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3 thoughts on “Contact Us

  1. What a wonderful idea and beautiful work you are doing. The Onion Pletzel entry is perfect! And I can vouch for the fact that they were delicious! We got to eat some!!!

  2. Girls,
    Here’s my version of pletzels and other goodies (which totally agrees with yours) that I prepared for presentation to our Storytellers group:

    Grandma Bessie

    I guess I always took my grandma for granted. We would celebrate the Jewish holidays with Grandma and Grampa, along with my very large family of aunts, uncles, cousins – and assorted friends and neighbors. The food was wonderful, the conversations were loud, the laughter was frequent, and everyone always had a good time. Grandma would always have lots of good food and lots of strudel, cookies and cake for dessert.

    The rest of the time, we could always count on Grandma to do her regular baking on Friday, for Shabbat. She would get up at about 4AM and start the challah dough. When it was time for the dough to rise, she would go back to bed to snooze for a little while longer. By the time my father came to have breakfast with her, she had the challah made, and pletzels.

    Pletzels…my mouth waters just at the thought of them. Let me tell you what pletzels are: Made of challah dough, they are shaped like flat rolls – anywhere from 3 to 6” in diameter – with onions and poppy seeds in their centers. They are baked until they are golden-brown. Slather butter on them…there is nothing better.
    You can eat them alone, with coffee, a glass of milk, a little pickled herring or lox, or an entire meal. When I was a kid I would have one in the morning when Dad came home after his visit to Grandma, another after school, one for a bedtime snack, and then more the next day. And I was thin!

    My brother also loved pletzels, and when he was a teenager he asked Grandma if she would make them a different way for him. Instead of baking them flat, could she fold them over twice, putting the onions and poppy seeds in between the layers, as well as on the top. They would bake in a golden, high triangular shape. Mmmm.

    Grandma’s challahs were works of art. They were braided with four ‘braids’, just so, and browned to perfection.

    When the young kids came to visit she would give each of them a ball of dough – enough for a roll. They would pound it and roll it and by the time they were done the dough was gray and ugly. She would put this ‘work of art’ into the oven, and miraculously, when it was done, it was beautiful and golden brown. When the child wasn’t looking, she switched it!

    For special celebrations such as an ‘aufruf’ or bris, she would make a challah as big as her oven would accommodate. She would embellish the braiding with another higher braid on top. Beautiful!

    Grandma often baked coffee cake. When I was very young and coffee cans were short and wide, she would use the empty cans to bake them in. Later on they were made in regular baking pans. She would add cinnamon and sugar and lots and lots of golden raisins that would collect in bunches that we called ‘nests’. Therefore, it was called ‘Nest Cake’. I remember sitting at her kitchen table with others in the family, picking out the nests.

    There were always cookies in Grandma’s cookie jar. The cookie jar was shaped like a woman with a kerchief on her head and a full long skirt, and she kept it above her refrigerator. The cookies were flat, scalloped and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Perfect for dunking in a cup of tea!

    Strudel…Thin dough on the outside, apples, raisins and nuts on the inside. But what a job that was! Grandma got the filling prepared and set aside, then used the kitchen table to rolland stretch the dough so thin you could read the newspaper through it! Once baked, she cut it into pieces.

    I watched Grandma make noodles for soup one time. She mixed the dough, rolled it flat, formed it into a tube and, snip-snip-snip, cut it into fine pieces.

    All of this took years of practice. When she was a child, Grandma began by helping her mother in the kitchen, and when her mother died young, she helped out with the younger kids. Later, when she married, she had a houseful of children of her own, and had to make-do on a very tight budget. She never used a recipe, but years of practice made her perfect.
    About the time I was to be married, I visited Grandma as usual on a Friday afternoon. She was baking a second batch of challah. She called me over to her side, and said, “Watch”. In about 5 seconds she had braided a beautiful challah. It was magical. Then she proceeded to prepare another for braiding and said to me: “Now you try it”. Well, I tried, and failed. And tried again, and failed. In the years that followed, I would often try to braid challah. If I used 3 braids, it was okay, if a little thin. 4 braids were beyond my ability. It took about 20 years, and following the pictures in my Jewish cookbook, I was finally able to master the technique. But never as beautiful as Grandma’s.

    I do a lot of baking and enjoy it. Every now and then, when I am feeling sentimental and need some food for my soul, I will bake pletzels, sometimes challah, and remember those times in Grandma’s kitchen.

    Love from
    Aunt Susan

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