A Sweet Way to Usher in the New Year
The Orange County Register/Fullerton News Tribune
August 29, 2002
"Anytime you cook Jewish, you have to crack a dozen eggs," says Laura Milhander, whose husband Ken was recently installed as Temple Beth Tikvah's new rabbi. And with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, rapidly approaching she will have plenty of opportunity.
Daughter Leah, 5, will help prepare the holiday meal. "Leah loves to crack eggs, and she's good at it," says Laura. Mara, 2, knows her chance will come.
The Milhanders come to us from Camarillo where Rabbi Ken officiated at Temple Ner Ami. Laura, who grew up in a Chicago suburb, met Ken when both were studying at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. "The temple I grew up in was also named Beth Tikvah," she reveals. "It's odd because there aren't a whole lot of them in the country."
But must holiday meals be elaborate to keep with tradition? How does a busy stay-at-home mom fit holiday preparation into her hectic schedule?
Rosh Hashanah dinner, a family affair for the Milhanders, will begin with matzo ball soup. Laura freely admits she's a big fan of Manischevitz Matzo Ball Mix. "Here's my secret for making them really fluffy," she confides. "Just overcook them! I follow the instructions perfectly on the box, but
then I boil them for at least an hour, and they're fluffy every time."
A former teacher, both in the classroom and working with developmentally delayed youngsters, Laura is always looking for timesaving ways to keep the traditions. "Everyone brings something," she says. "My mother-in-law will make the brisket, and of course we'll have kugel," a noodle pudding served as a side dish or even dessert. Usually made with sour cream, cottage or cream cheese, milk or cream, it is inappropriate for meat meals in kosher homes.
"My mother always made my grandmother's pareve (nondairy) kugel to go with the brisket," says Laura. ""My sister and I used to pick off and eat the crunchy noodles on top while the kugel cooled. I never even tasted a dairy kugel until I met Ken." Sweetened with honey, it is perfect for the holiday.
"We eat honey at this time for a sweet New Year," Laura reminds us. Honey cake, of course, is traditional for dessert, but many people find these dense loaves too strong in flavor. "Personally I don't even like honey cake, but the recipe I use is really good...and easy. I like it because it doesn't taste too much like honey cake. I replace the water with apple juice and the oil with applesauce to make it more of a Rosh Hashanah dessert, apples and honey for the New Year. The applesauce is healthier than the oil too."