Ready for a little Hanukkah Hoopla?

Latkes.jpg

Latkes frying. Image by Jonathunder from Wikipedia Commons .

Blogger Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson has invited me to participate in this year’s Hanukka Hoopla. To help wrap up your holiday, I’ll be sharing a Chanukah memory and a recipe in case you’re still looking for a latke fix.

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My parents divorced when I was a preschooler. Mom settled down with my twin sister and me in suburban Columbia, Maryland, near her parents.

Grandma and Grandpa were about the most doting grandparents humanly imaginable. (And Grandma, at 94, ka”h still is!) While my grandmother ran a small business when I was very young, Grandpa had already retired by the time I was born. He found lots of ways to fill his time, and many of them involved keeping two little girls happy — namely, my sister and me.  Continue reading

My Review of Henye Meyer’s A Stranger to My Brothers

My latest review appears in the Jewish Press book supplement, Of the Book. You can find it here. It’s of Henye Meyer’s re-issue of A Stranger to My Brothers under a new title and with new material.

Remembering Gil Marks and his contribution to Jewish books and cooking

Last week, Gil Marks passed away at the untimely age of 62. He was a legendary food writer, known not only for his recipes, but for his contribution to our understanding of Jewish food. He did extensive research on the details of recipes, their cultural connections, and place in history. Because I trained as an anthropologist, his ethnological approach to Jewish food made him by far my favorite cookbook author.

Remembering Gil Marks and his contribution to Jewish books.

His most famous books are The World of Jewish CookingOlive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World and Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. That final title is my absolute favorite cookbook of all time. It actually makes fun reading even if you make not one recipe. Marks also wrote extensively for periodicals, such as Emunah Magazine.

Twenty years ago, most people thought of latkes, kugel, kishke, and borsht when they referred to “Jewish Food.” Marks changed that and became among those who popularized Sephardic and Mizrachi cuisine. Continue reading

Slacker moment — forgot to let you know about my review of Farewell, Aleppo

Sleecha.

I got a little distracted at the end of November, and I forgot to post about my most recent book review for Jewish Home Los Angeles. It’s of Claudette Sutton’s Farewell, Aleppo, and it will interest readers who like reading about the Jewish American Experience, as well as those whose families originate in Syria or other Muslim countries. You can find the review here.

Tables turned: a writer gets interviewed by Fradl Adams for The Lakewood Shopper

Fradl Adams interviews inspirational women, particularly baalos teshuvah, for The Lakewood Shopper. Her column appears weekly. Anyway, she asked to speak to me — focusing primarily on my writing for Jewish teens and tweens — about a month ago, and the interview runs this week. For those of us outside NJ, she provided this link.

I’m much more used to interviewing people than being interviewed. It was definitely WEEEIRD, and I kept thinking, “Do I sound like that?”

A discovery! And what happens when you follow other writers’ advice.

So, things today went better today than last week. In short, I wrote more today than I wrote in the entirety of last week. (Yes, that’s how bad things were going.)

One of the things I found helpful was focus@will’s new setting “Cafe focus Beta.” A few months back, I reported that researchers released data indicating that writers are more productive in cafes than sitting in a quiet office at home. Well, I guess the folks at focus@will read the same study, because not only can you use the site to enhance your creativity with baroque or ambient music — or to white noise — you can now listen to a re-creation of a busy cafe full of people.

And yes, I did indeed find it helpful.

I also relied on the advice of other writers today in order to increase my productivity. Continue reading