it is 9:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. Shabbat ended about an hour ago. we used fancy disposables this year so the washing up was minimal. I could almost hear my mother saying from her grave "what a waste" but it was wonderful. it also enabled me to be calm and allow the kids to eat chumus and sunflower seeds at the table. it also didn't phase me in the least when the daughter-in-law wet her matzo. I wanted this year to be easy breezy. I have tormented friends and family for years with my stringencies. it felt so good to be finally free of my pesach insanity.
I worked nonstop from 8:00 a.m. .until 7:30 p.m. on Friday. I managed to do a bit of the cooking with the kids here. I freaked out in the early afternoon when I found both kids outside playing in the mud with the hose. I ordered them both to strip outside and hosed them down before allowing them to enter the house. that was the worst of it. when my son called to ask if I wanted a new Seder plate from the gallery, I begged him to come home. he was already on his way so while he and the kids napped downstairs, I cooked the meal.
I had four burners to work with so I was able to get the food going pretty fast. in one pot I threw in two packages of chicken bottoms and added onions, fresh squeezed orange juice, peppercorns and some honey. in another pot, I threw in a piece of meat, some onions and carrots, a bottle of sweet wine, and peppercorns. I peeled and cut up an enormous amount of potatoes to make a mash. I made a soup with chicken necks and wings. I added an onion, a kolorabi, a few carrots, a couple of sweet potatoes, and a couple of squash. I added some of the meat and wine gravy for added flavor and a bit of color. we do not like the typical Ashkenazi color less chicken soup in this household.
when I had a free burner I cooked the hard cooked eggs, beets, fish and chicken nuggets. I peel everything on pesach so it is a lot of work. I made a fruit salad with red grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, apples and pears. I didn't buy bananas this year. I couldn't find any normal looking ones and they were $2.70 a kilo. everyone liked the fruit salad and no one missed the bananas.
I went to bed very late on Thursday night. I was shivering. I put the covers over my head. the kids came upstairs at 7:00 a.m. and I wasn't ready to cope until around 8:00 a.m. I gave them chocolate milk and cake and went downstairs to burn the chometz. I put up a pot of boiled eggs and I forgot about them. I went outside and made a small fire outside of the gate. a couple of neighbors came with their little morsels of wrapped up bread. one neighbor actually came with huge hunks of bread and I sent him away. burning the chometz is a ritual. huge amounts of bread are thrown down the sewers. it would take hours to burn them. I smelled something burning and ran to the kitchen. the eggs were about to explode. I had to put up another pot of eggs. oh well! I ran around the putting away non pesach items. I started making up beds but didn't finish all of them.
I got super tired in the late afternoon and didn't think I could finish. I still had to make the charoset. a fine paste made from nuts, apples, dates and pears. first, I peeled the apples, dates and pears. I then had to crack open a bag of walnuts and a bag of almonds. the almonds were a synch. I didn't think I could stand any longer but I couldn't manipulate the nuts while sitting. I have a very small food processor so I had to do it in batches. afterwards, I ground the horse radish root. I burnt a chicken neck on one of the burners, which took forever. I still had to do the chicken nuggets and I was beyond exhausted. I pushed through the exhaustion and made a batch of very tasty nuggets. I don't use mtzo meal so these were made with a batter of potato starch and eggs. I had several and fed the kids downstairs as well. this year we came to the seder not famished.
the kids went to synagogue and I took a hot shower. I then set up the Seder plate and set the table. it looked nice even though it wasn't the real china. the daughter-in-law returned from synagogue in a rage. the 5 year old was acting 'inappropriately'. welcome to my world! I thought we were in for a stormy night but the son tuned it all around. he had taken a Ritalin and was in control of the night. I was too tired to intercede. after the first cup of wine we were all drunk. the wine was rally strong. after the first batch of matzo I felt nauseous. I struggled to finish the fourth cup of wine and the last bit of matzo. my son read most of the Seder in rapid speed hebrew. I was too tired to participate. the kids were present for most of the Seder.
my son bought them little gifts to help them be involved. after we finished the texts, we sang all of the pesach songs. I didn't sing because I felt like I was going to pass out. the 3 year old granddaughter received a plastic beauty kit and ran around the house in plastic heels. it was a riot. she danced with my son and I think I danced a bit too. I was afraid to go to sleep for fear of choking on my own vomit but the nausea disappeared miraculously before I fell asleep. I slept alone in my clean bed and clean sheets, in my clean master bedroom, because the 5 year old was punished for his bad behavior at synagogue. his punishment is not sleeping with grandma. go know.
lunch was a breeze and a pleasure. I had plenty of orange chicken and leftover meat and mashed potatoes. I freshened up the salads and we all had a good appetite. the daughter-in-laws' older sister and dog never made it to zefat so we were only 6 at the table including 4 dogs. I had worried about the food so much. older sister likes her Sephardi mom's food. I managed to make a very 'hot' Sephardi style Niles perch with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and a red chili pepper. I had made a tomato salsa which was a 4 alarm fire. I actually peeled the chili. I decided to use the salsa to make the sauce for the fish. I usually use garlic and cilantro but I don't use them on pesach. the fish was a success.
I want to take the kids tomorrow to the petting zoo in zefat. there really isn't anything to pet but it's the only show in town. i'll pack up a picnic lunch of potato chips, matzah and chocolate spread, tangerines, hard cooked eggs, and pesach cake. we'll make some apple juice concentrate and voila! of course we'll cab it. there is no way I can manage both kids on a bus. we can always walk down to the large kids park afterwards. let's hope for warm weather. it was sunny but cold today. we were all so tired that we felt even colder. the rest of the world is busy doing a second seder tonight. I don't think I envy them.