joy of God is your strength.” (Nechemiah 8:9-10). It is said that the Prophet Nechemiah introduced to the ancient Israelites the Persian custom of eating sweet foods to celebrate the New Year.

These last two were mentioned on holidays.net

Fenugreek
Less common than round challah, apples, honey or even fish heads, fenugreek is traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah by Jewish people of Middle Eastern descent. The tradition likely started since the Hebrew word for fenugreek sounds similar to the Hebrew word for “increase”. When eating the fenugreek, a special prayer is recited asking G-d to increase our merits.

 Leeks, Beets & Dates
There are a handful of foods traditionally eaten during Rosh Hashanah that are intended invoke G-d’s protection of the Jewish people from their enemies. Leeks, beets and dates all fit this category.

Another thing I love about my neighborhood is kosher pre-made meals for Shabbos and Holidays. You can get an entire Rosh Hashanah meal complete with all the side dishes and symbolic food items right on Main Street and they can eve deliver it to their home. Even if you did have time to prepare most of the items in advance, you can find what you need to make your meal complete at Mauzone 7230 Main St,  Meal Mart 72-10 Main Street, Supersol 6818 Main St,, or Wasserman’s, 7268 Main Street.

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Customers Sample What’s In Store for Rosh Hashanah at Costco in Far Rockaway

One of my weekly activities is to take my toddlers to Costco in Far Rockaway and replenish some of the staples in our cabinet. You know the items, Kedem Grape Juice, Empire Kosher Chicken, Milk, Eggs, Seltzer, Cheerios, Quaker Oatmeal, and Canola Oil, just to name a few. While we cruise the isles, we are tempted to try the array of food samples in our reach. In the kosher consumer world, sampling food is more than just an all you can eat buffet. The box of the item must be checked for a hechsher, or kosher certification, before the food can be consumed. If I am not familiar with the kosher certification of an item, I always request the packaging in order to ensure that the proper kosher certification is on the product. This is where Costco differs from all other main stream retailers. The people that provide the samples at Costco in Far Rockaway are familiar with the word and the meaning of kosher. I was so impressed by this concept that I have since cancelled my BJ’s membership entirely.  Why is Costco so into the kosher consumer?

I found out that the person behind the kosher friendly staff at Costco is Adam Self, general manager of the Costco on Rockaway Turnpike for the past three years, and a veteran of half a dozen other Costco stores in New York and New Jersey. Adam has tuned into the requests of the kosher consumers and he isn’t even Jewish. He is very aware of the benefits of kosher food products whether the consumers are Muslim, Christian, Vegetarian, Lactose-Intolerant, or Gluten-Intolerant. As the kosher mommy blogger and advocate for kosher food, I just had to introduce myself to Mr. Self.

I actually found Mr. Self exactly where an excellent general manager of a store should stand and that was near the kosher food section. He was engaged in a conversation with a kosher consumer when I politely introduced myself to him. I had so much to say, but my two year old had decided that she wanted to climb out of the shopping cart and do some of her own shopping. In my brief schmooze with Mr. Self, he had invited me to today’s kosher sampling event with representatives from major kosher brands. The event, which will be going on until Thursday, September 17, features kosher brands such as Gabila’s, Natural & Kosher, Geshmak, David’s Cookies, and Schick’s. The samples were plentiful and the company representatives both informative and friendly. It wasn’t just the Jewish customers filling up their carts with food for the upcoming Rosh Hashanah meals. All types of customers were delighted with the samples and filled up their shopping carts with kosher organic cheeses, kosher potato salad, knishes, kugels, and desserts. You could see the appreciation in their faces. Keeping customers educated about healthy food options is exactly what Mr. Self had achieved today. You don’t have to be Jewish to love kosher food, you just have to be conscious about what you are eating. That is the best thing that retailers can do for their customers, after all, they don’t call it customer care for nothing!

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