Calling all Kosher Home Cooks!
I'm having a dinner party later this month and my best friend is bringing his new girlfriend, who keeps Kosher. I looked on the Kosher board for insight, but since this is specifically about me cooking in my home, I'm wondering what I need to do to "kasher" my kitchen, or even if it can be done (I'm Catholic, and somehow I don't think sprinkling Holy Water on the counters will do it). I understand the basics of Kosher ingredients, and what ingredients can't go together (ie meat and dairy). What I don't know is what I'm supposed to do in my own kitchen. If anyone can give me a quick rundown on this issue, or provide informative links, I'd appreciate it. Shalom.
Your gesture is very kind and sure to be appreciated.
There are many different standards of Kashrus, so the first thing to determine is how strict your guest is.
If she eats out in non-kosher restaurants and simply orders carefully, then your kitchen should be just fine.
If she will only eat from strictly kosher utensils, then it will be more of a challenge to prepare your kitchen. Though it can be done. See what you can find out and post it here, please.
By definition, if she's willing to eat at your home, she's not the strictest level of Kosher, and no doubt would be totally flabbergasted at your idea of "kashering" your kitchen for her. (Old joke: "He's so kosher he won't even eat in his own kitchen!") It's not a realistic goal for you (see http://www.chabad.org/library/article... to appreciate the process), and it's certainly not something you could do every time she eats at your home. Many, many "mid-level" Kosher people will eat food in a non-Kosher home so long as it isn't a prohibited food (pork, shellfish) and isn't meat (beef, lamb, chicken, etc.) that would have to be bought as Kosher. So as a main course you can make fish (not swordfish) or a something like a vegetarian-style lasagna, a full range of non-meat appetizers, side dishes and dessert. If you are determined to make a "meat" meal, frozen Kosher poultry is pretty easy to find. Come up with a menu and ask your friend to check it out with her. I'm sure she'll be grateful and flattered that you troubled yourself to that extent. Most people I know who keep Kosher don't want others to go to extravagant efforts for them, and are happy to work their way around a menu as best as they can.
Thanks for the feedback. I certainly don't want to go to extreme measures or make her feel uncomfortable at my efforts, but this is my best friend's girlfriend, and I would like to do as much to accomodate her as possible. (My friend has accomodated without a fuss when I've brought my vegan sisters over). I think I can stick to mid-level kosher, as she does eat out at non-kosher restaurants.
One question about kosher ingredients. I have noticed different kosher symbols on food products. I'm familiar with Circle-K, but I've also seen a Star-K and a UO. What are the differences there? Any help appreciated! Thanks.
The symbols represent different organizations that provide kosher supervision of the plants. A person who is mid-level would probably accept most supervisions, but there are circles of the very observant that tend to trust some more than others. Generally speaking, OU, Star K, OK, and Kof K (which is a Hebrew letter with a K)are widely accepted.
If she eats in non-kosher restaurants absent extraordinary circumstances, she doesn't "keep kosher" in any real sense of the word. so my advice is to ask your friend what if any specific, non-obvious rules she's decided to follow. There is no such thing as "kosher light" with any formal set of rules or anything, so you're kind of feeling around in the dark otherwise.
I've known a few people like this, and generally they only avoid absolutely forbidden foods like pork and shellfish, and make some token obeisance to separating meat and dairy (ie, they won't eat them at the same time, but don't worry much about waiting 4 or more hours in between.) If you use ingredients with any kind of certification and avoid actually mixing meat and dairy in the meal, I think you can rest assured it'll be as kosher as anything she'll have eaten that week outside of a kosher restaurant.;)
On the other hand, if by some wild chance she really does keep kosher at home, but not out, and you want to go above and beyond for your friend's sake, there are things you could do to come awfully close. Disposable tableware (the expensive stuff can be surprisingly nice), cook allowed fish, which is parve, ideally in a new pan or dish (a disposable aluminum pan covered with aluminum foil would work), etc, use glass dishes in a microwave instead of cooking things on the stove, where possible, etc. It still wouldn't be quite orthodox kosher, but would be a pretty reasonable facsimile thereof.
Okay, I just found out her favorite restaurant in SF is Shangri La on Irving and its Kosher (and Chinese!). Its where they've gone on 2 dates. Other than that, she doesn't eat out much, and she does keep Kosher at home. He said she has eaten at his house, but has "helped" with the cooking. He said she brought over a pot and some utensils, and they ate off of some fancy plastic table ware and flatware she brought from home. She has also eaten at another of our friend's houses, and they are definately not kosher, but they did a cook out of grilled beef and veggies. Now I'm really confused. I seriously don't want to make a big deal of this, but do want to be accomodating. There will be 10 at the party, and I think the disposable tableware is a great idea. Thanks.