When Elly and Al Ehrlich's son, Ed, died of a terminal illness on September 11 last year, he left a wife and four children - Danit, 19, Micha, 16, Lior, 12 and Yael, nine.
"Lior is the quiet one," Elly says. "She was withdrawn. We felt that whatever was on her mind was not coming out.
"My daughter-in-law, Judy, thought it would be good for the two of us to spend some time together. Lior likes to cook, and so do I, so one Thursday I asked whether she would like to help me prepare something for Shabbat dinner - which they always have with us - and she said yes. It became a regular thing.
"My husband disappears, and Lior and I have the kitchen to ourselves. But Al drives her home, and they have heart-to-heart conversations."
The Ehrlichs spend six months in Jerusalem and the rest of the year in New Jersey, so this bonding is important.
Has the family noticed a difference in their quietest member?
"She's more outgoing, more interested in family things. On Family Day it was her idea that we all go out to a restaurant. And for Ed's birthday, on February 19, she said: 'We have to have a party to remember Daddy.' She suggested things he would have liked, such as star-gazing though a friend's telescope, and we watched Shrek, which was one of Ed's favorite movies.
"I think our cooking together has been very good for Lior - and for me, too. I didn't really know my granddaughter before.
Lior: "We talk the week before and decide what we're going to make. It's fun."
Here's a recipe Elly and Lior enjoy making together, from Susie Fishbein's Kosher By Design.
700 gr. ground beef
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. water
1â„2 cup raw rice
1 medium onion,
salt, pepper and chopped garlic to
Mix everything together, and set aside.
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small head green cabbage, shredded
1 Tbsp. salt
1 cup tomato juice
2 cups canned, crushed tomatoes
1â„4 cup brown sugar
3â„4 cup (or less) white sugar
a little over 1â„4 cup lemon juice
1â„4 cup raisins
Heat the oil over medium heat and add the cabbage and the salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the other cabbage-list ingredients.
Gently form small meatballs and add to the cabbage mixture. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
THANKS TO Chaim Collins for pointing out that I mentioned only four grains avoided by those who are gluten-intolerant.
"Well-meaning friends have offered me cakes or cookies using flour made from spelt (kusemet), saying 'It's wheat-free.' However, it is not gluten-free. Spelt is commonly overlooked, probably because it isn't used too much. Many people are surprised to learn that celiacs can't have it - and that includes people in health food stores that sell it."
USING UP flour before Pessah? Zelda Harris says she doesn't measure accurately and "always adds things. That's why I love this cake. I use a little less water and more cocoa, but the mixture's like mousse - it pours into the pan."
The recipe is from Bertha Gross of Nofei Hasharon, Netanya.
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
1 1â„2 cups of water
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1â„2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1â„3 cup cocoa
Beat the sugar with the eggs, then add the oil. Mix in everything else and bake at 180 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until done.
I'M BEING more organized about Pessah this year. The day after Purim I started cleaning one kitchen shelf or drawer a day, even if it was the last thing I wanted to do (which it usually was). One bonus is the space I've created by tossing items I hadn't used in years; another is the things I've rediscovered - like a set of 12 bone-handled, delicately patterned chrome fish knives and forks "made in Sheffield (UK)." I can visualize the box stored in our dining room when I was a child, and I don't believe its contents were ever actually used.
Last Friday night they were.
"The knife and fork you are eating your salmon with," I told my daughter with a sense of occasion, "are not only older than you - they're almost as old as me."
This information was absorbed with the reverence due to antiques.