She is 84 and lives in New Hyde Park.
You were born in what used to be Czechoslovakia. What kinds of foods did you eat growing up? I grew up during the German Occupation, when there was nothing to eat. Whatever my mother grew in the backyard we used. That experience is still with me. I use whatever I have. I know how to improvise. I put away some of what I make for the next day.
When did you start cooking? I am the only one from the family who moved to this country. I worked in a restaurant, so I didn't cook. When I married, my husband loved Italian food, Jewish food, any kind of ethnic food. So I tried lots of things.
Do you have a specialty? My rolled beef, something my mother used to make. I pound round steak very thin and then roll pieces up with bacon, onion, a little dill pickle, and mustard, brown them, and then cook them in beef stock until they're tender.
I hear you are a veteran bake sale baker. My husband and I lived in Florida for 12 years and were very active in the Russian Orthodox Church there. I used to bake for church sales, fairs, coffee houses. I used to make Russian specialties, nut rolls for Easter, yeast breads, cheesecakes. Now, my son and daughter-in-law work at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and whenever they are having different fundraising events I get a call. In September, when Italian plums are available, I make a plum torte that's popular. At Christmas I bake cookies to give away.
Any tips for making this zucchini nut bread? This is always popular when I bring it to the hospital. Everyone loves it. It disappears before anything else. Here is the best tip: Use the best ingredients in all of your baking. Good ingredients make everything taste delicious.
Zucchini Nut Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
½ cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. One large (9 -by-5-inch) or two small (8-by-4-inch) loaf pans. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Toss lightly with a fork.
2. Place eggs in a medium bowl and whisk well. Gradually add sugar and then oil, whisking to combine. Whisk in vanilla.
3. Add flour mixture to and stir. Batter will be thick. Stir in zucchini and walnuts.
4. Scrape batter into prepared pan or pans and smooth top with spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out dry, 80 to 90 minutes for a large bread, 60 minutes for two small breads.
5. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack and re-inverting to cool completely before slicing.
Makes one large loaf or two smaller loaves