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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

Topic: Family tales

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December 27, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Leson says: I’m taking a break. See you next summer!

“Hey, Hon! Do you have any thyme?” my husband asked last week while making a shopping list for our annual Christmas gumbo-fest. “No, but I will after the first of the year!” I quipped. Those are the kind of jokes I’ve been cracking frequently over the past several weeks as I prepare to take a leave of absence from my job at The Seattle Times.

No joke. I’m taking off. For six months. “Really?” my friends say, when I tell them about my plans. “What are you going to do — write a book?” No, I tell them, but I do plan to read a lot of them. What else am I going to do?

First off, I’m going to find some thyme.

Relax, already! Don’t mind if I do.

I don’t know about yours, but my spice collection is a mess. I pride myself on having every herb and spice known to man, in case I decide to whip up something exotic for dinner. Why yes, I have dried Thai galangal, Persian limu omani and Piment d’Espelette imported from the Basque Country. Now, where did I put it?

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December 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Yesterday’s Mavens, Today’s Foodies: latkes, you’ll eat!

I moved to Seattle in 1988, and still recall that whenever I needed a taste of “home”– chicken soup with matzoh balls, a plate of blintzes — I’d frequent the deli-restaurant Matzoh Momma, late of Capitol Hill. The name lives on as Matzoh Momma Catering, with owners Pip and Miriam Meyerson presiding. From mitzvahs to mourning, feeding the needs of the community is all part of their “Jewish-lifecycle business,” as they define it.

Happily, the Meyersons have been the driving force behind the annual Night of a Thousand Latkes, a Hanukkah fundraiser for MAZON, a Jewish agency providing hunger-relief for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Sadly, they won’t be holding the event this year due to the recent passing of Miriam’s mother.

As for those latkes, enjoyed year-round but especially at Hanukkah — the eight-day Festival of Lights that began Dec. 20 at sundown — “You’ve got to eat them while they’re hot!” they implored, welcoming me into their home to watch as Pip fried his potato pancakes and Miriam garnished the goods with sour cream and applesauce (you’ll find that recipe here).

They made ’em, I ate ’em. Latkes, with sour cream and homemade Honeycrisp applesauce.

[Seattle Times/Greg Gilbert]

“Oil temperature is critical. Do a little drop-test first,” Pip instructs, adding a smidgen of batter, which crisped up quickly. “And salt them after,” he says, generously sprinkling the end result. “Eat!” Having never before officially met the Meyersons, I immediately felt as if they were family.

That sense of familial embrace extends to “Yesterday’s Mavens, Today’s Foodies: Traditions in Northwest Jewish Kitchens,” a community cookbook published in November by the Washington State Jewish Historical Society. Among its 250 recipes are Miriam’s mother’s hamantachen (a tri-cornered pastry) and Pip’s justly famous latkes.

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May 23, 2011 at 10:29 AM

Shore ‘nuf. Your childhood summer-vacation eats?

My annual pre-summer trip “home” to the East Coast has come and gone, but it’s not likely to be forgotten. Because as ever, I indulged my taste for the foods of my youth, including but not limited to big crisp slices of Philadelphia pizza, foot-long cheesesteaks and soft pretzels slathered with bright yellow mustard. I also had a blast sharing dinner with friends at The Lobster House in Cape May, NJ, where I joyously dispatched a two-and-a-half pounder (thanks, Pat!).

That’s why they call it The Lobster House (left), and thin, crisp-crusted Philadelphia pizza.

While I was “down the shore,” I did not see Snooki. But I did pay a way overdue visit to my old-time favorite Cantonese joint, the Dragon House in Wildwood. I also did something I haven’t done in at least 35 years: I hit the Wildwood boardwalk in search of fresh-churned fudge. Which, as any kid worth her salt water taffy will tell you, always tastes better when eaten within view of the sand, the surf and a seashore amusement park.

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March 9, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Bagels, the conversation: be a lover, not a hater

Any conversation about bagels, pizza, burgers or barbecue inevitably brings out the lovers and the haters: folks who adore/despise, or are enthralled by/appalled by the same product. I’m already hearing just that after bringing up the subject of bagels here on All You Can Eat.

I chalk-up much of that disparity to Old Hunger — the memory of the way things “should taste” depending on who you are and where you grew up. Which brings me to this post’s subject: I want you to tell me your memory of the perfect bagel. Mine could easily be this one, eaten not too long ago at Barney Greengrass in New York.

Bagel, schmear, lox, kippered salmon: What’s there not to love?

But it’s not that memory. Nor the one of my stepfather’s mother, my Bubba Rose, pulling homemade bagels out of the oven while I watched Shirley Temple Theater on UHF in her row-house living room.

Nope, it’s this one:

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August 19, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Grandma’s apron: and no, you don’t have to forward this!

I’ve got friends who send e-mail messages meant to evoke warm fuzzy feelings — and a flurry of forwarding “to 10 people you love” or “six women who are beautiful inside” or “friends who mean the most to you.” Usually, I scan the first paragraph, take in a photo or two and push delete. Sometimes I don’t even open them. But when a friend sent one along whose subject line — “aprons” — caught my eye, I read it from start to finish. You can read it in its entirety (way) down below, though I’m not going to suggest you forward it to anyone. And go figure. That schmaltzy missive did exactly what it was intended to do: it got me thinking about my favorite grandmother, my mom’s mom, “Bubba Lil” (no relation to this guy, or this one). Here’s why:

Bubba Lil’s apron — stains and all.

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