"Call your Bubbi for the recipe and write everything down," I said to my daughter.  It was just before Passover, and were were going to make kneydlekh, matzo balls.In the old days my family made them together, batches and batches, some large, soft and fluffy, some small, round and chewy.  The family was split in tastes.

Before my time, my mother's mother had inserted a crisp bit of chicken skin, a grivn, in the center of every kneydl.  This flavorsome crackling with the dumpling she called neshome, the soul.

My daughter calling my mother for the recipe?  My mother who approximated her mother's recipe?  Her motherless mother who invented her mother's recipe?  The ancient and timeless matzo ball?  Yes, that's my religion."

Ancient and Timeless Matzo Balls

  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • Dash of ginger
  • 1 tsp veggie or peanut oil
  • Salt and pepper

"Crack open eggs (my daughter wrote).  Separate whites from yolks.  Beat whites till fluffy.  Beat up yolks, add oil and matzo meal.  Add salt and pepper.  Put in ginger.  Fold in egg whites.  Add a little cold water - quarter of a cup.  Mix it all around.  Has to be a batter you can work with.  Can't be cement.  Can't be mud.

Taste it.  Must be good raw!  Add more seasonings if necessary.

If good batter, cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Put in freezer 10 to 20 minutes.

Boil either soup or salted water.  Have a small bowl ready with cold water and ice cubes.  Dip hands in cold water before each kneydl.  Form kneydlekh and throw in boiling water.  If you want small, hard kneydlekh, add more matzo meal and seasonings.  For small ones, form marble-size; for big ones - size of golf ball.  (They grow).

Cook for 15 minutes.  Cut one big one in half and see if ready.  (Look and taste).  Throw in colander.  Let Mom and Dad do this.  If want to keep warm, cover."

—"The Soul in the Dumpling," from Miriam's Kitchen, by Elizabeth Ehrlich, Penguin Books, New York, 1997.

Literary Eats: Robert Hass

I thought Literary Eats was going to be cancelled today...then I found the book of poems by Robert Hass that sweet Julia gave to me...

This dream: on white linen, in the high ceilinged room,

Marie and Julia had spread baskets of focaccia,

A steaming zucchini torte, ham in thin, almost deliquescent slices,

Mottled ovals of salami, around a huge bowl in which chunks of


With its sweet, iodine smell of high tide, were strewn

Among quarter moons of sun-colored tomatoes and lettuce leaves...

—"Poet's Work"by Robert Hass, from Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005, Harper Collins, New York, 2007.