As we are rapidly approaching the arrival of Valentine’s Day, it’s often instructive to look through the wide variety of cookbooks held here at the AJHS for inspiration- and there is no shortage of wonderful recipes for sweet treats, as well as some very sweet sentiments. Love and Knishes, written by Sara Kasdan in 1956, is a warm and wryly funny meditation on cooking and family that also contains some excellent recipes for virtually every holiday and occasion. As is common in many cookbooks, the author dishes about her family, community, and the shared joys and pitfalls of cooking, all with great affection and wit; for example, the section on pickles is titled, “How to Pickle a Tongue so it Shouldn’t Talk Back”. The design of the book itself was created to highlight this humor and fondness for the subject matter; the hearts printed along the binding are also used as design motifs throughout the book, reminding us that the gentle teasing of the reader is accompanied by great affection.
And, as is equally common in cookbooks authored by women, she references those who came before her, and taught her how to cook. The dedication is “ To the wonderful women who never cooked from a book”, a sentiment that many of us can readily understand, if you were taught to cook by those who referenced “a pinch” as a standard concept and who “eyeballed” every possible measure. So, add a pinch of sweetness to your week by making this pineapple cheesecake recipe, from the chapter on cakes and cookies titled, “You can be normal too, why not?” (But don’t eyeball it, use the measures as written!)
Serves 10 people
12 graham crackers, finely crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 pound butter, melted
9 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 No. 2 can crushed pineapple drained
1 pint sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix the finely crushed graham crackers with sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a small spring from or 8-inch square cake pan.
3. For the filling, combine cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla and blend until smooth. Then add the drained crushed pineapple and blend well.
4. Pour cream-cheese mixture over the crust and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
5. Let the cake cool for 1 hour.
6. Mix sour cream, sugar, and vanilla and spread the mixture over the cake.
7. Return the cake to a 375- degree oven and bake for 5 minutes.
8. Cool and chill.
Love and Knishes is just one among thousands of unique volumes of Jewish American text housed in AJHS’s extraordinary library. We invite you to explore our library and current Turn the Page campaign in support of it – funds raised by this initiative will provide resources for the preservation, acquisition, and interpretive use of our library materials, including books, pamphlets, and printed ephemera. We will be highlighting more items from our library throughout 2024, thanks to this initiative and the generous support of friends and supporters like you. Thank you!