This month’s featured “Bubbe” is Ilene Rosenblaum. Ilene was born in North Dakota, but moved to St. Paul at a young age. She remembers traveling to New Jersey to marry her husband, Sam, who was stationed there in the army. They married in the Long Branch Chapel which she describes as a ‘wooden shack’. “They put the Star at the front of the altar if you were Jewish, and a cross if you were Christian,” Ilene explained. Ilene and Sam returned to St. Paul five years later, to settle down and raise their three children in Highland Park.
Ilene and her granddaughter, Victoria, share a special bond. Their eyes light up as they sit together swapping memories. Ilene and Victoria shared one of their favorite stories with us, about how Victoria met her husband.
At the time, Victoria was happily single, enjoying her role as an aunt, and keeping busy at the restaurant where she waitressed. One day, a couple she was serving asked if they could give her phone number to their son. At first she thought the idea was “weird,” but after a moments consideration she thought: “Why not. What do I have to lose?”
The two met up, and after just one date Victoria called Ilene and excitedly exclaimed: “Grandma, I met the man I’m going to marry!”
And it was true; they were married just three months later.
What’s the one dish your Bubbe makes that nobody does better?
Victoria: Whenever we have family gatherings or picnics she would bring her Ramen Salad. Everyone loves it!
What’s in the salad?
Ilene: You start by chopping up the cabbage, and then you put lots of spices, nuts, and make a sweet and sour dressing and toss it in. Whenever there was a birthday party, everyone wanted it so I would bring a great big bowl of it. But I haven’t done a lot of cooking in recent years.
What are some traditions your family shares?
Victoria: Every Sunday night, in the summer, we gather at my parents’ house and everyone brings an appetizer or a salad. Everyone comes: the kids, grandkids and dogs. Up until last year, we went to Vegas together every year. We are always together during the holidays, birthday parties, family gatherings. We are still a really close family which is nice. I think it kind of rare.
Has Ilene taught you to make any foods?
Victoria: She didn’t cook that much when I was growing up. During the holidays my parents did most of the cooking.
Ilene: When they were little I cooked, but now the kids cook for me.
If you could describe your Bubbe in just a few words what would you say?
Victoria: Strong minded, really an outgoing, great soul, and a good person. She’s also very smart.
What do you think has kept your family close?
Victoria: We try to visit her at least once a week, if not more. Especially in the summer, we always take the kids out to the playground. I definitely give credit to my dad and mom too. Growing up, family was always really important and we just really like each other.
1 lb. package of chopped cabbage
Six green onions chopped
2 pkg. of ramen noodles – break noodles up and set aside
4 tbsp. sesame seeds – toasted
¾ cup slivered almonds – toasted
Add ingredients in jar with a tight lid.
¾ cup oil
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp salt
1 Ramen seasoning packet
Toss dressing into salad 1 hour prior to serving. Mix in crushed ramen noodles.