Following my post the other day about a cool blog I discovered that explores the art, history, and social commentary of New England gravestones, my friend Mandy sent me the following photograph of an Israeli gravestone.
Where Western burial practice involves burying and setting a flat stone either upright or flat over the head of the grave, Israeli stones cover the entire grave in stone, perhaps to keep scavenging animals from… well, never mind. This affords the opportunity either for brevity (Theodor Herzl’s grave says simply, “Herzl”) or more fluency of expression.
Most stones I’ve seen give the deceased’s name, birth and death dates, and parents’ (or father’s) names. In Poland, I saw Jewish gravestones with engraved icons of broken candlesticks (denoting a woman whose death was untimely), a hand inserting a coin into a tzedaka box (indicating that the person was renowned for giving charity), or a hand pouring water from a ewer over another pair of hands (showing that the deceased was a Levi). The stone in this photograph has none of that information. Instead, it has the recipe for “Grandma Ida’s Nut Cookies.” I kid you not. (At first I thought it was a Photoshop job, but since I can’t prove it, I’m willing to believe it’s genuine.) Here’s the recipe:
200 grams butter 1 egg yolk 1 [container?] sour cream
Add 350 grams self-rising flour gradually
Place dough in refrigerator for an hour
300 grams strawberry preserves
150 grams ground pecans + vanilla sugar + tablespoon cinnamon
Turkish delight cut into thin rectangles
Divide into four [parts] and flatten into rectangles
Spread a thin layer of jam
Sprinkle the nut mixture in a thin layer
Arrange on the edge of the rectangle a border of Turkish delight and roll
Put into an oven heated to 180 degrees for half an hour
Slice diagonally while cookies are still warm
After cooling sprinkle [with] powdered sugar
Some people are stingy with their recipes. When I once asked a friend how she made her lasagna, she answered, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” My mom had to figure out for herself how Lois Callahan made her scrumptious bean dip. And in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” Gareth’s recipe for duck a la banana dies with him.
I think it’s immoral to withhold good recipes, and I like this family’s style. Rather than letting Savta Ida take her beloved nut cookie recipe with her to The Beyond, the family had it chiseled in stone for posterity. Now that’s a legacy.
As for the recipe itself, I’ve never baked with Turkish delight and don’t plan to start now. But I might get curious enough to make these cookies without it.
The best part, though, will be telling raving fans where I got the recipe.
[Thanks again, Mandy!]