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The Way to My Husband’s Heart is Ice Cream

31 Aug

During a recent conversation with my daughter, I realized that even my children understand that their Dad loves ice cream more than any other food. She was discussing a man at work, who when offered ice cream, said something to the effect that he loved ice cream and if they wanted any, they should take it now because he would eat it all. And he did.

In telling me about it, she said, it made her laugh so much because he ate ice cream the way Daddy did. She was actually still laughing when she told me how he put the spoon in the ice cream and just dug in.

I knew exactly what she meant. My husband eats ice cream with gusto! He scoops his ice cream with a whole heart and a big spoon.   My husband does not savor his ice cream. He devours it!   He absolutely loves ice cream. He even rates his travels on how good the ice cream is. We have tasted ice cream across the USA and in countries far and wide.

Although he speaks a bit of Spanish and Mandarin, my husband’s word of choice in any language is Ice Cream. In Italy it is Gelato. When in Milan, my husband ate ice cream every single day from the ice cream parlor around the corner from our hotel. On our last day, he went back for a second treat before we left. I would say he loved that ice cream.

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The most delicious ice cream in Rome, Italy.

In Rome, a friend of his took us to the La Gelateria Frigidarium, a place he called the best ice cream ever. And he was so right. I loved it because they had sorbet. But this sorbet was so creamy, I was sure it had dairy in it. But it did not!!! Yum. My husband had three scoops there. I know if we had stayed longer in Rome, there would have been many trips to Frigidarium. As it is, we recommend it to anyone heading to Rome.

His least favorite ice cream was in Turkey. He said they put taffy in it, which destroy the value of true ice cream. He is an ice cream purest. But he still ate it. Ice cream addicts need their fix.

When we were in Israel in December, we took a private tour in Tel Aviv. My husband was interested, but not so much as we walked through an outdoor pedestrian shopping area. Shopping is not his favorite thing to do. As the guide and I were talking, I noticed my husband stopping. One word came from his lips, “Galida.” Ice cream; his one real word in Hebrew.

The tour came to a thirty-minute stop as we all had an ice cream treat. The guide said, “This is a great idea, especially when I have children on a tour. From now on, I am stopping here for a treat as we do the tours.” I am glad my husband’s ice cream fanaticism helped the tour guide with future successes.

Last week when we went to see the eclipse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he found Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream in Jackson. I enjoyed the Huckleberry sorbet the one time I went.   I am not sure all the flavors he tried over his multiple trips to Moo’s.

In February of 2016, my husband, sister and I went to Universal Studios in Florida. We had two-day passes. On the first day, while my sister and I used a rest room on our way out of the park, my husband found an ice cream parlor. He loved the ice cream, so we had to have some as well. It was great for me, as they had sorbet. The next day, we had a planned stop for ice cream there as we left the park. My husband was so excited when he found out it was part of a national chain, with a store not too far from our home…about four miles. Stone Cold Creamery was his new favorite ice cream.

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Out of the hospital for about 20 minutes. The smile is for ice cream.

This past year he had to have some major surgery. On the day he was released from the hospital, I took him to Cold Stone Creamery for a treat. It might have been hard for some people to eat ice cream with a neck brace on, but not my husband.

I posted a picture of him, and a few days later, he received gift cards in the mail from some of his friends so he could get more ice cream. Two weeks later, when the neck brace came off, I took him back for more.

The way to my husband’s heart is ice cream. The way to cure pain of surgery is ice cream. The way to deal with stress is ice cream. The way to end a day is ice cream. I know my husband loves our children and me. I even joke with him by saying, “I love you more than ice cream.” But when it comes down to it, sometimes I am not quite sure if he has the same sentiment.

PS: my 96 year old grandfather died after eating ice cream. His last words were, “yum, delicious.”  I hope, way in the future,  my husband’s ending is as happy.  

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Mr Anoff and the Sardine Sandwich

11 Aug

When I think about why I love sardine sandwiches, I realize it all goes back to my childhood and one specific incident.   I must have been four or five years old. I was in West New York, New Jersey, visiting my grandparents for the weekend. They owned a bakery on Palisade Avenue around 53rd Street.   Until my sister was born, we lived in an apartment above the bakery. But in 1958, when she was born, we moved to a larger apartment in North Bergen. (See a blog about the bakery below.)

My parents were overwhelmed at times. And I think my grandparents missed us. So every weekend, either my brother or I spent the weekend with my grandparents. This must have been my weekend.

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My grandparents and the Anoffs in the Catskills about 1951.

Also in West New York lived my grandparents’ best friends, the Anoffs. Their daughter and my Mom were best friends. And their granddaughter and I became best friends as well.   Since she still lived in West New York, whenever I came to visit, I often played with her, while my grandparents worked.

I still remember the day of the sardine sandwich.   We had been playing outside for a long time, when Mr. Anoff called us in for lunch.   STOP right there. Mr. Anoff never fed us lunch. It was my grandmother, or my mom, or Mrs. Anoff or her daughter who made sure we ate. NEVER ever Mr. Anoff.   So looking back, right there something was different. Something must have been happening, but I do not what. Neither I nor my friend know why he fed us that day. I can only imagine that the women were doing something. Could it have been a shower? I do not know, but the women were gone!

In the meantime, my friend and I followed her grandfather’s instructions and went upstairs to the apartment for lunch.   I had been in the apartment before. But this was different. Mrs. Anoff was not there! Mr. Anoff was preparing a special lunch. He had out rye bread, lettuce and sardines.   He toasted the bread, mushed the sardines on the bread and added lettuce. He asked if I wanted to try it. I nodded yes. He cut the sandwich in half.   I remember eating sardines for the first time and Loving the taste. My friend did not eat it. She had peanut and jelly if I remember correctly.   (I did not like PB andJ — peanut butter and jelly.)

I ate the entire half sandwich and asked for more. I remember Mr. Anoff smiling at me and giving me another half of a sardine sandwich. It was amazing. I actually can still see the table in my mind’s eye. I can see him making the sandwich. It just has stayed with me forever.

I will admit it started a craze for me. I would often beg my Mom for a sardine sandwich, just the way Mr. Anoff made it. I think I drove her crazy for a while. Everyone else loved the normal PB and J, but not me.  I would watch her to make sure she made it just the way he did!

Honestly, I do not often eat a sardine sandwich. When they were little, my children hated the smell. So I did not eat sardine sandwiches when they were around. Now they are out of the house and I am free to do as I like. As a special treat, I purchase a can of sardines (packed in water) and make myself a sandwich.  It is a moment of memory heaven.

 

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I almost always try make it on rye bread, but since I am the only one who eats rye bread, I often substitute challah or a bagel. I always put either lettuce or cucumber on it. Just as I did when I was a child. I try to make it as much like as Mr. Anoff did as I can. I mush the sardines onto the bread and carefully place the lettuce or cucumber carefully throughout the sandwich.

I do not think Mr. Anoff ever made us lunch again.   Even in the Catskills, where we spent over two months every summers, he never made us a meal. We had mothers and grandmothers there all the time.  And even though he was almost always around,  I never remember him ever being on lunch duty again.  It was just that one magical time.

I do remember talking to him about sardines once or twice, possibly because my Mom brought up the topic. I think it was a sort of adult joke that I was still eating sardines.  I remember him smiling whenever the topic came up.

But now, most important, I almost always text or email my friend to tell her when I am eating an Abe Anoff sardine sandwich. I think it makes her feel good to know that I am remembering her grandfather, and the good times we had as children.  Mr. Anoff has been gone for many years.  But a piece of him stays in my heart and my taste buds.

 

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/bakery-aromas-bring-back-delicious-memories/

 

Matzah Brie 

15 Apr

Why do I only make matzah brie during Passover?  I truly love it. I heat up my frying pan and make it at least twice each year. And I always make enough to last two days. But once the holiday is over, my desire for matzah brie disappears. 

I have learned over the years that not everyone makes matzah brie the same way.  Nor do they call it the same thing. I say matzah brie, others say matzah briet or matzah brun. There might be even more names. 

My husband’s cousin would break a piece of matzah in half and soak both halves in a egg mixture before deep frying them. It was delicious, but not my style at all.

 I wonder if the area of Europe a family came from or perhaps where in the USA they settled impacts how the matzah brie is made? 

Making matzah brie is something I learned as a child. In my family we make the same batter we do for French toast. Eggs and vanilla mixed together.  Then we run the matzah under water, breaking it down to smallervand smaller pieces till we crumble the matzah into the batter.  The number of matzah we use is determined by the number of eggs we use; about two pieces of matzah for every egg. 


I then take the mixture and place it into a frying pan that I have place a small amount of oil and have  preheated. I smooth out the top of the mixture and make sure I fill the entire pan. Then it cooks. I like mine golden brown. I use a spatula to divide it in half to easily turn it. Then cook the other side.  The smell is enticing. 


Finally I cut it to smaller pieces and I am ready to eat. In my house there is just one way to it eat, with sugar sprinkled over the top. I know some use syrup, but I am a sugar purest. 

Another delicious Passover memory.  But I know when the holiday passes, I will once again crave my Sunday morning challah French toast. All thoughts of matzah brie wil be gone till next spring! 

Hope everyone is having a zissel Pesach! 

Missing Mom’s Passover Recipes

13 Mar

The recipes filled a bag.

There were many little issues that appeared during the year that my parents died. Little things that you do not realize will cause distress. But for my sister and me, one of these issues was my Mom’s recipes. They were gone. We searched the house and could not find them. Most recipes we knew because we continued to make them.

But a few seemed lost forever, these included her Passover recipes. Since we used them only once a year, they were not etched into our memories. And so we had to use recipes from books or from others, or just not make that item. Without her recipes, we felt a bit lost.

My parents would come to me each year for the second night of Pesach.   They did the first Seder in New Jersey with my siblings and their families. Mom would cook her share of the meal, and leave all the leftovers for my brother and sister’s families. Because the next morning, bright and early, my parents would fly out to stay with me for second Seder and the rest of the holiday.

My children went to the Jewish Day School, so they were off that week. It was a perfect time for my parents to have grandparent adventures with the children.

Mom would arrive and join me in cooking. We always spent the first seder with other families at friends. But I alternated second night seder with another friend, and so often it would be at my house. Eventually, second night became my domain.

Whatever the case, there were certain foods I did not make until Mom got here. She knew exactly what to do, even though she might have had the recipes written down. After making seders for so many years, she knew her recipes. Whereas, my sister and I depended on her memory to help us.

So I should have known what happened to the recipes. But it never occurred to me.

About a year or so after both my parents passed away, they did so quickly and within nine months of each other, I finally cleaned out the bedroom in my house where they always stayed. We had already cleaned out their condo apartment in New Jersey; had told the managers of the apartment they rented in Florida to take what they wanted and donate the rest, and we had mostly cleaned out the house in the Catskill. So now it was time for me to do the final cleaning and pack up and donate what they had left behind in my house.

They had their own space, and I had avoided going into it, but my son wanted to move into this larger room, with its own separated entrance.

I finally opened the closet and packed my dad’s jeans and shirts and jackets. I started cleaning out the drawers. Putting tops and items into bags to donate.

There in the bottom drawer, covered by tops, was a small, stuffed plastic bag filled with papers. Recipes. Lots and lots of recipes. She was in the process of rewriting in her beautiful teacher’s handwriting. Passover was back: Vegetarian Chopped Liver, Matzah balls for 10-12 people, Farfel pudding from Sylvia, Baked Gifilte Fish from Lola, Potato Kugel, Stuffed cabbage.

Mixed in were many other recipes, including Hamantasch from Phyllis and my Uncle Stanley’s cookie recipe, which she called Cookies by Stanley. (He was baker and passed away in January 2017, a week before his 90th birthday, on my Mother’s sixth Yahrzeit.)

I would like to say I used these recipes. But I did not.  I put them in my room, in a box, waiting to be used.  I did not share them.  I did not look at them.  I just could not.  Now, I know I need to scan the recipes and send them to my brother and sister. I know that. But for four years they have sat in their bag while I have looked at it as a locked time chest, unable to really sort through the notes left by my Mom.

I decided this year was the time. I was ready.   We are done missing my Mom’s recipes.

Perhaps We Really Do Deserve The Senior Citizen Discount

26 May

I admit that I am now over 60, but I cannot understand why restaurants and theaters are giving me the senior citizen discount without me even asking for it!

It started innocently enough. My husband and I went to our local movie theater. It is our theater of choice and we go there almost exclusively to see movies. About a year ago I went up to pay the ticket and I noticed the discount.   I was surprised.

“You gave me the senior citizen discount,” I said. “I am not 65.”

“Oh our discounts start at 55,” she answered sweetly.

“Well that is okay then,” I responded. And happily walked off with an extra dollar.

But that was then. Now it is different.

The last two times when I went to my favorite bagel store, part of a big chain, I was stunned when I looked at my bill. The first time was in mid April. I took my children to lunch and was surprised to see ten percent removed from the bill. I showed it to my daughter.

“Look, he gave me the senior citizen discount. Do you think I should tell him I am not a senior?” I asked my daughter.

She looked down at me (she is 4 ½ inches taller). “Mom, you are a senior,” she responded. Really. I do not think so.

A few days later I went back with my sister in law. Once again I was given the senior discount. This time I felt better. My sister in law is two years older than me. It was much more legitimate. But I was still shocked that it was just given to me without even asking.

Okay I do have very grey hair. Some might even say that the hair that frames my face is white. But honestly, in the back it is quite black. And I really have no wrinkles.

I guess I do not see myself as getting older. But it is obvious that some younger people see me in a different way.

However, this week, I realized my husband and I get the senior citizen discount for a good reason.

My husband and I love the chicken noodle soup at a local deli, D’Bronx. It has the all time best ever chicken noodle soup with a matzah ball.   I love it. I have encouraged many people to become addicted to this soup. For months my husband and I ate there almost every Monday night after our ballroom dancing class. But a few months ago, our instructor left, and we stopped our lessons. So we stopped going out for soup every Monday.

This past weekend we were bemoaning the fact that we missed our soup. So I announced that we would go out for dinner on Monday and have D’Bronx soup. It was planned!

This is where the senior citizen part comes in.

Monday evening came, and my husband arrived home from work. “What’s for dinner?” He asked. There was obviously nothing planned.

“We are going out for soup,” I announced.

Then we talked for a while about where we wanted to go. And ended up at a restaurant close to our house with a wonderful salad bar, but horrible chicken noodle soup.

When I paid the bill, you go through a buffet and pay at the end, the young man gave me the senior citizen discount. Once again I bemoaned this discount to my husband.   But I accepted my $2.34 discount.

While we were eating dinner, I mentioned how much I did not like the soup. In fact I stopped eating it and threw my paper napkin into the bowl. It was that bland and yucky.

D'Bronx Chicken Noodle Matzah Ball Soup

D’Bronx Chicken Noodle Matzah Ball Soup

My husband said, “We should have gone to D’Bronx. We love their soup.”

We both stopped.

“Oh my G-d!” I laughed. “Now I know why we get the senior citizen discount. We cannot even remember where we wanted to go eat. That was the purpose of going out tonight; to go to get chicken noodle soup at D’Bronx. And we both forgot!!!”

We had a wonderful laugh.

I will never bemoan the senior citizen discount again.

 

 

(To be honest on Tuesday, I went over to D’Bronx by myself and had a bowl of soup for lunch.)

Am I A Passover Slacker?

14 Apr

I am feeling like a slacker. I was at a meeting recently with several other Jewish women. One said “I made my chicken soup today. ”

We all knew what she meant. She was getting her food ready for Pesach. Wow. I am always amazed at those who start cooking over a week in advance.

I have not even started cooking. I have started cleaning. And I did start buying matzah and other staples. But cooking. No!

I really felt badly when the numbers started coming. 30, 25, 24. I am only having 14 and only second night. First night I am going to a friend who is hosting 45 people. All of these women either empty their family rooms of all furniture or set the Seder up in their basements. With just 14, I can use my dining room. I am a Pesach slacker!

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2014 Passover Seder. 

However we all agreed that under 25 is the best number for Seder. Large enough to be inclusive but not so big you feel overwhelmed.

There is a definite learning experience that comes with making a Seder. I think it is Passover Seder that creates the ability for most Jewish mothers to easily have extra people for dinner. After preparing a Seder any other meal is simply a breeze.  After cleaning, chopping, cooking and creating the festive Seder meal, nothing can faze me.

We learn so young. I cannot remember the first time I helped prepare for a Seder. I learned to make charosets as a small child. I loved sprinkling the cinnamon into the mixture. There are a few recipes that were only pulled out for Pesach. Most we could just cook as we went along. It was a brain memory. But at the time for the Seder all was in order.

We always did one Seder with my Dad’s family when I was little.  It was at my Uncle Bernie and Aunt Mickey’s house after my grandmother could no longer fit us all in.  And we did the second seder at my Mother’s family.  Sometimes Mom made it, sometimes my Aunt Paula and Uncle Stanley.  But we all knew the routine. And everyone brought something to the table.

I have friends who ask me how I can make a party or dinner without days of planning?  And I am surprised. Without the need to make charosets, Maror, five courses and all the other special  foods demanded for the Seder meal,  any other dinner creates no anxiety. It just easily occurs.

Like so many, I always prepare more food than we need. I never want anyone to go hungry and there always has to be enough for one more, or two, if needed.

Preparing the Pesach Seders taught me how to organize, use my time wisely, plan for the future and make my guests comfortable while running an extraordinary busy meal. We learn to have everything set to go and how to effectively clean between courses and after the meal.

I have a special scrapper just to get the matzah crumbs off the table!

Perhaps I am not a Passover slacker!  My Seder meal will be ready when we need it as it has been in the past and will be in the future.

Grandpa Nat Loved His Four Roses

24 Dec

My Grandpa Nat was a baker. This meant he was often going to bed soon after we were getting up, as he would work all night baking the breads and cakes for the next day.   Or if not all night, at least he would get up pretty early in the morning to start baking.

So often when we were having breakfast, Grandpa was having his lunch or even his dinner. But before he had dinner or anything else to eat, Grandpa always had a schnapps, a shot glass of Four Roses whiskey.

When I was little, I loved that bottle. It had four roses on it. So I thought it was pretty. He kept the bottle in a little cabinet beneath the counter in the kitchen in the Catskills. We were not allowed to touch. It was Grandpa’s special orange juice, or so we were told.

My Grandpa was from Galicia. His family owned a farm there, with grain silos and a tavern. One of his favorite stories to tell was when he and a cousin were sent to clean out the grain silo and got drunk on the fumes. They got really sick. I have learned that people can die from the fumes in a grain silo. Luckily that did not happen to Grandpa.

But I remember the first time I saw “Fiddle on The Roof” with him. His eyes filled with tears. I asked what was wrong. And he said it reminded him of his home. His family had a tavern like the one in the movie. And so like in the tavern scene when they sing “To Life”: “We’ll raise a glass and sip a drop of schnapps in honor of the great good luck that favors you,” my grandfather had a schnapps for many occasions.

(I should say he cried for a reason, his entire family was murdered in the Shoah.  He cried for the life that was gone forever.)

His Four Roses was his special treat. He said his one glass a day kept him healthy! Since he lived to almost 90, perhaps it did!

He kept a bottle in his New Jersey home as well. I believe it was in the kitchen. I remember him having a ‘shot’ of whiskey there as well. But I think because I was so young when they moved into the home in the Catskills, I have better memories of him having his Four Roses in the Catskills. Also we spent three months of the summer with them, so I had more opportunity to be with my grandparents in the mornings.

Grandpa sold his bakery in the 1960s because he had baker’s asthma and needed to retire. Perhaps he has some heart condition as well, but I am not sure about that. However, in the summertime he worked for Katz’s and helped to bake for the summer crowds.

In fact, my brother got one of his first adult summer jobs as a baker: going to the bakery with my grandfather and learning all there was to be a baker. I think that is why my brother became a chemist… You have to know formulas to bake as well. So my brother often came home early in the morning with Grandpa and had a schnapps along with him.

My brother went to college at Penn State and would sometimes drive to my grandparent’s home in the Catskill for the weekend in the fall or winter. He remembers being offered some schnapps as soon as he arrived to warm up.

My brother said, “I would show up for a weekend Grandpa would greet me with a shot of schnapps from the shot glasses that were never washed just dried and stored under the cabinet!” Alcohol sterilizes the glasses, according to Grandpa!

My grandfather would share his schnapps with my Dad and other adult men. I never saw any women drink the schnapps. It was orange juice for men.

When I got older, I had no desire to drink it! I understood that it was whiskey, and not exactly a good whiskey.  And I did taste it once when I was in the Catskill during the winter. After we shoveled snow and were outside for almost an hour, Grandpa had some schnapps and offered me a taste. I had to try. To be honest, it was disgusting! I never tried it again.

Grandpa and Schnapps

My Dad gave my Grandpa a bottle of “good’ stuff for Hanukkah.

My Dad was always trying to get my Grandpa to try something better. He called Four Roses rotgut cause it would rot your guts. He would say that Four Roses was not smooth when it went down, instead it burned your intestines. For Hanukkah he would buy my grandfather some of the Good stuff, which my Grandpa would promptly put away. Perhaps he used it for guests?

Grandpa would sometimes have another shot of schnapps when something special or unusual was happening.

For example, Woodstock: after watching the thousands upon thousands of young adults pass our property that first day, Grandpa turned to my Dad and to George, his tenant and my dad’s friend, and said, “Come we have a schnapps.” He definitely needed a schnapps or two that weekend! It was a very strange time, and a little fortitude was needed.

Good news was also the time to celebrate with schnapps. There were libations of schnapps as each grandchild became engaged and then married. More schnapps with the birth of the six great grandchildren he was alive to meet. I know that when the next two arrived, my Dad had schnapps to continue the tradition.

I can still close my eyes and see my Grandpa move one of the high stools in the kitchen and bend over to reach into the small cabinet to get out his bottle of Four Roses. The only thing in the cabinet was his schnapps and some shot glasses.

We never went into that cabinet without Grandpa. It was his special cabinet with his cherish Four Roses.