What do you think of when you hear the word Passover (Pesach)?
Matzah, cleaning, guests, cooking, more matzah?
Over the years, (decades actually), I’ve hosted thousands of people for Passover seders at GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant and our Chabad House in Venice, Italy. Yet, the thing I think about the most is myself.
In the days leading up to Passover, I think about myself, but probably not in the way it sounds. It’s more about being like matzah (aka matzo).
Matzah – Traditional Passover Food or Something More?
Matzah is flat and unleavened. It hasn’t had a chance to rise like the dough of typical bread. Bread, which rises and inflates, represents ego. Matzah represents selflessness, otherwise known in Hebrew as “bittul.”
The literal meaning of bittul is self-nullification. Yet, bittul doesn’t mean that we have to think of ourselves as nothing. (Here’s where the matzah comes in and teaches us a lesson about ourselves). Matzah reminds us that as we go about bettering our lives and the world around us, we can do it in a way that transcends self-concern. We can be more humble.
During the holiday prep, the seders and all the matzah crunching, I can’t help but be reminded how important it is to work on myself. And, I know that if I give it my all during the eight days of Passover, then those efforts will set a strong foundation for the rest of the year.
I’d love to hear about your Passover inspiration! You can share anything and everything from your favorite matzah brei recipe, Passover table settings or something special you’ve learned in the comments below.
Purim 2022 is coming right up (beginning Wednesday evening, March 16 and ending Thursday evening, March 17) and you can recreate some of the fun right at home with these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas. Do you remember the sights and sounds of a carnival when you were a kid? Read on to see how you can create that for those you care about.
Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life. If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!
What is Purim and how is it celebrated?
Purim is usually a community wide event celebrated with food, fun, games and entertainment. Whether in local synagogues or at other venues, you can hear joyous music, see creative costumes and hear the traditional greeting, “Chag Purim Sa’me’ach!”
Why is Purim So Important?
Purim commemorates a 14-year dark saga for the Jews of Ancient Persia. Queen Esther saved her people from the evil royal official, Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people.
You can make your own Purim Carnival. Whether you actually have a backyard or not isn’t important. These carnival ideas can even be done inside a small apartment like mine. (Keep a mop handy! JK 😃).
The typical Purim festivities may not be happening as they usually would be. But, the essential parts of the holiday (the mitzvahs) are happening and we all can create a wonderful Purim for ourselves.
Young and Young at Heart Will Love These Purim Carnival Ideas
You can make the carnival games as simple or as detailed as you wish. You don’t need to break the bank. With a little bit of planning and some inexpensive supplies, you’ll be good to go!
1. Sack Race
All you need is a starting point, a finish line and some large garbage bags. This is probably one of my favorites. It’s quite hysterical watching people of all ages jump, jump, jump their way to the finish line.
2. Bean Bag Toss
Place 3 colored bowls (they can be different sizes) in a line, each worth different points, with the bowl worth the most points furthest from the player. Each player gets 3 tries to toss a ball into a bowl to accumulate points. Player receives one ticket per point received or one ticket for each successful toss.
This is a take on the traditional Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but Purim style! Draw Haman on a large poster board and cut out some triangles for his hat. Write each player’s name on a hat and add a piece of masking tapeto the back so it will adhere to the posterboard. Blindfold the player, give him a few gentle spins and watch the dizzy fun begin as he aims to put the hat on Haman’s head!
5. Egg and Spoon Race
Just like the Sack Race, all you need is a starting point, a finish line, eggs and spoons. Holding the egg in the spoon, each player races the other to the finish line. It’s funniest if the eggs are raw. If it’s too messy, use hard boiled eggs.
6. Ring Toss
Place 12 full water bottles standing in three rows of four. The player tosses the rings trying to land them on the bottle spout. Or, you can use this cone and rings set.
7. Ladder Toss
Open a ladder. Decorate with some streamers. Mark each step with an amount of points. The higher the step, the greater the amount of points. The player uses tennis balls to accumulate points by tossing them through the corresponding steps.
8. Flying Ducks
On a large poster board, cut out 5 circles that a rubber duckiewill fit through. Assign each hole a different point value: 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100. Each player gets three throws.
9. Skee Ball
Cut 4 large poster boards of different colors into strips and staple them together to form circles. Each colored circle should nest within the others, just like a skee ball game. Each ring has progressively increasing point values. Instead of rolling, the player tosses ping pong balls into the rings to accumulate points.
10. Ping Pong Toss
Place large disposable cups, each with a different hidden value written on the bottom, in random order. The player tries to toss ping pong balls into the cups. When he is finished with the balls, the points are added up. Mix up the order of the cups (and their point values) between players.
(Here’s An Extra Carnival Game)! Knock ‘Em Down
Using more of the large disposable cups, stack them face-down in the shape of a triangle (in a 1-2-3-4 pattern). Using tennis balls or something of similar weight, the player tries to knock all the cups over.
A little decorating goes a long way. Some colorful balloons and crepe paper streamers really can set the tone. It’s super easy with this balloon pump set, complete with an electric air balloon blower pump. And, I love these carnival style tickets that can be used for raffles and for the carnival games winnings. Then, everyone can trade in their tickets for prizes. Perhaps most important, don’t forget some delicious Hamantaschen on your prize table. They are easy and fun to make. Click here for my GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant Hamantaschen recipe!
Have Fun and Make Memories
Purim will come and go, and hopefully these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas will help you add some happiness to your holiday. We can take a lesson from Queen Esther. Even under dire circumstances, she kept her Jewish traditions. This gave her the strength to get through the challenges, even during some of her loneliest times. As it is written in the Megillah, “For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy and honor.” So may it be for each of us!
If you need help arranging a Megillah reading or have any other Purim questions, please let me know at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com. What’s your favorite of these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas? Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below! 🎉
Sometimes the cold season can leave us feeling less than our best, but there are ways to beat the winter blues. Just because the sun is shining less, doesn’t mean that you have to.
What causes the winter blues?
One thing to be aware of is that less sunlight can affect our serotonin levels. Serotonin is an important hormone that affects our mood and and how we feel. It can impact our internal clock, memory and learning.
1. Get Moving!
Put on something special, add some wearable weights and go outside for a brisk walk and some fresh air to get your serotonin level moving in the right direction. If the weather is keeping you in, try an exercise bike or a dance video.
2. Add Some Sparkle On The Outside
A great piece of jewelry or special fashion accessory can elevate your mood and give you that extra motivation to go out and shine your special light!
We are all about “making every day the best day” here at RebbetzinUnplugged, so I put together this amazing list of 10 must-have games to play with family and friends.
Everyone loves board games (and even those without the board). They are fun to play, won’t break your wallet and last for years. There’s even a game in the list that my family and I adapted to playing on a video call together for when traveling and visiting is limited.
Here’s everything you need to know in one place. And there is something for everyone: for Mom, the guys, grandma and of course, for kids of all ages. Whether you have to shop for someone who is practical or picky, this Holiday Gift Guide 2021 will ensure everyone on your holiday list is happy.
So, let me help you take care of a good part of your holiday gift buying and go get playing!
🤍 Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life. If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!
⬅️ Share the Holiday Gift Guide 2021 with family and friends!
Mattel Games Apples to Apples Junior – The Game of Crazy Comparisons
This is a great game that will leave everyone laughing! It’s the perfect balance of using one’s imagination and competition.
Rummikub by Pressman – Classic Edition – The Original Rummy Tile Game
Who hasn’t played this classic! Bring joy to the new generation with this favorite game. Played and loved for over 70 years in 50 countries, how can you go wrong!
3-in-1 Wooden Portable Folding Chess, Checkers & Backgammon Game Combo Set. Classic Travel Board Strategy Game Set
Here’s something for everyone, with three classic games in one! This great portable set will keep the fun going for hours.
What Do You Meme? Family Edition – The Hilarious Family Game for Meme Lovers
This bestseller is now made for families! A hysterical game that lets you compete with family and friends to create the funniest memes.
Hedbanz Picture Guessing Board Game, for Families and Kids Ages 8 and up
Kids and kids-at-heart will love this game that really makes you stop and think. Help kids develop their deductive reasoning skills as well as their laughing muscles! Hedbanz now has an app so you can add wacky face filters while you play the physical game.
A friend gave us this gift over 10 years ago and it is still one of our family favorites! It’s a word game, a race and it may even drive you bananas!
Beat That! – The Bonkers Battle of Wacky Challenges. Game and Household Objects Expansion Bundle [Family Party Game for Kids & Adults]
Challenge others and be challenged. With over 160 different challenges, the fun never ends! Get ready for hours of laughter!
Hasbro Gaming Yahtzee Board Game
My kids love this game as much as I did growing up. And it’s still one of my favorites! A combination of luck and risk, this game will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
Pressman Triominos – Deluxe Edition Triangular Tiles with Brass Spinners
My sister introduced my family to this game and we have loved it ever since! Think dominoes but better. Triominos is easy, fast-paced and sure to become one of your family’s favorites!
Farkle is a fun game of “Should I” or “Shouldn’t I”!
Roll the dice and take some risks, but whatever you do, don’t Farkle!
This game is easy to learn and will keep everyone wondering who will win until the last moment. If travel and visiting is limited, Farkle can even be played during a video call! Our family gathered from all over the world on a video chat and played Farkle together daily.
There’s nothing like gathering around with family and friends over hot cocoa, some delicious chocolate chip cookies and a great game. My Holiday Gift Guide 2021 will help fill your house (or video chat) with laughter and create memories that will last a lifetime!
When the cold weather begins, one of my favorite things to enjoy is roasted chestnuts! It Italy, they’re called castagne and you can find them everywhere. The delicious aroma fills the chilly air! You’ll see the steam rising from the special roasting ovens by street vendors in almost every piazza (plaza/square).
Over the years, many of you have asked which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life. If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!
My favorite castagne are prepared by a street vendor in the Italian city of Bologna, near my mother-in-law’s apartment. It’s a nice stroll through the capital city of the Emilia Romagna region and it is something special that my husband and I look forward to doing each winter.
Do Roasted Chestnuts Taste Good?
Roasted chestnuts taste so good, and are even better when paired with a glass of wine. Even more, chestnuts can be used in salads, pasta and both savory and sweet side dishes. They also add a distinct nutty flavor to stuffing and go well with many fruits and vegetables like cabbage or apples.
How Do You Roast Chestnuts at Home?
If you’ve ever wondered if you can roast chestnuts at home, wonder no longer! It’s quite simple and takes around the same time it would take to bake a cake. Chestnuts are a wonderful, natural snack. They are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. But you don’t have to stop at roasting them. Chestnuts can also be ground into flour to bake cookies, cakes and even to thicken soups. They are just the perfect staple to have stored in the pantry during the winter.
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Do You Have To Soak Chestnuts Before Roasting?
Soaking the chestnuts helps to create steam. Although some people do this additional step, I never have. You can try it both ways and see which texture you prefer.
Three Ways to Roast Chestnuts
Pan – An arrosticastagne is a special pan with holes in the bottom, that is used on a gas stove (or on another source of open flame). The pan allows the chestnuts to cook more evenly. It also allows the open flame to touch the chestnuts, adding to the flavor. You can also use a regular pan or a cast iron pan.
Oven – Cook chestnuts on a lined baking sheet. (This is how I usually make them)!
Air Fryer – Shake the air fryerbasket a couple of times during cooking.
With a sharp knife (like a paring knife), carefully score the chestnuts in the center, making a line going across the round side, just piercing the inner skin and not the chestnut itself.
Scoring is an important step, because chestnuts expand as they roast.
Optional: Soak the scored chestnuts in a bowl of hot water for one minute to help with steaming. Drain and dry them well.
Cooking the Chestnuts
Preheat the oven or airfryer 356F / 180C, unless you are using a pan on the stovetop.
Oven – cook chestnuts on a lined baking sheet. Shake baking sheet halfway through cooking. Depending on your oven, you may need to flip the chestnuts so they cook evenly. (Approximately 30 minutes).
Air Fryer – shake basket to flip chestnuts a couple of times during cooking. (Approximately 30 minutes).
Pan – Roast over a medium-low flame, tossing often. (Approximately 10-15 minutes).
Keyword: castagne, chestnuts, holiday foods, Italian desserts, italian food, kosher, Winter
Roasted Chestnuts – A Cherished Italian Treat
Enhance any meal or make a holiday even more memorable. A fruit platter, a bowl of hot roasted chestnuts and a bottle of wine (reds are my fave) are a special treat and the perfect way to end a holiday meal. Give them a try!
Have you ever had roasted castagne? What other foods are you looking forward to making this winter? Can’t wait to read what you wrote in the comments below!