Do you have time for a piece of cake, a cup of tea, and a good read ?
Miriam's Kitchen - A Memoir by Elizabeth Ehrlich
It seemed to me that it was time again to share a really good book.
If you have been following along with me of late, you know that I've had a fascination with Jewish cooking and cuisine. Well, recently a friend passed me a memoir by Elizabeth Ehrlich and I have waited for just the right time to settle in for the read. Now, I won't go into Lent and all it means to me. Suffice it to say, this is my time of year to go on a spiritual journey. It's a slow, tentative thing for me ... but reading of another's coming to terms with their cultural and religious heritage is a perfect way for me to contemplate my own .
This book gave me a wonderful exposure to Jewish culture, some philosophical ideas to ponder, and a few dishes to try ... I started with a sweet one ... a cake. But first, the book ...
Miriam's Kitchen is Elizabeth Ehrlich's memoir of her spiritual journey. It begins in her childhood in Detroit and winds its way through her wonder years to Europe, through her early career in New York, her newlywed times, and into the years of bringing up a young family while keeping ties to her Jewish family and all they bring to her. She shares the most wonderful and haunting family memories given to her by her grandparents, aunts, and in-laws - memories that are sometimes happy and ofttimes wrenching. She shares her own squeamish feelings about embracing the traditions both religious and culinary of the Jewish faith and over the course of the memoir, she slowly comes to a happy medium with her spiritual and cultural need.
Her progression within the Jewish kitchen toward a kosher culinary style brings the reader along on a journey through the Jewish religious year with its requisite feasts, everyday dishes, and Seder preparations. We benefit from her family recipes, sprinkled throughout the text like precious offerings. Egg salad, chicken livers and noodles, mandelbrot, sweet and sour cabbage, potato latkes, matzo balls, and cakes ... in particular, a pineapple-chocolate chip cake that caught my attention ... so in honor of Elizabeth Ehrlich and her spiritual and kosher journey, I made her family's cake today.
Another beautiful cake ... a simple cake, a rich cake, a sweet cake, a special cake.
Simple ingredients ... fast assembly
A thick buttery batter that must be flattened into the bottom of a greased glass pan
a layer of chocolate chips ... a layer of crushed pineapple
a smooth layer of meringue tops everything
45 minutes in the oven and you have a pretty, sweet, rich, special cake
Back to the book-
If I learned anything from this book, it is to value the history that is closely guarded in family stories, the value of ritual in keeping family and cultural ways alive in practice, and just how wise and learned our elders are. Oh, how I wish my grandmothers and aunties were still alive to tell me all their stories ...