I’ve met Judith a few times around DC’s Jewish scene. I thought she had an interesting story about her love of food and wanted to learn more. Read on to learn more about her love of food and running. Introducing the Jewish Foodie of the Week!
Jackie: I hear you grew up playing cello and competed in lots of local competitions. What was your favorite piece of music to play?
I started playing the cello when I was in elementary school and had to get the smallest size available since I was so small! I continued playing throughout high school, and I only stopped when I went off to college and decided to pursue other extracurricular activities. My favorite piece I’ve played was a trio with my twin sister who plays the saxophone. It is a very strange and difficult piece, but it was so much fun to do something with her, especially with two instruments that you wouldn’t expect to find playing together!
My favorite piece I’ve played was a trio with my twin sister who plays the saxophone. It is a very strange and difficult piece, but it was so much fun to do something with her, especially with two instruments that you wouldn’t expect to find playing together!
Jackie: You went to the University of Michigan, which seems to be super sports crazy, especially over these past few weeks with March Madness. Are you a sports fan?
All the Michigan alums in DC are going to hate me for saying this, but alas, I am not a sports fan. I grew up in Ann Arbor (home of University of Michigan) with two alumni as parents, but didn’t see my first football game until I was a student. My parents never watched sports on TV, so it wasn’t something I grew up with, and it still doesn’t play a huge role in my life. I still like to go watch games with friends, but get more excited about the food I’m going to make for Super Bowl parties than the game itself.
Jackie: Speaking of food, you describe yourself as a foodie. What first made you interested in good food?
I grew up around food, from perusing our family’s cookbooks covered in notes and sauce stains on the Jewish holidays, to going with the dog to the local Dairy Queen for ice cream in the summer (my dad always came up with the craziest concoctions). Most of my favorite childhood stories have something to do with food, so it is something that means more to me than just a source of sustenance. I always helped cook for the big holidays, but it wasn’t until I got into college and started providing for myself that I developed a passion for cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. In order for one to be happy in the kitchen, I think they need to have both a relatively healthy relationship with food (something I personally have struggled with) and also an understanding of food basics. If you’re uncomfortable with cutting ingredients or baking a basic cake, you’re never going to feel confident enough to make something without following a recipe exactly as written. It takes time and practice to appreciate and make good food – for me, that started as a child by tasting every bit of the process (my dad had us taste creamed butter and sugar before adding the vanilla), which has evolved into playing with spices, ingredients, and new cuisines!
Jackie: Tell me a little about your food blog.
I started writing my food blog mainly as a way to share the recipes I was making with family and friends. I always talk about and share photos of the food I make, and people started wanting to get the recipes. It seemed easiest to put it all together on a blog, a platform where I could share not only the recipes and photos but also the personal stories that go alongside each dish. Now, the blog has evolved to become a place for me not only to share recipes but also bits about myself and the intersection of food and culture through traditions and discoveries (one of my favorite aspects of Judaism).
Jackie: Since it’s Passover right now, do you have any Kosher for Passover recipes that you recommend we check out?
Oh man, do I have some recipes for you! At least a month in advance of the major food-focused Jewish holidays, I start a folder on my computer where I compile recipes. For Passover, I always make this Hazelnut Macaroon Torte from Smitten Kitchen (my go-to for recipes), my family’s tzimmes (a stew of potatoes, brisket, prunes, and cinnamon), and some sort of salad with fresh spring ingredients (this year we did a beet carrot slaw). A recent addition to our list of family favorites is this apple cake. It has more apples than batter and even though I’ve made it multiple times, I always doubt that there’s enough batter to hold it all together! The trick to mastering Passover is finding recipes that highlight ingredients that aren’t chametz (such as nuts, vegetables, or fruit) rather than trying to mask the flavor of matzo meal (something that even I haven’t been able to master). I love messing around in the kitchen, so Passover gives me an excuse to get creative!
Jackie: You say you’ve run the Rock ‘n Roll marathon 3 times now. How did you get into running?
I was never an athletic kid, spending my time in the outfield for little league playing with the dirt rather than catching any baseballs. In college, I dabbled in ultimate frisbee and rowing, but it wasn’t until I got to DC that I developed a love of running. What started as a way for me to get to one place quickly (and get in a workout!) turned into one of the favorite ways to relieve stress, spend some time with my own thoughts and enjoy the views of DC and all its people, dogs and a motorcade here and there. I first signed up for the half marathon to run with my brother (5 years older and also lives in DC), not really sure what I was getting myself into and never having run more than 9 miles. I ran it and loved it, so I’ve been doing it ever since! I don’t plan on running any full marathons in the near future, but this one race has become an annual tradition and I was lucky enough to have my mom come and cheer me on this past year!
Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews Gather… there is food, at least one spill and a steady stream of conversation (with some raised voices here and there).