Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gragger-ganza?

An idea began to take shape when I discovered a photo of this unique hand-carved gragger from Poland, circa 1933.

The annual Guess Who's Coming To Dinner Succah Hop and Chanukah Pirsum Project, always yield wonderful results. I got to thinking that you may all have interesting graggers in your possession that you'd like to share with our readers.

Hence the inception of G6's Gragger-ganza (if you've got a better name, I'd love to hear it!)
Send your photos, along with instructions as to how/if, you'd like to be credited to guesswhoscoming2dinner@gmail.com

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Gefilte Fish Play

If you haven't heard the term "gefilte fish play" or "gefilte fish book" yet, don't worry - there's a good reason for it. It's because I made it up. But mark my words, it'll catch on.....

You may not have heard the phrase, but you know the type. I call them "gefiltes" because not only are the boys' names always Fishele and Klonimos and the girls always called Freidele or Chaya Sarah Bracha, but the mother is always in the kitchen making gefilte fish - never meatloaf or pasta.

The books aren't so bad. That is, if you can get past the fact that they are seldom well written.

The plays really irk me. I think they are more than harmless. I think they are harmful.
I bring it up at this juncture because this is the time of year that many Bais Yaakovs have their annual show which usually features a play. (For a related rant that would be funny if it weren't so sad, see IcebergCarwash's blog post here with a photo here.) In the old days these plays always had the "token" handicapped child and familes with exclusively female children, but they have evolved. They were initially designed, one would assume, to protect our children from the harmful effects of secular plays, which are fraught with bad middos and negative messages. Unfortunately, in the process of getting away from plays with (ostensibly) GENTILE protagonists behaving badly, we now have a whole slew of plays with JEWISH subjects exhibiting horrible middos (which sometimes turn around at the end of the play through the most overt hand of Hashem).

I myself acted in a Sisterhood Play many years ago that centered around a women's Tomchei Shabbos Fundraising Tea, which featured a fashion show. There were two tables on stage - the "young women's table" and the "old women's table" and the inanities and insults uttered by these women throughout the play - all in the name of comedy of course! - were shameful. I hated that play. I hated the way frum women were portrayed - insulting each other's clothes, families, etc.

I am told that several years ago, a Bais Yaakov nearby put on a tragedy. The nature of this tragedy? Just weeks before Pesach, the protagonist's cleaning woman QUIT! Can you imagine the horror?? The whole play was drawing parallels between this woman's situation and shibud Mitzrayim..... need I say more?

I had the joy of attending a gefilte fish play recently that featured the inspiring message of a girl who so badly wanted to get into the right seminary (so that her life wouldn't be forever ruined), that she stole another girl's test and switched the names on top (good middos so far, wouldn't you say?). This forced the girl whose test was stolen to become an accountant (can you just imagine??!?!). But it all works out in the end because Hashem gets involved about 20+ years later and the accountant's daughter (who is dangerously close to going off the derech) accidentally hits the wrongdoer with her car and causes her great bodily harm (not death of course... she has to do teshuva and recognize the hand of Hashem before the curtain closes).

Is it me? Would any one else rather see simple old fashioned plays with harmless plot lines, than be forced to witness examples of our brethren behaving so badly? Pass the chrain. I may need some help swallowing this down.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wishing Everyone A Golden Shabbos

It's all about compromise.
I'm not crazy about using the votive candles on the Shabbos table, because even though they look beautiful on Friday night, we can't move them on Shabbos morning when they've burnt out and the effect is lost.
Avram isn't as excited about using the gold charges as I am. He feels that they take up too much space on the table.
Don't they look lovely together though? Everybody wins. Everybody is happy.
I sure hope the Shabbos Malach enjoys the results.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pre-Purim Planning Progress (say THAT three times fast!)

We are getting closer to our Purim (the lighter "P word") festivities.
Remember that at our house, we strive to entertain you enough that you don't need to get dangerously wasted in order to have a good time & get a bit confused. {this might be an appropriate juncture to urge everyone NOT to drive with even a BIT of alcohol in their systems and to beg every parent to know WHAT their children are doing, WHERE and WITH WHOM throughout the day!}

That said, we have:
  • bought a few shalach manos essentials (you might expect me to be big into the "theme" thing, but I am quite the opposite),
  • baked three flavors of hamantaschen (prune, apricot and tart lemon),
  • managed to freeze several batches of haman men before they had their heads bitten off by hungry progeny,
  • extended invitations to Purim Seudah and received confirmations/responses from {cough, cough} most of them,
  • and now... the latest news... we have finally secured costumes! (no, I'm not going to tell you what they are, but I promise you that unlike last year, you will be able to recognize Avram when he walks into shul)

It seems that all I need now is the meat (not as easy as it sounds nowadays....) and wine corks (don't ask me why - just send them over if you have any to spare, o'kay......?).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Two Out Of Three Aint Bad

So I told you to stay tuned for the Shabbos Report and here I am true to my word.
Something interesting happened this past Friday night.
During the course of the meal we discovered that two out of three of our new Shabbos guests were readers of this blog, but they had no idea that they were coming to the G6 house when they accepted the invitation. Usually, things work the other way around! I often get messages from blog readers that are going to be in town and would like an invitation, but seldom does a reader only discover that they are at our house during the course of the meal!

We also had a bit of fun coming up with "Questions You Never Ask At The G6 Table"
  • "Are the flowers on the table real?"
  • "Is this cake from the bakery?"
  • (I totally forgot to add "May I stack these dishes?")

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Good Shabbos - Table Photo in Lieu of Cut Cake ;)

I'm feeling sort of guilty for not cutting you all a slice of cake, so I'm posting table photos instead. It's been a while and the tulips along the length of the table do look rather pretty.

We've got guests tonight hailing from Tel Aviv to Virginia and beyond so things should be interesting.


Food Photo Friday - Zebra Cake Part I


OK - there's NO WAY you guys are going to get me to cut in to my pretty cake before Shabbos.
So I'm letting you see the process along the way and I may share a "Part II" with you next week, if there is any cake left over to photograph.

I got the idea to make this zebra cake from OvertimeCook. She photographed the inside of hers, so those of you with no patience can head over there. She DID NOT, however, photograph her cake throughout the process, so enjoy these pics of my batter, my baked cake, and my glazed, finished product. Let's hope the "zebra effect" on the inside is as impressive as I hope.




Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Celia Stern - May Her Memory Be Blessed


I've written many times that I like to blog about three things that are very important to me - Food, Family and Community. (No, not necessarily in that order, but it sounds more alliterative that way. And by food I don't mean merely the act of preparing and eating the food, but of course all the mitzvos that can be done with it - every thing from glorifying Shabbos and Yom Tov, to Hachnosas Orchim and more.)

Somebody in my community passed away over the weekend.
She was not the wife of a Gadol Hador who had thousands worldwide saying tehillim for her.
She was the most modest of women, who requested no hesped at her funeral, but who just by living her "simple" life, shaped mine (and by extension I would assume many others).

I could begin telling you stories that you might hear from hundreds. Celia Stern a"h was the school cook and community caterer for years. Her tomato rice soup (with the sheen of oil glistening on top ;) ) was legendary. I wouldn't doubt that the seeds for my life long love of anything pasta were planted in her spaghetti lunches ( "a LOT, please", we all begged as we went down the lunch line).

I could begin with these stories, but to end there would be a great disservice. I have stories that are solely mine. But I have a feeling that countless others probably have the same. Let me share two.
Joey was born on Yom Kippur. Do the math. That makes the bris on first day chol hamoed Succos. All my children were yellow. This made scheduling brissim complicated. We didn't know if the bris would be on time until after the results of the previous day's bloodwork. Since the day prior in this case was second day Yom Tov, we would not know if we were having a bris until after nightfall the day before. When I approached Mrs. Stern about our situation, she was calmer than calm, and reassured me that I was not to worry. If there was a bris, there would be food. If not, not. As it turned out the bris was on time, and not a morsel was missing. Find me a caterer today who wouldn't want a deposit, which would be forfeited if the simcha was cancelled. Different times. Different people.

My father z"l lost his appetite towards the latter days of his battle with colon cancer. Mrs. Stern, in her quiet way, cooked special dishes that he could still stomach (P'tcha - - - don't ask me... I can't stomach that on a healthy day....) and sent them over to his house. When I mention this fact to people, they often have stories of their own regarding her food related chassodim.
So returning to Food, Family and Community:
Her excellent cooking and mitzvos performed through that act set a shining example for me throughout my life.
She will be sorely missed within her community.
May her family be comforted among the mourners of Zion.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I'm OOOOOO-KAYYYYYYY

When answering sweet and well-meaning "You haven't blogged in a while. Are you okay?" emails begins to take up more time than actual blogging, it's time to sit down and write something ;)

Seriously. All the people who have stopped me on the street and emailed me from all over the world - you touch me deeply.

I'm fine.
I'm simply overwhelmed at work.

And it's such a pity too, because a LOT has happened that has been supremely bloggable.

a) We had the painters! I know, I know....
two years ago, I posted about "The Discussion". Namely, the discussion that happens every six months or so around our dinner table, about how badly we need to have the painters and about how I will do ANYTHING to avoid the experience.

Well, ladies and gentleman - though I do think that I've hit Guiness Book Of World Records status, after about 15+ years, I've been circumvented.

WE'VE ACTUALLY HAD MOST OF THE APARTMENT PAINTED OVER THE COURSE OF A WEEK.

Don't worry - I made sure that nobody touched the linen closet door......
Oh, and there was that certain family member who decided to lean their ENTIRE SIDE along a wall of wet paint - hair, shirt, EVERYTHING.... there went a full bottle of paint thinner right there!

b) We had high school PTA conferences.... always good for some cynical blogging (maybe it's a good thing that I'm swamped at work after all......)

c) I made a few yummy recipes. Okay, okay - here's a photo of my wine soaked poached pears (which will definitely be revisited Pesach time) :


d) I've started planning for Purim, though nothing is set yet. For a "yekke" like me - this is bad. No costume idea. Invitations to seudah have been extended but not finalized. Shalach Manos is a distant vision.

I'll be back.
Bear with me.
I've got a little more paperwork and some hiring to do, and you'll see me around more often.
Thanks again for caring.
Your emails (even the ones I didn't get around to responding to...) supported me along the way more than you know.