Yom Kippur & Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes

Roasted Whole Grain Buckwheat, Bow Tie Pasta,
Caramelized Yellow Onion, Sautéed Mushrooms, Parsley

Irving and Fanny Hirsch

The holiest of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur begins in a few hours, at sunset. Last night we made Kasha Varnishkes. It always brings back memories of Nana and Auntie Edythe. This year my version of Kasha Varnishkes (also called Kasha & Bows) is heart healthy, high in fiber, and includes wild mushrooms. Auntie Edythe would prepare hers with lots of kasha in proportion to the bows. My recipe is more like a pasta dish with buckwheat, mushrooms and onion.

My Nana was born in Kiev, Russia 1894. The family fled to Canada to escape the pogroms when she was a young girl. Her name was Vitte but she took her sister’s name, Fanny, after Fanny was killed in a machine accident. She met my Papa (paternal grandfather) when they were teenagers and their families were living in the same apartment complex in Montreal. His name was Yitzcok when he was born in Romania 1891 but changed it to Isadore upon arrival in Canada when he was 13 years old. He celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on the boat.

Fanny and Isadore married then made their way to America and settled in Chicago where Papa took the name Irving, and they raised their children, Edythe (back, center right in photo) and Leonard (my father, far left in photo). Sitting next to Aunt Edythe is her husband, my Uncle Sydney, and his mother, Rose. On the other side is my Aunt Gloria and Uncle Mickey (Papa’s youngest brother).

But their first names were not the only names to change. Yitzcok (Papa) and Michael’s (Uncle Mickey) last name in Romania was Lupo. Their parents (my great-grandparents), David and Henza, changed their last name to Herscovitch when they were living in Montreal. The family’s apartment was across the street from a butcher shop called Herscovitch’s. They thought that was a good New World name. And so the Lupos became the Herscovitchs.

When they grew older, several of the thirteen Herscovitch children moved to the USA from Canada. They moved to New York City, Detroit, Chicago, and Charlotte. Papa and Nana, and Uncle Mickey moved to Chicago. Time to change the name again! It seems that they were told that Herscovitch was not a good American name. So Papa and Nana changed their name to Hirsch. And Uncle Mickey did too, but they did not coordinate the spelling, so Uncle  Mickey’s last name became Hirsh, no “c.” My cousins in Canada, they still go by the name Herscovitch.

That is how my Papa, Yitzcok Lupo, became Isadore Herscovitch and then became Irving Hirsch. Oh, and the family always called him Izzy which is now my nephew Jett’s middle name. Wishing a wonderful Yom Kippur and a sweet New Year to my big dear family, near and far.

Kasha Varnishkes

Sauté mixed wild mushrooms in olive oil until golden brown.

Simultaneously, sauté sliced yellow onion in olive oil until caramelized.

Mix 1 1/2 c. kasha kernels with Egg Beaters (no cholesterol egg product) or egg whites to coat.

Then toast kasha in a non-stick skillet over high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 2 c. boiling chicken (or vegetable) stock.

Cover and simmer about 10 minutes until the stock is absorbed and the kasha is fluffy.

Meanwhile, cook multi-grain farfalle until al dente. Toss with olive oil and chopped parsley.

Toss kasha with farfalle, mushroom, onion, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.


Sending you my warmest wishes for a blessed Yom Kippur.

Atonement.

Self-reflection.

Forgiveness.

Fasting.

Prayer.

Repentance.

May you enjoy the blessings of peace and harmony throughout the year.

11 thoughts on “Yom Kippur & Kasha Varnishkes”

  1. what a treasure – the photo of your father and family. kasha varnishkes looks amazing – to me, an unexpected combination of whole grain kasha and pasta. sounds perfect on this dreary, rainy pacific northwest day!

  2. What a stunning dish…and Happy New Year to you and your family. This is such a beautiful post 🙂 I am second and third generation, and on my Mothers (the third generation) side from Canada. My Great Grandmother came from France to Canada as a teen. It is always so nice to celebrate our heritage 🙂 Anyway, I stopped by to vote, so I am going to stop babbling now 🙂

  3. Happy New Year to you and yours. Thanks for sharing your family story, I always find that sort of thing interesting. Ironically both my husband and I are Jewish and Kasha Varnishkes is not a dish that either of us grew up with (though I have heard of it.) I’ll have to give it a try sometime, yours looks delicious.

    1. HI Cara- it is always a pleasure to hear from you. Oh, I didn’t know that the two of you are Jewish, I must pay better attention. This dish is heart healthy and full of fiber AND memories. Is it my favorite Jewish heritage dish? Not really. But it is a great side dish for any weeknight dinner.
      LL

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