Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pioneer Press

Check out the article on "A Blending of Bittersweet Memories" in Pioneer Press (North Shore Suburban Newspaper of Chicago):,pioneer-press-bittersweet-052710-s1.article

Bittersweet Memories: Cookbook to Memorialize Loved One's Cuisine
By Veronice Hinke

The perfect mix of ingredients might not win your lost loved one's recipe a page in Emily Israel Hoffman's cookbook. But telling a heart-tugging or uplifting story connected to the recipe might do the trick. "I'm not trying to make this a chef's cookbook," Hoffman said of her work-in-progress. It's titled A Blending of Bittersweet Memories.

The tale's the thing
Recipe submissions, all of which Hoffman will test prior to approval, can be as simple as one of the desserts she's already accepted. It requires only three ingredients: Whipped cream, cherry pie filling and chopped nuts.

In her quest for 100 suitable entries, Hoffman has already logged tales as colorful as a banana cream pie that ignited a family food fight.

Good writing skills aren't necessary for getting into her cookbook, either. Hoffman's tapped a ghost writer to accommodate prose-impaired foodies.

Anecdote worthy
Northbrook resident Leslie Kolber has already made it into the cookbook. Kolber heard about Hoffman's project through a friend, and immediately thought of her late grandmother-in-law, former Wilmette resident Rose Kolber. "She accepted me as one of her own granddaughters. She basically taught me how to cook," Kolber said. "She'd be over the moon to know that her recipe (for plumb chicken with dirty rice) will be in the cookbook."

Rose's story, of course, will also be told. "She cooked from instinct. She never had a recipe, she just had a list of ingredients in her head. When I'd want a recipe, and ask her for amounts, she'd say 'just a little,'" Kolber said. She resorted to following Rose around with a pen and paper -- jotting down amounts to record exactly how much "just a little" was. "I was always a recipe follower. Now I cook from instinct, just like she did."

Remembering mom
Like Kolber, Hoffman said the project has helped her grieve. The cookbook seemed a fitting way to memorialize her mother, Renee Israel, a cookbook author who passed away in January 2006 after a long battle with breast cancer. "She loved to cook," Hoffman said. "She was always cooking."

The book, which Hoffman expects to have completed by the beginning of next year, will be divided into four or five chapters based on phases of grieving, such as honoring rituals. "Cooking is very ritualistic," Hoffman said. "Traditions have a way of bringing memories back."

It was one of her mother's traditions, after all, that sparked inspiration for the cookbook. She thought of it while she was serving her new husband Monday night spaghetti last fall in their new home in Chicago's River North neighborhood. "It hit me like a ton of bricks," Hoffman said. The spaghetti Bolognese she had made was typical of Monday night dinners her mother prepared for Hoffman and her father and two siblings while she raised the family in Deerfield. Hoffman noted that her sauce, so close to her mother's in smell and taste, even contained her mother's secret tomato sauce enhancement: a dash of sugar to make it a little sweet.

Her mother also threw a shot of sugar (about two tablespoons) into tomato sauce when she made summer squash casserole. It's a simple, healthy recipe she paired with chicken, steak or fish. "It's an every night dish," Hoffman said. "It's a great way to get kids to eat vegetables, because it looks like pizza." Sometimes, the dish was awarded a spot on the family's Memorial Day picnic table.

Submit recipes
Recipes and stories may be submitted online at, or mailed to P.O. Box 10936 Chicago, IL 60610

Renee Israel's Summer Squash Casserole
8 summer squash, washed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
3 C tomato sauce
3 onions, sliced
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T sugar
1/4 C olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium sauce pan, saute onions in oil until translucent. Set aside.

Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Lay squash in baking dish. Sprinkle onions on top of squash. Pour tomato sauce on top of onions. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Autumn Green Wright Campus - Chevy Equinox

Yesterday, I went to Autumn Green Wright Campus. It was a really nice afternoon. I had the chance to talk with many excited residents. They all had such incredible memories to share. Some of them had a hard time remembering the recipe that goes along with the memory. They said that since they don't cook anymore, they don't have all of their cookbooks. Also, a lot of the recipes were done by eyeballing and they can't remember exact amounts. That has been the tricky part about this project. It was so nice getting the chance to sit and just talk with the residents. I love what I do.

A girl named, Ashley, from Edelman (PR Firm representing Chevy) came yesterday too. She took lots of pictures and a video of me talking about my project and how Chevy has helped me to complete my mission. All of those pictures and comments will be on their twitter, facebook and blog, so check it out!!
Twitter: @ChevyMissions
Facebook at:
Chevy's Blog:

Here are some pictures:

Doing the cooking demonstration

Talking and taking pictures with some of the residents

Me in front of the Chevy Equinox

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Autumn Green Midway Village & Chevy Equinox

Yesterday I went to Autumn Green at Midway Village (Senior Lifestyle Corporation) for another cooking demonstration and to get stories/recipes from the residents. It was so much fun! We heard lovely stories. I got great recipes on how to dress a turkey with corn bread and how to make oysters! The staff and residents were so nice and friendly.

Chevy switched cars with me yesterday. They took the Traverse back and gave me and Equinox for the next week to do some more of the demonstrations. I am obsessed with their cars!!! The Equinox has real time traffic information. I was on the highway and it said "In 1.5 miles, there is stop and go traffic for 3/4 miles". It was exactly right! I am loving Chevy's Your Mission, Our Drive promotion!

Pictures from yesterday are below!

Me in the Chevy Equinox

Some of the residents who attended the cooking demonstration

Talking with the residents and doing to demonstration

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lake Barrington Woods Assisted Living Home

Today, I drove in the Chevy Traverse to Lake Barrington Woods Assisted Living Home. It was absolutely amazing. The staff and residents were so attentive and so excited to share their favorite memories and recipes from their lost loved ones. I made the berry crisp (recipe in past blogs) and then had a chance to sit down and get everyone else's stories. The stories keep on getting better and better!!

I would like to thank Chevy for letting me drive the amazing Traverse. It is an incredible car with OnStar navigation, hands free phones, and a back up camera in the rear view mirror. It has been a pleasure driving it and I would definitely recommend buying one!

Also, I would like to thank the staff at Lake Barrington Woods (22320 Classic Court in Lake Barrington, IL) for allowing me and my publicist's, Annie and Kassy, to come and talk with their residents. To see pictures from today's event, see below.

On Wednesday (May 19th), we are going to
Autumn Green at Midway Village
6700 S. Keating Ave. in Chicago, IL at 2 pm

On Friday (May 21st), we are going to
Autumn Green at Wright Campus
4239 N. Oak Park Ave. in Chicago, IL at 2 pm

On Tuesday (May 25th), we are going to
The Breakers at Edgewater Beach
5333 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago, IL at 1 pm

You are all welcome to come out and see the cooking demonstrations!!

Taking and performing the cooking demonstration

The residents of Lake Barrington Woods

Me in front of the amazing display that they set up for the demonstration

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lincolnwood Place and Chevy Traverse

Today, I went to Lincolnwood Place which is located at 7000 N. McCormick Blvd. in Lincolnwood, IL. Lincolnwood Place is a part of Senior Lifestyle Corporation.

Since 1985 Senior Lifestyle Corporation has created premier residential communities with innovative programs that help seniors enjoy healthier, more fulfilling lives. Today, they are one of the nation's leading senior living specialists – and one of the only companies offering independent living for every economic level, from luxury to mid-market to affordable. To learn more about Senior Lifestyle Corporation, go to:

I was fortunate enough to have been able to drive the Chevy Traverse, given to me by Chevy for their Your Mission, Our Drive Project. To view photos from today's event, see below.

I had so much fun driving the awesome Chevy Traverse, performing the cooking demonstration, and talking with the residents and getting their stories and recipes for the book! All in all, it was a wonderful day!

Chevy Traverse

Cooking Demo at Lincolnwood Place

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chevrolet Your Mission. Our Drive. "Do Good" Project

Illinois Chevy has a new philanthropic project called: Your Mission. Our Drive. The idea is simple: If you have a volunteer project that requires wheels to complete your mission, Chevy would like to loan you some.

Chevrolet will support 25 local missions through short-term vehicle loans. Chevy will work with you to identify resources to "drive" your Mission forward. Bittersweet Memories was selected to drive Chevy's cars to assisted living homes and perform cooking demonstrations as well as getting submissions for the book! I am so honored to have been picked and to be partnering with such an incredible company.

I will post pictures tomorrow of me, in my Chevy Traverse, on my way to Lincolnwood Place. Lincolnwood Place, a part of Senior Lifestyle Corporation, is located at 7000 N. McCormick Boulevard in Lincolnwood, IL. 60712. The demonstration begins at 1 pm and is open to the public! I hope to see you all there!!

Follow @ChevyMissions on Twitter ( Be the first to get the latest news about statewide volunteer opportunities, Mission launches and more.

Illinois residents can learn more about Chevy Missions and apply for their own Mission on the Chevrolet Fan Page on Facebook at:

To read a recap of each Mission on Chevy's blog, go to

Join the conversation at Get ideas, peer support and more at the Illinois Chevy Missions wall. Find mission applications and program details.

Thanks, Chevy!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Orlando Sun Sentinel, Chicago Tribune & Zion News

Heidi Stevens, from the Chicago Tribune, has written an article about me and "A Blending of Bittersweet Memories". To view the article, please click on the link below. The article will be out on Mother's Day in the Chicago Tribune as well as in a bunch of other papers that the Tribune owns around the country! Be sure to get a copy and submit your bittersweet memory at

Also, I would like to thank Terry Petrani, Kaija DeWitt, and Laurie Loef for their comments and participating in my project and the newspaper! It's people, like the 3 of you, that make this project so special.

Below are two additional links to the Lake County News Sun and ZB Guide. These articles are from the cooking demo that I did on Tuesday May 4th at Barton Healthcare.

Happy Mother's Day weekend!

Web site collects recipes and memories -

Posted using ShareThis,0,1083026.story,5_1_WA06_BITTERSW_S1-100506.article

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cooking Demo at Barton Healthcare

Yesterday, I went to Barton Healthcare in Zion, Illinois. I made a triple berry crisp prepared 3 different ways for entertaining! After I prepare the demo, my ghost writer, Molly, publicist, Annie, and I are going to be sitting and talking with each of the residents to get their favorite memory/story and recipe from their lost loved ones. We each heard some beautiful and incredible stories. We met one woman who was 100 years old and her parents were Polish Royalty. Another woman, who was 92 years old, used to pick mangos off of her mango tree in Cuba and bring them in the house for her mother to make fresh desserts with. Then there was a woman, who lived through the depression, whose family owned goats and the kids would milk the goats for the mother to make homemade ice-cream. And finally, we met a woman who grew up on a farm and her mother would make homemade pasta by laying sheets of pasta on the backs of chairs to let the pasta dry out.

All of the stories were filled with so much detail and history. Getting these stories made me so proud of what I am doing. If we don't write these stories and recipes down, the will inevitably, be forgotten when our loved ones pass away. Also, I have really believe that food tastes so much different when there is history behind it. For example, when I make my mother's spaghetti bolognese, it reminds me of her and the times that we shared together. I can visually see her making the sauce and working hard to make the pasta delicious. That always made it taste amazing because it was made with love. I remember grocery shopping, sitting in the kitchen and talking while cooking, setting the table, and having dinner with the whole family. When you go to a restaurant and order spaghetti bolognese, it usually tastes delicious too but you don't know the history of the food and how the recipe came about. These stories have changed the way that I view food.

I would like to say a special thanks to Molly, Annie and Sarah from Zapwater and the whole community at Barton Senior Residences of Zion. Barton offers individuals 65+ an affordable assisted living option that promotes a lifestyle of active independence. With unsurpassed services and amenities including private apartments, restaurant-style dining for three meals a day and full activity program to engage each resident and their individual interests, Barton Senior Residences of Zion provides seniors with a comfortable and secure place to call home. Barton Senior Residences of Zion is located at 3500 Sheridan Road in Zion, Illinois.


Ingredients for Topping

Mixed Berries

Pretty ways to serve at a summer BBQ

Residents at Barton who attended the demo