Way back when I first saw the Man with a Pan column, I asked my mom if I could be in it. She said she thought it was only for dads
Boy Oh Boy, I Can Do This
Yehuda Weisberg, son of Rorie Weisberg
This column is right up my alley. Here goes…
I grew up watching my mom cook and bake. Since I was tiny, she let me cook and bake with her. There are pictures of me as young as two years old, helping my mom make challah and cholent. Over the years, I gained the title of “official family griller.” I would like to believe I’m an omelet and panini expert, and in the last few months I’ve perfected homemade pizza.
So of course, way back when I first saw the Man with a Pan column, I asked my mom if I could be in it. She said she thought it was only for dads. Every time it came out, I would read it. Then one week I saw it! A kid was in!
“Mom,” I said, “this could have been me!”
So that Motzaei Shabbos, we wrote a letter to the editor asking if I could be the next Man with a Pan. When my mom told me we’d gotten an email saying I was accepted, I was thrilled.
Deadlines, Menu Planning… and Shopping
We had a deadline of January 26 to have my Shabbos done and my article written. I decided to choose the Shabbos of January 8, Parshas Shemos. This would give me three weeks to do the really hard part … writing all this up.
That week was complicated because, aside from having to go to school every day, I also had my very first farher for high school on none other than Thursday night. My mom said this happens to moms too. They have to go to work, PTA, simchahs, and appointment sometimes all in one day; it’s part of the experience.
So we started early. On Monday night my mom helped me go on her website and print all the recipes I needed. All the recipes I used were hers, except for dessert. My mom’s dessert recipes are great, but no offense, Mom, Tanta Goldy’s brownies are the real deal.
It took over an hour to get all the recipes together, including calling Tanta Goldy and writing that one down by hand. (Thanks, Tanta Goldy!)
My mom picked me up after school on Tuesday, and we went straight to Evergreen Kosher Supermarket. I needed a lot of help in the produce section. Who would have ever imagined there was a way to choose the right squash? There are so many kinds of mushrooms, and some vegetables look beyond crazy before you cook them. I think it’s probably better that kids don’t know what all the veggies look like before they go into the soup... like that celery knob!
The meat department was a breeze for me, since I’m a meat connoisseur (or at least I want to be one!). One food that I love is kneidlach, which my mom makes for Yom Tov, but not for Shabbos. When I was much younger, I once went to the grocery with my dad on Friday and saw the takeout display of Shabbos food. I wasn’t sure what the right term was, so I asked my dad if I could get “portable matzah balls.” Ever since then, the name stuck. So for my Shabbos, of course, I had to buy “portable” matzah balls.
When I came home from school on Wednesday, we got straight to work. I started with peeling apples for apple crisp. Making the crumble for that was gross, it felt worse than my sister’s slime. Once it got crumbly, it was better, and my mom showed me how to sprinkle it on the apples. The house smelled amazing while it was baking.
Cutting onions was by far the worst job; I don’t know how you moms do it. My eyes were on fire! I sautéed four onions, some for farfel, some for cholent, and some for the chicken sauce. Then I riced the cauliflower. In case you’ve never done it yourself, you really have to watch it carefully because it goes from florets to rice to mush really fast. I chopped and sautéed the mushrooms and put the cauliflower farfel recipe together. It’s a lot of steps for one little side that shrinks so much, but it’s worth it!
After that I washed and checked leeks for a dip and seasoned the meat. By the time all of that was done, it was quite late, but I decided to get in the brownies, since it was a one-bowl recipe. It was so easy and only needed 35 minutes to bake. My mom said she would clean up so I could go do my homework and go to bed. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
I couldn’t believe it was already Thursday. We had to move fast because I had to be dressed and ready for my farher at 8:00.
I felt like it was a marathon, and my mom was my sous chef. She prepped things, and I put them together. Having her take out and measure the ingredients was the only way to get it all done before eight. I learned how to cut, bake, and scoop out a spaghetti squash... I have to say that is the coolest veggie! I sautéed portobello and shiitake mushrooms for the salad for Shabbos day. I marinated the chicken fingers and oyster steaks and grilled them on our Ninja Foodi grill/air fryer. (It was my idea to get this. We love it and use many times a week.) Then I made potato kugel, marinated the chicken for Friday night, made the sauce for the meat, and put it in the oven right before I left, since that needed a few hours to cook.
Friday morning I put up the soup and cholent. My mom had said she would take care of making salad dressing and add the leeks to the creamy dressing to make the dip.
After school I put the chicken in the oven and seasoned and broiled the fish. Then my mom showed me how to make roasted carrots and blanched green beans and snow peas and add them to the carrots for the last 10 minutes so they don’t lose their bright color. She really knows so many cool hacks with veggies.
We took some pictures and videos for her to post. Her Full ’n Free followers loved watching me make Shabbos, so of course we shared the finished product. I felt so accomplished but honestly exhausted. I gave my mom a huge hug and told her, “I never could have done this Shabbos without you.”
I have to tell you I really never understood how hard my mom works. I never understood how hard it is to juggle everything she does. I thought having fresh yummy dinner every night and beautiful Shabbos seudos every week just sorta happened. I’m here to tell all kids, and dads, that moms work really hard — and take my word for it, it helps them a lot when you help them clean up!
When Yehuda wanted to take on this project, I knew it would be fun for him, but I never imagined how much he would learn and gain from it. Not only did he learn a lot about cooking and baking, but he also learned what it takes to make it happen. I think the most valuable lesson she learned were how to juggle extra responsibilities and how to multitask in a productive way.
Yehuda’s Shabbos was beautiful and delicious. His excitement and enthusiasm was contagious. The sweetest part of the experience was when he gave me a bearhug on Friday afternoon and thanked me for my help.
Ever since that Shabbos, Yehuda has offered to make dessert, cholent, fish, or soup to help me out. He’s always helped clear and serve, but since he made his own Shabbos, he’s been so much more aware of giving me an extra hand. Thank you, Family Table, for this incredible opportunity!
(I really went all out with Friday night, we don’t usually have two mains and two veggie sides.)
Mom’s Spelt Sourdough
Fish on a Bed of Greens with Leek Dip
Chicken Soup with “Portable” Matzah Balls
Sweet Apricot Chicken
Roasted Greens beans, Snow Peas, and Carrots
Apple Crisp with Silan Ice Cream (my mom had made a double batch the week before)
Tanta Goldy’s Brownies
Mom’s Spelt Sourdough
Mushroom Medley Lemon Dijon Salad with Sliced Oyster Steak
Grilled Chicken Fingers
Spaghetti Squash Slaw
Apple Crisp with Silan Ice Cream
Cauliflower Farfel “Rice”
I wanted to share my mom’s farfel recipe because I personally don’t like many veggies, and I really like this one. If you have kids who don’t like veggies, try this recipe out. (Tip for moms: Don’t say what it is, just put in on the table, and if they ask just say it’s farfel.)
- 1 fresh head cauliflower, riced (pre-checked, or wash and check your own)
- 2 Tbsp avocado or olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 box white mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp coconut aminos, optional
Sauté onion in ½ Tbsp oil over low heat until golden brown. Remove onion from frying pan and set aside. Sauté chopped mushrooms in ½ Tbsp oil. Add mushrooms to onions and set aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in the frying pan. Add the riced cauliflower (split the oil and the “rice” into two batches if your frying pan is not large enough to fit all at once). Season with salt and garlic powder. Cover and cook the cauliflower for 3–4 minutes, then uncover and cook until lightly browned. Combine the cooked “rice” with onions and mushrooms. Add coconut aminos if using.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 733)
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