Dear Fellow Bakers and Friends,
Welcome to the September 2020, aka 5781, the dawn of the Jewish New Year. I believe that 5781 is going to be a tremendous year! But as we’re still on this side of things, just for the record, to quote Queen Elizabeth II who said something along these lines in 1997, 2020 ‘is not a year I will remember in undiluted pleasure’. Nuff said.
At the outset of the pandemic (March, aka a world away), there was a flurry of phone calls and texts from friends, old and new, who checked in with me, as I did them, to see we were all alright. Did that happen with you? We called each other, even haven’t-heard-from-you in ages sort of friends because it truly felt the world was ending. It was heartening. We helped each other find sources of supply and made sure no one felt alone.
I never mentioned this in my newsletters of this spring and summer but as some of you are aware, in the middle of this unique time, one of my sons had a significant open heart surgery. It came with added complications plus it occurred during on the very first day of lock-down. For a month, we couldn’t visit him at all (except for the initial day of surgery) except by Skype. Other times, his brothers and I took turns, parked outside the hospital, waving to him with binoculars from a nearby street. One of his brothers would go on ‘drives’ with his brother, propping his IPhone on his car dash and would ‘drive’ his brother through the city streets on virtual tours to keep his spirits up. He’d drive by the parks and tell his brother, when you come out of the hospital, we’ll be playing hockey there or tossing around a baseball. When we could, we snuck in home-made spaghetti past the ICU nurses station but that became increasingly impossible as the hospital became inundated with Covid cases and protocols. We used Skype and played Jeopardy, again using Skype to tether his hospital room to my living-room. Still, I craved the day we could watch it altogether. It’s been a bit tough here but I am so, so grateful! That son came to convalesce/shelter with me and he was fed, hugged and Netflixed back to health these past few months. Now he’s pitching and winning his baseball games; his record is 8 and 1. In fact, after park yoga tonight, I’m hopping over to another district where he’ll be pitching another game. Win or lose, I can’t shake my joy just seeing him ordinary things. All during the time he was in the hospital, my friends called in daily or texted frequently to keep me centered. We all rejoiced when he came home. It was such a ray of good news in a hard time.
So this issue is dedicated to my friends, near and far. Rosh Hashanah is a time that reminds you how grateful we are for friends and the pandemic only underscores the appreciation.
A friend understands why second cut brisket is better and when the store is running out of brisket, they don’t just tell you about the shortage, they buy that last brisket and leave it on your doorstep. A friend understands why so many banana breads tastes like too-much baking soda and why freezer jam made with Certo is not the same as kettled preserves. (I’m sorry but I am not a fan of freezer jam but ok, that’s not a friend deal-breaker). A friend tells you they don’t notice the extra Pandemic 10 pounds of weight and insists your messy, very gray, overdue-for-a-cut hair actually suits you (or in my case, they pretend to admire the random red streaks you saw fit to experiment with). Plus, speaking to that, friends don’t judge friends on how little or how much they shelter during this time. We’ve all taken various stances although in order to feel safe.
A friend lets you vent about your kids but never joins in. Instead they remind you of all the great qualities your offspring has and how they’ve been through similar things and prevailed. They don’t jump into the fray. Friends truly, honestly rejoice in each other’s ups and console each other in the downs. With true friends, there’s just this ease of conversation, this flow of acceptance in a harbor of warmth and safety.
A friend feels your pain but with the strength of someone just outside of it, the better to support you. A friend reminds you of the best part of yourself when you’ve forgotten or enlightens you about strengths and qualities you never realized you possessed. A friend is someone who is a unique and significant part of the connective tissue of you and the rest of the world. There’s a long fall and winter ahead and most people I know are a little worried on how this will play out vis a vis connections. Keeping your heart open and your friendships healthy is especially important as the seasons change.
Happy New Year all, keep safe, of good spirits and know I am with you in each step in this journey. You don’t even have to bake to be in my circle – just stay real, open and human in the most positive way we all can.
Oh right! I forgot one other ‘friend’ thing. Friends share their best recipes. So here are mine for Rosh Hashanah 5081. I’ll try and provide some other free ones before the holidays so stay tuned.
Warm wishes from my kitchen to yours,
Author, Master Baker
Recipes of the Month