It was during the 1960s that my mother would on a honorary basis, give cookery recipes to the Women’s Supplement of the “Jewish Review,” the British Mizrachi newspaper. This paper then came out once every two weeks and once a month there was the Women’s Supplement. During the course of many years, she gave and had published about seventy recipes.
As each recipe was published, she would cut it out and keep it in a big envelope. In the summer of 1978 she came on Aliyah. Whilst sorting out which things to take with her and which to transfer to the trash bin, she came across this envelope. She wanted to do the latter with these recipes, but my younger brother told her she would be sorry.
My father who had passed away in February 1975 had been an accountant and had utilised each year an “Accountant’s Diary” which was a large size book. Since he had died towards the beginning of the year, that year’s diary was almost empty. My brother used the empty pages to stick in a haphazard manner all these recipes.
This diary remained with my mother almost not referred to for decades. It was at the beginning of 2005, that my mother suggested bringing out all these recipes in a book and I offered to do all the collating and editing of such a book.
My first question was whether this diary had all the recipes that had been published. As I have already stated, they had been stuck in the diary in a haphazard manner and in addition there were no dates on each recipe. There are libraries in Israel which keep back numbers of Jewish newspapers published throughout the world and I decided that I would investigate this matter. I first made a list of all the recipes appearing in this diary.
I then went to the Jewish National Library. I saw from their catalogue that they had most, but not all, of the past editions of the “Jewish Review” for the relevant years. I ordered them from the repository and went through them one by one. When I saw a recipe of my mother’s, I would see if it appeared on the list I had prepared. If so, I would write down the date that it appeared on my list. If it did not, I would note the fact down and later photocopy this recipe. In fact I found just two recipes which did not appear in this diary. By the time I had finished at this library, I had found about 50 of the recipes in the past editions of the “Jewish Review.”
Another library which kept past editions of this paper was the Central Zionist Archives. Also there were gaps in the editions they had. Unfortunately some of them were the same gaps as in the Jewish National Library! However I found an additional eight or so recipes which appeared on my list, but none which didn’t.
I still had about twelve recipes which I had not found in “Jewish Review.” I saw from the Internet that Bar-Ilan University also had some very incomplete sets of this newspaper. But since it was unlikely that I would find more than an odd recipe which didn’t appear in the diary, my mother told me not to bother to travel the long distance to Bar-Ilan University.
I might mention that after the book had been published I happened to be at the Mossad Harav Kook doing some other research and whilst there I asked whether they had past copies of the “Jewish Review.” They did and I found a number of recipes that were missing from the other libraries, although there were no recipes which were not already in the diary.
The next stage was to transfer these recipes to my computer. One could either copy them out from the originals or try scanning them and then use a computer program to convert the scanned material to a “Word” document. My son-in-law, who is an expert on computers, suggested the latter method and said I should bring all the recipes to his apartment and we would work on it there.
I duly photocopied all the recipes from the diary and went to my son-in-law’s apartment. There we scanned all the pages and then put them through the program to convert them to a “Word” document. Unfortunately for a number of reasons, there were several problems to sort out and they turned out to be time consuming.
The pages of the diary in which the recipes had been stuck were not blank pages. On these pages were comments such as “2nd in Lent,” “Sun rises 5.43,” and “Tuesday.” The computer program did not have the “sense” to separate such comments from the recipes. Accordingly in the middle of the recipes appeared such statements as “3rd in Lent” or “Sun sets 8.47.” I therefore had to go through each recipe eliminating such “additional information.”
A further problem was that sometimes two recipes had been stuck in the diary side by side with little space between them. The program might then mix these two recipes together. A recipe for a Pesach cake could then have self-raising flour as one of its ingredients! It would thus involve quite a lot of work to separate out the recipes. To eliminate this problem, in many of these cases, I would cut between the closely spaced recipes on my photocopy and then scan them individually.
There were a few cases where the paper of the recipes pasted in the diary had gone yellow and the program would not work on these recipes, and so I had to type them directly onto the computer.
In addition to all this, this computer program is not one hundred per cent efficient and sometimes “misreads” the scanned material. This involved careful editing of the material. The program also did not give a uniform layout and this also required work to correct.
I came to the conclusion after finishing this work that it might have been quicker to have copied out the recipes from scratch – but I think it would have been much more tedious and far less interesting.
Once I had completed this work, I had to sort the recipes into some sort of order. Some of the recipes were suitable for all the year, whilst others were just for specific Festivals. Some of the recipes were milky, others meaty, whilst others were parva. I thus began the book with those which I headed “Throughout the Year,” and I subdivided them into milky followed by meaty and then by parva. I then did the same thing for the Festivals and other notable occasion in the year, beginning with Rosh Hashanah and going in sequence throughout the year until “The Nine Days” were reached. Every Festival with the exception of Sukkot (and Yom Kippur!) had at least one recipe for it.
There was still further editing to do. I decided that every recipe would have its own page. However in some cases there were many ingredients and a lot of details in the method of preparation. In contrast, with others, the opposite was the case. I therefore accordingly adjusted the spacing between the lines, so that I could make the optimum use of each page.
After some further editing, the book was ready for publication. I wrote out a fairly long “Introduction” describing how my mother came to write these recipes, some amusing and interesting incidents which occurred when they were published in the newspaper and the methods I utilised when preparing them for publication. I ended my Introduction, “So get out your cooking utensils and bon appetite!”
It was in February 2005 that the book was privately published. It came out under the title “Sally Simons’ Kosher Cookery Book” with the word “Kosher” appearing in Hebrew. As required by law, I gave two copies to the Jewish National Library (as I had done with all my other publications). I can see from their catalogue that they had a problem – the title had both words in English letters and Hebrew letters. It would seem that their program was not equipped to deal with such a mixture! It therefore appears under the title “Sally Simons’ Cookery Book” – without the word “Kosher”!
She gave some copies of this book to her personal friends. In addition, each month the “English speaking ladies above a certain age” have a meeting together and she was asked to bring some copies of her book, where a number of the ladies purchased them – at a non-commercial price, but one which covered the production expenses.
I should also mention that at the same time as my mother wrote these recipes, she also “wrote” a number of articles connected with culinary matters which were also published in this paper. I wrote the word “wrote” in inverted commas, since in fact she “ghosted” these articles to my father who was brilliant with his pen!
One of these articles was on “National Kashruth Week” which included a reception held at the King David Suite in the West End of London in November 1962. My mother was invited to this together with her husband. Since my father was unable to attend due to business commitments, he asked me go and make notes, since my mother had to write an article for the “Jewish Review” on this reception. I accordingly went and made such notes. From these notes (and perhaps the programme – I don’t remember if there even was one) my father wrote a first class article with sentences such as “The Reception was the scene of great animation and enthusiasm in sumptuous surroundings, brilliant lighting and artistic décor, amid an atmosphere of coloured conviviality and bonhomie.” This article appeared at the end of November under my mother’s name.
Another article entitled “A Fruitful Discussion” which appeared under my mother’s name was in the summer of 1966. A meeting had been held at the Israeli Embassy in order to promote the import of Israeli produce and my mother, together with twelve other ladies representing various Anglo-Jewish organisations, was invited.
However, what I feel was the best article “ghost” written by my father and one which does not describe some current get-together was one on “The History of Latkes.” I have already described this article earlier in this book and I felt that it was appropriate that it appear in my mother’s cookery book.
At the beginning of June 2005, my mother was invited to speak at the “English speaking ladies above a certain age” group in Kiryat Arba on the background to her writing of her cookery book. I shall give a brief summary of her well received talk.
She began with the Second World War years when food was very rationed. The Kosher butcher opened one day a week. The fishmonger gave a wrapped bag which she described as a “lucky dip.” There was one egg a month per person.
After this war, with the establishment of the State of Israel, the Mizrachi set up women’s groups all over England and the slogan was “Money for Israel.” Then everyone gave. The Edgware Mizrachi, of which my mother was a prominent member, arranged all sorts of fund-raising functions, including the bringing out of brochures which included children’s names at five shillings (25 pence) a name and it usually reached two hundred names.
On one occasion she, together with just one other Committee member, fried fish for seven hours continuously for a function. She said she kept looking in the box of fish and it was never ending! She commented how she stank of fish after all this frying! However the fish was so tasty that the Guest of Honour at that function asked for two pieces to take home for his mother!
The meetings were held in rotation in the committee members’ houses and they provided the tea and cakes. It happened that at a meeting held in my mother’s house, the Editor of the Women’s Supplement of the “Jewish Review” happened to be present. My mother had provided kichels and she asked my mother where she had bought them. My mother answered that she had made them and she was asked to give the recipe to the paper. She answered that she had never written a recipe but she was reassured that the editorial board would deal with it. She wrote her recipe and it was published in the edition of 29 November 1961.
She was then asked whether she would give a recipe every month. She agreed. These recipes were largely cakes and biscuits, but also included meat dishes, fish dishes and soups. She contributed recipes for about seven or eight years – about seventy or so recipes.
Although since they were written, there have been dietetic changes in food consumption, I can honestly say that when a member of my family makes some of these recipes, they are jolly tasty!