When I was a kid, if my mom’s friend Harriette Tilzer heard that someone close had passed or was ailing she would whip up a batch of her tart yet sweet like summer lemon bars for their family. My mom would make mondel brot or herring with sour cream, apples and red onions and deliver them to the family personally. And they weren’t the only ones. Aunt Leah would make a carrot mold as sweet as it was savory. Grandma Rose would whip up Angel food cake (Duncan Hines… Rose’s little secret) as white and fluffy as new fallen snow. Aunt Golda would do a big pot of steaming chicken soup. Our friend Thelma would bring by her secret recipe of chocolate candy with raisins and nuts. Grandma Lee would stuff and roll cabbage baked for hours until tender with tomato sauce and brown sugar. It was food made with tradition and love. Two hands working the dough, stirring the stock…Kitchens filled with the sweet smells of generations past.
(Sound effect of record scratch here….)
Now welcome to the Costco generation. Thaw out the cheese puffs and mini quiches. Pick up a tray of pre-sliced cold cuts. Swing by Brueggers for bagels and cream cheese. Go online and order some smoked white fish. You want chicken, there must be a Boston Market in the neighborhood. And do they deliver?
When did we stop cooking!?
People appreciate having meals prepared when the fresh wounds of a recent loss are most painful. Make an old family recipe that will bring back good memories for you and for them. Deliver it personally. It says, “I spent time in the kitchen cooking, thinking about you and how much you mean to me.” Are we that busy that we don’t have time to roast and slice a turkey breast? Add a nice challah and spicy mustard, and who needs a deli tray? Even if you don’t follow Harriette’s recipe for lemon bars and use a mix, no one cares because you made them with love and that’s what it’s all about.
(Click the image above to see a magnified recipe)
Check out Andy’s youtube channel for more recipes, tips and tricks.
Andy: Thanks for the reminder that — not to put too fine a point on it — food can be love. Or at least it can be the medium for caring for others. I’m gonna check out Harriet’s lemon bar recipe!
I love all the splatters on the recipe and the number “2” hand-written in. There’s some authenticity for you!
We stopped cooking when mother and both baubies died. However, we did start a new tradition of making Hamentashen every year with our kids, so at least something is still baked by hand and is around to “pass down”.
@susan, that’s how all of my mom’s recipes look!
@Steve K, you’re on the right track!
You’re so right!
I keep noticing that even those of us who grew up in households with lots of cooking, seem to be doing less and less of it these days.
Sure, we might roast a chicken, but who has time for the “complicated” stuff our mothers or grandmothers used to make?
Somehow, we’re all too busy now, and elaborate cooking seems to be the first thing to go.
So those tastes, those traditions, those recipes – get left behind.
Kinda sad, isn’t it? Maybe I’ll try to get out grandma’s meat grinder sometime…
@Jenna…I don’t think we need to make complicated family recipes all the time. I’ve been known to pick up a rotisserie chicken and matzo ball soup mix from a box. But when I have a friend in need of some lovin’ care, I plan something nice to prepare and deliver it in person. I think we’ve lost sight of that mitzvah sometimes.
I’m not the kind of woman (almost wife) who cooks every night for her man. With a full time job, plus a part time one, I just don’t have the energy. We try to cook twice a week, and we make it special by cooking together.
There’s something amazing about making the old school recipes though. Every Passover and Rosh Hashanah the ladies of the family make gefilte fish together, and then we eat the cooked heads (a Jewish delicacy) for lunch. You smell for days, but the experience is worth it.
In times of crisis and loss, there’s nothing like the old school recipes. Especially kugel. From the Love and Knishes Book. (see http://tcjewfolk.com/ode-love-knishes-tasty-recipe/). Amazing.
I’ll definitely try your lemon bars though Andy. And I’m sending you hugs, virtually, for your loss.
@Leora…thanks. It’s been an interesting month.
Not to mention that cooking can be therapy for our crazy lives. For me there is nothing better after stressful day than cooking something simple up.