who's in the kitchen

Sukkos was grand … and then came the wind


So much has happened since my last article. Two weeks ago, my beloved Braves were up 2–1 in the NLDS. Jerry’s Yankees were up 2–0 over the Twins. The sukkah frame was up too, thanks to Harry Fink helping (or shall I actually say putting it all up).

Since then, my Braves were beaten — actually smashed — by the Cardinals. The fifth game of the series, on Yom Kippur at 5 pm, was do-or-die for our team. When the fast ended, I put Jerry’s dinner out for him and I started to watch a tape of the game before beginning to eat. It was like watching a train wreck; I couldn’t turn away. We were losing 10–0 in the top of the first inning. Jordana was in another room and, being a realist, was fast-forwarding. Her husband Dan asked me if I was actually watching the entire game. Of course I was, I watch every game in its entirety no matter how painful it is, and let me tell you it was really painful.

Jerry’s Yankees whizzed through the ALDS 3–0 but fell to the mighty Astros in the sixth game of the ALCS. There would be no celebrating for either of us.

We did have an amazing first days of Sukkot with lots of our kids, granddogs, my adorable granddaughter and my brother and sister-in-law. It was a full house with lots of fun, laughter and ridiculous amounts of food. Oh, and the weather was glorious.

Then the house emptied out and by Wednesday I was caught up with all the laundry and clean up. Wednesday night at about 11:30 as Geri and I were catching up on some TV shows, the rain and wind started to intensify. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one whole side of our 12x20 sukkah lift up off the ground, the sound of all of the Velcro fasteners at the bottom rip off at the same time and the material fly up and over the schach.

Jerry and I ran out in the pouring rain and into the sukkah. It was swaying back-and-forth and sounding very creaky and ominous. I looked up and saw all 80 of the 6-foot green leaf garlands that I painstaking strung; they were dangling but would survive. However, the glass open globe hanging vases filled with flowers were about to be crushed as the wooden beams and schach mats were about to cave in. Jerry’s son Elliot came running out to help as well. The metal beam that runs across the center of the width of the sukkah was dangerously mangled and turned into a U-shaped 12-foot pole instead of a straight bar that held the weight of the 16 wooden two-by-twos, as well add the four large schach mats. I ran inside to get a scissor and started to cut down the 25 glass vases that that held the flowers. I also strove to save the 40-foot string of 26 mini-lightbulbs.

As I was doing that Jerry and Elliot were taking off the parachute material which acted as sails and was about to send the sukkah airborne. Half the beams had already fallen around us, as creeking sounds intensified and the swaying became more for ferocious. The wind gusts were knocking us off our feet. Both Jerry and Elliot were screaming at me to get out of the succah because it was going to fall at any minute. I couldn’t leave before I collected all the glass. I was going to go down with the ship!

I was picturing our sukkah flying up in the air and twisting round and round through the sky ala The Wizard of Oz — the only thing missing was the wicked witch on her bicycle with Totto.

I was able to save all of the glass items and all of the lightbulbs and Jerry and Elliot were able to dismantle the material, take down the remaining schach and wooden two-by-twos that had fallen, so that no more damage would be done to the metal poles and it wouldn’t be a danger to anyone.

We all survived but were left without a functional sukkah. The next day I checked the stores that might carry those beams but no one had them in stock. Jerry was heartbroken. So on Friday he said he was going to rebuild the succah as best he could. Now for those of you who know Jerry (and most of you should know him pretty well by now through all these articles), he is not handy, not even a little bit. Harry was at work and Elliot was not home. Jerry was on his own.

To my astonishment, and to Jerry’s as well, he actually put the entire sukkah back together. It took all day, but he did it. The only problem was the middle bar was so bent it would not hold all the schach, so he positioned enough bars and schach on half of a sukkah so that it covered the area that we would sit under and then some. We were told that it would be kosher as long as there were three walls and enough schach over the area we would be eating under. Being that it was finished not long before Shabbat, I didn’t have much time to decorate but threw on as many decorations as I could.

Jerry would be able to sit in his sukkah, just as his dad did all those years ago, and enjoy the last few meals of Sukkot. As proud as Jerry was of himself for accomplishing this fete, I was even more so. So much so that I sounded like a mother when I said, “You see, Jerry, you can do anything if you try.”

Don’t tell Jerry, but I have a whole list of things for him to tackle that would make him just as proud.

Cotton Cheesecake

(AKA Japanese Cheesecake)

From the RunAwayRice food blog


5 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 tsp. cream of tarter

1/2 cup sugar, divided

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 Tbs corn starch

Use 8-inch round springform pan


Line the bottom and side of the springform pan with parchment paper. Wrap the springform pan with several sheets of foil, sealing it completely.

Fill a large baking pan halfway with water. Place it in the oven on the lowest rack. Preheat the oven to 315 F (157 C).

Separate the eggs and place the egg whites into a mixing bowl and the yolks into a measuring cup.

Beat the egg whites on Low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to Medium Low and beat for another 30 seconds or until foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed to Medium High and beat until the egg whites just start to thicken. Add 1/4 cup sugar gradually. Continue beating until the egg whites reach the soft peaks stage (approximately 3 minutes using a stand mixer).

In a separate bowl, add the cream cheese and milk. Mix on Low speed until creamy and smooth (approximately 2-3 minutes). Add the butter, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute. Add the flour and corn starch and mix for another minute. Finally add the egg yolks and mix for 1 more minute. Strain the batter using a sieve.

Add 1/3 of the egg whites and gently fold into the batter until mostly incorporated. Add another 1/3 and gently fold. Add the remaining 1/3 and gently fold.

Pour the batter into the lined springform pan. Spread the batter evenly into the pan and smooth out the top using a spatula. Holding the side of the pan, gently lift and drop the pan on the counter about 6 times to remove any big air bubbles.

Place the springform pan into the water bath and bake the cake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. (It should come out clean.) Bake the cake for an additional 10-15 minutes to brown the top.

Turn off the oven, open the oven door slightly (about 2 to 3 inches) and let the Cotton Cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the Cotton Cheesecake from the pan. Place on a plate and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve with fresh fruit, fruit puree, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, etc. Cover and refrigerate any remaining portions.