Thursday, December 31, 2020

Quiet New Year's Eve

Cartoon by Roz Chast

Oh yes, it's going to be a very quiet New Year's celebration at the Bloom - Underhill home.  Larry and I usually go out to a movie and catch an early dinner at a local coffee shop...nothing fancy. Then, we visit our next door neighbors, Rosina and Nic, to toast in the New Year on the EAST coast, which is 9pm here. By 10, we're back home, nodding off in front of the TV. Scintillating.

Our celebration will be even less scintillating this year, due to the Covid-19 restrictions. We all have to stay home. All of the restaurants are closed. The movie theaters are closed. Every place of celebration is closed. 

Oh well, we have plenty of lovely memories to warm our hearts!

2016 with Rosina and Nic

2019 with Audrey, Jeff, Rosina and Nic

We might venture outside to the driveway at 9pm to see if anyone is shooting off fireworks.  At that time we will wave to Rosina and Nic, next door and wish them a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Christmas 2020

We celebrate everything in our family! Larry put up our aluminum tree for the holiday. I decorated it with knit and crochet ornaments, mostly made by my talented friend, Suzette! Since we weren't planning on having guests over due to the Covid-19 restrictions, we did not decorate the rest of the house.

Suzette with her decorated tree

The Christmas season, in spite of the pandemic, has been relaxed and lovely. Last week I drove over to Suzette's house and we had a little lunch outside on her patio. We traded ornaments and generally had a fun time visiting.

Suzette's hand-knit and crocheted critters
Suzette's Adorable Ornaments for ME!

I crocheted some goofy gingerbread men for Suzette. Naturally, I forgot to take a photo of them!
The rest of the holiday has been spent knitting, practicing my ukulele, reading, watching TV and snacking. On Xmas Day, Larry and I exchanged gifts, had a yummy brunch of lox, smoked whitefish salad, bagels, etc. and just generally lazed about.

I baked a bread pudding with some failed pumpkin spice cake. I used my favorite recipe from Queen Ida's cook book. Success! It is delicious!

LOVE that roaring fireplace with Xmas music on KTLA every year!              

I do hope you had a lovely day! Happy New Year to all of my family and friends. I look forward to seeing you all IN PERSON in 2021!

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Monday, December 21, 2020

Ethel's Winter Solstice

Siblings, Fanny, Abe and ETHEL Pellicoff, 1894. Philadelphia, PA

Today is the Winter Solstice. It also happens to my grandmother's birthday. Ethel Anna Pellicoff Bloom. She would have been 131 years old today! Grandma Ethel died 58 years ago at the age of 73...young for today. I can't believe it's been such a long time. She made a great impression on me. People say I resemble her. She was very artistic. She sewed and crocheted, played the piano, was a champion bridge player and a great cook. Above all, she was thoughtful and taught her children and grandchildren to be kind, fair, honest and true.

Ethel Anna Pellicoff, High School Graduation, 1907,  New Jersey

A few years ago, my cousin Carol told me a story about Grandma I'd never heard before. The Blooms lived in West L.A. from the mid-1930s until a few years after WW 2. Ethel was a realtor. She had many friends in the business, including shop owners, growers and nurseries on Sawtelle Blvd., the Japanese section of West LA. When many of her Japanese friends were relocated to internment camps during the War, Ethel held their properties for them. She collected rents, made sure all repairs were done and generally watched over everything for the owners until they returned to Los Angeles. One family was so appreciative, that they invited Ethel on a trip to Hawaii with them! I'm very proud of my Grandma.  I was just a girl when she passed. I so wish she had been around when I was older so I could have gained more of her wisdom. 
Lawrence and Ethel Bloom with their sons, Mort, George and Baby Hi. Boyle Hts., Los Angeles, 1922

Happy birthday, Grandma!

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Monday, December 14, 2020

A Mitzvah for the Catholics

Ellen, Ellie, Vicki

"A Mitzvah for the Catholics." Doesn't that sound like an Alan Sherman, Mel Brooks or Adam Sandler song? The modern meaning of Mitzvah is a good deed. So, no matter who the recipient is, you performed a good deed! 

Today, I met up with my Sisters in Crochet (and ukulele), Ellie and Vicki. It was Ellie's idea to crochet warm and snuggly hats for the workers at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica.  Ellie lives in Santa Monica. I was born at St. John's (believe it or not). Vicki is just a good, giving soul. We each crocheted about 20 hats...just over 60 hats to donate to these tireless workers during this horrendous pandemic.  I do hope they enjoy the hats and it brings some warmth and comfort to their crazy lives. They deserve more!

Thank you, Ellie for the inspiration.  I'm so proud of my crochet students! For me, the Mitzvah is seeing the progress that Ellie, Vicki and Mollie have made in their crochet journey!

Photos by Larry Underhill

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Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Preparation for Chanukah


Chanukah, Hollywood, 1956. Cousins, Sasha, Ellen, Denny and Kenny

Chanukah begins early this year, at sundown on Thursday  December 10th.   Traditionally, you are supposed to eat foods prepared with oil for the Festival of Lights. The story of Chanukah that explains many of the customs is here. My family is Eastern European / Ashkenazy. We traditionally eat fried potatoes pancakes or latkes, fried in oil. Another popular food for this Festival of Lights is sufganiyot, or little jelly-filled doughnuts, fried in oil (of course). I became familiar with this custom later in life through some of my Sephardic's a delicious Israeli or Middle-Eastern recipe.

When I was a kid, we usually celebrated Chanukah at Grandma and Grandpa Bloom's house in Hollywood.  Grandma Ethel used to write all of her grandchildren's names in some sort of white paint on the mirror over the decorated sideboard in the dining room.  We would light candles, play games and eat Grandma's delicious fried latkes (potato pancakes)., along with brisket, chicken and more.  Grandpa used to give each of us a shiny silver dollar as our Chanukah gift.
Chanukah in Riverside, 1958. Ethel Bloom with all of her grandchildren

Chanukah, 1962, Beverlywood

In later years we'd have our family Chanukah party at Uncle Hi's and Aunt Betty's house.  Aunt Betty's latke recipe was probably the same as Grandma's, but Aunt Betty deep-fried her latkes instead of just pan-frying them.  Yummmers!  We used to call them "Kentucky Fried Latkes."

Once in awhile, my Mom made latkes at home too.  I remember my Dad getting out this antique meat grinder that he would clamp to the carving board.  After Mom pressure-cooked the potatoes, Dad would peel them and run them through the grinder.  This was a messy process.  There was always lots of starchy liquid that had to be drained from the grated potatoes.  Often, the grated potatoes would turn a purple color unless Mom and Dad remembered to sprinkle them with lemon juice.  

Here is Mom's basic Latke Recipe:
1 pound potatoes, peeled and grated *
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons matzoh meal**
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Oil for frying

Mom always used her electric frying pan to fry the latkes

Mix everything together and then drop mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  Pat down into cake.  Fry on both sides until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels before serving with applesauce and sour cream.
I make the same basic latke recipe as Mom.  HOWEVER, over the years in the need to simplify this process, I've opted for *frozen hash-browns (defrosted) instead of boiling, peeling, grinding and draining.  This cuts out about one hour of preparation.  Also, those lovely defrosted hash browns never turn purple!  Preservatives.  Yum.
My good friend, Rhoda makes her latkes more multi-cultural.  Instead of matzoh meal or flour, she adds Aunt Jemima's powdered **pancake mix to the potato mixture.  You should see those puppies rise while frying!  Brilliant. 

If you'd like to simplify the latke frying process even MORE, zip over to Trader Joe's and buy a couple of boxes of their frozen potato pancakes.  Follow package directions.  Yes, they are positively delicious! 

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