Bubbe’s recipes rise to the top

Avrom Honig and Bubbe

By Susie Davidson, JointMedia News Service

Mix together segments of social media and three tablespoons of sour cream. Cover with plastic wrap and set overnight. Garnish with applesauce, and serve. All together, you’ve got a thoroughly heimish, warm and comforting Internet sensation.

It’s not a technological breakthrough or cutting-edge website, but rather a genteel personification of all things grandmotherly. Meet Bubbe, who is the most surprised of all. She said that when it all began six years ago, she knew absolutely nothing about the Internet or YouTube, but couldn’t say no to her beloved grandson’s request to make a video of her doing what she does best-cooking and rhapsodizing in the kitchen.

Bubbe, who prefers her nom de plume to her name from her non-digitized life, has ever since stirred, intoned, confided, and warmed her way into the hearts of untold stressed-out, complex lives around the world. In a time of ultra-fast, pre-prepared, grab-and-go cuisine, a throwback Jewish grandmother has risen to the top-pun intended.

In January, Bubbe’s 2011 book, “Feed Me Bubbe: Recipes and Wisdom from America’s Favorite Online Grandmother” ($16, Running Press, 224 pages)-walked away with Joy of Kosher’s “Best New Kosher Cookbook of 2011” award.

With the help of her grandson, Avrom Honig of Brookline, Mass. Bubbe has cornered the industry with an online TV show, blogs, podcasts and media appearances. She has a website (www.feedmebubbe.com), a Wikipedia entry and a Facebook page, and Avrom’s got her covered on Twitter, YouTube, WordPress and Blogspot.

“Bubbe and Avrom bring us back to the basics, the classics, our heritage,” said Jamie Geller, co-founder and CCO of Joy of Kosher, which produces a magazine and website. “Our bubbes were probably better cooks than we are, even though they had fewer kosher ingredients at their disposal and used fewer kitchen contraptions.”

Bubbe says her husband, “Zadie,” has been very patient during the whole process. “It took a year to accomplish the book,” she said. “But I feel it’s a mitzvah for young people to be able to make a traditional meal and know what it is.”

The road to success hasn’t been paved with gold for this matriarch. “Feed Me Bubbe,” the Jewish cooking show that launched in June 2006 on Internet TV software provider Instant Media, is, according to Honig, still produced by podcast on a shoestring budget, under the auspices of his own Chalutz (Hebrew for “pioneer”) Productions. Bubbe begins each episode with a recipe and a lesson on how to cook it. In between the rising steam and moving spatula, she relates anecdotes from her past and offers a “Yiddish Word of the Day” to Honig. Bubbe began addressing viewers’ questions in another portion called “Ask Bubbe.”

Bubbe had retired at 73 from a career in banking and was busy with her organizations and activities, but she agreed to let Honig tape her making her signature “Jelly Jammies,” a recipe she had invented while working full time. “I handled municipal accounts, and I also had to put the children through college, as we were on limited means,” she recalled. “Strudel took a long time to leave out, and I didn’t have the time.” So, Bubbe developed a batter that would work quickly, and the treats proved wildly popular.

Bubbe thought one or two videos would be it, but the emails poured in. “It was 20, 30 close to 50, then hundreds,” she recalled.