Breaking the fast the Ginter way
Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, is a day of repentance, prayer, forgiveness…and fasting. So this would be a really short story if not for the fact that all good fasts must come to an end, and indeed they do in the lovely tradition called Break-the-Fast.
Dede and Ed Ginter have been hosting a Break-the-Fast at their Fullerton home for the past 35 years. “We have mostly the same people every year,” said Dede, “and we stagger the meal, because different temples get out at different hours."
“But we do have some turnover from year to year,” Ed pointed out. “Whenever we hear of somebody with no place to go, we invite them. Sometimes they are students, or my granddaughter will have a friend who likes to eat, so we say, ‘Bring her along!’”
After a day of praying and fasting, the meal, as in most homes, is dairy. “We have lots of fruit, lox and bagels, a kugel (noodle pudding), poached salmon, a variety of sweets, and my kids’ favorite, cheese blintz soufflé,” said Dede. ”It’s an old recipe and really nice, because you can prepare it before you go to temple. Then when you get home, you bring it to room temperature, and 40 minutes before your guests arrive, you just pop it in the oven, and it puffs up beautifully.”
Dede makes two kugels to please all. “My grandkids don’t like raisins, so I make one with and one without. It’s an old-fashioned, plain kugel like my bubbe (grandmother), Nonni Lizzie, used to make, without all the bells and whistles. The top gets crunchy and brown, and the kids like to pick at the noodles.”
Nonni Lizzie, who lived to be 95, was a great cook, she recalled, “but I learned to cook by osmosis. I would watch her, but she was so fast! Aunt Harriet took the time to write down her recipes, so we have them. All my aunts and great-aunts were super cooks.”
Dede, who says she would rather bake than cook, usually works with husband Ed to prepare the mandelbrot (German for “almond bread”), that wonderfully crisp cookie – sometimes with almonds and sometimes not - reminiscent of biscotti.
“Aunt Maryann adapted Nonni's recipe, which is lighter than usual” said Dede. “The kids love them with chocolate chip, but Eddie likes the old-fashioned kind with lemon and almonds, so we make both.”
“I’ve always done the mixing, because the dough is so sticky and heavy,” said Ed, who is recovering from a rotator cuff injury. “Aunt Maryann didn’t believe in using mechanical means and insisted the dough has to be mixed by hand. Even getting it out of the bowl and onto the sheet is a challenge, so this year our granddaughter Leslie made it. She’s young and vigorous!”
“The mandelbrot is so popular it never makes it to the freezer,” added Dede, whose dizzying volunteer and work schedule makes one wonder where she finds the time to bake and entertain.
Two years ago Dede retired after running her own public relations agency for 25 years, and she now writes for Southern California Home and Outdoor magazine. “I cover interior design and antiques for them,” she said. “I am working now on the December holiday issue, which really feels strange in this heat.”
But it is her volunteer work in the community for which she is best known. Aside from being politically active, she does marketing and PR for the Fullerton Union High School Academy of Arts and is a tireless worker for Temple Beth Ohr of La Mirada.