Joanne Godel-Blatt was “an outstanding cook”, her son Oliver remembers. So when the mother of two died of cancer last July, Oliver and his sister Georgia turned to food to celebrate her memory.
The result is DoDo’s Delights: Joanne Godel-Blatt’s Recipes for Cooking and Living with Soul, a self-published cookbook the Toronto siblings released in June. Through social media and word of mouth, the cookbook’s sold more than 200 copies, Oliver Blatt told the Forward; orders are already eating up an upcoming print run of 200.
While 20-year-old Oliver’s handling marketing and distribution, it was 17-year-old Georgia who gathered the recipes into book form. “My sister wanted to find a way to channel her sadness into something great,” said Oliver, who’s also serving as family spokesperson while Georgia works as a swim instructor at an Ontario summer camp.
Over the course of six months, Georgia Blatt tested recipes with a rotating cast of friends in the family’s kitchen; at the same time, the siblings and their father, Warren, collected memories of their mother from friends and family. It turned out to be a winning combination. “The book’s blown up way more than we anticipated,” Oliver said. “I’ve had people reach out graduated with my mother from high school. It’s very honorable to my mum that so many people will have her recipes in their kitchens.”
Joanne Godel-Blatt - “Dodo” to her family and friends — “could whip up an amazing recipe freehand with any ingredients you gave her,” Oliver said. “Five or six years before she died, she started writing recipes down, so that if she made something we loved, she could do it again - or Georgia and I could make it.”
The recipes ended up in a huge binder that Georgia eventually used to create Dodo’s Delights. “The book’s completely self-published,” Oliver said. “We self-marketed. We had an event for 150 people at the Village Shul here in Toronto, where where we’re members. We’ve been active on social media.” Orders have come in from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Seattle, where the Blatts have extended family or friends.
Dodo Blatt’s trademark recipe is a highlight of the cookbook: Tuna pasta. “It was my favorite meal that my mom made,” Oliver said. “It’s spaghetti-based, with tuna, capers, kalamata onions, and tomato sauce. She made that mostly for my dad, my sister, and me. It was her signature meal for four of us, a Sunday-night type thing.” Jewish recipes appear in the book too. “My mother made an amazing noodle kugel,” Oliver recalled.
Nearly a year since Dodo’s passing, the family’s still grieving. But the cookbook’s “channeling our energy into a way that’s honorable to her,” Oliver said. “Everyone is going to have tough things happen. What says a lot about a person is how they deal with it. Even though there’s this hole in our hearts, people we don’t even know have my mom’s recipes. If my Mom was here, she’d be smiling to know that.”
DoDo’s Delights: Joanne Godel-Blatt’s Recipes for Cooking and Living with Soul is available for $25 CDN + postage by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.