The recipe for survival that was concealed in my mother’s kreplach
My earliest childhood memory is connected to food. Raspberries. Just one taste and I’m immediately transported back to the woods behind our house where my little fingers eagerly pick the sweet fruit off of the bush. This could be a scene right out of a typical Norman Rockwell painting except that instead of an idyllic New England locale, our house was situated on the grounds of the Gabersee Displaced Persons camp in Munich, Germany.
Our family, along with thousands of other survivors of the Holocaust, was languishing in limbo in these temporary shelters, waiting for permission to immigrate to America, Israel, or any other place that would have us. At two years of age I was blissfully unaware of any of this, only the raspberries and the adoring look on my mother’s face when I dropped a fistful of them into her lap.
My mother grew up in the once bustling shtetl of Uchanie, Poland, located between the cosmopolitan city of Zamosc and the infamous Chelm. Her family of six children included daughters Rachel, Sheva, Sara and Devorah (my mother) and sons, Moishe and Efraim. Only my mother and Moishe survived.
Clamoring for kreplach
My mother learned to cook several dishes to perfection as she apprenticed at her mother, Mina’s, side. But it was her kreplach that we children, and then her grandchildren, always clamored for. While this labor-intensive recipe is usually prepared on Purim, when everything hidden is revealed, including the surprise inside this tasty delicacy, all it took was a simple request and a batch of my mother’s delicious fried golden triangles would magically appear any time of the year.
After she was married, my daughter Sara began to take the art of combining ingredients seriously, especially favorites, like kreplach. Eager to learn her grandmother’s technique she convened a teach-in. Three generations descended on my daughter-in-law Tzippi’s kitchen where we donned aprons, determined to formulate an exact recipe from my mother’s distinctly haphazard approach to measurements.
Tzippi provided the master chef with the appropriate tall white headgear to impress upon all of us the significance of our endeavor. It was more – much more! – than just a cooking class. By recording Dora Berger Zegerman’s kreplach recipe for posterity we accepted our role as caretakers of a family legacy that continues to nurture and sustain us as we pass on our traditions from generation to generation. This has always been our recipe for survival.
Recipe: Dora Berger Zegerman’s Kreplach
2 cups flour
¾ cup water
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 cup of boiled chicken chopped
1/2 cup chopped liver (chicken or beef)
Medium onion that has been grated and sautéed in oil
Combine all ingredients and mix well
- Combine the dough ingredients in a large bowl
- Knead and roll out dough very thinly and cut 3-inch circles.
- Fill center of each circle with a spoonful of the chicken, liver and onion mixture
- Lift and pinch one side of circle, and join with opposite side to form a triangle.
- Drop into 3 qt. pot of boiling water and cook for twenty minutes
- Heat oil in 10” pan and fry kreplach until golden brown on both sides.
Makes 20 kreplach