Studio Scrawls with help from Ruth and Maurice

What happens in the quiet of a studio? Sometimes, others lead you to the joy.

"It's root in the moodle of my head head head ..." From A SPECIAL HOUSE by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. 




#Readukkah: Joan Nathan's Holiday Cookbook


“We hope that the variety and richness of these recipes bring you much joy at those special times of the year.”  --Chris and Julie

Slightly charred on the back, duck-taped together on the spine, my copy of  Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook was inscribed by Chris and Julie: their wedding gift to my husband and me.  I am embarrassed to report that many years and many moves later Chris and Julie are no longer in our circle. I’ve even forgotten their last name. Their gift, however, has become a part of our holidays and home and has continued to bring us joy.

It would not be Hanukkah at our house without the Jewish Holiday Cookbook’s Russian Vegetable Soup. This is a great soup recipe, even for amateurs; it requires only chopping and grating. Everything on the ingredient list is thrown into the pot without any fussy sautéing.  It can be made with stew meat, or without, turning it into a hearty vegan stew.  Sometimes I add a whole chopped onion.  The soup is excellent however you choose to make it.  But if you do decide to take the Russian Vegetable Soup into your life, be prepared with the largest size soup pot you can find: the recipe generously feeds 8-10.  Every time I serve this soup, I am grateful for the abundant and rich sustenance it brings to my family and friends.

There are other wonderful recipes in this classic cookbook. The Roast Chicken, for example, found in the Purim chapter, is another of our favorites.  Again it’s a winning combination of simple preparation and delicious results. This Roast Chicken, Ms. Nathan tells us, is the one dish that her busy grandmother, Martha Kops Gluck, who owned a millinery shop and worked all week, would prepare each Friday.  I think about her when I cook this dish, especially on a Friday night after my own busy week.   It is the stories about the recipes, like this one about Ms. Nathan’s grandmother, that make The Jewish Holiday Cookbook my #readukkah choice.  I never tire of reading and rereading them. Some of the characters in these food tales, like Martha Kops Gluck and Esther Becker, whose challah recipe calls for fifteen cups of flour, now feel like old friends.

Wonderful holiday food and great stories, what more could you ask for in any book? Trust me, Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook will bring much joy to you and your holidays.

This blog review is a part of the Association of Jewish Libraries #readakukkah Blog Tour.  Celebrate the holiday season by reading.  Happy Hanukkah!

Soup Days and First Snow




We had our first snow here in Iowa City. It began in the early evening and was on the ground in full glory this morning, piled high in the hammock resting under our big yellow maple tree. It's going to be a soup day at my house, for sure. What about you? 

Are you thinking about soup days and snow?

Here's a tiny story for you,  from my  blog archives.

December 16, 2010

Our first snow.

In this early morning state, at 6:30 a.m. my neighbors were already out with their snow blowers. We have one, too. Most days, though, I prefer to strengthen my sword arm. Today, shoveling to the rumble and roar of Hondas and Toros, brought me back the memory of the first time I heard a snow blower. It was in the late 1960’s in Troy, New York. And it belonged to an Englishman, Gordon Leavis. He and his family had just moved a few houses over from us. We hadn’t met them yet, but learning of my young father’s heart attack, Gordon zipped up our walk, and cleared our snow.

A few phone calls were made that day,and later, when Gordon, his wife Valerie, and their daughter Susie were in our living room, they entered our family’s heart and life. Drinks were served for the adults, I’m sure. Maybe my dad even baked his famous cheesecake. Or maybe he whipped up an enormous pot of the mushroom barley soup he loved to make and often distributed to the worthy in cleaned out Hellman’s Mayonnaise jars.

My parents, Gordon, and Valerie died many years ago. School friends and neighborhood kids from my growing years are spread out all over the country and the world. We now meet on on Facebook. Susie Leavis is there, too. She wrote me that she has my father’s soup pot. And when she takes it out, she thinks of him.

Here’s to snow blowers and soup pots and good neighbors.