Remember the precious times you spent in your grandmother’s kitchen, watching her make rugelach, brisket, or kugel; listening to her reminisce about the old days and absorbing her pearls of wisdom? Amy Ostrower does, and fortunately for all of us, she shares those experiences through this delightful memoir/cookbook hybrid.
Chapters feature one or more recipes of traditional Jewish food, first offered in Nana Lena’s own words or via lively dialogue. The recipe is revisited in traditional form at the close of the chapter.
Born in 1912, Ostrower’s grandmother, Lena Goodman Herzberg, was deeply engaged in family and community life in Berkley, VA. The recipes in this book flank Nana Lena’s stories: losing a sister and an aunt in the flu epidemic of 1918, meeting and marrying her husband during the Depression, watching her sons go to war, doing community service work, holiday celebrations, dealing with her brother’s Alzheimer’s disease, and much more. Nana Lena’s “Sayings” (eg., “Make a mitzvah, it will come back to you”) and family photographs help complete the picture. With each story, be it funny, sad, joyous, or instructive, Nana Lena pulls you deeply into the ordinary and extraordinary events that shaped her 80-plus years. Glossary, index of recipes.
Robin K. Levinson is an award-winning journalist and author of a dozen books, including the Gali Girls series of Jewish historical fiction for children. She currently works as an assessment specialist for a global educational testing organization. She lives in Hamilton, NJ.