Archive for the 'Tradition!' Category

Brisket, the Recipe I Like


This is my mom’s brisket recipe.   Ok, it’s actually Betty’s recipe, a long-time family friend. 

This is not the recipe with grape jelly or beer.  I never understood those, they did not sound very Jewish to me.  It is not the recipe with onion soup mix–that is how my aunt made brisket–that is the one my sister likes. 

This is the recipe I like. 

But my daughter the vegetarian, of course does not eat it.

My son, the carnivore, does not like any brisket, so he will not eat it. 

My mother also makes it with a veal brisket, but my brother-in-law will not eat that because of the way the calves are raised. 

My husband will eat this, but he eats almost anything.

Nevertheless-this is the recipe I will make, or my mother will make, for Rosh Hashanah. 

Roast the brisket 1/2 hour per pound, covered, at 300 F (less 1/2 hour)

Refrigerate or use ice cubes to congeal fat and remove the fat.

Slice, and add to sauce below.

Brown 3 sliced onions and 1 lb sliced fresh mushrooms.

Add 2 large cans tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp worsteshire sauce, salt, petter, and 1/4 tsp garlic flakes or 1 clove garlic.

Simmer sauce a few minutes and pour over uncovered meat last 1/2 hour.

 That’s the recipe, word for word from my mom’s recipe card.

Thanks Mom!  Shana Tova, and will you make it this year?


And we do this…why?

Along the lines of Red, Red Ribbons,  there is another bubbemeiser (old wives tale) that I have never understood. 

Why don’t we take something out of a shiva house? 

I first learned this when my grandmother died and we sat shiva at my house.  I was in my early 20’s, just out of college.  My crazy grandmother (but that is for another blog) had suddenly passed away.  I lived with my parents and siblings and we were now a house of mourning.  Someone had brought us something to eat and I went to give them the cleaned off platter before they left.  My aunt quickly stopped me and said “We don’t do that! If you bring something into a shiva house you don’t take it out until shiva is over.”  I asked her why.  She replied, “I don’t know. That’s what my mother told me.”  

So I consulted the book the rabbi who had given us on laws and traditions on Jewish funerals and mourning.  This book had every answer, even what to do if there is a gravedigger strike (answer? wait until the strike is over–support the union).  It did not have the one answer I was looking for.

So, I asked my great-aunt.  She said “Because my mother said so.”

Clearly, I needed to ask an expert.  The next evening when the Rabbi came to lead minyan, my aunt and I went to him and said, “Rabbi, why don’t we take something out of a shiva house?”  He gave us his answer. “Why? Because my mother said so.”

Does anyone’s mother know the answer? 

And why, do we question and doubt our mothers on so many things, but not this?  Perhaps that is the bigger question.

Red, red ribbons

We all know that red ribbons ward off the evil eye. Duh. What I was wondering was why.  I mean, when my grandmother tied red ribbons on me and on my son’s crib and carriage, I didn’t ask any questions.  But today’s kids are so, well, curious.  They aren’t just doing what we tell them because we tell them to. 

So, I figured back-up was necessary and found this information at Traditions Renewed.  Add it to your arsenal of Jewish and maternal wisdom!

Many mothers and grandmothers tie red ribbons and strings to children’s underwear and bedding to prevent the evil peer. The color red is significant within Jewish history because it was one of the items necessary for the building of the original Temple. Red thread and dye were used to make fabric; the red thread came from a type of worm. Rabbi S. R. Hirsch points out that the worm was the lowest form of life, and yet it was intrinsic to the building of the Sanctuary. The red thread, reminiscent of the lowly worm, can be seen as protection against this. Each time a person looks at the string he is reminded that a person is really as lowly as a worm. This humility is the ultimate weapon against the “evil eye.” Mashallah! (the verbal amulet to ward off evil)

I think this is in line with my grandmother’s thinking, that the presence of the red ribbon makes the baby, or the bride – imperfect – therefore the evil eye, or bad wishes will be diverted. Or, the explanation that I accepted without question, which was simply that the red ribbon warded off evil spirits, bad karma, mean thoughts — because well, they just did.

Those were the days.

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