Why is May 2019 different from all other months? It’s Jewish American Heritage Month for one, a period that feels especially important to mark given the rising insecurity coursing through Jewish American life. Because visibility is more important than ever before, Refinery29 brings you our celebration of Jewish American culture. L’chaim!
Chanie Apfelbaum, known on Instagram as @busyinbrooklyn (which over 58,000 people follow to see what delicacies she’s cooking and what her family is up to), was born and raised in a kosher home in Brooklyn. According to Apfelbaum, the traditional Jewish foods she grew up eating, such as gefilte fish, stuffed cabbage, and matzah ball soup, are the inspiration for the dishes she creates. By putting creative twists on old-time cuisine like latkes (she makes them out of sushi rice) Apfelbaum is on a mission to “prove that kosher fare is anything but old-fashioned.” Apfelbaum shares her tricks for navigating the kosher kitchen, which entails much more than simply abstaining from pork and shellfish: how to work with the restriction of mixing milk and meat, where to find the best kosher-certified products, and how to purchase and prepare kosher meat and poultry. Her dishes not only look delicious, they’re everything you could want out of a foodie follow. She documents everything on her Busy In Brooklyn blog as well.
Apfelbaum still lives just a few blocks away from her childhood home, but now she’s got five of her own children and a husband in tow. It’s her mission to celebrate her Jewish heritage one dish at a time, considering her recipes to be balanced with “a modern flair and Middle Eastern vibe.” When she’s not crafting delicacies, Apfelbaum works as a recipe developer and food photographer. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Huffington Post, News12 Brooklyn, NY1, The Meredith Vieira Show, Thrillist, and more. Her debut cookbook, Millennial Kosher (Artscroll Mesorah Publications), was released in April 2018.
Here, Apfelbaum shares what she bought on a March trip to one of her most frequented kosher supermarkets in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. She also tells Refinery29 more about her shopping habits, feeding a family of seven, and how to find bargains at your local kosher market.
Refinery29: What’s in your cart today?
Chanie Apfelbaum: “As a family of seven, my cart is pretty full, and before the holidays, I often fill two of them! Fresh fruits and vegetables fill up most of the cart, but some other staples include milk, seltzer (we have fun trying different brands and flavors each week), medjool dates, hummus (Sonny & Joes), tahini (Al-arz), rye bread, prepared chickpeas, yogurt, cottage cheese, frozen pizza, pickles, eggs, and NUGO bars.”
Do you have one go-to store, or do you shop around?
“I'm all about the one-stop-shop. My husband always says ‘time is money,’ and even though I know I'm spending more than if I would shop at discount grocery stores, I do all my shopping at a local kosher grocery that carries everything. We also do a big Costco run every other month, and once in a while I go to Trader Joes or specialty stores for extras...I prefer shopping in person to online shopping because I like to pick my produce in person.”
How many times a week do you typically shop for food? Do you buy groceries in bulk or head to the store when you want to cook?
“I'm pretty bad about planning in advance, so I grocery shop minimum twice a week — on Fridays for Shabbat and on Mondays to refill the house for the week. I usually end up there at least one more time when I'm recipe testing for a project.”
What are the five things that are always in your fridge/pantry, no matter what?
“Diamond Crystal kosher salt, Zoe extra virgin olive oil, Al-arz tahini, Huy Fong sriracha, and Frescorti marinara sauce.”
Do you typically shop for similar items each time, or does it change often?
“There are definitely some basic staples, but I love to switch things up in the kitchen, so I'm constantly trying out new ingredients and testing new recipes.”
What’s one item you’re loving that’s a new addition to your shopping list? How did you find out about it?
“Gochujang has only recently made an appearance on the kosher market (made by KOKO kosher Korean), and I'm obsessed. I tasted it at Kosherfest (the annual kosher trade show).”
What are the things you splurge on, and what do you bargain shop for?
“I like to read food labels to compare the same products made by different brands to see which is healthier, and I would definitely splurge on the healthier version. When it comes to canned products (mostly beans), I'll go for what’s cheapest.”
What is the most expensive grocery store item you bought recently?
“A Delmonico roast for Shabbat. Kosher meat is expensive!”
Any kosher grocery shopping favorite shopping tips you’d like to share?
“Always check out the store circular for specials and stock up when your favorites are on sale.”