As a longtime member of Congregation Agudath Israel, of course I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the publication of “Nourishing Our Souls.” I had edited a lot of the content of “From Generation to Generation,” a cookbook that the synagogue’s sisterhood published more than 20 years ago, and I was happy when I was asked to edit the “front matter” — the introductions, holiday descriptions, pretty much everything except for the recipes themselves — for this one.
And while I am not (yet) a vegetarian myself, my 10-year-old granddaughter, Maayan, inspired by her love for animals, is, and I thought that whatever contributions I could make would be in her honor.
Then I was asked to contribute my recipe for hamantaschen. (Well, not exactly my recipe; it’s from “The Complete Family Guide to Jewish Holidays” by Dalia Hardof Renberg. I’ve been using it — tweaked a bit — for decades to make the hamantaschen that go into my mishloach manot baskets, and people seem to like them. I know I do, especially because, as the recipe rightly claims, they “rarely open up while baking.”)
And so the circle was complete, since every year since she was 2, Maayan has been my faithful Purim baking partner, developing into an excellent roller, filler, and “pincher” of the three-cornered pastry. Her younger brother, Leo, also lends a hand in the kitchen, but he seems to be more adept at eating than baking.
One more family connection: Maayan’s father, Meny Vaknin, was happy to contribute a recipe to “Nourishing Our Souls.” This is no ordinary dish; my Israeli son-in-law is the award-winning executive chef and owner of Marcel Bakery and Kitchen in Montclair, and his Curry Masabacha, he wrote, is a “quick, healthy, vegan dish with a wonderful fusion of flavors from my favorite cuisines: Middle Eastern, Indian, and, of course, the rich Israeli-Moroccan-Jewish culinary legacy I learned — with love — from my mother and grandmothers.”