December 27, 2014

Kisses from a Concentration Camp: Historical Food Fortnightly WWII Recipe

Recipe from Terezin Concentration Camp

In 1969, Anny Stern got a call from a stranger. They told her that they had a package for her from her mother, Mina Patcher. Anny who now lived in Manhattan hadn't seen her mother in many years. In fact, her mother had been dead since 1944.

Due to rising political and social pressure, Anny left Czechoslovakia with her son and met her husband in Palestine in 1939. Her mother refused to leave. She was old, and told her daughter that no one would hurt an elderly lady. Mina was sent to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp near Prague.

Theresienstadt was unique. It was a ghetto, a labor camp, and a transit camp. It was a hub where people were sent to mask transportation to death camps in the East. It was originally advertised as a "spa town" but was the place where well-known Jewish people were sent to prevent public suspicion.

Famous artists, war heroes, writers, professors, musicians were sent to Theresienstadt and were allowed to keep up a rich cultural, albeit extremely censored, cultural life. Painters painted commissioned German art during the day and personal art in secret. The people schooled their children although it was illegal. Mina, an art historian, gave lectures. 

It is extraordinary the resolve these people had to do anything.  Jews in ghettos were allowed an average of 184 calories a day mostly in the form of watery soup. More food was reserved for laborers. People in the camp reported that the elderly would eat potato peels that were thrown in the street as well as weeds. It was in these conditions that 70 year old Mina and her friends wrote a collection of recipes.

Many wonder why anyone who didn't have food would bother writing down recipes. It was a distraction from reality as well as a memory of what once was. More importantly, it was a form of defiance. In the face of the systematic annihilation of their culture, these women did their part to make sure their contributions and their culture would survive. It was the hope that these foods would be on tables once again.

Of the 140,000 Jews sent to Theresienstadt, about 90,000 were sent to death camps and 33,000 died in Theresienstadt  including 90% of the children who were there. (USHMM) Mina died in the camp but entrusted her book and some photos to another inmate with the promise that he would get it to her daughter. The package traveled from family to family for 25 years until it reached Anny. It's unknown whether the carriers knew the story or what was in the package.

WWII Recipe

Historical Food Fortnightly

The Challenge: Sacred or Profane. This recipe is a little bit of both. Many people do not like the idea of recreating these dishes. According to New York Magazine, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that the publication of this collection was "sick" although it did not seem as though it was explained to him as a primary source document. Also 35 publishers turned the manuscript down. Personally, as a cook, if I spent my last days writing down recipes it would be because I wanted the dishes to survive into the future. It is my goal to help these recipes survive and the memory of those who wrote them. 

The Recipe:

Kisses from In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin

The Date/Year and Region: 1940s Czechoslovakia/ Europe

How Did You Make It:


- 3 Cups Flour (and extra)
- 2 Cups Rolled Oats
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tablespoon Margarine
- 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
- Jam for filling

Instructions: Mix flour, oats, sugar, and baking powder in mixing bowl. Add milk, egg, and margarine, mix until well combined. Add flour until it forms a dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place one inch balls of dough on a cookie sheet and press your thumb into the center. Fill the indentations with jam and bake for 12-14 minutes. The tops stay very pale. 

Time to Complete: About 1 hour.

Total Cost: I had all of the ingredients.

In Memory's Kitchen

How Successful Was It?: Tasted good. The dough part did not flatten as much as I thought. It had a very white color, even when it was fully baked. If I was to make it again, I would try using 2 cups of flour as per the original recipe but half the milk.

How Accurate Is It? No substitutions.

Tooze, J. Adam. The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy. New York: Viking, 2007.

"Theresienstadt." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. June 20, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2014.

December 18, 2014

Do Good for Others, But Let Them Return the Favor

One of the hardest things to do is to accept help. People think accepting help is showing weakness. Your friend offers to lend you a book or DVD and you refuse, because you don't want to inconvenience her. You refuse your friend's offer to babysit, even if you really would love to go out for the day, because you don't want them to feel put out. You might even secretly feel like you shouldn't need a sitter and should be able to handle it all yourself, baby in tow. 

 Many people are in need but are very reluctant to accept help for fear of feeling needy or a charity case. They feel like failures because they feel they should be able to take care of themselves and their families and hate the feeling of not being able to. Do you accept help willingly?

I never liked the word charity. The word charity implies a one way transaction. A person in good standing gifts something on someone less fortunate. None of us wants to be seen as unfortunate and none of us want people to feel bad for us. 

The word charity does not highlight the other side of the interaction. People love to help. People love to feel helpful and wanted. People want to be able to do the good deeds they feel they should be doing. People also hope that if they needed help that others would do the same for them. It's an exchange of love.

Letting someone help you is letting them show their love for you while you show your love by accepting their gestures.  We have a problem in our society where it is no longer acceptable to accept help. We deny people this love. I am very guilty of this. Should we thank people for letting us help? Possibly.

This is the season of charity and love. Everyone is asking for help and money and all of us are happy to do our part. I don't often ask for money but if you haven't donated to anything this season, there is a group of people that could really use some support. 

 In July, a fire in Washington consumed 275,000 acres of land destroying 357 homes as well as farmland, machines, livestock. Many of these people still don't have homes, or livelihoods. Some are still living in tents. These are real people on very hard times.They did nothing to deserve this and no amount of planning could have prevented it. Help them rebuilt and let them return the love with their Adopt-a-Family Christmas program.

You can read more about the fires and make a donation at the website, Carlton Complex Recovery.

Do good for others this season but remember to let them do good for you as well.

December 10, 2014

Tag, You're It.

I've Been Tagged. World Turn'd Upside Down

Every once in a while the blogosphere goes silent. People are busy, we forget to comment on posts, although we've enjoyed them and we forget that the greatest thing about blogging and the internet is the people we meet. I've done a lot of "things you didn't know about me posts" with a blog of bloggers and find them to be a lot of fun and a great way to connect and get to know each other. 

This is open to everyone whether you're a blogger or a blog reader. The Internet is a big, noisy place. Let's make it smaller! You can answer in the comments, on my facebook page, on your own blog but make sure to leave a link in the comments section.

The Challenge: 

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a twenty-something girl living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I've always wanted to use the term "twenty-something." I have a degree in History and Secondary Education and am the blogger here at World Turn'd Upside Down.  

2. What are your hobbies? Do you have any interests most people don't know about?

I love blogging, history/reenacting and taking photos. I actually have a slight photo taking addiction.   I also have a strange interest in historical court cases and forensics.

3. What is something that is on your bucket list?

I have a lot of weird stuff on my bucket list. Most of it has to do with traditional skills I would like to learn. Alternatively, I wish to travel a lot! At least see most of Europe, Egypt, India.

4. If you could wake up tomorrow and be anywhere in the world (past, present, or future), where would it be and why?

I'd probably have to go to the 1860s just to see what that's like. Being in the business of recreating the 1860s, one really wonders just how different it was. 

5. Are you here for the history, the cooking, or the camaraderie?

I came for the food but stayed for the camaraderie.

6. What are your 3 favorite History/ DIY / Traditional skills/ Reenacting blogs or websites?

There are so many great blogs and things that it's hard to pick just three. 


Ken has the best photos and is doing some really neat things in the Reenacting hobby.


 It's always interesting to see what homesteaders are doing and how people can break the cycle of reliance on big business little by little. 


This is just a fun one to learn about the history of food.

7.  If you could ask any deceased person one thing, who would you ask and what would you ask?

I do not have a good answer for this one but I know some of you will. Whoever I got to talk to I would probably ask them their general advice for life after seeing the whole thing.  

8. What are 3 pieces of fiction that will stay with you forever?

- Harry Potter
- Anne of Green Gables
- Les Miserables

9. What literary  character best represents you at this point in your life?

Jo March

10. You're stranded on a desert island. The boat won't be back for 3 months. A suitcase washes up on shore. What do you hope is in there?

-iPod + Earbuds
-Solar powered charger
-Notebook and a pen
-Cell Phone (Probably pushing my luck.) :P

Please comment and tag everyone! I'd really like to see what you all have to say.

December 2, 2014

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party: Post # 30

 I woke up yesterday morning feeling like I swallowed a small porcupine. Hour by hour I felt my body getting heavier and heavier until I was too weak to keep my head propped up. My body gets chills that run up the spine and make me feel like a cat with fur on end. I am sick. Please forgive me for not getting back to emails as quickly as usual and please do not catch this.




This does not look like much but it is the first photo I have taken with the camera obscura that I made myself. Hopefully I'll keep refining the technique.




Taken at the art loop in Wilmington, DE with Barrel of Makers





I have something new that I am looking forward to learning to use, an early 1900s Kodak Brownie box camera.



Finally finished knitting these for myself. It was one of those projects that were so simple almost to be boring.








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