*This is not an error; I included the top of the next page in order to finish a paragraph and to leave you, Beautiful People, in suspense. The synagogue story will continue next week.
11. Mazel Tov – Congratulations (lit. Good Luck)
12. Yizkor – prayer in commemoration of the dead, recited on the last days of the Three Festivals and on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (lit. He shall remember…)
13. NEP (New Economic Policy) – a system of privatization introduced by Lenin in 1922 to help boost the fledgling soviet economy.
14. Oistrakh, David – world-famous violinist who was born in Odessa and who started out as a childhood prodigy. His name became synonymous with the notion of a “wunderkind.”
15. Nikeyveh – prostitute.
Whenever I hear this beautiful song, I can’t help but think about my grandparents who were just as much in love with each other 59 years later, as on the day of their wedding.
The next course coming to the holiday table is soup.
You’ve heard of a one-armed bandit, but what about a one-eyed soup? Hershele of Ostropol, a famous prankster and jester who lived about 200 years ago (I believe I’ve mentioned him before), traveled to another town and went to an inn.
“Do you have a yukh – chicken soup?” – he inquired.
“But of course, – said the offended innkeeper, – the best yukh you’ve ever tasted!”
“In that case, make me a goldene yukh, mit goldene oygn (a golden soup with golden eyes), and I’ll pay you a ruble for each eye.”
Trying to get as many golden circles of fat on the surface of the soup as possible, the innkeeper cooked his fattest chicken and proudly served the soup. The entire surface was thick with fat.
“Here is one ruble, – the wily jester offered, – this soup has only one eye – a yukh mit ein oyg!”
I grew up on stories about Hershele, but this one is among my favorites. There are several books, a play, and a couple of movies (accessible on Youtube), but I keep hearing my grandmother’s soft voice telling Hershele anecdotes in Yiddish. And, of course, chicken soup, “the Jewish penicillin,” has always been considered a remedy for all problems, physical and emotional alike. The great 12th century Jewish sage and physician Rambam in his book On the Cause of Symptoms recommends it “to neutralize body condition,” which includes curing leprosy and asthma. Seven hundred years later, a study conducted at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach confirmed many of Rambam’s chicken soup prescriptions (http://www.myjewishlearning.com).
To make a healthy chicken soup, I quarter a whole chicken and undress it – take the skin off, other than from the wings which are my treat. Naked chicken parts hide in a crock pot cooking bag – they are bashful! – and go into the crock pot, covered with water. Here is the trick: set the crock pot on high and bring the chicken water to boil. Then pull the bag out, discard the first water, wash the chicken pieces thoroughly, and place them in a clean bag. Fill it with water and bring it to boil again.
While you are waiting for the second chicken water to boil, you can get your vegetables ready. I use only carrots, parsnip, celery, and onions. Peel and wash them, of course, and cut the onion crisscross half-way on the bottom, like this:
This is not my grandmother’s whimsy; the soup does taste sweeter this way!
Cut the rest of the veggies into bite size pieces and get large handfuls of fresh parsley and dill ready. Once the chicken water is boiling, drop all the veggies in there, season with salt and pepper, and put parsley and dill bunches on top. Turn the crock pot to low and forget about it for a few hours, or until the chicken is totally and thoroughly done and falling apart.
As Hershele was attending a funeral, he overheard the widow complaining bitterly about all the treatments and medications administered to the deceased.
“What medications? Give him chicken soup!” – advised Hershele.
“But he is dead – it wouldn’t help him!”
“It wouldn’t hurt either, – said the jester, pouring himself another vodka, – a yukh is a yukh!”
As you can see, my yukh does not have a multitude of fatty “eyes” floating on the surface. It has only one eye, and that one is healthy, for a good a healthy New Year! Shana Tova! A Zis Yor!
A great kudos to wonderful Esme of https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com/ who runs and coordinates the recipe exchange program and who has been unfailingly posting every holiday recipe I throw her way in order to get it in before the holiday – thank you, dear Esme!
- 1 whole chicken quartered and skinned
- 1 large carrot
- 1 parsnip
- 1 medium size onion
- 1 celery stalk
- A large handful of fresh parsley
- A large handful of fresh dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place chicken pieces in crock pot bag inside crock pot, fill bag with water. Set crock pot on high.
- Bring to boil, discard water, wash chicken pieces thoroughly. Place in a clean bag inside crock pot, fill with water, bring to boil.
- Peel onion, cut crisscross half way on the bottom. Cut the rest of vegetables into bite size pieces. Add to chicken.
- Season with salt and pepper, place parsley and dill on top. Cover,reduce setting to low. Cook for 4 – 5 hours until done.
Chicken soup without kneidlach (matzoh balls) is like Batman without Robin, Superman without a cape, Harry Potter without Ron and Hermaine – I think I’ll stop right here and go on with the recipe. I’ve heard from so many people that they have never managed to make fluffy matzoh balls, and – eureka! – I finally figured out the reason. It’s air! My grandmother’s kneidlach were so light and fluffy, they could fly. Well, if you want to fly, you need air, right?
Get the basic ingredients: matzoh ball mix (that’s just matzoh meal* that comes in smaller and more expensive boxes), eggs, and oil. None of that seltzer or baking soda and vinegar shtick that our ancestors never heard about! Whisk eggs and oil together really well. The more you aerate it, the easier your kneidlach will fly. That’s the first secret.
Keep whisking while you gradually introduce the matzoh meal, i.e. mix. Make sure you blend it well, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Pour some vegetable oil into a saucer and dip your palm into it. That’s how you prevent the stubborn sticky mess from refusing to shape up. Form balls the size of walnuts. They should puff up to about twice their size as they are cooking.
The second secret is cooking them in broth rather than water, regardless of what it says on the box. Don’t just dump them in your chicken soup, though; leave the soup pure. Just take some of it into a separate pot, bring it to boil, and gently drop your matzoh balls into it. When they pop to the surface, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
And that’s how you serve your chicken soup with the lightest, fluffiest, scrumptious kneidlach ever! Shana Tova! A Zis Yor!
- 1/2 cup matzoh meal or matzo ball mix
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
*Matzoh meal is matzoh gound up into flour
- Whisk eggs with oil until foamy.
- Gradually introduce matzoh meal while whisking.
- Blend thoroughly, cover, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Oil palms, form walnut size balls.
- Bring 1 quart chicken broth to boil, gently drop balls into it. When balls come to surface, reduce to simmering. Simmer for 15 minutes.