♦ More

Dear Shaina,

Your winter visit flew by and I was briefly spoiled by our late night conversations and annual road trip adventure to South Carolina. You always seem to talk more late at night and in the car. I remember picking you up from overnight summer camp and hearing about all your antics at Camp Judaea for most of the long ride home from North Carolina. Dad and I would just look at each other marveling at the transformation of our “quiet child.


The drop off at the Atlanta Airport felt abrupt and sudden, especially with the last minute cash and credit card transfer to fill in for the forgotten wallet. Usually our airport “goodbyes” are a little more…well, focused on “goodbye” and “stay in touch” instead of rifling through our wallets to see how much cash we could come up with between us and which of our credit cards might be least questioned in a foreign country. We all did pretty well in responding to that little situation.

Realizing that you would be returning directly to Berkeley from Israel and that this visit “home” was officially over caught me off guard. I am used to sending you off from my home with bags full of your favorite treats and leftover foods from my kitchen. I am used to coming home to your unmade bed, damp bath towels thrown over the closet door and half-filled jars of tea strewn around the house waiting to be put in the dishwasher. The getting-the-house-back-in-order ritual allows me to hold onto your presence a little longer as I move through the process of restoring order. It just didn’t feel right driving in from South Carolina, eating in a restaurant and just dropping you off at the Atlanta airport. It was unsettling.


In truth, I think it’s about your really leaving your childhood home. You seem more grounded, despite your forgotten wallet; more defined, despite your uncertainties; more comfortable with who you are despite your discomforts. Throwing out bags of accumulated stuff (even though you barely scratched the surface) from your room is the beginning of relinquishing your space in this house. There will always be a room for you, but you will never be a child in this space. All is as it should be. You are building a life that is a credit to you.

My fear is that I will miss the day-to-day knowing of your grown-up person. Not that I hope to talk with you every day or expect to be in on the minutia of your life. I am grateful for your evolution into adulthood and the separateness in our lives. We seem to manage it all pretty well. I am not even sure what it is I want…talking, sharing, a larger window into your unfolding life. I want something for me, and for you, that goes beyond what I had with my mother. I know I am greedy and always wanting more…but really, only one Skype call and a few texts letting me know you’re alive during a three week trip to Israel…I want more!! Maybe when you get older…

Getting ready for New Year's Eve

Getting ready for New Year’s Eve

The new year slipped into our lives with barely a blip on the radar. We spent New Year’s Eve at home with friends, lots of food and comfortable celebration. The cold has set in and I am hibernating. I am burning through those books that have been stacked up on my night table since last spring and cooking chili and soups and apple cakes…winter comfort foods. 2015 just rolls off my marker onto the freezer bags that I am filling with goodies to store for the winter.

I started a new house project in the basement which is engaging my nesting instincts and distracting me from the winter blahs. I am missing you more than I should be. These short teaser visits leave me wanting more. A trip to sunny California may be in my not too distant future.
Love, Mom

Apple Cake Revisited

The big debate over Chanukah was about which is the better apple cake…”the previously ranked Birmingham’s favorite Apple Cake recipe or a new one I found in an Israeli cookbook that just looked so pretty I had to try it?” After several bakings and tastings, I decided to create a new modified version of the two cakes to capture the flavor and moistness of the first and the pretty presentation of the second. I am still unsure of the final winner, but this version ranks pretty high and looks great, too. It freezes well and is a satisfying breakfast treat.

  • 5 large baking apples, peeled and cored
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cups walnuts (optional)


  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat oven to 350°
Dice three apples into 1/2” or smaller chunks.
Slice the remaining two apples into wedges.
Sprinkle apples with lemon juice and set aside.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and thick.
Lower the beater speed and add the oil to the egg mixture slowly until blended.
Add the brandy and mashed bananas to the oil and egg mixture and beat together for about a minute.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the eggs and oil and mix thoroughly.
Fold in the diced apples and chopped walnuts(optional).

Pour the batter into a well-greased 10 inch diameter springform baking pan.
Arrange the apple wedges in a flower pattern starting at the center go the cake.
Combine sugar, cinnamon and salt and sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake for 60 – 75 minutes until golden and a toothpick comes out dry with a few crumbs adhering.
Cool for 10 minutes before releasing from the springform pan and let cool completely.


One thought on “♦ More

  1. Love reading your posts and sharing your receipe. This apple cake is same as my mom Russian Apple cake called ‘sharlotka’. I actually modified but didn’t think of adding brandy and bannana. I am going to Bham this weekend may need to try it.

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