New cook­book shares wis­dom, hu­mor

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From the Farm

Michi­gan City reader Judy Ja­cobi re­called a From the Farm col­umn I wrote sev­eral years ago about a fa­vorite Jewish cook­book based on the CBS ra­dio and tele­vi­sion show “The Gold­bergs,” which had a re­mark­able broad­cast his­tory span­ning from 1929-1956.

The cook­book and this vin­tage tele­vi­sion show I re­fer to has noth­ing to do with the cur­rent ABC se­ries of the same name. The fea­tured recipe for prune cof­feecake, which Ja­cobi re­calls from that 2011 col­umn, was cour­tesy of the late Gertrude Berg, who played Molly Gold­berg on the orig­i­nal se­ries “The Gold­bergs.” In 1955, Berg pub­lished “Molly Gold­berg’s Jewish Cook­book” for Dou­ble­day Press, which in­cluded this recipe.

“The Gold­bergs” was one of the ra­dio shows that my Grandma and Grandpa Potempa and my dad Ch­ester and his sib­lings en­joyed and lis­tened to, along with Ge­orge Burns and Gra­cie Allen, Edgar Ber­gen and Char­lie McCarthy, and Bud Ab­bott and

Lou Costello. Even though my dad grew up the youngest of nine chil­dren in a ru­ral farm house­hold that pri­mar­ily only spoke Pol­ish, com­edy and hu­mor al­ways trans­lated eas­ier than other shows, partly be­cause of the prompted mo­ments of laugh­ter.

Berg, who died at age 66 in 1966, was more than a cook­book author. In fact, un­like her char­ac­ter who cooked and ran the fam­ily house­hold in their Bronx neigh­bor­hood apart­ment, Berg didn’t de­vote much time to cook­ing in real life at her el­e­gant Park Av­enue apart­ment. Rather, Berg is of­ten de­scribed as “the Oprah of her time,” since she in­vented the show char­ac­ters and solely wrote the scripts and pro­duced the shows.

As Ja­cobi re­calls, Berg was also a keen com­mer­cial pitch­woman sell­ing her lis­ten­ers the spon­sors’ prod­ucts, which ranged from Singer sewing ma­chines to Sanka in­stant cof­fee. When her show pre­miered Jan. 10, 1949, on CBS TV, it help­ing the net­work’s founder, Wil­liam Pa­ley, make lots of ad­ver­tis­ing money to build the foun­da­tion of his tele­vi­sion em­pire.

Berg was also known as the orig­i­nal “first lady of tele­vi­sion” and even earned the very first Best Ac­tress Emmy in 1950. But af­ter the show dipped in rat­ings, her CBS time slot was given to Lu­cille Ball for the pre­miere of “I Love Lucy” and Berg be­came a broad­cast foot­note, with only her cook­book left be­hind, since few “live” shows were cap­tured for re­broad­cast.

Ja­cobi, who is a mem­ber of the Friends of the Si­nai Tem­ple Sis­ter­hood in Michi­gan City, is help­ing to spread the word about her or­ga­ni­za­tion’s new cook­book “What Foods These Morsels Be: Edi­tion IV” now avail­able for $14. The hardcover 125-page spi­ral bound cook­book fea­tures more than 180 fam­ily recipes sub­mit­ted from the mem­bers, fam­ily and friends of the Si­nai Tem­ple Sis­ter­hood.

“Khalil Power, a his­to­rian based in Mas­sachusetts, re­searched the ear­li­est pub­lished cook­books and wrote about how ‘Jewish cook­books in the United States pro­vide lessons for Jewish house­holds and do more than pro­vide recipes, since they forge con­nec­tions and help af­firm iden­ti­ties,’ all of which is so true,” Ja­cobi said.

She said Power traced the first pub­licly avail­able Jewish cook­book was pub­lished in 1871, writ­ten by Mrs. Es­ther Levy and sported a very long ti­tle, which Ja­cobi finds hu­mor­ous: “Jewish Cook­ery Book on Prin­ci­ples of Econ­omy Adapted for Jewish House­keep­ers with Medic­i­nal Recipes and other Valu­able In­for­ma­tion Rel­a­tive to House­keep­ing and Do­mes­tic Man­age­ment.”

This year 2018 marks the 105th an­niver­sary of Si­nai Tem­ple, and this lat­est cook­book, com­plete with in­dex, is filled with many won­der­ful recipes to mark the cel­e­bra­tion, in­clud­ing des­ig­nated recipe chap­ters such as: “Ap­pe­tiz­ers and Bev­er­ages,” “Soups and Sal­ads,” “Veg­eta­bles and Side Dishes,” “Main Dishes,” “Bread and Rolls,” “Desserts,” “Cook­ies and Candy” and “Passover.”

To or­der a copy of the new cook­book, mail a check or money or­der for $14 plus $3.50 for ship­ping and han­dling to: Si­nai Tem­ple Sis­ter­hood, 2800 Franklin St., Michi­gan City, Ind. 46360 or call 219-874-4477.

Ja­cobi pro­vided me with one of the tem­ple’s most re­quested and prized recipes, which has been in­cluded in this new cook­book vol­ume. “Jean­abelle’s Noo­dle Kugel” orig­i­nated from Jean­abelle Poko­rny and was fea­tured in the tem­ple’s sec­ond cook­book, as pub­lished in 1974, sub­mit­ted by Frenchy Kohn. Decades ago, both Poko­rny and Kohn were ac­tive mem­bers of the Si­nai Tem­ple Sis­ter­hood.

A “noo­dle kugel” is a tra­di­tional baked pud­ding or casse­role with an egg noo­dle base and can be cre­ated as ei­ther “sweet” or “sa­vory” de­pend­ing on the in­gre­di­ents used. “Kugel,” which comes from the Ger­man word for “sphere,” is usu­ally served on the Sab­bath and Jewish hol­i­days.

Philip Potempa has pub­lished three cook­books and is the di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing at The­atre at the Cen­ter. Mail ques­tions to From the Farm, P.O. Box 68, San Pierre, IN 46374.




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CBS TV 1954

Gertrude Berg, as her char­ac­ter Molly Gold­berg from ra­dio and TV, beams over a large loaf of hol­i­day chal­lah bread, a pop­u­lar recipe fea­tured in her 1955 cook­book.Serves 8 to 10ounces of egg noo­dles, boiled and drained stick of but­ter, soft­ened pack­age (8 ounces) of cream cheese, soft­ened and mashed eggs cup plus 1 heap­ing ta­ble­spoon su­gar, di­vided use cup milk cup crushed corn­flake crumbs tea­spoon cin­na­monHeat oven to 350 de­grees.Grease a 1½ quart casse­role.In a large bowl, com­bine but­ter and cream cheese. Mix in eggs, milk and ½ cup su­gar and beat will un­til smooth.Cook noo­dles, drain and add to creamed but­ter, milk and su­gar mix­ture and pour into pre­pared greased pan.In a small bowl, com­bine corn­flake crumbs with cin­na­mon and 1 heap­ing ta­ble­spoon of su­gar and mix us­ing a fork.Scat­ter crumb top­ping across the top of noo­dle mix­ture.Bake for 20 to 25 min­utes or un­til kugel is firm and test done when a knife is in­serted and comes out clean. Recipe be made ahead and frozen.

Philip Potempa

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