Matzo Balls

I started this blog four years ago, as a way to celebrate the life and legacy of my mother’s mother. I’ve neglected it for the past nine-ish months because I was busy focusing on another life: that of my daughter, who was born on an unseasonably warm September morning 17 days ago. (Although: in These Troubled Times, can we really claim weather to be “unseasonably” anything anymore?)

She’s tiny; she’s adorable; she’s the love of our lives, even when she’s blissfully smiling while shooting a projectile poop clear across the room. Perhaps best of all, she’s already proven herself to be a robust and enthusiastic eater—key if she hopes to fit in on either side of her family.

Annie should be on track to start eating solid foods not long before Passover 2020, at which point I might be able to introduce her to a nontraditional but appropriately soft and gum-able baby food: the humble matzo ball. And when she’s old enough to understand it, I’m going to take great pleasure in telling her the story I’m about to tell you—a tale of rivalry, legacy, and matzo meal.

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Chocolate Fudge Pie

There’s something about chocolate pie that seems sort of wrong, right? Not because it photographs blurry—that’s just science!—or because its appealing exterior could be hiding an unwelcome surprise, but because it’s too… showy, somehow.

Pie is barely sweetened peak-season fruit and soft, warming spices; pie is rich custard that refuses to hold its shape when sliced and placed onto a plate; pie is labor-intensive but somehow unfussy. Pie is humble. Pie is not a moist, dense, almost criminally rich flourless chocolate cake baked in a pie dish, a dessert that earns its name only because it happens to be encased in a buttery, fully unnecessary crust.

Yet here we are. Continue reading

Lemon Curd Pie

There’s a passage from Charlotte’s Web that plays in my brain each year, as the wind begins to shift and the pumpkin spiced novelty foods first rear their nutmeg-scented heads:

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone,” they sang. “Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.”  Continue reading

Potato Salad

I spent a good portion of this summer eating potato salad—not because I particularly like potato salad, but because I made a enormous batch of Nonnie’s recipe for a party. And while people did eat it, they didn’t devour it in huge quantities—because I think even when potato salad is good, it’s still potato salad, you know?

We were left with, I can’t stress this enough, a simply gargantuan pile of potato salad, a slippery, starchy heap we dutifully chipped away at for the better part of two weeks. (No, the potato salad did not go bad; yes, it was perhaps not at its freshest by the end of its life.) Even months later, I’m still a little traumatized—and very much over even the idea of potato salad. (Partly because of how much I had to eat, and partly because my husband just will not stop quoting that Black Jeopardy sketch where T’Challah tells Karen to keep her bland-ass potato salad to herself, even though it aired in April. I truly hope he’s not equating me with Karen.)

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Mocha Torte (and Chocolate Sauce)

I was raised on Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake—that is, a frozen cake base covered in smoothed-out ice cream, then decorated with completely extraneous, rock-hard icing. I thought it was delicious, even if it always left a trail of broken plastic utensils in its wake.

It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I learned people here have an entirely different conception of ice cream cake—that it’s not necessarily cake topped with a layer of ice cream, as the name would imply, but simply layers of ice cream in the shape of a cake (or maybe in the shape of a whale), separated by nubby little crunchy thingies that resembled nothing more than chocolate-flavored dirt. But like, good dirt. Continue reading

Cobb Salad (and French Dressing)

Even though I’ve got family in southern California, I’ve always felt that Los Angeles has an uncanny quality to it—something that makes the city feel like it isn’t quite real. Maybe it’s the lack of seasons, or the palm-tree-lined boulevards, or the general happy/healthy vibe (people are… smiling? They… don’t wish death upon every stranger they see?). Or maybe it’s because I once spent a week “taking meetings” out there—i.e. having five lunches at five different bougie restaurants—and at every single lunch, I kid you not, everyone at the table (except me) would order a Cobb salad.

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