My family wanted to know what possessed me to start a food blog. After all, aren’t I busy enough? I’m a lawyer and a mother of three. Sure, they knew I was a good cook but a food blog? It could be time consuming.
The truth is, this blog is my way of codifying a dying art. The art of cooking the way our Jewish ancestors did. It is a dying art. Too many young people do not know how to make traditional Jewish meals and rely on buying ready made, sodium filled, chemically processed food. I wanted a place where I can assemble all those forgotten recipes and traditions our grandparents held so dear to preserve it for future generations.
I want things to be authentic. I am half Ashkenazi and half Sephardic and was exposed to the best both worlds have to offer. This blog isn’t just about all things old, it’s also about modern dishes and making kosher young and hip. I strongly believe that there is a phenomenon happening all around us. With all the devastation going on in the world today, young families are coming back to their roots. The younger generations are moving towards becoming shomer shabbat in a young and modern way. Keeping kosher is not viewed anymore as a burden but is becoming, with the help of young chefs, new and modern.
That is not the only purpose of this blog.
Bear with me a moment because the next part is rather difficult for me. I’m not the bear- my- soul kind of a person but there is a good reason why I am about to change that.
For the last several years I have been toying with the idea that I wanted to start an authentic Jewish kosher food blog. It always bothered me that when I first got married there was no where I could go to learn the recipes my grandmothers used to make us. Six months before my wedding, I lost them both. With them died a treasure trove of information. I deeply regret that.
It wasn’t enough however for me to actually start this blog.
I was busy. I had work, kids and a husband. I had no time for a blog. I learned everything on my own. I went through old recipes, translating from Yiddish to English. Using trial and error, I tried desperately to mimic my Moroccan grandmother’s recipes sometimes with success.
What happened that made me finally decide to go ahead and write a blog?
In three words,
I GOT SICK.
I heard the words no one, let alone a mother of three small babies, ever wants to hear.
Cancer. At 32 years of age.
I was dumbfounded for lack of a better word.
I went through the typical emotions. Hope, denial then anger.
The day I found out, it was discovered by accident. After all, I felt fine. All except that I wasn’t getting pregnant. After three kids, becoming infertile seemed impossible. So I went for an ultrasound of my ovaries. What they found was a mess. They also checked my thyroid. I truly believed they would have found nothing. After all, my dad had it and they checked all us kids and they told me we were all fine. It was not the case with me. My blood tests were normal but the ultrasound revealed a tumour, about 2 cm long in my neck. The doctor proceeded to tell me that thyroid cancer was the “good cancer to get” and that even though I needed an operation, it wasn’t a rush. It could be done in 10 months. I waited for the biopsy report but felt relieved that even though it probably was cancer, it was a good one, if there ever is such a thing.
The biopsy report came back. This time however, my doctor wasn’t as cheerful as before. He informed me that sometimes, these cancers are worse than they expect. They can be aggressive. He needed to operate immediately. All I could think of was, “wait, hold on a second. I need time to think” but there was no time. I did the only thing I knew to do to calm myself down.
Then I got to work.
I went to my local bookstores and bought every damn book on cancer I could find. From why it starts to how to eat and live with it. I pondered the idea of not doing anything. After all, they said it was there for at least 5 years and it wasn’t bothering me, so I thought, why play with it? It didn’t seem wise to me after careful consideration. I opted for the surgery. I read books on the power of healing foods and realized that I needed to make a drastic change. I wasn’t eating right. I had gained so much weight during my pregnancies and I was indulging in too much processed foods. My body was weak and full of inflammation.
I started growing plants and blending juices. I grew tons of wheatgrass, kale sprouts, sunflowers shoots, mung beans, etc. I was desperate and hungry.
I had my surgery and my doctor told me that he rarely gets to see this side of medicine. The good news kind. He said I would have died from it had we not found it when we did because there was more than one tumour. Talk about a wake-up call.
So, this is where I started to think seriously about food. Cooking authentically, which is how I like to say it, also means cooking as clean as can possible. Sure I splurge, but not like before.
Our ancestors didn’t know from asthma and as much cancer as we see today. Sure a lot of it is our environment but a lot has to do with nutrition and exercise. I am not a guru or an expert regarding nutrition and exercise but I strongly believe that we have, as a society, moved so far away from the way our ancestors ate, including our caveman ancestors (known as the paleo diet), that we are slowly poisoning ourselves with high- fructose corn syrup, malodextrin, sodium, genetically modified foods and many more carcenogenic chemicals.
So there you have it folks. This is why I am here. Over the last 10 years or so, I have learned the recipes of my grandmothers and their grandmothers. I would have loved to find a place where I could have learned it all and understood it all. I have also grown as a person. A woman who now understands there is more to life than making money to have a nice house, drive nice cars or wear fancy clothes. Money isn’t everything. It didn’t buy my life back. G-d gave me a second chance. I eat old world food, I eat plants, I juice almost daily and I cherish every new day I have with my wonderful husband and babies. I chose not to do any treatments against my doctor’s orders, and chose instead to give clean living old world style cooking a try.
On July 12th, 2013 my doctor told me I was cancer free. Now he wanted to know what I was doing.
If I can help anyone out there, one recipe at a time, one inspirational word at a time, that is my goal.
As I launch this new endeavour in my life, I found out I have a baby growing inside my belly. This time it feels different. I know now what it means to truly be grateful and healthy.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and I look forward to getting to know you too.
But before I go, I just wanted to say that this blog is just a start. It’s a start to get our community cooking again. To share our recipes, to laugh, to have fun and to bring our memories together. I hope this blog one day soon turns into a forum where people can post all their recipes and we can have a place where kosher recipes come together. That’s my goal. It’s not just about me and about my family. It’s about all of us, together.