Simply Southern: With a Dash of Kosher Soul

by Margolin Hebrew Academy


Memphis, Tennessee, is the home of Elvis, BBQ, the blues and Margolin Hebrew Academy − the only Orthodox Day School in this Southern city.

The Jewish Day School was founded in 1949 and has educated three generations of this family, which includes Dena Wruble, her father, and now her children. Dena is co-editor of the cookbook, Simply Southern: With a Dash of Kosher Soul. And a lot of kosher soul, hard work, and love—by a dedicated committee—went into creating and publishing the cookbook as a fundraiser for the school.

This is the third incarnation of the cookbook. Dena's grandmother worked on the first cookbook, which grew out of a collection of recipes stored in index boxes. Before the first book, "the recipes were passed along in index boxes that the ladies of the school sold. Every Sunday, volunteers went into school and cooked and sold food to the public to raise money for the school. They also organized a cooking school that took place at different was a fun activity and helped support the school through additional card box sales." Dena has a copy of that first book, published in 1977 and simply titled, Cookbook, Presented by the South Women's Auxiliary. It was printed in black and white, written on a typewriter, and had hand drawn artwork. The book was updated once.

Dena is also involved in fundraising for the school and told us, "We needed a project that would have a market appeal outside of Memphis." So several years ago, they decided to update the cookbook. Using the original book and the index boxes as a starting point, "we pulled out the best of the best that people still loved and use and put a new modern, updated, southern twist on it," said Dena.  "Memphis has no kosher restaurants, so everyone entertains." The committee put out a call for Southern recipes and received 1,500 responses. "We hit a core that no one had seen and everyone wanted to contribute."

The result of their hard work is this wonderful cookbook, Simply Southern: With a Dash of Kosher Soul. A collection of 250 recipes that provides personal glimpses into the life and soul of this vibrant Jewish community – Memphis, Tennessee. The recipes are heirlooms, passed down by oral tradition, printed in the school’s weekly newsletter and emailed between best friends. There are Southern recipes turned kosher and kosher recipes turned Southern. Each chapter has a narrative telling the story of a kosher southern cook, their love of Jewish soul food, and their ties to Memphis. It is a delightful glimpse into the life and times of Memphis, past and present.

The book is beautifully done and a welcome addition to the kosher kitchen. The cookbook committee states it perfectly, "It has taken us years to collect, test, retest, tweak and perfect these recipes. We are ready to share them with y’all; welcome into our simply Southern homes! "

Enjoy the following recipes: Featured at the cookbook kickoff party, Easy Cheese Straws and Cheddar Olives. Also try Short Ribs and Butter Beans and Corky's Fudge Pie.

A KosherEye "gift yourself, gift others" selection. Sales benefit the Margolin Hebrew Academy. To purchase Simply Southern: With a Dash of Kosher Soul please visit their website, 

August 25, 2011

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