◊ Shabbat

Dear Mom,

I know this entry is out of turn, but I have to tell you about last night. Arielle and I hosted Shabbat dinner, and cooked a meal for 25 guests.

I have a headache.
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This was the menu:

Gazpacho

Topped with Celery Sorbet

Challah

Glazed with honey and poppy seed

Frisee Salad

With hearts of palm, apples, sugar snap peas and chevre

Chipotle Grain Salad

Wheat Berries, squash, apricots, basil, kale, tarragon, beets, spring onions, chipotle spice, balsamic

Ricotta Dumplings/Vegan (tofu and flax) Dumplings

Served with roasted Aleppos and honey glazed carrots

Snap Crackers and Dip

Whole wheat crackers scented with Fennel served with smoky babaganoush and pea dip

Spinach and Jarlsburg Frittata

Green Potato Salad

Roasted potatoes and green beans smothered in mint pesto straight from our front yard

Massaged Kale Salad

With Roasted Peppers

Bubbie Cookies!

Cupcakes

I think my favorite thing was the Wheat Berry salad. I was attempting to make a barley salad, but all of our grains and flours are in unlabeled jars. I grabbed one that looked like barley, added water and salt,  and then I had wheat berries. Hardy wheat berries + tangy vinegar + basil + sweet apricots + spicy chipotle squash = incredible. I’m obsessed with chipotle. Lately, I’ve been putting peaches and chipotle in all my salads.

Chipotle Peach and Grain Salad

 

  • 1/2 c dry hard wheat berries (substitute quinoa if desired)
  • 5 FRESH apricots (or 2 large peaches*)
  • 4 medium yellow summer squash
  • Handful fresh basil
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Generous dash of Chipotle seasoning
  • Generous dash of cayenne or chili
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 6 tbs aged balsamic vinegar

Bring 4 c water to boil, add wheat berries, cover and simmer for one hour. You may need to add more water throughout. For  a quicker cook time, you can soak berries overnight (but it’s not necessary). Drain and rinse. Wheat berries should be hard and chewy.

In the meantime, heat oven to 475. Wash and cut squash into small circles. Coat with mixture of olive oil, salt, chipotle and cayenne spices. Roast until crisp on outside (about 45 min).

Create mixture of balsamic vinegar and honey (and go ahead, add another dash of chipotle!). Cut peaches/apricots into chunks. Chop basil into ribbons. Soak basil and peaches/apricots in balsamic/honey mix until remaining ingredients are ready. When squash is crisp and wheat berries are chewable, let cool and mix with peaches and basil. Enjoy cold/hot/over a bed of spicy arugula.

** I’ve made this dish several times since Shabbat dinner and have found that peaches are out rock apricots. Especially juicy farmers market peaches omg. Another amazing salad discovery is a salad with peaches, avocado, balsamic/honey, fresh basil, lots of chipotle/chili and a small bit of chopped arugula. It’s seriously the best salad I’ve ever created. Soak peaches in balsamic and chipotle overnight for an extra punch. Don’t worry, the avocado cools it down so creamily. Holy cow.

The gazpacho wasn’t great. I think because I kept wanting it to be a bloody mary instead of a soup. I made the sorbet by pureeing celery, pear, and caraway seed in my vitamix, and then freezing it in an ice tray. I pureed the celery ice cubes, and the texture was perfect sorbet. Next time I make bloody marys, I’m using celery ice cubes. Best. discovery. ever.

Celery Sorbet (for Gazpacho)

OR

Celery Ice Cubes (For Bloody Marys)

  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 green apple
  • sprinkle of carraway seeds

Puree all ingredients in food processor and pour puree into ice tray.  Plop into bloody marys.

OR

Freeze. After frozen, release back into food processor and puree. Viola – a creamy sorbet! Perfect for topping off gazpacho!

Celery Sorbet!

❤ Vitamix.

Below are some photos from our preparations. Thank God neither of us works on Fridays

Arielle lit the grill ALL BY HERSELF. Look at those beauties. Wow. 

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◊ “Are These Cookies Vegan?”

Mom,

White finger nails from bleach? I think I’ll stick with the fruit flies. There’s no need to go to extremes.

It’s just that I live with 5 people and what can I say… We’re all busy bees in our 20s with no sense of personal or communal responsibility.  But we have homemade fruit fly catchers set up everywhere (fill a bottle with vinegar and cover with saran wrap – easy as pea dip!). And you’ll be very proud that we recently implement a system to keep our sink area more tidy! Each time a housemate washes extra dishes in the sink, or puts away dishes in the sink rack, he/she get’s a sticker! Look at mine.

Are you beaming? If Bubbe saw my sticker chart, she’d call me a balabusta and life would be complete.

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I made her cookies.

And when a dinner guest asked, “Are these cookies Vegan?” I responded with a better question: “Are they edible?”

I’m not sure whether I should take, “Are these cookies Vegan?” as a complement or an insult. I really can’t decide. I think it’s an insult. But vegan food is trendy and complex, so maybe it means the cookies seem fancy… which would be a complement. But if they have butter and eggs, shouldn’t they taste like they have butter and eggs? Isn’t that the point?  Do these cookies taste like sandpaper?

Are they edible?

Remember how Bubbe asked that about all of her food?

As we’re shoving her food into our faces — is it edible?

But sometimes her cookies were not edible.  You were spared because Bubbe knows you can’t eat sugar. But she forced those freezer-burned, sandpaper rocks onto all of the kids each time we went to her house. It was a treat when I was little — I ate the cookies four or five at a time, and felt great about it (hence my childhood obesity) because it made Bubbe happy!

 

Is it right that she put 3 chocolate chips in each cookie? Or was it 6? And the memories of eating them right before bed paired with chunks of velveta cheese! What a delicacy!

Velveta cheese by the chunk for a special bed time snack. Omg.

In the later years, I perfected the art of fake cookie eating. I quickly situated Bubbe cookies in my pockets so that they wouldn’t bulge too much and plunged them at sidewalks from my car window after I had driven out of sight, always fearing that the chocolate would melt in my pants if I kept them there too long. Though it would probably take hours for those rocks to thaw after a lifetime in the freezer. Emptying my pockets of cookies crumbs before I put them back in my closet became habitual.  And Bubbe still thought they were my favorite food – mission accomplished.

I wanted to take a stab at your recipe for nostalgia. Can you believe it’s almost one year since her death? I can still feel the cookie crumbs rubbing against my thighs. What happened to the contents of her freezer (and the ginormous tub itself!)  when you sold her house? Surely there was a stash of goods.

I think my versions of Bubbe cookies were edible.. at least no one hid them in their pockets.

I added the juice of a whole orange instead of half, and lots and lots of zest, which is key. As for the maraschino cherries… where do you even find those? Ew.

I also used half the amount of butter you call for.  And, I didn’t count the chocolate chips – a luxury that I should thank you for.  (Whose mom sends her home with a 15 pound bag of dark chocolate chips after each visit?  Mine, Arielle’s, and probably hundreds of other Jewish mothers across the country.) Thank you for enabling me to use chocolate chips freely.

To conclude, these cookies shouldn’t be marketed as chocolate chip cookies, because it confuses people. They ask, are these cookies vegan?

No. They’re Bubbe cookies. And no one talks about my Bubbe that way.

Love ya!

Shaina

Bubbe Cookies Redefined Again

  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 3/4 C Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • Lots of Vanilla
  • 3 C Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Zest and Juice from large orange
  • Dark Chocolate Chips Galore

Mix and mash – Bake in 375 degrees.

♦ Bubbe Cookies Redefined

Shaina!

I can’t believe you’re writing about mold and flies and dirt in your kitchen on a cooking blog! No one will want to even try your recipes, let alone eat in your house!

Surely, you exaggerate (a well documented family trait).

Vinegar is supposed to be a great antifungal agent and bleach will kill anything, so please add them to your grocery list and use liberally! Bubbe was the Bleach Queen, so please, if you won’t do it for me, honor her memory by sterilizing your kitchen. You will know you have accomplished this when your fingernails are white and your hands smell like bleach even after your shower.

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Speaking of Bubbe..

Bubbe didn’t always have the fanciest kitchen to cook in either, although she would tell you that you can keep even the most horrible kitchen clean.  But she grew into a wonderful cook and a gracious hostess serving her food with love and generosity…just as you do.

Actually, you are way ahead of her, and me for that matter, in the cooking department. At your age, she couldn’t even boil water.  I have had your cooking… it’s creative, healthy, very tasty and, most often, quite beautiful.  I love hearing about what your making and how you do it and I have learned so much from you.  Many of your recipes and food suggestions are now part of my repertoire, although your father and I will never learn to love orange blossom rhubarb!

As far as the aggressive approach..I’m glad to hear it! It’s good for your personal growth!

Back to Bubbe…It’s been just about a year since Bubbe has been gone and I have been reincarnating some of her recipes so that the flavors and memories that were so much a part of her life, can remain a part of ours.  I started with her infamous Bubbe Cookies. Let me know what you think.

In the meantime, I used a lime in the clementine cake, because I didn’t have enough clementines and was too lazy to go to the store to get more.  I haven’t tried the pea mush yet, but it sounds delicious, especially with the yogurt garnish.

Dad and I picked fresh purple hull peas at the farm garden yesterday, so maybe I’ll cook them up and try making your dip.

Fresh peas have got to be as good as frozen!

I look forward to hearing about your next cooking (and cleaning) adventures!

Love, mom xoxoxoxoxooxo

Bubbe Cookies

  • 3/4 C Butter (1 1/2 sticks)1 C Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tblsp Vanilla
  • 3 C Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch Salt
  • Zest and Juice from 1/2 large (or whole small) Orange or Lemon
  • 1 C Chocolate Chips
  • Cut up Maraschino Cherries (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375*
  2. Mix softened butter and sugar together. Add eggs and mix thoroughly.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and blend into butter, sugar, egg mixture.
  4. Add zest, juice and vanilla and blend thoroughly. Dough may be a little stiff. Mix in chocolate chips.
  5. Roll into balls and press lightly onto a greased cookie pan (or use parchment paper) an inch apart.
  6. Maraschino cherries cut into small pieces may be pressed into the top of the cookie for added color if desired.
  7. Bake at 375* for 12-15 minutes or until tops and bottoms are lightly browned.
  8. Makes 3-4 dozen.

For true vintage Bubbe cookies, don’t add the chocolate chips to the batter mix. As you roll each cookie, fold in exactly 3 chocolate chips into each individual cookie dough ball before placing it on the cookie sheet. Then every once in awhile, put 4 chips in for a surprise treat, just to keep the cookie eaters on their toes.

This recipe is a guesstimate of the amounts of ingredients in my mother’s (Bubbe’s) version of these cookies because she never gave us a precise recipe…for anything! 

◊ Ugly Food

Dear Mom,

Mmm.. lime in the Clementine cake sounds delish! Did you use the lime as a supplement or a substitute  to the clementines? Look at how nicely you decorated it with the glaze! I cook so hapharzdly here that nothing I make could ever turn out that pretty. I’m blaming it on the nature of my kitchen (though let’s face it, I think we can both agree blame it on the nature of my self).

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My kitchen is cluttered, cramped and hot.  There’s mold on the cutting boards. There are fruit flies hovering the sink and greasy pans hanging from the walls and crusty brown stuff everywhere. Yes, Bubbe would be horrified.  Does it make you nervous that this is where I’ve always envisioned myself at this age?

I’m not telling you these things to complain about my living situation or brag about roughing it in the kitchen. I simply want to say that it’s not my fault that everything I make comes out so ugly. It’s my kitchen’s fault.

It’s like when you drop a whole bag of walnuts and it’s clearly dad’s fault because he put them on the wrong shelf of the freezer. Of course it’s not your fault. And it’s not my fault that I simply cannot make the things that I eat look elegant.

Cooking is the same as making art. And the space where I cook compels me to approach food aggressively – mashing it, mushing it, throwing it all together (and all over everything that gets in my path). Measuring cups? What are those? But, I promise it’s always a true work of art – maybe reckless but always tasty.

When I studied abroad in Bolivia, I learned about the ritual of honoring Pachamama – mother earth — by dropping or spilling food and drink on the floor.  If someone spilled wine, there was no whoops…  It was more, this one’s on me, Pachamama!

Towards the end of study abroad, we contemplated how we’d integrate the experience into our lives at home, and we were warned that different insights would creep up at different times in our lives. Well, here I am, 3 ½ years out, celebrating Pachamama like it’s my job. I drop a few chocolate chips… Enjoy, Pachamama.. they’re Ghirdellhi!

Reckless.

It’s my kitchen’s fault, really. It doesn’t inspire care or grace. I just throw things into bowls, blenders and all over.

And that is why I saved the Clementine recipe for when I came home for Passover. And why you did such a better job at it than I. And why I don’t think I could ever make it here in DC.

To make my case, I present you with this pea dip.  A bright tasting mush, perfect for dipping. It’s vegan, gluten-free and raw – perfect for all the hipster eating habits in my hood.  It takes two minutes to make and you’ll be shocked by it’s natural sweetness.

Of course, I always pay attention to the color of my food. Duh…  that is in my nature.

Love ya,

Shaina

Pea Dip

  • 1 bag of frozen peas
  • A handful of fresh mint sprigs
  • A few leaves of fresh tarragon
  • Juice of half fresh lemon
  • A little bit of garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Throw all the items into a Cuisinarte or blender. If you loose some peas along the way, pachamama thanks you.

I tried to score some pretty points by serving it with a dollop of plain yogurt on top. I don’t think it helped the appearance, but the flavors were WOW.