Friday, December 23, 2011

Cats in the Doll House: Great Chanakah Gift

The Cats in the Doll Shop
By Yona Zeldis McDonough

I don't review books for children. Not, that I am saying I don't enjoy it. But the chance never came about, till the publisher of The Cats in the Doll Shop asked. I am glad she did. I enjoyed reading this chapter book.

This is a story about a Jewish, little girl, named Anna, and her two sisters. They live above a doll shop that her parents own. One day, her parents tell her, her cousin from Russia will be coming to live with them.
In the mean time, Anna spies a neighbor, harming a mother cat, and her babies.

These are the two intersecting conflicts in the story. As a adult, I enjoyed reading this story. I could see the story unfolding vividly. I liked the historical background, of the Jewish experience in NYC, immigration life, living above the doll shop, and the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, and Chanakah, 

I thought the story, was so wholesome, and charming. How Anna cared about her cousin, and the mother cat, and her kittens. Anna had such empathy for both of them being not wanting. Where Anna's sister did not want any part of it.  Just loved the story, how it was put together.

 There is a glossary for Jewish terms, and  historical references in the back of the book as well to explain the story.

I don't have young children any longer, but a 21 year old son. But, my niece who is 10 years old I would recommend to my sister-in-law.  This would be a nice book to give as a gift for Chanakah.
Thank you for allowing me to review.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Everything Closed for Christmas: Chinese Dumplings

I saw this recipe on the Jewish Forward. It is perfect, to try out when all the restaurants are closed for Christmas. I am going to try it. We Jews, have a tradition to go out for Chinese, since nothing is usually open for Christmas. I think I am going to try it out. I found this on the blog, the Jew, and the Carrot.  There is a video, that explains it all. Great, for me since I am more visual for instructions.  Happy Chanukah!!!

Chicken Soup Dumplings
Soup Filling
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons water
1 package unflavored gelatin (If you don’t have access to a supermarket that carries kosher gelatin, it is available online.)
1) Bring broth to a boil
2) In a separate bowl, combine gelatin with water
3) Combine the broth and gelatin and transfer to an 8-inch square dish
4) Refrigerate for about 5 hours, or until it solidifies. This can be made the night before.
2 cups flour + more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup each boiling water and cold water
1) Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add hot water 1/3 at a time, stirring constantly, until you have a course meal mixture. Add cold water 1/3 at a time, gathering mixture until it forms a ball.
2) Knead dough on a floured board for 20 minutes (adding more flour is necessary to prevent sticking) until dough is smooth. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for at least 20 minutes. This can be made the night before.
3) Roll out 1 1/4 inch balls of dough to 3- 3 1/2 inch circles, making sure to avoid the center of the discs while you’re rolling. The edges should be as thin as possible, while the center should be slightly thicker.
Meat Filling
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 stalks finely minced scallions
1/3 cup chicken broth
Combine all ingredients
To shape dumplings
1) Fill each wrapper with about 2 teaspoons of meat and 1 teaspoon of soup filling.
2) Using your thumb and pointer finger, start at one end of the wrapper and then gather the edges, little by little, to form small folds and pinch them into the center.
3) Steam on a layer of blanched cabbage placed in a steamer for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with a sauce that is two parts Chinese black vinegar and one part soy sauce poured over freshly grated ginger.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Chanukah

Tonight is the start of the Jewish holiday, Happy Chanakah to everyone!!!  I always love the smell and sound of the Latkes sizzling in the oil. My stomach is started to rumble already, with the anticipation of the the latkes, and being surrounded by family watching my son light the menorah.  That is really what the holiday is about the traditions, sounds, and surrounded by family.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I am excited about the change on the Jewish Book Council's website. It is much more user friendly. Giving tips for book clubs, and book recommendations and reviews on their site. It is also has many book links and resources. I wanted to share this with my readers. Here is the link if you are interested.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Home in the Morning: Book Review

Home in the Morning
By Mary Glickman
Courtesy of Open Road Media

Home in the Morning takes place in the turbulant years of the 1950's and 60's, in Guilford, Mississippi. The Sassaport's, are a well to do Jewish southern family living in Mississippi.
Jackson, is the eldest son, and is overly protected by his mother, a genteel southern lady.

Living in the south during the 1960's was horrible enough, but in this story the divide of White, Black, Christian or Jewish was worse. There were hazing, beatings, civil rights movement, and anything to cause the divide of White and Black. He becomes friends with a Afro-American boy, named Lil Bo'key.

In the house is Katherine Marie, a Afro American housekeeper. They become close friends. He's friend Lil Bo'key and Katherine Marie become boyfriend and girlfriend.

Jackson, a reform Jew eventually does leave Mississippi, to go to college at Yale University. He meets Stella Godwin a Orthodox Jew. They eventual marry and move back to the south. Where he rebuilds his friendships with Katherine Marie.

Jackson, has a younger brother that is coddled by his mother. He is troubled, lazy, and is often in trouble for one thing or another. But, he's mother always seems to help him out of the trouble he gets out of by paying someone off.

My Review: I read this novel, because the author is from Charleston, SC. Not too far from my house.

I picked up the novel, Home in the Morning because I liked the synopsis of the Jewish Southern experience during the 1960's. Has to be a great read, right. Sorry to say it was a let down.

Anyway, it took me about 100 pages in to finally connect with the characters, and finally understand what was going on.

Finally after the 100 pages, I was captivated by the story. I kept wanting to flip the pages, it was getting intense. But, by the end of the book, what a let down. I am not going to tell you, just in case you may want to give it a try. I did not like the ending it ended abruptly.

I think the author had a good story, but it just did not go anywhere. I really enjoyed one part of the story when the cousin, Lil Mo and Jackson ganged up and threatened his brother. I wish the author had done more about this part of the book. Also if she wrote about the Jewish Southern experience during the 60's, and Jewish-black divide. This would have enriched the novel, she did snipets but nothing more.

I really wanted to like this book, because of the reasons stated above. I really cared though for the characters except for Jackson's brother. There are many other readers that did enjoy reading this. I would still give it three stars.
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