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Remembering 'Mommom', and her matzo ball soup recipe that 'even an idiot can make'

Mommom spent her whole life in New Jersey. Her father was an immigrant from Hungary and her mother was from New York.
Melanie Gardiner
Mommom spent her whole life in New Jersey. Her father was an immigrant from Hungary and her mother was from New York.

Over the last two years, NPR's All Things Considered has been remembering some of the people who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. People like Carol Cohn, known as Mommom to her family.


Melanie Gardiner likes to remember her grandmother by wearing her jewelry and reflecting on her distinctive taste in fashion.

"Mommom always had a matching outfit," Gardiner said. "Black and white was her favorite color combination because it was just so classic, nothing could beat it."

"If it was a black and white outfit, she'd have black and white earrings. If she was wearing a pink outfit, bright pink earrings to match. And if we have 10 fingers, rings were on about 8 of them."

Gardiner says it wasn't just Mommom's bling that shone. She also had a quick wit that often lit a room in peals of laughter.

"There was a time where my cousin, Michael, asked my grandma as she was putting eye drops in here eyes, what she needed it for," Gardiner recalled. "And without missing a beat she said, 'It's so I can see your ugly face better!'"

Although she liked to tease, Gardiner remembers Mommom as a loving grandmother who loved to spoil her family.

Mommom Carol Cohn (left) loved to call her granddaughter, Melanie Gardiner, her "sunshine."
/ Melanie Gardiner
/
Melanie Gardiner
Mommom Carol Cohn (left) loved to call her granddaughter, Melanie Gardiner, her "sunshine."


One of her favorite ways to do that was by preparing traditional Jewish meals like lokshen kugel, stuffed cabbage, and, of course, Mommom's matzo ball soup. Gardiner made sure to get the recipe for that one.

"She gave me a pen and paper and said, 'You're going to take notes and you're going to watch me do what I'm doing,'" Melanie said. "And as she's putting together the matzo balls, she's like cupping them in her hands, making them into balls before dropping them in the pot of boiling water. And she goes, 'Honestly, Mel, it's so easy even an idiot can do it!'"

Carol "Mommom" Cohn died at age 91 from COVID in April 2020. In her honor, Melanie is sharing the beloved matzo ball recipe and spreading the word even further.

Mommom's Famous Matzo Ball Soup

The matzo balls

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • A "splash" of seltzer
  • Directions:

  • Boil a pot of water
  • Stir matzo meal with the eggs
  • Add seltzer, salt and pepper
  • Put mixture in fridge for 20 minutes
  • Wet hands and form balls out of mixture
  • Boil the matzo balls on low for 20 minutes
  • The soup recipe

    Ingredients:

  • 10 cups of water
  • 8-10 chicken drumsticks
  • "A lot" of whole carrots, peeled and sliced
  • "A lot" of yellow onions, cut and chopped
  • "Some" celery, cut and chopped
  • "A few" parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • "Lots" of fresh garlic cloves, chopped
  • "Handful" of fresh chopped parsley
  • "Handful" of fresh chopped dill
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • Wide egg noodles
  • Directions:

  • Sautee chicken, onions and garlic together in a large pot
  • Once chicken is slightly browned and onions/garlic are translucent, add the 10 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil
  • Once foam forms at top of water, remove it
  • Put all ingredients in pot, bring to a boil
  • Simmer for a couple of hours, or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are soft
  • Prep noodles and matzo balls on the side
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