Celebrating Modern Jewish Living Through Food, Tradition, and Family
I’m so glad you’re here.
The Jewish Kitchen (TJK) is a labor of love. Truth be told, it’s been brewing for a long time. I feel as if I am finally standing in the place I was meant to be. A culinary and cultural beschert of sorts.
If I could spend my days doing any one thing it would be baking, which is no surprise to anyone who knows me since I grew up working in my family’s bagel bakery (the first certified Kosher bagel bakery in Brooklyn!) in NY. My father passed away in 2012, but I can still close my eyes and smell the warm sweet yeast smell that only comes from being inside a bakery while bagels move from board to kettle, kettle to oven, and right into baskets while they are golden, steaming and ready to eat.
I spent my childhood in the bakery and at home watching my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother cook traditional Jewish foods for the holidays, Sunday breakfasts, and just because someone was stopping by and needed a nosh. Like many young girls, I didn’t learn to cook until I was living on my own. And then, when I needed to pull together a meal, I was at a total loss. No one in my family had ever written down a recipe. When I called my grandmother in Florida for her sweet and sour meatball recipe, her instructions included such helpful tips such as “Don’t be shy with the onions!” and “When it’s ready, you’ll know!”
While I tried to pry the recipe out of her, what came out instead were stories: stories about other relatives who made fabulous briskets or babkes and stories about a cousin who could make an apple cake like nobody’s business. By the time I did get the meatball recipe, I was exhausted. Laughing, but exhausted.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I realized that generations of Jewish cooks had more than just recipes, they had rich backstories to their recipes: family histories that needed to be recorded, preserved, and cherished for all-time. I should do this, I thought to myself, but instead, I did something else. In 1996, I co-founded womensforum.com which was one of the first networks of women’s websites. It grew to become a top five site for women and that kept me busy for a good 15+ years.
Fast forward two decades, I’m a wife and mother of three teens and a professor and associate dean at Boston University’s College of Communication. Throughout these years, I’ve never stopped baking, cooking, or thinking about those recipes and stories. My family life revolves around kids, teaching, community, our synagogue, holidays, and of course, food.
Enter The Jewish Kitchen.
TJK is a place to find and share recipes and add your recipes to what I hope will become the largest collection of Jewish recipes and stories online. You can also find beautiful gifts and decor for the holidays, everyday meals, table settings, special simchas and celebrations, and idieas to help share the traditions you’re are passing down to your children. The site is deliberately not Kosher-only so as to not exclude anyone and to better represent the wide diversity of modern Jews and non-Jews who enjoy Jewish food. So yes, we have Kosher and non-Kosher recipes on the site. Notes are provided within recipes how to make certain recipes Kosher and Kosher recipes are noted as such.
It took a village
TJK is the result of collaboration.
My mother, Myrna Turek, has been working side by side with me for the past year-plus, writing and testing recipes, nudging friends and family members to contribute and doing more than I think she believed she could in this new digital age. I could not have done this without her. She looks so innocent in the pic below with one of my boys (Morgan) but please don’t be fooled–she’s from Brooklyn!
Alan Bergstein of iMediaConsulting is my friend and colleague, and is the developer, strategist and infrastructure chief for TJK. His fingerprints, dedication, patience, and wisdom are everywhere on these pages. He has been the architect of TJK since its inception and has surpassed my wildest dreams of what a developer truly does. A pro and a real mensch.
My dear friend Garima Sharma, created beautiful artwork including our logo, the lovely graphic of my beloved late father and me for my Baker’s Daughter blogs, the holiday headers, plus design inspiration for the site. Thanks, G!
My wonderful in-laws (more like second parents), Rabbi Joel Baron and Phyllis Baron, gave me a treasure trove of recipes from both sides of their families. Some recipes were even perfectly preserved in their parents’ handwriting. Imagine. Many were cherished recipes from my husband’s childhood. Reading and transcribing them were like going back in time and reliving years with him before I even knew him. Such a gift.
My aunts, cousins, other family members, friends, Sisterhood friends, and so many others have supplied recipes, stories, encouragement, and then some.
And last but definitely not least, my true beschert, my husband Rob, has been the site’s official taste tester, and my personal cheerleader, sampling hundreds of recipes and providing nothing but love and support since the get go. Even our kids got into the act, checking off milestones on my whiteboard and cheering Mom on.
I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about anything you’d like to see here.