When I called Spokane resident Julie Morris just before Passover, she was hands deep in matzoh ball batter and revealed she makes two recipes in advance, half fluffy and half “bombs,” to suit the whole family’s tastes.
A long-time member of the national board of Hadassah, Julie was recently appointed to the board of the Hadassah Foundation, something she’s very excited about. On the national board Julie developed expertise in fundraising and strategic planning that she brings to the foundation.
“I love the idea [of the foundation] because it allows Hadassah, in a different way, a different system, to provide opportunities to young girls and women,” she says.
She’ll attend her first meeting is in New York in June.
Hadassah primarily supports Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), the two-campus research and clinical hospital in Jerusalem. Half of all Israeli medical research originates from HMO, Julie points out.
The foundation “improve[s] the status, health and well-being of women and girls,” according to its website (www.hadassah.org/foundation), mostly in Israel. They might support “a foundation that deals with bullying” or the status of Orthodox women, explains Julie. Foundation fundraising is separate from Hadassah chapter fundraising and its board is half Hadassah members, half from the wider community.
“It gives us wider exposure to what is going on in the world,” adds Julie.
Julie grew up on Seattle’s Beacon Hill, a member of the extended Brenner Brothers Bakery family. A graduate of Cleveland High School, she met her husband Jeff (a Franklin alum), when they were active in the AZA and BBG Jewish youth groups. Moving to Spokane about 40 years ago for Jeff’s work, they assumed they would return, but “we settled in and we love it.” Plus, she adds, “we can get to Seattle whenever we want.”
Spokane has “a wonderful…[and] very active Jewish community where everyone pulls together,” Julie says. The main synagogue is Temple Beth Shalom, with its close-knit intergenerational community, “and there is a small but active Hadassah chapter,” she says. Julie was active in the synagogue when her three sons were growing up and is more active again as her grandchildren begin to attend Hebrew school.
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Chef and new cookbook author Becky Selengut. (Photo by Clare Barboza)
My conversation with private chef Becky Selengut was so entertaining that I wasn’t surprised when, at the end, she revealed she is branching into stand-up comedy.
Becky was raised in New Jersey and says that although she was a picky eater as a child, she was open to new tastes. One of her favorite childhood food memories is the Hillel sandwich — matzoh, charoset and horseradish — of the seder table. She also recalls fondly “the spread” of smoked fish, bagels and knishes picked up at Russ and Daughters Deli and eaten at her grandmother’s lakeside house with her home-grown tomatoes.
“This is where I found my love of fish, I think,” says the author of “Good Fish,” her first cookbook about sustainable seafood, which is about to head into its third printing.
“I wanted to be a surgeon,” says Becky, who spent some time in medical school. Always “interested in health and nutrition and how food makes people feel,” she says, she made a hobby of cooking lavish dinner parties. Much to her family’s chagrin, she dropped out of med school and went to culinary school.
She finds some skills are transferable, especially when she does food styling.
“I have my forceps and my tweezers,” to precisely arrange food for photography. “It’s kind of like surgery,” she observes wryly, “for one-64th of the money.” Plus, as a chef, she adds, “no one is unhappy to see me.”
The recession convinced Becky to branch out and now she’s added restaurant consulting, recipe development, and writing for Edible Seattle magazine to her repertoire. She teaches cooking at Bastyr University, PCC and other local schools and just signed a contract for her second cookbook on mushrooms.
“Fish and mushrooms are my two areas of expertise in cooking,” she says.
By the way, “don’t eat raw mushrooms,” Chef Becky advises. They all “have a small level of toxins when they’re raw.”
And about that comedy: She and food writer Matthew Amster-Burton have started a comedy podcast — rated R — called Closed for Logging, which you can find on the website of that name. It has a talk-show format and they’ve had a lot of Jewish guests.
“There seems to be something with Jews and comedy,” Becky observes.
You can find more about Becky and her book at www.cornucopiacuisine.com.