Archive | April, 2013

What to REALLY Expect When You’re Expecting (plus cauliflower crust pizza!).

24 Apr
"Listen up mama.  Gimme all your milk and no one gets hurt."

“Listen up mama. Gimme all your milk and no one gets hurt.”

Spring has sprung down here in Miami and by that, I mean it’s already 90 degrees some days and there are pregnant women every where. Every day I walk by my sweet friend and co-worker, Tara, who is 7 months pregnant and trying her darndest not to melt in this heat and I can’t help but reminisce to where I was this time last year, which was 7 months pregnant and trying my darndest not to melt in this heat. Every time I see her I get transported back in time to being large and in charge with that baby in my belly and it just blows my mind that she’s here now. She’s here now and she’s already old enough to have a couple teeth and to start crawling. Oy, blows. My. Mind. Due to this transport back in to time I also can’t help but remember how stinkin’ happy I was this time last year and how I didn’t know what the h*ll was about to happen to me. I also can’t help but remember of all the unsolicited advice complete strangers would give me at all turns. I mean truly, the best conversations usually started out as, “Let me tell you about my wife’s birth experience! It was crazy! She was in labor for 30 hours!!” Ummm, no buddy. I don’t wanna hear that. Not even a little bit. Of all the things I was told that scared the sh*t outta me (‘Don’t get an epideral! You’ll end up in a C-Section!” or “Don’t feed your baby formula! She’ll be obese and dumb the rest of her life!”), no one told me the things that I really really really wanted to know. Those things that, sure, might be hard to hear, but I would have appreciated knowing. Kind of the “What to REALLY Expect When You’re Expecting”. There were things I never expected—-some of which no one could have predicted but some of which I think, on the whole, there could have been a little ‘heads up’ about. So for the sake of all those women out there experiencing their first pregnancy who could use that ‘heads up’, the following is my list of things I never would have expected. Warning: the following is not ‘touchy feely’, but it is honest so if you like honest, keep reading.

1. You will sweat like John Goodman on a hot summer’s day. It’s the hormones. They are coming out of you postpartum for about 2 weeks after you give birth. It’s natural. There’s no deodorant that can stop it, but it’s natural.

2 weeks old. She’s in there somewhere (and so are my sweaty pits)!

2. Maternity leave is not a vacation leave. It is maternity leave. This is the first 3 months of yours and your baby’s life together, which means you are both getting to know each other while battling it out over who gets to sleep when and trying to figure out when you’ll actually eat again. I don’t know about you but that’s not how I like to vacation.

3. Your boobs might not ‘work’. I never expected to not be able to breast feed. It was in my plan. It never entered my mind that it wouldn’t be how I fed my baby. But, I breast-fed for as long as I could, which was about 9 weeks. And guess what? My baby is a straight up formula baby and she’s doing OK. I’ll let you know if all that propaganda about formula being the devil is true in a year or so (spoiler alert: it’s not).

4. I never expected memes on Facebook about breast-feeding toddlers and baby cereal would make me wanna cry

5. I never expected those memes to be posted by other women

6. I never expected to get more emotional while watching movies/TV shows involving children. For example, my husband and I were watching a rerun of Lost where a supposed 6 week old baby is involved in a helicopter crash and miraculously suffers no injuries and the whole time I’m thinking, “wait, that baby hasn’t been around its mother in days. Who’s feeding it? How is he surviving!? How did he survive a helicopter crash!? What if that was my baby!?” And then I remember we’re talking about an island that can travel through time so I got over it . . . kinda.

7. You will get blankets and socks (especially if you have a girl). People LOVE to give you blankets and socks as baby gifts. It’s very sweet.

8. You might not ‘fall in love’ with your baby right away. It might take a couple days or even weeks. But when you do, oh boy, it is all-consuming.

9. Make sure you have a Smart Phone or something because you will need it to help stay awake in the wee hours while you’re doing a feeding. I suggest creating a Pinterest account now if you haven’t already. I love you Pinterest.

10. It’s possible most or all of your family members will see your boobs at one point or another during those first couple weeks. My husband has 3 brothers, all of whom visited within the first 4 weeks of Siona’s life and all of whom saw my boobs at some point during their visit. I even remember spending several hours one day with some of his family members only to discover, once they left, that I had spent the whole time with my tank top around my waste and nursing bra exposed a la Madonna on her Blond Ambition tour.

11. I never expected to want to punch a sweet British nanny in the throat (this lady gets me). Listen, the Baby Whisperer seems really nice and she’s clearly got a handle on this whole ‘baby’ thing. However, on one incredibly frustrating day during those first couple weeks of parenthood something dawned on me. The majority of these ‘experts’, whether via their books or blogs, had a lot of ‘no’ going on. There was a lot of ‘Don’t do this and for heavens sake, definitely don’t do that!” It was stressful and honestly, not helpful for ME (again, everyone is different. It could totally have helped you and to that I say, “mazal tov sister!” ). Ultimately, it’s ALWAYS about finding what works for you and your family and if you start tracking your anxiety levels and realize that they go up every time you open one of these ‘parenting’ books or blogs it might be time to close up shop.

12. Edit your advice —When we first brought Siona home from the hospital I was texting and calling every mom I knew for advice. Then after a while I started editing. It was clear to me who was giving advice with an agenda and who was giving me advice based on what they know about me and my family. My unsolicited advice? Find a 2 or 3 women whose parenting style, outlook on life, and life style in general match yours and make those your mommy brain trust.

13. I never expected to be back in the kitchen as soon as I was. Thanks be to my best friend, the Ergo, I was cooking again several weeks after I gave birth and it felt great. It felt so good that when I went back to work, I took on the extra challenge of cooking for a co-worker. She wanted a specialized, Paleo menu and I wanted a challenge (and some extra cash to cover daycare). It was a match made in heaven.

5 weeks old! Our first Starbucks run.  It was so freeing to get out (I had to document that glorious moment).

5 weeks old! Our first Starbucks run. It was so freeing to get out (I had to document that glorious moment).

This list could go on and on but I’ll stop now so I can leave space for the recipe! The recipe! The following recipe is a dish I made for the previously mentioned co-worker. It can be Paleo, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian or whatever you want it to be. I wanted some pizza dang it but didn’t want the bread so I experimented with cauliflower instead and it really turned out nicely. Honestly, this would have been amazing for Passover so maybe next year. Anywho, see below for the recipe and thanks for reading.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Homemade Tomato Sauce, Ricotta, Roasted Eggplant and Arugula

For the Sauce – check out the sauce I made on a previous post. Just omit the cream cheese.

For the Crust (adapted from The Lucky Penny):

2 small heads of cauliflower, processed
1 TBSP sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese (or mozzarella cheese)
1 egg

For the Eggplant:

1 medium eggplant, sliced in thin rounds
Coconut Oil
Seasalt
Garlic powder

Place thinly slice eggplant rounds on paper towel. Pour sea salt onto each slice and let sit for 30 minutes. This will draw out excess moisture and help decrease eggplant mush. After 30 minutes, place on oiled parchment paper and top each slice with a bit more coconut oil and garlic powder. Roast in oven for about 20 – 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Keep close eye to make sure they don’t burn.

Making the Crust and Assembling the Pizza:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

Soak your cauliflower in a bowl of salted hot water for several hours. Dry thoroughly and cut up the florets into small chunks and discard the stems. Pulse florets in food processor for about 20 – 30 seconds until cauliflowers resembles flour. This should yield you about 2 – 3 cups of cauliflower. Place the flour in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean dish towel and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before you will need to wring out the moisture. If you are antsy, put dish gloves on before wringing out—you will burn your hand otherwise.

cauliflower snow

Cauliflower Snow

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel (do not use paper towel. It will seep through) and wring it out. You want to squeeze out as much moisture out as possible. I cannot stress this enough. The more moisture you squeeze out, the crisper the crust will be.

Yum! Cauliflower Juice

Yum! Cauliflower Juice

Once you’ve wrung out as much water as possible, dumped cauliflower into a bowl and add your seasonings plus cheese. Finally, add egg and mix with spatula or wooden spoon.

Once mixture is evenly combined, wet hands and place mixture on well-oiled parchment paper. Pat it into a nice round crust that is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. I think the thinner the better as it allows it to crisp up. Spread a little more oil onto the top of the final crust and slide the paper onto a pizza pan and put in preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges and center brown. Once it’s down, let it cool and top with an even spread of riccotta cheese, then a layer of the tomato sauce and roasted eggplant. Bake all together for another 8 – 10 minutes. Once done, let cool for a couple of minutes and then top with arugala and some sea salt.

Crust – Phase One

Crust – Phase 2 + 3 (Ricotta + Tomato Sauce)

Crust - Phase 4 (Eggplant)

Crust – Phase 4 (Eggplant)

The Final Phase – Arugula. Delicioso!

Shalom enchiladas

19 Apr

Hey Y’all, Jeremy here. You’ve probably noticed that I am not the greatest blogger that the world has ever known. My posts for JewHungry are sporadic at best. I think the time has come for me to jump off of this fast-moving train. That’s not to say I won’t be back occasionally. I’m just better at this whole blogging thing when I’m given an assignment. I’ve always needed rules and regulations. Too much time and freedom freaks me out. I’m agorophobic in that way. Any who. . .this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me, but I wanted to at least give you the courtesy of saying good-bye for now along with a little post and recipe for you.

One of the things that freaked me out most about deciding to eat Kosher was the absence of Mexican food in my life. I’ve been known to wrestle for a taco. Tacos are worth fighting for, y’all, but my Mexican food love doesn’t stop there. I’m pretty sure that my Mexican Food main squeeze is the enchilada. They’re like the illegitimate child of the taco and the burrito. Soft outside. Delicious inside. AND? They come with their own sauce.

I mean…COME ON!

I’ve been trying really hard to cook as much as possible this year. I’ve gone from ordering out a few times to week to ordering out just a couple times a month. Sometimes we’re not even ordering out that much. I’m not always cooking crazy Julia Child worthy meals, but the food is whole and real. I’m proud of that. I can actually feel the difference.

One of the changes I’ve tried to make recently is to not eat a lot of meat. I’m not mad at meat. Chicken is delicious. So is Beef. I just don’t know that I need to have them every day. This is not a hard and fast rule for myself, but it makes me think about the choices that I’m making. It makes me aware of what’s going into my body. I like having to think harder about my food choices. That’s one of the beautiful things about eating Kosher.

In trying to eat less meat, one of my new go-to recipes is for vegetarian enchiladas. This recipe is pretty simple and quick to prepare. You can add things to it if you want. It’s a sorta DIY-er.

Shalom Y’all . . . for now, Jeremy

WHAT?

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper chopped

1 red pepper chopped

3 teaspoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cans black beans

1 can whole kernel corn

1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies

1 (or 2 if you’re feelin’ like kickin’ it up a notch) cans of Rotel

1 package of taco seasoning mix

6 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches)

2 cups (1 can) enchilada sauce

1 package of shredded cheese (whatever flavor you like is perfect)

HOW?

Pre-heat your oven to 350.

Start by frying up that onion with your olive oil. Everything good starts this way. Once the onion is tender toss in your chopped peppers and let that cook for a couple minutes. Toss in your beans, corn, chillies and Rotel. Make sure to drain the corn and Rotel before you add them to the mix. Those items are usually pretty watery and can slow down your cooking process. Once this is mixed well bring it to a slow simmer. Once you see some bubbling happening, you’ll add your taco seasoning and minced garlic. If you’re noticing that your mixture is super watery, just cook off the water. It’s really your call here. There are no rules. You just want this to be thick enough so that you can fill tortillas without throwing this all over yourself and the kitchen. Once the mixture is at a pretty thick and manageable consistency you can start spooning it into tortillas. Don’t go crazy filling these. You want to put the mix into the tortillas, roll them up and then line them in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Once you’ve got them lined in the dish, you’ll pour the enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle generously with cheese. Pop them in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted. You’re ready to go.

Comfort Food – The Best Thing I Ever Ate – Kosher Connection Monday Round-Up

15 Apr

This month’s theme for our Kosher Connection round-up is, as stated above, the best thing I ever ate.  This one was a doozie for me.  There’s so much associated with taste.  It goes beyond the texture, the flavor combination, the exotic-ness of the dish.  For me, it also has so much to do with positive memory.  I remember the first time I had a hot wing.  I remember mom coming home from dinner and giving me her leftover for me to taste even though I was supposed to be going to bed.  I remember sitting at the kitchen counter and taking my first bite and the subsequent burning sensation of my lips and tanginess on my tongue.  I remember thinking, “I need to eat this ALL THE TIME”.  I also remember the first time I had real Italian drinking chocolate while living in Milan in the summer of 1999 (I was supposed to be there to model but come on, who puts the modeling capital of the world in Italy for crying out loud!? More on that in a future post).  I remember the first time I had real Italian espresso and chocolate croissant (again, seriously, if we’re not supposed to eat then put the fashion capital of the world in like, I don’t know, NOT Italy).  I was living abroad for the first time, trying all the food I came into contact with—-tasting freedom and fresh, Italian cooking.  It was heaven. The first time I took a sip of that drinking chocolate I thought to myself, “Yes.  Just, yes.”

You can see it in my 19 year-old eyes.  I want a chocolate croissant and I want it now!  P.S. There was some serious air-brushing that went on here

You can see it in my 19 year-old eyes. I want a chocolate croissant and I want it now! P.S. There was some serious air-brushing that went on here

So for this round-up, I didn’t go complicated.  Instead, I went with a memory of a dish that was rich, creamy, delicious; all my favorites.  It combines my love of cheese, garlic and chicken—but kosher, of course.  This dish also sprung to mind because the memories associated with it are pretty yummy as well.  In 2001 I was a senior in college.  My boyfriend was studying abroad to get his Master’s degree, I was living in the dorm next door to some dudes who decided it would be OK to have band practice in their room at 11PM at night and I was itchin’ to get out of college.  I went to college in a small town in the middle of Ohio called The College of Wooster.  By the time I was a senior I believe there were roughly 1700 students on campus.  So yes, 3 years into that kind of smallness and you’re ready to get.  My senior year started out about 2 weeks before 9/11.  Everything that happened on that fateful day pretty much set the tone for the rest of my senior year.  We felt isolated and alone in the middle of nowhere Ohio.  We were partly chomping at the bit to get out of there and partly terrified to see what the ‘real world’ was like.  I was blessed to have a wonderful and loving group of girl friends, thank Gd, who did everything together.  One very cold winter day, our little group piled in our cars and headed to our girl, Kristen’s mom’s house.  Kristen lived the quintessential Ohio life.  She grew up on a farm and her neighbors, who were miles down the dirt road, were mostly her relatives.  It was a far cry from the suburban Atlanta neighborhood I grew up in.  Anyway, the plan was to get away for a bit and have a taste of home.  I remember that during this time I was especially feeling anxious and scared about the future so a little time at home, even someone else’s home, was exactly what I needed. The minute we walked in the front door, I didn’t want to leave.  The place smelled like everything ‘home’ should smell like.  For dinner that night, Kristen’s mom served us a classic “the college kids are coming to dinner” meal of stuffed chicken breast.  It was breaded, baked and stuffed with cream cheese and spinach.   Now, this was during my ‘BK’ years—-Before Kosher, so please don’t freak out here.  The following recipe includes Tofutti cream cheese.  Anyway, the point is that though it wasn’t culinary genius, it was perfection.  It was warmth and home and love served on an ooey, gooey plate.

The college crew.  I'm fairly confident I'm wearing overalls in this picture. #2002

The college crew. I’m fairly confident I’m wearing overalls in this picture. #2002

Cooking the Greens

Cooking the Greens

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Tofutti Cream ‘Cheese’, Spinach and Zucchini

Ingredients:

3 Chicken breasts, pounded flat
3 TBSP of Coconut Oil
1 Small yellow onion, diced
3 Cloves garlic OR 1 shallot, diced
1 Zucchini, diced
1 Big handful of spinach
1/2 Cup of Toffuti cream cheese
Handful of fresh dill and thyme, washed and cut small to be incorporated into cream cheese for added flavor

Additional Supplies:
Poultry twine
or
Toothpicks

Stuffing the Flattened Chicken

Stuffing the Flattened Chicken

How:

Put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a large Ziploc freezer bag and seal it up tight. Using a mallet (or in my case the bottom of another cooking pan), pound those little breasts down until about 1/2 inch thick.  The thinner the better (but not too thin that the stuffing would seep through).  Once flattened, put to the side.  Using a large, deep skillet, about 2 -3 inches at the sides, heat your coconut oil on a medium high level.  Add your onions and sautee until transclucent, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sautee for another minute.  Next, add your zucchini and sautee until just beginning to brown. Finally, add your fresh spinach (you can use frozen as well just make sure everything else has browned by now as the moisture in the frozen spinach will stop the browning process).  Spinach wilts quickly so make sure not to overcook.  Add your spices while sauteeing and adjust to your liking.  Once spinach is nice and bright green and incorporated into the rest of the vegetables, turn the heat off.  At this point, add the toffuti cream cheese and herb mix to the pan and stir all together until you’ve got a nice, creamy mixture of cream cheese, herbs and vegetables.  Once that’s combined, dish out into a separate bowl and clean your pan out to be used to cook the chicken (why do MORE dishes, right?).

Little Chicken Packages of Love

So Close to Being Eaten!

Lay out chicken breasts on a flat surface.  Place a heaping spoonful of the cream cheese mixture onto a little left of the middle of each piece of chicken.  If you put it right in the middle, it’ll make the ‘sandwiching’ of the chicken a bit difficult.  Next, fold the chicken in half so that the cream cheese mixture is sandwiched between the same chicken (see image above).  Take your poultry twine and wrap the chicken up tight like a nice little chicken present so that the filling stays in while cooking (you can also use a toothpick at the ends of the chicken to hold it together but then it should be roasted).  After you’ve done that with all three, put 2 more TBSP of coconut oil into the pan at a medium high level.  Add the chicken to the pan and let brown on each side about 7 – 8 minutes or until the chicken juices run clean and enjoy.

Happy Little Chicken Campers

Happy Little Chicken Campers

A Taste of Comfort

 

 

Win a Whole Organic, Kosher Chicken – a KOL Foods Giveaway!

11 Apr
Special Delivery

Special Delivery

It wasn’t long ago that the majority of the food that I ate consisted of some kind of direction that involved, “add water, 1 TBSP of butter and stir”. Yep, if it was freeze-dried or loaded with preservatives, I was on it. It’s not like I didn’t always love food, I just was incredibly intimidated by cooking. I also never loved the idea of the cleaning up after the cooking. That part just seemed like a giant time suckage. Ugh. I was also single for the majority of my 20s and definitely had the whole, my-oven-is-used-for-storage-not-cooking thing down. It’s hard to cook for just one person. You end up throwing away leftovers and no one’s there to give you feedback so it was ready made meals and tofu hotdogs aplenty in my kitchen during those non-cooking years. One of my classic ‘dishes’ during this time in my life was the ‘just add frozen vegetables to Pasta-roni’ pasta. Again, and I know I’ve said this before, I have no idea how I’m not 500 pounds.

Fresh Turkey

Fresh Turkey

Things changed for me when I moved to Israel in 2008, lived close to the shuk and started seriously dating someone who was not only willing to eat my culinary experiments but also very patient with me as well. It’s no coincidence that during this same time in my life I decided to eat healthier. When you have so much fresh produce available to you why on Earth would you eat instant anything? I started reading about the benefits of whole grains, what the big fuss is over sugar and most importantly, what the big fuss is about organic.

Now listen, I am a school counselor. The hubby is a PhD student. We do not have an expendable income, however, in our house there are some nonnegotiables. At this point, I almost primarily cook with coconut oil. I only buy non-GMO, organic cheese. We never have sodas and if we’re eating anything with sugar or bake anything requiring sugar, we generally use maple syrup or pure sugar. I also almost always purchase organic meats. Thankfully, several years ago, a dear friend of mine and fellow foodie, Annie (heck, she’s been my cooking inspiration for years! I wonder if she knows that? hmmm . . .), purchased a KOL Foods turkey for Thanksgiving. With this one purchase she opened my eyes to a whole world of conscious kosher. If you haven’t heard of KOL Foods before, then sit back, relax and let me drop some knowledge on ya.

Founded in 2008 by Devora Kimelman-Block, KOL Foods is the only kosher meat company that exclusively sources 100% grass-fed meat in the United States. Before this time, if you were kosher and wanted to eat sustainable, ethically-raised meat you basically had to become vegetarian. KOL Foods allowed the kosher consumer with conscience a way to bridge their beliefs with their wallet—but purchasing from KOL Foods you’re not only supporting a more ethical kosher, you’re also supporting local, small business. Today, KOL Foods offers glatt-kosher, organic-raised, grass-fed beef, lamb and no-nitrate deli; pastured chicken, turkey and duck; wild caught Alaskan salmon and other specialty goods. They ship frozen via FedEx nationwide or via buying clubs in select cities.

We Love Lime in Miami

We Love Lime in Miami

Coconut Oil is My New Life Source

Coconut Oil is My New Life Source

As a self-taught cook who now has a client with a requirement for Paleo-diet menu items, a diet that only allows for grass-fed meat, I was excited when KOL Foods reached out for a potential partnership. I believe in their product and in their mission and I wanted a chance to delve into some of their products. And delve I did! I was sent some delicious turkey legs that my hubby wanted to simply roast up and eat Medieval like but I wanted to get a bit more creative and play the flavors that are coming in season in Miami. I also didn’t want to work with the same ol’ expected turkey flavors—-sage, marjoram, thyme, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all those flavors but again, I wanted to experiment.  The following is my experiment and it.was.delicious! The flavors of the salsa are strong but mix well with the natural light flavors of the turkey and I’m ALWAYS a suckers for turkey drippings mixed with honey marinade.

After the Marinating Time

After the Marinating Time

Once you tempt yourself with the following recipe, make sure to click on “A Rafflecopter Giveaway”, high-lighted below, to be entered to win a KOL Foods 3 lb. roaster chicken! You can enter every day for the next 2 weeks via multiple avenues (such as liking Jewhungry on Facebook or Tweeting about the giveaway–all done through the rafflecopter link) but make sure you click on the link to be entered and connected.  And don’t forget to share this post with friends so they can get in on the action too! Enjoy and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also enter via our Facebook page. Click here.

The Colors of Miami

The Colors of Miami

Turkey Ready for the Taking

Turkey Ready for the Taking

Roast Organic Turkey Legs with Mango Salsa

For Marinade:

3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon of Honey
Juice of half a lime
Sea Salt
Pepper
Dash of Cayenne

For Salsa:

1/2 Mango, diced
1 Small Purple Onion, diced
1 Jalapeno, diced
1 Bunch of Cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 of lime (add more if you need)
Dash of Sea Salt
Dash of Garlic Powder

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl.  Place turkey legs in a roasting dish. Using a basting brush, slather marinade on turkey legs, cover dish and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  At this point, the coconut oil in the marinade with harden a bit but this is typical.  Once the turkey legs have marinated for at least 30 minutes, uncover and place in the oven.  Make sure you baste constantly.  In my mind, you can not over baste.  Turkey legs will take about an hour to cook, maybe more, depending on how often you baste.

While turkey is cooking, combine salsa ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Once turkey is complete, top turkey with salsa.

Reflection Eternal

4 Apr
Paw Paw

Paw Paw

This past week has brought on a lot of reflection.  Sure, it was Passover and I couldn’t help but think that this time last year I was pregnant and now I’ve got an 8 month old and boy, how time flies.  But with Passover comes my grandfather, my mom’s father’s, yarteitz, the anniversary of his death.  Paw Paw passed away on the last day of Passover two years ago.  My mom likes to light-heartedly joke that he passed away on the last day of Passover so no one will forget the anniversary of his death.  But to  live 31 years with grandparents is a blessing so, quite obviously, we would never forget regardless.  When Paw Paw was in hospice, I was able to spend some alone time with him.  He wasn’t conscious and it was near the end but I made a promise to him that my husband and I would name our first born after him, which we did.  Siona, the feminine version of Sion or Tzion (Zion, a term synonymous to Jerusalem.  Paw Paw’s Hebrew name was Yisrael), was born about a year and a half after Paw Paw passed away.  My poor Southern family could not quite wrap their accents around the name, Siona.  So much so that for about an hour, my brother thought her name was Fiona (this story will go down in family folklore).  Oh how my brother and sister-in-law smiled and nodded and indulged me when they thought her name was Fiona.  It was very, “Ohhh, um, how nice” but in their heads I’m pretty sure they were thinking, “What the h*ll!?  What’s a Southern Jewish baby girl doing with the name Fiona?!”.

Paw Paw and my husband embracing on our wedding day

Paw Paw and my husband embracing on our wedding day

My cousin, Ayelet, walking our grandparents down the aisle at our wedding

My cousin, Ayelet, walking our grandparents down the aisle at our wedding

In the mix of Passover and my grandfather’s yarzeit is my birthday.  Talk about a mixture of emotions.  Yowsa.  I’m two days away from 33.   I can’t believe how much time has flown by.  I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since my Bat Mitzvah! I can’t believe Siona is closer to 1 then not.  It’s all so surreal.   But anyway, what I really wanted to do for this post is to share the speech I gave at Siona’s Simchat Bat.  We were blessed to have so many friends and family present to celebrate her birth so I wanted to explain, on the day we celebrated her arrival, my relationship with not only my Paw Paw, but also my father’s father.  I worry that my kid won’t know how lucky she is to come from such a diverse background; that she won’t fully realize how her cultural background shaped who I am and how grateful I am for it.

Getting some love from Paw Paw and Grandma

Getting some love from Paw Paw and Grandma

This is the original speech.  Please excuse typos.  It was written to help with the whole ‘public speaking while emotional’ thing. 

As many of you know, I come from an inter religious background, it’s the only way you could explain a 5’10” Jewish girl named Whitney Dyan Lacefield, now Fisch. As a kid it was a bit hard having one parent who was one religion and the other another but as an adult I’ve come to truly value the dichotomy that is my background and no one quit emphasizes this than my two grandfathers My Ca Ca, my dad’s dad, represents that Southern side of me that I’m so proud of. He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. He was always active, whether tending to his tomatoes or making or building something; you couldn’t slow him down. He said thing like “daggumit” and dagnabit when he was upset. When he died my brother inherited his shot guns, like any good Southern grandson would do. He passed in 2005 and if you think a week has gone by since when I haven’t thought of him or his wife, my grandma Viv, you’d be very wrong. The other side of me is quite obviously my Jewish side and no one represents this part of me than my Paw Paw, whom Siona is named after. I don’t know who my paw paw was as a young man or a father but as a grandfather he was lovely. My paw paw is the reason I fell in love with music and theater. He’s the reason my first celebrity crush wasn’t some boy found on teen beat magazine but Mandy Patinkin (he’d shown Sunday in the Park with George in 1987 and I was hooked). He’s the reason I had any connection or interest in Israel way before I finally went when I was 20. He indulged my love of dining out and cultivated by love of live theater. He loved teasing us grandkids with little jokes and then following up with, “would I kid you”? Most importantly, he loved family. When he got into framing and wallpapered the house in Louisville with beautifully frames pictures of relatives—-some lost  in the Holocaust, others still with us today, thank Gd, I think each of us grandchildren learned a lesson in informal education. How could you not want to know the stories of all those people posing in the frame? As much as we joke about paw paw’s talent for telling and retelling a story, I am most grateful for the familial history I now take with me and will share with Siona one day, Gd willing. I was 31 when my paw paw passed.  To get to spend 31 years with a grandparent is a blessing, to get to spend any time with a grandparent is a blessing. It’s an honor to carry on paw paw’s spirit within our little family. Thank you.

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