Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Way of Remembering


Being back in the states for summer (that's funny) vacation has been a rush of "what can I be eating right now that I can't get in Argentina" that is maybe just possibly no the healthiest approach. I made muddy buddies (or puppy chow, as it's more appetizingly known here in the midwest) for the first time in my life knowing logically that they probably weren't as good as I remembered them but still wanting to get them out of my system. It's probably not something I'll do again. I made my Auntie Dodo's (short for Doris) famous carrot cake for my mom for her birthday and chocolate whisky cake for my sister's. And we walked in from the -13º weather the other day to see my dad making his grandmother's walnut squares. Wait, what? My dad's normal forays into the kitchen include peanut butter sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, and spaghetti sauce. The year that my mom was doing her psychology residency we literally ate spaghetti with tomato sauce five nights a week. He explained that he had been carrying around the recipe in his wallet ever since it somehow magically fell out of the crammed shelf of cookbooks in the cabinet. It had been the recipe she was known for, and somehow 20 years later in landed in a mess on the floor, so he had put it in his wallet awhile ago, meaning to make it, but that the desire to make them had always hit him on Saturdays when my mom won't let him bake because it's shabbis.

Strangely enough, in the middle of all of this my dad pulled out a CD that none of us had heard before, that had been recorded of his grandmother telling about her immigration from Poland, and we realized it was Dodo asking her the questions, guiding the narration. Dodo died a couple of years ago, and technology is a wonderful thing, but I have to say sometimes it spooks my a bit that part of someone can be preserved, represented, so well, but that that person as a living being doesn't exist anymore. I almost expect those parts to vanish when they do, as if they shouldn't be able to continue without the living person. And what the recording contained was even stronger, as the decisions of the past that very much determined who we are today were explained so casually, so coincidentally. Her parents settled in Winnipeg, Canada, but you know what? They almost went to Argentina, along with the many other Eastern European Jews who settled there at the turn of the century. The only reason they didn't was because she was an infant, and someone told her mother she might not survive in the climate down there (how Winnipeg was the more amicable choice climate-wise I will never understand.) It took a hundred years but I guess someone from our family was meant to be there. Voice recordings make me a bit uncomfortable but recipes don't. Maybe it feels more natural, like a continuation rather than something being frozen in time. My mom now makes my bubby's coffeecake, which she never made while she was living. It was her recipe, and now I guess it's my mother's. I'm not ready to make it yet, I don't know when I will be. I'm sure there will be a place and a time, even if it takes me 20 years. 


Grandma Rackow's Walnut Squares
1 egg
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. sifted flour (white whole wheat flour can be substituted
successfully, making slightly denser but still really good bars-- and
I think the wheat taste goes well with the nuts too)
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 c. chopped walnuts (would be good with pecans too)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a square 8 in. pan. In a medium size bowl, stir the egg, sugar, and vanilla together. Sift the flour, salt, and soda together into the egg mixture, and stir well. Stir in the nuts, and pour the mixture into the pan, spreading it out to cover the bottom. Bake for around 20 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Leave in pan until cool, then cut. Powdered sugar can be sifted on top if you like.

Auntie Dodo's Carrot Cake
2 c. grated carrots
1 c. crushed pineapple
3 eggs
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 c. dark raisins

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease and flour two round 9 in. cake pans. In a large bowl, mix together the carrots, pineapple, eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and coconut. Stir in the dry ingredients and then the raisins. Divide between the two cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until the cake pulls in from the sides and a knife comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in the pans. Run a knife inside the rim of the pan to make sure the cakes aren't sticking, then turn them out. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Cream the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar together until completely smooth, then stir in the vanilla and lemon juice.


Cuadritos de Nueces de la Abuela Rackow
un huevo
una taza azucar rubio (o una taza de azucar blanco mezclado con una cucharada de melao)
una cucharita de extracto de vanilla
½ taza de harina de trigo tamizada (tipo 000)
¼ cucharita de sal
¼ cucharita de bicarbonato de soda
una taza de nueces picadas (sería rico con pecanes tambien)

Precalienta el horno a 180ºC. Amanteca un molde cuadrado de 20 cm.
En un bol mediano, mezcla el huevo, el azucar, y la vanilla. Tamiza la harina, la sal, y el bicarbonato de soda juntos a la mezcla de huevo, y mezclala bien. Echa las nueces y revuelve, y coloca la mezcla en el molde, untandola para cubrir el fondo. Hornea durante 20 minutos, hasta que un cuchillo metido al centro salga limpio. Dejalo en el molde hasta que este frio, despues cortalo. Se puede tamizar un poco de azucar impapable puede encima si desea.

Torta de Zanahoria de la Tia Dodo
2 tazas de zanahoria rallada
una taza de piña aplastada
3 huevos
1 1/4 tazas de aceite vegetal
2 cucharitas de extrato de vanilla
una taza de coco rallado (secado y sin azúcar)
2 tazas de harina de trigo (tipo 000)
2 tazas de azúcar rubia (o 2 tazas de azucar blanco mezclado con 2 cucharadas de melao)
2 cucharitas de bicarbonato de soda
2 cucharitas de canela
una cucharita de sal
una cucharita de nuez moscada
una taza y media de pasas de uvas negras

Precalienta horno a 180º C. Amanteca y enharina dos moldes de 22 cm.
En un bol grande, mezcla la zanahoria, la piña, los huevos, el aceite, la compota de manzana, la vanilla, y el coco. Echa los ingredientes secos and despues las pasas. Divide la masa entre los dos moldes y hornealos por 30 minutos o hasta que la torta se separe de los lados y un cuchillo metido salga limpio.


Cobertura de Queso Crema
450 g. de queso crema, a la temperatura ambiente
115 g. de mantequilla sin sal, a la temperatura ambiente
2 tazas de azúcar impalpable
1 cucharada de extracto de vainilla natural
1 cucharita de jugo de limón amarillo fresco


Revuelve el queso crema con la mantequilla y azúcar impalpable hasta que la mezcla esté totalmente suave. Agregale el extracto de vainilla y jugo de limón y mezcla bien.