Category Archive: Recipes through the ages

Dec 29

Packing a Party Punch

Bowl and ladle

Who doesn’t remember, as a child, sneaking forbidden sips of punch at a festive family gathering? Oh! the sweetness of it all; the wonderful alcoholic glow—without the youthful agonies of trying to down an undiluted glass of ordinary rum or vodka.

Dec 15

Traditional Chanukah treats

Brass Chanukah menorah manufactured by the Jewish Immigrants on New York's Lower East Side, c.1915. We also have one like this, inherited from my maternal grandparents.

As a child growing up in a small Midwestern American city, Chanukah held a special magic for me. My late father, who must have possessed a largely untapped creative streak, devoted many hours to creating wonderful decorations out of Styrofoam, strings of blue-and-white electric lights, and blue and silver glitter. We were the proud owners …

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Dec 01

Fish and chips: an old-new tradition for Chanukah?

Malin’s - “The World’s Oldest Fish and Chip Business,” 1972

Every once in a while I’m contacted by an aspiring author of historical fiction who wants to know how she (or he) can make the historical research faster and easier. Fortunately, the contact is usually made by email or phone; that way they can’t see me silently shake my head in dismay. Yes, we’d all like to be more efficient. But if I were to try to save time, I’d cut back on the time I spend on Facebook and Twitter. The time I spend doing historical research—even when it seems like I’m getting nowhere—usually turns out to be pure gold.

Nov 23

Exotic history and cuisine of Caribbean Sephardic Jewry

West Indian Johnny Cake

This week I have the honor of hosting guest blogger Sophie Schiller. Ms. Schiller is the author of Spy Island, a historical novel set in the Danish West Indies. Her next novel, Race to Tibet, is due to be released soon. Visit her author page on Amazon.com. The West Indies is steeped in history. Wandering down the …

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Oct 07

Dessert in the sukkah

Interior of our sukkah, circa 2008

Tomorrow at sundown, Sukkot, the next holiday in the Jewish holiday cycle, begins. The holiday commemorates the 40 years that the Children of Israel traveled in the wilderness following the Exodus from Egypt, living in temporary shelters and miraculously surrounded and shielded by “clouds of glory.” For seven days and nights, observant Jews throughout the …

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Sep 22

And now for the main course…

mango

We are in the final countdown until Rosh Hashanah, which this year presents Jewish cooks with an additional challenge. Because the two-day holiday falls on Wednesday night, it goes directly into the Sabbath, requiring the preparation of seven meals—two for each day of Rosh Hashanah and three for the Sabbath. You may be asking yourself …

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Sep 21

Amazing Rosh Hashanah challah

On Rosh Hashanah, sweet foods traditionally grace the holiday table. The challah, or special egg bread, served on Rosh Hashanah is no exception. And there is nothing more heavenly then warm, home-baked challah dipped in honey, especially when it also contains luscious golden raisins. If you’ve never made challah or any other type of bread, now …

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Sep 18

Significant omens

Leeks

If the thought of Rosh Hashanah meals evokes visions of apples and honey, kugels and tzimmes—a sweet concoction of carrots, prunes and honey—this is notice that times have changed. Over the past several decades, the tradition of eating significant omens (simanim in Hebrew) on Rosh Hashanah night has become increasingly widespread. The custom of simanim …

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Sep 17

A Regency Rosh Hashanah meal

apples and honey

Next Wednesday evening marks the onset of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, 5775. Known as the Day of Judgment, when each of us is judged for our actions and omissions during the previous year, the holiday requires both immense spiritual and culinary preparations. With the exception of Passover, Rosh Hashanah probably provides the widest …

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Aug 07

Of wedding cakes and all good things

Royal wedding cake

There was a strange rumour in Highbury of all the little Perrys being seen with a slice of Mrs. Weston’s wedding-cake in their hands: but Mr. Woodhouse would never believe it. (Jane Austen, Emma) I was greatly tickled, while recently rereading Emma, by Jane Austen’s account of the wedding cake that inflicted such distress on Emma’s valetudinarian …

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