6mm-Minis

6mm-Minis is Maksim-Smelchak's blog to discuss gaming, miniatures, books, movies, food, Israel, Judaism, life in general and other funny crud. My favorite scale of miniatures is 6mm, which is also called 1/285 or 1/300 scale. I enjoy many different kinds of games including ancients, Napoleonics, WWI, WWII, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Car Wars AKA Autoduel (a sort of crash'n'derby automobile combat game), 6mm Godzilla AKA Kaiju games, and science fiction games. I'm open to everything though!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

GAMING NEWS: A Near-Death Experience, Killer Bunnies & Passover!

Hi and good morning Everyone,

First of all, I had a terrible scare just the other day or so ago... I was driving along Folsom Boulevard when I encountered an oil puddle in the heavy run and... my car slid out of control. However, I remembered by driver's training classes from all those years ago and steered into the out of control swerve... I was very frightened for my life though as I careened off the road and eventually brushed up against a fence.

Thank goodness that there was noone else on the road at the time. When I finally stopped, I quickly checked to make sure that I was OK and then prayed. I suppose that serendipity stepped in and saved my life because I came out of that scare without a scratch. My car didn't though. My front right bumper took some superficial body damage (There is a bent-in fender with a hole and a slight crack in the right headlight housing). I don't think I've ever been so glad to be alive.

Secondly, I would like to wish all of my Jewish friends and those others who celebrate it a Happy Passover / Happy Pesach!

Chag Sameach! (Happy Holidays in Hebrew)

Gut Pesach! (Good Passover in Yiddish)

Happy Passover! (English)

Passover is one of the best Jewish holidays of the year and celebrates freedom among other themes. Passover is the story of Moses (old Moyshe), the Jewish people, the Ten Plagues of Egypt, Pharoah, and so much more. This year Passover started on April 12th and lasts seven or eight days depending on whether you live inside of or outside of Israel. Most Jews celebrate Passover by going to a specialized ritual dinner called a Seder on the first two days of the holiday.

(Passover Seder Plate graphic courtesy of Chabad web site.)

During Passover, religously observant Jews won't eat leavened products of any kind including bread, cookies, doughnuts, most breakfast cereals, rolls and so much more. Of course, the week of Passover is ALWAYS when your non-Jewish friends at work bring exactly those things everyday... temptations, temptations...

My friend Stacy found this article and shared it with me:

April 5, 2006
It's Passover, Lighten Up

By JOAN NATHAN

WHEN Emily Moore, a Seattle-based chef and instructor, was invited to consult on recipes for Streit's Matzo, she assumed that the baked goods would have their traditional heft, because no leavening can be used during Passover.

Not so, said Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, a member of a prominent rabbinic dynasty, who oversees the company's ritual observances. Let the cookies and cakes rise, he told her. Let there be baking soda and baking powder.

"He acted like I was crazy," Ms. Moore said.

The biblical prohibition against leavened bread at Passover — which begins on Wednesday night — has kept observant Jews from using any leavening at all. Cakes and cookies of matzo meal (ground matzo), matzo cake meal (which is more finely ground) and nuts can be tasty, but dense.

So it will surprise many Jews — it certainly surprised me — that among the profusion of products that most Orthodox certification agencies have approved for Passover are not just baking soda, but also baking powder.

Some rabbis are lifting other dietary prohibitions that they say were based on misunderstandings or overly cautious interpretations of biblical sanctions, and because they want to simplify the observance.

"The holiday has become overly complicated, and people are turning away from the rigorous practice of it," said Rabbi Jeffrey A. Wohlberg, the senior rabbi at conservative Adas Israel Congregation in Washington.

Last year, Rabbi Wohlberg said it was permissible for his congregants to eat legumes, called kitniyot in Hebrew. They are usually beyond the pale at Passover for the most rigorous observers, but are increasingly accepted by many Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, particularly in Israel.

"I have also talked to a lot of young mothers over the years whose children, for example, are lactose intolerant and want to use soy milk," Rabbi Wohlberg said. "But soy is a bean and hasn't been permissible."

The restrictions have their roots in the Book of Exodus, which tells of how the Israelites fled Egypt in such haste that they could not let their bread rise and become "chometz" in Hebrew. Only unleavened bread, matzo, is eaten during the eight days of Passover, in memory of the Israelites' hardships and in celebration of their escape from slavery.

"No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory" during Passover, it was written. But, as Ms. Moore said, "There is a lot of misunderstanding about what leavening means for Passover."

Jews avoid flour or grains, for fear that they might become leavened even without the addition of yeast. (Matzo meal, since it's already been baked, is less likely to rise and become leavened.)

Matzo, a simple mixture of flour and water, must be made in less than 18 minutes to avoid the possibility that the dough could ferment and then rise before being baked. "The Talmud says that
it should take no longer to make matzo than the time to walk a Roman mile, which later generations understood to be 18 minutes," said Dr. David Kraemer, professor of Talmud and rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

At Passover, some ultra-Orthodox Jews will not eat matzo that has become wet, including matzo balls. Instead of matzo meal, or the fine matzo cake meal, they use potato starch in cakes and other dishes.

But rabbis in even some of the most Orthodox associations say chometz does not refer to all leavening.

"There is nothing wrong about a raised product at Passover per se," said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, executive rabbinic coordinator and chief operating officer of the Orthodox Union's kosher division, the oldest and most widely accepted certifier of kosher foods.

Lise Stern, author of "How to Keep Kosher" (Morrow, 2004), said: "Chometz, which means sharp or sour, denotes bread that has a sourness to it caused by fermentation, occurring when liquid is added to any of the five grains mentioned in the Torah. This refers to yeast, not baking powder or baking soda."

Rabbi Soloveichik said: "They're just minerals. What do we care about minerals?"

While kosher for Passover baking soda and baking powder can be hard to find in supermarkets, they have been available in Orthodox neighborhoods for years. Erba Food Products, of Brooklyn, made kosher for Passover baking powder in the late 1960's.

Ms. Moore, who creates kosher recipes for the Elliott Bay Baking Company in Seattle, adjusted recipes for matzo meal, which is heavier than flour, to make vanilla sesame, lemon ginger and double chocolate _mocha cookies with baking soda or baking powder (made with potato starch, not corn starch, which is made from a grain that is avoided).

The ban on legumes is connected to the ban on leavening. Jews in medieval Europe began to keep beans and lentils, as well as grains, from the Passover table because until modern times they were often ground into flour. The use of rice and corn were later restricted, too, by some Jews. But Sephardic Jews of the Middle East continued to eat them at Passover.

Over the past few years legumes have become accepted for Passover by the Israeli Army and the Masorti movement (as Conservative Judaism is known in Israel) partly because of increased intermarriage between Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews, as those of European descent are called.

A delicious Moroccan Passover dish of shad and fava beans takes advantage of the freer interpretation of the Passover pantry and the bounty of spring.

The Passover table has changed in many ways. More than 21,000 kosher for Passover items are available in the United States, with 500 new ones this year, said Menachem Lubinsky, president of Lubicom, a marketing firm specializing in kosher food.

With such items as Passover pasta (made from potato starch), quinoa salads, tricolored matzo balls, and ingredients like grape seed oil, kosher organic chickens and matzo breadsticks, a lot of the suffering is being taken out of Passover.

In the weeks before Passover, many homes are rigorously cleaned, and every bit of chometz or leavening removed. Some people avoid cooking in their newly cleaned homes by going to a resort that is kosher for Passover, a practice that in the past few years has been boosting business in the Caribbean and around the country during a traditionally slow period.

At the Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort and Country Club in Puerto Rico, Robin Mortkowitz, a therapist in Fairlawn, N.J., who became Orthodox when she married, was swept away by new foods like sushi made from quinoa, the sesame-seed-sized kernel cultivated in the Andes that many certifying agencies have ruled is not a forbidden grain.

"With people becoming more sophisticated, we have to step up the food program," said Sol Kirschenbaum, an owner of Levana restaurant in New York, which arranged the food at the Hyatt. "It's wild mushrooms and grilled rack of lamb, but I still need to have chicken soup and gefilte fish for the 60- to 90-year-olds."

Kosher companies are also sprucing up their food. Susie Fishbein, author of the popular "Kosher by Design" series of cookbooks, said she is creating recipes for the Manischewitz Web site and food boxes, like tricolored matzo balls with green spinach, yellow turmeric and red tomato paste, using olive oil instead of schmaltz.

"Companies like Manischewitz can't survive on kosher gefilte fish anymore," Ms. Fishbein said. "A whole new generation of cooks is looking for fresh ideas."

But some still find beauty in tradition. When the cookbook author Tamasin Day-Lewis made a flourless almond cake with a fresh orange and mandarin syrup for a party recently, some of her guests who were Jewish said, "This is perfect for Passover."


My friend Yehuda wrote up an excellent post on his blog about the underlying values of Passover and I couldn't have done a better job myself.

You can find Yehuda's site here:

http://jergames.blogspot.com/

And for those interested in more information about Passover, you can find some here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover

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I was able to get in a few games yesterday and they were:

1. Killer Bunnies And the Quest For the Magical Carrot

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/3699

Players:
- Dick: L
- Kurt: L
- Dave: WINNER!

I came in to this game being played and it appeared that Dave took the game rather handily after the traditional bunny stew was made in the first few turns while anti-bunny cards ran amok. Mazel Tov, Dave!

======
2. Ticket to Ride - Märklin Edition

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/21348

Players:
- Kimbo: L.
- Maksim: Winner!

I like this new twist on the Ticket To Ride (TtR) franchise. I managed to win this game, but I wish that I hadn't because everytime I win, it fuels the "Maks always wins!" shtick. Kimbo played a good game, but my routes were slightly longer, which aided me. Kudos to Kimbo for being such a great sport! Thanks, Kimbo!

======
3. Domaine

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/5737

Players:
- Cary: L.
- Dave: L.
- Dick: L.
- Kurt: WINNER!

This was my first chance to meet Dave's fiance, Cary (I hope I spelled her name right?), and I really liked her... she's charming. The four of them played a death match of Grudge and the last time I saw the game, it looked like Kurt pulled out victory. Mazel Tov, Kurt!

======
4. For Sale

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/172

Players:
- Donna: L.
- Kimbo: L.
- Maksim: Winner!
- Mike: L.

I really liked this simple bidding game and it was that much the better for having Donna and Mike join us. I won by a measly $2,000.00 in cash.

======
5. For Sale

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/172

Players:
- Crystal: L.
- Donna: L.
- Kimbo: L.
- Mike: WINNER!
- Todd: L.

A second game of "For Sale" went underway and Mike pulled out a win. Mazel Tov, Mike!

======
6. Killer Bunnies And the Quest For the Magical Carrot

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/3699

Players:
- Crystal: L.
- Dick: L.
- Kimbo: L.
- Maksim: Winner!
- Todd: L.

(Killer Bunnies graphic courtesy of BGG)

The last game of "Killer Bunnies" was... well... vicious. It was like bunny Armageddon! My first five or six bunnies all went under the axe... it made me wish that I was a German cook with Hasenpfeffer on the menu. Kimbo started out with the fatalistic notion that "Maks always wins" and darn me if I couldn't prove him otherwise. I'm determined to do so. My team of fatalistic bunnies found the magic carrot and I managed to win. Sorry, Kimbo! I tried, man, really.... Crystal and Todd have the "married couple" routine down at this game... They traded lovely "killer bunny" moves the whole game. And Dick played a good game too.

Darn my victory! The whole "Maks always wins" shtick is starting to get to me! I know I'm a sorry sack when losing is starting to almost mean more than winning to me! And speaking of the word "darn," it's a sewing term from a time gone by. I never did it in my lifetime, but my aunt did and I once had her explain it to me. I had read about it in a book and wanted to learn more.

Learn more about "darning" here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darning

======
7. Unexploded Cow

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/1690

Players:
- Crystal: L.
- Dick: WINNER!
- Maksim: L.
- Todd: L.

Cheap Ass Games makes some good ones and I liked this simple little parody of WWII minesweeper movies. Dick played an amazing game and pulled off victory by a large margin. Mazel Tov, Dick!

======

Chag Sameach and have a great Thursday!

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

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3 Comments:

  • At 1:25 PM, April 15, 2006, Blogger Yehuda said…

    Re: leavening (baking soda, etc) Even eggs and vinegar are leavening. We have been buying KFP baking soda in Israel for years.

    Re: kitniyot. This is a complicated issue. On the one hand, you can't just discard a custom, even one as universally hated as this one - many rabbis never wanted it accepted in the first place, and many have tried to remove it since. On the other hand, people have been mistakenly adding new kitniyot for years that are not. Some Ashkenazi accept these new kitniyot, others do not. So there are many variations within this custom.

    Re: quinoa and so on: yes, we eat them.

    Frankly, I've never had much trouble cooking for Passover. Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables, potatoes, fruit, milk, cheese, spices, sugar, matzoh meal - it's not really that hard.

    Yehuda

     
  • At 9:07 AM, April 16, 2006, Blogger MaksimSmelchak said…

    Hi Yehuda,

    I agree with you.

    I more shared that article as a point of conversation.

    It really isn't that hard to make tasty meals during Passover, but, on the other had, it's very easy to notice the absence of leavened baked goods. At least, I miss them every Passover... LOL :)

    Thanks for the post!

    Shalom,
    Maksim-Smelchak.

     
  • At 10:50 PM, April 17, 2006, Blogger Askinstoo said…

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