By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The Brass Sisters, charismatic bakers and cookbook co-authors, will be speaking at a dessert reception at Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough Thursday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. The event, which will include a signing of their most recent book, “Baking with the Brass Sisters,” is free and open to the public.
Nancy Greenberg, cultural arts/senior adult director at the Worcester Jewish Community Center (JCC), is bringing the Brass Sisters to Westborough as part of the Worcester JCC Author Series, funded by the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts. The Congregation B’nai Shalom Sisterhood and Greater Boroughs Chapter of Hadassah are co-sponsors.
Greenberg described herself as a serial and serious home baker.
“I am thrilled to host the Brass Sisters as my first author series collaboration with the Westborough Jewish community,” she said. “They are amazing.”
Janice Hirshon, co-president of B’nai Shalom Sisterhood said, “We are so pleased and
honored to be able to host this important community event.”
Greenberg, Hirshon, and Jody Fredman, president of the local Hadassah chapter, are joining together to turn the event into what they call a “mega-tasting.”
Already 26 home bakers have signed up to bake recipes from the Brass’s cookbook, according to Greenberg.
Marilynn Brass said that she and her sister, “… both believe that the event at B’nai Shalom … is a tribute to home bakers all over the world – the people who nourish their family and friends with food and love. The Westborough bakers who volunteered to replicate the recipes from our new cookbook are perpetuating not only the recipes, but also the stories behind them.”
Marilynn, 73, and Sheila Brass, 78, learned to cook and bake from their mother Dorothy in their kitchen in a triple-decker on Sea Foam Avenue in Winthrop. All these years later, they still have a deep appreciation for tradition, home cooked meals, and perhaps most importantly, storytelling – behind each recipe there is a story.
They have displayed their big personalities on PBS, the Cooking Channel, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and recently on the QVC Network on “In the Kitchen with David.”
The sisters, who never married, have not always made a living as cookbook authors, but baking has always been an important part of their lives. According to their website, at one point the dynamic duo had a sideline as antique dealers, and were sought out for their vintage kitchen equipment.
Sheila worked as a clothing designer, and an executive assistant. Marilynn was an author and a publicist for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Draper Laboratory.
Their cookbooks are based on manuscript cookbooks and handwritten recipes by home cooks who came to America from all over world.
Their first cookbook, “Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters: More than 100 Years of Recipes Discovered and Collected by the Queens of Comfort Food,” released in 2006, was a 2007 finalist for the James Beard Award in the baking/dessert category.
“Heirloom Cooking with the Brass Sisters: Recipes You Remember and Love,” was published in 2008.
Sheila commented on their most recent book, “Baking with the Brass Sisters”: “We consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to continue to reach so many home bakers with our new cookbook … (it) enables us to meet with other home bakers to discuss the wonderful recipes and memories of our childhood, and theirs. We hope the people who read our new baking book come to think of us as ‘two old friends in the kitchen.’”
To attend the event, RSVP to Greenberg at [email protected]. Congregation B’nai Shalom is located at 117 E. Main St., Westborough.