Confessions of a Jewish Bride

 

The Making of a Cookbook Part #2

 

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When writing a cookbook, there are lots and lots of moving parts.  Especially when writing one with a lot of narrative.  When I write a book it’s not just about recipes for me.  I write about everything. My books are part memoir, part autobiography, part diary – entirely about my life.


 

The Making of A Cookbook Part #1

 

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The rumors are true. I am working on my 3rd book, thank G-d.

I have done many things in my life both personally and professionally. But writing a cookbook is one of the single most difficult of them all.


 

My Most Memorable Purim

 

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My most memorable Purim is a scary scene.  Me with about 60 quarts of soup and 24 pounds of challah dough, crying like a baby at 2AM.
Let me explain.

When we moved to Monsey 5 years ago I really wanted to make a splash that first Purim.  The community had been so warm and welcoming and I really wanted to show my appreciation, by making all 60 families (or most of them) mishloach manos.  Since I didn’t grow up in a family that made mishloach manos, or much of anything in the kitchen, when I first got married I frantically attempted to pull something together, at the last minute, only after my husband reminded me Purim was tomorrow.  So I borrowed a page from my friend Anita’s book and bought every purple food I could find left on the supermarket shelf through it all in a bag and attached a card wishing everyone a “Grape Purim.”  Boy was I ever proud of myself.  No really, I was proud.


 

Challah Recipes Galore!

 

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OMG I am rolling. I just made 20 pounds of challah. DID YOU READ THAT?! TWENTY!!!! POUNDS. Testing sweet and savory “challah” and “challah-esque” recipes for my new book. I am swearing off carbs for a year, or, well, at least a week, for sure until the end of today. One of my many goals in life is to see how many different things I can make out of my challah dough.

Here’s a recap of what I’ve done with it to date — plus a special PB&J challah somethin’ from Hadassah.


 

Do You Ever Feel Stressed?

 

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Just feel like writing now. I know it’s been a while. Have actually been kinda stressed. There is a reason superwoman and her superman are imaginary characters – it’s all just not possible. I am stressed to the point that I am now (as I am typing) eating an entire box of mini cream-filled sponge cakes. It’s a Weight Watchers box but I am pretty sure their intention was not to eat the entire box at once, probably why they individually wrapped each one. SO frustrating now that I am trying to eat them all (while typing). I can stop at any time, you know (just as soon as I finish this box).

I should get the mother of the year award for the yummy din din I made last night (considering all the stress)- the Cranberry Walnut Salmon over Wilted Spinach from my second book Quick & Kosher Meals in Minutes*. Um.. the kiddies including my two year old who can’t even speak “asked” for seconds! Yay! Getting your kiddies to love salmon really should get me some kinda trophy don’t you think? I have two small pieces of salmon left in the fridge which I really should eat instead of struggling with this Fort Knox faux twinkie plastic wrap. But when I am stressed all I can think of is cream and cake. You do know that STRESSED is DESSERTS spelled backwards?!


 

You’ve Been Asked to Cook Meals for a New Mom

 

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Kimpeturin. When I first heard that Yiddish word, I was totally confused. First of all, it sounds like a plural, but it actually refers to a woman (in the singular) recovering from childbirth. And it’s a term just loaded with compassionate implications: you take pains not to stress out this woman; she’s not expected to shlepp the laundry; and you cut her some slack when it comes to emotional triggers. Point being that new mommies can use a little (ok, a lot) of help from their friends, neighbors, in-laws, anybody! Doesn’t matter if the new baby is your first or if you have a house full of kids, getting it all together ain’t easy.

In our wonderful Jewish communities, aid comes in all forms – gifts of baby essentials, babysitting so the new mommy can nap, or help with din-din. I’ve also heard of a lady who comes over just to sort the laundry. What a G-dsend!


 

My Grandfather’s Latke Recipe **Chanukah...

 

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You know my grandparents really knew how to cook. It seems to me that everyone born in “the Old Country” (in this case, Transylvania) was born with built-in cooking intuition. Somehow, they could create the most scrumptious meals using no fancy equipment, nor even measuring spoons. I recall that they hosted every holiday humbly, turning out the expected delicacies with what seemed like the simplest, most relaxed effort. No exotic flavor profiles, nor food combos or wine pairings; no attempts at reinventing the wheel, because when the food is that good – no, make that superb – there’s no need to find a “twist” on the recipe.

On Chanukah, we were treated to their potato pancakes, “latkes” that were classic and simple. My grandfather, a professional chef, wore a manly white waist apron that suited him perfectly. His latkes were made of eggs, onions, potatoes, oil, salt, pepper, and a little matzo meal to make them crunchy. “Corn meal, that’s also good, if you don’t have any matzo meal,” he would say reassuringly, though you knew that he secretly wondered what kind of kitchen would not have a handful of matzo meal somewhere. The potatoes were hand-grated so fine –almost to a pudding-like consistency – then lightly fried in a pan that looked as though it, too, had just come over from the Old Country. Applesauce and sour cream traditionally accompany latkes, but who needed them? Crispy on the edges, with a fluffy, buttery smooth center, Grandpa’s version of this Chanukah delicacy could stand alone.


 

Jamie Geller and the 3 Bears!

 

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Wild & crazy.

As I write this in my Rockland County home, there are bears on the loose in my neighborhood. Not 1, not 2, but 3 bears, and they are not cuddly and they are not going for a harmless stroll while their porridge cools. They’re big, black, and one was just spotted digging into my neighbor’s garbage just 3 blocks away. AHHHH! Check out this video.


 

What I Really Cook for Shabbos…

 

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Nothing juicy about this confession.

Just an honest answer to a common question.


 

Today’s Confession: The Old Dishes in the Oven...

 

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People have actually said to me that they envy how organized and clean my kitchen looks. And they figure that I’m naturally neat and proper, always putting everything in its place.

It’s an illusion, people. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a camera trick – my kitchen really does look that way, most of the time – I have decided to come clean. This will make us both feel a whole lot better.


 

Father’s Day Confessions ***GIVEAWAY***

 

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When I was growing up, we didn’t make a big deal about Father’s Day. We would have a cake or dinner out, but we generally adhered to Dad’s annual admonition, “please don’t spend my money to get me a gift.” In fact, he was always of the mind to get my mom and sister and me to stop spending money.

This year, I was thinking of buying him a Father’s Day gift I saw in a Jewish catalogue: It’s a money clip that says “GELT.” I know he would like it more if it said “Don’t Spend This Gelt.” Then I thought the wiser and decided he wouldn’t want me to spend my gelt on shtus (nonsense) like that. So I turned the page.


 

The Wonder of Wontons

 

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It was my second Rosh Hashanah as a married woman, and I decided that I actually wanted to cook something. If you know my history as Queen of Take-Out, you understand the magnitude of such a decision. At that stage, I was beginning to fill the cooking void in my soul, and I wanted to try something fancy. I made wontons filled with ground meat and dropped them into my chicken soup. So beyond the traditional matzo ball, I thought happily. And I had a good measure of beginner’s luck too, because it actually worked. everyone oohed and ahhed as though I had produced something truly exotic.

Vegetarian Wonton Soup


 

Awesome Asian Noodles

 

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I confess that up to this point in life I have been making lo mein with thin linguine noodles. Well, no more! I now have Gefen Lo-Mein Noodles and another cool new Gefen product, Japanese style noodles. Getting just the right taste and authentic texture in lo mein just became a whole lot easier. Why use Italian pasta for an Asian dish?


 

Lessons I learned from Mom **GIVEAWAY**

 

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Picture me and my mom baking brownies together in her cozy kitchen. I am about five years old, with long pigtails, smiling ecstatically as I smear frosting over the brownies, my clothes and my face. Mom is wearing her favorite baking apron – the one with the little pictures of mixing spoons and bowls — and beaming at her little pastry chef. She’s proud to pass on the secret family recipe for perfect brownies to a daughter who will treasure it.

Got that firmly in your mind? Good. It’s the only way you’ll see such a picture because it doesn’t exist and that sweet little scene never happened. That’s because my mother (who is a fantastic mom in just about every way) is kitchen-phobic to the point that she tried to build our house without That Room. She settled for placing it off to the side of the house by the garage so she would never have to walk through it. And she succeeded in passing on her aversion to all things culinary (except take-out food) to Yours Truly. Neither of us was likely to win a Domestic Diva of the Year award.


 

Pesach Recipes that Were Winners

 

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I usually tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and this time I did not disappoint. I stayed true to my promise and 99% of what I made for the 8-day kitchen yuntif known as Passover were not actually Pesach recipes. Of course they were K for P, but they didn’t require any major Passoverish ingredient tweaks. These recipes were developed with Pesach in mind and they were featured in the Pesach issue of my new magazine, Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller. But you can bet they’ll be staples in my year round repertoire ‘cuz they were super easy and got the most oohs and ahhs. Ok, real gourmet chefs don’t keep a tally of how many people flipped over this or that dish, but I really need to know. The winners on my menu get to come back and try for eternal stardom. This year, they are… drum roll, please…

Salmon Croquettes with Tropical Fruit Salsa
You can make this even easier by skipping the fresh salmon and using good quality canned salmon.