Our Family Table…

Years together at Our Family Table have made us the supportive, close-knit, and thoughtfully engaged group that is hard to replicate in this whirlwind that surrounds us all.  We are plugged-in, tuned out, and on edge…but not around Our Family Table!  Not us!  This blog attempts to keep alive the spirit, the traditions, and the recipes that have graced and will continue to grace our tables.  L’chaim!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ali & Dylan
    Sep 23, 2010 @ 03:53:14


    2 cups sugar
    2/3 cup water
    juice of one lemon
    juice of one orange
    3 cinnamon sticks
    ~20 cardamom pods – opened
    2/3 cup honey

    4 cups pistachios chopped finely by hand
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    few pinches of nutmeg

    1 package of phyllo dough (~40 sheets)
    About 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter


    1. Combine all filling ingredients and divide into three bowls evenly.

    2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-by-9-inch or 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

    3. Trim phyllo sheets to approximate size of pan

    4. Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with 9 more sheets. Spread one third of the filling. Top with 10 more sheets, brushing each with butter. Spread one third of the filling. Top with 10 more sheets and spread with the remaining nut mixture and end with a top layer of 10 sheets, continuing to brush each with butter. Trim any overhanging edges.

    5. Using a sharp knife, cut through all layers of pastry. Make small pieces in diamond shapes.

    6. Bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 20 additional minutes.

    7. To make the syrup: Stir the sugar, water, lemon juice, orange juice, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add honey. Strain syrup and allow to cool.

    8. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least 4-8 hours. Use about 2/3 of the syrup and you can always add more later. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 week. If the baklava dries out while being stored, drizzle with a little additional hot syrup.


  2. eduweavers
    Sep 23, 2010 @ 04:03:30

    Ali, thanks for sharing such a special treat.


  3. Sharon
    Sep 24, 2010 @ 06:44:28

    Sharon’s version of Ratatouille’s Ratatouille or Confit Byaldi

    1 onion, finely chopped
    2 crushed garlic cloves
    1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
    1 tablespoons olive oil
    1/3 cup chopped pitted olives
    Few sprigs fresh thyme or oregano
    salt and pepper

    2 japanese/italian eggplants
    2 smallish zucchini
    2 smallish yellow squash
    2 longish red bell pepper
    mixed herb seasonings
    Salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Lightly saute and caramelize chopped onions in olive oil.
    Add garlic
    Pour in 1 cup red wine
    Add chopped olives
    Pour in tomato puree
    Bring all to boil and simmer for 5 mins
    Add seasonings

    When slightly cooled puree all with blender

    Pour mixture into the bottom of an oval or rectangular gresaed baking dish.
    Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.

    Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube. Slice them into medallions in the food processor.

    Lay all the vegetables on a board and season with salt, peppper and herbs.
    Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. Lightly drizzle some olive oil over the veges

    Cover dish with aluminium foil and bake in a 350% oven until vegetables are tender approximately 55-60 mins. until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp.

    Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.

    Enjoy, I wish you a wonderful 60th and hope to celebrate many more with you. You have earned the pleasure of looking back on the past decades with great satisfaction as you reflect on all that you have achieved, the wonderful accomplishments that you have created and generously given of your self – to the development and accomplishments of your children and grandchildren, the Esibonisweni/Saint Marks partnership, and your extended family and friends.

    With much love


  4. Michele
    Sep 24, 2010 @ 22:03:24

    Dearest Jen on the occasion of your 60th birthday,

    Given that you are the queen of cake making and decorating, it has been both daunting and an honor to make the cake for your party. I modeled the recipe on one that I found in Cooks Illustrated (see link to recipe below).
    I modified the recipe to make a bigger cake and made the original recipe 3 times, each time in a 10 x 15 inch pan to achieve the individual layers. I substituted raspberries for strawberries, knowing that you like sour fruit. I used 3 160z bags of frozen unsweetened raspberries for the filling. I followed the directions for the strawberry filling but used Chambord raspberry liquor instead of the Kirsch. I macerated the berries by hand and found that the filling was too liquid. I therefore took half the mixture and boiled it up with 4 teaspoons of cornstarch and once it was thick I added the rest of the berries. I did not want to boil all of the berries because I thought a fresh fruit flavor would be good. I tripled the whipped cream recipe and used neufchatel cream cheese to cut down on the fat.

    The final step now is to decorate the cake and I hope it will taste good. Jen, please know that if the cake turns out funky, it was made with love!

    Jen, it’s hard to believe that you’re 60, given that you were about 20 and I was about 14 or 15 when we first met. I remember feeling special that my older brother’s girlfriend would give me the time of day and sit with me, telling stories about her life as a teenager. I soaked up every pearl of wisdom and thought it all very cool. Over the years I have admired your wonderful talents and your generosity of spirit. Nothing has ever been too much when it comes to taking care of your family, and hosting your loved ones, family and friends alike. You have created a warm and open home for all of us. Your sense of style and artistry, your gardening skills, fabulous meals and the ease with which you do it all, are truly inspiring. Your creativity has also been so apparent in the work setting where you have excelled in all the projects you have taken on, be it teaching, writing a literacy book (let me know if there are any grammar problems or typos with this!) and your work at Saint Mark’s and in South Africa. The only area where you have raised the bar too high is in being a wife. You have set a precedent for husbands’ expectations that is quite unrealistic but I forgive you for that and so does David!

    On your birthday, I want to wish you good health, peace and many more years of happiness with your loved ones.

    Many hugs,
    Michele, David and family.


  5. Marlene Saloner
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 18:40:31

    Sent from my iPad

    Danish Herring Recipe

    2 12oz bottles of herring bits in wine sauce
    2 firm, sweet apples, such as Fuji
    1/2 cup raisins, plumped in water
    2 to 4 tablespoons white sugar
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon dry mustard
    4 tablespoons tomato paste
    1/2 teaspoon pepper  

    Remove herring bits and onions from jar.  
    Cut into smaller, bite sized pieces, if you like.  
    Peel and dice apples, and add to the herring and onion.  
    Stir through, to keep apple pieces from discoloring.  
    Add the plumped raisins.  
    Save half of the liquid from the herring (the liquid from 1 of the 2 bottles).  Add the sugar to this liquid, and stir well.  
    Add this liquid to the herring and apples.  
    Add the olive oil, dry mustard, tomato paste and pepper.  Gently stir
    everything together.  

    Happy birthday Jenny.
    Marlene, Garth, Amber, Romy and Kim

    Best served the following day, once the flavors have blended.  Keeps covered in the refrigerator   for about one month.


  6. Michele
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 22:18:29

    I have a modification for the size of the pan for the cake. It was 18 x 12 inches, not 15 x 10 inches. Sorry!


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