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Please don’t cook the noodles

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This recipe for the easiest, breeziest noodle kugel ever come directly from a friend of mine. Indirectly it comes from the pages of Bon Apetit in 1998.

Easiest Noodle Kugel

8 ounces wide egg noodles (Take note, this is not the whole bag. Don’t use more than 8 ounces or no one will like your kugel, which would really be embarrassing for both of us)

1 cup dark raisins (I leave out the raisins)

5 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled

1/3 cup sugar

4 cups whole milk

3 cups cornflakes, coarsely crushed

1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

(I’ll admit that I lighten up everything except the butter – and it tastes just fine.)  

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

Spread UNCOOKED noodles over bottom of prepared dish and sprinkle with raisins. Whisk eggs, sour cream, butter and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Whisk in milk and pour mixture over noodles. Let kugel stand 5 minutes. Mix cornflakes and brown sugar in bowl; sprinkle evenly over kugel.

Bake kugel until set in center, about 1 hour. Cut kugel into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10. 

Are stereotypical Jewish mothers a dying breed?

G-d forbid!

I say no, they – we – are not. We’re just a little less different and every other mother is a little more like us these days. 

And is that a good thing?  

According to Alana Newhouse, Jewish mothers are out-of-style and out-of-touch and not-so-funny.

Let me know what you think.

I say kamish bread, you say mandelbrot

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If you can bake something and freeze it and not eat it until the holidays – here’s the recipe for you.  They are also mighty tasty frozen – which is the problem.  It’s the only thing I like to bake even though the double-baking component means it’s time-consuming.   

But even more than the time it takes to bake and bake again is the time it takes to figure out if it’s Mandelbrot or Kamish Bread.  I never heard the term mandelbrot until I moved to the Midwest.  And here, no one knew what Kamish Bread was.  They do now because I bake it and take it everywhere I go, at least on holidays. 

Mandelbrot seems to be the term of choice, although after some research I found one reference on the World Wide Web to Kamish Bread – which means – almost bread – and makes perfect sense to me, unlike Mandel which means almond and brot which means bread – especially when there is nothing almond in my main recipe.

Chocolate Chip Kamish Bread 

¾ cup sugar

1 cup oil

4 eggs

3-4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

Mini chocolate chips  

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, oil and eggs.  Add the sifted flour, baking powder, vanilla extract, and mix well.  If you leave out the vanilla, your kamish bread will have no taste.  A little bit of vanilla packs a powerful punch.  Take my word for it.  Don’t forget the baking powder either.  The loaves still bake, but they don’t rise at all and the taste is flat.  Take my word for this too.   

Add the chocolate chips until there are enough, but not too many.  

Mixture should be very thick and sticky. Shape into two loaves and place on either side of a cookie sheet.  

Bake at 325F for 30-35 minutes and then remove from oven.  Cut into slices while still warm and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until slices are light brown. 

You can also substitute one of the teaspoons of vanilla for almond extract and add dried fruit and/or nuts.  Dried cranberries and walnuts are a good combo, since I know you were wondering.  You can also roll the loaves in cinnamon and sugar before baking. 

You can also buy Kamish bread at a bakery, but ask for Mandelbrot no matter what flavor you favor, or no one will know what you’re talking about. 

And no, it’s not the same thing as Biscotti.

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.

Sushi Shmushi

Today I was thinking about my grandmother, the one who cooked hams and put Franco American gravy on her brisket, but who spoke Yiddish like a banshee and tied red ribbons to everything when my son, her first great-grandchild, was born, just like she put a penny in my shoe and used a teeny tiny safety pin to attach a red bow to my bra strap on my wedding day.

 Tuh Tuh Tuh.

And then I remembered Chopped Herring and how she loved it and set it out with Ritz crackers for company.  So I thought I would post a recipe for chopped herring here, in honor of my grandmother on the birthday of her only great-granddaughter. 

I found this easy Chopped Herring recipe at Totally Jewish dot com.

Enjoy!

Chopped Herring (serves 6)

Sushi, shmushi! If it’s raw fish you fancy, try out Ethel’s totally traditional recipe for chopped herring.

Ingredients:
6 herrings
3 large eating apples
4 hard-boiled eggs
1 large onion
1 tablespoon of sugar, or to taste

Method:
Finely chop one egg and set it aside. Place the remaining ingredients in a food processor until all ingredients are chopped.

Spoon into serving bowl and sprinkle remaining chopped egg on top.

Erev Everything

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Tomorrow my daughter will be twelve and in our house that means tonight is officially: Erev Birthday

Our family Erev celebrations were born out of humor as well as necessity. 

It all started a few years ago, the night before Mother’s Day.  Always looking for a way to finagle a backrub out of one of my kids, I decided that since we are Jewish, that every holiday is a Jewish holiday.  Therefore, since Jewish holidays begin at sundown, and since being Jewish makes all holidays Jewish, that all holidays start the night before!  Hence, the Erev Mother’s Day backrub that no one could argue with.

Tonight’s Erev Birthday celebration is not so self-serving.  Tomorrow I’ll wake up my daughter, give her breakfast (who are we kidding, she makes her own breakfast), drive her to camp, kiss her good-bye and spend the rest of the day doing ordinary, non-birthday things because she is heading to her favorite huge stomach dropping amusement park with her camp group.  She’ll leave at 9 a.m. and return home at 9 p.m., which obstensibly leaves me out of the birthday loop. 

It will be one the best days of her summer, because at twelve there is nothing better than a day with friends and an upside down roller coaster.  

And I would never even suggest or think she should stay home with me on her birthday, but I do want her to catapult into twelve having already had a fabulous celebration, with us.  Ok, maybe that is a little self-serving.

Tonight we’ll grill steak at her request, eat cake and sing happy birthday, her brother chiming in reluctantly.  

Of course, at 12, she gets it.  She is happy to start her birthday celebrations as early as possible and she’d drag them out until the end of August if I’d let her. 

How time flies. 

* * *

When my daughter turned four we had her Chuckie Cheese birthday party a week before her birthday.   Then, when she woke up to “happy birthdays” on the actual day of her birth a week later, she thought she was turning five!


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