Friday, November 11, 2011

The liberator and the liberated

Today is a special day.

Not because of the unique date, although that's pretty cool, especially at 11:11:11 11-11-11.

Today is special because it's Veterans Day.

It's been all over the news this freezing, frosty morning: a sobbing, preschool little girl is surprised in class by her father's return from Afghanistan; a solemn Vietnam veteran with empty shirt sleeves participated in a pre-Veterans Day parade; and Cindy McCain informed me that an average of 18 deaths each day are attributed to war-related PTSD.

But as I thought about Veterans Day this morning, before that first cup of much-needed coffee, before I clicked the remote to hear about today's world events, my thoughts went back five years ago to a charmingly endearing WWII veteran sharing with me his stories of war, meeting Patton and Willie, and how this once-strapping elderly gentleman helped free the prisoners of Dachau.

“Welcome to hell.”

Those were the words spoken to 18-year-old Joe Sacco by a fellow infantryman when they entered the gates of Dachau on May 29, 1945. Fashioned atop the gates was a sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Work Makes Free.” Yet it wasn’t work that freed the prisoners of Dachau. It was the American troops.

Joe grew up in Birmingham and lived there until his death a few years ago, more than 60 years after he witnessed the atrocities at Dachau.

“Everywhere I looked, in every direction, I saw dead women, children, old men, babies, beaten, starved, stabbed, shot, butchered, and left to rot on the ground,” he recalls in Where the Birds Never Sing, a book written about his experiences by his son, Jack Sacco.

Holocaust survivor Max Steinmetz, also of Birmingham, spent time at Dachau but wasn’t there when Joe and the 92nd Signal Battalion arrived. He had left weeks earlier on a death march before being liberated by American troops. He realizes that without the American, British, and Russian forces, liberation day might never have arrived.
WW II veteran Joe Sacco and Holocaust survivor Max Steinmetz
Liberation day was the beginning of a return to life for Max. His nightmare began when he was 17 and arrived at Auschwitz with his family after a grueling three-day train ride in the blistering heat of summer.

“We were roughly pulled out of the cattle car and sent to a long line. My mother, father, and five-year-old sister were sent to the left. My brother and I were ordered to the right. We were issued striped prison uniforms with identification numbers. Our head was shaved, and we were sent to the barracks.

A few hours later, I stepped out of the barracks. There was a thick heavy smoke and a nauseating odor that made me physically ill. I asked another prisoner what was happening, and he began to ask me about my arrival. I told him that I had just gotten off the train with my family and that my brother and I had been sent right. The rest of my family had been sent left.”

“That smoke and odor is your family burning,” he explained. “The line to the left goes to the crematorium.”

That was the tortured moment of truth for Max.

More than three million Jews were murdered in gas chambers. New arrivals to the camp were told to hang their clothing on numbered hooks in the undressing room and, as a ploy, were instructed to remember the numbers for later. They were taken into the adjacent gas chamber which was disguised as a large shower. Pellets of the commercial pesticide Zyklon-B were released into the chamber. When the pellets made contact with air, lethal cyanide fumes were released and rose toward the ceiling. Children died first, since they were closer to the floor. Pandemonium erupted as the bitter, almond-like odor spread upward, with adults climbing on top of each other until a tangled heap of dead bodies reached to the ceiling.

Special squads of Jewish slave laborers called Sonderkommandos bore the grim task of untangling victims and removing them from the gas chambers. Next they extracted any gold fillings from the victims’ teeth and searched body orifices for hidden valuables. Clothing, money, jewelry, eyeglasses, and other valuables were sorted and shipped back to Germany for re-use. Corpses were disposed of by various methods including mass burials and cremation, either in open fire pits or in specially designed crematoria such as those used
at Auschwitz.

As Allied troops moved across Europe in a series of offensives on Germany, they began to encounter and liberate concentration camp prisoners, many of whom had survived death marches into the interior of Germany.

Soviet forces were the first to approach a major Nazi camp, reaching the camp of Majdanek near Lublin, Poland, in July 1944. On January 27, 1945, they entered Auschwitz and found hundreds of sick and
exhausted prisoners. The Germans had been forced to leave these prisoners behind in their hasty retreat from the camp. Russian troops also liberated camps at Stutthof, Sachsenhausen, and Ravensbruck.

The liberation process was continued by American, British, Canadian, and French troops. The Americans were responsible for liberating Buchenwald, Dachau, and Mauthausen, while British forces liberated camps in northern Germany, including Bergen-Belsen.

“I met Joe several years ago,” Max shared with me to the background noise of Birmingham's city traffic. “It’s been amazing to hear him talk about that day and how the troops felt when they learned the truth of the Holocaust. And it seemed that a circle had been completed—the Liberator met the Liberated.”

I'm going to salute a veteran today.

I'm going to say thank you, Joe!

And I know Max, and thousands of others will, too.

(Max Steinmetz is one of 20 survivors featured in Darkness into Life: Alabama's Holocaust Survivors Through Photography and Art.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nana Ruby's extraordinary, stupendous, incredible, phenomenal cheesecake

Ok, so one bright, sunny day last December, DH and I were out Christhanukah shopping and popped into HomeGoods to look for a special-request gift for DD1. After a little shopping, I made my way over to join Alan, who was (yikes) holding a cheesecake pan.

With that cute, crooked smile he has, he looked at me and said in husband-speak, "Hey, Honey. I kinda thought you might want to get this just in case one day you might perhaps want to make a cheesecake maybe." Translation: "I'm going to get this pan so that you can learn to make my mother's extraordinary, stupendous, incredible, phenomenal cheesecake."

Alan proceeded to the long-line check-out; I (demurely) fainted.

Some minutes later, after the paramedics arrived and the smelling salts kicked in, I explained to them about my husband, the pan, and the impossible task of re-creating my mother-in-law's extraordinary, stupendous, incredible, phenomenal cheesecake. A few dozen sympathetic shoppers looked on as one of the paramedics shook his head and said, "Even I know better than to ask my wife to do something like my mother does." I let him know that his wife was one lucky woman, and I swear that had nothing to do with how much he looked like DiNozzo.

After the holidays passed, and life settled back into our routine, good fortune seemed to be on my side. For a few months, I was successful in skating the cheesecake issue. Alan can sometimes be prone to forget (wink, wink), and I was heavily praying this would be one of those times. I hid the much-maligned pan in the very back of the lower cabinet, and as April showers turned into May flowers, I was breathing thankful, but silent, sighs of relief.

Then, one day as I was ditching the ubiquitous Slice-O-Matic Onion Chopper (as seen on TV), I caught a glimpse of the Teflon rim of the cloistered spring-pan. I suddenly remembered how I had successfully met Alan's request for chopped liver ("like my mother's"). He raved about my creation, and even went so far as to roll his eyes heavenward and tell me it was even better than hers. At that point, I realized I wasn't .....well.....exactly chopped liver as they say, so why not give the cheesecake a try?

My mother-in-law happily passed along the recipe and I headed to the grocery. I washed and dried the dusty pan, walked in circles around my kitchen island for half an hour, and then began to nervously place the cream cheese and other ingredients in the mixer.

"Hey," I began to think as I scrapped the sides of the bowl. "This really is pretty easy." And I was oh, so, so happy to find that the ten minutes I spent trying to put the *&%# spring-pan back together really didn't hurt the consistency of the batter one little bit.

Just south of an hour later, I was doing the Snoopy Dance and loudly singing, "I made Nana's cheesecake" to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." It was a Kodak moment that I, and my dogs, will never forget.

That night, Alan ooh'ed and aah'ed as he scraped the dessert plate.

"Honey, you nailed it." (That's husband-speak for, "Darlin', I am so glad I married you!")

Now, it's your turn to make Nana Ruby's extraordinary, stupendous, incredible, phenomenal cheesecake. Get busy practicing your very own song and dance, and slide on over to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted 

3 large packages cream cheese - room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.

Press mixture into bottom of spring-pan. Set aside.

In mixer (or by hand), mix cream cheese until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added.

Add sugar and vanilla. Continue mixing until creamy. Pour onto crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Mix topping ingredients (sour cream, sugar, and vanilla) gently by hand.

 Spread topping onto cheesecake.

Return cake to oven and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.


Allow to cool at least one hour. I've never been able to resist a piece at this point, but the flavor is really enhanced when the cheesecake is served after being refrigerated overnight. Good luck with that.

Maybe next I'll conquer Nana Ruby's gefilte fish.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Max Herzel: Helping the World See

In honor of last week's Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), 5771, I'd like to introduce you to Max Herzel of Birmingham. He is a Holocaust survivor who was liberated 66 years ago, and is one of 20 survivors featured in Darkness into Life: Alabama's Holocaust Survivors Through Photography and Art.

Max shared his story with me one evening at his inviting home on a shady street in Homewood. It's a story he's told hundreds of times, but his deep emotion drew me in and made me feel he was sharing his amazing story of survival only to me.

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1930, his father, Oscar, was a diamond cutter, and his mother, Nachama, a seamstress. Ten-year-old Max’s journey through one of history’s darkest periods began when Belgium was invaded by the Germans on May 10, 1940.

"The city was awakened to the roar of airplanes flying across the sky," he recalled. "By Saturday evening, my parents decided to leave the city, and we nervously waited for sundown. We locked the house and proceeded to the main railroad station to travel to Brussels. Once there, we planned to join my father’s youngest sister and her husband. We took with us more fear than possessions."

After traveling seven days and nights in a crowded boxcar, Max, his parents, and older brother, Harry, found refuge in Southern France.

"This was just the beginning of the longest and saddest journey of my life," he said.

He recalls this as the period when Jews were forced to wear a yellow Star of David outlined in black. In France, “Juif”, the French word for “Jew”, was written inside the star.

Yellow Star by Becky Seitel
For centuries, the Star of David has been a symbol of Jewish pride. But during World War II, Nazis used the star to segregate and terrorize the Jewish people.

“The German government’s policy of forcing Jews to wear a badge was a tactic aimed at isolating us from the rest of the population,” he explained. “It enabled the German government to identify, deprive, starve, and ultimately murder Jewish people.”

Inside concentration camps, triangular patches were used to identify prisoners. The patches included:
  • Jew—yellow
  • Gypsy—brown
  • Homosexual—pink
  • Asocial—black
  • Political prisoner—red
The Asocial category was the most diverse, including prostitutes, vagrants, murderers, thieves, lesbians, and those who violated laws prohibiting sexual intercourse between Aryans and Jews. The word “Blod” on a black triangle marked mentally retarded inmates. For Jewish offenders, triangles of two different colors were combined to create a six-pointed star, one triangle yellow to denote a Jew, the second triangle another color to denote the added offense.

Within a few weeks of the family's arrival in Southern France, the men were forced into labor battalions. Determined to arrange his family’s escape, Oscar used bribery to flee to Marseilles. He and Harry were ultimately caught by the French police in late 1942 and were sent to a work camp. Upon their release, Harry joined the French Underground and Oscar went into hiding.

"My mother became desperate and went down to the river attempting suicide by jumping off the bridge," Max says as you can literally see his memory take him back to late 1942. "She was taken to a local hospital and then transferred to St. Marie, a Catholic psychiatric hospital. I offer thanks to Dr. Pierre Doussinet, a righteous gentile, who kept her in the hospital after treatment. Had she been released, she would surely have been arrested by the French police and sent to a concentration camp."

Even though the punishment would be death, many Gentiles saved Jews during the Holocaust. They were people who decided to make a difference because it was the right thing to do.

Young Max and his family were aided during and after the war by Mrs. Decoux, a wealthy Parisian Gentile. Her first name has long been forgotten. When Max’s father could no longer hide in her basement, Mrs. Decoux helped him hide in the forest and brought him food until he was captured while attempting to escape to the Italian zone.

“My father wrote this letter to Madame Decoux,” Max says of the letter translated below. “It was censored, as you can see by the censorship stamp, so we’ve never been able to determine exactly where he was."

Letter From My Father by Becky Seitel
February 19, 1944

Dear Mrs. Decoux,

I am writing you a few words from Italy. I’m able to tell you that I’m in good health. I’m also hoping the same by you and by Mrs. Churbard. I don’t know exactly where my wife is at the present time, also Harry and Max. Be kind and transmit this letter. Do not worry about me. I have much hope we will see each other soon. I’m positive that with my friend Mazaloigne and the rest of my friends everything is well. Wishing everyone well. From a friend who is thinking often of you.


"We later learned that he was captured and taken to Auschwitz, and then Buchenwald, where he died on February 26, 1945, approximately three months short of liberation. He was only 44. Also lost were his family of seven siblings and their children, as well as thirteen of my mother’s family."

All alone during this time, young Max was sent to a series of four orphanages. When these became too dangerous, an underground Jewish agency, OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) placed him on a remote farm in Sironne in the French Alps. Posing as a Catholic orphan, he worked for his food and lodging. After the Allies regained France in 1944, all the hidden children were gathered by the OSE in an effort to reunite them with their families.

"I was finally reunited with my mother and brother in Clermont-Ferrand where she had been living in the hospital. We learned that we were the only three survivors from the Salomon and Herzel families. We located my mother’s brother and sister in New York, and they sponsored my brother and me to come to America. We arrived on December 23, 1948. My mother joined us five years later."

The patriotic new American served four years in the U.S. Air Force, and in 1955, married Cecille Herman. The family was completed with the birth of two children, the ultimate gift to a young man who had lost so much family to the evil acts of Adolf Hitler.

Job opportunities brought Max to Birmingham where he was an executive with the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Today, he is an active member of the Alabama Holocaust Commission and the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center. He devotes countless hours each month sharing his story with junior and high school students throughout Alabama, keeping the history of the Holocaust alive, spreading the message of the death and destruction caused by hatred and bigotry.

Another passion is Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest service organization, recognized for its service to the blind and visually impaired. He is actively involved as a Lion and is District Governor of Alabama District 34-O. He was named a Melvin Jones Fellow, the Lions’ highest form of recognition for an individual’s dedication to humanitarian service in his community and in the world community.

Helping the World See by Becky Seitel
"I especially enjoy being a part of our project to recycle used eyeglasses,” says Max who helps collect glasses and delivers them to the recycling center to be sorted and sent on vision missions to Latin America.

The many pairs of glasses surrounding Max each day are a fraction of those that were stripped from Jews entering concentration camps and sent to “Aryan” Germans. Former First Lady Laura Bush, in a talk at the 10th Anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., recalled seeing a mountain of such glasses.

“What moved me the most were the thousands of eyeglasses, their lenses still smudged with tears and dirt," she said. "It struck me how vulnerable we are as humans, how many needed those glasses to see, and how many people living around the camps and around the world refused to see. We see today, we know what happened, and we will never forget.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Caro's blanket

Grandchildren. One of the greatest joys of life!

Together, my sister, Kittie, and I have seven: Hayden, Cade, Carly, Kynze, Addie Ruth, Levi, and Caroline. That's three for me, four for my sister. As usual, she's out in first place. But I've worked my way through the second-child syndrome. Really, I have.

Anyway, all of these beautiful children were welcomed into the world with a soft, warm, cuddly blanket made with love by their favorite Nana / Great Aunt. Except Sweet Caroline.

I tried. Really, really tried. I just couldn't seem to get her blanket to the end stage.

Until today. Today, I finished nine-month-old Caroline's blanket! 

But why did it take me so long? Why did the lover of all things crafty, Martha Stewarty, home-madey fail to have a blanket for this beautiful child when she born?

Caroline, last Thanksgiving, on a surrogate blanket.

I didn't mean for it to happen. I started the little princess a blanket almost as soon as I found out she would be joining us. I talked to her Mom, found out the style and color she wanted, and quickly dashed out to buy the yarn.

But somewhere along the way, I got delayed.

Maybe it was the back surgery that kicked my, uh, back.

Or, the subsequent surgery to correct complications of the back-kicking back surgery.

Maybe it was the scorching summer that cost me several months. No joke. I can't knit or crochet in the summer. The yarn stings my hands, my hands sweat, and then I get in a really hostile mood. Not from the stinging and sweating, but from the frustration that comes from the damp yarn moving too slowly through my hands.

Then, dang it, once the weather cooled, I realized I had a gaping hole in the middle of the blanket about 40 rows back. That's like 280 rows in dog rows. I'll admit I'm not very observant, but ouch...40 rows back? Ok, maybe there was a glass of wine involved, maybe not. I'm just saying....

So, I had to tink (knit spelled backward) or frog (rip it, rip it, rip it), or whatever you want to call it. The Nancy Drew in me determined that at some point I stopped in the middle of a row, and when I picked up the blanket again, resumed knitting in the wrong direction. If you're a knitter, you know this is very easy to do if you're not paying attention, or if there is a glass of wine involved. That little fiasco set me back about a month. Or so.

Arthritis tried to stop me, too. I won't give that a lot of space here, because that would acknowledge I'm old enough to have arthritis, and I'm not ready to go there.

But, today, after all the stops and starts, Caro has a blanket! A soft, warm, cuddly blanket. A taupe, basketweave blanket. A blanket filled with the love of her great-aunt, sprinkled with dripped coffee and Diet Mt. Dew, and dotted with skipped stitches. And if it had the gestational period of an elephant, hopefully she'll never know.

Because, after all, I did finish it before she learned to count!

Caro's blanket is just like her: a special, one-of-a-kind, gift of love.
Caro's basketweave blanket pattern:

Supplies: approximately 900 yards of worsted weight yarn; size 8 circular knitting needles (or size to obtain gauge)

Gauge: five stitches per inch

Finished size: 31" x 31" or as desired

Cast on 158 stitches.

Knit 10 rows.

Establish pattern:
Row 1: K7, pm, *P4, K4, repeat from * to last 7 seven stitches, pm, K7
Row 2 - 6: K to marker, *P4, K4, repeat from * to marker, K7
Row 7 - 12: K to marker, *K4, P4, repeat from * to marker, K7
Repeat rows 1 - 12 until blanket measures approximately 30 inches, or desired length, and after completing row 6 or 12

Knit 10 rows.

Bind off and weave in ends!

Happy knitting!

Monday, January 10, 2011

An Adventurer

In my continued series, Darkness into Life: Alabama's Holocaust Survivors Through Photography and Art, I'd like to introduce you to Stan Minkinow of Huntsville.

I met Stan one hot Saturday afternoon after a pleasant drive to Huntsville. The home he shares with his wife, Doris, is beautifully decorated with enchanting art. Stan is an avid art collector and can tell you exactly where on his worldly travels he lovingly purchased each piece. He is strikingly tall and has the posture that comes with being a life-long member of the Army. I was immediately drawn to hear the story of this Green Beret and retired Army Major.

In January 1942, when Stan was ten years old, he and his parents were forced to become residents of the Lodz Ghetto in Poland.

Approximately 160,000 Jews, more than a third of the city’s population, were forced into the ghetto, the second largest in the Polish-occupied territory. Barbed-wire fencing isolated the ghetto from the rest of the city. Using Jewish residents for forced labor, the Lodz Ghetto soon became a major Nazi production center. Living conditions were horrendous. Lack of running water and sewer systems, along with overcrowding, hard labor, and starvation, reduced the ghetto by more than 20 percent.

“Even before we were sent to the ghetto, I began to adapt,” he shares. “Jewish children weren’t allowed to attend school, so boredom and curiosity tempted me out onto the streets.” Those streets became his classroom where he witnessed the unusual becoming the ordinary. From carts carrying corpses to finely dressed people pocketing rotten potatoes, he watched as the daily events of his life changed.

“I stood on the street corner near my grandparents’ apartment and watched as Jews filed through the gate,” he recalls. “I saw young people, old people, some pushing baby carriages, some arriving on foot or by horse-drawn taxis, others getting out of fancy cars.” 

Inside the Lodz Ghetto, the living quarters for his family consisted of one room with a stove, one bed for his parents, and one couch where young Stan slept. Food was scarce; their main staple was yellow beets; even their bread was made from beets. The family considered it a feast when they were able to acquire horse meat. “At night I often thought, ‘I hope I wake up as a German tomorrow so that I will have enough to eat.’ ”

Stan and his parents bribed their way from the Lodz Ghetto to the Warsaw Ghetto. Less than a year later, his family made another daring escape, this time from the Warsaw Ghetto. Without even a suitcase, they approached the gate guarded by three policemen: one Jewish; one Polish; and the third, German. Stan’s father showed the German his passport, while his mother showed the Pole a booklet with cash inside. The family fled to the village of Radość, outside Warsaw, renting an apartment using their maid’s last name and living as Poles.

“If the Polish officer had been doing his job, he would have shot us,” he says.

After the Russians liberated Poland, Stan’s father was arrested for his involvement with the Polish government in exile. After a year, in yet another escape, Stan’s mother bribed a Polish guard to take her husband to Berlin. Stan recalls hearing gun shots as he and his mother were smuggled across the border sometime later. For a short time after the war, the family lived in a displaced persons camp in Berlin. Stan learned that his grandfather, Hein, had died at Auschwitz.

Not surprisingly, what started in the ghetto with a young boy’s curiosity and thirst for adventure played out in Stan’s life. In 1951, he saw a U.S. Army recruiting film in Munich. He enlisted and became a member of the elite, newly-created Special Forces, later becoming an American Cold Warrior and a Green Beret. He completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. A tour of duty in Korea was followed by two tours in Vietnam. Among his numerous medals are the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and the Air Medal. He retired as a Major in 1979.

“I am what you would call an adventurer,” he says with a smile.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Have I looked in my father's eyes

My father, Carl Barker
Deep, dark brown
More almond-shaped than any almond
Short lashes loosely-covered with saggy skin

Reading, always
Anything and everything
Day into night, sometimes into day again

Stories of rugged cowboys with guns and sweaty horses,
County, back-woods postal addresses
Political commentaries, Sunday color comics

Birmingham News
Sports section first, forever and amen

Disease-invaded like an army
He fought them all with force
Passed away one night while praying that he'd continue to live

We learned what was possible
Through salty, hot tears
And smiled with happiness at the irony of his gift

Corneas, still healthy, searching for more
Traveled to someone unknown
So that they could see, they could read

Perhaps I, while on a journey to Montgomery or Mobile
Looked in my father's eyes
Though they were no longer almond-shaped and brown

They would have been reading
Anything, everything
Sports section first, forever and amen

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Daring Cooks December 2010 Challenge: Poach to Perfection!

Lately, I have been blogging about joining The Daring Kitchen, an-online community of cooks and bakers who are challenged each month to cook or bake something new and different. Everyone uses the same recipe and then posts their results, with narrative and photographs, on their blog.

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose an Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

I chose the Eggs Benedict recipe.

Surprisingly, poaching an egg was not very difficult technique-wise. It really is all about the timing and there are a few tricks that can help.

• Make sure to use the freshest eggs possible. Farm-fresh eggs will make for the best poached eggs.
• Adding a bit of vinegar to the water will help stabilize the eggs and cook the whites faster, and keeping your water just below boiling point (about 190F) will help keep the fragile eggs from rupturing. Also make sure to salt the poaching water well.
• The other main key to success is to crack your egg into a small bowl first, taking care not to break the yolk. Then it becomes easy to gently slide the entire egg into the water for the poaching process.
• A poached egg is done when the whites are fully cooked and the yolk has just started to solidify but is still runny when you cut it open – usually three minutes. It’s ok to go a little longer though depending on your desired firmness. 
• You can poach eggs ahead of time (about a day). Just immerse them in ice water after poaching, and then keep them in a bowl of water in the fridge. When you are ready to use them, place them in hot (not boiling) water until they are warmed through.

Here's what you'll need for Eggs Benedict:
4 eggs (size is your choice)
2 English muffins
4 slices of Canadian bacon (or plain bacon if you prefer)
Splash of vinegar (for poaching)

The hollandaise sauce requires:
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, and cut in small piecs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.
3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 teaspoon water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.
4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.
6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).
7. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs. Use a thermos, carafe, or bowl that you’ve preheated with warm water.
8. If the water simmering in your pan has gotten too low, add enough so that you have 2–3 inches of water and bring back to a simmer.
9. Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do).
10. Crack eggs directly into the very gently simmering water (or crack first into a bowl and gently drop into the water), making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.
11. While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the Canadian bacon and toast the English muffin.
12. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of bacon. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and garnish, and enjoy!
Preparation time:
Eggs Benedict: 20 minutes

Equipment required:
Generally for poaching eggs you need:
• Large shallow pan
• Small bowl (for cracking eggs into)
• Large slotted spoon for lifting out poached eggs
• Timer

For Eggs Benedict:
• Double boiler (for the hollandaise)
• Alternatively a saucepan and heat proof mixing bowl that is large enough to sit on top
• Toaster or oven for toasting English muffins
• Frying pan for cooking bacon
• Thermos, carafe, or bowl (in which to keep the hollandaise warm)