Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Giving Has No Season

This is the season for holiday mail.  Catalogues stuff my rural box, while cyber reminders of deals and sales stack my in box with temptations. This year, I get Aunt Ruth’s mail.  She doesn’t get Williams Sonoma or Neiman Marcus.  She gets letters from Sloan-Kettering, Hadassah, The Policeman's Fund, The Free Clinic, Catholic Charities, The Jewish Community Center, and organizations I didn’t know existed.

Aunt Ruth believed that helping people, loving people was simple to do.  She gave something to everyone who wrote to her from a dollar to ten, because she thought that this was the right thing to do.  “Imagine how many mouths the Salvation Army could feed or new research for cancer could be funded, if everyone gave something?” she would ask off-handedly.  She’d add, “If you don’t have money, then give your time.”  She talked like this as if the lessons were filling space like commas, because she wasn’t preaching.  She was narrating her daily life.

I get her mail now.  I stack the envelopes and watch the Giving Tower grow.  Her goodness shines light on everything she taught me, everything she did, and everything she hoped others would do. 

Aunt Ruth said, “Everything is better shared.”  Little by little adds up to a lot, and a lot surely makes for better.  I know it is trite, but Aunt Ruth didn’t have a Giving Season, and my hope is that her Giving Tower inspires me towards kindness, because opportunity is always right in front of me.  It can be as easy as answering the phone with a happy voice.

My dad’s photographic legacy taught me that a camera is a key to open doors or hearts.  Aunt Ruth opened the door to her apartment and let me photograph her life, and my heart has been full ever since

May her Giving Tower inspire you to start yours, but most of all, thank YOU for Loving Aunt Ruth.

Happy Holidays.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Country 'Tis of Thee

Loving Aunt Ruth is looking good for a spring 2014 release!  

Today is Veteran's Day, and there were no prouder veterans in our family than Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bob. He was a Captain, and she drove and repaired staff cars for the Red Cross.  He served in Europe, and she drove on the army base in Richmond, Virginia.

Ruth was a great driver and skilled mechanic, and she was asked to consider pilot training!  Uncle Bob didn't want his sweetheart in harm's way, so she stayed grounded and kept her eyes on the road.  

As far as I can remember, each of them talked about their pride of service and love of country, and I am grateful to both of them.

Thank you, Ruth and Bob.  I salute you both.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

I Don't Want to be Alone...

We live in a world made up more of story than stuff. We are creatures of memory more than reminders, of love more than likes. Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be messy, and painful, and almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die.
Jonathan Safran Foer

Speaking of story….memory….and love, I am happy to say that Loving Aunt Ruth is looking like it will have a 2014 release.

More later! 

Meanwhile, please know that Aunt Ruth and I treasured every blog visit, every comment, and your appreciation for her recipes both for living well and eating well!

Aunt Ruth told me to appreciate everything, and while details evolve, I wanted you to know that she and I appreciate you.

We never felt alone.  Thank you.

thanks to tanya shteinfeld, photographer, for this lovely image

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Aunt Ruth's Love Has No Boundaries!

(click on image to enlarge)

How do you stay determined in the face of so much loss?
I accept that life isn’t easy.  I have my faith…but I have a will to live, and that will comes from loving people.  

If you have followed this blog, you know that Aunt Ruth’s answer to my question changed how I viewed my life.  Loving people was Aunt Ruth’s anchor and her fuel.  Love energized her, gave her purpose, and got her into the kitchen to test recipes she’d share with family and friends.  Love was behind the wheel for her perpetual visits to the cemetery to manicure our family’s graves.  Love got her out of bed to answer the phone to offer support and unconditional love.

Love was behind every single thing Aunt Ruth thought about doing or did.  She inspired YOU too!

The ♥'s on the map are from EVERY place this blog has had a “hit” since it has been launched.  Love has NO BOUNDARIES.  Thank you for loving Aunt Ruth!  More exciting news:

As the book gets closer to becoming available, we are thrilled to announce that we will be donating from our sales to The Intergenerational School, a free, high-performing public charter school with locations in Cleveland, Ohio, that has been nationally recognized for their innovative, intergenerational approach to learning. Their mission is to connect, create, and guide multigenerational communities of lifelong learners and spirited citizens.  Aunt Ruth’s commitment to education and loving all people has found a wonderful partnership in 

Here’s to Love and Aunt Ruth’s ingredients for a life well-lived!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Miss, Ms. or Mrs.?

I don’t think there’s one thing more important you can do for your kids than have family dinner.”
Ruth Reichl, former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet

If you follow this blog, you know that Aunt Ruth never stopped collecting and testing recipes. Preparing delicious food was only half of the reason Aunt Ruth was in her kitchen; the other half was imagining the smiles from sharing whatever came from her oven(s).  Initially, I thought this post would include a lesson from Aunt Ruth or even a new recipe, but I surprised myself.

In photographing Aunt Ruth’s cookbook collection, I was startled by the authors’ names listed as Mrs. David So-and-So or Mrs. Robert Such-and-Such.  Whoa, I was right back in the late 60’s when Gloria introduced women to the option of Ms., and we stopped using Mr.’s name as identification!  One of Aunt Ruth’s favorite cookbooks featuring many of her tested recipes lists the cook’s names as Mrs. Irving, Mrs. Noah, and Mrs. Milton…

Pictured in this blog is The way to a man’s heart, The Settlement Cook Book, a compilation of recipes by (drum roll, please) Mrs. Simon Kander. The book has a chapter devoted to kuchen, another for breakfast cereals, and one for campfire building with instructions on broiling rabbit.  Cool, right?  I only wish that Mrs. Kander's first name appeared in the book.

I don’t want to belabor feminism or even criticize the incredible cookbook authors who predated Julia Child, Ruth Riechl, or one of my current favorites, Tamar Adler, but I think it is worth remembering how nice it is that we can now choose what name we would like to use in any context.

Which brings me back to Mrs. Robert D. Moss, the name stamped into so many of my aunt’s cookbooks.  Aunt Ruth told me that if she could go back in time, she would have finished college and become a teacher.  Her annotated cookbooks have taught many of her friends and our family about which recipes were the best, saving us from endless flop potential and keeping her close in our hearts.

Why not spend time with your mother’s recipe collection?  Or her cookbooks?  Share a day of baking and take what you make to someone who needs cheering.  Be a little Aunt Ruth!  There is so much to be learned from being in the kitchen.

Aunt Ruth, thanks for being such a great teacher!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Love, Virtually

This is a blog post about You!

Writing about loving people enriched Aunt Ruth’s and my life beyond anything we imagined.

Our blog had hits from China, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland, Ukraine, Thailand, Israel, Canada, Russia, and Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, France, and the United Kingdom. Virtual love inspired, sustained, and delighted us.

You know who you are.  You are the followers who comment, like us on Facebook, and most recently sent an actual mail surprise in Aunt Ruth’s favorite color, orange.  As much as I wonder about the difference between “liking” and “loving,” I want you All to be certain that your virtual love has made a big difference to Aunt Ruth and to me. 

Thank you for being touched by Aunt Ruth’s lessons and my photography.  Thank you for each“share” on Facebook.  Thanks to those who asked about attending an Aunt Ruth Seder!  Thanks for trying Aunt Ruth’s recipes and for appreciating her ingredients for living well.   Thanks for learning from Aunt Ruth’s lessons, enjoying her humor, and being inspired by her courage.   Thanks for cooking Aunt Ruth’s recipes and letting us know that you did.  Thanks for entering our first contest and making winning Aunt Ruth’s recipes a wonderful prize. 

Thanks for taking time out of your day to listen to Aunt Ruth’s story.

"Honey, what I know for sure is that love is the most important thing in your life.  It is the greatest gift. 

During some of our dark days, YOU inspired US.

I never dreamed that I would open my mailbox and find postcards and presents.  Thank you for being OUR greatest gift, virtually.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Leap of Faith

Forty-five years ago, my older sister announced her engagement to a Methodist.  My mother wasn’t sure she would fund such a union let alone attend.  Aunt Ruth helped my mom put aside her concerns about an inter-faith marriage, and a lovely wedding resulted.  

I don’t want to suggest that Aunt Ruth was thrilled about my sister’s choice, but she put her feelings aside, and she wasn’t even invited to the small, immediate family affair!  For years, my mother and Aunt Ruth drove to visit my sister, Jane, and her husband in Connecticut with a trunk load of home cooking.  Brisket, Daddy Cake, Rugelah, and other delights of Jane’s childhood.  Those sisters never went anywhere without food…lots of food!  All worries about the mixed faith marriage were lost over dinner!

In the recent New York Times Book Review,‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America, by Naomi Schaefer Riley, was reviewed.  Aunt Ruth was way ahead of this comprehensive study, but she surely agreed with the result about whether or not interfaith marriages were good for America:  “To the extent that it dispels ignorance, punches holes in stereotypes and deflates bias, I would say it surely can be.”

Last year, Aunt Ruth and Jane came to see my youngest son get married.  He fell in love with the daughter of an Episcopalian priest.  Unlike Jane’s wedding or Aunt Ruth’s, my mother’s, or even mine, our son and his bride celebrated their love in front of over 100 guests.  All watched as a priest and a rabbi spoke from their respective religious texts.  It was a glorious day. 

Aunt Ruth’s will to live came from loving people.  All people.  She came from an orthodox Jewish home and was raised to keep an open mind and heart.  In her library was this collection of books that speak to Aunt Ruth’s desire to learn, to grow, and to accept.  Most of all, she believed that love was the greatest gift of all. 

This was a courageous leap of faith 45 years ago for Aunt Ruth and my mom.  As Aunt Ruth said, “Always make sure you have love in your life.”   

Thank you, Aunt Ruth.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Now There's An App For That!

Before there were Apps, there was Aunt Ruth. 

If you wanted to know the conversion of 1 cup to its metric system equivalent, you could call Aunt Ruth, and she would go to her desk drawer, retrieve her Conversion Chart, and tell you, “It’s 230 milliliters.”

If you wanted to know what “earned surplus” meant, Aunt Ruth would say that it is “also known as income retained in the business.  The amount retained from year to year depends on both net income and dividend payments.” She handled her family’s bookkeeping and investments, worked during the war as an accountant for the Navy, and because she wanted fast facts at her fingertips, she kept a copy of How to Understand Financial Statements in her desk drawer. 

She had a United States map with time zones and area codes, Webster’s Thumb Indexed Dictionary, a pamphlet on treating the 15 most common household stains, and another that outlined the Kiddush service for Sabbath.

Aunt Ruth was smart and savvy.  As times changed, her pamphlets and charts did too.  She had data for everything before we knew we needed it.  She was remarkable.

She was fascinated by technology and learning and quite proud that she owned the very first generation of Kindle, and on hers was Thomas Friedman’s, Hot, Flat, Crowded :  Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America along with other selections ranging from current fiction to biographies. 

Aunt Ruth never stopped wanting to know, and one of her many lessons to me was to keep an insatiable Appetite for knowledge.

I wish there was an App for that!  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sometimes, 1,000 Words are Better

(Please click on image to enlarge)

When Aunt Ruth turned 90,  she didn’t want any gifts.   I sent a postcard asking her friends to choose 1-3 words that described her.  From those words, a cake and cupcakes were decorated with a life’s worth of words  (, and the words were saved in a wooden box.  

This blog is all about words...words of wisdom, hope, struggle, humor, love, and yes, ingredients for great food.  I love words as much as I love images, but most of all, I loved Aunt Ruth, and so did the 165 people who came to celebrate her 90th birthday!

This Mother’s Day, let Aunt Ruth inspire you to speak words of love to your own Mother, your friend’s mother, or those who have mothered you when you needed unconditional love.

Aunt Ruth said, “Always make sure you have love in your life,” but I would add that you let those you love hear those words. 

Have a Loving Mother’s Day…Happy 94th Birthday to Aunt Ruth….

(The words  used to make the I ♥ U are from Aunt Ruth's Birthday Collection)

Monday, April 22, 2013

And The Winner Is....

Aunt Ruth loved long dining room tables, the color orange, and sharing her recipes.  Thank you for visiting the blog, for leaving a comment to enter this giveaway, and most of all, thanks for Loving Aunt Ruth!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

ACCORDing to Aunt Ruth...

In the years of photographing, learning from, and eating with Aunt Ruth, I also documented her ingredients for a life well lived. 

ACCORDing to Aunt Ruth:

You must love with your whole heart.  Cooking for family and friends is one way I show love.  We had a big dining room table, and we loved to entertain.  It is a different world now.  People don’t seem to have lifelong friends like we did or even serve big dinners, but one thing I think should never change is that you must respect each other.

With respect to Aunt Ruth, the love she gave to so many, and the delicious food she served, we are offering an ACCORDion book with a selection of Aunt Ruth’s favorite recipes.

The book can be yours if you leave a comment on this blog until midnight, April 21, when I will print comments and drop them into a hat to randomly select the lucky recipient. Please sign your comment with a first name. The name doesn’t even have to be yours to keep your anonymity, but I need a way to recognize you as The Recipe Recipient!

You can leave as many comments as you want.  

Each one is a chance to get the ACCORDION BOOK!

On Monday, April 22, I will post the selected name on this blog, and you can send me a direct email with your address.  The ACCORDion and Aunt Ruth’s love will be yours.  Remember, ACCORDing to Aunt Ruth, everything tastes better shared!

 Every Comment Counts!  Don't forget to share.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Sweet Taste of Hope

(click on image to enlarge)

Aunt Ruth’s kitchen desk had 2 trays filled with recipes awaiting her test kitchen’s rating!   
I asked her about them, and she said:

I am still collecting recipes.  I like to create and eat food, but the best part of cooking is sharing.

This is true for most things in life.

Aunt Ruth served up optimism; everything she made was topped with love.   This blog continues to offer Aunt Ruth’s ingredients for a life well-lived, and today’s entry comes in the form of Apricot Noodle Pudding.

May this recipe be a “very good” addition to your recipe collection.

(please let me know when you make it!)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Everything Tastes Better Shared

Passover is about optimism, rebirth, and faith.

Here is what I learned from the many Seders shared with Aunt Ruth and her friends:

1.  Dress beautifully-this is the Greatest Generation of men and women who do not leave the house without looking their best, so forget that this night is about slouching and being casual!
2.  Listen when others are speaking-remember that while it is tempting to interrupt, you learn more when you pay attention.
3.  Encourage storytelling-if you are lucky enough to have so much wisdom on either side of you, ask questions.  
 4.   Take pictures.  You will want to remember this wonderful night, and it is nice to send the photos to the guests as memories.

Aunt Ruth believed that everything tastes better when it is shared.  May your Passover surround you in love.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Daddy Cake

Let's offer your followers a Valentine's Day recipe. 
That's easy!   My Dad said, "Nothing tastes better
than Daddy Cake," and my mother made it for him
every Friday.

I love this photo of Aunt Ruth admiring a cake from one of our many shared holidays.  She is still recovering from her autumn challenges, but she hasn't lost a step when it comes to loving her friends and family.  Aunt Ruth and I relish reminiscing about her children, my grandparents, cousins, and my sisters. These talks always include what my grandmother, my mother, or she cooked.  Photos and recipes blanket her recovery room, and you can almost smell the love.  You know the book, Love, Loss, and What I Wore?  My family should change the last part to What I Ate!

When Loving Aunt Ruth finds its publisher (yes, we remain hopeful!), there will be many recipes from which to choose.  After all, this is a story about love, and in my family love is spelled, f-o-o-d!

Until the book release, Aunt Ruth wants you to have her mother's recipe for Daddy Cake.  After all, it's Friday, so she hopes you'll make it for someone you love!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Think I'll Have a Party, and You Can Meet My Friends

My mother wrote in a journal, "My brother, sister, and I lived in a lovely world when we were growing up.  We never knew of Freud, sibling rivalry, drugs or depression (except the financial kind)."  Mom has been gone for over a decade, but this idea of "lovely world" was driven home to me in the years I photographed Aunt Ruth, videotaped her, and most recently, sat in her bedroom as she recovers from her autumn fall.

When I asked Aunt Ruth if I could photograph her, she responded by saying that she would have a tea party, so I could meet all of her friends.  I had no idea that friendship, food, socializing, compassion, and even dressing up is as much a part of my legacy as my camera.

The world that Mom and Aunt Ruth grew up in and aged into is quite lovely, because they make it so.  Aunt Ruth's phone never stops ringing with friends of all ages checking her progress or making dates to bring her food, flowers, and laughter.  Yes, you read correctly...her PHONE rings.  There is something real, something beautiful, and...well....lovely about listening to the conversations Aunt Ruth has with family and friends.  It is grounding and reminds me of my deep gratitude for  my camera. Photography made it possible for me to meet Aunt Ruth's friends, brought Aunt Ruth and me closer than we would have been, and it brought us to YOU.

So, have a party and invite all of your friends.  Pick up the phone right now and call someone you love.  Remember what Aunt Ruth always says, "Make sure you have love in your life."

I am so glad I have hers...and the photos...and you in mine.