It’s hard to believe that we’ve been blogging for just over a year, but it’s not hard to believe we still have plenty to kvetch and kvell about. And Passover? We have something to say for each night.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner —- Last Thanksgiving, Joyce was sad that her guest list was small. On Passover, her daughter Samantha remedied that by inviting five college friends to the seder. It meant moving the table to the living room to fit 16 guests and cooking up a storm.
When Ellen opens the door for Elijah, she’s really hoping that one of her away-at-college kids will walk in. This year, two did. Her niece, who attends Drexel University, augmented the “fashionable young people” count the first night. And thanks to an all-expenses-paid Amtrak ticket, her son, Michael, was at his family’s seder table Tuesday night.
Joyce’s Matzah Ball Mania —– After a failed matzah ball attempt a few years back, I started outsourcing my matzah ball production to Coopermarket, a local caterer. This year, I decided to bring the work back home. To make the soup, I used a quintessential grandmother’s chicken soup recipe from Edith Levin, aka Nan, my late step-grandmother. I also used her aluminum stockpot, which is older than I am. The Bon Appetit matzah ball recipe directed me to separate the egg whites and beat them to a fluff. I was sure this would make “floaters,” but they turned out to be sinkers – albeit tasty ones. So I turned to the Manischewitz matzah ball & soup mix that Ellen had given me. These were the floaters – and big ones at that. So each guest got a big one and a little one in Nan’s soup, and I got rave reviews.
Ellen’s Pesachdik Brownies —- My aspiring chef son, Andy, is a good cook. So together we decided to carefully follow a recipe for Passover brownies. Baking from scratch would surely be better than the skimpy commercially made mix, the price-gouging kind that comes with the foil pan for $6.95! Andy used his professional knife to chop 22 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. We beat in 8 eggs and sugar. Stirred in matzah cake meal. Baked and tasted…. Surprise! It tasted like chocolate gravel. Unsweetened chocolate gravel. Somehow, something had gone terribly wrong — so wrong that the whole pan went directly into the trash. That’s why we suffer on Passover. The desserts are just so terrible.
Ellen Channels Martha Stewart —- It was about an hour before the expected start of the seder and I was setting the table. Tablecloth, plates, wine and water glasses. Check. Cloth napkins and a haggadah at each place. Check. Seder plate with all its component parts. Check. Fill the Elijah’s cup with wine and the Miriam’s cup with water. Check. Turn around and knock over Miriam’s Cup, spilling water all over everything. Oy. Start over.
Our Haggadot —– Turns out that we both prefer a basic, family-friendly haggadah, rather than the traditional (and lengthy) version. Even though there are myriads of haggadot to choose from – new ones are published every year, from the feminist humanist modern to the eco-friendly vegan seder guide, we both cut and pasted to make our own personal version of what we consider the “essential” elements of the seder. So why did it surprise us that there were differences of opinion as to what was essential? Ellen really dislikes the story of the four sons, so she left it out. But she had to compromise and let her husband use a traditional haggadah on the second night that included every single one of the multi-verse songs that he loves at the end. Joyce’s son, Ben, glanced through his mom’s edited haggadah and saw that “the most important part” about Rabbi Gamliel was missing. How could she have done that? Joyce’s guests like to put on the masks and sing Had Gadya to the tune of Clementine. They all want to wear the Angel of Death or King of Kings mask. The Stick and the Ox aren’t so popular.
Ellen’s Passover Movie Review — The weekend before Passover, David and I
wasted hours watched a newfangled 2006 British movie version of the Ten Commandments. It was on the GMC network – but judging from the rest of the line-up we still don’t know if it was the Gospel Music Channel or God Movie Channel. No matter. This Ten Commandments could not hold a candle to the star-studded Yul Brenner, Charlton Heston and Ann Baxter original. I had an inkling it would be bad when I spied Padma Lakshmi, the Top Chef judge, in the role of Moses’ Egyptian mother. Although the special effects for the plagues were good (Pharaoh did wake to frogs in his bed and frogs on his head), this version had way too many bloody battles among the Israelites for our tastes. We’ll stick with the original 1956 epic.
Dayenu — It’s the name of one of the most familiar seder songs, and it literally means, “it would have been enough.” And that’s just how we’ll end this post – Dayenu!