Miriam's Kitchen: A Memoir

Paperback | September 1, 1998

byElizabeth Ehrlich

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Like many Jewish Americans, Elizabeth Ehrlich was ambivalent about her background. She identified with Jewish cultural attitudes, but not with the institutions; she had fond memories of her Jewish grandmothers, but she found their religious practices irrelevant to her life. It wasn?t until she entered the kitchen--and world--of her mother-in-law, Miriam, a Holocaust survivor, that Ehrlich began to understand the importance of preserving the traditions of the past. As Ehrlich looks on, Miriam methodically and lovingly prepares countless kosher meals while relating the often painful stories of her life in Poland and her immigration to America. These stories trigger a kind of religious awakening in Ehrlich, who--as she moves tentatively toward reclaiming the heritage she rejected as a young woman--gains a new appreciation of life?s possibilities, choices, and limitations.

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From Our Editors

This National Jewish Book Award winner recounts the painful stories of life in Poland, related by the author's mother-in-law, a Holocaust survivor, and of Ehrlich's new appreciation of the heritage she rejected as a young woman. 24+ Kosher recipes.

From the Publisher

Like many Jewish Americans, Elizabeth Ehrlich was ambivalent about her background. She identified with Jewish cultural attitudes, but not with the institutions; she had fond memories of her Jewish grandmothers, but she found their religious practices irrelevant to her life. It wasn?t until she entered the kitchen--and world--of her mot...

Elizabeth Ehrlich lives in Westchester County, New York

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8 × 5.4 × 0.9 inPublished:September 1, 1998Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:014026759X

ISBN - 13:9780140267594

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Customer Reviews of Miriam's Kitchen: A Memoir

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Miriam's Kitchen This was a truly excellent book. One of my very favourites of all time - up there with The Poisonwood Bible and A Fine Balance . The writing was superb. The subject matter - family, food and traditions - of interest to all women in this day and age when we are expected to do and be everything to everyone. Bravo to Elizabeth Ehrilich - a fine writer and a extraordinary book.
Date published: 2005-10-26

Extra Content

Read from the Book

MandelbrotIt means almond bread. It is a crisp and crumbly twice baked nut cookie. There are many versions. This is Miriam's mandelbrot. "It's not my recipe," says Miriam. "My mother had the same recipe, almost, but I can't find it. This is Sonia's mother's recipe.""I don't remember chocolate chips in mandelbrot," I say. Miriam's is made with chocolate chips. I remember mandelbrot from the dim recesses of the past, packed in a shoebox and carried in a grandmother's shopping bag. I am looking at Sonia's mother's recipe, copied in Miriam's ornate, vertical script on a loose-leaf page. I don't see chocolate chips in the list of ingredients, either. "I put them in for the children!" sings Miriam. "And now I will not take them out.""This last batch tasted of cinnamon," I remark, scanning the page again: no cinnamon. "I tried a different recipe. I found one with cinnamon, and my mother used to put cinnamon. Did you like it?""Well, yes--" I say. I remember mandelbrot a bit different, not quite as sweet as Miriam's. It was marvelous. Miriam's is marvelous. Whole boxes of almond-fragrant chocolate-chip-studded crisp oval slices neatly packed disappear in a trice."Sonia's mother used to make kreski--crumb cake. It was out of this world. But she doesn't have the recipe. I asked her for it," says Miriam. "I was heartbroken."I have never had crumb cake. I, too, am heartbroken."Nu?" says Miriam. "Take the recipe."This is Miriam's mandelbrot.Mandelbrot:3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tbsp. baking powderPinch of salt1/2 tsp. cinnamon1/4 tsp. cloves1 cup finely chopped walnuts1/2 cup chopped almonds1 1/4 cups sugar4 eggs1 tsp. vanilla extract1tsp. almond extract6 oz. vegetable oil10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)Preheat oven to 350?FSift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves into a mixing bowl (a shisl). Add the walnuts, almonds, and sugar. Mix. Make a well in the flour mixture. To the well, add the eggs. Capture all the egg white from the shell with your thumb. Add vanilla extract, almond extract, and oil. Mix first with a fork, then with your hands. Add chocolate chips, if desired.Chill the dough for at least six hours, preferably overnight. Remove from the fridge and divide into four parts. On a floured board, roll each section into a snake-shaped loaf 18 inches long. place "snakes" onto pan greased with margarine. Flatten dough loaves until 1/2-inch thick. Bake at 350?F., for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Lift loaves off pans carefully (Miriam uses two spatulas.) Set on a clean surface (the rolling board is fine).Wipe the baking pans. Remove any particles or crumbs, but don't grease again. Slice the loaves 3/4-inch thick, at an angle. Arrange slices flat on the pans. bake again at 350?F., for 15-20 minutes until light brown.

Table of Contents

Introduction
September—Longing
September (Journal)
A Coal Stove
Egg Salad
Yom Kippur
How to Keep a Kosher Kitchen
Honey Cake
October—Diaspora
October (Journal)
Cholent
Zion
Irish Mary
Miriam's Kitchen
Yiddish
November—Native Ground
November (Journal)
Old Neighborhood
Stuffed Cabbage
Apple Cake
December—Inheritance
December (Journal)
Wedding Ring
Suitcase
Ribbon
Mandelbrot
Christmas Goose
January—Obligation
January (Journal)
Paris
Too Busy
Chocolate Cake
Charity
Baked Apples
February—Observance
February (Journal)
Chicken Soup
Revisionism
A Pebble
Cake
March—Miracles
March (Journal)
A Simcha
Kosher Style
Confinement
April—Female Religion
April (Journal)
Baby Naming
Puberty
Passover
The Soul in the Dumpling
Passover Egg Noodles
Salt-Free
May—Decisions
May (Journal)
Ironing the Kitchen
The Book of Ruth
Noodle Kugel
Grocery Shopping
Mikvah
June—The Life Force
June (Journal)
She Wanted a Girl to Have Them
Drugstore
Israel
Sex
July—Community
July (Journal)
Kosher Day to Day
Bungalow
Potato Pudding
Sitting Shiva
August—Words and Deeds
August (Journal)
Moving
Why There Is No Recipe for Aunt Dora's Honey Cake
Doubt
Bacon?
Summer Squash
September—Continuity
September (Journal)
Sabbath
Sponges
Acknowledgments
A Note on Transcription
Index

From Our Editors

This National Jewish Book Award winner recounts the painful stories of life in Poland, related by the author's mother-in-law, a Holocaust survivor, and of Ehrlich's new appreciation of the heritage she rejected as a young woman. 24+ Kosher recipes.