Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Second Mom

 

My Aunt Zipora on the left, my mom on the right

Famous Israeli saying:

אמא יש רק אחת

You only have one mother

True, or false?

Most people go through life with only one mother.  I feel sorry for them, in a way.  It’s wonderful to have a loving mother who nurtures you, loves you, spoils you…  But what’s even better is two women who would do this for you.

I’m fortunate to have been blessed with two mothers.  Okay, we’re not even going to go into the whole adoption issue, that’s doesn’t even enter into the equation here.  First, there’s my mom.  She may not have carried me under her heart for nine months, but she brought me home from the hospital, and that’s my mom.

Zipora, one year after liberation from Auschwitz, Sweden 1946

When I was seven we spent a considerable time in Norway, and my Aunt Zipora, my father’s baby sister, came up from Israel to visit us.  My father had told me stories about all his brothers and sisters back in Hungary, and I was thrilled to meet the aunt he spoke of so fondly.  She brought me a book in Hebrew and we spent a lot of time reading the stories together.

Aunt Zipora and Uncle Erich

When I was 16 we came out to Israel for the summer, for my brother’s Bar Mitzvah.  I was a rebellious teen, and you could have imagine just how embarrassed I was by my mom.  She kept trying to get me to pose for pictures, she kept trying to buy me dorky clothes, she kept trying to keep me safe.  How embarrassing!  My Aunt Zipora, on the other hand, convinced my mom to let me go off to the beach by myself.  She bought me the sandals that were the “in thing” back in 1979 Tel Aviv, and she taught me curse words in Hungarian!

Didi and her "Savta" Zipora

Throughout the years, while I was in Israel as a kibbutz volunteer, a university student, a new immigrant, a new mom, a new divorcee, my Aunt Zipora was always there to support me in any decision.  She became like a second mother to me.  Since my girls didn’t have grandmothers who lived nearby — my mother lived in New York, their other grandmother in London — Zipora became a grandmother to them.  When my father died in 2002 I went to the States for the funeral, and after my mother and I comforted each other I flew back to Israel and my aunt and I had another good cry together.  When my mother died in 2009 my aunt was there to tell me stories of my parents’ early life together, pre-Miriyummy.

Aunt Zipora and my girlies, June 2005

In 2005 I married for the second time.  My mother couldn’t come out for the wedding, so I had the oddest pleasure in being walked down the aisle to the chuppah by my oldest daughter Sassy and my Aunt Zipora.

I grew up eating Hungarian food, but my Lithuanian mother used to drive me insane giving me recipes.  You put in a bit of this, a bit of that.  There were no measurements in my mother’s cooking style.  With the help of my Aunt Zipora, who actually writes things down, I was able to approximate one of my favorite dishes:

Hungarian Noodles


This dish went by the name of káposztás tészta. I never managed to pronounce the second word correctly, and it all got shortened to Capostash when I put it into our Shabbat rotation. No one else seems to want to call it that, so Hungarian Noodles it is.  Purists will rise up in outrage when they read what I’ve done to the recipe, but this is my blog, and my bastardized recipe, and I’m serving it at my table, so this is my Capostash!

Leave out the shmaltz and the kabanas to make this dish vegetarian/vegan.

  • 500 grams bow-tie noodles, cooked until al dente
  • 2 huge onions, coarsly shredded
  • a few glugs of olive oil, or a chlop of shmaltz
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, coarsely shredded
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste
  • 2 heaping tablespoons poppy seeds
  • Optional:  3 kabanas, preferably by Tirat Zvi, cut up (thin, dried sausage)

  1. Caramelize the onions in the olive oil or shmaltz until darkly golden and soft.
  2. Add the cabbage and toss together with the onions until softened.
  3. Add the noodles and mix.  You may need to add 1/4 – 1/3 cup of water to get it mixable.  Add the salt, pepper and paprika and taste.  When you have it juuuuuust right, add the poppy seeds and mix together.  (Add the kabanas.) Serve hot.
  4. If you add the cut up kabanas it takes this dish to a whole new level.  It’s not authentically Hungarian, but it’s authentically delicious!

 

 

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Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates

The World Wide Web is a very interesting place.  You dip your tootsies into the deep waters of the Internet and you never know who is going to take a nibble.  You end up finding all sorts of people from your past.

Kinneret Day School Class of '76

I’ve reconnected with half of my sixth grade class.  I found the guy I had a crush on when I was 11.  I’m chatting with my long lost best friend from the playground.  People you think are always going to be part of your Once Upon A Time can become part of your Here And Now, and quite possibly part of your Happily Ever After.  For example, there was this guy I used to trade jokes with over the ether back in the 90s.  In 2005 we traded wedding rings.  Okay, so that one was a bit over the top.  Life isn’t always going to be so trippy.

A piece of Mrs. S.'s sky

Sometimes you meet people over the net that you’ve never met in person.  I’d been reading Mrs. S.’s blog for a while, living through her personal angst as she renovated her house, then just taking a voyeristic peep into her family life, and finally learning a new language, Hebrish.    I’d comment here, comment there, but no connection was really forged until a certain Icelandic volcano forced Miriyummy to be born, and then the connection became two-way.  And then one day, Mrs. S. actually emailed me!

It seems we had another connection, one hanging by a thread, but a connection nonetheless.  It so happens that Mrs. S.’s mom and Ju-Boy used to work together once upon a time in the last century.  Mrs. S. never actually had the pleasure of meeting Ju-Boy in the flesh, but her family tells a story about him, and I quote (with permission, of course):

Sixteen years ago, before my sister’s wedding, my mother told her coworkers that the wedding was going to be starting on time and that they should plan accordingly.

[Ju-Boy] didn’t believe her.  He joked that EVERYONE claims that “we’re starting on time” but that no Israeli wedding ever does.  However, my mother insisted that this wedding would be different, and so they bet on it.  They determined what “on time” means and decided that the loser would have to give the winner a chocolate bar.

Anyway, as anyone who knows my parents could have guessed, but to the shock of those (like [Ju-Boy]) who had never attended one of our family’s smachot, the wedding was — of course — very much on time.

My mother didn’t come into work for the first few days after the wedding, but when she finally returned, she found a whole chain of mini chocolate bars covering her desk… 🙂

Okay, maybe life really is that trippy…

And in one of the most awkward segues in the history of this blog, that leads us to the recipe for this week — Chocolate Chicken.  Okay, let’s not all throw up at once.  It really isn’t Chocolate Chicken, but the recipe does have chocolate in it.  Mole (pronounce molay) sauce is common in Mexico and usually served over a variety of different foods.  I like to serve it over chicken.  The original Mexican recipe can have over 20 different ingredients and may or may not contain chocolate.  I like to add the chocolate since it gives the sauce a rich body, serves as a good talking point and supplies excellent shock value to your guests.

Moleyummy Chicken

  • 8 chicken pieces (we use the thigh quarters, known in Israel as the meshulash, or the triangle)
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for browning
  • 1 more tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped medium fine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (now empty can) filled with water
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 50 grams (2 ounces) dark, bittersweet chocolate
  1. Rub the chicken pieces with the salt, pepper and paprika.  Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add the chicken pieces top-side down and brown.  After about 5 minutes, turn and cook the bottom sides for another 2 minutes or so.  Remove to a baking dish.  You may have to brown the chicken in two batches, but make sure you have enough space in your baking dish that the pieces are all on one level.
  2. Add the one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan in which you browned the chicken, and bring up to heat again.  Toss in the chopped onions and let caramelize until golden.
  3. Toss in the minced garlic and stir for a moment.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, and then take the empty can, fill it with water and add that to the pot.  Stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the paprika, chili powder, cumin and coriander.  Stir.
  6. Taste, and then add the salt and pepper.
  7. Bring the heat down until the sauce starts to bubble, and then let it bubble until reduced by one-half.  This could take anywhere between 15 minutes to half an hour.
  8. Add the chocolate and stir until melted.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F).
  10. Pour the sauce over the chicken, cover and bake for 1/2 an hour.
  11. Serve with rice, tortillas, quinoa, anything you like, but serve with panache!

Discloure of ingedients is at your own risk

No Awful Offal

I grew up in an Eastern European household with the Yiddish flowing like Manischewitz wine, the wine flowing over our kiddush cups every Shabbat, and every Shabbat flowing with chicken soup with matzah balls and my mother’s gehakteh leber.

I loved my mother’s gehakteh leber (that’s chopped liver to those of you (most of you) who didn’t grow up speaking Yiddish).  She made it in a large wooden bowl with a double-bladed chopper called a hakmesser.  The sound of her chopping the liver and hard boiled eggs greeted me every Friday when I came home from school, along with the smell of onions slowly caramelizing in shmaltz.  On Friday night we would start every meal with challah and gehakteh leber, topped with crunchy gribenes (chicken crackling).  It was a delicious heart attack waiting to happen.  My father actually had four of those heart attacks, eventually dying of complications due to quadruple bypass surgery, but I’m sure that if he could, he would tell you that it was worth it, just to have some of my mother’s wonderful chopped liver.  It was, as he often said, geshmak!

Offal Hater

Over the years I’ve tried to replicate my mother’s amazing recipe.  I’ve come close, but it always eludes me.  Perhaps nothings tastes as wonderful as a memory.  Perhaps it’s the enthusiasm of the eaters, or rather, the lack of.  Not a single member of my family’s joy of liver comes close to mine, or my father’s.  A few friends have loved it, the X tolerated it and the kids won’t go near it.  Ju-Boy can be counted among those who are not fans, but I’m not insulted, since he won’t eat liver or any kind of offal, in any form.  It’s not like he’s cheating on me with someone else’s chopped liver, phew!

He does, however, like my vegetarian paté.  It’s almost as labor-intensive as the original, almost, but not quite.  With no liver to kasher and chop, the only real work is the caramelizing of the onions and the cleaning up of the food processor afterwards.  No wooden bowl and hakmesser to give it that authentic Eastern European je ne sais quoi, or as they say in Yiddish, epes geshmak!

 

Liver Lover and Offal Avoider

Miriyummy’s Vegetarian Paté

  • 4 huge onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 100 grams (4 ounces) walnuts
  • 2 cups canned peas (1 largish can, must be canned peas), drained
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste
  1. Chop the onions medium fine.  Heat the oil in a large pan and slowly caramelize the onions.  This can take up to an hour.  Don’t try to rush it, this is what gives the paté its authentic flavor.  The onions will cook down to next to nothing.  When the onions are a gorgeous caramel brown take them off the heat and let cool.
  2. Place the walnuts in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the steel knife.  Zhuzz until finely ground.
  3. Add the peas and zhuzz again.
  4. Add the hard boiled eggs and the onions (scraping every last drop of oil into the mix) and give it a good zhuzz until you get the paté consistency you’re looking for.
  5. Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste.  Turn into a serving bowl or Tupperware and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  6. Serve with challah, crackers or fancy shmacy little toast points.
  7. Can be frozen.

It Pays To Blog (and Tweet)

The blogosphere is full of contests.  I’ve even held one or two here on Miriyummy.  One of my favorite bloggers and longtime reads, A Mother in Israel, posted a contest where you could win a tallit.  Now, granted, I don’t actually use one myself, but I was tempted.  The company offering the prize, Galilee Silks, had some gorgeous tallitot for women.

It was a simple contest, really, just either blog about the contest on your own blog, or tweet about it.  I did both.  It seems I was the only entrant to do so (blog AND tweet), and guess what?  I won!

In spite of the fact that there were some really cool blue and pink and red tallitot for women on offer, I gave my prize to Ju-Boy.  The man can be pretty outrageous at times, but his taste in tallitot is really boring sedate.  It seems my man does not want to be a peacock in shul.

The prize arrived just in time for Chanuka.  I’ve wanted to get a picture of him wearing the tallit for a while, but he’s made this his Shabbat tallit, and the camera doesn’t come out on Shabbat in the Miriyummy household.  This past Saturday night he took it out to give it to Optimus Prime, who’s going to be adding the tekhelet, so I got my supermodel husband to don the tallit for everyone to see.

Galilee Silks has some seriously gorgeous tallitot and other prayer accessories for sale.  They seem to cater to the international market (prices are quoted in dollars), but it’s worth stopping by just to look and admire their work.

 

 

Bam! Yummo! It’s A Good Thing!

Meet your next Food Network star -- kitchen courtesy of Sandy

A lot of Food Network chefs have a catch phrase all their own that you instantly recognize when you hear it.  Emeril has his Bam!  Rachael Ray has her Yummo!  (BTW, I can’t stand Rachael Ray, when I hear her say yummo, or EVOO, I just cringe, and quite possibly a small part of me dies.)  Even Martha will tell you that “it’s a good thing!”  I don’t have a special Miriyummy phrase, yet…

Hmmmmm, what’s the phrase that I say most in the kitchen?

Turn up the music!  — No, that doesn’t have anything to do with food, but it does have everything to do with cooking.  I love to cook to Jackson Browne, Barry White, even ABBA.  Not Bruce Springsteen, though.  His music is best for cleaning the house.

Bugger, I just cut my finger again!  — No, that one doesn’t encourage much faith in my kitchen skills.

Argh!  I just dropped an egg, will someone get the dog in here to clean it up? — Forget it, that one is so not made for Food TV!

Dropped eggs are never a problem as long as Shovav is around

How about… This rocks!  I say that a lot after I taste something.  A little hubris-y, I admit, but hey, it does rock!

Okay, so I don’t have my own cooking show (yet), but I’m getting there, one Dalia Bar at a time!  The other day I posted some of my food pics to Facebook.  My friend Debza, who’s been through thick and thin with me since the 8th grade, commented on one picture and said, “Wow, who knew you were Martha Stewart?”  Okay, I’ll take that one as a compliment, although I would much rather be compared to Nigella Lawson or Carine Goren.  Just don’t liken me to Rachael Ray or I’ll gouge your eyes out with a Microplane zester, okay?

Yes, I will admit, I can be a bit Martha-ish in the kitchen.  I bake my own challah for Shabbat, I distill my own liqueurs, I can bubble up some loquat chutney (it rocked, FYI), I’ve made my own marmalade and a while back, thanks to one of my favorite blog reads, Matkonation, I made some Cherry Tomato Jam.  Organic Cherry Tomato Jam, thank you very much…

It’s actually quite simple to make, it set like a dream, and was very yummy at several BBQs we’ve thrown since I first Martha-ed up this concoction.  We spread it on grilled chicken, have it with toasted pita, I’ve even drizzled it on my corn muffins.  It’s a good recipe.  And you know what?

It rocks!

Cherry Tomato Jam

  • 1 kilo (2 pounds) cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 500 grams (1 pound) sugar
  1. Wash and dry the cherry tomatoes.  Place them in a large pot and add the lemon juice.  Using medium heat, bring it up to a boil.  Don’t worry that there’s no additional liquid in there, the tomatoes break down relatively quickly. Once they’ve come to the boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar.  Turn the heat up back to medium and let the stuff come to a boil again, and then turn the heat back down to low and simmer for another 45 minutes to one hour.
  3. To check if the jam is ready place a small amount on a cold plate (I put a plate in the fridge when I started cooking, especially as it was a hot day).  You then put the plate in the freezer for about 2-3 minutes.  When you remove it from the freezer, draw a line through the jam with your finger.  If the line remains, the jam is ready to be poured into your jars.  If not, return the pot to the heat and retest after a few minutes.

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