My Great-Aunt Rita doesn’t cook, but she knows all about it. For most of her life, Aunt Rita, in addition to preparing daily meals, shared holiday cooking duties with Bubby. That yom tov cooking was heavy-duty; meals, one after another, sometimes for dozens. While preparing the massive quantities of food, Aunt Rita learned loads. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. You see, sometime after her kids moved out Aunt Rita left the kitchen – and she has no plan to return. Which leaves her more time for mah jong.
As with most things, repetition breeds belief. Despite the fact that I can’t remember a time when Aunt Rita was in the kitchen, I’ve heard of her storied cooking for long enough that I believe it. Which is why I beamed when she complimented the mandelbroit I made. This was a few years ago, when nearly half of what I made was a disaster.* The compliment lead to a conversation of desserts. This, in turn, sent Aunt Rita on an explanation of a Texas Sheet Cake she used to make – with a bottle of coke. It sounded interesting, so I offered to send Aunt Rita the mandelbroit recipe – straight from New Kosher Cuisine – if she’d send me the famous Texas Sheet Cake recipe. Aunt Rita agreed.
Months later, I had a hankering for cake. That kick-started my memory, and I sent the mandelbroit recipe off to Aunt Rita, eagerly anticipating the recipe I’d receive in return. There was no response. More time passed, and the only thing I received from Aunt Rita was a birthday card. So, the next time I saw Aunt Rita, I checked to make sure that she’d received the recipe in good order. She told me she had, and thanked me profusely. And that is when I realized that Aunt Rita was not going to bake again if she could help it. Though she did reiterate that she’d send that recipe, she’s a bit wrapped up in mah jong at the moment.
Regardless of the Texas Sheet Cake recipe contretemps, I trust Aunt Rita’s judgement on matters of the kitchen. Which is why I’m going to start flash freezing foodstuffs. Apparently if you want to freeze items, without fear of their clumping together like barnacles, you need to flash freeze. This, it appears, is how Aunt Rita always freezes – rather, froze – matzah balls. She’d lay out each matzah ball on a wax paper covered pan, and stick the whole thing in the freezer for 15 minutes. Once that’s done, you can container everything without fear that the matzah balls remain together forever, according to Aunt Rita. Since the tales of Aunt Rita’s skills proceed her, I’ll take her advice at face value. Banana Pops, prepare yourselves to be flash frozen.**
*For the record, nearly half of all new recipes I try are a minor disaster. But I don’t make as many new recipes as I used to. Plus, I’ve learned that you can cover a lot of mistakes with salsa or maple syrup.
**I just flash-froze the Banana Pops. It went as smooth as butter.