Max Dickman, The Latke King

Submitted by Janis Dickman

Max Dickman, the Latke King of Columbia, S.C. Max and his wife, Selma, have three daughters: Janis Dickman, Jackie Dickman, and Sheryl Dickman.   Image courtesy Janis Dickman

Max Dickman, the Latke King of Columbia, S.C. Max and his wife, Selma, have three daughters: Janis Dickman, Jackie Dickman, and Sheryl Dickman.

Image courtesy 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. 

Passover Soldiers

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!”

Potato Latkes

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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.

Smoked Chicken

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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.

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A Kugels & Collards Thanksgiving

With contributions by Katharine Allen, Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey

Thanksgiving at the Parlor Restaurant

By Katharine Allen

Advertisement promoting Thanksgiving at Ben David’s Parlor Restaurant, 1910. Reprinted from  The State , November 22, 1910.

Advertisement promoting Thanksgiving at Ben David’s Parlor Restaurant, 1910. Reprinted from The State, November 22, 1910.

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

Advertisement for Parlor Restaurant, which featured “Fresh Norfolk Oysters” daily. Reprinted from  The State , January 26, 1897.

Advertisement for Parlor Restaurant, which featured “Fresh Norfolk Oysters” daily. Reprinted from The State, January 26, 1897.

Description of the “Fenestral Art” displayed in and around the Parlor Restaurant’s storefront. Reprinted from  The State , January 26, 1897.

Description of the “Fenestral Art” displayed in and around the Parlor Restaurant’s storefront. Reprinted from The State, January 26, 1897.

In 1900, David moved his restaurant to 1336 Main Street, where he remained open night and day for more than 10 years.

Advertisements for the Parlor Restaurant frequently used Ben David’s likeness. Reprinted from the University of South Carolina’s 1902  Garnet and Black  yearbook.

Advertisements for the Parlor Restaurant frequently used Ben David’s likeness. Reprinted from the University of South Carolina’s 1902 Garnet and Black yearbook.

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.

Cranberry Relish

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.

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  • 16-oz. bag of cranberries

  • 2  medium-sized oranges

  • 2 lemons

  • 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.

Corn Pie

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.

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  • 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

  • 4 eggs

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.

Beth Shalom Synagogue Celebrates Ten-Year Anniversary of Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery Extravaganza!

An interview with Randy Stark by Lyssa Harvey

Randy and Cindy Stark with their children.  Image courtesy Randy Stark

Randy and Cindy Stark with their children. Image courtesy Randy Stark

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.

Three generations of the Stark family, including Suzi and Scrappy Stark (at far right).  Image courtesy Randy Stark

Three generations of the Stark family, including Suzi and Scrappy Stark (at far right). Image courtesy Randy Stark

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.

Cindy and Suzi Stark at Bubbie’s Brisket, 2017.  Image courtesy Randy Stark

Cindy and Suzi Stark at Bubbie’s Brisket, 2017. Image courtesy Randy Stark

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. 

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Rugelach

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.

Three Bubbie’s classics: corned beef, matzo ball soup, and brisket.  Image courtesy Randy Stark

Three Bubbie’s classics: corned beef, matzo ball soup, and brisket. Image courtesy Randy Stark

Award-Winning Matzo Ball Soup

By Cindy Stankiewicz Stark

Soup:

  • 1 chicken, 3-5 pounds

  • 1 large onion diced

  • 1-2 carrots, sliced or diced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 5-6 peppercorns

  • 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.

The Soup Lady: The Amazing Talents of Jadzia Sklarz Stern

Submitted by Lilly Filler

Jadzia and Ben Stern, late-1950s. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Jadzia and Ben Stern, late-1950s. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern 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. 

Ben and Jadzia Szklarz Stern with their children, from left, Herbert Joel, Helena, Lilly, and William Harry, mid-1960s. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Ben and Jadzia Szklarz Stern with their children, from left, Herbert Joel, Helena, Lilly, and William Harry, mid-1960s. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

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.  

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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. 

Rosh Hashanah in Filler home, 1988. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Rosh Hashanah in Filler home, 1988. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

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

  • 2lbs onion

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.

Dough

  • 1 egg

  • 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.

Filling

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!! 

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  • 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. 

The Sweetest of all Peaches

Submitted by Katharine Allen

Henry Lyons,  Historic Columbia collection, HCF 2015.1A

Henry Lyons, Historic Columbia collection, HCF 2015.1A

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.

The only depiction of the former Lyons’ garden is from the 1782 birdeye view of Columbia, drawn more than 20 years after his death.  Image courtesy Library of Congress

The only depiction of the former Lyons’ garden is from the 1782 birdeye view of Columbia, drawn more than 20 years after his death. Image courtesy Library of Congress

Reprinted from  The Horticulturist, and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste, Volume 13,  1858

Reprinted from The Horticulturist, and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste, Volume 13, 1858

Peach Cobbler

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!)

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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!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sliced peaches
  • 1 stick butter (½ cup)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

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.

The Big Nosh 2018: Stuffed Cabbage

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”.

Debbie and Rick Cohn

Debbie and Rick Cohn

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.

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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.

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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

Stuffed Cabbage

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Ingredients:   

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

Preparation:

Mix thoroughly:    

  • 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.


 

Sylvia Fisher’s Passover Matzo Ball Soup

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. 

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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

Parker Fields. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Parker Fields. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Sander and Suzi Fields with their grandson, Parker. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Sander and Suzi Fields with their grandson, Parker. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Parker Fields. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Parker Fields. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Chicken Soup

  • 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. 

Matzo Balls  

  • 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.  

Purim and Hamantaschen

Submitted By David Polen

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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. 

Hamantashen

Hamantashen

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

Poppyseed Filling:

  • 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.

The Strong Will of a Jewish Immigrant Woman

Submitted by Olivia Brown

Clara Kligerman Baker. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

Clara Kligerman Baker. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

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).

Baker's Grocery, painted by Kathryn Baker Lotzoff. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

Baker's Grocery, painted by Kathryn Baker Lotzoff. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

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)

Clara Baker at the home of her daughter, Toby Baker Lourie, in the 1960s. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

Clara Baker at the home of her daughter, Toby Baker Lourie, in the 1960s. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

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.

Notes:

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