18 Questions is a new column introducing you to cool Jews with a Twin Cities connection on the 18th of every month. This month, meet Bracha Rosenstein: St. Paul native and semi-finalist in the Man-o-Manischewitz 6th annual cooking contest.
1. Name: Bracha Rosenstein (Szleifer)
2. Age: 28 this [past] Friday!
3. Current City/Town: Philadelphia, PA
4. Hometown: I grew up in St.Paul, MN.
5. A few words about your mishpacha: With our families combined, my husband and I have three sets of parents, 4 grandparents, 6 siblings, 3 sibling in-laws, 2 nieces, 2 nephews, 20+ aunts and uncles, and 30+ cousins. We live in a wonderful giant sitcom.
6. How would you describe yourself Jewishly? I love Shabbat.
7. What do you do to earn a paycheck/spend the days/etc? Healthcare Consulting
8. When you were bat mitzvah age, what did you think you’d be doing to earn a paycheck/spend your days/etc? Working in a political office or campaign. Up until last year, I was convinced my calling was ESPN sportscaster. Now, I’m hoping it’s Food Network star.
9. What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and why? Split between Pesach and Sukkot – Pesach because of our family traditions, Sukkot because my husband and I started building our own Sukkah three years ago and it’s become our own tradition.
10. What holiday would you add to the Jewish calendar if you could? Jewish Mother’s Day. One day on the calendar in May just doesn’t seem like enough.
11. Who’s your Jewish superhero? I am going to generalize that I look up to the philanthropists among us – their ongoing commitment to tzedakah within our own communities sets a high bar for people our age, and we should model ourselves by giving even the smallest amount of tzedakah whenever we can.
12. I say “chutzpah,” Michelle Bachmann says “choots-pah.” What’s your favorite commonly-mispronounced Hebrew/Yiddish/Ladino word? Not my favorite, but most commonly mispronounced is my name – it’s “ch”, not “kh”!
13. Favorite “Jewy” food? Kugel, hands down. You name it, potato, Yerushalmi, Pineapple, Betty’s, spinach, they are all a treat.
14. Speaking of food – you’re in the running to be an online finalist in the Man-O-Manischewitz cookoff. What was your recipe? It’s called the Polenta Chicken Florentine – Chicken breast filled with a polenta/spinach and sausage stuffing.
15. How did you come up with the recipe? Where there any “fails” before you found the perfect one to submit? I’d been thinking about a stuffed chicken recipe for a while, and we love polenta and spinach, so one day I decided to combine the two together! Other than appearance and salt adjustments, it has been a winner in our house since its creation!
16. You’re one of five online semi-finalists – if the votes name you a finalist, you’ll have to make your recipe in person for the Cook-Off Showdown. That must be pretty nerve-wracking, right? Or have you been dreaming about this sort of thing all your life? I’ve been watching the Food Network regularly since I was a freshman in college. I have been preparing for this opportunity since then. It will be terrifying and awesome at the same time, but exactly what I have hoped I would be able to do for the past 10 years. I’ve been practicing over video chat with my friends while prepping my ingredients for a while now, and feel like I am ready for the challenge.
17. If you had a slogan to get out the vote for yourself, what would it be? Stuffed chicken doesn’t have to be traif! Vote for Polenta Chicken Florentine!
18. Besides cooking, what else makes you happy? Training for half marathons, spending time with my husband and my family, visiting with friends, traveling, and cake.
Want to see Bracha make it to the Man-o-Manischewitz finals for a chance to win great prizes and show the world that stuffed chicken can be a kosher favorite? Vote online (up to once per day) now through February 24th.