Tag Archives: Japanese cheesecake

Franzisca Tönnies Heberle

This blog – and my recent “girls” dinner party – came about because of Franzi.

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Franzi and her husband, Rudolf Heberle, at our house in Baton Rouge in 1984.

Andy and I knew Franzi – whom everyone addressed only as “Mrs. Heberle” – (pronounced with 3 syllables Hay-Bur-Lee) – and her husband, Rudolf, from our years in Baton Rouge, where both Andy and Rudolf were part of LSU’s Sociology Department.  Franzi and Rudolf arrived in the U.S. in the late 1930’s, leaving Germany as the Nazis solidified their power.

Though we were part of some lovely get-togethers at the Heberle home over the years, it’s my Baton Rouge friend Katie who really gave me insight into Franzi when she reminded me of the talk she delivered at Franzi’s memorial service in 1997.

I loved, admired and respected her, regarding her almost as an additional parent but without the usual baggage between mothers and daughters.

Katie continues – with a hilarious aside – “…their front porch was…the scene of many wonderful parties and afternoon teas.  Rudolf and Franzi were gracious hosts, the company was always varied and the conversation was stimulating and exciting.  The atmosphere was enhanced by the presence on the porch of a life-sized statue of a nude woman, a loan from a friend, I believe.  In my home village, a nude statue would have been questionable anywhere; on the front porch it would have been unthinkable if not illegal.  I knew I was on the fast lane and I liked it.”

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I can’t compete with Franzi.  This is the best nude piece we have – and it’s 8″ – not life-sized.

Though Katie was 30 years younger than Franzi, Katie remarked that “just knowing Franzi would have been a rare privilege; to have had her as an intimate friend for almost fifty years has been an unequaled blessing.”  

It’s ironic that Franzi’s father, the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies, is famous for his writings on Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.  Gemeinschaft, after all, is the study of community – the feeling of togetherness.

And when I think about Franzi and Katie – and about Katie and myself, I think about the value of friendships among women – and of having a community of women friends – of all ages.

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Franzi’s father, Ferdinand Tönnies

Just this morning, Katie, who is now 89, and I spoke on the phone for about an hour, as we do several times a month.  We could have easily chatted another hour – about children and grandchildren, about Trump, Brexit, about cooking, about our parents and husbands and brothers, about the weird weather.  And we talked about Franzi.

It was because of Franzi and because of Katie that I decided to have an “Intergenerational Women’s Dinner Party” at our house, dedicated to them both  – and to gemeinschaft.  I think all of our women readers should do the same!  I’ll give you hints.

The dinner party was a piece of cake to plan (please note all of the cake recipes included in our blogs :), because I had my younger friend Sona – who also happens to be a best friend of our daughter – to call upon.  Sona rounded up a cadre of Sonoma friends ranging in age from 50-something on down (I know you’re laughing and asking how that qualifies as young, but when you’re 75, it is!), I invited three over 70’s – and the party was on.

Because Andy, my dishwasher and general clean-up person, was off on his weeklong bicycling adventure (see today’s Andy’s Corner), I decided I had to carefully plan everything, so that I didn’t get in a twit on the day of the dinner.  I could have served a much simpler dinner but I had lots of free time that week – and truly enjoyed my creative time in the kitchen.

The menu?

The hummus and carrots were prepared 3 days before the dinner, the cheesecake 2 days before the dinner, and the burgers 1 day before the dinner (re-warming them just before serving).  The only thing left to do on dinner day was prepare the spinach salad (I bought pre-washed organic baby spinach) and set the table.  I could also have set aside the day just ahead of the dinner to prepare everything, rather than spreading the prep out.  Or I could have taken an entirely different approach and assigned everyone a recipe to prepare.  I think that actually contributes to the feeling of “we’re all in this together.”

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Roses from Lynne for our dinner

The highlight of the evening?  Lynne, who brought this rose bouquet from her garden, made the follow remarks for the occasion:

I always think of my Mother when I arrange roses.  Their beauty and fragrance are quite simply, her.  So I decided to bring a bouquet of roses along so that she could join us, in spirit, for an Intergenerational Women’s Dinner. Like our group, whose ages spanned four decades, the vase held roses that were in various stages of splendor.  Some were large and just past full bloom, their color mellowing to a soft yellow.  Others were bold in shape and rich with red and rose and yellow.  Others were tight buds, still emerging.  Each is a singular beauty, together, a bouquet representing the spirit of all things female and nurturing and loving. 

A perfect conclusion to a lovely evening with this community of women.

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The First Ever – and not the last – Intergenerational Women’s Dinner

Much love to my guests!  Left to right: seated – Connie, me (Ann), Pat, Katherine, Barbara; standing in back –  Lynne, Sona, and Nina

And Now for Something Entirely Different: Moss in Japan

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Japan is apparently obsessed with moss.  And Moss is obsessed with Japan.   As a result, today’s guest blogger is Moss and today’s feature recipe is a Japanese Cheesecake.

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Moss varieties in the Ginkakuji garden, Kyoto, Japan (photo by Paul Mannix)

After sending out a call soliciting guest bloggers, one of the first to respond was Moss, our younger grandson.  Well, actually, come to think of it, it was Sara, our daughter, and mother to Moss.  She volunteered him.  Since we talked about Moss and green things last week, it seemed just right to position him as our second guest blogger.  Of course, it’s hard to follow David, our first guest blogger, who has about 60 more years of experience, but Moss is a tough cookie, so to speak – though the green snickerdoodles we made for him last week were very tender – certainly not tough.

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Moss, accomplished photo-shopper – as well as rock-climber and chef

Moss Collage Early Years

Yes, our grandson, Moss, is entirely different!  In a most wonderful way.  And here is his blog and the video that he and his friend Kira made:

Hi, my name is Moss. I’m 12,  almost 13 (my birthday is April 13). I love to rock climb and bake. I made this Japanese cheesecake because I’m going to Japan soon and I heard there’s a bakery which is known for their Japanese cheesecake (Rikuro). I saw a video and immediately I wanted to make it. The cake is soft and airy, and has a wonderful jiggle. Also this cheesecake is not really filling so one person could (i’m not saying they should) eat a whole cake by themselves. After I got asked to be a guest blogger, I went to my friend’s house with my camera and my tripod (given to me by my amazing grandparents) to do something better than make the cake and take pictures of it. I wanted to film it. Although the cheesecake didn’t turn out perfectly, it was still fun to make and I really think, whoever sees this should try to make this cake at least once.



Next – in his preparation for Japan – Moss made a Matcha Coconut Mochi Cake, following this recipe on Food 52.  If you’ve never had Mochi, be prepared to find it addictive.  It’s not too sweet and has a chewy texture unlike any other cake.  What a splendid way to use more of the matcha you bought for our Craftsman and Wolves Matcha Snickerdoodles!  Mochiko, the Sweet Rice flour we use is readily available in markets here in Northern California.  Moss suggests that you add an extra tablespoon of matcha to the cake – so 2T total.

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Moss’s Matcha Coconut Mochi Cake

And some follow-up questions from me for Moss:

What are your favorite music groups you listen to with those big headphones you wear all of the time?

I listen to the Gorillaz, I also listen to Tyler the Creator and finally Clairo.

What meal will you ask your mama to fix for your birthday?  Or, if you want to go out, Where do you want to go

I think I wanna go to A-16 because it has amazing pizza and sometimes we get see the people make the pizza in the woodfired oven if we sit at the counter.

What do you look forward to most at school each day?

My friends.    

Why are you going to Japan?

I’m going for my 7th grade graduation. I love the food (sushi, ramen etc.). I also want to see the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto.

Do you follow any food blogs – or have a favorite food video?

I follow many food blogs, like Tastemade and Tastemade Japan. I also follow the very best blog, Big Little Meals.

That’s our boy!

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Moss in his Michael-Pollan/Farmers’-Market mode at age 8: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – unless you’ve got a piece of cheesecake!

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