How a Potluck Party Inspired Me to Build a Back Yard Sukkah

Posted on September 28th, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

Amy, Sharon & Colin

Is there a better way to celebrate the fall – the autumnal equinox, and a dear friend’s birthday—than a (fairly) impromptu pumpkin potluck party on our patio? We gathered outside and enjoyed pumpkin hummus* [recipe below] on fresh veggies, curried pumpkin soup with a balsamic reduction, salad with toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin risotto*, Moroccan couscous and a variety of pumpkin desserts.

pumpkin soup

The air was nearly crisp enough to warrant a jacket, but when the sun went down we lit a fire and enjoyed the warmth and glow. Even though you couldn’t see the stars in the sky from our city yard, the evening was nearly perfect.

That is until Colin said that he wanted to cut down and even out our fence posts. It’s true they do extend way past the gate top, but Eric left them that way on purpose. And if they were chopped down we couldn’t build a sukkah in the backyard. Okay, we’ve never built a sukkah in our back yard, but now I kind of want to.  We can use our fence as the framework, and then we just need to rig up a roof of branches. The idea is that the sukkah is a temporary structure representing the biblical booths, and that light (and rain!) can stream in through the ceiling. Since it is a mitzvah to eat in the sukkah, we’ll have a chance to try out some more fall favorite recipes!

For inspiration for sukkah construction, I turned to the JMM photo collection.

The Lutsky family Sukkah, 1904 seems very formal with framed photographs and glass lanterns, 1994.206.1.

Chizuk Amuno Nursery School children built their sukkah out of cardboard bricks, but a good strong wind might knock it down outside, 2002.111.159.

This sukkah is the size of a gymnasium! I’d love to play basketball in a sukkah, but it may be a little too big for my rowhouse back yard, 1999.167.

While most people decorate the inside of their sukkah, I really like the painted garden on the exterior of this one.

I love the beautiful streaks of light coming through this sukkah. Plus, it looks like it was constructed the same way Fluid Movement makes their sets!

This one might require a little bit more engineering than I can manage.

The exterior house wall gives a solid, homey feel. I don’t think our white vinyl siding will have the same effect.

This style matches our back-gate, which is also made out of recycled doors! I love the idea of being eco-friendly. I bet a quick trip down to the Loading Dock (http:/// would net us all of the supplies we need.


pumpkin hummus

Recipe for Pumpkin Hummus

1 15 oz can drained garbanzo beans

1 cup (or more) pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)

Or the pulp of one roasted sugar pumpkin

½ cup oil

2 TBS tahini

2 TBS lemon juice

1-2 cloves of garlic

¼ cup parsley

2 tsp. ground cumin

¼ tsp. ground smoked paprika

¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper

Salt & pepper to taste


Blend all of the ingredients in the food processor to the your preferred hummus consistency .

Serve with toasted pita chips or fresh vegetables



Pumpkin Risotto

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 TBS oil

2 cups arboio rice

2 cups pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)

6 cups vegetable stock (or more), heated

½ cup grated romano or parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper to taste



Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat and sweat the onions until soft.

Add the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure each kernel is coated with oil.


In a separate pot, heat the vegetable stock to a simmer. Whisk in the pumpkin puree. Maintain at a simmer.


Add the broth to the rice, 1 ladleful at a time.  Stir the rice so that the broth is fully absorbed before adding another ladleful. Continue to cook the rice until it is slightly al dente and most of the broth has been absorbed.


Finish the risotto by stirring in the Parmesan cheese.

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Celebrating Rosh Hashanah: Grandma Hilda’s Chocolate and White Cake

Posted on September 21st, 2012 by

A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin.

It’s erev Rosh Hashanah and as I arrive at my parents’ house for our family meal (and by family I mean all 30+ of our nearest and dearest) to kick off the holiday celebration, I am overwhelmed by the delicious aroma of dinner – homemade gefilte fish, brisket, turkey, and all the trimmings.  It’s true that for many, it’s the traditional foods that hold center court – kreplach (check out Esther Weiner’s recent blog post for her wonderful recipe at http://?s=kreplach), matzah ball soup, gefilte fish. For me, however, it’s all about the dessert. And not just any dessert, but Grandma Hilda’s chocolate and white cake.

Grandma Hilda’s Chocolate and White Cake at the dessert table.

While I have fond memories of many of my grandmother’s meals (fried chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, and let’s not forget the iceberg salad wedge!), it is her famous cake that has lived on as a must-have at family celebrations including birthdays and holiday meals. I have shared the recipe with many friends who are always delighted by how easy it is to make and how wonderful it tastes.

Recipe for Hilda Edelman’s Chocolate and White Cake

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter*

3 eggs

3 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 cup milk*

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

¾ can chocolate syrup

¼ tsp. baking soda

Cream together sugar and butter, blend in eggs. In two separate bowls, mix together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) and liquid ingredients (milk and vanilla). Alternate adding dry and liquid ingredients to sugar mixture. Begin and end with dry ingredients. Pour 2/3 of the batter into a well-greased and lightly floured tube pan. Add chocolate syrup and baking soda to remaining batter. Spoon chocolate batter over white batter in pan. Do not mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and ten minutes.

*To make a pareve version, substitute margarine and coffee rich for butter and milk.

See how pretty it looks inside!

Best wishes to everyone for a sweet and happy new year!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippour and….Kreplach?

Posted on August 28th, 2012 by

A blog post by Gift Shop Manager Esther Weiner.

Did I say kreplach? In the same breath as the High Holidays? Yes, I did…and since you asked, I’ll tell you why. Since I was a child my mother, Pearl Printz, served her delicious golden chicken soup every Friday night, always with her home-made noodles. Of course for the high holidays, kreplach floated in the soup, hiding between the noodles. It was kind of a tradition that kreplach and Rosh Hashanah were a team. When I got married and moved to Baltimore, my mother-in-law, Fannie Weiner, made kreplach, they too were delicious, and I was hooked on learning how to put them together.

Well, after trial and error I came up with my own recipe and now my family will not sit down to the table unless they know that kreplach will come with the chicken soup! So my friends who follow blogs, I am stuck…but, I must admit, happily so.  Even though it’s a big job, I love making kreplach. I make what seems like tons of them so that they last through the holidays, the extras hidden in my freezer, to surface on Shabbat dinners with friends and family (…”what, kreplach?”) and the bounty continues to be enjoyed through the year, as long as they last.

Definition of kreplach:  Small dough squares, filled with a mixture of seasoned cooked meat, served with a soup, usually chicken soup, although they have been known to float in vegetable soup as well.



(dough squares filled with meat), makes approximately 150 pieces


Use a food processor, it’s easier. Into the processor bowl put:

3 cups regular flour

3 eggs

1 tsp salt

Scant ¼ cup warm water

PROCESS all of the above until dough forms a ball. If necessary add a bit more water to the machine as it processes. Stopping the motor to push down the dough.

REMOVE the dough, knead on a board or clean countertop until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.



Any combination of cooked chicken and beef, or chicken and veal or beef and veal. Meat can be cooked in a soup, removing the cooked meat when cool and cut into small pieces. There should be about 1 ½ lbs of cooked meat. Saute a large onion (or 2 medium size onions) in oil together with minced 4-5 pieces garlic until golden. Grind the meat together with the onions (they should be ground twice otherwise the meat could be chunky). To the ground meat mixture add 2 or 3 eggs (depending on your amount of meat), about 3 tblsp fine bread crumbs, salt and pepper to taste.



Cut off a small piece of dough, roll out as fine as possible, dough should be quite thin. Cut into strips then into 2” squares, fill with a half tsp. of meat mixture, fold to form a triangle, close the ends by pressing them tight. Drop the filled triangles into a pot of simmering lightly salted water, cook for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl, lightly sprinkle with oil. Continue until all the meat is used.

NOTE:  kreplach will freeze well in strong plastic bags.



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