Love Mom’s soup

I road my bicycle to work today. It was quite pleasant but at 33 degrees and the wind in my face, I wanted to make soup as soon as I got home. Over the past few years, I’ve taken some liberties with my mother’s classic vegetable soup by adding a can of black beans, some basil, garlic, some kale or maybe some sweet potato. It’s almost always delicious, but it hasn’t been tasting right to me. The best part about making Mom’s recipes is that they evoke such strong memories of family. It’s not quite like having my mother in the house, but it certainly works on many levels. So I thought I’d post this recipe again (first posted last March 25), with its original directions.

Ruth Gordon’s Vegetable Soup

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced thin
  • 1/3 c. chopped parsley (or a whole parsley root if you can find one)
  • 1 14 oz. can tomatoes, chopped
  • 2/3 c. frozen peas
  • 2/3 c. frozen beans
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • a small handful of oats
  • a small handful of rice
  • a small handful of barley
  • salt to taste

In a large soup pot, saute the onion in the oil, add all of the rest of the ingredients and cover with water. If you’re lucky enough to find a parsley root, peel the root, leave on any greens, and throw the whole thing into the pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for at least 1-1/2 hours, keeping over a low heat until serving, and cooking all afternoon if you like. Remove and discard the parsley root before serving the soup.

Breakfast Parfaits

Use any of your favorite fruits. Berries are especially good. These have sliced clementines and bananas with blueberry yogurt.

Here’s something different for breakfast, loaded with delicious nutrition, and the kids will love it. You can use any kind of clear glass—it doesn’t have to be as fancy as my mother’s crystal parfait glasses. When the kids were little I’d use a plain drinking glass.

For the yogurt I blended some blueberry sauce that I had made* with some plain yogurt. Choose any fruits that your family enjoys, and add raisins and nuts if you like.

Breakfast Parfait

  • yogurt
  • granola
  • fresh fruit

Layer the ingredients into a clear glass. Serve with a long spoon, if you have one.

Click here for an easy granola recipe.

*The blueberry sauce began as an attempt to make blueberry syrup. I cooked up blueberries with a little sugar, but then make the “mistake” of putting it all through a Foley food mill, which turned it all into a thick sauce. I canned it all, but didn’t know what to do with it until my friend Ann said that yogurt was the place for it. The blueberry sauce turns plain yogurt into superb fruit yogurt.

Peanut Butter Cookies (with chocolate chips)

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

When I was 11 or 12 I had a brief friendship with a girl named Evelyn Henzlick. I have very pleasant if somewhat fuzzy memories of her. The one certain thing I remember is making peanut butter cookies for the first time, and writing down her mother’s recipe—the very first recipe I collected. Today I threw in some chocolate chips, although these are really good without. They are unusually flaky and light.

Please use real peanut butter, the kind with only peanut butter, with or without salt, as the only ingredient.

Peanut Butter Cookies (with chocolate chips) makes about 28 cookies

Cream together:

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar

Stir in:

  • 1 egg

Stir in:

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. mini chocolate chips

Drop by heaping tablespoon on lightly greased cookie sheet. Criss-cross with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Braised Chard with (giant) Raisins and Pine Nuts

This chard was so colorful it was a joy to eat, and the combination of sweet with the peppery was wonderful.

Braised Swiss Chard with Onions, Raisins and Pine Nuts

  • 3-4 large leaves of Swiss Chard, thinly slice the stalks, chop the leaves
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted
  • balsamic vinegar, a drizzle
  • black pepper, coarsely ground
  • salt to taste

Brown the onions in the hot olive oil, stirring in the stalks when the onions are almost how you like them. Add the chopped leaves along with the raisins. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the pine nuts and drizzle on a little balsamic vinegar. Eat. Enjoy.

I’m making my first product endorsement tonight for these giant organic raisins. Since I’ve started buying these (at Meijers, or from the company’s web site), I can’t go back to regular raisins.

These raisins are huge and have an intense flavor.

The raisin on the left is a regular raisin (golden because it's the only regular raisin I have in the pantry). The giant on the right is a Sunview raisin. (photo enlarged to show detail)

A family classic: Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (sweet and sour)

Once a year, after the really big cabbages arrived in the store, Mom would make stuffed cabbage. This was a family delicacy and we four kids loved this dish. I remember taking a piece of that good white bread Mom would buy and dunking it right into the serving bowl, and then eating the soggy, sweet, orange-colored slice.

The recipe was lost, but my sister recently found it scrawled on the back of an envelope. Mom’s version called for using the juice from a jar of sweet pickles but, quite honestly, even though it was common practice when I was a kid, the thought of using that now makes me a little ill. Tonight I made it without the pickle juice, and I think it’s a perfect taste-replica of Mom’s recipe. Unfortunately, unlike me and my siblings, 2/3 of my kids won’t even taste it, and I made 15 pieces. Fortunately, it does quite well in the freezer.

makes about 15 pieces


  • 1 large cabbage, approx. 4 lbs.
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 28 oz. can tomato puree plus ½ can of water
  • ½ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. cider vinegar
  • 12 ginger snaps
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ½ c. raisins
  • 9 oz. prunes, pitted
  • salt
  • flat toothpicks


1. Core the cabbage and place it cut side down in a large pot filled with a few inches of salted water. Steam the cabbage for about 10–15 minutes, run it under cold water, and gently remove the outermost, steamed leaves. Return the cabbage to the pot and steam again, repeating as necessary until you can easily remove all of the biggest leaves. Chop up the center of the cabbage and set aside.

2. In a very large roasting pan or deep soup pot, add the tomato puree, water, sugar, vinegar, ginger snaps, onion, raisins, prunes, the reserved chopped cabbage and 1½ teaspoons of salt. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer.

3. While the gravy is heating up, prepare the cabbage rolls. Mix the ground beef with 1 teaspoon of salt.

4. Roll up a 2″ x 1″ oval portion of meat inside a cabbage leaf, and secure with a toothpick.

Place each roll, toothpick side down, into the pot, on top of the gravy. Chop up any extra cabbage leaves and put them, along with reserved chopped cabbage, into the pot. Simmer, covered, for about 3 hours, basting occasionally, until the leaves are very soft and somewhat transparent, and the meat is fully cooked. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Click here to watch a video of rolling up the cabbage.

Place the cabbage rolls on the gravy.

These are best served over rice or on top of egg noodles.


This recipe is included in my cookbook:

The Plate is My Canvas: Recipes and Stories from My Family’s Interfaith Kitchen

Written in the style of a family memoir, with stories from the author’s family, this book includes all of the Jewish classics, from rugelach to latkes. Married to a Lutheran man, Walker learned to cook her husband’s family’s classics as well—with help from her mother-in-law’s handwritten recipes. Stunning photographs accompany each recipe. A perfect gift for an interfaith family.

Valentine cookies

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

These are plain sugar cookies with pretty icing and a variety of sprinkle-like toppings. Last year we discovered that with different sized heart cutters we could add depth to the cookies by cutting out little hearts from big ones, then sandwiching or stacking the shapes.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

DSCN0352pumpkin muffin sm

During our blizzard the other day, while rummaging around in my pantry, I found an abandoned can of pumpkin. (Do you have this can on your shelf?) This was the pumpkin that I obligingly purchase every November just in case I decide to make a pumpkin pie. On year’s such as this when pumpkin doesn’t win the majority of votes, I’ll wait until spring and put it in a paper bag outside the front door for the letter carriers’ food drive, because aside for an occasional pie I have never had any use for a can of pumpkin. I’m not a fan of spiced quick breads or muffins, but when later in the day of the blizzard Steph posted her friend Sharon’s “Super Awesome Pumpkin Muffins” recipe on Facebook, I took it as a sign.

Starting from Sharon’s recipe, I took out the nutmeg (in honor of my sister who hates nutmeg) and threw in a handful of chocolate chips and— very surprisingly—I love these! The oats and whole wheat flour are delicious, and the spices are just right. I think I’ll buy another can of pumpkin before next November!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (adapted from Sharon)
Makes 16 muffins.

Mix well:

  • 1-1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin

Add all at once and stir just until mixed:

  • 1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 c. quick oats
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins.

Variation: Omit chocolate chips. Add 1/2 c. coconut, 1/2 c. pecans, 1/4 c. currants