Sunday, March 28, 2010

What's In *Your* Haggadah?

Am I the only one who hides special sentimental goodies in the pages of my haggadah?

When I was young, my father wouldn't allow large collections of "notes" at the table. He felt that if you were going to give a dvar Torah, you should be familiar enough with it not to need to read it out of a school notebook. So my haggadah was stuffed page after page with tiny "crib notes" reminding me of this or that dvar Torah that belonged to each specific page.

That haggadah still has a place on the bookshelf, complete with all the little "tzetlach", but I now own a different haggadah, which is very sentimental. It is a beautiful, illuminated volume presented and inscribed to me by Avram, the year that we were joyously expecting Jennifer.

But I am a bit of a sentimental fool and each year it seems, a new treasure gets secreted away to be discovered the next year.

The back flyleaf holds my favorite photo of my father with my children. Inside the front cover rests the place card Jen made years ago in the shape of a matzoh, two Pesach cards and the text of the rhyming clues that I used the year that I stole the afikomen from the children's hiding place and sent them on a "hunt" for it's new location.

Oh, and let's not forget that every wine stain tells a story, doesn't it?

What's in your haggadah?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Eggplant Fritters (Gebrokts)

My family will tell you that I'm always willing to try an interesting recipe - - - once. After that, we have a family "post mortem" and decide if it's a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down".

I find that with pesach recipes, there are more in the "thumbs down" category, simply because in my opinion, the best recipes are NOT the ones that have been altered to substitute and compensate for chometzdik ingredients. The best recipes are those that never required chometz in the first place (think my individual chocolate fondues, instead of pesachdik cookies....).

Every once in a while though, I will try a new recipe that becomes a keeper.
These eggplant fritters are best, as with most fried items, straight out of the pan, but they reheat very well and are even great cold as a snack straight out of the fridge. Although it's a bit of a bother, I make a double batch and it is enjoyed by everybody because it doesn't taste like everything else, if you know what I mean.....

Eggplant Fritters

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons oil
2 teaspoons course salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup matzo meal
1 medium eggplant -- peeled, thinly sliced, salted & drained
potato starch
oil for frying

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, water, 2 tablespoons oil, salt, paprika and pepper. Beat until frothy. Beat in matzo meal. Set aside.

Eggplant slices should be salted on both sides, then allowed to drain on absorbent towels for at least 20 minutes. Press to drain more.Wash and dry eggplant slices after draining.

Coat eggplant slices lightly on both sides with potato starch. Dip into matzo batter. If the batter thickens too much, add enough water to make the desired consistency.

Fry oil in preheated pan containing oil until lightly browned on both sides. Drain.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Busy Season

I'm very sorry but now that I've "turned over" my kitchen, posts are spotty.
I've been up to my elbows in potatoes, though I do plan to give you a delicious recipe for eggplant fritters shortly.
In the interim, please feel free to view some of my previous Pesach related posts.
There's my post about traditions.
There's my post about an unusual plate.
There's even a post about how our fish deals with Pesach.
Gee, how did I manage to be so prolific last year?

Oh and don't forget the first and second photos in my "Chossid on Chol Hamoed" series!

Enjoy the look back and stay tuned :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Misery May Love Company But Kindly Leave Me Off Your Guest List!

I was at a wedding this week (actually TWO weddings, so don't think you necessarily know which one I'm talking about) and I experienced something quite disturbing.

The table conversation was not the typical "wedding variety". You see, after those seated had finished discussing whose shiur their particular sons were in at The Mir (an exhaustive topic to be sure considering it is always followed up with proud assurances that said Maggid Shiur would indeed be able to pick their tachshit out in a lineup), conversations turned to loftier matters.

Keep in mind, this was a WEDDING. People were supposed to be b'SIMCHA - not grumbling. Must I be subjected to detailed descriptions of buckets containing soapy water in the basement. Do I need to be informed in unappetizing detail where and underneath what and in what condition actual, real, "honest to G-d" chametz was found?


I am busy cleaning too. Cleaning is hard. It requires mesiras nefesh. In addition to that, it requires a careful balancing act in order to be able to complete the task at hand and still be able to look upon Yom Tov as Yom Tov (which is a required mitzvah). Why must people add insult to injury by harping on their "pain"? Do I tell you what my cuticles look like? Do I feel the need to describe my puzzlement at what that strange sticky concoction under the refrigerator could be comprised of? Can we not spend ONE - just ONE quiet evening out (OK... not quiet... but I've ranted about bands before....{and then eaten crow when I hired the exact same band for a simcha of my own...with instructions to be moderate though...}) and ENJOY ourselves?

Or have some people forgotten that martyring themselves is neither a competitive sport, nor a form of relaxation...?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog For A Brief Appendix...

I realize that I haven't posted in a few days but I've been quite busy and I have a lot of posts building in the vast wasteland of my mind.
"Cleaning for Pesach?", you ask.
No. But that's a rant post for another day.

History has a funny way of repeating itself. When I got married, I discovered that my in-laws had a long standing tradition of always inviting a certain elderly lady to their sedorim. I was regaled every year with the story of how my in-laws' Dear Daughter 1 arrived at their doorstep on Erev Pesach one year with their brand new baby girl in tow. This newborn had never seen a bottle, let alone sucked on one, and was promptly deposited into my mother in law's bewildered arms. DD1 was going to the hospital with a kidney stone emergency. Hurried instructions were left to watch this tiny baby. My mother in law was more than a few years out of the childcare "business" and was nearing panic. She telephoned "Mrs. S" who had been a baby nurse for many years and begged her, "Please come spend Pesach with us and help us care for this infant!". "Mrs. S" came, did her magic, and thus began a tradition of tremendous Hakoras Hatov on the part of my in-laws. They never forgot this woman's generosity and recounted it year after year along with sipur yetzias mitzrayim as "Mrs. S" sat at the seder table.
Now granted - this week is not quite "Erev" Pesach, but on Monday night my own DD1 appeared on my doorstep with her 1 1/2 year old and 5 week old daughters (this newborn had also never laid eyes on a bottle) and set off to the hospital with acute appendicitis. I, being a bit younger than my mother in law was at the time of her story, was, with the help of Hashem and my darling husband, able to get back into the swing of 2 am feedings and diaper changes. But blogging? I was missing a few hands for that.
Boruch Hashem, my daughter is recovering slowly and we look forward to a refuah sheleima bekarov.

(I will be re-vacuuming Cheerios out from under the furniture in rooms that had already been cleaned..... posts may be a bit spotty....)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Individual Chocolate Fondue

My poor, long-suffering family. They were forced to endure this lovely dessert two weeks in a row because after the roaring success of my initial attempt, I was dismayed to realize that I had neglected to photograph it for blogging purposes (and we all know, that if we don't blog about it, it didn't happen.... ).

This simple combination is a delicious treat at the end of any Friday night meal. I simply melted good quality (think Swiss) chocolate with some "parve" milk (think chemical or soy... your choice) in a pyrex bowl and kept it warm until dessert time. I then served it spooned into stemmed glass bowls surrounded by cut strawberries, pineapple, grapes and bananas (not pictured since I wasn't prepared to cut them prior to serving). And the best part of these INDIVIDUAL fondues? Double dipping allowed!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Don't Forget To Spring Forward

Those of you living in (most of) the United States and Canada (stay right where you are Arizona, Hawaii and South Bend, Indiana), please remember to set your clocks one hour ahead tonight.

You might lose an hour of sleep, but you'll gain an hour more of daylight to enjoy the beautiful spring weather - which will arrive just in time for you to be swamped at home with Pesach cleaning.

(Those of you living in other corners of the world can check your clock changing schedule here.)

Update 8:15 p.m. (exactly): Did you think I was joking the last time I posted about this?? The "games" have begun already at the G6 household.....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Broccoli Cheese Potatoes

(Cross posted on Kosher Cuisine)

Oh boy! Are you all in for a treat!!
I made the most fantastic Broccoli Cheese Potatoes this week and I'm going to share the recipe with you.

6 large potatoes
1 cup sour cream (I used "light" sour cream)
16 ounces frozen broccoli, defrosted and pulsed in a food processor
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Pierce the potatoes and bake them at 400 degrees until they are soft (about 45-50 minutes). Gently remove a bit off the top of each potato and scoop the contents into a bowl, leaving only the shell. Mash the contents with the sour cream. Add the broccoli and two thirds of the cheese. Add salt and pepper. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.
Stuff this mixture back into the shells and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes more.

These were soooo good. You've got to try them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Are You Sure You Know Where This Is Going?

Here's a story for you. Perhaps you've come across similar stories in the blogosphere. Only this one might not be what you expect...
The twenty something behind the wheel stops for a moment to place a call. There is traffic. Eight thirty is probably the earliest arrival time.

"No problem", she responds. She has been eagerly awaiting this meeting for some time. She has high hopes that they will 'click'. All her research has led to that conclusion.

Unfortunately, nobody arrives at 8:30. Her phone rings around 9:15. "I stopped off somewhere on the way and I'm only leaving now... is that OK?".

Once again, "No problem".

"What can we do locally at this late hour?"

"Well, unforturnately, there's no parking spaces to be found in my neighborhood at this hour."

"It's better that way. You see, I'm not very good at parallel parking and I really hate to try...."

"I see..... Well, we could just double park and talk......"

And so, my friends. What do you think happens next?
Well, I'll tell you.
Something Different and I have an *awesome* time getting to know each other while double parked in front of my house for two hours. (C'mon admit it... you thought it was a dating horror story, didn't you? Smiley Faces) I can tell you that she is just as interesting and clever in person as she is on her blog.

I'd sort of thought all along that the first time we got together we'd be doing some serious cake decorating or gourmet cooking, but this was a bit of a last minute meet up and we'll take what we can get. (We WILL be doing something creative together soon, but it's all very hush hush for now so you'll just have to stay tuned....).

I'll definitely give her a "second date" though!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday's Wacky Signs - Gearing Up For Pesach

Although I'm not sure what's worse this year on Pesach? The bagel or the lox? {grin}

In that vein, might I recommend the following tongue in cheek article about bans by Honestly Frum?

(Hat Tip to Naomi for sending in these photos!)

"Opa G" on the 13th Yahrzeit

Where does the time go?
Has it really been 13 years since my dear father in law passed away?
He was a true "Renaissance Man", a modern scholar with more than superficial knowledge about many different interests.
His particular passions were Jewish history, archaeology and designing many of the beautiful porocheses that grace our shul today.
He was fiercely loyal to his community and his family (never making any distinction between blood or marital relatives).
He set a shining example of a helpful husband for my own better half to observe and emulate.

Readers who knew him are more than welcome to share their own remembrances.

Yehi Zichro Baruch

Friday, March 5, 2010

The KAJ - Breuer's Tachanun Lights

On days when Tachanun is not said it is the minhag in K’hal Adath Jeshurun to indicate this omission by illuminating lights on special sconces installed for this purpose, located on the mizrach wall. The two sconces, one on either side of the Oron, consist of seven lights which can be lit in combinations of one, two, three, four or seven lights depending on the importance of the day. The greater the importance the more lights.*

The following is the official chart of which non-tachanun days warrant how many lights:

One Light - Bris, Chosson

Two Lights - Chodesh Nissan, Lag Bo’Omer, 2 Sivan – 4 Sivan, 15 Av, 15 Shvat, 12-13 Tishrei, 25-29 Tishrei

Three Lights - Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah, Erev Yom Tov, Shushan Purim, Purim Koton, Shushan Purim Koton, Isru Chag, 11 Tishrei

Four Lights - Chol Hamoed

Seven Lights - Shabbos, Yomim Tovim, Hoshanoh Raboh, Purim

*On those days when three or more lights are lit, Lamnatzeach (between Ashrei and Uvo L’Tziyon) is also not said.

Mazel Tov To One Of My Favorite Lurkers!

I just wanted to extend hearty Mazel Tov wishes to one of my favorite "lurker" readers on his engagement.

Another great guy is now "off the market".

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is It Just Me Or....

The following is a random cooking rant so all non-foodies can tune out now.
(Or ask your wives... I'd appreciate it.)

Is it just me or have the "heimishe" brands (one {expensive one} in particular) of frozen spinach been slowly adding more and more water to their product lately? If so, are they charging us for water weight??!!?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Three Cheers for Reader Feedback!

You already know that I love when you all comment. I also love the emails that you send and I make every effort to answer each one.

Rena just sent me some very positive comments, along with this lovely photo. These Haman Men she made were inspired by my blog and frankly, I like them even better than my own. How appropriate that she hung them off a German Shabbos lamp!!

Keep those comments, letters and photos coming.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Purim Grammen 2010

As I've mentioned before, Joey graduated college in January and will be attending law school when it begins in the fall. In the intervening months, Joey decided to go back to Yeshiva and make the most of this "limbo" time.

Unfortunately, this keeps him far away from our Purim seudah (though he will be returning in a few weeks for Pesach). When Joey was away at Yeshiva in previous years, he "called in" his grammen and surprised us with hidden 'shtick'. We had no idea what awaited us this year....