The Sounds of Summer

August 9, 2017

When I started the blog, my goal was to share recipes and their stories with the hopes others would contribute. I am extremely excited to kick off this series with the first contributor, my sister Elizabeth Kamens. Elizabeth is an avid and talented cook, loves to experiment in the kitchen and shares a similar passion for upholding the family recipes we so fondly remember. Read below for a summer staple and what it means to my sister, Elizabeth.



Contributor: Elizabeth Kamens

Profession: Assistant District Attorney at the Bronx County District Attorney Office

 Favorite Recipes: My specialties are anything to do with dessert

Most Underrated Kitchen Tool: Grill Pan and Zester

Most Overrated Kitchen Tool: Garlic Press

Favorite Cooking Ingredient: Lemon

Favorite Blogs: Smitten Kitchen, Sprouted Kitchen, NY Times Food Section, Bon Appetit, Refinery 29



The reminiscent hissing noise makes its way up to my room from the kitchen below, and awakens me. The absolute signal to me summer has arrived. To others, the warm weather, end of school, or longer daylight hours are indicators. This unusual and repetitious sound is not from an animal or television show in another room. Rather, it is the discernible sound of a pressure cooker on the stove, rattling and sputtering away, and is my hint for what will be on our menu later in the day- my much loved German potato salad.


From Memorial day through the heat stroked days of August, the hissing of the pressure cooker used by my mother means the arrival of this favorite seasonal dish, which is always made in the summer months. My mother starts to make this recipe early in the morning due to the steps required for its preparation. Pressure cookers are not a widespread common kitchen item today and antiquated for many modern cooks. The use of the pressure cooker by my mother is a tradition she learned from her mother. Its use especially for potatoes speeds up the cooking time, which would otherwise take significantly longer.



                                                        Sounds of the Pressure Cooker


This recipe was my grandmother’s which she recreated from her homeland of Germany. Served at room temperature coated with an oil and vinegar dressing, onions, salt and pepper, it is very different from the American version with mayonnaise. Everyone who tries this amazing recipe becomes a fan immediately, and second and third helpings become quite expected of guests from all observations.


A few summers ago, I traveled to Germany for the first time. Lo and behold, this potato salad that I had eaten for the better part of my life, unknown to so many, was on every menu! And it was exactly the same as my family’s recipe.  Those I was traveling with did not understand my revelation and excitement. Experiencing this dish in another country linked me to my ancestors in a unique way I never anticipated.


To this day, when I travel back to my parents home during the summer, I never mind being awoken by the hissing noises drifting to my bedroom. One day the time will come for me to learn how to use this tool to follow the cooking traditions of my grandmother and mother. The pressure cooker’s sounds will forever be associated with my family’s German potato salad. For me, it is a sound of summer.



   “Authentic” German Potato Salad from Cafe Keyser Soze in Berlin





German Potato Salad

Serves 8 – 10  (If you can limit yourself to one helping)


  • 5 lbs potatoes cooked and cooled
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons  apple cider vinegar



  1. Cook potatoes (boil or pressure cooker)
  2. Must cool completely then peel and slice
  3. Add chopped onion
  4. Coat  slowly with oil first until potatoes have shiny appearance
  5. Then coat with vinegar
  6. Add salt and pepper.
  7. Serve room temperature



Below are some stovetop pressure cookers on the market that one can easily use to replicate this dish or for many other cooking purposes!

Sur La Table Pressure Cooker



Target Pressure Cooker



Amazon Pressure Cooker

Ice Pops Reinvented

June 29, 2017


Growing up I spent many 4th of July holidays in the Poconos at overnight camp (some may refer to this as sleep away camp). The 4th of July holiday was always a special event with high expectations for the evening fireworks display. Just before the fireworks would begin I distinctly remember the distribution of ice pops. There was something very thrilling when opening the wrapper to unveil the red white and blue themed treat. Perhaps my joy was the result of limited sweets but I personally think Ice Pops aka popsicles are a summer staple. The simplicity of this treat has been revolutionized and I wanted to share some of my favorite homemade recipes. They’re quick and easy and provide a nice refreshing desert. Although I no longer experience the classic fire cracker ice pops of my camping days, there are boundless unique and original recipes.Ice pops are not so simple anymore, with innovative ingredients they have come a long way.


I hope this holiday brings back a special memory for you, if so please share!


Happy Independence Day!


Here is a new twist on a old thought. See below for a recipe on how ice pops have evolved along with some innovative molds!



Orange Banana Smoothie Pop

Serves 6


  • 1 container greek yogurt
  • .67 cup of thawed orange juice concentrate
  • 2 large bananas
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp. of fresh lime juice



  1. Puree one Greek yogurt, thawed orange juice concentrate, bananas, lime zest, and fresh lime juice in a blender.
  2. Pour into six 3-ounce molds. (We used mini baking tins with Popsicle sticks, but you can also substitute paper cups.) Freeze until smoothie pops are solid, about 4 hours.
  3. To release pops, dip molds into hot water until pops loosen and slide out. If using cups, peel away paper.



Sur La Table Pop Molds




William Sonoma Mod Pop Mold


June 16, 2017

I love food cooked on a barbecue grill. I often find myself searching for recipes that can be cooked on a grill. As the summer outdoor cooking season proceeds I contemplate my favorite recipes. However, a minor detail crosses my mind. I have never cooked on a grill. You may think living in New York City has something to do with this lack of experience. Although that is a huge limitation, it is not the real explanation. Cooking on a barbecue grill is the honor reserved for my father. For as long as I can remember my father is the one in charge of manning and operating the grill. My father takes great pride in his skill on the BBQ and if you’ve had the luxury of trying his food you would agree.


There is something special about the food my father cooks and it is not because of the tasty end result. It is all the preparation and love that goes into his burgers and barbecued chicken. He is always open to new suggestions and takes his cooking seriously. His delight is the enjoyment of those partaking in his creations. My father learned his outstanding grilling skills from his father, Morris. My Pop Pop Morris took great pride in his duties at the grill as well. For my father and grandfather, it begins with their careful maintenance of their barbecue grills. I vividly recall the renewal of spring, with trees in bloom, birds chirping, and glorious sunshine. My father would set aside an afternoon to work on his grill, thoroughly cleaning it, so it was meticulous and prepared for the first barbecue of the season. His attention and maintenance sets the tone for the cooking. Serious, thorough and ultimately delicious!




All recipes say it is important for the outcome in the cooking process to start with a clean surface. There are even new studies stating the charred remnants remaining on a grill surface can actually have carcinogenic effects.


Some of my best summer memories center around the barbecue dinner. But as I reflect on all the wonderful meals my father has prepared, I realize it is not about the food, it is the joy of sharing this special time with family and friends that somehow makes every barbeque special.


After all, who doesn’t love a barbecue?




Grilled Vegetables Recipe


Serves 4
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced into rounds (or into thin strips)
  • 2 sweet onions
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper



  1. Preheat grill on high.
  2. Slice zucchini into rounds or thin strips. Remove the outer layer of each onion and trim off the top. Slice the onion down the middle to create two equal halves. Cut each half into thirds to create six wedges total.
  3. In a large dish, toss zucchini and onions with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  4. Once grill is hot, use tongs to place zucchini and bell peppers on grill.
  5. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes. Flip and continue cooking on high for another 5-8 minutes depending how well done you want your vegetables to be cooked.


Memorial Day Viewpoints

May 28, 2017

Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day has come to be associated with the beginning of summer. It is not however just an opportunity for a barbecue or beach trip but rather a day to honor American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.


During my Junior year of college I spent a semester abroad in Tel Aviv, Israel. While studying abroad I received a unique experience in a country both culturally and spiritually. My stay in Israel overlapped with several holidays observed there, Memorial Day and Independence Day. I returned to the United States with a new respect for our observance of Memorial Day.


Tel Aviv, Israel


In Israel, the government established a Memorial Day for those who lost their lives in the struggle that led to the establishment of the State of Israel and for all military personnel who were killed while in active duty in Israel’s armed forces. It is a national day of public mourning and quite solemn. The following day Independence Day is observed. This is a day of enthusiastic celebration just as we have our Independence day on July 4th. The back to back adherence of these two days is quite unique and contrasting.


I am reminded as Memorial Day approaches how important it is to take a minute to reflect on all those who have bravely given their lives to defend our freedom and safety. Not only does this day remind me of how fortunate we are to have our freedom, it will always bring back my memories of the somber observance of Memorial Day in another country.


The holiday weekend for many is a kick off time of summer. Let’s not forget the true reason the holiday exists. So this year as you enjoy a day off, begin the barbecue season, go to the beach, shopping or amusement park, take a moment to reflect on all who have given their lives for our country to maintain the freedom we are so fortunate to enjoy.


Israeli salad became staple of mine while living in Israel. Below is a recipe I have come to rely on and continues to bring back memories of an amazing cultural and cultural since returning and helps bring back memories of an amazing cultural and culinary experience.


Israeli Salad

Serves 4-6

Israeli salad is a chopped salad of finely diced tomato, onion, cucumber and bell peppers.


  • 3 medium or 6 small Israeli cucumbers, chopped small
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped small
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon (2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)



  1. Finely chop the cucumbers tomatoes and onions and combine in a bowl
  2. Add juice of lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
  3. Mix together all ingredients and enjoy!



My Aprons

May 8, 2017

In honor of Mothers Day this is dedicated to all those who have influenced you in the kitchen with a special memory…


I always loved aprons.


My first memories of cooking with my grandmother always included wearing my very own apron. Our grandmother made us our first aprons and as we grew she made us bigger ones. There was an unwritten rule, when you cook or bake, wear your apron. Sure the aprons protected our clothes but there was more to it.


I never thought much about it when I was little. I loved to play dress up, and I felt as though I was playing dress up in order to be allowed to bake. As I got older I realized my mother always wore aprons, which she learned from her mother. If we began to cook or bake, her first words were always, “Let’s get our aprons on.”


When I got my first apartment during college, carefully packed among my kitchen and cooking supplies, my mother had included an apron.  There was a kitchen so it went without saying I would need an apron. As I started cooking on my own, I began paying more attention to aprons. I knew their function was important but suddenly I realized they were their own fashion statement. I still have my very first aprons and I continued to add to my assortment as time went on. Each one brings back memories of special times in the kitchen.


As I reflect, I know the aprons protected our clothes from getting dirty but there was more to it.  Putting on the apron was part of the fun of the cooking adventure. Having my own unique apron made just for me, allowed me to feel extra special and gave me the confidence that I knew what I was doing. Nothing would turn out bad when I was wearing my apron with my grandma, my mother, and sister by my side.  Those aprons were full of love and contributed to  my confidence.



My first aprons sewn by my Grandmother


So get yourself an apron, make a fashion statement and success with your next cooking endeavor is awaiting. You’ll spare yourself some excess laundry bills as well!


Here are some aprons I am currently loving. Do you have a cooking memory? Would love to hear about it, please share below!



Anthropologie Apron

Sur La Table

Target Apron

Bed Bath & Beyond

Trudy’s Spritz Cookies

April 24, 2017


Would you like a cookie? I just made them, try one. The challenge was you could never eat “just one.”  On any visit to our Grandma Trudy’s house you were offered her famous “spritz” cookies. Open her cabinet and she always had a tin can of  freshly made yummy cookies. It was something  we took for granted and were accustomed to having them not only after a holiday meal or special occasion. Any ordinary day of the week a visit to her house they were ready and waiting. These delectable treats were not only famous to our immediate family. Family friends, relatives all knew about Trudy’s cookies. If you were privileged to have tasted them you know what I am talking about. Grandma Trudy passed away 6 years ago. There were so many things I missed without my Grandma’s presence in my life and I would talk about it regularly as I grieved.  About 3 years ago, one day, out of nowhere my mother said “It is time to make Trudy’s cookies”. She decided it was time to pull out the famous press required to make them and bring back the smell, taste and memories of our beloved Trudy through her cookies. As she pulled it out and dusted it off I felt thankful we could bring back our Grandmother with her recipe passed down to my Mom. We were ready to welcome her memory back in our lives through the joy she delivered with her cookies.

These cookies date back to my Grandmother’s childhood in Germany. My grandmother grew up in Wurzburg, Germany. Her childhood was stolen from her due to the persecution from Nazis and the Hitler regime on Jewish families. She was fortunate to make it to America with the help of family, all their possessions were taken away by the Nazis and that was one of the conditions that allowed them to leave.

Fast forward as a young married woman, Trudy was able to purchase a cookie press in the U.S that was made in Germany. That allowed her to begin to bake the beloved cookies of her homeland. She made thousands of cookies over the years and she got great joy in sharing them.

This story led me to the creation of Recipe and Roots. I believe there are many recipes with their own individual stories behind them. It is important to preserve these stories for future generations and to remember the people who bring us a simple joy and love along with their creations.

I welcome your stories and in the coming posts I will be adding more of my love for cooking!


Cookie press in action
Cookie press in action


Trudy’s Spritz Cookies

Serves 20 Cookies


  • 1/4 pound of butter (softened) unsalted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg (whole)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (must be able to work dough with hands)
  • 1 tsp baking powder


Grandmother’s Original Recipe



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease your baking sheet
  2. If using a cookie press, assemble so it is ready to go.
  3. Mix ingredients together as listed above with a standing mixer. If you do not have a mixer, can be mixed by hand.
  4. Once all ingredients are mixed together, if using a cookie press begin to place dough in cookie press. (This recipe can also be made without a cookie press. If omitting the cookie press, follow the same directions but once ingredients are mixed together, you must roll out the dough. Once dough is rolled out proceed by selecting your cookie cutters and cookies with cookie cutters of your choice.)
  5. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees.



My Grandmother’s cookie press from Germany




To replicate this cookie in its entirety, below are some cookie press’s that allow you to recreate a similar shape to Trudy’s Spritz cookie!


Cookie Press – Bed Bath & Beyond



Cookie Press – Sur La Table

Cookie Press – Crate & Barrel