Chatting with Miriyummy: Hannah Katsman

Meet Hannah Katsman.  Hannah is a very busy woman.  I am a huge fan of both of her blogs.  Yes, the woman writes two blogs, among other bits and pieces and major articles.  I sometimes wonder where I am going to find the time for my one piddly blog, and Hannah manages to write interesting posts for both of her blogs, Cooking Manager and A Mother in Israel.

Hannah is a woman of many talents.  She can tell you ten different ways to cook a turnip.  She hosts her own Israeli baby names forum.  She’s a highly respected breast feeding coach.  She has a wonderful interview series on Cooking Manager (she even interviewed me), and she was clever enough to even interview herself!  When her son became bar mitzvah a while back she did all the catering herself for three Shabbat meals for 35 people!  I’m sure you agree, Hannah is SuperHannah!  But none of this impresses me as much as the fact that the woman is a human GPS.

It was a dark and stormy night…

A stormy night in Petach Tikva

It really was a dark and stormy night.  I was in my car, driving down Road #4 from Ra’anana to Petach Tikva to pick up Hannah and Mimi from Israeli Kitchen.  We were headed for Holon for a wonderful raw food meal at fellow blogger Yaelian’s house.  It was my first time meeting all my blogger heroes and I was excited and nervous.  The fact that it was raining, absolutely pishing down, didn’t help.  The fact that I was driving our new car for the first time and was a tad unfamiliar with how it handled on the road didn’t help.  The fact that I was late didn’t help.  And you know what else didn’t help?  I got lost.  Twice.  I called Hannah, told her where I was (I was on the corner of I Don’t Know Road and Haven’t a Clue Street).  Hannah took over.  With my phone on speaker in my lap she called out instructions:  You’re going to come up to a traffic circle with some really ugly trees.  Make a left there and then drive until you get to a kiosk that is leaning approximately 37.8 degrees to the left.  Make a right there, then you’ll come to a stoplight.  Keep going.  Soon you’ll get to a bus stop with an advertisement for Fox Kids.  We’re waiting 50 meters after that in the building that has one green car, one blue car and one white truck parked out in front.  Yes, Hannah’s instructions were THAT exact.  I picked up Hannah and Mimi and off we drove to Holon.  On the way home she gave me perfect directions to drop off Mimi and then herself.  She then told me how I could get home from there.  I want to install this woman in my car on my next road trip.  Or at least invite her along.  She can tell me how to get there and then cater my vacation.  Hannah is your Go To Girl for everything!

So come meet Hannah!

I first came across Mirj when she mentioned on Recipezaar that A Mother in Israel was one of her favorite blogs. A few years later, when she started Miryummy, I was struck by how effortlessly she stepped into blogging. Most bloggers take a little bit of time to develop their style and direction. You can expect a number of awkward or boring posts at the beginning. Not so with Mirj! She knew exactly what to do and how to do it–her stories, her social networking, and photos are all the work of a pro! Every blogger can learn from her example.

Introduce yourself.  Who are you, what are you, why are you?

Currently I have two websites: At A Mother in Israel I write social commentary on parenting in Israel. At Cooking Manager I help home cooks save time and money. I’m trained as a breastfeeding counselor and just took an exam to recieve board certification as a lactation consultant. I’ve been studying for months, and I translated a chapter of a book, so blogging has been on the back burner so to speak! My cooking blog is an outgrowth of my work with young families. I’ve met many women who wanted to cook from scratch but didn’t know how. Fortunately my mother taught me many tips and techniques that I want to pass on, along with my own experience. Many people grow up without getting this experience. 

Where do you live, and why?
Petach Tikva, Israel, not far from Tel Aviv. We have a wonderful English-speaking community, and my husband’s industry is located in the area. I like the convenience and diversity of the city although I still get frustrated by the “Israeli” culture sometimes.
What is your family like?
I have six children, age 7 to 21. The oldest two are officially not living at home, but you never know when they will drop in for a day or a week.
What is your relationship with food?  Do you like to cook?
I like to cook, but I don’t always love it. Especially in this heat! But I try to cook most everything from scratch because I like to know what I’m eating. When I was younger I would skip meals but once I got pregnant I had to learn to eat regularly. I like the challenge of preparing a meal that everyone will eat from seasonal food, or whatever I need to use up that day. I’m perfectly willing to experiment with new things. Just not everyday.
What is your first food-related memory?

Good question. Maybe the birthday cake my mother made, that had a Barbie doll sticking out of the middle? My mother loved to make crafts from ideas in the women’s magazines. She also made a homemade baking mix using Crisco and about 20 cups of flour. You can find her recipe on my site. We sifted the dry ingredients three times.  My mother was particular about the way food was handled.

Aside from Crisco, she used things like canned soup that I don’t touch. But she mostly cooked from scratch. She loved gadgets and became an expert at each one.When microwaves came out, she clipped articles and got cookbooks from the library, at an age when most women have stopped experimenting in the kitchen.

My mother was quite progressive about body image and this has served me well. She placed the food on individual plates and never commented about how much or how little you ate. I remember not liking butter or peas. I don’t remember when I discovered that fresh or frozen peas are quite good–she only served canned. My mother was a wonderful cook and very efficient. 

How would you describe yourself in the kitchen? As a host/hostess?

Quick and efficient. I try to get out as fast as I can, so I organize things in order to avoid washing utensils in between dishes. I also prepare all the vegetables before starting a cooking session. I enjoy the stimulation of company, but I’m nervous beforehand–something my mother passed on to me. With a house full of kid, I don’t invite as often as I would like. I don’t do elaborate dishes or fancy table settings, but I make sure there is a variety of tasty food on the table and that guests have access to it. Sometimes hosts, or caterers, don’t seem interested in whether guests eat.

What is your favorite comfort food and why?

I like anything with pasta, a popular choice for this series! Probably macaroni and cheese. Do we have to have a reason? 

Desert island picks, name three foods you could not live without:

Oatmeal–I eat it almost every day for breakfast with plain yogurt and seasonal fruit. Is seasonal fruit too broad a choice? I’ll make that second. I do love chocolate and ice cream but don’t keep them around all the time.  If I could have them on a desert island I guess I would choose those too!

Is there any food you hate?  Why?

I’m not fond of radishes. And there are a lot of foods I just don’t find appetizing because they’re oily, highly processed, or artificial looking.

Do you have a food-related story you would like to share?

I don’t know if I can compete with the master, but I will share a short one from when my kids were small. I bought fresh chicken at the butcher and looped the heavy bag over the stroller handle. When I got home, the bag was gone! When I walked back to the butcher I found the cats in the empty lot next door licking the bones. Boy, did they get a good meal! And I had to buy more chicken. 

Thanks so much for the interview, Mirj!

About Miriyummy

All I want to do is live happily ever after.

Posted on 19 September 2011, in Bloggers, Chatting with Miriyummy and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Your story is funny because when I go to new places, I always get lost (and you don’t mention that we got lost in Holon too). Thanks for the interview–it was fun!


  2. Leah Kahn Plavnick

    Wow!! A human multi-tasking bilingual GPS… I would like one for my car too. Great interview Mirj!!


  3. Mirj, you have been blest… You know the most interesting people and do not hold them secret. Wonderful interview with”Hannah”…. Thank you both!


  4. “traffic circle with some really ugly trees” – you never get this from GPS or Google Maps.

    I would have enjoyed meeting your mom, Hannah.


  5. When I first discovered Mother in Israel, when the Hannah was still trying to be anonymous, I pictured her as a tall, large woman. She knew so much and was so good at writing about what she knew, I literally thought “larger than life”. When I met this tiny, soft-spoken woman I was surprised but then thought, yeah, that’s her.

    Thanks for a great interview.


  6. Excellent interview!


  7. Irmgard Upmanis

    Love the story about the cats, Hannah!


  8. I Don’t Know Road and Haven’t a Clue Street seem to follow me around – – great post Mirj.


  9. Great interview. Thank you ladies!


  10. If anyone deserves such a flattering introduction, it’s my favorite turnip master – SuperHannah! (That’s actually how I ended up here…4th Google result for turnips, right after CM!) I love mac n’ cheese, but I also love cold canned peas. I don’t buy that stuff much now, but when it went on sale in the states I always stocked up on a hurricane-worthy supply of canned peas, green beans, and corn. Canned is still much healthier than Crembo, right? When I come to your island to deliver you’re oatmeal, I’ll be sure to leave the radishes on the mainland with cilantro – “ichsa!”


  1. Pingback: Rosh Hashanah Survival Guide

  2. Pingback: Friday Review #37: In Memoriam, Mirj Interviews Me, and Rosh Hashanah | Cooking Manager

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