My mom was born in 1935, in Brooklyn, New York. The only child, and first-generation American child, of Jewish-Polish/Russian immigrants. She grew up during the tail end of the Depression and the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II. Like many others of her time, she loved all things Assimilated American. She read Rona Jaffee, listened to Tony Bennet, Dean Martin, Neil Sedaka and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. She wore palazzo pants, read Dr. Spock, and drank TaB. We drank TaB too. We also ate lots of TV dinners, Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks and Underwood Deviled Chicken spreads on white bread with mayonnaise. She was good with the holidays – well the main ones, like we always had a Seder and matzah and Maxwell House Haggadas. She did make a brisket once – in a brand new olive-green pressure cooker. But it exploded into the fluorescent light fixtures that my father had installed during the 1974 gas shortage. Unfortunately, however, great Jewish cuisine or anything that wasn’t marketed in Ladies Home Journal or delivered to our doorstep by the milkman seemed to evade her. As kids our initiation to really good Ashkenazic Jewish food came from my paternal grandmother. All she ever did was cook. I honestly don’t remember seeing her do anything else. Matzah Balls, Kreplach, Knishes, Kasha, Stuffed Derma, and Blintzes. Piles of blintzes with cheese, potato, apple, cherry. They were golden and sizzling and always served with sour cream or applesauce. My mother said they were fattening, and I shouldn’t eat them. My mother drank TaB and smoked Virginia Slims. I ate blintzes.Read More
Submitted by Amy Scully
My great grandmother Fannie Polirer Strassner’s chocolate chip Mandelbrot is a bestseller every year at the Big Nosh. The Big Nosh had its roots in the Tree of Life Food Festival, and the bake sale table has been a staple at the event. Julie Strauss and I have chaired the bake sale table since long-time member Libby Paul, of blessed memory, stepped down. The bake sale table is always a favorite of our customers and they come back year after year asking for items from years past. And every year our wonderful Tree of Life bakers fill the tables with mouthwatering treats. Big sellers include anything that is a traditional Jewish dessert, such as Ruth Marcus’ and Carolyn Conway’s rugelach, hamentaschen, babka, challah and more. Nontraditional desserts are available as well, including gluten free options. This year, the Big Nosh will take place on Sunday, May 5 at the Tree of Life, 6719 North Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC. from 11 am until 3 pm. Admission is FREE! Come and get your NOSH on!
My nana was born in Rava Ruska, Austria (now Poland) in 1895. She emigrated to New York City in 1909 and lived with relatives. After her marriage to Abraham Strassner in 1910, at the age of 15, she moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where she lived until 1937 when she and her husband moved to Monticello, NY. She was the mother of eight children, seven who survived, and a wonderful cook and baker. However, Yiddish was her language of choice so to use her recipes we had to follow her around the kitchen and write down everything she was doing. The language barrier made it difficult but complicating matters was that she didn’t measure anything. Despite the language barrier we were close, and I always felt her love of family and for me.
I learned the hard way that the ingredients need to be added in the exact order for the consistency to be correct.
Nana’s Mandelbrot (add ingredients in exact order)
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup of canola oil
1 cup of sugar
3 tsp of baking powder
3 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of chocolate chips (I usually add extra chips)
Mix all ingredients by hand.
Shape in to 3 equal ovals.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Slice and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
About the author, Amy Scully
My husband, Rob, and I moved to Columbia, SC in 1987 from upstate NY with Rob’s company and after 30+ years consider Columbia home. We raised our son, Matthew, in Columbia where he attended religious school, became a Bar Mitzvah, and was confirmed at the Tree of Life amongst our extended family. My mother and father, Harriet and Elliott Posner, spent the winter months in Columbia, SC where they too found a home at Tree of Life. In 2012, my mother moved to Columbia permanently where she still resides.
Submitted by Lyssa Kligman Harvey
My first blog entry for Kugels and Collards was a sweet kugel that my grandmother Ida Lomansky Kligman made. Now that we have our very own Collard Kugel recipe which is a savory kugel, I have a renewed interest in finding out more about savory kugels.
Savory Kugels may be based on potatoes, matzah, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, spinach, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions or cheese. In Lithuania there is a dish that is called “Kugelis”. It is a baked potato pudding, and it is a traditional Lithuanian dish. The main ingredients are potatoes, onions and eggs.
I have asked Christine Beresniova, Executive Director of the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust for more information about Kugelis. Her husband, Rokas Beresnoiva hails from Lithuania where Kugelis originated. Birute, Christine’s mother-in-law has given us her personal recipe for Kugelis.
Christine has sent two recipes: One is the handwritten recipe (in Lithuanian) by her mother-in-law Birute Beresniova. It features kugelis both with chicken and one without meat.
Christine explains, “I didn’t translate it because there is virtually no difference in the base preparation for any kugelis recipe. The second recipe is from the cookbook given to me and my husband by a family friend when we got married. It was originally printed in 1955 by Lithuanians living in the US, and it hasn’t changed since then.
The base recipes for kugelis are all essentially same; they involve grated potatoes, eggs, flours of some kind, milk, and salt. For some ethnic Lithuanians, they mix in pork or bacon. For other Lithuanians and for Jewish Lithuanians, they cook it with chicken. This is how my husband grew up (with chicken drumsticks stuck in it). You find the chicken recipe more common in rural areas where both Jews and Lithuanians were in close proximity and were both impoverished and they couldn’t afford a lot. Jews used to make kugelis on Shabbat. That was usually the only time of week they ate meat.
Just like borscht, there are different recipes for kugelis for each family with different add-ins. There is a sour cream butter sauce that some people make with bacon or onions. Others just serve it with sour cream. Some eat it with jam (lingonberry is common).
My mother-in-law swears that Lithuanian potatoes cook better, something about their flavor and starch content. She likes the yellow gold or the red potatoes. She doesn’t use russets or baking potatoes. She also swears that a good kugel is in how you grate and prep the potatoes. She does everything by hand and soaks the potatoes. She used a food processor once at our insistence and she was sorely disappointed. It is a lot of work to grate 3 pounds of potatoes by hand, but it tastes better.
There is also some debate over who invented kugelis, Jews or Lithuanians. Naturally, it emerged as a dish shared by both groups at the same time because of their close proximity in rural areas where social distance between groups was much smaller. It doesn’t have a lot in common with the more well known noodle kugel, so don’t serve it at a party and tell people it’s kugel. We did that once for Rosh Hashanah and people were confused.”
Submitted by Rachel Barnett
My earliest memories of a kugel are that of egg noodles combined with eggs, milk, butter, cinnamon, sugar and raisins baked into a sweet dish that was, it seemed, always on our dinner table. This kugel must have been my paternal grandmother’s recipe that she taught to Ethel Glover, the African-American woman who cooked for three generations of the family. It’s a recipe that wasn’t written down, but through trial and error (and many other recipes in various cookbooks) I have managed to duplicate. I must add that it’s not my favorite kugel but, it’s the one from my childhood that takes me back to our family dinner table of fried chicken, seasonal fresh vegetables, and kugel. This may not sound quite as healthy as we eat today, but it was homecooked and always fresh.
Kugel recipes today are very creative. Our Collard Kugel, courtesy of Joan Nathan, is savory. Adding pineapple and cheeses can make a kugel luscious and more custard-like. But, none take me back to my family dinner table like Ethel’s somewhat dry kugel with its crispy noodles that were baked to golden perfection. I can taste it and smell it even today.
Egg noodles (one 12 oz package wide noodles)
6 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter cut
1/2 cup raisins
Cook noodles al dente. Mix eggs and milk together. Mix cinnamon and sugar together. Pour all ingredients over drained noodles and mix well. Add bit of extra butter sugar on top for browning. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake at 350 until brown on top.
UPDATE: I made the kugel for this post (see photos above). This kugel is simple and really delicious and now will again be on my dinner table!
We were delighted to welcome celebrated chef and renowned cookbook author, Joan Nathan to Columbia last month, and we couldn’t be happier with the support from such a wide variety of people who joined us at two successful events on Feb. 3-4. The images below show the pure joy of cooking and history (and some of the delicious treats) that we enjoyed while Joan was here.
Special thanks to the more than 200 people who attended King Solomon’s Table with Joan Nathan at the Beth Shalom Synagogue. We were also glad to receive excellent local media coverage from Bach Pham at the Free Times and Madeline Cuddihy at WIS. We learned so much, and we can’t wait to start planning on our next Kugels & Collards event. We especially like the following comment that we received after the event.
“I found the information and program interesting and loved the opportunity to try the unique and delicious food. I hesitate to share the following because it may be considered silly or misunderstood but I’m going to share in case it helps you considering additional programs. This was my first opportunity to enter a synagogue. I was raised here in the midlands in a Christian home—grew up and still am a Southern Baptist—where I was always taught to have a deep respect for and celebration of Jewish people and the nation of Israel. While I admit I am always easily moved to happy tears and tears of regret, I wasn’t expecting that yesterday. It was very emotional for me as I entered and sat down and reflected; opened the red book on the pew with Scripture in English on left and Hebrew on right. As I began to read familiar passages, I was moved to tears. I was glad no one seemed to notice and feel foolish mentioning now but I would not have had this experience without your offering yesterday’s program. I’m grateful for the experience. I guess it was an overflow of gratitude that the faith and the Bible that are important to me are available because of the ancestors of the Hebrew faith from Scriptures.”
Submitted by Rachel Barnett and Lyssa Harvey
On February 3rd, from 2 – 3:30 p.m., Kugels & Collards, in conjunction with Historic Columbia and the History Center at the University of South Carolina, will proudly host “King Solomon’s Table with Joan Nathan” at Beth Shalom Synagogue. Nathan, a James Beard award winner, much-loved cookbook author, and authority on Jewish cooking across the globe, is celebrated for her ability to tie together cuisine and history. According to Kugels & Collards co-founder Rachel Barnett, Nathan’s expertise will bring fresh insight to the blog’s mission, which is to “expand on the history of the Jewish community in Columbia using Jewish cooking to engage family stories and history.”
The presentation by Nathan will be followed by a reception with southern Jewish recipes from one of Nathan’s 11 cookbooks. Attendees will get to experience what Risa Strauss, Beth Shalom’s Director of Education, calls Nathan’s “gastronomic delights and cultural descriptions.” In preparation for Sunday, Nathan has provided Kugels & Collards with two recipes, adapted from The Sephardic Cooks by Congregation Or VeShalom in Atlanta, Georgia, that capture the essence of southern Jewish cooking.
Recipes adapted from Joan Nathan and The Sephardic Cooks by Congregation Or VeShalom (Atlanta, Georgia)
2 bunches of collard leaves, stemmed and washed
2 cups wide noodles
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 large eggs beaten
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup cottage, cream, or ricotta cheese
½ cup Feta cheese
Aleppo pepper to taste (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Once you have stemmed and washed your collard leaves, derib the leaves. Then take a handful of leaves and cut in chiffonades. Repeat with the rest. You should have about 6 cups of leaves. Using a medium frying or saucepan with a cover, add the leaves with a cup of water and about a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Heat the leaves and as they start to wilt, cover them with a top and steam them for about 10 minutes. Then remove and set aside.
Heat another saucepan with water and add some salt. Bring to a boil and add the noodles. Cook a few minutes until they are al dente – not more–. Remove, cover with cold water and drain and set aside.
While the noodles are cooling, mix the eggs with the cottage or other cheese, feta, and Parmesan cheese. Then stir in the collards and the noodles and add a bit of Aleppo pepper to taste if you like. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes or until the kugel browns slightly and serve. Yields 6 to 8 servings.
Baked grits with black-eyed peas
6 garlic cloves, crushed
6 to 8 tablespoons olive oil (about)
2 cups of Anson Mills or other good stone ground grits
1 small onion, chopped
1 10-oz. package frozen black-eyed peas or 2 pounds fresh
2 tablespoons tomato sauce or fresh tomato, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat in a medium size saucepan. After the garlic becomes translucent, add 8 cups of water, the grits, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir a few minutes or until the grits are dissolved in the water.
Sauté the onion in another tablespoon of oil in a small frying or saucepan. Add a teaspoon of salt, the peas, the tomatoes or sauce, and a cup of water. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or until tender. Stir into the grit mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the mixture, which should still be liquidly, comes to a boil. At that point, turn the flame down and allow this mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes while it thickens. Stir occasionally and keep uncovered.
Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with the remaining olive oil. Pour the thickened mixture into the casserole, and let it continue to firm up in the refrigerator for about an hour. With a sharp knife cut into about 12 squares.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the grits into the oven for about 15 minutes to warm up. Then raise the temperature to 500 degrees and brush the olive oil that will well up around the pan over the top of the grits and heat for about 10 minutes or until the top is browned. Yields about 8 to 12 servings.
Submitted by Janis Dickman
If you ask me to describe our Dad, I will tell you that Dad was like a “boy scout.” He was kind, generous and industrious. Dad could fix things and build things and grow things, and he could cook for a crowd. So how did a Jewish boy from New Jersey become the Latke King of Columbia, S.C.?
Dad’s mother, who immigrated from a small village in Russia, is remembered as a wonderful cook, of course Ashkenazi (Eastern European) cuisine. In his late teens, Dad spent his summers as a waiter at a Jewish hotel in the Catskills, otherwise known as the “Borsht Belt.” When the U.S. entered World War II, Dad was an airplane inspector at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C. This was Dad’s introduction to the South, where he later made his home. Dad volunteered for the Army Air Force and was immediately sent to England for 31 months where he repaired “war weary” airplanes. After D-day, when there were no planes to be repaired, Dad took over as Sergeant of the soldiers’ mess. Lastly, when Dad returned to New Jersey, he owned a bakery. Dad even baked his own wedding cake!
In 1949, Max Dickman (from Newark) with Selma Dickman (from New York City) moved to Sumter and a year later to Columbia. Max Dickman together with Oscar Seidenberg (father of Fred and Debbie) founded Columbia Steel & Metal, originally on Assembly Street across from the old baseball park. The company later moved to the present Shop Road location.
As transplants from “up north,” my parents were warmly welcomed by the established “southern” Jewish families. Along with other young Jewish couples, their first home in Columbia was the Baker Apartments on Maple Street. Mom and Dad quickly became part of the fabric of Columbia’s Jewish community and made the very best “forever friends.” Their friends were a marvelous and colorful lot -- some from large southern families, some transplants like my parents and some who had survived the Holocaust – all joining together to raise their children in a close-knit Jewish community. Though most have passed on, I remain grateful to all my Columbia “aunts” and “uncles.” “Kugels and Collards” attests to their legacy.
Lots of Lakes
At Hanukkah, the Jewish soldiers from Fort Jackson were bussed to the Columbia Jewish Community Center for a Hanukkah latke party. I recall the JCC gym crowded with soldiers. Dad was the “sergeant” of a crew of men and women turning out hundreds of hot, crisp latkes. For years, Dad was also the head latke cook for the Tree of Life Temple Hanukkah parties, at its former location on Heyward Street. Now, the Tree of Life on Trenholm Road has a permanent Latke Hut that would have made Dad proud.
My childhood memory of Passover involved soldiers from Fort Jackson crowding around our dining room table. Established in 1917, Fort Jackson served as the Army’s major basic training camp. Thousands of soldiers spent their months of basic training at Fort Jackson. Until the draft ended in 1975, there were large numbers of Jewish soldiers. For the Jewish holidays, the Columbia Jewish community organized home hospitality for the Jewish soldiers. This was long before cell phones and Skype, and I recall the homesick soldiers spending as much time calling home from our kitchen phone as they did enjoying the Passover meal. Only now do I appreciate what bringing soldiers into our home for the holidays must have meant to my Dad, who himself had been a soldier far from home.
Bar Mitzvah Parties at the JCC
Before Jewish families were welcome to join country clubs and few could afford backyard pools, the Columbia Jewish Community Center (founded in 1955 on Trenholm Road, now located at Flora Drive) provided the growing Jewish community with a center for Jewish life, including a pre-school, a summer day camp, a swimming pool where kids, teens and families hung out, a gym where the interfaith basketball teams played, and a home for our BBG and AZA chapters (together the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization). Some of us “baby-boomers” also remember attending Bar Mitzvah parties in the JCC gym, complete with a disco ball. As volunteers, Dad and his buddy Maynard Neider, along with Florida Boyd (who deserves a column of her own) and Frank Boyd (not related), catered sit-down dinner-dances in the JCC gym. In my poufy dress, poufy hair and 1 ½ inch heels, I remember Dad coming out of the kitchen in his apron to check that the dinner service was progressing well. Dad’s grand finale was catering (as a volunteer) Cornish hens for 250 for the dedication of the Beth Shalom Synagogue. Eventually, Dad and Maynard retired; and Frank took over the JCC kitchen, with help from Florida.
Smoked Turkeys Can Fly
Dad was also famous for his smoked turkeys. At the JCC auctions, Dad’s smoked turkeys were sought after items. One friend of the family actually took a smoked turkey home on a flight to California!
Our Dad left us way too early. Dad, we “love you a latke!”
This recipe comes from my much loved, tattered copy of “The Stuffed Bagel,” published by the Columbia, S.C. Chapter of Hadassah, 1975-1976, Gail Lieb, President.
For each two cups of grated potato, add:
2 well-beaten eggs
Pinch of pepper
2 tbsp. matzo meal
1 tsp. grated onion
½ tsp. salt
Pinch baking powder
Fry in hot oil until crisp on both sides. Serve plain, with applesauce or sour cream.
I cannot find Dad’s recipe for smoked turkey. Below is the brine for his scrumptious smoked chicken. The skin turns a beautiful mahogany; and even the white meat is juicy.
1 gallon hot water – boiling
½ cup salt
1 cup vinegar
1 tsp. each – pepper, celery seed, dill seed and rubbed sage
¼ tsp. tabasco sauce
4 cloves chopped garlic
Hickory chips – cook slowly
For Pickled Corned Beef or Tongue
This is the only recipe I have found in Dad’s tiny, neat handwriting.
With contributions by Katharine Allen, Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey
Thanksgiving at the Parlor Restaurant
By Katharine Allen
On November 22, 1910, The State ran an advertisement touting the Thanksgiving menu offered by Ben David, the proprietor of the Parlor Restaurant. The food included American staples like crème of celery soup, “prime ribs of western beef,” “mashed and whole boiled potatoes,” and of course, turkey, albeit with “chesnut dressing.” By then, the Parlor Restaurant’s reputation for providing excellent food and service at reasonable prices had helped Columbia become “the square meal town.” For 18 years, David served legislators, businessmen, students, and tourists a plethora of foodstuffs – particularly oysters and wild game – that were likely at odds with the kosher upbringing of his parents, if not himself.
“The best caterer in town.”
Benjamin “Ben” David was born in Poland in 1853 and immigrated to the United States as a toddler with his parents and siblings. He spent the 1870s through 1890s operating liquor stores and saloons before opening the Parlor Restaurant in 1896. Initially located in the Kendall Building on Washington Street, the Parlor Restaurant raised its profile through print advertising and elaborate storefront displays
In 1900, David moved his restaurant to 1336 Main Street, where he remained open night and day for more than 10 years.
The planned construction of the Arcade Mall at 1332 Main Street forced the Parlor Restaurant to relocated across the street, where it remained until 1913. Upon his death in 1920, “Uncle Ben” was eulogized in The State. Edward N. Carpenter, a friend from his youth, summed up his life thusly: “one of the best men [I] had ever known. In charitable causes he was generous, too much so it is said. His life was one of usefulness.” David, along with his siblings, is buried at the Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery in Columbia.
Thanksgiving Memories: Cranberry Relish and Corn Pie
Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey
Like many Southern Jewish families, our families gathered together each year with extended family to enjoy both religious and secular holidays. Of course, the dinner table was the epicenter these happy celebrations. Menus were well-established with family-designated cooks knowing exactly what their contribution to the menu was for any given meal.
Thanksgiving was one of those celebrations. When our children were young, we would all gather—the Levinsons, Kligmans, and Dickmans—to enjoy the festivities. Selma and Max Dickman hosted for years, first at their home on Lake Murray and then when Max passed away, Selma would host Thanksgiving in her beautiful home in Spring Valley. There was an annual photo taken of the children – each year the photo added a couple of “newcomers” until we had a good 16 or so!
The Thanksgiving meal was a wonderful combination of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, combined with several Jewish contributions (the omnipresent kugel and brisket for instance!) Everyone was assigned a dish and over the years that became their traditional annual contribution for Thanksgiving.
By Lyssa Kligman Harvey
My contribution is a cranberry relish made from fresh cranberries and citrus fruit. It has graced the family Thanksgiving table over the last 20 years. The cranberry relish is not only good with turkey, but also on sandwiches and served with cheese platters. I make a big batch to give away for the holidays, wrap it jelly jars, and with friends and neighbors.
16-oz. bag of cranberries
2 medium-sized oranges
3 Granny Smith apples
1 jar of raspberry preserves
Rinse off cranberries and place in food processor with chopping blade. Chop cranberries into very small pieces and place in a large bowl. Quarter and seed oranges, lemons, and apples and place in food processor. Chop these fruits into very small pieces and add to the cranberries. Add the jar of raspberry preserves. Mix well. If the cranberry relish is a little too tangy add a little sugar to taste.
Serve in a bowl, or can be canned in jars. Relish must be refrigerated. It will last for about 6 months in a tightly sealed jar. Good with turkey, ham, on sandwiches, or on brie cheese or cream cheese.
By Rachel Gordin Barrett
My contribution is a recipe that I found in an old Southern Living cookbook that, with a few tweaks, is almost as good as the corn pie Ethel Glover used to make me when I was a child in Summerton, South Carolina. She has always been a cooking inspiration for me and many of my recipes today are from her kitchen.
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 ½ tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk (I use 2%)
3 cans cream style corn (17 oz.)
¾ teaspoon salt
Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour. Stir well to make a roux. Add sugar and salt. Stir constantly 1 minute until smooth. Slowly add milk, stirring until thick. Add corn to the mixture. Crack and beat eggs in a separate bowl. Slowly add eggs to corn mixture. Pour into a greased 9 x 12 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.
An interview with Randy Stark by Lyssa Harvey
It was 10 years ago when Columbian Randy Stark had an idea—a Jewish brisket cooking contest! Randy’s vision was for this to be the premiere Fall Jewish Food Festival. He presented this to the Beth Shalom Synagogue Board, and just like that “Bubbie’s Brisket Bakeoff” was born. Bubbie is the Yiddish word for grandmother, or great grandmother. The first event was held on September 13, 2009 and cleared $100.00. Today, this popular Fall Jewish Food Festival has morphed into “Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery Extravaganza,” sometime referred to simply as “Bubbie’s.” It is the only kosher food festival in South Carolina, and last year it clearly proved to be a successful fundraising event for Beth Shalom after selling out its most popular dishes. Randy, the founder and creator of this festival, says it is bigger and better than ever. The festival features all-kosher items: Chicken Soup, Brisket, Corned Beef Sandwiches, Stuffed Cabbage and Meatballs and Challah, as well as some Israeli foods. It also features a bakery of homemade cakes and cookies. Rugelach is a favorite. (See below for Randy’s mother, Suzi Stark’s, recipe.)
Randy and his original crew of volunteers, Dan Matzner, Amy Berger, and Terri Hodges, organized the first year of the Jewish cookoff. Randy remembers staying up all night with excitement and nervous energy the night before. He wanted to make sure everything was in place for the next morning. And when the decision to do this again came along—their family and friends wouldn’t let them not do it. Randy’s parents, Scrappy and Suzi Stark, Dan’s parents, Gad and Bobbie Matzner, Terri’s parents, Ben and Arlene Perlstine, along with many other Beth Shalom volunteers, pitched in to make the second year work! It transitioned from a cookoff into a food festival. It took hours of hard work . According to Randy, “it was a labor of love. Our parents and children and friends joined in to make it a fun community event.”
Randy’s original goal for a premiere Jewish Food Festival has come true, but he says that his favorite aspect of the festival is “the spirit de corps.” He really enjoys working together with new and old Beth Shalom members, who volunteer both in and out of the kitchen to get the festival ready! It brings the synagogue community together for a common goal. According to Randy, the festival is a different kind of spirituality. It’s one of connections and joy that he personally cherishes as a Jewish value.
The Stark family have long been an integral part of Columbia’s Jewish community. Randy Stark is the youngest son of Suzi and Scrappy Stark. His older brother, Andy, lives in Memphis. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia, his parent’s hometown. The family moved to Columbia in 1971 when Randy was 1 ½ years old, and he considers himself a native Columbian. His father retired after a career as an admissions officer at USC, and his mother served on the at Benedict College for 20 years. After graduating from the University of Alabama, Randy interned at Disney in Orlando, where he met his wife, Cindy. They both attended the University of Florida where he received his MBA and Cindy her nursing credentials. Since returning, they have always lived in close proximity to the Jewish Community Center and the synagogue, where their sons have gone to Sunday school and their oldest two have celebrated their Bar Mitzvahs. As a child, Randy grew up at the old Jewish Community Center on Trenholm Road and remembers his days of playing interfaith basketball. Now, Randy serves as a basketball coach for the interfaith league and also on the Beth Shalom Synagogue Board. Randy and Cindy are both “doers,” and he credits the strong, positive feelings of growing up in a close Jewish community for his strong Jewish activism today. He is proud that his parents are receiving this year’s Beth Shalom synagogue’s highest award, called “The Magen David Award,” for their service to the synagogue and community.
Randy shared a fond memory from the first 5 years of Bubbie’s when he gathered a team of his buddies to prep the festival’s chicken soup. Picture a gaggle of guys, listening to music, drinking a few cold ones, and cutting up carrots, celery, and onions while just plain cutting up. He still remembers the laughter of those long evenings. The recipe is one contributed by his wife, Cindy Stankiewicz Stark. She was given a Passover cookbook by her mother-in-law, Suzi Stark, when she and Randy married over 22 years ago. Cindy has tweaked it over the years to make it the award-winning and best-selling chicken soup for the festival. Cooking the chicken soup for the festival entails three 20-gallon pots of chicken broth, 12 chickens, 9 pounds of carrots, celery, and 12 onions. The cooking crew does this twice!
Randy admits that his favorite thing at the Food Festival is the big corned beef sandwich. “It’s kosher meat brought in from Griller’s Pride in Atlanta and it’s just delicious. I think it’s hands down the best corned beef sandwich in the South! Better than Carnegie or Katz deli in New York.” Ten years ago, Randy’s idea of the Brisket Bakeoff was a winner, and Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery Extravaganza carries on the tradition today. As for Randy and Cindy, they entered their Matzo Ball (chicken soup) recipe in that first year’s cookoff, and it won! They proudly display their bronze engraved award for the chicken soup in their kitchen.
By Suzi Stark
1/2 cup butter ( I use Breakstone's unsalted whipped butter)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 package dry yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla (if desired)
Mix creamed butter, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Add yeast and flour and salt. Divide into 6 parts and refrigerate overnight. Roll out each ball into a 9-inch circle. Spread cinnamon, nut, sugar, and/or preserves. (I add some unsalted butter.) Cut into pie-shaped wedges and roll into rugelach shapes. Place on buttered cookie sheets. Bake approximately 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Award-Winning Matzo Ball Soup
By Cindy Stankiewicz Stark
1 chicken, 3-5 pounds
1 large onion diced
1-2 carrots, sliced or diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon thyme
Wash chicken, removing fat and skin. Place in large (at least 6-quart) pot. Add water, one quart per pound of chicken. Bring to a boil, skimming as needed. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add vegetables and seasonings. Simmer covered for 1 ½ - 2 hours until chicken is tender. Remove chicken (which can be used for other meals). If desired, strain soup. Add matzo balls.
Matzo balls (yields 16-18):
4 tablespoons oil or fat
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup matzo meal
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons soup stock or water
Mix fat or oil and eggs together. Mix together matzo meal and salt and all fat or oil and eggs. When well blended, add soup stock or water. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bring to boil 2-3 quarts of water. Form balls about the size of walnuts from the matzo meal mixture and drop them into the boiling water. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Remove matzo balls and add to warm chicken soup.
Submitted by Lilly Filler
Creplach or Kneidelach that was the question!
My mom, Jadzia Sklarz Stern, was the ultimate cook and homemaker. She was the 4th of 8 children of Hadassah and Zev Sklarz of Poland and learned by watching her mother care for the family of 10. How and why my mother learned to cook remains a mystery to us all today since she was separated from her parents at age 13 never to see them again. She was a Holocaust Survivor and lost the formative years with her parents. However, not only did she survive, she thrived. Although she never had any formal education, she was a home executive and excelled in cooking, sewing, flower arranging and caring for her family. Her culinary skills were known throughout the community.
Her specialties were many, but no one could make a soup like my mom. She was The Soup Lady. When one of her 4 children (Lilly, Helena, Bill or Herb) would bring home an unexpected guest, there was always plenty of soup to go around. Without recipes, she made split pea, barley, vegetable. etc. and of course chicken soup. Her “recipe” was tasting, smelling and touching the food. She was amazing!! Yadzia’s chicken soup was renowned and continues to be made by her daughters, Lilly (me) and Helena, and her daughter-in-law Linda Cherry Stern. It was our good fortune that mom provided Linda with a recipe for her glorious Creplach, the king of all soup inclusions.
Creplach is a meat dumpling. A laborious long process is needed to make these delectable delicacies. As children, we often crowded around mom to watch and to count the number of Creplach that were made. We made mathematical calculations of how many we each could eat, and we made sure no one “overstepped” that number. When my youngest brother Herb was about 10 years old, he was intently watching the Creplach making and began pacing around the room. My mom noticed his obvious “concern” and questioned what was wrong. He sheepishly asked, “Do one of my sisters have the recipe for the kreplach, so that just in case you (mom) was not around, could they make them?” We laughed for years about that story, so it was fitting that Linda (married to my brother Bill) went to help Mom in the late 80’s, right before the High Holidays and before brother Herb was to be married. Jadzia had undergone foot surgery and needed some assistance. Thus, began a cherished tradition of one of the girls working with mom to prepare the delicious dumplings.
Recipe of Creplach (makes about 70-75): As recited by Jadzia Stern during High Holy Days and typed by Linda Cherry Stern
5lbs all purpose flour
4lbs hamburger meat
Water has to be boiling so they don't stick to the bottom. You will need to change water after boiling around 20-30 creplach because they will start to stick.
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp. water
1 cup flour
Beat egg, add salt and water. Add flour gradually and knead to a smooth loaf until it does not stick to the hand. Cut in half and roll out into a round or square. Cut into 4 strips down and across.
Use chopped meat - any leftover cooked roast that has been chopped very finely. For about 1.5-2 pounds of meant, add: 1-2 eggs to hold hold together, 1.5 tsp. salt, .5 tsp. pepper.
Saute the onions in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) until clear before mixing with the meat
Fill squares and fold 3 cornered. Pinch together and close. Bring point up together to form like a cup. Boil large pot of water with a little salt added to water and drop creplach in and cook for 15 minutes or until they float to the top. This makes 30 and will fit into a large white enamel soup pot. To bake - 350 degrees, brush with chicken fat until light brown.
Recipe of Kneidalach (Matzo Balls)
Because of the enormous time spent making the Creplach, occasionally Kneidalach (matzo balls) were made. The discussion among many (not the Stern family) was “what is the correct texture of Kneidalach”? Were they to be soft or hard, fluffy or firm, small or large, from a box or “homemade”? The debate continues today. Jadzia’s matzo balls were homemade, firm and large, no debate there!!
4 tbls. vegetable oil
3-4 large eggs, slightly beaten (more eggs make a “harder matzo ball”)
1 cup Matzo meal
4 tbls. chicken soup (can add club soda if you prefer “lighter. fluffier balls)
1-2 tsp. salt
Mix all ingredients before adding matzo meal. Mix well and place covered in bowl in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Then boil 3-4 quarts of salted water and form the chilled matzo balls with a teaspoon and your hands about 1 inch, and drop in the boiling water. Then cover for 1 hour. Once cooked (they will double in size when cooked) they can be frozen on a cookie sheet or placed in the warm soup. If you warm the soup, wait to put the Kneidalach in or they will get “mushy” if warmed too long. Makes about 16 Kneidalach.
Recipe of Chicken Soup
Baking hen (NOT a chicken or roaster)
Leeks (1 large)
Carrots (6-8 large)
Celery (4-6 stalks)
Fresh Parsley and or Dill
Osem Consomme, seasoning mix 3-4 tbls.
1-2 tbls. of salt, pepper to taste
Clean hen and salt well. Boil 2-3 quarts of water and then add the hen. Bring to boil again and skim the fat and such off the top. Cover and boil for about 1-2 hours depending on size of hen. Clean and chop the leeks, carrots, and celery.
Before adding the vegetables, add 3-4 tablespoons of Osem seasoning mix and salt and pepper to taste. (may add more or less to taste) Slowly add all vegetables to soup, put on low and simmer for another 2 hours, covered. After cooking, cool soup and then refrigerate. Best if made at least 1 day prior to eating. Skim fat off the top of the soup and remove the hen before rewarming. If your family likes the chicken in the soup, take if off the bone or cut the cooked chicken into small serving sizes and leave it in the soup.
I fondly remember sitting around the holiday table with 2-4 soldiers from Fort Jackson, 2-4 students from USC and the family. After the soup was served, most were finished with the meal, despite the fact that mom had made gefilte fish, brisket, potato kugel, vegetables, and apple cake. There was no debate, the soup was the best whether we had Creplach or Kneidalach, it was delicious.
Submitted by Katharine Allen
Henry Lyons (1805 - 1858), the eldest son of Isaac Lyons (1774 - 1843), was a Jewish merchant who arrived in Columbia with his father and elder brother, Jacob, in the 1820s. He served as Columbia’s warden from 1842 until 1850, when he was elected as the city’s intendent, or mayor, for one year, becoming the second Jewish man to hold this post. Sometime after 1839, Lyons and his wife, Elizabeth Wolff Lyons, purchased the four-acre garden, “Laurel Hill,” previously cultivated by renowned winemaker Nicholas Herbemont. Bounded by Gervais, Lady, Bull, and Pickens streets, the garden featured an astonishing array of local and exotic fruits and nuts that were regularly featured in the Charleston Courier.
Lyons’ early agricultural successes included “Osage Oranges” picked from a 20-foot-tall orange tree, “English Walnuts,” prunes, peaches, and nectarines. In 1854 and 1855, he received acclaim for his grapes, which were described with alliterative adoration by a visitor to the Newbery Agricultural Society’s annual meeting:
“We observed, also, adorning the speaker’s stand, festoons of magnificent grapes from the grapery of our glorious fellow citizen, Captain Lyons, of Columbia, which were complimented by a special award of a silver cup, and which attracted unusual admiration from watery mouths and longing eyes.”
Yet Lyon’s greatest achievement was cultivating a new peach in the mid-1850s from grafts sent to him by Charles Downing. Downing, who first planted the seedlings from “Peach stones brought from China,” was ultimately unsuccessful in propagating them, leaving the sole "tree standing in Lyons’ downtown-Columbia garden. In 1858, the peaches from this tree were officially named Honey Peaches for their sweet taste.
By Rachel Gordin Barnett
Peach cobbler is a summer staple in my household. It could have something to do with the wonderful local peaches that we are so fortunate to enjoy from our local farmers’ markets or it could be because my husband’s family were peach farmers until the mid-1990’s (peach cobbler was served rather than cake at our wedding!)
My recipe for peach cobbler is common and you will find variations of this in many publications, but I have found that my recipe is tried and true. Add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and it’s a real homerun!
- 4 cups sliced peaches
- 1 stick butter (½ cup)
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 cup milk
Melt butter in 9x13 baking dish. Mix together flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and milk. Pour batter over melted butter. Do not mix.
Add sliced peeled fresh peaches. Do not mix. Sprinkle remaining cup of sugar over peaches. Bake 350 F until crust forms and browns.
Serve warm or cool.
Submitted by Debbie Cohn
To nosh is to have a snack. You can also call a meal a nosh, especially if it’s just a snack. Nosh comes from the Yiddish word– nashn, “nibble,” and its earliest use in English, around 1917, was as a shortened form of nosh-house or “restaurant”.
I have a long history with this word for many reasons especially coming from a family that often spoke in Yiddish around me. So, I ended up using it to create the Tree of Life Congregation’s Jewish Food and Cultural Festival- The Big Nosh, now in its ninth year since creation. For many years the TOL would hold a simple food event featuring baked goods and traditional Jewish treats prepared by the congregants as an annual fund raiser. When I joined the fund-raising committee, I was asked to help market this event and take it to the next level. So, ‘The Big Nosh’ was born (and trademarked) to provide a platform as a signature event that everyone in the Midlands community could relate to by bringing people together to celebrate being Jewish and getting a taste of the Nosh. It was through the universal love of food and trying new dishes from the Jewish culture that everyone could access a new and heightened awareness of what it meant to be Jewish. Every year now at TOL, nearly 2,000 people attend The Big Nosh coming from all over the Midlands and beyond.
From an early age, I became cognizant of my own Jewish roots through the sharing of traditional meals that were celebrated by my family and friends alongside Jewish festivals and rituals. Growing up in West Palm Beach, Florida in the late 1950s, I was acutely aware of how ‘different’ I was viewed as we did not celebrate the same festivals as everyone else. I always had a desire to share my enthusiasm in educating others in the ways of my Jewish culture so that being ‘different’ could be less ‘foreign’ and more familiar and approachable.
So, being involved with The Big Nosh provides a fun and educational way to access Jewish culture. The most exciting part of the Big Nosh is people usually come for the food but end up going inside a Jewish sanctuary and meeting a Rabbi for the first time, learning how to make a matzo ball, participating in a mock Passover Seder, watching a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Jewish wedding ceremony or dancing the Hora, a traditional Israeli dance. It’s the smell of those sizzling latkes that brings people in, but it’s the sense of having experienced something unfamiliar that they leave with, providing a better understanding of ‘everything Jewish’.
The Big Nosh offers an astonishing array of mouth-watering Jewish delicacies to eat in or take out from Bubbe’s Kitchen, The New York Deli (sponsored by Groucho’s Deli), an Israeli Tent and our famous Bakers’ Bakery! Everyone can enjoy delicious Jewish favorites ranging from fresh hot latkes, bagels, chicken soup (Jewish penicillin), chopped liver, stuffed cabbage, New York kosher style brisket, kugel, pastrami, hot dogs, vegetarian falafel in pita bread, and baked goods like challah bread, strudel, rugelach, cheesecake and more. Everything is lovingly and generously prepared by the members of the TOL congregation.
Admission to the Big Nosh is FREE and there is plenty of on-site parking. The event is open to everyone and will take place this year on Sunday, May 6th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tree of Life Congregation, 6719 North Trenholm Road. Come get your Nosh On and support Columbia’s cultural diversity! To find out more visit www.bignosh.org
Two large aluminum pans (doubled up to be sturdy) or similar size baking dishes or pans (smaller sizes may require more than one)
- 5 lbs. ground beef (80/20 approx.--ground chuck good)
- 3 large cabbage heads
- 3 cups medium or long grain white rice
- 2 large onions chopped/diced/minced
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup dark raisins
- 2 cans (28 oz.) sauerkraut
- 4 (6 oz.) cans of tomato paste
- 4 (14 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes (no salt added)
- 3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup mustard (brown or Dijon in jars)
- 2 quarts V-8 juice (low sodium, if available)
- 1/4 cup of Kosher salt
- 1/8 cup of black pepper (dry ground)
- 1/8 cup of dried Italian herbs
- Five pounds of ground meat
- 5 large eggs
- 2 large minced/chopped/diced onions
- 3 cups of raw white rice
- 1/4 cup of Kosher salt
- 1/8 cup of black pepper
- 1/8 cup of Italian herbs
- 1/3 cup of mustard
Par Boil the cabbages, core and remove the larger leaves for the cabbage rolls. Shape and place approx. 1/4 pound or so of the above meat mixture in the cabbage leaf and roll and tuck. The meat has to fit inside the leaf to roll and tuck; cabbage leaf sizes will vary and the end product/batch may produce more rolls than 24 or 30 or so.
Take the left over cabbage and chop it up to use as a base to go below the cabbage rolls in the pan. Make sure that the chopped cabbage covers the entire bottom of the pan (at least 1/2 inch deep, up to one inch deep).
Place the stuffed cabbage rolls on top of the chopped cabbage, next to one another. One layer of cabbage rolls is best for even cooking results.
Spread over the cabbage rolls evenly as follows: tomato paste, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, dark raisins, and sauerkraut (pour in the kraut juice too).
You can add any additional chopped cabbage on top of everything if you have it and choose to do so, but it is not necessary. Make sure you leave at least one inch free space at the top of the pan to avoid any boiling over of liquid.
Pour the V-8 juice over everything, again making sure to leave AT LEAST an inch or so room at the top. Save any V-8 juice not needed initially, in case you need to add liquid later to keep the cabbage rolls moist.
Make sure you double up the disposable aluminum pans to have sturdy trays. Cook at 325 degrees for 3 1/2 to 4 hours and keep adding liquid (V-8 juice or water) as needed, because you don't want them to dry out. You may not need additional liquid.
Submitted by Suzi Fields
Main Ingredient: Love
In this post, Suzi Fields recounts how one recipe, her mother’s Passover Matzo Ball Soup, has connected multiple generations of her family. Although her mother, Sylvia Fisher, did not keep kosher, her grandmother did, and Sylvia was raised to prepare foods according to Jewish tradition, including on holidays, festivals and the Sabbath. After spending their careers in Detroit, Michigan, Sylvia and her husband, George, retired to Spartanburg in 1982 to be near Suzi, her son-in-law, Dr. Sander Fields, and grandchildren.
Suzi on the relationship between her mother and her son:
Our, son, Andy, at the age of twelve in 1983, nominated my mother, Sylvia Fisher, to be The Spartanburg Herald Journal’s, “Cook of the Month.” He wrote that his grandmother was the best cook in the whole world and that she was an expert on making traditional Jewish food. One of his favorite dishes was a combination of her chicken and matzo ball soup. He said the main ingredient that goes into all of her recipes is an enormous amount of love!'
…and on Sylvia’s great-grandson keeping the family tradition alive:
Unbelievable as it may seem, her great-grandson, Parker Jordan Fields, at the age of ten, entered my mother’s chicken and matzo ball soup recipe in “The Healthy Comfort Food Contest” at Polo Road Elementary School in Columbia. Low and behold, he won first place, which entitled him to participate in the Richland County School District 2 school-wide contest on March 16th, 2017
4 or 5 chicken breasts, or small chicken
1 large onion
5 carrots, sliced
½ green pepper
4 sticks celery
1 chicken bouillon cube
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil water, add chicken, add vegetables. Cook about 1 hour. To serve clear, remove chicken and vegetables, or serve with carrots.
2 tablespoons chicken fat or oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup Matzo meal
½ teaspoon salt, if desired
2 tablespoons soup stock or water
Mix fat and eggs together. Combine Matzo meal and salt; add to egg mixture. When well blended, add soup stock or water. Cover mixing bowl and place in refrigeration for at least 20 minutes. When chilled, form into balls.
Using a 2 or 3 quart pot, bring salted water to a brisk boil. Reduce flame and drop balls into slightly bubbling water. Cover pot and cook 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from pot and put balls into chicken soup pot.
Submitted By David Polen
Purim has always been a special Jewish Holiday that can simultaneously be serious and somber as well as festive and joyous - and somehow it all works. While it’s often referred to as the Jewish Halloween that moniker doesn’t capture the intensity of its story and meaning. It is different from the other Jewish holidays where going to temple meant dressing up in a suit and tie and sitting quietly through the service. No, Purim is different. Dressing up on Purim meant dressing up as Mordechai, Esther, or even King Ahasuerus to hear the Purim Spiel. One of our more enjoyable aspects of Purim is making noise and shaking the gregor to drown out Haman’s name during the Megillah reading. Like all great Jewish holidays, someone, in this case, Haman, tries to destroy us and goes to great lengths to achieve his objective. Like all great Jewish holidays, we survive and in the story of Purim we got to defend ourselves and destroy our enemy. The richness of the story and the plots, sub-plots and twist made it so compelling that as I write this it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been made into a big screen picture.
Celebrating Purim is never complete until you eat Hamantashen, which are the three-pointed delicious dessert filled with jam. This is one of the recipes we've found online and used to make our own:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 egg
- 1/4 cup of orange juice
- Rind of 1 orange
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 lb. poppy seeds
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/8 cup sugar
1. By hand, mix together sugar, oil, eggs, orange juice and orange rind.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, add sifted ingredients to others. Add more flour if needed to make a soft dough.
3. Roll out and cut into rounds. Fill with the Poppy seed filling and shape into Hamantaschen.
4. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Submitted by Olivia Brown
How Clara Baker Served the Ward One Community Through Her Grocery Store
In 1912, Clara Kligerman and her younger sister, Esther, boarded a ship to New York City; the girls—who were seventeen and twelve years old, respectively—set sail for America, leaving behind their parents and nine other siblings in Nikolaev, Ukraine. While living with an aunt and uncle in New York, Clara met Frank Baker after a benefit show in the city. He lived with his father and brother in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where he convinced Clara and Esther to visit (1). By 1917, the young couple had married and moved to Estill, South Carolina. It was after the Bakers relocated to Columbia that they opened an all-purpose grocery store at 931 Gates Street in 1926, right in the heart of the city’s African American community, a neighborhood known as Ward One (2).
As Jews in the South, the Bakers, like others in their community, had to decide to what extent they would embrace their Jewish culture and customs. Clara’s engagement with her Jewish heritage did not always align with her role as a business owner and operator in Columbia. The Bakers did not settle close to the synagogue or in a neighborhood with other Jewish immigrants. In fact, Clara and Frank Baker were one of very few non-black families on their block. By 1967, when Clara Baker sold the store to Oscar Shealy, a long-time employee, Baker’s Grocery had become a respected and valued part of its surrounding community.
Though Baker’s Grocery is listed under Frank Baker’s ownership, Clara truly ran the business on a daily basis. Her steadfast dedication to the store is remembered most by family and friends. John Bell, a long-time customer at Baker’s and close family friend, described Clara Baker as “one of the hardest working women you’ve ever seen in your life,” working 12 to 15 hour days at the grocery.(3) She opened the store early and closed it late so as to better serve the needs of her customers.
It was the relationships Clara built with her clientele that made her a well-known figure in Ward One. Though she was a white, Jewish woman serving an almost exclusively African American customer base, she was neither marginalized nor taken advantage of. Through 41 years of reliable service, relationship building, and the generous lending of credit to those in need, she became a protected and respected member of her community.
A quick look around Baker’s Grocery and a customer might see a section of fresh produce with onions, collards, and turnip greens; milk and butter, along with eggs bought from an elderly woman in the neighborhood; dry goods, like tobacco, medicine, and assorted clothing items; and, a meat counter—the most important factor in discerning who may or may not purchasing from Baker’s—which advertised a slew of non-kosher meats, including ham hocks, pig ears, and pickled pigs’ feet. Though Clara Baker’s grocery was not selling kashrut (kosher) food or ingredients commonly used in Jewish dishes, the Baker family was still very familiar with old world food traditions, often making borscht, strudel, and homemade dill pickles at home for her family. (4)
The hard-working attitude of Clara Baker shows the commitment many Jewish immigrants had to the businesses they established and the opportunities they had been given upon arrival in the United States. Though Clara did not push her family to eat and serve kosher food, she was still cooking traditional dishes from her eastern European background and expressing her Jewish cultural heritage at home, while asserting her entrepreneurial dedication at the store.
1. Hyman Baker (or Chaim Becker), Frank Baker’s father, came to America from Zabludow, Poland, which was roughly 17 miles from Bialystock, in 1883. The family settled in New York originally, but in 1887 moved to Charleston where they had relatives and knew others from Bialystock, including the Firetag, Krawcheck, Sharnoff, and Pearlstine families. This information came from family Kligman/Baker family members Lyssa Kligman Harvey and Susan Brill.
2.Laurie Baker Walden, “A March Through Time: Baker and Kligman Family Roots,” September 1999. This source is a collection of family memories compiled over a number of years, though the timeframe is unknown. It is believed that these memories were collected as an informal family oral history, but after putting them together Walden sent the document to Historic Columbia’s Jewish Heritage Initiative for use in their research.
3. Walden, “A March Through Time: Baker and Kligman Family Roots.”
4. Ellen Henderson, “Clara Kligerman Baker: Personal Remembrances of Her Life,” December 21, 1974.
Olivia Brown is a Master’s student in Public History at the University of South Carolina.
Instagram: @_oliviabrown, Twitter: @_ombrown
Submitted by Emily Levinson
I’ve never had a Christmas tree. This is something that my non-Jewish friends often find very odd. Quite possibly something even stranger is when I tell my Jewish friends about our Hanukkah bush, stockings, and when Santa would occasionally make a stop at our dark, un-festive house – much to my confusion growing up.
So no, I never had a Christmas tree, but my father’s family would get together and decorate a bush with silver and blue ornaments (side note – where did we even get a bush?). My grandmother, Faye Levinson, knitted us blue and white Hanukkah stockings, which I still hang up. When I was little, I was sad our dogs didn’t have stockings, so I drew Stars of David on my tiny running socks and hung one for Moxie and one for Sunshine next to ours. My parents would fill them with small gifts, which we could open on the first night of Hanukkah along with our “big” present, (our tradition was to choose one “big” gift.) Through the years, I was the proud recipient of a portable DVD player (a road trip necessity in the early 2000s); a video camera (that I NEVER thought my parents were going to get me and freaked out over – I never used it); a keyboard (that I never learned to play correctly, and “mysteriously” disappeared one day); and an aquarium which I shared with my brother (my aunt and uncle gave it to us – my parents were not pleased).
Although I never had a tree, I was always invited to a friend’s house for Christmas tree festivities. When I was very young, we would visit our neighbor’s house for latkes (although the neighbor wasn’t Jewish, she was raised in a Jewish neighborhood in NJ and made great latkes) and Christmas tree decorating. As I grew up, I was invited on trips to a local tree farm, Harmon Farms, for cider and tree cutting. In return, we always invited our friends over for a night of Hanukkah. My mom, Rachel Barnett, would cook latkes and make brisket, we’d light the candles, and play dreidel. Our friends begged to come over for Hanukkah each year. I suppose it was the only time they were ever graced with the deliciousness of fried potato pancakes. I don’t mean to speak ill of any of my grandmothers or restaurants or people who have made me latkes in my life, but my mom still makes the best. I know she hates it – spending hours grating potatoes and making the entire house smell like the back of a McDonalds, but I haven’t found any that are better (recipe below).
I have many great memories celebrating Hanukkah with my family growing up, but there is always one tradition that stands out from the others. I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and attended a public school where we were usually only one of very few Jewish families. Even though Satchel Ford Elementary was decked out in Christmas décor, each year they invited my family to decorate a Hanukkah window display in the front lobby. We would spend a Saturday at school taking much pride in our Hanukkah themed window. My mom would then spend a day at school and read a Hanukkah book and hand out dreidels and gelt (chocolate gold foiled coins) to everyone in my class – which definitely contributed to my popularity (because who doesn’t like chocolate and gambling).
It’s a little bittersweet reflecting on my Hanukkah memories because sadly, we don’t do many of them anymore. As the baby of the family at 24 years old, our family has grown up and can’t find the eight nights to get together anymore. One thing that stays the same each year is that I still have never had a Christmas tree. I think this year, my non-Jewish roommate will be providing the tree, and I guess it’s my turn to learn how to make latkes.
- 5 lbs. Russet potatoes
- 1 medium sweet onion
- 2 eggs - beaten
- ½ cup flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegetable oil
Peel and place potatoes in pot of cold water. Using a box grater, grate all of the potatoes. Peel and grate onion. Drain thoroughly in colander. Place grated potatoes and onion in bowl, add beaten eggs, salt, pepper and sprinkle flour. Mix well. (The flour should be just enough to bind.)
Heat oil in large frying pan. Once hot, place tablespoons of potato mixture into pan (careful not to splatter). Should be the size of medium size pancakes.
Flip once when crispy on edges. (May take a couple of flips before ready to remove.)
Drain on paper towels.
Serve warm with sour cream and applesauce.
Submitted by Terri Hodges
OK, so I don’t know where to begin. As it so happens, I come from a long line of culinarians; from both the Pearlstine and Levy sides of the family. My roots come from northern and southern cuisine, although both grandmothers grew up in New York (Manhattan and Brooklyn).
I can remember my childhood spending many Jewish Holidays with my grandmother, Florence Hirshman Levy, watching her cook, bake and prepare so many delicious Jewish dishes. Although she would shoo the kindala out of the kitchen, I was always very curious about her cooking skills. Not only was her cooking delectable, her hospitality was grand. Rosh Hashanah was truly the New Year celebrated with lots of family, friends, and soldiers from Fort Jackson, and Passover was no less a feast.
The history of rugelach, the sweetest traditional Jewish pastry, is a fascinating one. Rugelach is rolled up dough with different fillings. It’s the history of rugelach that adds so many layers of flavor—starting with the name. The name, rugelach, is a mashed up Yiddish word that translates to anything twisted. Rog is Polish for ‘horn,’ the shape of the pastry that was created circa 1683, about the same time as the croissant. So, biting into a rugelach is biting into hundreds of years of delicious history and heritage.
2 cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream (cold, cubed)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter (unsalted, cold, cubed)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk1 batch filling of choice (see mine below)
n/a powdered sugar
Roll out the dough: Roll one disk of dough from the center out into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. (Don’t worry if a few cracks form near the edges.)
Spread the filling in a thin layer evenly over the surface of the dough. Make sure it goes right up to the edge of the dough.
½ cup raisins
1 cup nuts
4 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. sugar
Slice the dough into 16 wedges, like a pizza, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Roll up each wedge, beginning at the wide outer edge and moving inward. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Refrigerate pastries on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. (Meanwhile, prepare remaining batches.)
Bake the pastries until golden-brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack.
Vegetarian Chopped Liver
“What am I, CHOPPED LIVER?!” Chopped liver is a traditional Jewish dish that brings back fond memories for many Jewish families. The history of chopped liver goes back to Medieval Germany, where Jews bred and raised geese as the poultry of choice. The first Jewish chopped liver recipes were actually made from goose liver. Eventually, eastern European Jews began using chicken and beef liver and these recopies came across the ocean with immigrants through Ellis Island.
With many vegetarians today, there is a ‘mock’ chopped liver made with eggs, walnuts, peas and onions.
3 egg whites
½ cup walnuts (chopped in food processor)
1 can English peas (drained)
2 medium onions (sautéed in oil)
Chop nuts first, then add other ingredients and process until texture of chopped liver. So easy.
Bubbie's Brisket and Bakery
In 2009, Bubbie's Brisket and Jewish Food Extravaganza began at Beth Shalom Synagogue. From the beginning, I have taken this fundraiser under wing and now serve as its chair. Recipes used to prepare the delicious offerings have been handed down from many generations.
Bubbie's Brisket and Jewish Food Extravaganza, held this year on November 12th at Beth Shalom Synagogue from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., will offer many Kosher Jewish foods that have been handed down through many generations. I hope you will be there. Find out more HERE.
To close, may I quote Alton Brown (especially regarding Rugelach): “Your patience will be rewarded.”
Submitted by Jackie Dickman
These are my childhood memories of the State Fair in the early 60’s. That was when the fairgrounds were covered in saw dust, there were girlie and freak shows, live mice in the lucky numbers game, and fairgoers often were loud and rowdy after sundown. That did not keep me with my sisters and friends from having free rein at the fair—meeting at the rocket if we got separated.
The B’nai B’rith Women’s fair booth with homemade Jewish food was a major operation and a real Jewish community affair. This was their big fund-raiser for the year. It was a favorite among fairgoers who enjoyed sitting down to a good corned beef or pastrami sandwich or a Kosher hot dog. For the carnival workers who travelled with the fair, the B’nai B’rith Women’s booth was a place to get a good hot home cooked meal on a cold fair night. I remember the experience of watching these men who led hard lives. It was not what I was used to seeing.
Since my dad Max Dickman was a great cook, who happened to own a scrap metals business next to the fair, and my mother Selma Dickman was very active in B’nai B’rith Women, serving as President and chair of the BBW booth for several years, fair week was a very busy time in our family. But it was Florida who was the outstanding member of the fair booth preparation task force. Florida Boyd was my family’s long time house keeper, cook, extra mama, friend and family member. If you grew up Jewish in Columbia in our day, you knew Florida. She prepared amazing Jewish and Southern dishes. Florida “catered” many Passover and Break the Fast meals at the Tree of Life Temple and was the “go to” for brit milah celebrations. That is a story for another day.
Florida was a mainstay at the fair. One of the dishes especially enjoyed by the traveling carnival workers was Florida’s flanken (beef short ribs) and barley soup. It was thick and hot and delicious. I do not have her recipe. In fact, Florida would not have had a recipe. We do have the pots!
Although I do not have her recipe, I know this hearty soup was made with cellophane tubes of Manischewitz soup mix to start, with added carrots, celery, onions, maybe potatoes and powdered garlic, and of course short ribs. So I have scoured the internet and combined several entries to come up with an approximation of Florida’s delicious flanken soup. And now I am motivated to prepare this soup for a cold winter night and think of the fair, my parents and Florida. Dad and Florida also made pots of whole cow tongues for the fair, but I’ll try not to think about that.
FLANKEN and BARLEY SOUP (8 servings)
In a large pot, cover 8 pieces (about 3 lbs.) of flanken (beef short ribs with bone in) with water; bring to boil for 2 minutes; then change water to the full amount (4 quarts).
Bring water with flanken to a boil then simmer covered for 1 hour.
Add Manischewitz soup mixes (not the enclosed season packets)-one tube lima beans & barley and one tube split pea & barley.
Add chopped carrots, celery and onions, potatoes (at least 1 cup each).
Simmer covered another hour.
Mix in contents of seasoning packets, a few bay leaves, and garlic powder, salt or pepper if needed—simmer covered for 15 minutes.
As cooking, stir occasionally and thoroughly, and add water if needed. And may need more or less cooking time.
These are typical Florida instructions. If you want a more specific recipe, consult the internet or a traditional Jewish Cookbook.
PS. The end of the B’nai B’rith Women’s fair booth was due in part to an improved life style of carnival employees, and in large part due to stricter regulation of off-premises preparation of foods served at fairs and festivals.
Submitted by Jerry Emanuel
B’nai B’rith Women & the South Carolina State Fair
All images of the South Carolina State Fair are provided courtesy of the Walker Local and Family History Center at Richland Library for educational use and remain under the copyright of The State Media Company. To see additional images of the fair, click here.
The Agricultural Society of South Carolina was organized in November 1839 in Columbia. It was also the beginning of the S. C. State Fair.
The state legislature allocated $5,000 in 1855 to the fair and erected buildings on Elmwood Street, the first site of the fair.
At the start of the Civil War the Confederates occupied the buildings, using them as a place to make war material. The buildings were burned by William T. Sherman in 1865.
Four years later, with the Agricultural Society resurrected, the legislature appropriated $2,500 annually to assist the Society and the City of Columbia rebuilt the buildings. Private donations helped create a statewide fair.
The fair outgrew the Elmwood site and, in 1904 the Society moved to the current location on Rosewood Drive. Needing still more exhibit space, the Society bought the Hippodrome Building, site of the 1908 Republican National Convention, and moved the building to Columbia from Norfolk, Virginia. That building was destroyed by fire in 1966 and was replaced by the Hampton and Ruff Buildings.
“Meet your party at the rocket,” is a familiar cry heard throughout the fairgrounds on the public address system. If one is lost or looking for someone, meeting at the rocket, which towers above the buildings, is a logical meeting place. The rocket, a Jupiter intermediate range ballistic missile, was a gift to the city from the U.S. Air Force because it was named “Columbia.” It was designed by Dr. Wernher Von Braun and built by the Chrysler Corporation. The SC State Fair acquired it in 1969.
In the late 1950s or early 1960s the fair not only included food booths on the midway but other booths sponsored by eleemosynary organizations. One of those booths was sponsored by the local chapter of B’nai B’rith Women. Located near the bandstand, it catered to the carnival workers who traveled with the entertainment and food trucks to carnivals and fairs across the country. “They came to our booth because we served corned beef and brisket, salami and eggs,” said Heidi Golden. “It was good old New York Delicatessen style.”
“Many of the [carnival workers] were Jewish,” said Helen Coplan, “and they just worshipped the food...we didn’t have a kosher restaurant in Columbia so there was no place to get decent Jewish food except at the fair,” she said.
Volunteers from B’nai B’rith Women, B’nai B’rith and BBYO, the youth organization, worked the booth in some capacity. “I worked there a couple of times with BBG, B’nai B’rith Girls,” said Ilsa Kahn Young, “We were either on the serving line or cleaning up.”
The fair lasted ten days, and members of the Jewish community would cook and bake, sometimes weeks prior to the event. “Matzo Ball soup and Lentil soup were big hits,” said Golden. “I usually made several pots of chopped liver.”
“I enjoyed listening to [the carnival workers],” said Fred Fields. “They usually had some interesting stories to tell.”
Florence Berry was one of the leaders who planned and supervised the event. The primary cook was Florida Boyd, Selma Dickman‘s maid. Dickman had taught Florida how to cook Jewish. Florida was in the kitchen every day, and she would even make things “on the spot” like omelets and sandwiches. The cooks prepared the gamut of traditional Jewish cuisine.
The booth would sometimes become crowded because too many volunteered that day so they would take turns walking around the fairgrounds. “It was a pleasure to work with B’nai B’rith Women and to meet all the interesting people who stopped by,” said Delores (Dee) Friedman. There were times when working in the booth was a challenge. “When it rained on a Big Thursday, the day of the USC vs. Clemson football game, water came into the booth, sometimes horizontally, and everyone got soaked,” said Helen Silver.
“The booth was divided into the kitchen and the bar area where the prepared food was laid out,” said Judi Emanuel. “We’d be in the area where the big ice chests were located handing out drinks. We’d freeze our hands off,” she said.
Helen Silver remembers one particular incident that, thankfully, had a happy ending:
“I remember one fellow who was ‘in charge’ of the booth that day. He saw the portions we were giving and said, ‘from now on when we sell soup and knaidel (matzo balls), we only give one and a little bread to go with it.’ I did that with one of the [carnival workers] and he looked at the food and said, ‘oh, you’re charging more and giving less?’ I looked at him and said, ‘you know, you’re right.’ Then I went to Florida and asked her to give me a hot bowl of soup, two knaidlach and plenty of bread, which she did. I took it to the worker who remarked, ‘that’s more like it!”
“When I was president of B’nai B’rith Women around 1977 or 1978,” Emanuel said, “they changed the menu to include more than Jewish food mainly because preparing our normal menu was getting very expensive.”
Then in the early 1980s, the SC State Fair changed the rules and increased the rent on the booths, which made it much harder to continue. “They imposed new rules because some were not following sanitary procedures,” said Golden. “Then we couldn’t get the same booth the last few years so people couldn’t find us and that put the kibosh on it,” she said.
“As with a lot of things,” Silver said, “people started losing interest, women began working and with housework, children and other responsibilities, you can only spread yourself so thin.”
Over the years many people have worked the booth: Mary Miller, Ethel Miller, Heidi and David Lovit, Helen Kahn, Bobby and Barbara Kahn, Louis and Frances Berry, Max and Selma Dickman, Sandi and Bob Schulman, Benay Chandler, Sandy and Eddie Hertz, Frank and Barbara Bruck, Merrie and Ira Zolin, Sarah Kline and Ruby Harris among a host of other volunteers. It was a time of comradery, community involvement and dedication.
Helen Silver summed it up, “I enjoyed every minute of it,” she said.
Submitted by Lyssa Kligman Harvey
Traditional Jewish Recipes for a Sweet & Happy New Year
For as long as I can remember, celebrating the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah has been a joyous occasion. It celebrates the birth of the world! It brings family and friends together to eat traditional foods passed down by our grandmothers; as well as new recipes created by new generations of Southern Jewish cooks.
The first day of Rosh Hashanah this year is Thursday, September 21st in the Hebrew Year 5778. My husband, Jonathan, and I host about 40 guests in our home in the Forest Acres neighborhood in Columbia, SC, at a seated luncheon after synagogue services. The traditional menu has been planned and assigned, my mother’s linens, china and crystal have been taken out, and the special table extensions are in place. The table décor will be fall flowers and ancient symbols of the Jewish New Year. Pomegranates are often used for table decorations as well as to eat, because it is referenced in the Old Testament, and it is a symbol of fertility. There are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, which is referred to the number of good deeds that are commanded by God. The menu is a combination of traditional Eastern European recipes handed down from grandmothers, aunts and family friends, several of which are featured below, along with newly created recipes from the four corners of the diaspora. For example, I have included hummus in our meal, which originates from the Middle East and is served as an appetizer. My special recipes are Chopped Liver and my mother’s Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage. You will notice that the contemporary recipes use short cuts and ingredients that our ancestors didn’t use, such as the Savory Brisket made by Sandra Poliakoff. Rosh Hashanah is a festive and happy holiday that brings together our family and friends to initiate another year of a sweet and good life. Rosh Hashanah is my favorite holiday of the year that savors the traditions and happy memories of my family.
My parents, Helene & Melton Kligman, hosted many guests for the Jewish New Year in their beautiful home at 1618 Graeme Drive in Forest Acres neighborhood beginning around 1965. When I was growing up we celebrated two days of Rosh Hashanah, and had different sets of guests each day. The dining room table had special extensions that were created for these large family holiday meals at Rosh Hashanah & Passover. With the extensions in place, the table reached into the sunroom and into the living room so that every adult had a seat at the table. Of course, there was a children’s table. There were plenty of children, including the five Kligman children, and cousins. The table was always set with exquisite linens, special Yantaff (a yiddish word for holiday) china and crystal, and place cards. My mother was a Bulaboosta (yiddish word for kitchen maven) and seemed to pull hosting this big holiday meal off effortlessly. I now understand, she planned and organized everything to a T. She was a wonderful cook but did have special help in the kitchen for that day. Some of the guests contributed their specialty dish, but it was my mother that really set the tone for the year by hosting an elaborate and memorable meal. Prayers and holiday blessings were said over the children, candles, wine, a special round challah, and apples and honey. My father always made a toast and welcomed all the guests. I still remember his happy smile having everyone in his home.
The foods were delicious heavy European recipes: Chopped Liver, Kugel, Brisket, Sweet and Sour Cabbage, Kasha Varnishkes, Yantaff (Holiday) Chicken and Rice and for dessert Honey cake. Everyone left very full and happy. Click the links above for Rosh Hashanah recipes and memories provided by Pat Lovit, Mindy Kligman Odle, Shirley Levine, myself and my mother, Helene Firetag Kligman.
After 40 years of hosting, my mother blew the whistle and changed the game…it was our turn as adults to take on the responsibility of hosting the Jewish Holidays. Being one of five children, my sisters and I took on the role of sharing the holidays. I knew I wanted to host Rosh Hashanah, but honestly, I was overwhelmed at the thought of hosting this important holiday meal and pulling it off as smoothly as my mother did all those years. I now realize how much our present Rosh Hashanah luncheons have replicated the ones I experienced growing up. Of course, my mother was the perfect role model and created the feeling of warmth and love that comes from sharing a special meal together. Today we open our home to family and close friends, as well as newcomers to the Jewish community, students from USC and military at Fort Jackson. My hope is that this tradition will continue to transcend and the recipes new and old will be passed to the next generations. La Shana Tovah! (Hebrew New Year’s Greeting “To a Good Year!”)
Dedicated to the blessed memory of Helene Firetag Kligman, who passed away only a day before Erev Rosh Hashanah. -Rachel Barnett, co-creator of Kugels & Collards
Submitted by Sandra Altman Poliakoff
My mother, Annette Altman, always made her brisket this way, and my mother-in-law Rosa Poliakoff made hers with carrots, celery, and onions and beef broth. Brisket is a no-brainer. The longer it cooks (on a low oven), the more tender it gets, as long as there is liquid for the meat to absorb. Just the smell of brisket cooking in the oven evokes memories of family, holidays and warmth. It is one of the threads that binds one generation to the next.
1 beef brisket, 3-4 lbs, fat trimmed
1 1/2 cups Ketchup
1 package of onion soup mix
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup of red wine
Mix ketchup, onion soup mix, brown sugar and red wine.
Put brisket in a pyrex dish lined with foil. Pour sauce over meat, cover with foil.
Bake on 350 for 4 hours.
Meat is done when fork inserted in meat sinks in easily.
When the meat is done, put on cutting board and slice against the grain. Serve with sauce in the pan.