THE WAY TO A MAN’S HEART*

*it’s not what you think

Little did I know that going through my old cookbooks would be so thought-provoking. Going by the “one year rule” – tossing whatever I haven’t used in the last year – these cookbooks should have been donated years ago.

The One and Only Settlement Cookbook

Let’s start with The Settlement Cook Book. It was first published 118 years ago. It was written by Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Black Kander, a social worker in Milwaukee. She taught cooking classes at the Settlement House – an organization that helped poor European immigrants find their way in America. She believed Jewish women had an obligation in “advancing the history and customs of their forefathers.” Her thought was that if these women knew how to cook and clean, they would be rewarded with a happy husband and a happy life. This woman was no suffragette.

Mrs. Lizzie Black Kander

The book’s tagline was “The way to a man’s heart”. Besides the recipes, it gave strict instruction on how to set the table and clean spills. Kander wanted the man to..

“be surprised and pleased when he gets to the table. That is where he should forget all of his worldly cares”.

This part is great:

The hostess should serve the soup, salad, dessert and coffee, and, at a family dinner, the vegetables and entrées. The host serves the fish and meat.

The first copies sold out within a year. It was a way to reach the ultimate goal – finding a man and taking care of a home. Cooking gave women the means to assimilate while still maintaining a connection with their roots. The advertisements in the book are classic:

A Good Milkman
The beer that made Milwaukee famous!

There have been at least 40 editions since that time. By 1991 the sexist tagline was gone. The Settlement House was renamed the Milwaukee Jewish Center and then the Jewish Community Center ( AKA the JCC, or for the real old timers, “the Center” ;). Most of the women I know have a copy right up there with The Silver Palate.

As dated as it is to the point of absurdity, the housekeeping and cooking duties are still done by women in most American homes. For some this is out of choice, to those I say ‘sababa’! They may see cooking as a means of creative expression and culinary art. There are women who do love to cook and clean. I love to cook – not every day- and hate to clean.

For others it is a pattern dictated by gender alone. It is an added job for the woman at the end of a long day. Sure, the men do the classic male stuff – they are in charge of the barbecue of course or the grocery shopping if the woman makes the list. This is true even if the woman works and when she is the only breadwinner in the family.

My cookbook collection…

Women come up with all the excuses – I don’t trust him to buy what is in season, he doesn’t know how to cook, he can’t boil an egg, he doesn’t keep the house as clean as I do – without actually saying how much it sucks and you hate having to do it all the time. This is the quintessential “problem that has no name”, described by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique from 1963.

People ask me how to raise a feminist boy or girl? The answer is by example. Build a home without gender-dictated roles and your kids will learn.

The Settlement Cook Book started with the goal of finding a man. Considering its humble roots, it now it holds a place as one of the greatest American cookbooks of all time. The schoolteacher language of early editions has softened. Non-kosher recipes appeared among the traditional kishke, kreplach, borscht and kasha varnishkes. I don’t use my Settlement Cookbook much, except during the Jewish holidays when I’m feeling the diaspora blues.

Hummus with Israeli pickles

I’m proud to say my mom was a true feminist and one of the later contributors to The Settlement Cook Book.

Do you own a copy of this legendary book? Who does the cooking in your house? Who “mans” the barbecue?

Magic Dust & Artichokes

When my year of no shopping ended, like a prisoner released from captivity, I couldn’t wait to bust out and buy something. I fell right into the trap! What a sucker. You wouldn’t believe what my first purchase was: Dust. I did not know that Gwyneth Paltrow touted it in her painfully misguided bullshit celebrity retail outlet called Goop. I read about it on a blog I once respected, called Cup Of Jo. There was one line…

“Psst, my friend says this …really works,”

…with a handy hyperlink directly to the Nordstrom website. For $39 I was the proud owner of a tiny jar. My partner just heard me reading this aloud and mumbled, “That useless shit was $39”?

Continue Reading

Ask Dr. Annie K: Breaking The Cycle

I lack trust in my boyfriend of 7 months. This has been caused by his total and complete honesty of his past relationships, which honesty is a good thing, but it has triggered my insecurities, fear of being hurt and that bad feeling in my stomach. When he brings up his past flings in causal conversation or accidentally calls me by his exes name, is still friends with the opposite sex that he has had history with…it is testing my insecurities. As of recent, his ex girlfriend reached out and I wanted to know the extent of the message she sent him so I went through his phone. This lead me to finding promiscuous photos of other past exes (none of which were sent during our time together) and several pictures of other woman that look like screenshots from social media. He was single for three years prior to our relationship so I am unsure and feel weird about what I found. Everything outside of this is good. We have a lot in common and care about each other very much. And he is not in the wrong for having a history before me. I am just not sure what to do and how to address why I feel this way about our relationship. It probably has something to do with things I need to fix about myself, but want to make sure I am not missing any signs.

Also, I have come to realize that I have a vindictive side of me. Ive been reflecting on past situations and I know it comes out full force when I feel bad/disrespected because I think something is happening to me. I hold grudges, punish people for past situations, I resent them without communicating how I feel. I need to stop doing this or I will lose and push away everything and everyone near and dear to me. I resent my family, I resort to acting like them – defensive, passive aggressive, non-commutative, selfish. It’s not right and makes me feel horrible. I need to communicate better and use the “I feel” method with all my relationships. I think I am ready to put in the work to fix myself so I don’t resort to how I was taught to deal with conflict. I think I can do this, I want to be better, to do better. I know I have a good heart and have a lot of love to give. I just need to let the resentment go that I’m holding onto with my family so there’s room for growth, peace and happiness. Is this fix something I do when another situation happens and I hold my actions accountable or is there something else I can do so I can be better?

Thank you for listening and possibly any guidance you might have.

Sincerely,
Someone who wants to break the cycle

We have no secrets
We tell each other everything
About the lovers in our past
And why they didn’t last…

Carly Simon

Dear Someone who wants to break the cycle,

Thank you for reading loveandmedicine and for reaching out.

Both of your questions address relationships. Let’s start with your new boyfriend.

Being in a mutually caring relationship is a wondrous thing. Things are good

Whomever we meet will have a past. He is being painfully honest about his, which is stirring up feelings of insecurity in you. These feelings are so strong they led to invasion of his privacy in a big way. Doubt and anxiety are setting in.

Your feelings are entirely normal in this situation. It is not easy to hear about old girlfriends and imagine him with anyone else. He has been in other relationships – they are over. The fact is he has chosen you. These are the early stages – try to keep the focus on trusting your feelings when you are with him. As long as he is monogamous now, then these thoughts are based on irrational fears. Focus on the positives in your relationship. As you gain confidence in him and in the relationship, you’ll have less of a need to snoop around. It is hard to build a relationship based on trust when you are, at the same time, violating that trust.
 
Flow with it. Try to focus more on the present, rather than the past or the future. Practice gratitude every day.

Regarding the family conflict, your desire to repair it means that it matters to you. You don’t want to lose them. I can see you have insight into your challenges and that is half the battle. You also have the tools to follow through with your plans to repair it. 

The common thread to both questions is insecurity. This makes you doubt your partner and family. It leads to ineffective communication which then leads to grudges. Holding grudges are a manifestation of suppressed communication. 

You may benefit from one to one personal attention to break this pattern. Bouncing things off a caring friend or professional can offer other perspectives. You are insightful and intuitive. That is on the cerebral level. Practicing mindfulness, self trust and gratitude should be part of the plan also. 

You are on a new journey that can be scary but is also exciting. You are brave enough to reach out for help. Trust yourself. 

Dr. Annie K

The Best Weekend of the Year

This is historically the best weekend of the year, The first weekend in February, when a bunch of our guys head up to Boulder Junction and the girls are left to watch football in peace.

That’s Boulder Junction, the red dot.

The weather outside is frightful. Here are a few recommendations for those looking for some wintery bliss…

  • The Bridge, which I have been touting for years, is finally watchable on Hulu. A Scandinavian noir series that is so atmospheric that you feel like you’re in Malmö. Watching Saga Norén, played by Swedish actress Sofia Helin – you tell me what you think after you watch.
  • *Make real old fashioned chicken soup -use one cut up chicken, carrots, celery, whole onion with some peel for color, and water. Cook away, skimming foam as needed. Remove chicken pieces and separate bones and skin. Add fine thin noodles or matzo balls. Sprinkle Italian parsley (lots!) when done. Salt and pepper to taste. Delish!
  • Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski Ph.D. is a nonfiction NY Times bestseller. As a sexpert, I highly recommend it. Best book written about sex in years.
  • This quote showed up on my Instagram feed:
Love this.
  • My eldest daughter moved to MacKay in Queensland, Australia. Within 24 hours a snake appeared on her car. My advice? Sell the car! 😱
  • We bid farewell to January (didn’t it feel super long?) and welcome February.
  • Remember, if it doesn’t bring you income, inspiration or orgasms, it doesn’t belong in your life.

What are your plans this weekend?