Family Holiday Traditions

Suzanne Sawyer, Owner since 1999

Suzanne Sawyer, Owner since 1999

There are some foods we eat all year long, and some that are reserved for special times, like the High Holy Days- Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These days mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year, and are some of the most important days in our calendar. Growing up, these days were a time for family, friends, synagogue, and special foods. We have tried to carry that tradition forward with our family. The recipes I use are more than just food. They are handed down from my mother and other family members, and they bring with them the memories of all the times I spent as a child with special people I didn’t get to see that often, or who are no longer here. They are symbols of our history and generations before, and our effort to connect our children to their past.

There are three recipes that stand out the most for me at High Holy Day time. I use a brisket recipe from my father’s Aunt Dorothy. They had no children of their own and “adopted” my parents, so we and our children became their grand- and great-grandchildren. I make Teiglach because of the times spent at my mother’s cousin Bucky’s. I saw that part of the family once a year, and my cousin and I had so much fun together. My potato latke recipe came from my great grandfather Louis, so I am the fourth generation using it.

Part of the tradition is calling my mother when I make these dishes, because even after all these years, I still have questions. Often, the questions are just an excuse to call while I am cooking. I hope in time, I will be able to pass these recipes to my children and they will call me when they are making them, because even when we are not together, recipes can be the ties that keep us close.

dorothy’s brisket

This brisket can be served right away, but to make it extra tender prepare it ahead of time, freeze it, and then reheat it slowly. It’s the second round of baking that makes it melt in your mouth.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce so there’s extra for cooking and serving.

Use a large broiler pan and a large cut of brisket, trimmed some.

Place brisket fat side up in the pan on a bed of thinly sliced onions.

In a bowl, combine:

  • 1 1/2 cup Manischewitz red wine 3 cups orange juice

  • 3 T sugar

  • 6 T ketchup

  • 1 1/2 packages onion soup mix

Pour over meat, cover, bake at 350 for 2-2 1/2 hours, periodically spooning sauce over meat. Cook another 1/2 hour uncovered. (The amount of time depends on the size of the brisket and if it’s frozen or not.)

Trim fat, slice meat thinly cross grain, put back in sauce, cover well and serve.

If you’re not serving it right away, it’s just as good if you freeze it to serve later. This also means you can make it well in advance.

To re-bake frozen brisket:

Uncover, pull off some solidified fat from top but leave a little. Cover tightly with foil, defrost slowly in oven at 200-250 for several hours before serving.

I usually put it in the oven in the morning and let it simmer all day but watch the sauce levels. Once defrosted, spoon sauce over meat periodically while reheating.

A little secret: it’s the reheating that makes it tender and full of flavor.

louis’ potato latkes

This recipe makes a LOT of latkes.

Peel and quarter approx. 10 pounds of potatoes and 3-5 pound of onions. Shred them in a food processor at about a 2:1 ratio.

Put in a large bowl and add:

(All are approximate; I never measure...)

  • 1 cup flour

  • 2 t salt

  • 1 t pepper

  • 3 beaten eggs

Heat approx. 1-2” of vegetable oil in a skillet. Spoon approx. 1 T of mixture, flattened and drained but not too compressed, into oil (I use a slotted spoon and tap it to flatten and drain).

Repeat until the pan is full but the latkes can still move freely. When bottom is golden brown, flip ‘em with a fork. When the second side is golden, remove to paper towel covered plate or cookie sheet.

When drained, remove to foil covered cookie sheet and keep cookie sheet in warm oven as it fills with latkes.

Here’s the secret: do one, taste for flavor, add salt/pepper to taste.

Serve with applesauce, sour cream, blueberry compote — be creative!

These latkes freeze and reheat very well!


bucky’s teiglach

For the dough:

  • 3 eggs

  • 3 T oil

  • 1/2 t vanilla 2 T water

  • 2 1/2 cups flour 1/4 t salt

  • 1/4 t ginger

  • 1 t baking powder

For the coating:

  • 2 cups honey

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 t ginger


  • 1/2 cup raisins, craisins, or chopped candied cherries, chopped nuts


Preheat oven to 375. Combine eggs, oil, water & vanilla in a small bowl and whisk until light. Combine flour, salt, ginger & baking powder in medium bowl. Add liquid to dry and combine well with a fork. Knead by hand until dough is smooth and shiny. Cover with plastic and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll dough into 1/2-inch wide snakes and cut into 1/3-inch pieces, then roll dough pieces to make little balls. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and remove to cool.

Combine honey, sugar, ginger in stock pot and slowly bring to boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add Teiglach balls, fruit, nuts, and stir to coat well. Place in pie plate and mound to form pyramid.

Enjoy picking pieces off to eat!