My Mom, Food Processors, and Norene Gilletz

When Ilana-Davita mentioned Healthy Helpings in her reader interview, author Norene Gilletz came by to comment. She even joined my Facebook fan page. I wrote to Norene to let her know that I would be dedicating today’s post to her.

My mother loved gadgets. She wasn’t the first to get a microwave, but when she did she read every book and article on microwave cooking she could find.

My mother loved food processors best of all. She had three Cuisinarts: One fleishig (meaty), one pareve (neutral) and one for Passover. When she wanted to make cheesecake, she called the rabbi to approve using the pareve one. Her hand movements were so limited that chopping and mixing were painful. Food processors enabled her to continue to cook for the family. If she couldn’t make it in the food processor, she couldn’t make it at all.


One year my parents decided to spend Passover in my apartment in New York. My mother shipped me a mini-food processor along with basic new kitchen supplies. She couldn’t imagine making Passover without a food processor. (Somehow I did, because the box went back to Cincinnati. The elevator in my building was broken, and there was no one to bring the box up the stairs.) My mother also got me a copy of one of Norene’s earliest cookbooks, The Pleasures of Your Food Processor.

The Pleasures of Your Food Processor, later replaced by the Food Processor Bible, is one of the best resources out there for efficient food processor techniques. Well, I admit I haven’t read any others, but I’m sure I don’t need to. Regular readers of this blog would surely recognize Norene’s techniques.  Pleasures contains recipes for classic Jewish foods like potato kugel, pasta and kreplach, and stuffed cabbage. It has a whole section for Passover.

Many recipes  in Pleasures are too rich for my taste or include processed ingredients. I haven’t read Norene’s newer books, but they are advertised as healthy and light. Either way, you can’t beat Norene when it comes to time-saving methods. When I make honey cake I keep two cookbooks open: Jewish Cookery for its lighter oil-based recipe, and Norene’s Pleasures for its cake-mixing technique.

One clever idea of Norene’s is to make a cardboard cutout the size of the opening of your processor’s feed tube. Keep it in your purse and when you go to the store, you can choose vegetables small enough to fit without extra cutting.

My teens know Pleasures too, since they have taken over the birthday cake baking. The book covers came off long ago, and the recipe for Pareve Chocolate Cake is dusted with cocoa.

In New York I came across Norene’s Microways (no longer in print). My mother was a microwave expert by then and the recipes were similar to Pleasures, so I only mentioned it to her shortly before her death in 1990. I’ll never forget the expression on her face, wondering how I could not have shared this information with her immediately.

Norene, I owe you a debt of thanks for inspiring my mother, who in turn inspired this blog. You are an inspiration to me as well. I’m so glad you stopped by.

Read my interview with Norene, too.

Comments

  1. hehe. A couple of years ago, my husband asked whether we should get my mom flowers for Pesach. I said my sister always gets her flowers and we should do something more useful. We got her an inexpensive (but pretty good) food processor. She loves it. Hello Pesach apple and potato kugel 🙂

  2. brilliant! paper cutouts of the feed tube! a fabulous tip!

  3. A touching post – thank you!

  4. Thank you for making my day by sharing this story with your readers. It touched my heart. What a wonderful tribute to the relationship you had with your mom. My mom used her original Cuisinart for 30+ years and turned out the most wonderful dishes from that little miracle machine. She inspired my food career so you and I have a lot in common. These are special memories to treasure.

    Norene Gilletz in Toronto

  5. I will be looking for Norene’s books. How wonderful to have Norene commenting on your post! Your mom is kvelling from up in her special place in heaven.

  6. Special story and special comment!

    My mom is the polar opposite when it comes to food processors. She feared them and pretty much never uses it. My father used to use it on Chanuka for latkes but that was it. I like to use mine to make potato kugel and my beet and carrot salad.

    • Abbi, between your mom’s fear of food processors and tesyaa’s moms oven aversion, I don’t know what to say. Although my mother didn’t like dishwashers much.

  7. Thinking about it more, I think it was more of an aversion to washing the parts rather than fear of using it. She also liked to make very simple side dishes and didn’t like to “pachke” around with kugels and stuff. Baked egg barley (with margarine and onion soup mix) was and is her big side dish. Her specialty has always been meats and chicken, which are always juicy and tender.

  8. Barbara Wasser says:

    Thanks for the lovely “Mom” story. Those of us who were inspired by our mother’s savvy in the kitchen can qvell with you too. Norene is a treasure.
    Barbara Wasser, co-author Divine Kosher Cuisine

  9. It never occured to me to cut anything in the food processor but vegetables. Can you give an example of some food processor recipes?

  10. The stuffed pepper recipe that you mentioned

  11. If you’re looking for delicious processor recipes, go to the Recipes tab of my website at http://www.gourmania.com and then look for recipes with the letters FPB beside them. Each recipe indicates which of my books it comes from:

    NHK = Norene’s Healthy Kitchen
    HH – Healthy Helpings (formerly titled MealLeaniYumm)
    SHP – Second Helpings Please
    FPB – Food Processor Bible

    Lots of food for thought – and dinner, too! Enjoy!

    Norene Gilletz

  12. Just wanted to let you know that this page has appeared in the 51st (just in time for Purim) kosher cooking carnival – see you there!
    http://ronypony.blogspot.com/2010/02/51st-perennial-kosher-cooking-carnival.html

  13. Thanks, Jennifer, for a great carnival. I’ll link to it during my Friday roundup.

  14. Interesting ideas for Purim – thanks for sharing! Your food processor will definitely come in handy.

    I’ve added some recipes for a Purim seudah to http://www.gourmania.com – enjoy!

    Norene Gilletz

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