Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Due to various circumstances some of which are beyond my control, I am taking a hiatus from posting on this blog. In the fall, look for new blog posts by me with new recipes and new ideas. In the meantime, have a great summer everyone.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Surviving the Heat Wave With A Family Recipe for Fruit Soup

The heat wave has been raging in Chicago for days so I went to my favorite indoor walking track. When I arrived, three women were speaking to each other in Russian. I wasn’t able to converse with them although I have Jewish-Russian origins. I watched them perusing the flyer from a local produce market. The ad, the weather, and the Russian speaking reminded me of foods eaten in my childhood namely my great-grandmother Bryna’s fruit soup. It would definitely hit the spot today. And right now, I can practically taste it.

In the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, most people didn’t have central air-conditioning in their houses.  If we wanted to be in air-conditioning, we went to the movies. Sometimes we went to the beach. We’d eat things that didn’t entail turning on the oven. (Most of us who were around then probably have favorite hot weather recipes.) At night, we’d take cold showers and only partially dry off. We’d use big window fans. Generally, we used less energy but not having a choice, we accepted it that way.

During one heat wave, when the mercury hovered at about 100 for a week, my grandmother suggested that we go see a movie. The content of the movie was a secondary consideration to the air-conditioning in the movie theatre. Many years later, when my grandmother was on her deathbed, she asked me, “Do you remember that heat wave in New York when we went to that movie about English people mumbling on a train? What it was it about?”

Of course, I remembered it. Absent the subtitles and nonverbal cues –extensive hand gestures, vivid facial expressions – 90% of the dialog was lost on me as well. What I understood was that I was tired of sitting in the one air-conditioned room in the house and it felt good to be somewhere else for a few hours.

Nowadays we’ve gotten spoiled. We go from air-conditioning to air-conditioning even finding cool indoor places to exercise. Sometimes the air-conditioning in public places is so cold that I fear we’re wasting valuable resources thus speeding up climate change and making it worse for ourselves. I’ve heard and read that we can’t reverse the trends. There must be a way, however, that we can keep them from getting even worse. I take sweaters to restaurants for the air-conditioning hoping that I won’t need them. We have to learn to be more careful with the Earth’s resources.

In the meantime, here’s my Great-grandmother Bryna’s recipe for fruit soup. It’s great cold with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and goes well with cheese blintzes.

                                                            Fruit Soup
6 peaches
4 dark plums
1 apple
1 cup of pitted sour cherries (don’t become ripe until mid-August but you can buy them frozen)
cinnamon, ginger powder, lemon juice, vanilla extract to taste
2 heaping T. sugar

 Partially boil the peaches. Cool under cold water and peel.
Cut up all the fruit. Put all the ingredients in a pot with enough water to cover the fruit. Let it come to a boil. Then leave it on warm. Cook until the fruit gets mushy.
Pick out dissolved fruit peels. Mush down remaining fruit and chill in refrigerator.
Serve cold with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt on top of each serving.