In May I introduced my new column, the goal being to share exactly how I cook with Forward readers. Each month I share a piece of my work-in-progress memoir along with a few kitchen-tested, five-ingredient recipes. (Salt, pepper, oil and water are freebies.)
My memoir jumps around through time and space, which can be hard to follow in a monthly column. So I’ll set up this month’s excerpt for you: It takes place before the events I wrote about in last month’s column, which touched on my time at HBO at the turn of the century. This month I jump back even farther, to growing up in the suburbs of Philly — setting the stage for how I came to be in NYC.
We never picnicked growing up — barbecuing poolside, yaaaasssss; picnicking, not so much. We really liked the comfort of knowing our kitchen was nearby.
We always enjoyed these happy, endless, open-house weekends — swimming (like the fish, for days on end); stopping just to refuel on mittitei, my dad’s signature Romanian meat kabobs, served with a garlic, paprika and olive oil dip, and salata de beouf, traditional Romanian meat salad that my dad made with chicken.
So, totally spent after a long day in the sun, my mom would lie next to me at night and read me a bedtime story. As I fought to keep my eyes open, and slowly drifted off to never-never land, she would always whisper the same thing, sweetly and softly, into my ear, hoping it would seep into my subconscious and become a reality: “Jamie,” she would murmur, “when you grow up, you will be the first woman-Jewish president of the United States.”
I always think that’s what fueled me: my desire for something more, something big, something bigger than big. The need to accomplish something of significance. What exactly? I wasn’t sure, but I had dreams — the biggest of dreams. And I was sure the Big Apple was the place to realize them. And so I applied to NYU early admission.
These perfect-for-a-picnic potato salad recipes are inspired by the poolside barbecues of my childhood. The Israeli Potato Salad is actually a vegetarian version of the salata de beouf I grew up on. The arugula and warm-horseradish potato salads are twists on the traditional country classic.
Jamie Geller is the only best-selling cookbook author who wants to get you out of the kitchen – not because she doesn’t love food – but because she has tons to do. As “The Bride Who Knew Nothing” Jamie found her niche specializing in fast, fresh, family recipes. Now the “Queen of Kosher” (CBS) and the “Jewish Rachael Ray” (New York Times), she’s the creative force behind JOYofKOSHER.com and “JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller” magazine. Jamie and her hubby live in Israel with their six super kids who give her plenty of reasons to get out of the kitchen - quickly. Check out her new book, JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes.