Entries from October 2008 ↓

Hebrew School

Feed Me Bubbe

With days growing shorter, light going dimmer, and wallets growing thinner, we all seem to be taking more and more of a cue from Cathy, enjoying “not eating out in New York.” It seems like this is my natural tendency when fall comes, not to mention the sorely-awaited prospect of being able to turn on a stove in an un-airconditioned, third-floor apartment.

Bubbe’s sweet and sour meatball recipe (video) was our inspiration. To me, the basic structure of the preparation hit a nostalgic nerve, but with an idiosyncratic twist. And there’s Bubbe, too, a strong and compassionate proponent of Jewish soul food, emphasizing thrift, health, flavor and tradition. Though I can’t help but think that her grandson and his coterie of advertisers have her tied up in some suburban Boston basement, releasing the poor woman every month or so to slave over a hot stove without so much as an electrical appliance. Nonetheless, the recipes are great, and Bubbe gently encourages you along the way, flatly rejecting the notion that there is simply one way to make the food right.

Anyway, the meatball recipe and its odd mixture of ingredients just seemed so patently ridiculous that we had to try it on our own. First, Bubbe has you assemble the meatballs in a manner that mostly transcends ethnicity, though this speaks more to the assimilative process of Ashkenazic Jewish-American cuisine as a whole: ground beef (we used a lean, grass-fed variety), breadcrumbs (fresh, from white bread), an egg, minced onion, spices. Form into balls, brown in a skillet, reduce heat, cover and let cook through.

Then it’s time for the secret ingredients:

That’s right: Grape jelly and chili sauce in equal proportions. We went with the Smuckers Concord grape jelly, which is what Bubbe uses, de-branded, in her video. For chili sauce, we went for some sweet Thai. Amused? Repulsed? Incredulous? So was I.

Combine both in the pan with the meatballs. (This is different from how Bubbe did it.) The jelly and chili sauce melt together, co-mingling with the meatball drippings, to create a deep reddish brown gravy. There’s a little inexplicable magic in this that I can’t quite understand. Perhaps too many novitiates have been studying the kabbalah; I don’t know. A very strange and wonderful synthesis happens:

“9 acres is not an amusement park.”

Coat the meatballs with this juice using the spoon. Cover and simmer some more.

Bubbe suggests serving the meatballs with rice, or in a “sub sandwich,” (or “extra meatballs”), and with no harm intended towards the real genius, we mixed meat and dairy by concocting a fresh tomato and parmesan risotto. I guess we figured that the initial flavor combinations were so bizaare that any futher missteps would simply cancel out. Double transgession theory.

They did.

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Post-Shemitta- KCC #35

….Here’s a first for me. Turn on your speakers for this one: George L Smyth presents One Minute How-To – How To Create A Traditional Taste For The Holidays posted at George L Smyth, starring: Feed Me Bubbe!……

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IFF Network Blog

I miss my grandmother lately, and apparently I’m not the only one. Perhaps it is the season of the year, one in which Jews commemorate dead relatives and friends at memorial (Yizkor) services on Yom Kippur and on Shemini Atzeret at the end of Sukkot. Perhaps it is because of the economic downturn–we wish we could have a voice of wisdom.

\One of my favorite bloggers, Vegan Lunchbox posted a link to this 92-year-old grandmother, Clara, who is showing people how to do Depression Cooking on Youtube. Check her out.

Clara might be competition for my favorite youtube grandma on Feed Me Bubbe. The 89-year-old Bubbe is nothing like my grandmother. For one thing, my grandmother did not grow up speaking Yiddish, and I called her Grandma. My son really loves this bubbe though. I like the way she sells the food to you while she cooks it.

My colleague circulated a link to the blog Margaret and Helen. I don’t know. This doesn’t sound a lot like any of the grandmothers I know. She’s very political and her language is kind of salty. Whether Helen Philpot is for real or not, she fills a need. We want to hear from grandmothers.

I always thought that being into our grandparents was a Jewish cultural value. After all, we have the expression, “and you will see your children’s children and peace will be on Israel.” If so, then probably everyone is Jewish. Elephants are Jewish, because they have grandmothers, and dolphins are Jewish, and a whole lot more people are Jewish than we thought.  Well, if loving your grandma makes you Jewish, I mean. You might as well say that it’s uniquely Jewish to like chocolate, or hugging. Or blintzes. Bubbe will show you how to make them from scratch below the cut.

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One Minute How To: Item #302

How To Create A Traditional Taste For The Holidays

offered by Avrom and Bubbe

Avrom and Bubbe go through a number of tasty ideas that help keep the tradition in your holiday events.

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How Would Your Bubbe Vote?

October 1, 2008 · No Comments

Barak Obama wants you to visit your grandmNEW JEWISH FILMMAKING PROJECTother. No, really L.A. Times columnist and E! talking head Joel Stein reports, the Jewish Council for Education and Research (a pro-Obama action committee) is organizing “The Great Schlep” to Fort Lauderdale over the Columbus Day weekend. Why?

More than hockey moms or gun-toting God lovers, old Floridian Jews are themost important demographic in this election. They make up about 5% of the voters in a swing state with 27 electoral college votes. They never miss so much as a condo board vote and are normally reliable Democrats.

Many are also tremendously suspicious of Obama, what with the dark complexion and the funny-sounding middle name. But while Safta may need help understanding that Obama is not really a Secret Muslim, Bernard Avishai argues Obama may need help understanding and bridging gaps between old-guard  Jewish leadership to whom Jerusalem has seemed “not a mythic object of desire but a kind of world-historical Epcot Center, while Israel has seemed something between a bastion against gentile hatred and a great Jewish convention to which they imagine themselves as superdelegates” and young Jews who identify “not with [Joe] Lieberman but with Jon Stewart’s send-ups of Lieberman.”

So, however you’re going to vote in this election, how do you talk to your grandparents and parents about the candidates and the challenges ahead?

Incidentally, and I know I’m late to the party here, while Googling, I came across a great online cooking show Feed Me, Bubbe! Rachel Ray may have an empire based on saccharine, shiksa sorority girl charm, but the bubbe at the center of this online cooking show has chutzpah! Also, this led me to discover a strange breed of one-offs, more nebishes filming their grandmother’s cook. Sweet. But weird.

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