This recipe and story first appeared in the Aug. 26, 2013 edition of “From Tali’s Kitchen,” my biweekly cooking column in Binah magazine.
I have 21 first cousins, and if you’re interested, I can tell you what they each did in any given week. This isn’t because I’m incredibly good at keeping in touch (actually, I’m not). It’s because of a little something we call The Schein Times.
The New York Times might have a larger subscriber base, but I’ll always follow the news in The Schein Times more closely. Our official family newsletter is in its fifth year of publication, and it’s still going strong. The weekly paper comes out in time for Shabbos and gets its name from the cousins who started it and continue to produce it.
The regular contributors are the 10 Schein kids and their parents, who faithfully submit news briefs and photos every week. My husband and I send in our own news and photos almost as often, though we’ve missed an issue here and there. Those who don’t enjoy writing (or those for whom English is not a first language) contribute jokes or extra photos. When we get together with my Israeli cousins, at least one person always says that we should take a picture “for The Schein Times.” Grandpa gets special nachas from reading about or seeing pictures of his 26 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, and he prints it out each week to read on Shabbos. His own news stories have reported things like the mystery of his missing menorah and the way he successfully stored an etrog in the fridge for an entire year.
The front page includes a listing of candle-lighting times for the dozen cities that the members of our family call home. Another steady feature is the birthday/anniversary corner, where a head shot of the birthday boy or girl is often Photoshopped to include a sparkly crown.
Although our newsletter is a platform for wishing each other mazal tov on everything from a high school graduation to the birth of a new baby, it’s most often about the day-to-day things. Without The Schein Times, I wouldn’t have had a blow-by-blow description of eight-year-old Hillel’s recent swimming lesson, and I wouldn’t have known that nine-year-old Nava wished that there could be more than one Visiting Day for her to see her older siblings away at camp. It was also only because of The Schein Times that my extended family received a midyear report detailing our baby’s favorite songs, toys, and foods. Newsworthy? I’d say so.
We also use the newsletter to share recipes –- and by “we” I really mean “me,” though there was that time that one of my aunts sent in her popular recipe for spinach dip. The photos of our baby are often peppered with pictures of my latest dishes, which may or may not be an attempt to whet my cousins’ appetites for a Shabbos with the Simons.
The Schein Times has become a staple in our week. As my husband and I tell each other about our days, we’ll often say that we have to remember a certain story for The Schein Times. On Thursday night, we submit our news, on Friday afternoon, the paper arrives in our inboxes as a PDF, and on motsei Shabbos, we finally have a chance to read it.
In the pre-Schein Times days, the running joke in the Schein family was that you needed a newspaper to keep track of what was going on with each person. When one kid was the last to find out about something, the inevitable response would be, “Didn’t you read about it in the newsletter?” One day at the end of August several years ago, the entryway to their home was filled with luggage. One of the younger kids (who was 4 at the time) asked what was going on, only to learn that her oldest brother was about to leave for a year in yeshiva in Israel! It was around that time that the first issue of The Schein Times hit the stands…um, living room couches.
The news is laid out in columns and interspersed with photos and captions in the style of a “real” newspaper. Although a typical issue spans five or so pages, it can run much longer after a wedding, vacation, or any event that produces lots of photos. Aunt Eileen puts everything together, laying out the news and photos that are sent in by email and adjusting the spacing and font size. The younger kids in her house type their news directly into the template, no help needed. Uncle Josh often reads it all over and adds his trademark “editor’s notes” poking (good-natured!) fun at his reporters.
They never take a break, even for family trips. The sole exception in five years of printing came during Hurricane Sandy, when the family was forced to evacuate their Five Towns home. Baruch, the oldest, who was away at college, sent a simple email to let us know how his parents and siblings were faring. By the next week, the regular Schein Times was back.
Often, it’s all I can do to juggle our super mobile baby, my work, and the heaps of laundry. Keeping in touch with the cousins would be close to impossible if not for The Schein Times. So for as long as the Scheins continue to put out the paper, we’ll be sending in our news.
One of the Schein family’s favorite recipes is an adaptation of Susie Fishbein’s sesame noodles with grilled chicken. It’s a dish I remember enjoying a decade ago during my cousin Yael’s bat mitzvah Shabbos (though that must have been the tofu version). My own sesame noodles recipe uses broccoli and baby corn in place of the protein, and changes up the sauce by deleting most of the sugar and using tahini paste for extra sesame flavor. Like most takes on sesame noodles, it’s great hot but even better cold. I like to do as Uncle Josh does, and add the scallions right before serving.
Family tradition, you know.
Ingredients Noodles Dressing Directions 1. Boil 2 inches of water in a 3-quart pot and place a steaming basket or other steaming insert inside. Turn flame to low, place broccoli inside the steamer, and cover. Steam until just tender (about 12 minutes). At the same time, cook the spaghetti in a separate pot according to package directions. 2. Meanwhile, add the tahini paste and water to a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic, and whisk until combined. 3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the dressing and toss well to coat. Stir in the broccoli, baby corn, and sesame seeds. Add the scallions just before serving. Can be served hot or cold (the flavor is even better the next day).
Yield: 8 servings
1. Boil 2 inches of water in a 3-quart pot and place a steaming basket or other steaming insert inside. Turn flame to low, place broccoli inside the steamer, and cover. Steam until just tender (about 12 minutes). At the same time, cook the spaghetti in a separate pot according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, add the tahini paste and water to a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic, and whisk until combined.
3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the dressing and toss well to coat. Stir in the broccoli, baby corn, and sesame seeds. Add the scallions just before serving. Can be served hot or cold (the flavor is even better the next day).