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!



About Miriyummy

All I want to do is live happily ever after.

Posted on 27 January 2011, in Family Life, Jewish cooking, Noodles, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Love your blog Mirjam. although my parents are hungarian too, we never, never ate anything káposztás!


    My dad abhorred cooked cabbage. but we had sweet versions of Hungarian tészta. my mum cooked either linguine( not the italian one, but the magyar one!)or little 2cm square noodles, and then we doused it in either jam or poppy seeds with sugar or ground walnuts with sugar! Each version is yummo!
    I adopted my father’s aversion to cooked cabbage and now my kids eat our sweet noodle dish as a quick and easy light meal.
    Also makes a simple dessert when you need one!
    But this shabbes I am making silvas gomboc!!


    • I also love the sweet version, but I adore cooked cabbage, so the kposzts is what gets served up more often. Silvas gomboc is another favorite, but it’s winter here in Israel and fresh plums are not in season. If I get on a plane now will I make it to Australia in time for Shabbat at your house? 😉


  2. What a lovely tribute!


  3. Hi Mirj,
    I just love the way you transitions so smoothly from such a personal, moving story to the recipe! Thanks, I will definitely try this one.
    xx Caroline


  4. What a wonderful story – how fantastic and lucky for you to have a hip Israeli aunt! And the Capotash looks delish, too – I may try that one 🙂


  5. You were indeed fortunate in having two mothers… beautiful story!

    The noodles look delicious!!!!


  6. Such a wonderful story, lucky you.
    And the recipe sounds great, though I’d probably double or triple the veggies and leave out the noodles.


  7. The kabanos sounds like a wonderful addition, Mirj! Brilliant. Kind of like choucroute with noodles.

    Are you sure this dish is Hungarian? It’s something my mother makes…we use kimmel and butter, and the onions are cooked translucent but not caramelized, but the dish is the same. My husband and I love this dish, but our kids have a prejudice against kimmel. Sometimes I make it just for Dov and me.


  8. Ok, You got my curiosity, how did you change the recipe? So, is Kasha and Vanishkas Polish?


  9. Debbie Yakobian

    I so look forward to these recipes each week Mirj…inevitably I use whatever it is – appetizer, main dish or desert for Shabbat. My menu for Shabbat is never complete until I see what recipe you have entered during the week!


  10. Wonderful post and wonderful recipe–my husband would love this. I never thought to add kabanos to cabbage and noodles.You don’t have a recipe for Dobos Torte, do you?


  11. I just came across this…I can relate to you completely! I also have someone like this in my life. Although there is a lot of love between my real mum and I, sometimes we have difficulties and this other person who I consider to be my second mother, is always supportive of me no matter what, mentors me and is always there for me when I need her.
    Also the noodles look great!!


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