Oma and Bella and Florence and Me

I know it’s Mother’s Day but I’m thinking about grandmothers.

 Actually, I’ve been thinking about grandmothers for the past couple of weeks.

 Last week I wrote about Oma and Bella — two holocaust survivors who recreated all the dishes their mothers and grandmothers made for them as children from memory. Oma’s granddaughter, Alexa Karolinski, made a film about them as they cooked and told stories about their lives. She also put together a cookbook of their recipes.

Oma and Bella – The Cookbook

 I made Oma and Bella’s Meat Blintzes this week for dinner. It made me think about my own grandmother Florence. I wish I had her recipes so I could hand them down to my kids to preserve for future generations.  When my grandmother used to cook for me and my brothers and sisters, I was just a little girl. I never paid much attention to how she cooked but now I really wish I had. I remember she used to put tiny star pasta (pastina) in her chicken soup. Sometimes I do that too.

Me with my grandparents, Jacob and Florence.

Meat Blintzes
By Oma (Regina) Karolinski and Bella Katz, courtesy of Alexa Karolinski
(makes about 10 blinztes)


2 lbs ground beef or veal brisket or both
2 large yellow onions
3/4 cup vegetable oil
5 eggs
2-3 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp spice mixt
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cold water


Finely dice the onions and fry on low heat with 1/2 cup of the oil for about 40 minutes.

Add the ground meat and cook for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the meat and onions with two egg yolks, 2 tsp salt, the pepper and spice mix* with the remaining oil from the pan.

Blintzes (My blintzes did not turn out looking so pretty. Instead I used Tortilla Land’s flour tortillas.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour with 3 eggs and 1/2 tsp salt then slowly whisk in the water.

Mix until the dough begins to form bubbles. Add a dash of oil and let the batter rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Lightly grease a medium sized pan and place on high heat. Ladle enough batter that it covers the bottom of the pan in a thin layer, like a crepe. Cook each side of the blintz until firm. One side should be darker than the other. Continue making blintzes until all the batter is used up.


Lay the blintz out with the darker side facing up and scoop a heaping tbsp of meat onto one end of the crepe. Fold the sides over the filling so that the crepe is rectangular and roll it up like a fat cigar.

Fry each blintz in a greased pan until it is golden brown and the filling is warm.

*Spice Mix
2 tbsp salt, 1 tsp sweet ground paprika, 3/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 celery salt
Using a mortar, grind all the spices together.

My blinztes!

Happy Mother’s Day.


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7 Comments on Oma and Bella and Florence and Me

  1. David
    May 11, 2014 at 2:44 pm (8 years ago)

    Happy Mother’s Day!! What a great idea idea for a cookbook!!!

  2. Mark
    May 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm (8 years ago)

    Your blintzes look great! Wishing you and your readers a Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. Sophie Ziegler
    May 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm (8 years ago)

    Inspiring post! Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!!

  4. Denise Garone
    May 15, 2014 at 2:48 am (8 years ago)

    The photograph of you Julie squished by your loving grandparents is exquisite, your hands together(in prayer?)
    A little bit shy in the midst of this hug but clearly well loved.

    • Julie Levine
      May 15, 2014 at 8:51 pm (8 years ago)

      Thank you Denise! It’s one of my favorite photographs.

  5. Katie
    May 19, 2014 at 1:09 am (8 years ago)

    Precious! The photo and the recipe.

    • Julie Levine
      May 19, 2014 at 8:26 pm (8 years ago)

      Thank you Katie!


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