"Feed Me Bubbe": Reading So Good You Can Almost Taste It!

This is a guest post by Sarah Routman, Executive Director of Hillel at the UofM.  Sarah once harbored dreams of combining photography and writing and travelling the world to record her experiences. Only in the Twin Cities for the past 16 years, she is happy to write guest posts for TC Jewfolk when the opportunity arises. Sarah loves to read, after this book, cooking is more appealing than ever!
From the first turn of the page, I was hooked on Feed Me Bubbe: Recipes and Wisdom from America’s Favorite Online Grandmother (Running Press, 9/6/2011), thinking of so many people I should gift the book to immediately.
I am a wife and mother of two twenty-something girls.
I remember the day it was my turn to spend the day in the kitchen with my own mother, learning how to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. Another day I learned the secrets of flipping the blintzes like a pro, and while other teens were busy babysitting, my sisters and I sat at the table calculating the price of 1 egg and a cup of flour as we prepared to launch our own bakery business from home.
So, I am comfortable in the kitchen. Not so my older daughter.
No amount of coaxing could get her to learn much. She just doesn’t like to cook. She lives on sandwiches and cereal. She loves good food, but prefers to check out the local eateries in Philadelphia where she lives rather than invest in a good cooking knife. I even tried packing up some of my most treasured kitchen necessaries for her when she got her first apartment. She kindly told me the items would go to waste in her apartment. But, she always wanted to learn Yiddish, and so I’ve decided this is the PERFECT book for her! She will love the anecdotes and the Yiddish word of the day sprinkled throughout the book.
My younger daughter may appreciate the information about keeping kosher. Though ours has not been a kosher home, my sister is Orthodox and we are all aware of some of the rules. I think having more of the specifics spelled out will have a certain appeal to her, especially since no one is telling her she has to do it. And since she likes cooking, and is already pretty good at it, I wouldn’t be surprised if she decides to take a more active role in some of the family holiday cooking in the future because of this book.
One can always hope – an extra hand in the kitchen at holiday time is always a good thing! Anything to keep educating our children about Judaism is a good thing, I think. From knowledge will come something: appreciation, or  connection to a long line of tradition, and for sure, a good meal. Who can go wrong with that?!
No matter what, the sheer knowledge, and especially in such an accessible format, can only be positive. When I spoke to Bubbe (yes, the Bubbe that is the author of the bookand her grandson, Avrom, it became obvious that the magic of this particular cookbook is connected to this passing on of knowledge.
It started for Bubbe as a response to her cooking show.
The fans kept asking if they could adopt her. Mostly twenty to forty-somethings, they asked for a cookbook. Watching her on-line cooking show, they began to feel comfortable in their own kitchens. As Bubbe built up their self confidence, they wanted to try it on their own.
Bubbe had long ago stopped measuring things – you know how the great cooks do it – a pinch of this, a dash of that – add till you get just the right consistency or texture. Impossible directions for those terrified of cracking an egg in a bowl. So Bubbe started over, and with the help of her grandson, Avrom, she started writing everything down, measurements and all. The goal was to create a recipe so that Avrom could make it. She actually tried to simplify it as much as possible. If he was comfortable looking at the recipe and felt he could do follow it, then Bubbe was confident that others, also skeptical of their own cooking talents and abilities, would be able to succeed.
Many of Bubbe’s fans and followers are in college. Reading a recipe, they often find they are missing all sorts of ingredients. Or are confused about terms that those of us who are frequenters of the kitchen (from the cooking side) take for granted – like the word ‘bake’ for instance. Bubbe assumes nothing from her viewers or readers and explains everything to encourage even the least courageous, to find success in the kitchen. As my own mother used to say, “If you can read, you can cook.” With Feed Me Bubbe, this is certainly the case!
The Feed Me Bubbe cooking show has been online since 2006. The book came out in September of this year and is already in its 2nd printing. The Mom’s Choice Awards® has named Feed Me Bubbe: Recipes and Wisdom from America’s Favorite Online Grandmother by Avrom Honig and Bubbe among the best in family-friendly media, products and services by awarding their book a GOLD award.
“Our judges loved your ingenious blend of recipes and wisdom…I look forward to following your continued success,” Dawn Matheson, the Executive Director of the Mom’s Choice Awards, posted on the Feed Me Bubbe Facebook page.
Publicized as, “An easy kosher guide for both those who keep kosher and first time kosher cooks alike, Feed Me Bubbe includes 100 of Bubbe’s best recipes, ranging from breakfast to dessert and everything in between. Each recipe include symbols to indicate if the dish contains dairy, meat or is pareve (neutral food containing no meat or dairy). In addition, Bubbe’s insight and wisdom shines through in informative headnotes and detailed directions teaching readers time-tested methods that only a bubbe could know.”
Amazon also rated Feed Me Bubbe #1 Bestseller in the Kosher category. Bubbe and Avrom appear at events and people often buy anywhere from 2-3 copies to 10 copies of the book at a time. Fans have commented that the book is “saving our family” and it is often deemed the perfect gift for newly married couples. It makes Bubbe happy and proud to be able to encourage young people to try their hand in the kitchen, to pass on traditional Jewish cooking in easy steps so as to keep the old recipes in Jewish households today. Bubbe is quick to point out that you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy her show or her book. There’s something in here for everyone, and anyway, who doesn’t love matzah ball soup, or a potatoe knish?
As for Avrom, he always liked playing around in the kitchen, but he didn’t know he had it in him to be a gourmet. He was surprised at how easy it was to master some recipes that until he tried them, he was sure were more than elusive. In retrospect, he is shocked that he was stuck in sandwich mode for so long. Maybe there is hope for my older daughter yet!
Avrom’s first venture into more advanced cooking was Bubbe’s 4-bean salad. He made it to rave reviews and though he was initially stressed about doing it, in the process he discovered that in reality it was FUN to make it! The encouragement he got from those who tasted it, built his confidence to try other things. His favorite recipe that he has mastered is Bubbe’s sweet and sour meatballs. His tip: it’s all in the sauce! Don’t stress about the size of the meatballs, a step he admits caused him some trepidation at first. What he discovered is that the size and shape of the meatballs do not impact the taste. Concentrate on getting the sauce right, and the creation of the meatballs themselves will manage to merge with the delicious taste. Aesthetics aside, the sauce is where the energy should be placed.
Bubbe’s favorite recipe is jellie jams. She was working full time and didn’t have time for elaborate cooking, so she devised a recipe for the dough that was very easy. Most of her recipes are no-fail recipes, she says, with items that you use all of the time. Her goal is to help people make a delicious hit every time!
I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: reading Feed Me Bubbe, looking at back episodes on feedmebubbe.com, or speaking to Bubbe and Avrom about their successes and future goals.
Her recipe for chopped chicken liver sounds so easy, I’ve committed to trying it myself. I confess that I always believed it to be such a major kitchen endeavor I never even asked my mother for her recipe. I recall it being such a delicacy and my memory is that it was labor intensive. A family favorite for years, it just never occured to me that I would be able to make it so I never even asked my mother how to do it. With Bubbe’s recipe, I intend to suprise my parents next time they come to town to celebrate one of the holidays with us.
Whichever recipe you decide to try, I am sure you will find success! This book is a must read for anyone who wants to:

  • reminisce about the good old days with Jewish family stories
  • learn to cook great food the easy way
  • learn a little Yiddish
  • smile and chuckle as you get to know Bubbe and Avrom

If you read this book and like it, click here and vote for Feed Me Bubbe on the Joy of Kosher’s website for Best New Kosher cookbook. It may be too late to give this book as a Chanukah gift, but it’s a perfect gift anytime! Already in the lead on Jamie Geller’s joyofkosher.com favorite kosher cookbook contest, help Bubbe and Avrom secure best kosher cookbook award. Nominations and voting ends January 11, 2012. Winners will be announced on February 1st online and in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine. Winners will receive a Best of Kosher web badge to display on their site.
Happy Cooking!

*The FTC made me do it: Disclosure of Material Connection: TC Jewfolk received a free copy of  ”Feed Me Bubbe” in the hope that we would mention it on TC Jewfolk. But getting the book for free doesn’t mean that we were obligated to give a glowing review. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Blah, blah, blah…