♦ Traditions and Memorials

Dear Shaina,

Bubbe would be kvelling (bursting with pride), and so am I, at your adaptation of her much loved food memories. I can hear her tasting your radishes and onions and eggs and proclaiming that they are better than what she had as a child. She would declare you a Balabusta (a homemaker of the highest order) and if you attempted to credit her with the inspiration she would pooh-pooh you and exclaim that you were a much better cook than she ever was.

Esther 512Mb cf card 12 03 08 262I was lucky to grow up with a mother who took pride in my accomplishments rather than feeling threatened or competitive as some mothers are. Bubbe and Zayde called it naches fun di kinder (pleasure, pride from the children). It is what they lived for and what no material gift could ever equal. I completely get it! Of course, you actually are a better cook than me, not to mention all the other things you have accomplished that I am so very proud of!

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It’s hard to think about or prepare food without Bubbe’s presence hovering over my shoulder. Jews have always emphasized the remembrance of the dead. We observe annual anniversary prayers (Yahrsteit) and holiday memorial services (Yizkor), but nothing seems nearly as effective or enduring as food memorials. Yahrsteits can be forgotten. Yizkors can be skipped. But the smell of frying onions, the magic of butter-soft arthritically molded fingers stretching and rolling dough, the taste of a freshly fried blintz in too much butter, the insistent urging to eat and eat more and the inevitable question, “Are they edible?” , are indelible memories that make daily appearances. No wonder food is such a big deal forJews. At least in our family…

I am getting ready for Chanukah and your homecoming. I remember Bubbe grating potatoes with the classic box grater and straining her homemade applesauce through those hand grinders that look like a pot with holes in the bottom and a big handle that rotates large blades at the bottom pushing the mashed applesauce through the holes leaving the seeds and skins to be discarded. There was no fancy motorized equipment, just simple tools powered by the willingness of loving hands (not that she wasn’t amazed when we gave her a Cuisinart that could grind raw meat in 30 seconds and grate enough potatoes and onions for latkes for 20 in minutes without shedding a tear or losing a knuckle).IMG_1534

My applesauce is already done and in the freezer. I peel and core my apples before cooking so there is no need for straining. I am planning on making three varieties of latkes this year…traditional, sweet potato and corn-squash…all with the aid of my Cuisinart. I scheduled your hair appointment for Friday, the masseuse for Saturday (I am liking this new tradition) and leaving Sunday and Monday for any last minute preparations for your trip to Israel and to bake cheesecakes for the annual South Carolina Christmas pilgrimage.

The traditions have evolved, morphed and adapted for a new generation of memories…and memorials of the future.

By the way, LLOL may not be a thing right now, but new traditions are born everyday! Laughing Lots Out Loud!!

Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxooxoxoxxoox

 

Grilled Caesar Salad

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I have been wanting to make this salad since having it at a restaurant in a Casino in the middle of nowhere in northern California. I had never heard of grilling lettuce and to my surprise, it was the best Caesar salad I ever had! It was served with traditional Caesar dressing on the side (although it didn’t need any) along with crusty french bread croutons and shaved parmesan. I decided to make it last night before it got too cold outside to grill. It seemed the perfect accompaniment for filet mignon for Shabbat dinner with a couple of friends. I incorporated a ripe avocado and the seeds from a pomegranate that was close to the end of its viable use. I made a dressing in case anyone wanted it and improvised the rest. It was again, surprisingly, delicious and simple to prepare.

Yield: 4 servings

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Grilled Caesar Salad

  • 2 stalks of Romaine lettuce hearts cut in half lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder (optional)
  • Shaved or grated parmesan cheese
  • Sliced fresh avocado
  • Pomegranate seeds

 

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Dressing (optional)

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice from half lemon
  • 1 clove fresh garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
With Dressing

With Dressing

Turn on a gas grill to the highest temperature or light up a charcoal grill.

Cut the romaine heart in half lengthwise keeping the stem of the stalk attached.
Brush olive oil lightly all over the cut edge of the lettuce.
Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over the oiled area.
Place the lettuce stalks on a very hot grill with the cut and seasoned side down. Grill for about a minute, uncovered, until slightly charred grill lines show on the cut side of the lettuce. The stalk should remain intact.

Remove from the grill and place grilled side up on individual plates.

Garnish with avocado, parmesan and pomegranate seeds or wherever your imagination takes you.

To make the dressing, blend all ingredients thoroughly adjusting seasonings to taste. Serve on the side.

This salad can also be served on a large platter. Cut the stalks diagonally in one inch strips to serve family style.

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