Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb


As promised: Pesach.

1. Shabbat

We had to deal with the whole bread thing, since our rabbi said no egg matzah. It was very odd setting the table for Shabbos dinner without putting out challot - this huge expanse of white (I took out my Pesach tablecloth - a lovely *woolen* cloth with shiny threads woven through, like the tallit that my husband uses, and made by the same Israeli people) with just my Pesach candlesticks in the middle, the two place settings and the Pesach kiddush cup.

I put an extra plastic tablecloth on the other end of the table, and we covered that with newspaper, and then a paper napkin, then the two rolls and then another paper napkin on top. We made kiddush on one end of the table, washed our hands for bread and made motzi over the rolls. I tore one in half, we ate that leaning over the newspaper and Jonathan took the newspaper downstairs and out. I put the other roll away. Dinner was meatloaf, marinated broccoli and baked potatoes, except the potatoes didn't bake.

Benching (the grace after meals) was odd because we used Haggadot since our normal booklets are chometz. There's a section there for yom tov that you say throughout Pesach. We had to skip that, but not the section for Shabbat.

We decided that the meat and veg were enough and I put the potatoes back in the fridge. We read awhile and I went to sleep at 10:20 or so, well before the lights went out.

Jonathan was up and out for synagogue before I woke up, and came back shortly thereafter. We made kiddush and ate the two remaining rolls with cheese over the extra plastic tablecloth. Jonathan then took that downstairs and we benched and went back to bed. At 10:30, he said chol chamira, which rendered all chometz in our house that we hadn't sold "dust." After this, we could eat neither bread nor matzah.

Lunch, when we woke up again, was a chef's salad - bagged salad, tomato, cucumber, onion and shredded roast beef and turkey. I'd purchased a bottle of Russian dressing, but it was disgustingly sweet, so we discarded it and I mixed up a batch with ketchup and mayo, and it was much better. Then we napped some more. :)

Because a third meal is required and because we knew we'd be eating dinner around 10:30 at the earliest and because Jonathan really wanted it, we had leftover sauted chicken breast for a ... snack at around 6:30, followed by some Pesadich non-gebrokts (potato starch, not matza meal, which we couldn't eat either) dietetic cookies. This was in line with R'Sokol's instructions.

Jonathan went to shul and I finished the Shabbos coffee and got dressed, mostly (scarf, nice sweater, skirt, bedroom slippers). My brother-in-law arrived at 8:15 and we talked until 8:24, when I could start getting ready for yom tov.

2. First Seder
While I got the food ready (soup on the stove, side dishes and chickens in the oven), Mitch looked everywhere for the extra leaf my husband said he'd taken out. This was complicated by the fact that the lights were out in half the rooms. He kept looking while I cleaned out the candleholders and began getting the seder plate ready. At this point, fringefan and otherdeb showed up. We gave up on the leaf and spread out the tablecloth and the plastic cover and put out the matzah (I had to search for three whole hand-made matzot) and then jonbaker showed up with our guests, BigZ and JudgeT. He found the leaf, they put it and its tablepad in, we recovered the table. Deb helped me set it with our Pesach compromise - pretty paper plates and metal utensils, nice wineglasses and plastic drinking cups, nice tablecloth and paper napkins. Jonathan took care of the horseradish for maror. We got the seder plate and the matzah on the table, got the wine poured out and the seder began.

It was lovely - our guests asked good questions. After discussion, it was discovered that JudgeT was younger than Mitch, so he got to say the Four Questions for the first time in 30 years. And when the first part was over, I served the sueda - gefilte fish, unchicken soup with matza balls (the tomato paste gave it a lovely ruby color) and main course - roast chicken (we roast birds, but not mammals), marinated asparagus, eggplant-tomato bake, farfel kugel (a failure - it dried up and burnt) and those potatoes I couldn't serve the night before. We had storebought mocha cake for dessert, and tea for those who wanted. Mitch and JudgeT looked for the afikomin, and JudgeT found it, so he got Cordelia's Honor. He's fannish enough that he'd enjoy it. We ended about 1:20, which considering daylight savings time and the late start was pretty darn good.

I spent the next day feeling vaguely ill and sleepy. I roused enough to have lunch, but I missed Jonathan praying for dew that morning, which I regret. Lunch was matzah, butter, cream cheese, marmalade and sliced cheese, plus salt and cinnamon sugar. Nice and relaxed, but by the end I had to lie down again. I slept the rest of the afternoon and was seriously worried about the seder that night. However, by six or so, I was up and feeling better. We had another snack of leftover meatloaf and some coffee. Jonathan skipped shul that night. The guests arrived at a reasonable point after 8:30 - first my family (Mom, boyfriend and brother) and then gimmeahand, mikestruffles and their son Liam, who was 8 and the focus of the seder.

3. Second Seder
Having a real child present makes a difference. (JudgeT and Mitch being in their thirties and all.) He started by asking questions - why was there saltwater on the table. He read the Four Questions in English, but that was just fine. And he had his own supply of grape juice, too. And my brother asked decent questions, and boyfriend went along with everything and Mom looked beautiful. Dinner began the same - and I'd made the perfect amount of soup, too. Main course was pot roast, which made it a one dish thing. I'd picked up these sturdy aluminum foil serving platters on Friday and it make serving the pot roast (and the chicken the night before) much nicer. Liam, who didn't like the fish or the soup, did like the pot roast. His parents didn't make him eat more than a bite of anything, which was fine - I'd given him very small portions of fish and soup anyway just in case - if he'd liked it, he could have more. And he found the afikomin with some hints from Jonathan (hot/cold) and was pleased by his Yu-Gi-Oh structure pack. At my brother's request (they drove in (yes, I know, but they'd have driven anyway) from New Jersey), we didn't waste time after dessert (rest of the cake plus fruit salad for those who wanted) and the afikomin to finish the seder.

We'd made a couple of changes because of the different crowd. For one thing, when it came time to wash for motzi, we had everyone wash and walk quietly back to their seats and then Jonathan said the blessing for all instead of each individually, which would have meant coaching for five or six people by the two of us. Saved a lot of time and problems. Jonathan also read the benching outloud to further solve problems. We sang one song at the end and then my family left. We sat around and talked with others for an hour or so, between cleaning things up. I think we got to bed around 2:50.

One thing that we've been doing for awhile and works well is our compromise. By using all disposable plates and bowls and drinking cups, we minimize clean up - no need to wash dishes at 2AM. By using metal utensils and nice goblets, we keep the eating experience pleasant, and it's lots easier to wash flatware. I also use disposable baking pans, which also minimizes cleanup.

We both skipped shul the next morning, which proved to be a problem. We were meant to have a guest for lunch, but she never showed up. When Jon went to check, it turned out she went somewhere else. So I made cheese omelets and cucumber onion salad (balanced very nicely) for lunch. We had leftover pot roast for dinner before Jonathan went to shul, and then it was Monday.

Things I learned:
1. Always water the wine
2. You don't need kids at a seder, but they help.
3. Make the farfel kugel moister
4. Some people *like* sweet wine (go figure.)
5. Sleep is good.
6. First cut brisket costs twice as much as second cut, but it's worth every penny. It holds together and doesn't shrink.
7. Spending three days with my husband in a nice, quiet house was lovely and something I think we needed. We did a lot of talking and connecting.

Today, I have a tupperware box with salad, chicken and homemade Russian dressing and a thermos of coffee. And matzah.

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