“The Blake-Lewin Family Cookbook of Traditional Jewish Recipes” by Zachary Blake as told to Mark M. Bello

The Blake-Lewin Family Cookbook of Traditional Jewish Recipes: L-Dor V’Dor—From Generation to Generation II

Written by Zachary Blake as told to Mark M. Bello
8Grand Publications (2022)
ISBN: 978-1956595024
Reviewed by A.E. Lignor for Reader Views (03/2022)

I was a very blessed girl when it came to grandparents. They taught me things while I was growing up, from fixing a car to building an add-on room, that I would end up using later in life. They offered me incredible stories; tales from the past about generations of my family members that I had never gotten the chance to meet. They were loving, humorous, supportive and, when it came to Grandma Carrier and Grandma Lignor, they each carried around a book. Old, worn out covers, stray pages sticking out—even the spines were broken and the books had to be held together with rubber bands. But inside those books, much like Indiana Jones, there was a treasure to be found. They each contained a myriad of recipes that they’d worked on, honed, and some that had been passed down from their own grandmothers that were so delicious, you literally gained ten pounds just taking in the amazing scent of each and every one as they came out of the oven.

I was ecstatic to get this book, because it not only offered recipes I’d never seen before, but the author was kind enough to add in short family ‘stories’ with each one, telling the reader about a specific family member. The stories showed the kind of love a family has for one another, and then provides recipes so that future generations can carry on these amazing traditions.

The author states how important his Jewish family roots are and announces that it’s because of the influence and contributions of his loving family that made him the person he is today. And, thankfully, he was kind enough to allow little old me (and you) to walk through the door and ‘meet’ his family while looking at stunning four-color photos of each dish (which, yes, you will drool over), and receive the ingredients and directions to create the dish for your own household.

I read about Auntie Nettie and her “Sweet Potato Latkes.” I not only salivated over the perfect meal, but learned that Auntie Nettie was very sarcastic. I even learned that one time she did wash the author’s mouth out with soap – although his wife told him he couldn’t tell that whole story or it might depress readers. (Note to author: I really want to hear it. LOL)

I learned about Aunt Tibby and her “German Chocolate Cake” (which is only one of the incredible recipes in this book that Aunt Tibby created). Apparently, this was one of her famous desserts that ran “neck-and-neck with her trifle.” The original creator was her mother, which tells you how far back some of these recipes go. I smiled wide when I read that Tibby’s given name was Tzeitel because I am a huge fan of “Fiddler on the Roof.” However, being that the kids in the family couldn’t quite pronounce that correctly, “Tibby” came into being.

As the author offers these stories from his parents’ families who immigrated to America—from Russia, on his father’s side, and from Poland on his mother’s side—you get to live, love, laugh and eat with these incredible people. The traditions and heritage warm your heart as Aunt Annie’s Rugelach, Aunt Gertie’s Sweet Noodle Kugel, Cousin Gilbert & Alex’s Bagels, Great Grandma Pearl’s Blueberry Pie, and so many more, warm your stomach. I’m now going to attempt to create their ”Family Sponge Cake.” I know I won’t do it justice, but I have to try. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.

This is not just a typical cookbook, guys and gals; this is an intricate, entertaining cookbook that will end up needing a rubber band around it one day to hold it together because you’ve used it so many times. “5-Stars!”

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