Passover the Granola

Hi there! It’s been a while. Yup, so goes life.

For the recording of my LIVE storytelling on Let’s Talk About Food, about my wild Passover granola adventure in 2008, click on this link You can always fast forward to about 43 minutes where my story begins, and lasts for about 10 min. (many other good stories both before and after, too!)

For those of you who prefer to read my story rather than watch/listen, I’ll be adding the written version of it below.

So, Passover is fast approaching (April 8-16), and I am so excited to be eating matzah (unleavened bread eaten by Jews during passover) again.


My newfound low-carb diet does not go over well with this carb-bomb, however, considering these toilet-paper deprived Covid-19 times, did you hear what they’re saying about the benefits of matzah?

Some of our favorite Jewish coronavirus memes – The Forward


I am happy to share the recipe to Tammy’s Passover the Granola, a scrumptious, wholesome Passover treat.

Make your peeps happy by making a batch or two of this yummy kosher for Passover granola. (and when you listen to or read my story, you will learn why THIS recipe and THIS Tammy is so special to me)

Wishing a Happy Passover to everyone who celebrates ~

Tammy’s Passover the Granola

2/3 cup butter – melted

2/3 cup honey mixed in w butter

1 lb whole wheat matzah farfel

3 tsp cinnamon

A pinch or two nutmeg

1 1/2 cups almonds, chop after measure

1 1/3 cups raisins


You can replace raisins and nuts with chocolate chips

Add raisins or choc chips after granola is baked, while it is still warm.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min, stir, then 10 more minutes until golden

Store in an airtight container.





The Pennies Project

The slight man stood on the corner of Madison Avenue and 86th street leaning on a crutch, his brown, wrinkled hand stretched out into the pouring rain toward me and all the other people rushing by him. “Spare pennies, Ma’am? Spare change, Sir? God bless you! Have a nice day!” his gentle voice sounded, even though most people didn’t give him anything, let alone looked at him. I too just passed him, clutching my umbrella, noticing that sting of privilege I often feel when I see people who are down and out and don’t do anything to help them. I had no cash in my pockets, only a metro and Visa card. Pennies?, I thought to myself, what the heck do pennies get you these days?

Just a few steps further on, my legs stepped to the side, as if acting independently from my brain, and standing under an awning I began to frantically search the crevices of my pocketbook for stray coins. It’s just ridiculous that I don’t have some spare change to give him, or a few forgotten dollar bills, I thought, upset that I hadn’t planned ahead better, the way I do when I walk in Jerusalem, always prepared to give some coins to those in need. I found one dime. My thumb and index finger clasping LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST embossed on the tiny silver circle, I thought, a dime? What’s a dime? It’s nothing…It’s not enough. I was too embarrassed to go back to the corner to give the beggar the dime, and so I stuck it back in my bag with a shrug and walked on.

I can’t get that moment out of my head. I should have given him the dime of course, because it does add up. Eventually.

Back home in Maine I see a big Ziplock bag on my boyfriend’s dresser. It is filled with the kind of stuff that can collect over time in the bottom of drawers, like receipts, dental floss, business-cards and, yes, crumpled yarmulkes. But the bag was also heavy with coins. I poured them all out and began organizing the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in $1-piles, the beggar on 86th street watching on. When I was done, I counted 22 of them. $22 can buy some serious chow, in the right place.

And then I had an idea.

The Pennies Project will be my way of making a small drop of difference in the vast ocean of needs. I’d like to collect pennies (or nickels, dimes and quarters, or, fine, dollars too!) from anyone who wants to hand some over, and who like me, don’t always have it handy at the right moment; I will count them and turn them into $1, or $5, or $10-piles, and donate to people in need when my path crosses theirs. And that is happening, has happened, does and will always happen everywhere I walk: in Maine, New York, Oslo, Paris, or Jerusalem, and all the places in between. I don’t want to find myself in a situation again, when I can’t give when asked. If you want to be part of the project, let me know, or check out The Pennies Project Facebook page.

Have ideas for The Pennies Project logistics? Tell me what they are! I haven’t gotten that far yet, and obviously, that is a necessary thing. A work in process, TPP started as just a tiny drop of an idea, and like the dime I held in my hand, with your help it can add up to make a difference.

Pass it on!



Sukkah Memories

Being an empty nester on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot is not for lightweights. No more little helpers eager to hang all those adorable and by now faded and partially crushed sukkah decorations made in school over the years. No more little voices begging to spend the night under the stars, barely sheltered by the brush and bamboo we use as a sukkah roof, nestled into sleeping bags cuddling with their mamma on sheepskins and air mattresses. No more raucous gatherings with teens wolfing down pizza and junk food, leaving a mess, but non the less doing it in the sukkah and thereby performing the mitzvah of “le-shev be-sukkah“—to sit in the sukkah.

Not only are my boys no longer living at home, but I am also temporarily (but voluntarily) displaced, and so have not put up a sukkah this year. In order to feel the closeness of my three sons whom I miss even more intensely than usual whenever a holiday comes around, I group-texted them a holiday greeting with a question: What is your favorite memory from growing up celebrating Sukkot?

Their sweet responses made me laugh out loud while I relished their memories, vividly seeing each of them in their own articulation of holiday enjoyment:

Tobi, my oldest, the peace-maker and gentle soul with a sweet tooth, said he fondly recalled all the “joyous Sukkot meals with lots of different guests…And the honey on the challah” (a family tradition we started was to dip the challah in honey for the WHOLE month of Tishrei).

Gabi, my middle son, the foodie with the competitive edge who is wooed by all things great, loved the sukkah hops, and “getting to see who had the best snacks and the coolest set-up.” He added, “I remember the Feigenbaums always had junk food and we always had the most fun sukkah!”

And Benya, my youngest, the pensive creative spirit and practical problem-solver, remembered how much he enjoyed “setting up the sukkah and making it look nice with all the ornaments and art from school.”

For a few precious moments the boys felt as if they were huddling right next to me reminiscing, and I was tickled to see how their memories corresponded in quality to each unique character. This in turn reminded me of how it’s our individual nature that feeds and shapes our memories.

Chag sameach! Happy Sukkot!

May your family holiday memories be as brilliant as the stars in the sky!

Sukkot Chabad

Photo credit:

The Polar Bear and the Mezuzah

We step over cables, pieces of sheetrock, and the old torn down doorframe in my sister’s new home in Norway, which is undergoing a total renovation before they will move in at the end of June. Taking me on a tour of the project in process, she tells me of her vision for their dream nest, with one brilliant and thoughtful concept after another. Washer and dryer at hip level so no bending is needed; a small wall-hung fireplace in the open solution kitchen/dining/living room space; lots of windows, glass and light, and mellow, soothing color-tones of grey, white and wheat. I know they will be happy and comfortable here, in a space just “enough bigger” than their smaller, old house, two doors down, and perfectly customized to their family’s needs and beautiful Scandinavian esthetics.

As a housewarming gift I brought her something quirky from Italy: a hand crafted sterling silver and cream colored enamel polar bear from one of the traditional jewelers on the Ponte Vecchio in Firenze, so small it fits in the palm of my hand. The tiny Ursus Maritimus called out to me from a bright window display, surrounded by brilliant, precious objects I usually would not notice. It was perfect: easy to carry to Norway, unobtrusive to my sister who is not into nicknacks, and meaningful—our late dad was a lifelong member of a men’s club, the Polar Society, whose logo was this great nordic icon. Symbolic and evocative, perhaps she will keep it on a ledge in her work-room, where it can bring a smile to her face on winter days when the darkness and the laundry piles become oppressive.

At the end of the tour and as we stand by the old doorframe while musing at the tiny bear, my sister, who is not Jewish and did not buy the house from someone Jewish, bends down and picks up a small, dusty, brass mezuzah from the rubble. “The couple who lived here travelled to Israel a lot throughout their lives,” she says, “the workers must not have known what it is.” She brushes it off and closes her hand around it. “I’d like to put it back up on our new door when it is installed.” The mezuzah is in traditional 1970s style—flat, matte, with a red Hebrew letter “shin” on its face. Inside it, behind a piece of thin metal backing, we find the handwritten parchment with the Hebrew prayer, blessing those who enter.

Later, near midnight as I fall asleep while the sky is still blue and pink, I think about how after 30 years of me living in the US and being Jewish, our culturally blended family has morphed into a unique symbiosis of traditions and appreciations; a kind of attentiveness to what is meaningful for us. But best of all, I tell myself, is the emotional connection in our small clan, which despite much time and distance apart, remains the pulse affirming our shared expereinces.



Hospitality, Redux

There was this writing prompt: “Imagine a historical figure is brought back to life. Who is it? What’s their favorite mobile app?” (max 250 words)

Then this came about:

As the saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman. Abraham and his wife Sarah need no introduction. Although they hail from thousands of years ago, from a land far, far away, don’t worry; they are in great shape, and ready to make a difference once again, just as they did generations ago. But they come as a team!

You may know that Abraham is not only the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but that he’s also considered the archetype of hospitality. He and Sarah opened their home to anyone that came along needing shelter, regardless of who they were, where they came from, and what they believed. In this they are true role models of co-existence.

This is why their favorite app is AirBnB, the ultimate hospitality service app. You’d think they created the company’s mission statement—that you can “belong anywhere” when you stay in AirBnB places around the world. It’s all about making travellers feel at home, even if just temporarily, by graciously opening our dwellings to them.

I happen to be an AirBnB Superhost host in Maine, and this cool couple will be staying in my renovated barn for a few days. I can’t wait to cook up and serve them some great meals, and brainstorm about how to make the world a better place through hospitality and kindheartedness.

Naturally, they have a few things to teach us about welcoming the stranger with compassion and generosity. I’ll make sure to take copious notes and share on social media.

Welcome Mat


Do Not Resuscitate: An Obituary

My dear Lexus RX300 left me today. She was 18.

Probably born in Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan in either late 2000 or early 2001, it is believed she made the arduous journey across oceans on M/S Andromeda Leader, arriving in Newark, NJ later that year. She spent the first four years of her life with a young couple from Washington DC, who treated her well and made sure she had all her regular check-ups. In addition to valuing her stellar genetic makeup, they also gave her the opportunity for personal growth through a few upgrades that made her even more sought after later in life. These included a high-end sound system and a rubber encased rear bumper to allow her to better handle the bumps and scratches a full life will bring. The couple eventually brought her to West Hartford, CT, where she joined my family in 2005, or thereabouts.

There, she travelled many miles as my steadfast companion in a suburban life filled with dogs, kids, carpools, and trips to Home Depot (home improvements), BJ’s (bulk toilet paper) and endless after school sports. Later, we embarked on more adventurous trips together, like when we branched out toward independence and took up residence in our own smaller but easier to manage space, the benefit of which meant more freedom to pursue new dreams and push the boundaries of the suburban comfort zone to which we had grown accustomed.

As my interest in spending more time in Maine grew, my sweet Lexus RX300 gladly came along for ride. Together we’d zip up 84 east, across 90 west, along the seemingly never-ending 495, to the promising, northbound I-95. We eventually settled in Maine, where we were able to slow down a little—me to pursue my vocation, she to take fewer long distance trips.

She was there when we needed her until the end, despite peeling paint on the hood, a few well-hidden rust spots here and there, and occasional coughs and hiccups. It was when, after a good run of more than 209,000 miles, she began to show some undeniable signs of rapid decline, that we made the decision together. Do not resuscitate.

And even this she did with poise.

When, during the last couple of years, I’d take her to the shop for a mechanical tweak or a replacement part, she took it in stride as if telling me “Onward!” while knowing her end was nearing. She never lacked a sense of optimism and her positive attitude will always inspire me to keep moving forward.

She will be deeply missed not just by me, but also by my children, partner, friends and neighbors, who all benefitted from and enjoyed her gracious style and dependability.

As was her wish, her organs will be donated to helping other Lexuses live longer and healthier lives.

In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to your favorite charity.

Lexus Obit

Bury Me There

When my dad died, we scattered his ashes from a fishing boat in the ocean in Norway, near our family’s favorite summer spot. It was what he wanted and we had a deal.

It was a pretty special day, filled with sunshine and curious seals trailing our boat, grandchildren taking turns holding the urn and pouring the ashes into the water. His ex-wife, my mom, threw rose pedals on the water’s surface while Sinatra’s “I did it my way” filled the air from my brother in-law’s iPhone.

A few days later, before my return to the States, my sister and I were having dinner when she told me that if she dies before me, she’d like the same kind of arrangement. “How about you?” she asked.

I couldn’t answer her, then.

Since Jewish tradition doesn’t permit cremation, I am mostly committed to the idea of my body decomposing in a simple, pine box. As unpleasant as the thought is, I figure I’ll be dead, so it really won’t matter much either way.

The greater question for me is where I should be buried. I used to say “bury me in Norway,” since it seemed to me that this would be one way of ensuring a connection for my boys and one day their children and later their children’s children, to their Nordic roots. My remains deep in the Jewish cemetery in Oslo, they might feel all the more compelled to take that roots-trip, so to speak.

I have friends who want to be buried in Israel, the eternal spiritual homeland for the Jews. This is where they feel their soul belongs. I too, love Israel and feel a special connection to its history and significance, although perhaps less so to its modern day reality.

Then, only four weeks ago, there was the funeral of my dear friend Fanny. Making my way to her burial place past the headstones with all the familiar names from my nearly 30 years in West Hartford, Connecticut, I had an epiphany. It is there, next to the friends who made the world a better place for me, that I belong. The deep sense of community we built together struck me as timeless. Although we joke that our Jewish cemetery, perched as it is on a hill across from a strip mall in a nondescript town, isn’t exactly pastoral, it is—alas—the people who make the place.

So now I can say to my sister, bury me there, surrounded by the friends who welcomed me and made me feel like I belonged in my life as a Jew.


Jewish Cemetery Customs

Focus on foreground stone sitting on top of Jewish headstone in cemetery. It is a Jewish tradition for a visitor to a Jewish grade site to place a single stone on the monument. It tells visitors that follow that others have also visited this grave. A religious explanation is that stones are added to symbolize that we are never finished building a monument to the deceased.

A Time to Cry

“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity” – a line reads in most translations of Ecclesiastes or Kohelet. But as one Bible scholar I know well has suggested in his book on the ancient wisdom text, the Hebrew word commonly translated as “vanity” can in fact also mean “breath.”

“Breath, breath, all is breath” – now it sounds more like a zen and rather uplifting meditation on how breath is what it’s all about, and that in the end, nothing else really matters. All the other things and emotions and experiences are a natural part of our lives and yearnings, but in the end, it’s breath that lets us live and laugh and cry.

“A time to be born and a time to die…” we read on. Sadly, today I lost a dear friend, whose breath left her in the early morning hours. And I cry. But her breath didn’t just evaporate and disappear, in my mind. That energy—for breath is energy—is just transformed. This is physics 101. I imagine a sacred blanket of protection lingering forever around all those who loved her and whose lives have been touched by her, as her unique energy is transformed to a living blessing. Her memory—like her life and her being and her breath—will be a blessing to us, and thus, she will remain among us, in this way.

Wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, friend…the list goes on, and so do the memories. I hear her voice and her laughter and the way she used to call out my name, “Ninalich!” I see the way she used to sit on the chair, the way she’d walk, her affection toward my now adult sons ever since they were babies. I remember how she’d sweep into the room and the room would light up from her smile, and she’d offer solutions and ideas on how to make things, anything, better, more beautiful, smoother and smarter. She was, I now realize more than ever, a grounding almost maternal force for me, although we were almost contemporaries.

A deep urge to feel rooted sweeps over me today. Home and family were my friend’s ultimate raison d’être, and trying to honor her positive energy and endless grace, I yearn to pull my boys close, cook a soulful meal, and beautify my surroundings. And most of all, I will put the notion of shalom bayit—peace at home—in the center as I count my blessings and focus on breath. For it is all. And she taught me this.



Onward in a Flash!

Well, well, well. Fancy seeing you here. Where the heck have you been? What am I? Chopped liver?

This is my blog talking to me, and I can’t say I blame it. Although my knee-jerk reaction is to shoot back a sharp “So what??” I won’t go there. It could get ugly and the holidays are just around the corner, so I’ll take the high road.

And rather than offering up a long list of reasons why I’ve been absent for so long (ok, excuses, excuses!) I am offering a truce: the flash blog post. Moving forward, I commit to only publishing posts made of max 500 words, but aiming for even less. That’s about half of my typical blog post length, and will feel less imposing for both you, the reader, and me.

Those of you familiar with my curiosity blog know that I have a propensity toward wordiness, but fear no more! While absent, I’v been exploring the most unlikely thing for a person of my disposition, namely to express myself more briefly. One such attempt was recently awarded by being published on the Brevity Blog – the blog of the journal by the same name publishing concise literary nonfiction. Another micro-memoir-essay of mine made it to the final round (but no cigar!) of a competition last month.

I have to tell you it is pretty exhilarating or at least rewarding to see how an essay about anything can go from a longer form of its original self, filled with what in hindsight (but only in hindsight) looks like unnecessary rambling, to a chiseled and defined version, and this new specimen feeling truer, clearer and packing more punch. I wrote about this kind of epiphany a while back in a publication called Literary Mama.

Now there’s a word to behold: concise. I now carry this little secret nudge in my pocket and fondle it daily to remind me of its value.

I think my offer of a flash blog post might be a great compromise serving both me (who wants to keep writing), the (bitchy) blog (who doesn’t want to just whither away, alone and ignored after such a robust and colorful early life), and you, the reader (who is the real hero in all of this, and whose time and attention I never take for granted).

So, from now on, I commit to a shorter more concise form or blog post, think in the tradition of flash non-fiction or flash fiction stories, or even what is called micro-essays (look it up; I had to once).

Oh, and FYI: I’m clocking off at 436 words.

See ya!