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Posts Tagged ‘easter’

I saw a meme the other day that went something like this, “There will be 2 types of people on the other side of this quarantine: great cooks and alcoholics!” Let’s all strive for the former.

While Bob and I were chopping up nuts and apples for our virtual Passover Seder, I started thinking about food and our relationship to it – do we live to eat, or eat to live? Now, our days revolve around meals like never before. What kind of traditional foods would we need at this year’s Seder table? What could we do without, since it’s just the 2 of us?

What could we even order on Shipt? Horseradish? Would grape juice be just as good as Kosher wine?

Then I started to wonder if people were going to cook a big ham, studded with pineapples and cherries for Easter? Is everybody still coloring eggs even if there are no little children to hunt for them? Today is Good Friday, and as far back as I can remember it was always pretty unremarkable. The statues and the crucifix at Sacred Heart Church were covered in purple cloth, the mood was always sombre. At home, we gave up meat, so I either ate shrimp or fish sticks!

In Ireland, people will plant root vegetables, especially potatoes today:

“…most had a custom of setting their scealláin, or seed potatoes, on Good Friday when it fell in March. This was termed putting down the early pot”, and the people worked each day from Good Friday until they had set all the potatoes.

If Good Friday was late, and fell in April, it was seen as the point up to which such work should focus. In any case, it was imperative that all the spuds be covered before the cuckoo was heard. Nobody wanted to be a “cuckoo farmer”  https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/10-good-friday-traditions-you-ve-never-heard-of-1.3864889

My foster mother Nell was never a great cook, admitting that if it didn’t come in a can she didn’t know what to do with it. But her one reliable, home-cooked, go-to, comfort meal was pork chops and applesauce, with a side of french fries. This was always a special treat, along with her once a year “Haloopkies.” Pork stuffed cabbage simmered in sauerkraut accompanied by rye bread and butter, nirvana for me in the 1950s.

But I inherited my love of cooking from my mother, the Flapper. Almost every weekend I’d watch her chop, cook and bake delicious meals for her diverse family of Catholic and Jewish kids. She abhorred waste, like many Depression-era women before her, so she’d always make a soup out of leftover pot roast with barley or a mulligatawny stew out of whatever was left in the refrigerator.

I just looked up the word “mulligatawny” since I thought it was a word she made up, but no. In fact, it’s a curry stew! The Flapper loved to embellish the truth, which I hated at first, but came to enjoy with my siblings. If someone dared to ask her if a dessert was homemade, she’d proudly say “Of course!” But you never really knew.

The first dish I cooked last month as the pandemic was looming large was chicken chili. It was the last night we had our Grands sleepover, before we were told to shelter in place. I added whatever vegetables I had left in the refrigerator to the pot, plus 2 cans of beans. I chopped up a poblano pepper for a slight whiff of heat, and served it beside sliced avocado and of course, bread and butter. It was a hit with the Bug and the Pumpkin!

Bob’s got his raised bed planted and we have already picked spinach. We ordered food from Shipt online and were delighted, I may never set foot in a grocery store again.  Never thought I’d ever have someone else do my grocery shopping, but here we are in this brave new world. Searching our pantries for lentils and flour, or matzoh, and remembering how cooking can nourish the soul.

I sent Bob over to Ms Berdelle with some chicken soup last night. Maybe I should start a chicken soup food truck when this over? He ran a pretty great Zoom Seder for our family and friends, from 3 years old to 95! It’s time to clean out the cobwebs in our homes and our minds; this is the season to declutter, to wash our patio furniture, to renew our lives, to plant and welcome fresh air and sunlight into our cloistered homes.

This is the season to stay at home and save lives.

I hope that cooking brings you joy during this lonely, holy week, and that your pantry stays stocked with your choice of beverage. Below Bob is setting up the Zoom Seder, while I prepare the Seder plate.

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The big move was done in little pieces. We ferried small things over in our car piece by piece, the ubiquitous Pod was delivered and emptied by a team of BellHops, then finally Music City Movers emptied our townhouse. Ten days later I threw a Seder for family and friends – 17 altogether. To say I’m exhausted would be missing the point; I’m feeling like I got hit by a truck and I don’t have the flu….

Remember that book we all read years ago, required reading in every high school English class, “The Things They Carried.”

Twenty years ago, writer Tim O’Brien released a book of stories about young men and war, his war, Vietnam. Among many other things, he listed the weight of each soldier’s clothes, canteens and can openers. From the book: Every third or fourth man carried a claymore antipersonnel mine, 3.5 pounds with its firing device. They all carried fragmentation grenades, 14 ounces each. They all carried at least one M-18 colored smoke grenade, 24 ounces. Some carried CS or tear gas grenades. Some carried white phosphorous grenades. They carried all they could bear and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125128156

I’ve been reevaluating all the things I’ve carried around with me from my glory days as a new wife and mother in Massachusetts, to moving back to NJ when the Rocker was just 2 and unpacking was almost impossible, to building our small house overlooking the Blue Ridge in Virginia. Then finally the fantastical move to Nashville, leaving Bob to sell most of our furniture to the new owners of our house, while I stayed here on Nana duty.

Unlike Great Grandma Ada, who cocooned in her home for fifty years collecting the things her two sisters left behind, I’ve had ample opportunity to prune and shed the things that were weighing me down.

I still carry: some of the school papers from my children; the Bride’s baby dresses; a big, antique French cupboard; the heron and guinea hen prints, the kilt I was wearing when I first met Bob; my 1960s avocado green mixer; my 60s blue Dutch oven, the one I found in a store in Cambridge, MA, the same store I’d see Julia Child shopping in from time to time, it’s a heavy workhouse of a pot that found its way back into my heart during Seder prep; the oil painting the Bride did of us on Windsor Pond; the Rocker’s self-portrait from high school. All the old photographs.

And my beautiful desk, the one I’m writing on just now. I’ve missed it for 2 years.

I’ve carried all I can bear, but still the Bride insisted on “Marie Kondoizing” me. She dumped piles of clothes on my bed and asked me, one by one, if they sparked joy?! “Mom, you have two similar black Eileen Fisher dresses, which ONE do you want?”

I was resistant at first, but then I saw how my style, me weight, my essence had changed over the years. No woman wants to be stuck in the same hair style their whole life, and I could finally see that “Pittsfield-me” was too Laura Ashley, “Rumson-me” was too Lilly Pulitzer, and “Nashville-me” is something entirely different. I thanked my dated clothes for their faithful service and bid them farewell.

Bob has always traveled light, and so he was happy to see the Big Purge, but to my surprise he kept a few sentimental things of his own.

We are ready to tackle the garden now, to plant and transplant, to install the fairy house. I hope y’all had a wonderful Passover and Easter weekend and you’re looking ahead to blue skies and warmer days. Ms Bean has her favorite sunny spot on the porch, and I just might join her!

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My first, and possibly last Seder was last year in VA. Yesterday the Bride threw a fabulous feast for 14, after working the night shift the night before, and I am honored to pass the torch on to her! She makes a mean matzoh ball soup, and her charoses was to die for: Chag Sameach! Next year in Nashville with Great Grandma Ada and Cousin Anita if you’re willing and able!

My contribution was a brisket, which is actually the same cut of beef as my St Patrick’s Day specialty, corned beef. I knew the Jews and Irish could align in mysterious ways! Of course, I Googled Ina Garten’s recipe and loved the idea of adding leeks. Leeks are my Celtic heritage, I must admit I put them in everything. https://barefootcontessa.com/recipes/brisket-with-onions-and-leeks

Today we met the kiddos at Cheekwood for an Easter Egg Hunt. There were food trucks, including my favorite Grilled Cheeserie, music and lots of arts and crafts. It started out cold, almost 50 degrees, but the sun was shining and the children were willing. It made me think of my friend Polli’s Easter Egg hunts in her Rumson yard. Since we didn’t go to church Easter morning (being Jewish), we helped hide all the candy. Back then, we tossed chocolate bunnies and jelly beans around like nobody’s business.

Our reward was champagne on her porch while the children searched for treats in Polli’s beautiful garden. She taught me how to arrange flowers for weddings and not to let the Rocker miss the school bus. I miss your wisdom dear friend! Today, in Nashville, the treasure was plastic eggs with plastic toys. The times they are a changin!

Back on my porch, I read my Cville friend’s food/lifestyle blog “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You” https://www.katheats.com

Being vulnerable takes courage. She is around the Bride’s age and has a son from her first marriage. She just re-married this past year and told her readers that she’d had a miscarriage last month.

Some of you may know that I had 3 misses in one year between the Bride and the Rocker. I know what it feels like to mourn the possibility of a child. To curl into yourself and reject anyone’s help. To harbor fear and anger in equal measure, and to feel like the ground you walk on has betrayed you.

You stop driving over bridges.

I’m sending Koop my heartfelt love. Her blog has grown over the years to inspire young women to not just eat real food, but to go after their authentic selves. This time of year is all about rebirth. We clean out the bread, we prepare to tell the story of Exodus, and we talk about Jesus who sacrificed his life to bring Christians everywhere the promise of salvation.

May this sacred time find you surrounded by family. Having Easter and Passover fall under the same full moon is a miracle! The Bride will be working tomorrow, maybe I should deliver a ham to the Groom?

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Happy Earth Day everyone. I was reminded of my favorite psychologist, Abraham Maslow’s, saying this morning, “At any given moment we have two options; to step forward into growth, or to step back into safety.”  I loved his theories when I was an undergrad Psych major – only I’d add another option. We could also choose to stand still and do nothing.

Doing nothing is a choice. We all know these people. They are the ones who say, “Oh we tried that before and it didn’t work.” They are the self-involved, solipsistic loners. If they are not talking about themselves, well then what’s the point? Which is why a film about a young environmentalist falling for the middle-aged mom of a prescription-drug addicted daughter caught my attention.

“Bottled Up” explores the life of an enabler. Melissa Leo plays the quirky, lovable mother who flirts with denial like a pro – because for any addicted child to continue to live at home in their childhood bedroom, they would need the full cooperation of someone, right? Getting this reclusive mom to stop doing what she’s always done, and open her heart to a little, light Indie film romance gives this timely, weighty topic a humorous edge.

This Earth Day, instead of committing to changing your light bulbs, or remembering your grocery totes, why not think about what parts of your psyche may need an overhaul. Throw out the cobwebs in your head that keep you stuck in a “monkey mind,” adrift in a sea of indecision and inertia.

Instead of worrying about your carbon footprint, today let’s pull on our work boots. Get out in the yard, make the choice to start living a more healthy life. To make a few small, incremental changes toward growth, thank you Dr Maslow! After all, if we heal ourselves, maybe the planet will have a chance? Our hydrangeas need pruning and food! I’ll  eat more oranges, walk more and complain less. Maybe try to avoid sick/germ carrying people – unless it’s my Love Bug, then all bets are off. I’ve been wondering if all the Puffs tissues I’ve been going through with my latest virus are biodegradable?!

Speaking of my little Easter bunny. This is what you get when your adult children have to work on Easter Sunday. The Bride, my Jewish ER doctor/daughter and her husband the Christian Groom, who was on call in the MICU, sent the Bug off to a day filled with chocolate and jelly beans courtesy of their wonderful Nanny Kristy and her son Caiden. And for this moment, I am eternally grateful.        10271536_10203190002052914_8222434554150655467_n

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all biblical on you. I have my fond memories of Sacred Heart Church shrouded in purple, singing in the choir, fake green grass in a basket, biting off the head of a chocolate Easter bunny. And later, hiding colored eggs and candy around my friend’s yard so all our friends’ children could come in their little Wellies and hunt for treasure. Spring is in the air, robins are bobbing their heads.

And hospital and health and safety workers are on the job year round, 24 hours a day. For them, pausing for a big family dinner, let alone searching for jelly beans, doesn’t really happen. What happens is saltines and peanut butter at the nurse’s station. The Bride is working, and so is Bob. And here’s what happened at my daughter’s ER.

A man in his 30s walked into the waiting room and promptly collapsed in a chair. He lost consciousness, nobody even heard a chief complaint. When they hooked him up to an EKG it was obvious he was having a major heart attack; I think they call it Vfib? My doctor daughter had the biggest guy in the room, a tech, pound on his chest while she got the paddles ready. The pounding didn’t help, so she shocked him with the paddles, and he converted but unfortunately he got belligerent and pulled everything out, then passed out. She shocked him again.

And he came back to life. He was discharged from the hospital yesterday.

He has a wife and 3 children and probably will never meet my daughter. And it made me think of the husband of a friend of mine in Pittsfield, MA. In his 30s too, he woke up one July 4th morning sweating, and instead of going to the ER, he took a shower. That is where he died, while his wife tried calling his doctor and finally called an ambulance, before 911. She had a new baby and a toddler so I made baked ziti for the shiva. And I helped her collect pictures of her husband for her children, because i know what it’s like to lose a father so young.

On this Easter morning, Christianity teaches that rebirth can happen to all those who seek God, who walk humbly. As my dear friend Eve quotes:

“I cannot help but think, on this Easter morning, of how many times I have been resurrected. Like so many others, I have known moments when I thought my life had entered a tomb. I saw that great stone rolling between me and the hope of any future I could imagine. But then, through God’s grace and healing, I emerged into a garden to find people who cared for me waiting, waiting for me to return to life. I pray, therefore, for all of those who have been resurrected like me. I celebrate this new life with all of you who have stepped out of the grave into the light of Easter.” S. Charleston

Many thanks to all those emergency personnel who are working today, and just a little note to the Easter bunny – really, you need a break?
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