Monday, 26 March 2012

Pesach is here -- already ?!?!?

As the Jewish holiday of Pesach (Passover) approaches, I really miss my mom. 

As far back as I can remember, Mom had me as her very own captive audience, reviewing her Yom Tov menus with me, over and over again, until everything was just right.  She would delight in updating me on the progress of her preparation, happily crossing off items that she had finished making and frozen for the dinner.  At the time, it did not impress me and, if I'm perfectly honest, I think it made me a little nuts. 

So it is especially ironic that I have turned out just like her, only worse!  Not only do I review my menu 500 times, delighting in every item that I have crossed off my list, but I do the same thing with my weekly groceries!  I know what you are thinking - poor Carlo, Sara and Becca.

So, now that Mom is not available to share these moments with me, I have decided to share them with you!  Ready?  Set?   Let's Go!

In years gone by, our Seders have ballooned to 40 people, and shrunk to the immediate 8 (when Mom and Mildred were still able to come over, and Abby was but a twinkle in Davie & Lena's eye).  When entertaining proved difficult for Mom, I took over.  Depending on our numbers, we entertained in the condo party rooms and at our house.  Mom and Dad were always firm believers that no-one should be alone for Yom Tov, and room was always found for those last minute discoveries that a friend or acquaintance was on their own.  This is just one of the things for which I am immensely proud of our parents. 

But some unexpected twists and turns in our life path (Mom getting EOAD) have made it more difficult to open our doors and not have the preparation lead up turn into a wholly negative and exhausting experience.  Lena and I talked, as the new leading ladies of my family, and agreed to scale down the numbers - not for any other reason than we wanted our kids to grow up with happy memories of these festive meals, and not just remember a grumpy mom who did nothing but lament about how she had too much to do. 

So fast forward to 2012.  Carlo and I are hosting the first Seder, Davie & Lena the second (in the Diaspora, we observe the holidays for 2 nights, to ensure we do not miss the proper timing - as it falls in Israel). 

There is a lot of pressure on this night - and while I will still emit the occasional whine and complaint over the next 2 weeks - I wouldn't trade a moment of it.  There is much more to this evening than just the festive meal, but at the moment, that it what I am concerning myself with. 

Now, let's run down this year's "Dos & Don'ts Checklist": 

  1. First off, Davie & Dad are strictly kosher - the evening will be too
  2. Dad and Joel (and if I am truthful - I) need to have sodium-reduced diets
  3. Davie and I insist on having the hard boiled eggs, celery and potatoes, all in salt water
  4. Lena is pescatarian, and she, Becca and I adore Auntie Nora's Gefilte Fish (recipe to follow in a future post)
  5. Davie and the kids love chicken soup with matzo balls - can't forget that
  6. Carlo, Dad & Davie love chopped liver - Aviva is making that
  7. Carlo, Davie, Dad, Becca, Abby and occasionally Sara love meat - need a brisket (although they are pushing me for rib roast - but the brisket will have similar flavouring to the chicken, come on people!)
  8. We need chicken for those who prefer poultry - country apricot chicken will go well with brisket
  9. We need lots of veggies for Lena, Sara and I - Lena is bringing her famous salad - yumm!
  10. We need potato kugel - what is a holiday meal without it!?!?
  11. We need stuffing - Norene's recipe is out of this world
  12. We need tsimmes to combat what Mom called "Princess Matza Belly" effects of Pesach
  13. We need Auntie Nora's asparagus vinaigrette - too delish to omit (recipe to follow in a future post)
  14. I am thinking we need some kabakel (roasted eggplant spread) - thankfully I found Zaida Sam's recipe
  15. Dessert - no lemon rolls for us!  I refuse...we'll have fruit and some kind of baking - I am thinking Ruth Heiges' Sponge Cake & Meringues...we'll see!

Well, now you see that this is not such a simple endeavour...I hope you will join me over the next 2 weeks as I prepare the dishes listed above, and make my first: Strictly Kosher, Low-Sodium, Pescatarian, Carnivore-friendly, Veggie filled Seder!

Until next time, I wish you a wonderful day filled with family, fun, friends and fantastic food. B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!

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