Sara’s Muesli

photo-2Last week my mother-in-law Lillian Saiger passed away and the family sat Shiva in Toronto.  This time I was not the mourner, but the supporter, and watching from that perspective allowed me to see the beauty and choreography of Shiva.  As I sat with my husband, sisters-in-law, and Uncle Dave, I observed the sadness, loss, and the intensity of their mourning, but there were other aspects to this rich tradition.  Friends and family arrived to share stories of my mother-in-law, some even walked in carrying photos, others talked about her recipes.  People showed  their respect by coming by to wish their condolences, but their kindness was also demonstrated as they quietly dropped off a plate of their favorite dishes for the family to share, small gifts meant to console and sweeten the bitterness that the family was experiencing.   Plates of home-made poppy-seed cookies, a loaf of banana bread, a noodle-cheese kugel, Quiche, home-made cupcakes and red velvet cookies.  People provided meals, even from a distance, a salve to help heal the wounds.

I listened to stories of my mother-in-law from people who knew her from various stages of life, and learned all kinds of things that I didn’t know.   She wore bikinis, as a young woman she smoked, she invited my father-in-law on a date soon after they first met.  A South African friend shared that my mother-in-law was her mentor, and told me that when she first moved to Toronto, my mother-in-law took her under her wing and encouraged her to play bridge so that she would meet new people.  I met someone who told me that just after her husband passed away, Lil insisted that she join her for Shabbat dinner.  I watched my children, nieces and nephews come together as part of this choreography, with such grace and beauty, each one finding their unique way to help and support each other and their parents.

Were there any great surprises, not really.  I found out that there was an explanation for why my mother-in-law’s fricassee recipe looked darker and richer than my version. I was missing an ingredient.  During Shiva Lil’s niece Carol told me that when Lil gave her the recipe, she said to add a little grape jelly, grape juice, or even some Manishewitz.  I was so taken aback, how was it that I never knew this, but Carol reassured me that it wasn’t that Lil had intentionally left out an ingredient, but rather that the recipe changed over the years, a work in progress.

On the last morning the Cappe girls provided breakfast, the last meal before the mourners “got up” for the customary walk.  It was the final dance, and after the davening we sat down to a meal that Lil would have approved of, and enjoyed.

Sara’s Muesli

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup toasted almonds (chopped or I used almond slivers)
1 cup of seeds (I used sunflower or pumpkin)
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional)
1.5 cups dried fruit (I used raisins and craisins)
1 cup light coconut milk
3 cups milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp maple syrup
Cinnamon (to taste)
1 package frozen blueberries

Toast the oats and coconut on unlined baking sheets at 325 for 5-7 min (take out before the coconut burns)
Toast the almonds on the stove until browned.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Leave overnight and it’s ready to eat the next morning. Serve with yogurt, berries, more nuts or dried fruits. Sometimes in the morning I add in a bit more milk if it’s mostly absorbed.  NOTE: Enough for a crowd and as is customary to say in Toronto, auf simchas.

Enjoy!

Irene

Blueberry Buns

Blueberries are my favorite summer fruit.  I love the color, texture, the little crown at the top of the berry, and the memories that I associate with this small delicate fruit that was plentiful on the East Coast.  As a child I picked berries in Lakewood, New Jersey and watched my Tante Marisha and mother prepare blueberry buns that we would eat straight from the oven, the warm berries oozing out with the first bite.  At The Rendezvous, a corner store in The Bronx, I always ordered fresh blueberry ice cream in the summer.  It had a particular fragrance that I had completely forgotten until this past year when a facial cream brought back this incredibly familiar smell, it was the smell of fresh blueberry ice cream.

Other memories include reading Blueberries for Sal to my children, a family favorite, and listening to Blueberry Pie by Bette Midler.

Life is peachy, let’s go bananas,
no one will care!
Blueberry Pie, let’s have fun,
’cause when all is said and done
I love you, yes I do,
’cause, Blueberry, you’re true blue.

There was a trip to Maine when the kids were little and we picked berries on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.  Summer trips to Toronto where blueberry buns were a local specialty of European Jewish bakeries.  I remember my cousin Rose serving a delicious blueberry cake and I have a favorite peach and blueberry cobbler recipe that I make each summer.  Blueberry buns, or  yagda bilkelach, which is what they are called in Yiddish, are from an era when you could go out and pick your berries, bring them home and spend the day making something special for your family to eat.  Summer days should be like that.  Try them.

Make your favorite challah recipe or use the one I give on an older post.

Voila!

Blueberry Buns ( The photo is of my husband’s Toronto version, folded on the side but I prefer them pinched on the top)

Filling

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

Mix blueberries and sugar and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 8 equal portions.  Roll dough on floured board into circles 1/8 inch in thickness.  Place one tablespoon of filling in center and bring sides of dough to the top and pinch closed.  Brush with egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Makes 8 buns.

Enjoy,

Irene