Today's soup began with homemade chicken stock and some cut-up, cooked chicken meat from the soup chicken. Then came a stream of vegetables: carrots, onions and celery (first sautéed in a little chicken fat) frozen peas and corn, cute boiled potatoes, and steamed cauliflower puréed with cashew milk to make it creamy. To boost the flavors Joan added some herbs de Provence, a little white wine, smoked paprika, parsley, and a little butter. This looks like it could be first cousin to a chowder, thanks to the cashew milk and potatoes.
This week Joan is challenging herself to make a new, original soup of the day. Soups are the archetypal, improvised, "no-recipe" culinary Garfield style! For her first soup of the day, Joan recycled overcooked asparagus from her Friday night seder, mixed with coconut milk, along with parsley from the Seder, baby spinach, cooked carrots, celery, potato and vegetable broth. The first 4 ingredients were puréed in a Vitamix, then reheated with the carrots, celery, potato and the vegetable broth they were cooked with. Finally the soup was seasoned for taste with a tablespoon of Thai green curry paste and fresh lemon juice.
[posted by Ann]
Rebecca Garfield embodied the archetype of the loving, nurturing Grandmother. For most of our childhood we lived far away from her, but there were five years when our family lived close by in the Chicago suburbs of Oak Park and Evanston, (ca 1952 -1957.) During these years of frequent contact, we experienced the joys of matzo ball soup and potato kugel at Grandma’s Chicago apartment, and listened to her singing duets with our Grandfather, from their trove of Yiddish, Russian, and Irish songs. Our Dad always told us how much our Grandparents loved us, “They would give the world for you,” he once said as he handed me the telephone to chat with them.
I have a clear memory of a time Grandma and Papa Garfield babysat for us at our Oak Park home, when Joan was probably two and I was four. We loved hot cocoa, something our Mother served only as a special treat. It was bedtime, and stalling, I asked Grandma Garfield if we could have hot cocoa first. I expected her to veto the audacious request, as our mother certainly would have. But to my great surprise, she was happy to make it, and mixed up a batch from scratch in a small white enamel saucepan. I couldn’t believe our good fortune, but my conscience was also somewhat troubled, as I was certain that our Mother wouldn’t approve.
When Grandma Garfield immigrated to the US around 1910, the garment industry in New York City produced seventy per cent of the clothing worn by Americans. The job market was strong for Jewish immigrant women with sewing skills, and our Grandma quickly found work as a buttonhole maker. She fit right into the cohort of young, Yiddish-speaking immigrant girls from Eastern Europe who were her co-workers and friends. There was live Yiddish theater in New York, Yiddish films, and the Daily Forward newspaper in Yiddish. The familiar warmth of the Old World culture, transplanted, smoothed her transition to the New World. We have a photo of Grandma Rebecca with a group of other young women, who may be friends from her workplace or the tenement house in which she lived. The 1915 New York Census lists her as a boarder in the home of Max and Minnie Katz at 528 East 11th Street. Almost 180 names are listed for that address, likely a tenement house with about 20 units. Most of the residents had Jewish names, came from Russia, and worked in the garment industry. Grandma’s landlord Mr. Katz was a pants operator, and another young woman boarder named Ida Purdger was listed as “operator-dresses.”
During these early years, probably before 1915, a young man once approached Grandma and her friends asking for a loan of $20. Grandma opened her purse and gave him the money. He promised to pay her back, but her friends were skeptical and laughed that she would never see that money again. But they were wrong. About 40 years later that same man traced her to Chicago, came to see her and repaid the loan with interest. He said that he had never forgotten her kindness, and insisted on giving her $60 dollars.
Rebecca Friedman with friends, ca 1914-1915. This photo was taken at the Tarr Studio, 20 East 14th Street, New York City. Grandma is the young girl on the right, with the white blouse and dark necktie. Perhaps the other women were her fellow buttonhole makers. Or maybe one of the older women is her landlady Mrs. Katz, with fellow boarder Ida Purdger the other young woman on the left.
Here are two photos of our Grandma Garfield as a young woman. They are a portal to her early years as a spunky immigrant from Russian-controlled Krinik (now Krynki) in Poland.
This first photo was taken in New York around 1910, probably with her brother Sam who had immigrated before her. Her name was Rivke Friedman. It may have been taken shortly after her arrival in America, to send back to family in the Old Country to assure them of her safe arrival and reunion with brother Sam. She is still a teenager, either 16 or 17 years old. Her clothes and furs evoke Eastern Europe: elaborate large muff, generous fur collar, and big fur hat with an enormous ribbon at the back. She does not resemble the typical Ellis Island image of immigrant women wrapped in shawls and babushkas. Her outfit suggests a family of some means. Such large fur muffs also served as purses, and she probably carried a few diamonds in hers. They were the travelers’ checks of her time, small and easy to carry. One of those diamonds may even have become our mother Amy’s engagement ring 30 years later.
The second photo was made in Chicago, and may have been taken shortly after her marriage in 1916. Her name would have become Rebecca Garfield. This is an Americanized, and stylish young woman, in a sleek suit and fashionable hat--with no more furs or Old Country trappings in her dress. She carries a dainty small purse. She had worked for several years in the New York garment industry, making buttonholes for men's suits. Her face is thin; her figure is trim. She has never looked more beautiful: a young bride, before the cares of motherhood and family life have set in.
We are posting a memoir by Joan on this Yom Kippur eve in honor of our Grandfather Julius who felt that Yom Kippur was the most important of all the holidays. It was the only day of the year that he closed his grocery store and stayed home. He was not religious, but this was his way of acknowledging his Jewish beliefs and identification.
When I recall my grandfather, Julius Garfield, my memories are mostly visual. The first image that appears is of his face. He wore thick eyeglasses and had a high, broad forehead. His face was often lit up with a beaming smile. Then I see his hands. They were strong, competent hands, with wide, neatly groomed fingers. On one finger he wore a plain gold ring adorned with a single diamond.
I have many memories of my grandfather’s hands. I often watched them carefully grate potatoes for my grandmother to use in preparing her famous latkes. They wrapped sandwiches in waxed paper with such precision we knew the paper would never unfold in the lunch bag. They lifted a shot glass of whiskey, referred to as “a schnapps,” for a toast of L’chaim” before dinner. They poured my first cup of coffee, heavily flavored with cream and sugar, from a thermos that accompanied my grandparents on their car trip to visit us in Omaha.
Many years later I watched my grandfather’s hands folded on his lap, as he sat in a wheel chair in a nursing home. I watched them pick up the jelly donuts (bismarks) my grandmother had brought him as a special treat.
My father tells me that these hands were once the hands of a capable plumber, and often made repairs in the rooming houses my grandfather owned. These hands also ran a cash register and made change for customers at his grocery store. They patted his faithful dog Pal, who waited for him each evening when he returned home after closing the store.
These hands piled his plate high with five slices of bread at the beginning of dinner. They wrote letters to his grandchildren in small precise script. He always signed the letters with the same closing: “Best wishes and kindest regards, Grandma and Papa.” I never questioned why we called him “Papa” instead of Grandpa. I think my older cousin Judy gave him this name when she was young and later we copied her.
Papa’s hands often held up poker cards while playing five card stud with his family on Sunday afternoons. When he had a winning hand he would slap his forehead in delight, and sometimes burst into song. My father tells me that these poker games were some of my grandfather’s happiest times. He enjoyed nothing more than having a glass or two of schnapps, playing poker, and singing. The songs he sang were usually in Yiddish or Russian, songs he probably learned as a boy in Bialystok. He also loved the Irish songs of John McCormack, which he must have heard after immigrating to the United States.
My favorite of Papa’s songs was “Raisins and Almonds.” I can still recall the haunting melody of this beautiful Yiddish lullaby and the way his fine tenor voice blended with Grandma’s. I would close my eyes and snuggle on my grandma’s lap, willing the song to go on forever.
Joan Garfield and David Garfield with Julius Garfield in Omaha, 1958.
Our grandparents were courageous and brave, setting out alone for America from the Old Country (Russian-ruled Poland) when they were teenagers.
Our Grandfather was "Papa" to us, but he was born Yudel Karafiol, July 23, 1893, in Bialystok, a Polish textile manufacturing center with a large Jewish population He had one brother and two sisters. His father’s name was Scholom. His mother was a midwife, and she left her family at some point. Our Papa was trained as a plumber.
A traumatic event of his young life was the death of his brother in the Bialystok Pogrom, in which Russian soldiers attacked and murdered Jews during the three days of June 1-3, 1906. After the pogrom, Jews were pessimistic about their future in Bialystok, and emigration grew. When he was 18, our Papa left Poland and sailed to New York from Glasgow, Scotland, on the Furnessia. When he arrived at Ellis Island, April 4, 1911, he Americanized his name to Julius Garfield, using the name already taken by his immigrant cousins. He was told, “In America our name is Garfield.” The ship manifest said that he was 5 feet 4 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes
Our Grandmother was born Rivke Friedman in 1894 in the village or Shtetl of Krynki (also spelled Krinik, Krinek and Krinki.) She called it Krinik. It was near Bialystok, but not industrial. Leather tanning was the principal trade. Rivke’s family included two older sisters, and four or five brothers. The youngest died at an early age. The family had a business manufacturing wooden roof shingles, although Grandma also told us that her father made sewing machine cabinets. Her father was a community leader. They had a garden, and her grandmother, who lived with them and looked after the children, knew how to use medicinal herbs. Her brother Sam (Schmuele) immigrated to American first. She paid for a smuggler to get her to the New World. She traveled to Hamburg, and then to England. Although we thought she sailed from England in 1910, at age 16, it is possible that she was the Riwke Friedman born in Krinik who sailed from Rotterdam on the Rijndam, and arrived in New York on June 29,1909. There are several compelling clues because Riwke of the Rijndam, like our grandmother, was a seamstress with a brother S Friedman in Chicago who paid her passage. The ship manifest said that she was 4 feet 11 inches, with brown hair and brown eyes. It also noted that she was not a polygamist and not an anarchist.
When our Grandma married Julius Garfield in Brooklyn on December 5, 1916 her name was listed as Rebecca Friedman.
Left to right, Sam Friedman (?), Rebecca Friedman, Julius Garfield, ca 1916. This photograph was taken in New York City, perhaps at the time of Rebecca and Julius' wedding.
[written by Joan Garfield, from Stone Soup Cooking, privately published memoir]
When I was 19 years old my Grandma died suddenly of a heart attack while visiting friends in Florida. She died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Her body was shipped home to Chicago. At the funeral I asked what had happened to her onyx ring. I was told that it disappeared.
Now I have my own onyx ring with a diamond to wear on my right hand. I know it does not exactly match the one that my grandmother wore, yet it binds me forever to the woman I remember with such love. I wear it as I cook potato kugel and brisket in my kitchen, and I wore it as I sang my children to sleep at night. I hope to wear it when I rock my grandchildren in my arms. Someday I will pass it on to my daughter, Rebecca. This ring symbolizes a gift to be passed down from generation to generation, a gift of those things I value most: my grandmother's love, warmth, generosity, and of course, her recipes.
I learned later in life that my Grandma did not know how to cook until she was married, and my Papa taught her. I also learned that her style of cooking was similar to Hungarian food, and that she liked to add tomatoes and paprika to many dishes such as baked chicken. I remember watching my Grandma and Papa in the kitchen, as Papa grated potatoes for latkes or a kugel, while my Grandma sautéed gribniz (chicken fat) and chicken livers. I loved her potato lakes so much I would sneak into the kitchen as she fried them and she would give me some to sample before dinner. I also loved the brown crusty potato kugel with the creamy filling, so delicious with pot roast and gravy. I do not have her recipe for this dish but many years later, after marrying Michael, his Aunt Ann gave me her recipe for kugel which is also very good.
My memories of my warm, round little Grandma in the kitchen are accompanied by memories of my father’s joy in eating her food or talking about her food. And I can picture her smiling face as she stood wearing her apron, arms folded as she asked “Good, the kugel” and we groaned our appreciation.
Grandma’s cookies (an approximate version, because I do not have her recipe)
1 c. plain oil (like corn oil)
2 c. sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
1 2/3 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla
Cream oil and sugar. Add eggs. Beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla; mix well. Roll out on floured board, cut circles with a small glass. Place on greased cookie sheet; press . Bake for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.
Postcript: after our mother's death in 2013, Ann found the recipe in a letter written by Papa Julius in about 1963, probably in response to a request from Joan. It is only the list of ingredients.
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 pound butter or margarine
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspon of vanilla
This photo of Grandma Rebecca Garfield holding baby David Garfield was taken at our home in Evanston, Illinois in 1957.
My father's mother was Rebecca Friedman Garfield. When I recall my grandmother, I easily picture her face: her dark eyes, pale wrinkled skin, and thin, wavy gray hair I remember the plumpness of her short body and her soft embrace when I hugged her. Her gentleness, kindness and warmth infuse these memories.
Despite an onyx ring with a diamond center, which was always on her finger, my grandmother dressed very plainly. She didn't wear lipstick, powder, or earrings. She was a devoted wife, mother, and housewife, who loved the recognition she received for her cooking. I remember her busily working in the small kitchen of her house, and can smell the onions frying, the potato kugel and brisket baking in the oven. I see the blue speckled roasting pan she used. I remember her eagerness as she hovered over me, waiting for my delighted reactions as I tasted her food. "Here, have another latke" she would say. "You like the gefilte fish? Have some more." She never pushed unwanted food at me, I was too eager to taste it all.
My Grandma probably appeared to others as a simple woman who spoke English with heavy accent. She received little formal education in her home town of Krynki, in Poland, leaving grade school after a few years. During her life she learned to speak many languages fluently: Russian, Polish, Yiddish, and Hebrew. She came to the United States by herself, escaping Poland to travel first to England, and then by boat, to New York.There, she found a job in a factory, rather a sweat shop, making button holes. Her friends were Italian girls who loved to sing songs from operas while they worked over the factory machines. They took her to see her first opera for which she purchased a standing room ticket. My grandmother enjoyed it so much that she developed a life-long love of opera which was eventually passed on to my father.
After a few years in New York, Rebecca married Julius Garfield, my grandfather. They moved to Chicago where both had family, and struggled to make a living by running a small grocery store during the harsh time of the depression. They had two children, my father and then my aunt Helen. My grandparents had a difficult life. My grandfather's business failed and the family had to move in with relatives. I heard many stories from my father about the hard times they had during the 1920's and l930's. My grandmother was the glue that kept the family together, preventing my grandfather from submitting to despair, supporting her children by doing the things she knew best: providing them with love , encouragement, and hearty meals.
When I knew my grandparents they had survived those hard years and lived in their first house, in a modest neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. My grandma filled her days with fund raising activities for Jewish organizations. When we went to visit them their front hallway always smelled of mothballs. My Papa and Grandma would laugh with joy to see their grandchildren, and lead us into the kitchen for homemade cookies and coffee cake. The cookies were plain sugar cookies, made with oil instead of butter, and cut into circles with a small juice glass. They were very plain but we enjoyed eating them fresh out of the oven and called them “Grandma’s cookies”.
Sometimes relatives would be visiting from the city or from out of town. I remember meeting my Uncle Avramel from Argentina, who gave my mother a pretty pink flowered tablecloth which I now own and treasure. I remember different cousins and their children who we met at my grandparents’ house. Whenever there was baby to rock, my grandma would cradle its small body in her arms, singing lullabies in Yiddish, or simply crooning "Ah-ah, ah-ah, baby".
I also liked to be rocked and sung to by my Grandma. When I sat on her lap I would hold her soft, wrinkled hand in mine and examine her ring. It was a flat, rectangular back stone, set in silver or platinum, with a small diamond in the center. I used to look at this ring and admire it, moving it around on her finger. (to be continued...)
This photo of Julius and Rebecca Garfield with their granddaughter Joan was taken by Ann in 1956, Evanston, Illinois.