jew food for shtetl cubs



Twenty some odd years ago I got this book and have been making, celebrating, and teaching from it since. Beni’s Family Cookbook by Jane Breskin Zalben. I highly recommend if you’re starting a family and don’t have a Jewish grandmother lying around orrrr, even if you do have a Jewish grandmother around. Inside Beni’s is the latke recipe I’ve been using since my children, now grown, were very young. In our house, as there were Jewish grandmothers around Los Angeles that we had to split our time between we always had a tradition, celebrating on the first night. I would decorate the house, crack open the plastic see-through storage box, take out the menorah and dreidels and start grating. The kids loved this tradition; it made them feel strongly identified with their Russian, shtetl heritage.

Mama’s and Papa’s Latkes 

2 large eggs, beaten

4 to 5 large potatoes, peeled and grated 

1 medium onion, peeled and grated. (secret is to grate a potato the grate part of the onion, grate a potato then grate part of the onion) it keeps the potato from going brown this way. 

1/4 cup matzoh meal

Salt and pepper to taste 

Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine eggs, potatoes and onion.

Blend in matzoh meal, salt and pepper .

Heat a one inch layer of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Drop in one heaping tablespoon of mixture for each  latke. Turn over when crisp and golden.

Drain on paper towels. 

Serve with sour cream and applesauce. 

Yields 6, depending on appetites. 

Now obviously, when you have a house full, you’ll need to make a lot more. That’s when you’ll find yourself running to the nearest store to purchase a food processor because hand grating is for the birds when you’re making them for ten, twenty, etc. This year as often the case, not all of my children will be home at the same time, so I’ll be making them on the seventh day of Hanukkah.




Happy Hanukkah!

fall after all


It’s been a few months since we moved in. We had an unusually and brutally hot summer, so I spent a lot of time in the garden with beautiful results, physically, aesthetically and emotionally. Tonight we’re celebrating the Jewish new year; I picked these mountain ash branches from my yard to decorate for the fall. I love it here. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.
Celebrating a new year, in a new life.

A few pictures of the changes.


The living room, I’m going through pictures and shipping clothes to my son at IU.


My bedroom cleared of all the excess, bathed in sunlight.


The garden outside my bedroom that I transformed from a pile of trash.


A little puppy fostering.


And of course, Sally Woo, overseeing all.

Happy New Year.


in love


I heard an elf go whistling by,

A whistle sleek as moonlit grass,

That drew me like a silver string

To where the dusty, pale moths fly,

And make a magic as they pass;

And there I heard a cricket sing.


His singing echoed through and through

The dark under a windy tree

Where glinted little insects’ wings.

His singing split the sky in two.

The halves fell either side of me,

And I stood straight, bright with moon-rings.




Week one – survive, get the bathroom and kitchen functioning so that you don’t feel like you’re camping. Clean. Obsess about the fact that you’ve left something burning and the propane tank is going to explode, every time you drive down the hill and that you alone are going to be responsible for burning the whole southern part of the west coast down. Unpack the essentials. Coffee, wine, and toothpaste.

Dinner? You want dinner?

Week two – drink wine while unpacking boxes, boxes, and more boxes because even though you did the Kon Marie method twice, you still have. So. Much. Sh*t.

Week three – give away sh*t to anyone who will take it and run down the hill before you have a chance to change your mind and run after them, after all, it’s special sh*t. It’s so special you paid good money for burly men to carry it up a steep driveway and a flight of stairs. Continue unpacking while begging the gardeners to make the never ending boxes fit in the blue bin so that you don’t look like a hoarder or a hillbilly even though technically, you live on a hill.

Week four – things are starting to fall into place, you still have boxes, but things are getting scrubbed, hung, hauled away, and the house is looking and feeling like home. You stumble from exhaustion or wine, out to the balcony to see one of the most incredible views you’ve ever seen and thank God, the universe or anyone/thing else that’s listening that you are the luckiest person alive.

Who knows, You might even make it to the Memorial Day town celebration #TopangaDays with your hair clean and pants on.



My Etsy find, finally hung, making the bedroom start to feel like home.



I just finished packing up the attic. Excellent behind and leg workout, bad for the gymnast’s knee. I found a blow up haunted house I bought years ago for my children. I know it still works because I plugged it in and scared the hell out of the dogs when I KonMarie’d the house in January. The new family that’s moving in my, now their home has a fifteen-month-old little girl who when she first saw the house claimed the “pink room,” my daughter’s room. I told Lily that if she looked in the closet, she would see a hand print that we made of my daughter’s hand in an Imodium A-D, mint green with a Barbie shoe hot pink background. We never changed it even though we painted her room several times during the close to twenty years we lived here. I’m leaving the blow up haunted house for Lily for her first Halloween in her new home that assuredly, like my children, she will enjoy for many, many years. I’m also leaving the handprint because even though it will eventually be painted over, the memory of the seven-year-old girl who romped in her brand new back yard with her then only brother in 1998 will remain forever.



The picture doesn’t do the view justice. This is what I wake up to every morning in January. It’s been especially beautiful this year because of the rain, the blooms exploded around two weeks ago.

not a poem


artist here

After two years of lawyers and mediation,
I signed my divorce papers today.
On the trip home, waiting for a giant, all healing exhale,
I instead, had a feeling similar to what I imagined being
isolated on the far edge of the Cobb, Lyme Regis,
during a storm whereas when the waves stopped spewing,
I had to turn around and make my way back to civilization.

spark joy




In anticipation of moving in the next few months, I know I’ve said that before but it seems inevitable for 2016, I’ve been reapplying Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering my house. It appears that last January when I applied this method to decluttering I didn’t feel the “click”. A year of growth has now found me wanting to discard even more. Her follow-up book, Spark Joy, provides a little more hand holding, which is good because I’m letting go.

I recommend if you’re needing a fresh start to a new year.