(Ed. note: On Monday, November 6, at the elegant Salmagundi Club, I was one of five who told stories inspired by Jewish cooking. The event was part of the Jewish Food Society's ongoing mission to preserve Jewish recipes from around the world. It's a great organization. You can find out more about it and discover terrific recipes, here. sdl)
“There was a time when you could walk into any lobby in the Bronx and you would smell kasha,” says Stacey Harwood-Lehman, a writer and the poet laureate of the New York City farmers markets. She’s referring to the 1960’s when the borough was home to a large Eastern European Jewish community, including her grandparents who emigrated from Russia to escape the pogroms.
The scent of kasha simmering away also perfumed her mother’s kitchen at their home in Monsey, a town northwest of the city. “My mother wasn’t an enthusiastic cook at all,” Stacey says. Infact, when she was 12, her mother “called a moratorium on cooking and my sisters and I had to take turns preparing dinner.” But her mother did have a handful of recipes she turned to, including kasha with brisket, which she took from the back of a box of Wolff’s kasha.
Unlike her mother, Stacey became an avid cook and baker, helping form the second community supported agriculture program in the country and even courting David Lehman, who would become her husband, with challah that she baked, froze, sealed in a shoebox and mailed to him when they were living in different cities.
To hear a recording of the full story and for a recipe for kasha, go here.