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Cooking, Again


For the past couple of years, with internships and school work, most of the cooking was left to Mom, again, just like when I was little. I had taken over most of the cooking years ago, while she was working and I was huddled in my room, shaking, but switching back to having Mom do the cooking was part of our plan for how I would manage graduate school in social work. I still helped choose the recipes, and did a lot of the food shopping and cleaning, but it was a relief not to have to cook every night. I had spent so many years building up my cooking skills, with classes and recipes and hours and hours of Food Network shows, but I was ready for a break.


And then my last internship ended, and I should have taken back the responsibility for cooking, at least somewhat, but I was still exhausted and weird and dragging my feet about it. I didn’t even want to bake, though it was summer at the time and there’s no air conditioning in the kitchen, so that was understandable.



Gradually, much more gradually than Mom was probably hoping, I started to help make dinners again by going back to my old job as vegetable chopper. Mom did her best to tolerate my impatient knife cuts, even when she really would have preferred a smaller dice on the onions. And then I made a dinner or two on my own, because I was hungry and Mom was sleeping. And then there was all of the cookie baking around the holidays.

I’m still not reconciled to cooking every day, but we’re closer to a fifty-fifty arrangement than we were before. My favorite things to cook lately are turkey chili (do some chopping and defrosting, dump everything in the pot, set a timer and wait), turkey meatballs (defrost ground turkey, mix with egg, breadcrumbs, and spices, shape into balls, stick in oven, set timer and wait), and Rocky Mountain toast (rip a hole in a piece of bread, break an egg into the hole, cook) which I learned how to make a million years ago at sleepaway camp. I’d still rather make cookies for every meal, or just eat the raw cookie dough, and there are days when I can’t even imagine peeling a carrot because my body hurts too much, but I’m getting there. It’ll be a while before I volunteer to make Coq au Vin, or Maki rolls, or even Risotto (keep stirring, keep stirring).

Miss Cricket is back to her role as sous chef, a.k.a. waiting for red bell pepper scraps to fall on the floor, and Miss Ellie has been trying to convince me to make chicken pancakes with cheese on top, but she has been unsuccessful. The best I can do for her is open a can of tuna and pour the water into her kibble, which is good too. I feel guilty for this lapse in responsibility, but not enough to work much harder to fix it.


“More, Mommy.”


“I could eat, too.”

Next task up: fill out the forms to take the licensing exam for social work, which seems to involve a lot of waiting, and then more forms, and then some really stupid questions. But my real objection is that once I have my license I’ll actually have to get a job. I’d like to put that off for a while, or ten or fifteen whiles, if possible. I finished all of my coursework, but there seems to be a delay before the paperwork says I’m an official graduate, which gives me one or two whiles, at least.

If anyone wants two shelves full of really tedious, probably already out of date textbooks, you’ll have to wrestle Ellie for them. She has some art projects in mind.


I want to thank everyone who read and reviewed and commented on and thought about Yeshiva girl and cheered me on along the way. I feel truly honored! If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl.

yeshiva girl with dogs

Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish girl on Long Island named Izzy (short for Isabel). Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes that it’s true. Izzy’s father decides to send her to an Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain, smart, funny, and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment.



About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

61 responses »

  1. I was delighted to see this post go up while I was sitting here at the computer. My go to recipe which requires no effort whatsoever is in a Crock Pot. Put in a piece of chuck roast, pour over a jar of Ragu and let it cook all day. Great post roast. Other total easy is turkey thigh with barbecue sauce poured over it in Crock Pot and let it cook all day. As you can see I would never make it on Food Network, but I have found a way to make the kitchen smell great with NO effort.

  2. I love our three day stews. Day one done in the pressure cooker, day two heated up in my largest pan and day three in my smaller pan. Bread optional. Two day chilli is better on the second day, so there are five meals out of seven with minimal cooking. Chops for us tomorrow. Depending on how Hubby feels (dodgy tummy again) will determine whether we have a roast dinner (pre cooked spuds and chops put in oven) with brocolli and carrots (microwave) or my ginger and pineapple mix with rice. Lots of stirring with that otherwise it goes lumpy and ‘catches’.
    It’ll all come together for you Rachel. 😀

  3. Cooking can be very rewarding, so I’m glad you’ve reclaimed some enthusiasm for it.

  4. Life sometimes is a little like eating an elephant. You gotta do it one bite at a time. Congrats on getting this far. Best wishes for the waiting in line and inevitable certification.

  5. Cooking for some is therapy. I like baking (yay cookies).

  6. I don’t much like cooking, but I like eating. One of my favorite easy recipes is “Blasted Chicken” which I learned to make listening to Chef Melinda Lee on the radio.

    Get a whole chicken (about 3.5 lbs), take out all the stuff they put inside. Pat chicken dry, put it on a rack that sits in a dish. [Optional things: You can put an onion or a lemon inside the chicken if you want. You can put chunks of potatoes and carrots in the dish below the chicken if you like.]

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put chicken in oven. Roast for 45 min for a 3.5 lb chicken. (Add 10 min per poud of chicken above 3.5 lbs.) Remove from oven, let stand 15 min before you pull meat off the chicken and eat it.

    The dogs dance around during the hour, informing me that there is a Giant Bird on Fire in the Oven, ISN’T THAT EXCITING??? The cooking chicken is sometimes a bit smoky, so if you have a kitchen fan, use it. That’s all.

    You are accomplishing wonderful things. I have a copy of Yeshiva Girl and will read it when I reach a certain point in the project I’m working on – it’s my treat for perseverance. I can hardly wait!

  7. I’ll definitely find Yeshiva Girl, this has been a year of collecting fellow Bloggies books and I’m accumulating A great selection. I hate cooking but love baking but trying to keep my sugar down so bummer. Happy New Year Rachel. I hope it’s great.

  8. Why on Earth do you peel carrots? I just scrub them. Potatoes, too, unless the skins are bad. When I was a single working mother with a house full of kids, I had 7 no-brainer meals I could fix in 1/2 hour: spaghetti, mac & cheese, broiled chicken, and a few others. So we had something different every night, but the same thing every week. It worked, and they never complained. These days, I sometimes get creative.

  9. I used to make turkey chili, it’s quick and easy to make. I love all of the puppy pictures.💗

  10. Rachel what great photos!

  11. If you and mom survived each other’s cooking, what’s the problem? Some families don’t.

  12. The little ones are so adorable.

  13. I would ease back into cooking, too. It’s lots of fun when you have all the ingredients and plenty of time, it those days are far and few between. Congratulations on finishing all your requirements!!!

  14. I often cook an easy, beef stew. I buy the meat already diced, and just add some onion, carrot, barley, stock and whatever else we fancy. Nutritious and tasty.

  15. I seriously love to cook, and bake, and eat. I have a bunch of easy recipes – if you would like some, let me know. However, you need to be writing because you write better than I cook. And I’m a really good cook. 🙂

    • You are very sweet! Thank you!

      • dog cookies – if they can have the ingredients, I can’t remember if your babies have allergies. So easy – two eggs, two jars of baby food (just watch for anything dogs can’t have, like onion powder. I have no idea why that’s in baby food, by the way), mix together with 2 1/2 cups of wheat flour (or any other flour – you might need more or less) Make them into little balls, bake at 350 for about 50 minutes, and then freeze them because they’ll go bad quickly if you don’t. Your girls will love you. More than they already do.

      • The girls would love that! Thank you!

  16. I love staying in the kitchen doing some cooking experiments. Your dogs are just so cute.

  17. I occasionally adopt the role of sous-chef, too. Congratulations on the book

  18. I do 99% of the cooking in our house. That mostly involves heating up meals already cooked, and bought from the supermarket. Add some vegetables, and that’s dinner. However, I do also ‘cook’ on occasion. Traditional British roast meat dinners from scratch, as well as casseroles in the winter. I have owned two Le Creuset pots for over 25 years, and they have NEVER let me down. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  19. I used to cook a lot more, these days I stick to the same basics- salmon and alot of roasted vegetables! I also use my crockpot, set before I leave for work, and I come home to dinner ready and the house smelling good! Congrats on finishing up your degree.

  20. Definitely going to check out Yeshiva Girls! I would love to post a picture of your pups reading under our 4 legged readers posts!

  21. It’s not just cooking, Rachel, it’s nourishing your bodily self and your mom. Strength for today and bright hope for one tomorrow at a time. Congrats on your milestone and blessings on this transition to a new season. You can do it!!!!

  22. I hate cooking, so this definitely spoke to me. :)))

  23. Hi Rachel, I’ve been meaning to tell you that I read Yeshiva Girl over the last few weeks and was rooting for Izzy all the way. Her voice is very convincing and the dialogue rings true throughout. You’ve created some memorable characters. Good job!

  24. Menu planning, shopping, putting it all away, cooking, then cleaning is a real task. If even just one of those tasks is handled it helps. That is why self-checkouts are a joke to me — are you kidding me — after I planned the meals/menu, made the shopping list – you want me to check myself out and bag my groceries – and then I still have to putting the groceries away, cook, then clean up after cooking? If you want me to “self-check” I better get 40% off my groceries!!! Sorry . . . .went off on a tangent there! I think that doing it all is a big thing, so if you can help your mom and she can do some of it . . . you two are doing great!

  25. I’ve never heard them called Rocky Mountain toast. My mother prepared eggs that way and called them beach boy eggs. Why are they called that? Because beach boys can’t plug in a toaster on the beach. Thanks for bringing back the memory!

  26. Congrats on all the accomplishments. We call that toast Toad in a Hole around my house. Lol. Your little ones are too cute. Hang in there. The perfect position is already waiting for you. Your book sounds really interesting. In this current weather any kind of Chili sounds good. 😉


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