Why Drug Companies are Suddenly Under Seige?

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AMIDST all the talk of impeachment, there was
a hint recently of a crack in the national political divide.
Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged that
Democrats and Republicans were talking to one another
about the soaring drug prices, although the president
says it is a smokescreen for the Democrats’ real agenda:
For the pharmaceutical industry, these have been trying
times, as they seem to go from one crisis to the next. It is as
if America has suddenly woken up to the outrageous profits
that the industry records and the fact that Americans
are among the highest payers for pharmaceuticals in the
For years, the drug industry more or less fixed prices as
they saw fit. There was no rhyme or reason as to why certain
essential drugs were as much as 75% higher than they
were in some of our neighboring countries or in Europe.
Suddenly, the industry has come under the microscope
and a number of states have begun to regulate prices.
Just as sudden was the development of a new national
opioid crisis and mounting litigation. There was some
comfort in the industry with Obamacare, but it too has
come under increased attack from the current administration
and from Republicans in Congress. Even Democrats
now admit that change is inevitable.
At some point there will be a push in Congress to regulate
drug prices. There are even calls to force the dispensing
of labeled drugs as opposed to the increased popularity
of the cheaper generic drugs. Big drug companies suddenly
find themselves in a highly competitive market as generic drug companies surface.

Even Amazon is creating waves about entering
the health care market. By 2014, 85% of
all prescription drug purchases were generic
drugs. Amazon is supposedly negotiating with
such companies as Novartis and Mylan, which
could further push generics over the leading
label drug manufacturers.
You could say that the drug companies are
becoming increasingly desperate. Witness the
giant Allergan drug company, which negotiated
with the Mohawk tribe to take over all IP rights
for one of its most profitable drugs. Washington
nowadays is full of drug company lobbyists who
are preparing for the worst: Congressional regulation
of prices. What is at stake is their ageold
free ride as far as profits are concerned.
The drug industry was further shaken by the
bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma, which is part of
a deal to settle thousands of lawsuits alleging
that the company misled doctors and the public
as it promoted its opioid painkillers, including
its blockbuster OxyContin, and helped to ignite
the opioid epidemic. The bankruptcy filing
should freeze the lawsuits against the drugmaker
and likely result in the claims being shifted
into bankruptcy court, according to legal
experts. Such a process is meant to ensure that a company that declares bankruptcy can preserve its value while it gets more time
to negotiate with every entity to which
it owes money. It’s also meant to ensure
that all those creditors will somehow be
denied their claims.
Now the Wall Street Journal reports
that Endo International plc, Johnson &
Johnson and other drugmakers that face
the same litigation over the opioid crisis
are exploring a way to settle their cases
by participating in Purdue Pharma LP’s
bankruptcy. Five drug makers battling
the cases — Endo, J&J, Teva Pharmaceutical
Industries Ltd, Allergan plc and
Mallinckrodt plc — are looking to enact
a global settlement of the litigation that
would be implemented through Purdue’s
Chapter 11 case. The mechanism,
if successful, would allow the companies
to contribute money into a trust set up
through the bankruptcy in exchange for
a complete release from liability, according
to the report.
But if the drug companies appear
to be under siege now, more is certainly
coming. According to The New York Times, “the administration and leading
members of Congress have also been discussing
legislative proposals, including
negotiating directly with companies to
set price caps on some drugs, and placing
a limit on out-of-pocket spending
by Medicare beneficiaries. These government
efforts pack a broad populist
appeal, particularly with older Americans,
who remain one of the nation’s
most reliable voting blocs.”
The country’s new fledgling obsession
with socialism has taken a page from the
drug crisis, arguing for national health
insurance and the like. But the truth is
that many socialist models of “health
care for all” have failed miserably, with
some of the most chronic diseases either
going untreated or undertreated. Shortages
of medicine are not uncommon, and
remarkably it has always been the U.S.
that has come to the rescue, supplying
essential drugs.
Perhaps the pharma industry was too
greedy making higher margins than any
other industry. In hearings before Congress,
the pharma spokesmen argued that the high costs of research and development
were eating away at much of the profits. But after
everything is said and done, they admitted that profit
margins exceeded 20%. If you read between the lines,
drug companies are really trying to figure out a way
to return to the days when they were not under much
scrutiny and the world was able to “fargin” them their
profits. It seemed that when it comes to health, people
are ready to forgive the greed as opposed to any other
But the return to “normal” is no longer on the horizon
for the pharma industry. The cost of drugs and
the huge profits recorded by the industry are likely
to become a key campaign issue in 2020. There is no
longer the prospect of sugarcoating an industry that
has largely taken America for a ride. In 2016, the U.S.
spent 17.8% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on
health care, while the average health-care spending
in other relatively high-income countries was 11.5%
of GDP. The average American family spends 10.1% of
income just on health insurance premiums —almost
$11,000 per person.
It was inevitable that the country would one day
look to the drug companies to bring some kind of balance
to the American overspending on health care,
particularly drugs. Now with the opioid crisis, that
day has come more rapidly, with a day of reckoning
not far behind.

Why Kosher Supermarkets are a Target?

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In 2015, the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris was the target of terrorists who went on a shooting spree, killing four shoppers. Last week it was Jersey City where three people were killed.. In Paris, Montreal and Jerusalem kosher restaurants were targets of terrorism in the past. To these cowards, a kosher restaurant is a religious edifice and in many ways like a synagogue. The important symbolism of kosher is not lost on these deranged individuals.

The Hyper Cacher store has long since reopened in what can only be described as an act of defiance. Although closed for now, we are certain that at some point the kosher market in Jersey City will reopen. We pray and hope that in this Chanukah season that no more bloodshed will come to our kosher community anywhere in the world as they make sure that their customers are able to obtain good kosher food.

Refrigerator Do’s and Don’ts

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It was getting late and once again I was left with the usual dilemma; wanting to go to bed but having a pot of hot soup waiting for the fridge. They say a watched pot never boils, but in my case, it was the opposite. The watched pot just wasn’t cooling down. I finally ran out of patience, stuck it in the fridge and ran to bed.

How many of you just cringed? Everyone knows not to put hot food in the fridge.

But was I actually wrong? What’s the worst that can happen?

You don’t have to worry about overheating your fridge and causing the food to spoil. Your fridge can handle hot temperatures (It’s stronger than it looks.) The issue is with your food sitting at the wrong temperature for too long. Things can get dangerous. Bacteria tend to grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

So the real question is: Will your food cool down quickly enough to reach a safe temperature in the fridge?

Below are some TIPS to help your food cool faster and stay fresher in the fridge.

  1. Divide the food into a bunch of small containers to speed up the cooling process.
    I know this sounds inconvenient. Who wants to wash extra dishes? But if you will have to waste time waiting for your huge pot to cool, the few minutes of washing dishes is worth your while. Using wide, shallow containers will be the most efficient.
  2. Stick it in an ice-water bath.
    This sounds like too much effort, but it works. Your hot food will cool much faster, enabling you to get on with your life. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes and place the containers of food inside.
  3. Cooked food should only sit out for around two hours.
    After that, you should transfer it to its new home (aka the fridge). Don’t let it sit on the counter for longer than that or the bacteria can grow.
  4. Once you refrigerate it, make sure it’s covered.
    Sounds obvious, but make sure the lid to the container is secure or the foil is wrapped tightly. You don’t want fridge-flavored soup, do you? And besides, spills can be easily prevented if things were covered properly in the first place.

Okay so my food is finally cooled, and refrigerated, I can forget about it now. Right?

Not exactly. Food can’t last in the fridge forever. (That’s what freezers are for.)

The food should only be placed in the fridge if you’ll be eating it within the next few days. If it won’t be eaten within the next 3-4 days, then into the freezer it goes. Each food has a different shelf life, as I’m sure you’re aware. Here’s a sampling of the fridge life of some items:

  • Raw ground meats and stew meat and poultry and fish: 1-2 days
  • Cooked meat, poultry, fish, pizza: 3-4 days
  • Raw meat roasts, steak, opened deli meat: 5 days
  • Hot dogs, yogurts and other processed foods have a much longer refrigeration life. They can last more than a week.

When in doubt, throw it out. That leftover slice of pie that’s looking suspiciously green, even if it’s only two days old, can be dumped. Trust your instincts.

You should constantly check your fridge so you can catch those leftovers before their time is up. It’s such a shame to throw out food that was perfectly fine the day before.

For those leftovers that you quickly have to get rid of, has recipes you can use to turn them into a fresh, delicious dish.


The Ultimate Salt Smackdown!

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Ever wonder about the differences between the many varieties of salts?

There’s table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Himalayan Pink, Cyprus Black Lava… it can feel like the options are endless.

All the salts out there can be confusing, but here’s a sweet secret: as far as chemical composition goes, all salts are virtually identical.

Scientifically, salt is always sodium chloride, or NaCl. Although different varieties of salt may also include additives or trace amounts of minerals, the chemical makeup of salt is always the same.

For culinary purposes, though, it’s the size and shape of salt that can make the difference in a dish.

Here’s a rundown of the 3 most common salts, and when to use them:


What It Is: The most commonly-used salt, table salt is the finely-processed salt you’ll find in salt shakers.

Pros: Easily measurable, consistently-sized, and the most common.

Cons: Table salt is the most processed salt, and contains additives. Some say the flavor is not as pure as other salts, especially if iodine is added. Also, due to the ultra-fine crystals, there is a higher chance of accidentally oversalting your food.

Best for:  Baking. Also works great in soups and stews.

Additives: Yes. To prevent clumping, anticaking agents are added (examples are sodium aluminosilicate or magnesium carbonate). Also, iodine — an essential mineral that many people do not get sufficient amounts of in their daily diet — is often added for nutritional purposes.

Measurement Details: Because of the tiny, finely-packed crystals, one teaspoon of table salt does not equal one teaspoon of other salts; table salt can actually be as twice as dense as other salt varieties — that means if you use kosher salt instead of table salt, you may need twice as much in a recipe! Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.


What It Is: With its large, irregular surface area, kosher salt has been used historically in the kashering process to draw blood out of meat (hence, the name “kosher” salt).

Pros: Kosher salt is a favorite of chefs. Since the coarse granules are easy to sprinkle and large enough to see, kosher salt gives you greater control over seasoning. And since there is no added iodine, kosher salt has a completely pure flavor. It also has a crunchy mouthfeel, which works well as a finishing salt.

Cons: Doesn’t dissolve as easily as table salt, and can give an uneven, sporadic saltiness to foods, especially baked goods.

Best for: Brining, curing, pickling, as a finishing salt, and any time you need a controlled sprinkle of salt.

Additives: Most often, no. (Some brands may contain anti-caking agents. To be sure of purity, check the ingredient panel; it should have SALT as the only ingredient.)

Measurement Details: Kosher salt comes in different shapes, which can affect the way it measures out. Diamond Crystal, the preferred brand of chefs, has a pyramidal structure, while the granules in Morton are flatter. Measure salts by weight (instead of volume) to get the most consistent result. Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.


What It Is: An unprocessed, coarse salt that is collected from evaporated sea water.

Pros: The craggy granules lend a salty and surprising flavor explosion to foods (think: sea salt caramels). Because of its natural source, sea salt contains trace minerals that may add a unique flavor to foods depending on where it has been harvested from.

Cons: Not the best for baking or in any recipe which requires a consistently salty flavor throughout.

Best for: Use in a salt grinder, and as a finishing salt to add a final burst of flavor to foods such as meats, fish, vegetables, and desserts.

Additives: No. However, specialty sea salts can be smoked, flavored, and colored with added ingredients.

Measurement Details: Sea salt comes in many grain sizes (from powder-fine to extra-coarse), each size useful for a different application. Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.

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The 21-Year-Old Chef Conquering Jerusalem

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By Menachem Lubinsky, Lubicom CEO

At 21, Avi Katz can do much more than flip omelets.

When I think of a successful chef, a few images come to mind. I picture a crisp, white chef’s hat worn by a middle-aged man, matched with an equally ironed out white apron. Pair that with shocking amounts of coffee, lots of late nights, and of course some unhealthy habits that I associate with the life of a restaurant chef.

Well, imagine my surprise that the guy flipping my onion omelet at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem is only 21 and cooking for 18 years? Yep, he’s been cooking since he was 3 and actually had his own catering business at 12 specializing in exotic soups. With his smart chef’s uniform, he looks every bit the chef you would expect at a 5-Star hotel.

From the moment I met Avi, my chef standards changed. No more do I associate quality food and impeccable plating with older chefs. Instead, I have come to the realization that the millennial generation has changed today’s restaurant standards. With social media being the prominent source for culinary ideas, they have really taken food to the next level, and it’s hard to compete.

Flashback two years earlier, Avi was the winner of the first-ever Kosher Masters Competition at Kosherfest, hosted by Joy of Kosher’s Jamie Geller. With hundreds of onlookers and thousands watching via livestream, Avi tackled a mystery box to create: Herb-Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb with Ribboned Vegetables Rendered in Beef Bone Marrow, and Kielbasa Sausages with Orange Gastrique. I was really out of breath when he went through the ingredients and more so when I tasted his dishes.

Now a master in his own homemade Facon sausages and handmade dried beef jerkies, Avi explained that even simple chicken has to be massaged and treated, much like a human is treated in an expensive sauna.

Quite a resume for a yeshiva boy who hails from Memphis, learned in Miami, went to Lev Hatorah in Israel and in between worked in Pesach programs and even as a sous chef for the Achva West travel program. Here and there he was hired to be a private chef and even got to do a few high-end anniversary dinners. Mentors? Sure, Shelly Ostrow, the well-known chef from Holy Cow in Memphis.  No wonder investors are banging down his door to open a restaurant. But he and his wife are in no hurry.

So what’s next? In the meantime, the Katzes are truly happy in Jerusalem but don’t be surprised if this rising up-and-comer turns up somewhere near you.

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How To Avoid Catastrophe When Grocery Shopping with Kids

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Have you ever come across a mom gliding happily across the supermarket aisles with her brilliantly behaved kids?

This supermom might have a baby in a kangaroo wrap, another in the front seat of the shopping cart, and possibly a third (and very quiet) toddler sitting in the cart itself, surrounded by piles of canned goods.

I have seen moms like that. And if you’re one of them you can stop reading this. Like right now. You will learn nothing here.

But if you are not like that supermom, and you experience a mild panic attack at the thought of towing your kids along with you to the grocery store, check out the ideas below. Some of them might just make shopping with your kids a less hazardous activity than you expect.

  1. Make a list
    Or better yet, make two.To avoid thoughtless purchases and impulse buys (much more likely when you’re busy making sure your toddler doesn’t bolt), make a thorough list of what you need before you leave.
    And for your child, check out these cutesy tootsy grocery list printables that feature photos of common food items you might need. Hand your kid a pencil and one of these printables. Best case: he’ll be so busy on this supermarket scavenger hunt, he’ll forget how badly he needs that “breakfast cereal” — I mean, those tiny cookies that are disguised as breakfast cereal.
  2. Feed your kids. And yourself.
    Eating before shopping is a must.
    It will head off crankiness (for kids and adults), impede the over-purchasing of food you actually don’t need, and prevent impulse purchases of stuff that isn’t even food!
    Yup. One study found that hungry shoppers actually bought more binder clips than non-hungry shoppers (binder clips! really!). Apparently, our mind translates those dratted “I am hungry” signals into “gimme gimme gimme!”. And yes, this also goes for kids and adults.
  3. Plan for snack attacks
    Bring along baggies of snacks that can keep hunger at bay, and keep little fingers occupied.
    Worst snacks: Anything especially greasy, sticky, or that has a very likely possibility of spillage.
    Best snacks: Finger foods that take time and/or fine motor skills to eat. The busier you can keep those pudgy hands, the easier the shopping trip will be.
  4. Avoid the crowds
    The last thing you want when shopping with kids is to be met with disapproving looks from strangers after your kid steers the shopping cart straight into that teetering stack of yogurts. And waiting in a long line after an exhausting shopping trip is not going to be pleasant.
    For kosher grocery shopping, the worst times are Thursday, Friday, and before any yom tov.
    For the large supermarkets, you’ll want to bypass the weekends altogether, as well as those after-work rush hours (usually from 4-6 pm).
    As a general rule, any early weekday hours will have the least crowds. Plus, if you have little kids, shopping in the morning hours that precede naptime will be your best chance of having a smooth trip.
  5. Make it a learning experience
    Get in touch with your inner teacher!
    The grocery store is packed with potential educational experiences that can actually be fun.
    Give these games a try: Supermarket I Spy, ABC or Color Hunts, guessing produce weights and learning to use the scale, reading food labels and store signs.
  6. Don’t forget the fun!
    Food shopping may be a chore, but you can still find ways to make exciting. Especially when you have a kid tagging along.Ways to amp up the entertainment:
  • Download a new game on your phone to be used exclusively while you’re shopping. (Search “kids shopping games” for a bunch of cute and educational shopping/cash register games.)
  • Let each child pick one treat of her own choosing. (Don’t panic! You can guide them with rules on nutrition and price, but try as much as possible to have them feel freedom of choice.)
  • What could be more fun than shopping with a doppelgänger! Invest in a kid-size shopping cart, like this one from Melissa & Doug, and enjoy shopping with your mini-me. (Tread carefully with this one, though. You’ll have to be sure your child has enough patience to stick with the game and follow you around for the duration of the shopping trip, otherwise you might be stuck lugging around a toy cart and a screaming kid.)

And if all else fails, get a babysitter.

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Kosher People of the Google

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By Menachem Lubinsky

We are often referred to as “People of the Book!” It describes our total allegiance to that book, the Torah. So, are we now the “People of the Click?” How else can you explain that in a recent 12-month period, searches for kosher on Google surged by 13.5%, well beyond other food categories and even other non-food searches.

There was a lot more in the presentation by Yarden Horwitz, a former trendspotting expert at Google and co-founder of SPATE. Speaking at the opening session of Kosherfest on Tuesday November 13th, Ms. Horwitz revealed that Google searches before Pesach are through the roof. But growth by 13.5% between August 2017 and August 2018? Wow!

And that’s not all. We are searching for all the kosher versions of the latest trends. We are into Keto foods which are high carbohydrate – low protein foods that are now available in many categories including snacks and even pizza. There has been a 98% growth in Keto snacks. Kosher consumers appear to be searching for the “superfoods” and “food makeovers.” One makeover category is the fascination with “bowl foods” including ACU, Poke, Playa, Buddha, and even egg rolls.

Says Yarden: “More and more consumers are turning to superfoods as a way of dealing with increased anxiety.” Experts define superfoods as popular must have foods in today’s diet. Some examples include dark leafy greens, berries, green tea and legume

So, the news that we use the internet to enhance our kosher way of life is out. It is no wonder that sites like are doing so well. It has done wonders for kashrus. The ability to search for an item and to determine the identity of the certification agency or rabbi is a gamechanger. Most of the kashrus agencies nowadays have apps that allow us to instantly search for a product. I have seen women consult the apps while shopping in a supermarket.

Remember the old days, when you either had to consult with your local rabbi or call a hotline to ask your question, sometimes taking days. It got even more complicated before Pesach when you are in the kitchen and need instant answers.

“Rabbi Google” to the rescue! In many cases, even if you have a more complicated question on kashrus, you might find the answer with a Google search. At least you might find out which rabbi says what. Technology is definitely playing a big role in kashrus education, but according to Ms. Horwitz, people from all walks of life are searching for kosher food products, recipes, eateries, caterers, travel and much more. And not just Jews. A non-Jewish acquaintance told me that she searches for kosher Chanukah gifts for colleagues on-line. The world of kosher has become so vast that it has spilled over to the internet.

A developing facet of the internet is on-line shopping that now includes many kosher supermarkets. People are doing entire orders on-line for delivery to their doorsteps or doing on-line orders for pick-up, saving them valuable time negotiating the aisles of the supermarket. To quote one supermarket executive: “The internet has become like another branch of my store without the overhead.”

Ms. Horwitz’s work as a trendspotter is an enormous asset to the kosher food industry. Manufacturers can produce the products that kosher consumers want. Retailers can stock the items that are “hot” and perhaps use merchandising to flag their being up-to-date with products that are “in.” It can even be beneficial to restaurants and caterers who can plan menus accordingly. Anyone for kosher gnocchi? Had it three times in the last two weeks at simchas.

According to Yarden, there is a flip side. Remember when Kale was the hottest trend in foods? Apparently, it is not so hot anymore. This means that trendspotting can equally predict foods that are on the decline and perhaps have trended and are out. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the popularity of foods is also on a cycle with some lasting longer than others. Nor should it be a surprise that in kosher as well, there are ups and downs.

Finally, what you learn from a trendspotter like Yarden Horwitz is that one size does not fit all. The Millennials have brought back many foods that were considered passé. Even herring had a resurgence that only 20 years ago seemed on the decline. Today, herring is a category with many applications that go well beyond the schmaltz. Or take cholent and kugel that has emerged as kind of “superfood” in kosher that goes well beyond being the traditional hot food on Shabbos. Imagine Googling for the best cholent in a given neighborhood.

You might say that Google has by far replaced the “word of mouth” that was the customary way of transmitting information on your favorite kosher food. If Ms. Horwitz has her way, we will be able to predict what new kosher foods you will enjoy and which foods you no longer care for. Wow, that’s progress!

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Is Food Shopping Coming Back?

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“Food shopping” is quite different from “food buying.” Kosher retailers say that they are seeing more “shoppers” in their stores these days. You are probably familiar with the profile of the food “buyer.” He or she is usually extremely pressed for time, may have a specific list of items on a paper or perhaps on their phone, and is pretty much oblivious to any foods that seems out of the ordinary, such as a new and different item. Shopping for many of them is rote such as people who shop on Thursdays for Shabbos and pretty much buy the very same items every week. Compare this person with the “shopper,” slowly making her way through the aisles, eyeing every item that seems “interesting,” picking up the package and reading the ingredients or other interesting facts, and most importantly willing to take home a product that was never tried at home. The retailers say that with few exceptions the shopper had no real idea what would end up in their cart.

The food buyer most often covets “one-stop” shopping, having neither the patience nor the time to visit multiple stores. The food buyer might have preferences for certain stores like perhaps a bakery or take-out store. They like familiarity so that they walk right up to the shelf and pick up the items that they are looking for. The shopper, on the other hand, makes it a point to walk an entire store and even to check out other stores such as another kosher supermarket or even a specialty store or discounter that may have an interesting item or two. That’s right, even checking out Costco for that unique product.

You can walk through the parking lot of Pomegranate in Flatbush on a Sunday and notice many out-of-state license plates. Store officials say that some of these people who often come from other states spend many hours just walking the store. Clearly, the shopper is more relaxed and viewing shopping as part of an experience. Sure, it’s no different than shopping for clothes in a department store. The buyer is there for a skirt, suit or an evening dress for an upcoming event. The shopper is interested in whatever she encounters trekking through the aisles.

The kosher food shopper is a growing trend, say the retailers, often shopping on what is a slow day at a supermarket like a Monday or Tuesday. Howie Klagsbrun of Gourmet Glatt with stores in Cedarhurst, Woodmere, Lakewood and Boro Park feels that the “shopping environment” has changed. He says that the majority of his customers come to his large stores without a list. “There is a great deal of socializing which we encourage, even offering free coffee.” Frequently, customers interact with other customers recommending certain products, he says. Surprisingly he and other retailers say that the shopping experience is what is driving their steadily increasing sales over the internet where leisurely perusing is part of the experience.

The retailers estimate that 70% of their customers would be considered buyers as opposed to 30% as shoppers with the latter category growing steadily. While Malkie Levine of Evergreen with stores in Monsey and Lakewood agrees that she sees many more shoppers, she attributes a great deal of it to “impulse buying,” customers who simply pick up an item because it is interesting or new. “Much of it has to do with a much better economy in the frum world and the resulting increased disposable income.” She says people are buying more and even willing to spend for a new upscale item.” As an example, she cited Gefen’s new cooking butter which impulse buyers are picking up.

Mr. Klagsbrun differentiates between moms at home and working mothers. He sees many young mothers who simply spend time in the store with their toddlers in tow. He and Mrs. Levine say many of their customers shop on-line but supplement the “actual buying” with the shopping experience of actually walking the store, not to speak of the fact that many shoppers will not buy “fresh” items like fish, meat and produce on-line. Mrs. Levine says that working moms are typically “impulse shoppers” with more income. She says: “They will walk into the store and figure out what they can feed their hungry family and pick up some interesting items even if it is more expensive.” On the other hand, say the retailers, some of the younger moms are frequently on a tight budget and are very frugal in their buying of food.

Mrs. Levine seemed to have another way of categorizing shoppers: “Impulse Shoppers vs. Leisure Shoppers.” Irrespective, it appears that retailers are more conscious these days of the many types of customers. They want to make sure that they are prepared and stocked for all shoppers. They fully understand that the dynamics of shopping has dramatically changed. The large upscale kosher stores have become a destination, hence the social experience. They recognize the impact of technology and the new opportunities for sharing in real time. There is a recognition for the home chef who relies heavily on new recipes in magazines or on such sites as

Retailers are also fully aware of the changed demographics and the resultant buying habits. There are the younger set with more disposable income than ever. There are the very large families with a need for economizing but still interested in new quality items. Finally, there is the traditional shopper who seems to never change, always buying the traditional foods.

If you are the perennial buyer, you owe it to yourself to find some time to be a shopper. You just may very well enjoy the experience! The purveyors who have scouted out many new and interesting items are looking for you.

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The Art of Edible Gifts

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Handmade gifts. There’s just absolutely nothing like it. Predominantly when they’re edible and look as cute as the ones you’ve pinned on Pinterest. They tick the ‘more personal’ box, and absolutely no one I know can resist a mason jar full of homemade bourbon jam or truffle aioli goodness.

However, although the treats inside need to be delicious, let’s be real, it’s all in the DIY packaging. Start early, and collect random scraps from around the house. This way you can mix and match. My favorite is playing around with random swatches of fabrics and ribbons. Around this time of the year, I also love incorporating twigs and anything earthy or wooden. Use a mason jar as a base and work off it. Add a wooden spoon, cute note with twine or just gather that vellum with a lovely big bow and you’ve got this. Let the creativity flow with materials accessible.

The recipes ideas below make it super easy for you to step up the gift-giving this year. Skip the stress and instead have fun whipping up a treat for the cocktail enthusiast or sweet tooth friend.

Wine Jam:

Leftover wine is never usually a huge issue (there is NO such thing as too much wine), but sometimes when you don’t have a use for that half-empty bottle that wasn’t good to begin with…. a sticky wine jam is the answer. Spread this homemade delicacy on just about anything, (it’s totally addictive!) and package it into the perfectly unique hostess gift.

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Hot Toddy:

A fusion of vanilla sweetness, autumn flavors with a kick of bourbon. I’m sold. Hot Toddy’s are literally the quintessential cold-weather cocktail; warming, invigorating and rich with flavor. There are many different variations, but you can’t go wrong with bourbon or whiskey, woody spices (ugh!!), fresh lemon and a natural sweetener. They are light and hydrating, and your grandmother will probably remember this drink as the one that helps reduce those winter colds. Going to a party? You now know what to bring.

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Pumpkin Spiced Biscotti:

It’s the season of pumpkin, and we all have those friends who obsess over anything pumpkin spice (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes). However, even I get sucked into homemade pumpkin flavored things when it involves a perfectly-soft-with-a-pecan-crunch kind of biscotti. Homerun every time. Wrap parchment paper around the biscotti and tie two festive ribbons around the center. Brownie points for the handwritten note tucked under.

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Seven ingredients or two ingredients. I’ll leave the level of complication up to you this time. I will say though; when it comes to truffles it’s not about how many ingredients you use, but the quality you choose. Use quality dates, and you’ll get perfection. Use quality chocolate, and you’ll be tasting paradise. They’re just the most perfect handmade one-bite delicacies that work for anyone at any time. I seriously love how raw you can get with these, and how healthy yet delicate they come out. Craving chocolate. Check. Craving coconut. Check. No space in the oven. No problem. I think I just gave away my secret love for truffles.

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Homemade Granola:

Once you’ve made homemade granola, there is no going back. The best bit about it, you’ll enjoy every single cluster. No need to pick out those raisins you hate. Customize it, jazz it up, add exotic seasonal dried fruit and any dry foods that you know your friend loves. Just make sure you add Silan. Serious game changer for homemade granola. Package it in anything glass and your good to go.

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Help! My house smells like a deep fryer.

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It’s the season of frying and chances are the smell of all those deep-fried foods will linger well after you’re done cooking.

Here are a couple of life-changing ‘kitchen smell’ hacks.

Comes Chanukah and you’ll be so ready to roll up your sleeves and deep fry just about anything.

Close all doors- First up is making sure that all doors are closed whilst you’re cooking. By all doors, I mean literally down to the doors on your wardrobe. This will make sure that even if some smell does escape the kitchen; it will be heavily reduced and blocked from spreading or absorbing on fabrics. No need to fall asleep in a room smelling of fried food.

Windows- All windows, especially in your kitchen, should be opened before you even start cooking. Yes, it may be a little chilly out at this time of the year, but trust me (tried and traumatized); you’ll prefer that slight breeze over a smell that just won’t go away.

Homemade Potpourri- This one’s my all-time favorite even for days when my kitchen doesn’t smell. I love to boil up some cinnamon sticks with citrus peels and leave it on the stove for an all- natural air freshener. Not only does it get rid of the smell of oil, but it gives your house such a fresh and heavenly scent. Play around with flavors you like and you’re guaranteed to fall in love with your own homemade aroma. I’ve now given you THE reason to buy that fresh lavender bouquet.

Bake Last! – We all know that when a Jewish woman goes into the kitchen, she isn’t coming out with less than 3 sides, 2 mains, a couple of salads and definitely more than one dessert. It’s just the nature of our culture (No complaints.) All you have to do is make sure you cook the heavy smells first and leave the baking till last. What’s better than a house smelling of fresh hot cinnamon buns? (I hope they’re on your Chanukah menu!)

Clean up as you go- I left this for last because … who wants to be told to clean up right away when they just spent the last five hours in the kitchen on their feet? The truth is, it will save you in the long run. Turn up the music and just do it. Clean up all those oily, greasy frying pans as soon as you are done using them. Not only will you have a clean kitchen when the cinnamon buns come out of the oven, but the smell is guaranteed to linger less the quicker the conflicting odors are gone.

Happy fried food eating!

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