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Five Star Cooking

September 23rd, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

To the uninitiated, the scene would have looked strange. I presented first one and then another daughter with a gift for the upcoming holidays, causing their eyes to light up with joy. The gift came in a plastic container rather than a velvet lined jewelry box. It was ‘one size fits all,’ clearly not a new dress or sweater.

Here is what it looked like before its presentation:

Mandlen, pre-baking, Sept 2014
As you see, the pieces were rather plain looking, and truthfully, they will not win any cooking awards, even when they emerge from the oven, crispy and brown. Neither my family nor I can actually tell you how tasty they objectively are, though we eat them with relish. The enjoyment is completely entwined with our emotional history. These mandlen mean Rosh HaShana is coming and evoke memories of generations of women baking and celebrating the holiday.

 

Mandlen, post-baking, Sept. 2014

I inherited the recipe I use and a bite transports me to my grandmother’s teensy Brooklyn kitchen, where love was an ingredient in every morsel. When my mother-in-law shared her favorite recipes with me, the same recipe was in that treasure trove as well. So, rather than tackle some of the myriad chores on my to-do list, this past Friday I took time to make this labor intensive food, dividing the finished product into packages for each of my children.

My younger grandchildren did not understand the sparkle in their mother’s eyes. I pray for years of peace and health so that they will have time to absorb this small element of family history, prepared to take their place in transmitting it forward.

4 comments

Jan says:

Hi Susan,
I had to look up mandlen in order to know what you were baking. 🙂 It does sound time-consuming, but definitely worth it! Happy Rosh HaShana to you and yours!

Jan, the translation is soup nuts (that should save time for other readers) but I’m not even sure if that is a recognized food.

Kristy says:

I looked it up too! Yes, It does say soup nuts! I had never heard of that before! I LOVE tradition! I pray that in our family, we have many traditions, that my children will continue them. I believe they will. We are a first generation of most of our traditions, however I do not believe the last! We are Christians, but we also enjoy having a Shabbat meal on Friday evening. My children look forward to it! When we first learned about it, 4 1/2 yrs ago, we thought it would be nice to begin implementing. We were not consistent with it, and the children would complain about missing it! There is something special about sharing the best meal of the week,and being blessed by my husband, and blessing the children. I only wish we could say the prayers in Hebrew! Thank you Susan for your Musings! I look forward to reading it each week!

How lovely that you have in mind starting family traditions. I think that in many cases, the things we do over and over leave way more of an impression than a one-time special event like going to Disneyland. And traditions can be a lot less expensive! (Not that special trips don’t have a place as well.)

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