Old Country

I grew up in the Bronx, which if you don’t know, is part of New York.  Outside my house was one of the most amazing cities in the world, but step through the doors and you would find yourself on the set of Yentl.  My parents were immigrants, Holocaust survivors who felt most comfortable with the familiarity of their original environment.  Our house may have been furnished with La-Z-Boy recliners and dinette sets bought on Jerome Avenue, but my parents brought their own Old Country touches to the house — a samovar here, European-style dishware there (no Corelle for my mom, nuh huh).  And nothing personified the shtetl atmosphere of the house more than the food that was served up every day of the week.  My parents may have moved their bodies to the States, but their souls were steadfastly left behind in Vilna and Hungary.

Dessert in our house was always compote, or some other stewed fruit, never this jiggly American standard

I would watch TV with my brother, afternoon programming aimed at the kids — Gilligan’s Island, The Addams Family, Batman (kerpow!), and then the commercials would come on, commercials aimed at kids watching afterschool television.  Yes, you too can be popular if you drink Dr Pepper, stuff your face with Yodels and sit down to the wonderful family dinner of Swanson’s frozen mystery meat and peas.  My brother and I begged for a yodel or two, and my mother smiled at us as she served up her stuffed cabbage and or her gebroteneh (braised) chicken. Tea was served in a glass, sweetened with a spoon of strawberry jam.  I wanted to be American, I wanted to be a Pepper, and my parents insisted on all this Old Country food in the house.  I remember one time having a teenage rant, claiming my parents refused to embrace their new country by not buying junk food.

We brought back three of these boxes from England last time. Yes, there are 240 tea bags in each box.

At the age of 20 I left my Old Country behind and moved to Israel, where I could finally eat my fill of American junk food.  Yes, you read that right.  You see, Anglo immigrants may move their bodies to Israel, but go into their kitchens and you’ll find that a part of their culinary souls have refused to make aliya.  Anglos in Israel love their Old Country foods.  Americans who go back for a visit always return with a suitcase full of chocolate and other yummies from Shop Rite.  Brits smuggle in PG Tips and Marmite.  They’re even selling Entenmann’s donuts in Meatland in Ra’anana, charging a whopping NIS 50 (about 14 dollars).  We all do it, and I am guilty as well.  I remember one trip where I got caught at Kennedy airport with one suitcase full of chocolate and junk food (it was right after Halloween and everything was on sale) and another suitcase full of Slim Fast.  The woman x-raying my luggage commented, “Let me guess, first you eat everything in this suitcase, then you eat everything in that suitcase.”  Yup, that was the plan.

My precious box of Splenda

Come into the Miriyummy household and you will see hummus, za’atar, Telma cereals and Pri-Gat juice.  You will also see a huge box of PG Tips tea, a jar of Marmite, an occasional bottle of Newman’s Own salad dressing and my hoarded box of Splenda.  Ju-Boy brought me back a large box of baking Splenda on one of his trip to the States and I have been hoarding it, sparingly baking with it.  I want to use it, but I don’t want to use it up.  Can you understand my logic?

Didi and bestest friend Hilaly

Back in this post I wrote how my Didi has a bunch of friends who want me to name a Miriyummy creation after them.  One of Didi’s very bestest friends is Hilaly, who happily noshes on the Hadar Bars and Luscious Lambies in spite of the fact that these babies are packed full of sugar and she’s diabetic.  It drives her mom crazy!  It was time for Hilaly to have a confection of her own, and one she could indulge in without guilt or parental angst.  So when I asked her what she would prefer in her namesake nosh, she so very responsibly said, “Coffee, and Splenda!”  Oh no, not my Splenda!  She wants me to use up my Splenda!

Could you say no to these sweet darlings?

But I do have a soft spot for Hilaly, and I don’t want her getting into sugar trouble because of me, so I dug out my precious Splenda and came up with…

Hilaly Dollies

  • 1 cup (200 grams) butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons instant coffee (I use instant espresso powder, which makes these Dollies lethal!)
  • 1 1/3 cup baking Splenda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 300 grams sugar-free bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely

Cookies or science experiment?

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (350 degrees F).  Grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.  Actually, forget about the greasing, just use parchment paper.  There’s something in the Splenda that makes these cookies look like a science experiment while they bake.  Trust me, it’s ugly, and messy, and you’ll thank me later for that parchment paper advice.
  2. Cream together the butter, Splenda and coffee.
  3. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and flour.  Mix until well blended.
  4. Add the chocolate bits and combine with a wooden spoon.
  5. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Don’t be afraid of them when they come out of the oven and look like rabid cookies foaming at the mouth.  They calm down after they cool off.

If you have these with a cup of joe on the side you may go into a coffee coma.  But what a way to go, huh?  Brits will enjoy this with a cup of tea, if they can bear to part with one of their PG Tips.

 

About Miriyummy

All I want to do is live happily ever after.

Posted on 31 December 2010, in Chocolate, Coffee, Cookies, Family Life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. looks yummy, but I don’t use splenda. Can it be done with some real sugar?

  2. That’s settled. Now I know you’ve got over 700 bags of PG Tips, I’m coming over for tea!
    Shabbat shalom.
    Jeanne

  3. These are the best cookies ever :)
    Love u <3

  4. Mirj
    enjoyed your blog…as I usually do. My sisters in American know to stock up on Diet Dr Pepper, diet root beer when I come to visit. I usually came back or got presents here of Crystal Lite drink misses ( or the Koolaid sugar free brand), good coffee beans to grind here for a great cup of coffee. I never missed the chocolate in America but the few times I brought grits there (that’s what happens when you grow up galut b’galut…or in other words in the South)and brought it back here, my darlin’ Israeli bred youngsters laughed and left it on their plates.Keep us smiling and keep on cooking!

  5. Mirj, they look amazing. I always try to bring back salt and vinegar crisps and crunchies. I really miss the dried fruit options from SA too. You’re so right – home means food so if you miss it does it mean you’re not at home????

  6. Its funny. I don’t have this need to by “Anglo” food here. The only think I bring back from the States when I visit is several bottles of good quality vanilla and ziploc bags. I did bring back some boiled peanuts a couple of trips ago.

  7. Compote always mystified me as a child.

    I mean, I could never understand why my grandparents a”h would willingly CHOOSE to eat a bowl of stewed fruit for dessert – instead of my grandmother a”h’s amazing cakes and cookies! And I was probably in my 20’s when I finally discovered that “compote” isn’t just a Yiddish word… :-)

    • I grew up with a lot of words that I thought were Yiddish and actually weren’t. One major example would be the word “vaytzeh.” If you needed to go to the bathroom you went to the vaytzeh. My mother spoke to me in Yiddish full time, and that’s the word she used. You would think that’s Yiddish, right?

      Wrong. Vaytzeh is how you pronounce the letters WC in Hungarian.

      :-}

  8. When in went to Israel I was astounded to see all the Americans sholveling in Americana food in the land of better Israeli food. Then I saw them on the shelf calling my name Cholov Yisroel Doritos and I was sold. So I spent my trip inhaling these American chips and barely enjoying all the other native snacks around me. it’s funny how home can draw us in

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