Monthly Archives: November 2010
Please send me an email via the Contact Miriyummy widget on the right-hand side of the blog, give me your name and address and I’ll have Feldheim send you a copy!
As an avid cookbook collector I can often find myself identifying with the author. After all, even if the cookbook is full of dishes I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) cook for religious, dietary or various ick factors, I still buy the book because something appeals to me. I feel like Carine Goren is a long-lost sister, can so get into the geekiness of Alton Brown, and I want to be Nigella Lawson when I grow up. So when the nice people at Feldheim Publishers asked if I would review a book called Quick & Kosher: Meals in Mintues I thought, hey, that’s me!
Well, it’s not.
This is the second book by Jamie Geller. Her first book, Quick & Kosher: From the Bride Who Knew Nothing, would never have been a book I would buy. When I got married (the first time) I was a twenty year old bride who knew everything. At least, I thought I did. I certainly did know my way around the kitchen (thanks, Ma). I was putting meals on the table even in my single days. I even helped cook for my own sheva brachot, hosted by The X’s clueless single friends.
Jamie Geller, on the other hand, claims that when she first got married she prayed under the chuppah,
“that even though I had never cooked anything in my life, somehow I would be transformed into a savvy balabusta.”
This second book comes five years and four children later, where Jamie once again has to learn how to put dinner on the table, once more
“magically cook up something impressive, despite the fact that the kids are clutching your skirt, scraps of lunch are still on the table and chocolate syrup is dripping from the counter onto the floor.”
There’s just no way I can identify with Jamie, this book is so not for me.
Well, it is.
First, this is a big book! Big, burgeoning with recipes, and beautiful! Kudos to the food stylists and photographers, who elevate this from cookbook to food porn strata.
Almost every single recipe is one I would want to try. Almost, I said. Remember, there’s still the ick factor I was talking about earlier. So while each recipe is kosher, and takes either 20, 40 or 60 minutes to make, you won’t find me rolling up my sleeves to make Chicken Fiesta (there’s a mango in there, a WHOLE mango), or Lamb Meatballs in Pita. The dreaded lamb has an avocado relish, a double ick factor for me.
But there are so many other recipes I would want to try, among them:
- Red Leaf Lettuce with Dried Cranberries and Pecans
- Greek Style Chicken with Lemon and Dill
- Thai Chicken Soup
- Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Basil
- Cranberry Walnut Salmon on a Bed of Spinach
- Carrot Cupcakes
And not only are there interesting recipes in here, Jamie has them in menu format, so if you are really going headless chicken on the way home from work or gymboree, or, like me, are having a series of brain farts (I did not just say that, did I?) and can’t think of what to serve with what, Jamie has solved your problem for you down to the bottle of wine.
So my lesson learned here? Never judge a book by its publicity. Jamie writes,
“…unless you join the circus, nobody teaches you how to juggle…”
Jamie will get you there if you give her half a chance.
Last Friday one of my favorite JBloggers, RivkA, of Coffee and Chemo (how can you not love a blog with that kind of outlook just in the name?), finally gave in to the cancer that sparked her blogging life. I say finally gave in, because that was something RivkA didn’t do, she never gave in to it. Even at the very end, it’s not Cancer 1, RivkA 0, because RivkA bat Yishaya left behind a legacy, a message to choose life and to cope with adversity.
I never met RivkA, but I feel like I knew her, through her words, her gestures, her attitude. And based on what her F2F friends have been writing, I wish I had known her in real life as well.
If you go to Coffee and Chemo now, the site is all about life after RivkA. Those of us who read her regularly know that that’s not what she was about. If you are just learning about RivkA now, read one of her favorite posts, Choose Life. That’s how I will always remember her.
RivkA died on Friday at 11:10 AM, and on Friday night the heavens opened up and it rained and rained, gishmei bracha, the blessed rains. I was feeling down due to the news, but when it rained, I smiled. Rain always makes me smile, as it does so many of us here in Israel, and it was as if RivkA blessed us with the joy she always felt in life. A small legacy that can mean so much.
I wouldn’t say we were poor growing up, but my brother and I never had what the other kids had. My parents were Holocaust survivors who came out of the camps with just the rags on their backs and managed to put their lives back together one day at a time. They both found their way out of the ruins of Europe and settled in Sweden, where they met and married. Together they saved up to immigrate to New York where they made a home, created a family and were just happy to live out an existence which was meant to have been extinguished by Hitler. And yet here they were, given a new chance. Money was tight and they weren’t going to let my brother or me waste their hard-earned security on narishkeit.
So what did narishkeit mean in my parents’ world? I’ve touched upon it before when I was denied what I felt were my inalienable rights as a child or teenager. When the Mister Softee truck came tinkling its tune down the street, all the kids had a quarter for a cone. All the kids but me. We never owned a car, so I missed out on those Sunday birthday parties all my classmates attended . As I grew older it meant I didn’t have any spare change for some hot chocolate at the synagogue-sponsored ice skating party on Chanuka. I really felt left out, and nowhere did I feel more left out than at the snack bar, or the ice cream truck. When you’re the only kid without a bucket of popcorn at the movies, it hurts.
When I started to earn a little money of my own I would always spend it on junk food. It was the most amazing feeling being out with friends and not being the only one without a slice of pizza. “Money burns a hole in Miraleh’s pocket,” my mother used to say, and she was right.
I didn’t even need to be among friends for that wonderful rush of buying narishkeit. One of my favorite times was a free hour in between classes at Queens College. I would head over to the kosher cafeteria and spend wonderful minutes deciding what to buy with the $10 an hour I earn teaching kids Hebrew songs and folk dancing at the local community center. One of my most favorite snacks in-between classes was a toasted corn muffin spread with yummy melting butter and a large mug of hot chocolate. I was on top of the world. And even then I was very much like my parents — it didn’t take much to make me happy. Just give me a little foodie freedom and I’m flush with contentment.
Corn muffins is one culinary experience that has never made it to Israel. Thankfully, I can recreate the experience at home. Toasted, served up with some of that sweet and delicious Israeli butter, a large glass mug of hafuch (the Israeli version of a latte) on the side, once again, I’m flush.
This recipe comes from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. The Magnolia Bakery must be one of my most favorite bakeries in the world, although I’ve never been there. If you’re a foodie or love New York, you must have heard of the Magnolia Bakery. I just recently found out that they now have a hechsher, and a pretty good one at that, so you can be sure that the next time I’m in New York I will be one of those standing in the line that stretches all the way down Bleecker Street.
The recipe below is dairy, but I make my corn muffins parve. I also usually double the recipe. Whatever doesn’t get eaten right away freezes beautifully!
One last thing, read through the recipe first before you decide to make it, you don’t want scrambled eggs!
- 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (in Israel you can find this in the couscous section of your supermaket)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I use soymilk)
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, or 150 grams) butter (I use evil margarine), melted and cooled slightly
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (170 degrees C).
- This is the time to melt the butter.
- Grease well 9 cups of a 12-cup muffin tin. That’s what the recipe says. I make smaller muffins (not minis), using a #4 cupcake liner. I can get about 20 medium sized muffins out of this.
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, making a well in the center. Stir in the liquid ingredients until just combined, being careful not to overmix. The batter may be lumpy, don’t worry about that. BTW, this is why I told you to melt the butter first. The very first time I made this recipe I was full of hubris and just went ahead without reading it first, didn’t see you had to use melted butter, and did that at the last minute. Pouring the hot butter on top of everything else scrambled the eggs sitting in the liquid in the dry ingredient well. It wasn’t pretty. I almost cried.
- Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes (medium muffins need just 15 minutes) until lightly golden or a cake tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out with moist crumbs attached.
- Do not overbake.