neala broderick

Hanging Onto Traditions

neala broderick
Hanging Onto Traditions

I grew up surrounded by an array of different dining room etiquette. From my mothers side of dozens of booming, adoring Jews, to my fathers midwest small, quaint Irish Protestant family. Although my grandfather passed well before I popped into this world, and my grandmother soon after, I remember my father’s family through inches of memories and some small photo books patched with duct-tape losing its stick. My family somehow fell in between the two, staying familiar and cozy when we wanted; reaching out to shoulders when we felt the room was too small. 

Maybe it’s from my years of devouring 1950’s lifestyle magazines and cookbooks, but I’ve painted a picture of my father’s kitchen alongside one photo I have of a classic round, formica kitchen table with a yellow hue. I imagine it as classic as possible, with a Pleasantville vibe, topped off with some bottled up emotions behind closed doors. Grandma Jerry whipping up some mashed potatoes behind a beaming grin you only see in magazines, my father and his twin politely bopping up and down in their mustard tinted chairs in anticipation of butter heavy portions dolloped on their plate. 

I feel as if I have abnormally vivid memories of my great grandmother’s kitchen in Providence. I think it may be because that is when I first fell in love with food. My Nonnie didn’t skimp when it came to hosting the perfect soiree. From her vintage bar to a table stretched from end to end with every hors d’oeuvre you could imagine. She wouldn’t let anyone leave without a bit of a buzz, a full belly, and a smile on their face. For every time of the day, there was a reason to have the table piled high with food. The morning: bagels, cream cheese, tomatoes, capers, lox, white fish, blintzes, fresh berries. Early evening: cocktail shrimp, crudités, cured meats, cheeses of every texture, an assortment of gourmet crackers. You get the picture. 

With the scattered traditions I've been a part of and witnessed throughout my life, I wonder what steps we take to start our own traditions. At what point do we alter the things we were told to do, and start incorporating our own ideas? As I grow up and into myself, I've started to better understand the things that are most important to me; the things I can let go of and the things I cannot. It's felt like an obstacle to pull together all the different rituals from each stage of my life and figure out a way to fabricate them into one. The art of the slow morning breakfast is one I can't seem to kick, and I'm not complaining.

A family I luckily fell into throughout my late teens and early twenties were huge advocates of the slow mornings. Sunday would roll around and I'd be woken by the sizzling of bacon, percolating of coffee, and a whole lot of laughter. We'd refuse our desperate desire to sleep off our sloppy beach fire hangover and slug into the kitchen to be forced awake. These Sunday's were something I missed dearly from my great grandma's house back when I was just a tot in the single digits. As we grow up and youth leaves the house, the admiration for taking your time in the morning can go along with it.

Well, today, I live alone in a sun filled one bedroom and once a week I wake up slow and spend anywhere from an hour to three doting around my kitchen making myself an elaborate breakfast, that often becomes lunch as well. I think they call it brunch? I'll share with you the blintez my Nonnie made that I attempt to recreate every now and then. If blintez aren't a part of your life then I guarantee you're significantly sadder than me. As far as toppings and fillings go, take the wheel. Some homemade raspberry jam and a generous dollop of whip cream is always a crowd pleaser, as is a cheese filling. Also, side note- I highly recommend Mama Leah's Jewish Kitchen for all your future Jewish recipes. My copy has been used to much it's barely in one piece. 

 ~~

make em'~

1. Combine the oil and eggs until it's super frothy. Then beat in the milk slowly, followed by the flour and dash of salt. I've used almond milk a handful of times and seen no difference in the consistency, so feel free to try out different milk variations!

2. Once you have the batter to a light, thin consistency, cover it with a damp dish towel and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so. The flour should absorb and thicken the batter by then, you may need to leave it in for a bit longer.

3. Get a pan sizzling hot, toss some oil on there and pour away! Swirl the batter in the pan to cover the entirety of it. You'll only need a tiny bit of batter per blintz because you'll want to keep them as thin as possible. The more greased up the pan is, the easier it will be to slip it off onto a plate (derp). It will only take a couple minutes to cook each to perfection. voila!

4. For the cheese filling, just whip all these ingredients up in a bowl and roll into your blintz.

you will need~

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

tablespoon oil

dash of salt

 

cheese filling ~

1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese

1 cup cream cheese

1/4 cup powered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract