9780140267594

Miriam's Kitchen : A Memoir

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780140267594

  • ISBN10:

    014026759X

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1998-09-01
  • Publisher: Penguin Group USA

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Summary

Like many Jewish Americans, Elizabeth Ehrlich was ambivalent about her background. She identified with Jewish cultural attitudes, but not with the institutions; she had fond memories of her Jewish grandmothers, but she found their religious practices irrelevant to her life. It wasn't until she entered the kitchen--and world--of her mother-in-law, Miriam, a Holocaust survivor, that Ehrlich began to understand the importance of preserving the traditions of the past. As Ehrlich looks on, Miriam methodically and lovingly prepares countless kosher meals while relating the often painful stories of her life in Poland and her immigration to America. These stories trigger a kind of religious awakening in Ehrlich, who--as she moves tentatively toward reclaiming the heritage she rejected as a young woman--gains a new appreciation of life's possibilities, choices, and limitations.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION xi
September-LONGING
1(20)
September (Journal)
3(18)
A COAL STOVE
5(1)
EGG SALAD
6(3)
YOM KIPPUR
9(5)
HOW TO KEEP A KOSHER KITCHEN
14(4)
HONEY CAKE
18(3)
October-DIASPORA
21(30)
October (Journal)
23(28)
CHOLENT
25(4)
ZION
29(6)
IRISH MARY
35(5)
MIRIAM'S KITCHEN
40(8)
YIDDISH
48(3)
November-NATIVE GROUND
51(24)
November (Journal)
53(22)
OLD NEIGHBORHOOD
55(4)
STUFFED CABBAGE
59(4)
APPLE CAKE
63(12)
December-INHERITANCE
75(36)
December (Journal)
77(34)
WEDDING RING
79(11)
SUITCASE
90(2)
RIBBON
92(5)
MANDELBROT
97(2)
CHRISTMAS GOOSE
99(2)
January-OBLIGATION
111(30)
January (Journal)
113(28)
PARIS
115(8)
TOO BUSY
123(8)
CHOCOLATE CAKE
131(4)
CHARITY
135(3)
BAKED APPLES
138(3)
February-OBSERVANCE
141(28)
February (Journal)
143(26)
CHICKEN SOUP
145(6)
REVISIONISM
151(1)
A PEBBLE
152(1)
CAKE
153(16)
March-MIRACLES
169(22)
March (Journal)
171(20)
A SIMCHA
173(5)
KOSHER STYLE
178(9)
CONFINEMENT
187(4)
April-FEMALE RELIGION
191(34)
April (Journal)
193(32)
BABY NAMING
197(8)
PUBERTY
205(1)
PASSOVER
206(12)
THE SOUL IN THE DUMPLING
218(2)
PASSOVER EGG NOODLES
220(3)
SALT-FREE
223(2)
May-DECISIONS
225(32)
May (Journal)
227(30)
IRONING THE KITCHEN
229(3)
THE BOOK OF RUTH
232(9)
NOODLE KUGEL
241(4)
GROCERY SHOPPING
245(2)
MIKVAH
247(10)
June-THE LIFE FORCE
257(32)
June (Journal)
259(30)
SHE WANTED A GIRL TO HAVE THEM
263(8)
DRUGSTORE
271(10)
ISRAEL
281(4)
SEX
285(4)
July-COMMUNITY
289(36)
July (Journal)
291(34)
KOSHER DAY TO DAY
295(5)
BUNGALOW
300(14)
POTATO PUDDING
314(3)
SITTING SHIVA
317(8)
August-WORDS AND DEEDS
325(24)
August (Journal)
327(22)
MOVING
329(7)
WHY THERE IS NO RECIPE FOR AUNT DORA'S HONEY CAKE
336(3)
DOUBT
339(6)
BACON?
345(1)
SUMMER SQUASH
346(3)
September-CONTINUITY
349(14)
September (Journal)
351(12)
SABBATH
353(7)
SPONGES
360(3)
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 363(2)
A NOTE ON TRANSCRIPTION 365(2)
INDEX 367

Excerpts

Mandelbrot

It means almond bread. It is a crisp and crumbly twice baked nut cookie. There are many versions. This is Miriam'smandelbrot.

"It's not my recipe," says Miriam. "My mother had the same recipe, almost, but I can't find it. This is Sonia's mother's recipe."

"I don't remember chocolate chips inmandelbrot," I say. Miriam's is made with chocolate chips. I remembermandelbrotfrom the dim recesses of the past, packed in a shoebox and carried in a grandmother's shopping bag. I am looking at Sonia's mother's recipe, copied in Miriam's ornate, vertical script on a loose-leaf page. I don't see chocolate chips in the list of ingredients, either.

"I put them in for the children!" sings Miriam. "And now I will not take them out."

"This last batch tasted of cinnamon," I remark, scanning the page again: no cinnamon.

"I tried a different recipe. I found one with cinnamon, and my mother used to put cinnamon. Did you like it?"

"Well, yes--" I say. I remembermandelbrota bit different, not quite as sweet as Miriam's. It was marvelous. Miriam's is marvelous. Whole boxes of almond-fragrant chocolate-chip-studded crisp oval slices neatly packed disappear in a trice.

"Sonia's mother used to makekreski--crumb cake. It was out of this world. But she doesn't have the recipe. I asked her for it," says Miriam. "I was heartbroken."

I have never had crumb cake. I, too, am heartbroken.

"Nu?" says Miriam. "Take the recipe."

This is Miriam'smandelbrot.

Mandelbrot:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cloves

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1 1/4 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1tsp. almond extract

6 oz. vegetable oil

10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350?F

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves into a mixing bowl (ashisl). Add the walnuts, almonds, and sugar. Mix. Make a well in the flour mixture. To the well, add the eggs. Capture all the egg white from the shell with your thumb. Add vanilla extract, almond extract, and oil. Mix first with a fork, then with your hands. Add chocolate chips, if desired.

Chill the dough for at least six hours, preferably overnight. Remove from the fridge and divide into four parts. On a floured board, roll each section into a snake-shaped loaf 18 inches long. place "snakes" onto pan greased with margarine. Flatten dough loaves until 1/2-inch thick. Bake at 350?F., for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Lift loaves off pans carefully (Miriam uses two spatulas.) Set on a clean surface (the rolling board is fine).

Wipe the baking pans. Remove any particles or crumbs, but don't grease again. Slice the loaves 3/4-inch thick, at an angle. Arrange slices flat on the pans. bake again at 350?F., for 15-20 minutes until light brown.

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