Monday, August 26, 2013

For a Sweet New Year: Olive Oil Coffee Cake

One of the lovely things about hosting programs that celebrate Jewish food is that we get to meet a lot of wonderful chefs who are very gracious with their recipes. In advance of our next food program, Frothed Milk and Truffled Honey: The New Israeli Cuisine, on October 6, we're delighted to share this recipe. We're sure it will be a welcome addition to your holiday table.  

Bonnie Stern will be joined by food writers Janna Gur, Gil Hovav, Naama Shefi, and Jayne Cohen for a discussion of Israel as a foodie's paradise. A reception featuring contemporary Israeli dishes will follow.

from Bonnie Stern
I first started making cakes and breads (especially challah) with extra virgin olive oil when I went to Israel and met Hebrew University food chemist, Dr. Zohar Kerem. He believes that extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest and best oil to use for everything. In baking, the olive oil taste mellows and adds a creamy texture that I love. 

Yield:  8 to 10 servings

3  eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp finely grated orange peel
1 cup yogurt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup raisins dusted with 1 tsp flour
2 tbsp coarse sugar
1. Beat eggs with sugar in a mixer until light. Beat in olive oil, vanilla and orange peel. Mix in yogurt.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Stir flour mixture into batter. Stir in raisins coated with 1 tsp flour.
4. Spoon batter into the bottom of a buttered (or sprayed) 9" spring form pan or tube pan. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake cake in a preheated 350F oven 45 to 55 minutes or until center of cake springs back to the touch or until an instant read thermometer reaches 185F. Cool on a rack.

Photo: Courtesy of Bonnie Stern. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Howdy Partner!

This blog comes from Gabriel Sanders, our director of public programs, who always has a sweater handy. 
The faint chill in the air last week served as a reminder that fall is nearing, and so, in looking toward the weeks ahead, be sure to have a sweater handy – and a copy of the Museum’s newly-released September-October calendar.

In September, we’ll be kicking off an exciting new discussion series in partnership with 92Y.

The first in the series, on September 15, will be with the Danish journalist, diplomat, and historian Bo Lidegaard, whose new book, Countrymen, discusses the two week period in the fall of 1943 when Danes banded together to help save their Jewish compatriots from the Nazis. On the 29th, we'll be welcoming Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of the bestseller Hitler's Willing Executioners, for a discussion of his latest book,  The Devil That Never Dies, which discusses the rise of the new global anti-Semitism. Then, on October 23, Seth Lipsky will join us to talk about his new biography of Abraham Cahan, the journalistic pioneer who turned the Jewish Daily Forward into America's biggest ethnic newspaper. And finally, on October 30, Alisa Solomon comes to the Museum to discuss her new cultural history of Fiddler on the Roof, Wonder of Wonders, with playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner.

Our series with the Y isn't our only new partnership this season. On October 2, we'll be joining forces with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for a screening of the documentary 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, which tells the story of a Philadelphia couple that traveled to Nazi-occupied territory to help rescue 50 Jewish children.

Another highlight of the coming months will be the third in what's become an annual series of fall food programs. This year, on October 6, we turn our attention to New Israeli Cuisine, which has moved well beyond the realm of hummus and falafel. We'll host a conversation with a panel of food mavens and follow it with a delectable spread by star chef Einat Admony.

This fall will mark the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. We'll use the anniversary both to remember the fallen and to look at the deep links between the World Trade Center and Battery Park City, our home neighborhood.

We'll have two family programs this fall: one right after Rosh Hashanah and a second toward the end of October. The first, on September 8, will feature the indie rock stylings of The Pop Ups, and the second, on October 27, will be with songstress Joanie Leeds and her backup band, The Nightlights.

October will mark 70 years since the uprising at the Sobibor concentration camp. To mark the anniversary, on October 16, we'll be screening a new documentary about the archeologists looking to unearth the former death camp's buried secrets.

Finally, on October 9, we'll host historian Wendy Lower for the launch of her chilling new book, Hitler's Furies, about the role of women in the Nazi killing machine.

It's a jam-packed season with something for everyone. Come join us!

Image: Cover of Wonder of Wonders. Courtesy of Metropolitan Books.

Monday, August 12, 2013

We Read Banned Books

It is no secret that I am obsessed with books. From literary fiction to narrative non-fiction, from vampires and wizards to Jane Austen (with or without zombies), I easily read two to three books a week. Like most voracious readers, I started very young and have fond memories of my first books. 

On a recent day off, I went to visit these old friends in an exhibit at the New York Public Library that was a celebration of young readers and the authors who write for them. Featuring nearly 250 artifacts and images, TheABCs of it: Why Children’s Books Matter, is a delightful romp through the worlds of Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, and Charlotte’s Webb, but it is much more than that as well.

While the narrative of the changing perceptions of childhood from Puritan New England to current day is fascinating, the part of the exhibition that was the most interesting to me was the section on banned or censored books called “Raising a Ruckus.” 

At the end of the display is a big tower that represents all the children’s books that have been banned from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret. It was a powerful reminder of the dangers of censorship, and had a chilling effect, reminiscent of the memorial to the night of the book burning in Berlin in 1933. 

The exhibit highlights a few titles and why they were banned. One that stands out is an innocent book by Garth Williams about a white rabbit that marries a black rabbit. Taken literally, it was a scandal in 1950s segregated Alabama. 

Working at a Holocaust museum, I was especially interested in a panel about The Diary of Anne Frank, which included information about the unedited version of the diary. As many people know, Anne’s father, Otto, edited his daughter’s diary before publication to omit unflattering references to her family, and also some of her writings about her blooming sexuality. 

A newer, unedited version, which represents the diary as it was originally written, has caused controversy as recently as a few months ago when a mother in Michigan protested against her daughter reading the book because of the graphic language Anne used about exploring her body.   

Despite attempts to denounce Anne’s diary, and many children’s books from around the world, I’m grateful that these books still exist, unharmed and readily available in libraries, in homes, and in the fond memories of the children and adults who have been moved by them.

The exhibit will run through next March. 

Images from the exhibition including details of the tower of banned books and a recreation of the great, green room from Goodnight Moon.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Photography in Wartime

After hosting Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust, our most recent exhibition about photography during wartime, I was eager to see Photography and the Civil War at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the 21th century, we are accustomed to images capturing our every movement with great immediacy, but in the 19th century, photography was a very new medium at the time the Civil War broke out. Photographers Matthew B. Brady, George N. Barnard, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan took panoramic shots of the landscapes. Some were pictures of fields where the dead were not yet buried and others showed the fields in the months that followed.

These shots are from quite a distance, unlike “Attack” by Dmitrii Baltermants (above) where the photographer is crouching in the trench to get his shot. The Civil War photographers had to carry their enormous glass or silver plates, bottles of toxic solvents, and other requisite photographic equipment each time they set up a shot, and if they were getting an action shot, lengthy camera exposures were required. It was, perhaps, the antithesis of what we think of when we think of war photography today.
As the curator Jeff Rosenheim writes in the catalog, “The Civil War … marks the beginning of photojournalism as we understand it today. Photographers in the field who worked for name-brand studios like those of Mathew B. Brady and Alexander Gardner can be understood as the first embedded journalists.”  

Though separated by 80 years, the photographers of the Civil War and World War II understood their responsibility of capturing these moments, memorializing the dead, and educating the public about the nature of war. Today, photojournalists can upload scenes of battle to a website, or send them out over Twitter and inform the public instantaneously, but their roles remain the same.
The Met’s exhibition is up through Sept. 2. If you are passionate about photography, the Civil War, or President Lincoln, I urge you to visit the exhibition while you still can.


Dmitrii Baltermants (1912-1990)
Attack, 1941
gelatin silver print
24 x 36 inches
Gift of Teresa and Paul Harbaugh, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder,
Photo: CU Art Museum
© Estate of Dmitrii Baltermants