501 Life Magazine | Grace and good food
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Grace and good food

by Don Bingham

The West Conway neighborhood of Westgate has a long history of the true fabric of what people are all about — people like Doris and Curtis Dolan, Faril and Nina Simpson, the Brazils, Adcocks, Hulls, Prid and Margaritte Westmoreland, Jean Garner, Sondra Koonce, the Hesses, the Dooleys — and among these and more is Ruth Frenkel!

Herb and Ruth Frenkel were married in 1958, both from Germany, having come to America in 1937. Many Conway residents were served for years from the Smith Prescription Shop by Herb, a life-long, dedicated pharmacist; Herb did over-the-counter counseling before it was the popular thing to do, and Ruth and Herb’s lives have been all about helping others. 

Ruth recalls the beginning days of living in Conway when she would deliver the medicines from the shop to their customers — it was then she learned Conway and its lovely people! Ruth delivered the prescriptions and kept the books for many years — which accounts for much of the success of the Smith Prescription Pharmacy. To this day, Ruth is still active in the Conway Civic League, the 20th Century Club and P.E.O. — she has lovingly been called “The Club Woman.” In fact, active may be a slightly under-described term for Ruth Frenkle.

Ruth attends the Little Rock synagogue, Agudath Achim. She has been a practicing reformed Jew and celebrating the Friday night Feast all of her life. She still cooks her favorite Jewish dishes — a few she shared with us for publication!

It was amazing to learn that Ruth rides a bicycle six to seven miles a day, six days a week, and has done so for 15 years! Prior to that she walked in the Westgate neighborhood for two miles each day, six days a week! Did I mention that Ruth is 81 years young? 

“[What I love most about the 501] is the people, the good friends and my family,” Ruth said.

Ruth’s family is very much a priority — she assists with the day-to-day chauffeuring of her three grandchildren for her daughter, Ellen.

Reflecting on her thoughts of her Mom, and without a minute’s hesitation, Ellen described her as “fun, loving, giving and all about the family!”

Ruth has a larger-than-life way of encouraging everyone around her, especially her three grandchildren, Asher, Eli and Eden. The grandsons are studying Hebrew and have both celebrated their Bar Mitzvah.

“Ruth is a loyal, faithful friend and would do anything for anyone,” said Kathy Linn, a life-long friend of Ruth’s. 

Becky Townsell, another life-long friend, said, “Once you get on Ruth’s prayer list, you are on the list until you die!” 

Suzanne Brazil offered, “Ruth is a true friend, always helpful and has a sweet humble spirit.”

Barbara Isom added, “Ruth is a constant friend — a once-in-a-life-time friend.”

Even with the ups and downs of life, Ruth remains the stronghold for many — the kind of neighbor we all would aspire to be — the kind of gracious and sweet breath of air that we all need to be around!

Hot Fruit Compote

1 can pears with juice

1 can peaches with juice

1 can pineapple chunks with juice

1 can plums, deseeded and diced

1 can cherry pie filling

Place all of the above into a 9-by-13 baking dish.

Mix in separate bowl 1 cup of brown sugar and one stick melted margarine. Sprinkle on top of fruit in dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Ruth’s Noodle Pudding

Grease a 12-cup ring mold with 2/3-3/4 stick of butter. Combine half a box of brown sugar with six ounces of chopped pecans. Put on the bottom of the ring mold and set aside.


1 lb. wide or extra wide cooked noodles

2 cups applesauce

1 stick melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 small carton sour cream

4 egg yolks

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold in gently and pour mixture into the ring mold. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. (Cover with foil if dish becomes too brown or crispy while cooking).

Mom’s Beef Brisket

7-8 lbs. brisket

Salt to taste

1 ½ teaspoons pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 ½ cups ketchup

4-5 cups water

Season brisket with dry ingredients. Place in roasting pan. Mix ketchup with enough water to cover top and edges of brisket. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for 2 ½ hours. Remove brisket from pan and reserve juices. Cool and slice. Return to pan before reheating another approximate 1 ½ hours, until tender.

Traditional Potato Pancakes

6 medium potatoes, peeled and grated

1 onion, grated finely

¼ cup matzo meal

2 eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ tablespoons parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Grate and mix everything together. Squeeze out liquid when grating potatoes. Drop by spoonful in a skillet with oil and fry until golden brown. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

Herring Salad

1 large jar of herring

½ onion, sliced

4 dill pickles, diced

1 large chopped apple

1 cup chopped pecans

1 container sour cream

Milk to thin sauce as needed

Chop the herring into small pieces. Add onions, pickles, nuts, apples and the sour cream/milk to keep it from being too thick. Served with boiled or hash brown potatoes or potato pancakes.

Mom’s Traditional Chanukah 

and Jewish New Year Apple Cake

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

4 cups chopped large apples

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup raisins

2 eggs

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Pour oil and sugar over the apples and let them soak for 1 hour. Beat eggs slightly, add to apples. Add dry ingredients, vanilla, raisins and pecans. Pour into a well greased and floured Bundt pan.

Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Matzo Balls for Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup matzo meal

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup soup stock or water

Blend oil and eggs together. Mix matzo meal and salt together, mixing well. Add ¼ cup soup stock or water. Mix until uniform. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Remove and roll into balls. Bring soup stock to a boil and reduce heat; drop matzo balls in slightly boiling soup. Cover and cook about 20-30 minutes.