Recently, I saw an apron with a list of traditional Jewish foods listed on it, and all of a sudden my even-keeled, steady spirit melted a bit. I began to cry and exclaimed to my daughter, who was born and raised in the Deep South, that I felt like an immigrant with no country to which I could return. Growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we were always surrounded by a large extended Jewish family on both my mother’s and father’s side of the family. Now we are scattered across the country. The generation of my grandparents had a mélange of background with members that were both Old World and American born. As I have become older and my life has changed, I have come to realize that the core of my Jewish identity is based not in synagogue, but in the gathering of family. It’s in the telling stories, the sharing of ideas and the eating of Ashkenazi Jewish food. One of my favorites is Lokshen kugel, a sweet noodle casserole with apples and honey that was always made for Rosh Hashanah to symbolically help usher in a sweet new year. Of all of the traditional foods I ate growing up, this is the one I have always gravitated towards the most. In fact, despite its close link to the Jewish New Year, my beloved Aunt Anita would often surprise me with it at family gatherings because she knew how much I loved it. Throughout my childhood, it was one of the foods that helped bring family together, and now, as an adult with my own household, I make it to honor that cultural tradition and family bond. It’s a decadent food fit for a true celebration, and a very delicious, nostalgic treat!
PREHEAT OVEN FOR 375.
COOK 4 CUPS OF DRY WIDE JEWISH STYLE EGG NOODLES IN SALTED BOILING WATER UNTIL BARELY SOFT. DRAIN AND RINSE TO STOP THEM FROM CONTINUING TO COOK
THE NOODLE BASE
1 1/2 CUPS OF COTTAGE CHEESE (LOW FAT OPTIONAL)
8 OZ CREAM CHEESE (LOW FAT OPTIONAL)
1/2 TEASPOONS VANILLA
3/4 CUP SOUR CREAM (LOW FAT OPTIONAL)
2 1/2 TEASPOONS CINNAMON
1/4 CUP HONEY
1/4 TEASPOON SALT
2 NICE SIZE BAKING APPLES, PEELED AND CUBED
1/2 CUP OF RAISINS
COMBINE THE NOODLES AND ALL OF THE ABOVE. MIX TOGETHER.
GREASE THE INSIDE OF A PAN AROUND 9X13 INCHES WITH ENOUGH BUTTER FOR A MEDIUM COAT
POUR THE MIXTURE INTO THE PAN
1 1/4 CUPS OF GRAPE NUTS
2 TEASPOONS OF CINNAMON
1/4 CUP OF BROWN SUGAR
EVENLY DISTRIBUTE THE TOPPING ON THE NOODLES AND
DOT THE CASSEROLE WITH BUTTER
BAKE UNCOVERED FOR 35 MINUTES OR UNTIL A TOOTHPICK COMES OUT RELATIVELY DRY