Forever Judy Blume

June 20, 2013

Hello, Readers! I have a treat for you today. Velva is guest posting today, paying her tribute to Judy Blume and sharing a recipe (A recipe! At long last!) If you haven’t visited Velva’s blog, you should. She is much better than I am at posting yummy recipes and her photos don’t suck nearly as hard.

She’s also doing me a huge favor, because she’s occupying my space as I’m packing for…

I know.

Prepare for the Cape Cod Debacle. A week in Cape Cod must contain peril of some sort, and I’m sure we’ll find it. In no time.

So please give Velva a warm welcome and get on your knees and offer up a prayer to the East coast, because Dana’s coming for it, Cape-style.

Much love to you readers and I’ll be back by the end of the month!



Forever Judy Blume

I grew up in the booming immigrant mecca of Miami Beach during the early 70’s, which I am positive was not inhabited properly until there were two discoveries.  First, air conditioning and second, mosquito control. 

In this booming immigrant mecca, my mother feared that I would have no religion, so she sent me to a church she never visited, with people she never met and had me baptized a Baptist.  Baptist was as a good of choice as any other, she said.  Her memories of traveling Baptist preachers in the coalmines of West Virginia, trying to save their souls from the devil (and a fiery final resting spot) sealed the deal.  Okay, fair enough, but who the hell is Baptist on Miami Beach? No one is Baptist!  If you are going to give me religion, at least make me a Catholic or a Jew like everyone else.

So what does a pre-teen girl with an identity crisis do for escape? I read Judy Blume books. I read them in my bed, in the school bathroom, in between my textbooks, out loud with friends and bursting into giggles.  Her books, where I grew up, were not controversial.  Or if they were, no one took the time to notice it.   What was obvious is there were not enough books in the school or the public library to meet the demand of pubescent girls.  I suspect a few boys read them too.  We needed answers with no time to spare.  We lived in a time where parents worked hard and long, and having conversations that Judy was willing to have through her stories were not necessarily the conversations our parents had the time or the energy to have with us.  Judy validated our thoughts and made sense of our raging hormones.  More importantly, she validated our need to be similar at this tender time in life–not different.  

I feel like I should get extra cool points here, because Judy Blume spent time living in my neck of the woods.  Her family moved to Miami Beach for a couple of years during my formative years.  Her brother suffered a kidney ailment and her parents thought the warm climate would be helpful.

In her honor, I offer up classic Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls  (a/k/a Jewish Penicillin) the kind that your Jewish grandmother made as a cure-all for anything that ailed you from runny noses to broken hearts.

Thank you Judy Blume.



Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

Makes 6-quarts stock, serves 10, plus extra for the freezer

Recipe from Ina Garten

Recipe for Chicken Soup


3 5-pound roasting chickens

3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered

6 carrots, unpeeled and halved

4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds

4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half (optional)

20 sprigs fresh parsley

15 sprigs fresh thyme

20 sprigs fresh dill

1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

To serve:

4 cups 1/4-inch-diced carrots

4 cups 1/4-inch diced celery

1/4 cup minced fresh dill

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Matzo Balls (recipe follows)


Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, and seasonings in a 16-20 quart stockpot (note: I used 2-8-quart stockpots).  Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer, uncovered, for 1-hour.  Remove 2 of the chickens and allow to cool slightly.  Remove the breast meat from both chickens and set aside.  Return the remaining chicken and carcasses to the pot and continue simmering, uncovered, for 3 more hours.  Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and chill.  Remove the surface fat, then reheat the stock as follows, or pack in containers and freeze.

To serve the soup, return the stock to the pot and reheat, adding the diced carrots, celery, dill and parsley.  Shred the reserved chicken breast meat into large pieces and add to the stock.  Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes to cook the vegetables and reheat the chicken.  Season to taste and serve as is, or ladle each serving over 2 warm Matzo Balls.

Recipe for Matzo Balls


4 extra-large eggs separated

1/2 cup good chicken stock

1/4 cup rendered chicken fat, melted

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for egg whites

1- cup matzo meal


Whisk together the egg yolks, chicken stock, chicken fat, parsley and salt.  Stir in matzo meal.  In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff.  Whisk them into the matzo mixture until it is smooth.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick.

Form balls the size of golf balls by shaping them with 2 spoons, rolling them with your hands, or scooping them with a small ice cream scoop.  Drop them into the simmering chicken stock and cook for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked and puffed, turning once.  Remove and serve hot in chicken soup.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Arnebya June 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

I was 13 when the original Sparkle movie came out. It was the first time I’d ever heard of Matzo Ball soup. There was a scene in a restaurant where one of the main characters is asking for money and the mob-like guy asks him to have some soup. He declines. The guy says, “Have you ever had it?” When he says no, he asks the waitress to bring him the soup. That scene stuck with me until I was well into my 20s. I’d still never had the soup, though, until I was in a restaurant with friends and saw it on the menu. I’ve never regretted it.


Anonymous June 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Hi Velva! We must have grown up in the era of religious guilt! I can’t begin to name how many people I know whose mothers sent us to church but didn’t go. I think my parents just wanted some alone time, lol!


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me June 20, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Wave to me on your way to Cape Cod! Have a great trip…but do bring back some tales of terror and woe.


Absence of alternatives June 21, 2013 at 6:24 am

You were raised a Baptist? That explains everything!

No. It doesn’t of course. ;-)

I now need to go find out why people had issues with her books. Also, you made Matzo balls from scratch????!!!!!


Patty June 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I don’t normally do this, but I love your writing and want you to have fun on your vacation. The towns on the Atlantic side of the Cape are totally picturesque and charming, etc…, but you don’t want to swim there – sharks in Chatham and really sea weed everywhere else. Head for the beaches on the bay side: the two best for our family have been Cold Storage Beach and Mayflower Beach. Arrive early and pay for parking! Take a day off to bike or kayak the rivers and lakes, there are lots. Eat ice cream everyday. Who knows why New Englanders eat so much ice cream, but they do. I seriously want you to have a nice vacation, so I hope you enjoy Cape Cahd.


Kim Jorgensen Gane June 25, 2013 at 11:25 pm

LOVE this!


Biz June 28, 2013 at 8:42 am

Awesome guest post!! I’ve actually never made Jewish Penicillin soup! I’ll have to fix that come fall. Thanks for sharing the recipe!


Mary Lee June 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Velva, you DO get extra points for living in that area and even more for writing this post. You won’t believe this, but the only recipe I’ve ever had for this soup didn’t have chicken in it. I suspected something was amiss. :)

Judy Blume is a national treasure.

Better keep some extra post ideas handy. Kitchen Witch always needs a recovery period after her trips. If her girls keep diaries, she’s doomed.


Dawn July 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Yum. I’ve never tried to make chicken soup OR Matzo balls. Should be interesting. This sounds doable…I think. Thanks for the recipe!


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