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March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
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History Hysteria

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As the smiling sun beckons and we march toward summer vacation, you may have noticed that June is just about over. This means school and all its lessons are over.

But I’d like to tell you about a lesson I’ve learned in the School of Life. I call it the “History Lesson.”

In our high school faculty room one recess, I took part in an interesting conversation. It went something like this (in Hebrew of course…):

“You know, Mindy, that three-layer Pesach cake recipe you gave me is such a hit! Every time I make it, I get so many compliments. I even use it all year for my gluten-sensitive son. It makes him so happy that for once he can enjoy a cake everyone else wants too.”

“Oh, I’m so glad. It’s delicious and so easy to make. But you know, it’s not exactly my recipe. The original recipe is from my sister-in-law.”

“So tell her I really love her recipe.”

“Actually, if I remember correctly, she told me she got it from her mother who got it from her neighbor before she moved away.”

“Well, I don’t know your mother’s former neighbor…”

“Neither do I…,” I had to admit.

The bell rang at this point, putting an end to our “history lesson.”

On the way to class, a dusty, buried story of yore suddenly surfaced, flooding my memory. It was early Friday morning when the phone near my bed rang stubbornly. Spending the previous night awake with a few cranky kids, I planned to sleep in, unbothered. But the caller on the other end didn’t think I deserved to.

“How did you ever?!” was her opening line.

“How’d I everwha’?” I sort of slurred, simultaneously clawing through the giant cobweb which was actually my brain still on “sleep mode.” What was I being accused of?

“How did you dare publish our recipe in the newspaper?!”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t for the life of me catch on to what she was saying (shouting). Which recipe in which newspaper?

One thing I did know, judging from the urgency in her voice, was that she wanted an explanation fast. So I tried:

“I got the recipe from my friend who told me I could use it for the newspaper.” This sounded pretty lame even to my ears. “And besides, it’s not the exact same recipe.” I finished with a little more confidence.

But the caller was still unsatisfied, claiming I’d “stolen” a family recipe that goes back generations.

This took place over two decades ago, at the beginning of my writing career and shook me up so thoroughly, I planned to quit writing recipes, cold turkey. But before I did, I asked a friend if she had an idea of how to get around this problem.

“Of course!” she answered brightly. “All you need to do from now on is find out whose recipe it was originally, before you publish it. Then your problems will be over!”

Sure! So instead of making, baking and writing recipes, I’ll be busy phoning, looking and finding who created each one… No prob! From my friend to her neighbor to her cousin who’ll send me to her sister, her neighbor, etc., etc., until I’ll have the honor of getting to know all the extended family, including their friends and neighbors from present and past.

Hmmm… never knew history could be so interesting…

But as you can see, I’ve decided to continue publishing recipes nonetheless and in the meantime I managed to change this history hysteria into something hysterical.

Now that’s a lesson to learn!

Now for the Q&A’s:

Q: The day before I saw your hot pepper story, the same thing happened to me! But there was no ice around for me to suck on. What could’ve I done instead?

A. I’ve heard recently that sprinkling salt on your tongue can be helpful in neutralizing the heat. It’s definitely worth a try!

 

Q. Why is it that whenever I make kokosh cake, the “kokosh” oozes out leaving the cake filling-less?

A. Firstly, make sure to fold in both ends of chocolate-filled dough before you roll up your kokosh cake. Another good idea is to bake each roll in a Bundt pan, seam side down. This way, even if the filling oozes out somewhat, it’ll stick to the cake.

 

Q. I bake rolls with spelt flour but for some reason, they don’t come out as soft as the store-bought ones. What’s the secret to making great spelt rolls that are soft and not crumbly?

A. The correct balance between the ingredients is what will ensure a non-crumbly outcome. As an occasional user of spelt flour myself, I find that it “behaves” just like whole-wheat flour. Meaning – any recipe that calls for whole wheat can be made with spelt. Since spelt is considered a healthier grain than wheat and is easier to digest, its price is somewhat higher but it’s what dieticians, nutritionists and naturopaths recommend today.

 

I’m including a bread machine spelt bread recipe but you can make it by hand and form your own rolls if you wish.

Bread Machine Spelt Bread

1 cup water
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1½ tablespoons honey
3 cups spelt flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry yeast

 

Put all the ingredients into the bread machine pan and choose the French option. Remove from machine after the beep indicates the bread is done. Remove from pan and cool totally on a rack before slicing.

About the Author: Mindy Rafalowitz is a recipe developer and food columnist for over 15 years. She has published a best selling cookbook in Hebrew for Pesach and the gluten sensitive. Mindy is making progress on another specialty cookbbok for English readers. For kitchen questions or to purchase a sample recipe booklet at an introductory price, contact Mindy at mitbashelpo@gmail.com.


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