So I taught my Striped Hamentaschen workshop at Etz Chayim yesterday, with the primary goal of passing along my secret, and the secondary goal of getting at least 5 dozen cookies baked for the Etz Purim extravaganza.


We got the cookies baked, and the most secret part of the technique, the layering and cutting, was shown, also,

Little did i suspect that, after sharing my recipe on email, in the synagogue newsletter back in 2003, and on at least two of my four blogs (don’t ask) the most common question would be “do you have your recipe written down?”

“Of course,” I said, over and over again. “It’s on my blog.”

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Now, my blog does not get a lot of followers, but when I post on my blog, it gets put up on Facebook automatically. So the recipe has been on Facebook too.

striped cookies

But you know, there are people who…

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Hai Jew kus for Halloween

Hai Jew Kus, which I am writing for the Jewish Year 5775, are like haikus, but with a second 7 syllable line, so the meter is 5-7-7-5

I wrote a bunch of them on the theme of candy.


Sweet, sticky candy

Pulling at my stuck molars

Loosening tight new fillings

Delighting dentist




Angel hair sugar

Ambitious fork lifted it

Up, Into the air from the

Hot carmel puddle



The raging need for

Something sweet late after bedtime

Dark chocolate and ice cream

Quiets the savage beast


Never built a house

Out of candy, didn’t think

Brothers Grimm story was real.

Sent to therapist.

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Epiphanies #1-3 watching bees

IMG_1270So here’s a quick recap of my bee story. So far it has  one hive given to me in 2012 with bees,  at least three epiphanies, submissions to and nice rejections from two editors, two bee suits, 36 jars of honey, a hot tub full of happy young people, 5 books, and a subscription to a bee journal.

Here’s epiphany #1: Bees are like Jews because when they go about their business, everyone gets more prosperous.

Epiphany #2: Cultivation is a form of exploitation,while still being a form of relationship and nurturing,

Epiphany #3:Success is a matter of being like the bee, promoting your interests and others at the same time.

UPDATE: Make that 2 bee suits and a bee jacket, two strainer sets, two solar melters (one got caught in the sprinkler) and 6 books.


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In Comb Bees Is

What happens when a self-made Jewish American Princess gets bitten by the beekeeping bug?

I’ll let you know as the story develops. So far it’s led to one hive,  at least three epiphanies, two bee suits, 36 jars of honey, a hot tub full of happy young people, 5 books, and a subscription to a bee journal.

This is how it started:

“We are so sorry for your suffering, but it was not personal,” the executives from Continental Tire, GmBh, the company where he was slave labor in 1944 and 1945 told my father in law, who came to visit them in 2006 .  You were just a number to us, a replacement worker lent to us by the Nazis to make up for the factory workers they took from us for the army.”

A worker bee, in other words. My dad was a worker, too. And my aunts, and my uncles.

I’ve had bees on my mind, since it is now two years since I got my hive full of bees, and a big book called “the beekeeping bible” arrived last week. I can remember their arrival date of the bees very easily since  a stranger delivered them the day after my father in law died.  His name in Polish, TRZMIEL, means ‘bumblebee,’

I had agreed to have a beehive in January of 2012, because suburban beekeepers are keeping hives to counteract the CCD epidemic, and the sad story of the bees moved me. After a year it was time to check on the bee’s health and gather some honey. I borrowed a bee suit  from another stranger–the cause celebre of bee survival is a powerful password–and helped the woman who delivered my hive a year ago take the hive apart, pick out three of 20 or so combs  and put them in a lidded container, and put the hive back together. She complimented me on my remarkable sang-froid. But after she left, I had to deal with getting the honey out of the combs. That’s the hardest part of the process and the messiest, especially without special equipment.

A couple of hours later, I opened up the container to see quite a few bees crawling around inside, covered in honey, trapped in the product of their own labor.

The sight of those struggling bees shook me up. I felt sympathy for them. More–I felt guilty for taking their honey.

So I rescued them, providing clothespins they could use as escape routes from the honey and a container with clean water where they could clean themselves off. Then I felt better, although—having made the mental leap comparing the bees to camp workers—I was not unable to decide if I was I the Joint Distribution Committee, a liberating army, or HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).

And, do the bees I freed from the mess of honey suffer from survivor’s guilt?

I’ve been studying bees  for the past year, and now, with my new knowledge, I just conducted another honey harvest.  I  harvested twice as much honey, and many fewer bees died. Now I’m eager to get more bees, and more honey,and do it again.

See how easy it is to go from oppressed to oppressor?


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Pesach on South Beach

I plan on losing a couple of pounds this Pesach by giving up carbs during the holiday.

Now I know it sounds impossible.   Between the matzo and the macaroons, the Jell-rings and the fruit slices and the blandishments of boxes of Barton’s candy that everyone brings, gaining weight on Passover is tradition. There is a voice in our souls saying “eat, bubbeleh.”

Good thing I belong to Etz Chayim, which is a liberal synagogue. We do what is good for us, and eating  lots of matza–a product which manages to be both crunchy and sharp enough to cut the roof of your mouth, while having a taste so subtle that it needs a 1/3 inch of butter to be palatable, is not good for you.  I don’t care that the custom of eating matza is so embedded-one could even say impacted–in the Jewish psyche that one of my Seder guests passed around a picture with a picture of a matza covered toilet and the capiton “Let my people go.”  I’m planning on composting most of the matza I bought for the Seder.

I’ve gone to the farmer’s market and loaded up on my fruits and vegetables. I have a little dried fruit, too. Plantain chips are not hametz, but they are as filling as toast. For some reason, I bought 4 boxes of matza ball mix, but no matter, I can save them for next year. This year I’m having Pesach on South Beach–low carb all the way.

I started this practice about 15 years ago, when I was working at Common Ground with a macrobiotic cook.  When we were talking about Passover, she made a very interesting remark: “So you give up yeast for a week?  How healthy!”  Then she spoke about all the things people eat when they can’t eat yeast because of something called Candida, or when they have allergies to wheat, and that got me to thinking about why I ate as much Matza on Passover as I did, and the only answer was: “because I always have.”

Well, feh on that!  Here I was in California, mistress of my own household!  I was tired of the weight gain on Passover, tired of the cycle of running to the chocolate because I felt sorry for myself eating matza,  Also tired of the natural consequence of all that matza.

So I gave up the perforated bread of affliction, and brought nuts and dried fruit and cottage cheese for lunch at the store instead of matza pizza, had scrambled eggs with veggies for breakfast instead of matza brie, and instead of serving matza kugel with our dinners of Seder leftovers, I steamed a bunch of broccoli and green beans (or carrots), instead.

And the “going” problem? It went away.




MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2011

Passover on South Beach
Pesach in South Beach

When we conduct the Seder, matza is called ‘the bread of affliction.’

Because strictly observing the commandment in Deuteronomy  does not just mean eating  matza instead of bread–if you take it seriously, Passover means no products made from any dough, or anything that is cooked with water and swells. That means no pasta, no noodles, no rice, no barley, no cookies, no corn,no soybeans or soy products, nothing made with corn syrup, only specially prepared extracts because regular extracts are made with grain alchohol. Oh, yes, and the swelling in water thing means no beans, no peas, no legumes of any sort.*

Matza is dense, and dry,and leaves an unbelievable amount of crumbs around the house. It can’t be toasted, and it does not satisfy the appetite. It breaks erratically, and scratches the roof of your mouth if…

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Improved Passover Apple Cake–with doubled recipe!

 I posted this apple cake recipe YEARS ago, on Blogspot, on my blog called “Melon Memories,”  which still exists, even though it is empty because blogs are hard to kill. Last Pesach, I gave the recipe to one of my guests to make.  And they improved it!  So this new, improved, recipe, is thanks to my neighbor and good friend, Melissa Baten Caswell. My improvement this year is arithmetical–I always post the recipe as I saw it first, in a cookbook, which makes enough cake for 8 people, then say at the end “double it and bake in a 9×13 pan–I always do.” This year, I do the math and post a double recipe, for a 9″x 13″ pan. The cake has a batter that goes under and around the apples and a streusel topping that goes over the apples. It gets its lightness from beaten eggs, so don’t rush the mixing process, and use a stand mixer for best results. The original recipe is from “The Complete Passover Cookbook” by Frances R. AvRutick, Jonathan David publishers, copyright 1981. Grease and dust a 9×13 pan, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. 1. Topping: Rub the margarine, brown sugar, and matza meal together by hand. The topping should have the texture of coarse corn meal. If it is too dry add a bit of margarine. Make in a small bowl, then set aside: 1 stick margarine 1  cup matza meal 1 cup brown sugar 2. Filling: Zest and juice of two Meyer lemons-if you don’t have a Meyer lemon, skip the zest, just use the juice from one regular lemon. 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I use the slicing disk on a food processor), tossed with the lemon juice to keep from browning. 3. Cake: 6 eggs 1 TB kosher for Passover vanilla extract 2 tsp almond extract 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 2/3 cup oil 1 1/2 cups cake meal   Assembly: In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and oil until the mixture is light. Add the cake meal and mix well. I use a stand mixer. Pour half the mixture into a greased and coated with cake meal 9x 13″ inch baking pan. Distribute half of the apples over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and cover with the remaining apples.  Sprinkle topping over the apples. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Serves 16 to 20. The cake freezes well, and is lovely reheated and served warm.

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A sobering talk on the broken paradigm of disaster relief

Remember Hurricane Sandy?
The woman does. Monica Byrne, a restauranter who lives and works in Red Hook brooklyn,  gave this Ted talk about the disaster, and why she organized her own charity  to distribute aid directly in her neighborhood to people who needed it.
I give away a lot of money, so I found it very interesting.

Also, though I have never met Monica in person, I feel like I know her because we both are on the  Shomernet list server, organized around alumni and friends or my mother’s yourth group, and  she made a lasagna whose recipe was printed in the FOOD section of the New York times a few years ago, which I have made many times, and will perhaps make for Passover.


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