My maternal grandmother, Sylvia Benson Kohn, was born in West Philadelphia in 1905. Her father, Nathan, a machinist at the U.S. Mint downtown, spent his early years in his native Kiev before immigrating to the States. Benson was a made-up name, given to him when he arrived. Her mother, nee Kate Bogutz, came to America with her family from Kremenchuk, Ukraine, when she was an infant, around 1885. From her mother, Sylvia learned how to cook: tender brisket in a sweet-sour, tomatoey braise; cabbage rolled with a moist, beefy filling; crisp, golden latkes; chicken stewed whole, stuffed with rice and onions caramelized in schmaltz. She made biscotti-like, almond mandel bread and wafer-thin mohn, or poppy seed cookies. I looked forward to Purim each early spring, when my Grandma Syl would spoon her homemade apricot jam into hamantaschen, those pastry triangles we took to resemble the hat worn by the villainous Haman, the antagonist of the holiday story; hers were the most delicate and flakiest I'd ever tasted.