A Bone of Contention

Mama was a great cook and baker.  Her secret recipes were based on what was available in the pantry and what her four boys liked.  She always wanted to please her boys.  She had learned the old-fashioned way—by trial and error.

There was only one kugel (pudding) baked at a time and it was different every week.  It was like the “Kugel of the Week”

We boys called them lokshn (noodle) kugel, rice pudding, bread pudding and potato kugel.  Each one was made either dairy or pareve (not meat or dairy) depending on what was available and what the boys liked at that time.

Mama made them in a large, deep, black tin pan she called a blekh.  The little smaller flat pan was just a blekhl.  These kugels were more like desserts, for they tasted sweet to us. 

Mama never used a recipe it was always “shit arayn” (pour in).  This later was a bone of contention with her daughter-in-laws who wanted to please “the boys.” The comments were, “Why can’t you make a kugel like Mama does?”

My favorites were the bread pudding and the dairy lokshn kuglel.  For the bread pudding Mama soaked the white bread or khale for at least an hour in a mixture of sweet cream, eggs and milk and it came out “custardy.” Then it was fully packed with raisins and dried fruit. 

When Mama served it, she poured rich sweet cream on top.  It was fit for a king.

Now, the lokshn kugel was something else.  It started with homemade lokshn (noodles).  I remember the lokshn mom made was a rich yellow—not like the pale yellow, papery-like taste of boxed, commercial products on today’s super market shelves.  They had plenty of eggs in them, for Mama had to use up the many cracked eggs that we had.

I still remember Mama mixing kneading, rolling and finally cutting the narrow strips of lokshn.  None was of the same size or shape.  The lokshn on top was crisp with brown edges just like grivn (cracklings) but the inside was moist and juicy. 

We boys were delighted to be chosen to help in the kitchen because it was a lot more fun than cleaning chicken coops.

Oh, Mama, come back once again and make Fishele a lokshn kugel.