Posts Tagged ‘Passover’

closeup photo of yellow taxi

Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com


We got in the cab and if my blood pressure wasn’t high enough to start another nose bleed then, I’m fit to climb Mt Everest!  I was fuming. I just couldn’t understand going over the damn Verrazano Bridge – the most expensive crossing in The City.  We were on the road 3 minutes and we were in traffic as far as the eye could see.  Here’s the visual:  Sunday night in August on the Garden State returning from the shore, the   Bourne Bridge on Friday night in July, the Long Island Expressway two hours before sunset on Passover, in other words a frigging nightmare!

The driver is in the right lane and backseat driver that I am, I’m watching which cars are passing us on the left. We are literally inching along and as we approach the Goethals Bridge, I swear two more lanes merge in.

We have already missed our flight and connecting flight to Rome so we won’t be there on time to pick up the car I ordered. The car that I called about 3 times demanding I must have either the Fiat 500L or VW Gulf. So now in the taxi at about 8pm I am calling Kemwell the middle man car rental company in Maine to ask them to change the time of pick up.  Of course they can’t reach Rome now because the time difference is 7 hours ahead and I won’t know if we are confirmed because just maybe I will be in the air!

The driver told us it would take an hour; I guess that would be at 2:00am because now we are approaching the hour mark and we see our first sign of approaching the bridge. Giving credit where due and also he knew he had a crazy woman sitting behind him, the cab driver really put the pedal to the metal whenever he could and began to weave around cars to gain ground.  I have been sending prayers of intercession to St Jude constantly during the trip- well in between cursing the trip.

As soon as we got close to airport he asked what terminal and that’s when I sprung the surprise stop on him. CITI-MED!! Supposedly located in Bldg 75 in JFK on North Hangar Rd. I tell him I have to pick up something.  He puts the address in WAZE and says it’s the exit BEYOND the airport. See it IS part of the airport but the part where there are buildings and cargo offices. Way off in the distance you can see the lights of the terminals.  Look at a map and JFK airport is probably larger than the village we are in! It’s left, right, right, left meantime we seem to be very far from real airport.  There is Building 75 ALL CLOSED up by appearances. We drive around one side and back, there is one light on for a shipping company (it is 9:30 on a Sunday). I jump out of the cab and rush in asking is there a CITI-MED here? Go to the next door upstairs.

I raced out, waved to Peter in cab and found elevator.  It opens and I am in a lunch room. I am so frantic, I am crazy.  I find their telephone number and call and say where are you? I am in Bldg 75 and need to find you. Why? do you need a doctor? Yes I had a nosebleed and need.. Oh you need to go to the emergency room. No it stopped I need a release to get on my flight. Oh OK where are you? I don’t know in a room with a soda machine.. OK turn left and left again room 204. With phone still in my ear I turn left then right and say where are you I can’t find your room!  Hold on I will come and find you. I quickly backtrack and see a woman at the end of the other hall. I rush to her talking a mile a minute telling her what happened and she was aghast that we took a cab from Newark Airport to JFK.  Don’t worry I’ll give you the release, you’ll make your flight, sign here. Bless you bless you thank you!  Look Peter I got it.

I am not in the taxi one minute and my other nostril starts to bleed. OMG OMG  please God not now we can’t miss 2 flights. I am pinching my nose so hard all the way to the terminal. I am not looking down or picking up any luggage -it stopped.

We get to to desk to check in. The counter staff sees that our luggage is all tagged from  Newark and says the manager will take care of us. We wait. He looks at our tickets and says he is aware of our situation. I hand him the medical release. He says there is a problem. Oh no don’t tell me there’s a problem now, what? He explains that although Newark called us in for this 11:30 departure, they did not book us into the connecting flight from Lisbon to Rome which is fully booked. Well what followed in an interchange between the manager who stayed calm and me who became increasingly agitated will be hard to report but here is some of what I said not in any order now;  I didn’t miss my flight, they made me miss my flight. If the TAP staff in Newark made a mistake, you must fix it. Do you think we would have paid $150. (Driver wanted more$$ for second stop) to get from Newark to here if we didn’t expect to be on a flight thru to Rome? I am not leaving this counter till we straighten this out. Do you have any idea of the domino effect of changing flights? I have paid for lodging, a rental car, etc. We are not going back to Manhattan.  THEN he says, hold on I may be able to work something out.  AND WE ARE BOOKED on a connecting flight that leaves within an hour after we land in Lisbon and we will be able to get to the car rental on time.

To e continued…

Read Full Post »

So last night was in fact a food fest and we ate and drank according to tradition.  There were the required 4 cups of wine which in reality can be 4 sips and the Schmurra matzo, the bitter herbs, the Charoset, and the egg in salt water.  Briefly just in case I have some readers who up to this point have no clue as to what I’m talking about let me clarify.  There is a traditional Seder plate and on it there’s Charoset which is a mixture of apples, cinnamon, sugar and walnuts all processed to symbolize the mortar and brick the Jews made as slaves for the Pharaoh.  Maror is the bitter herbs (horseradish) which symbolizes the bitter life of the Israelites during the time of their enslavement, Zeroa, a shank bone as a reminder of the Paschal lamb offered as a Passover sacrifice. Bytzah, a hard-boiled egg symbolic of the loss to the two temples (and also ecumenically symbol of  Spring and new life) which was served in Chazeret , salt water which represents the tears of the people and also the bitterness.  So much for that lesson on some of the Seder meal.

I brought my asparagus dish and it was a big hit.  I’ve made this dish for many years for Easter dinner as a perfect Spring side dish with some symbolism of its own.  First of all, asparagus are associated with Spring and that’s when they are most  plentiful and fresh in the markets. The egg sauce symbolizes what the egg has always represented – new life, rebirth and isn’t that what Spring is all about?  There’s also mustard (the seed of which is a Christian symbol of belief and faith) and vinegar which can be interpreted to mean the bitterness and sorrow of the Jews before being freed.

Asparagus w/ Egg Sauce*

Asparagus w/ Egg Sauce*

** This photo depicts an egg sauce with mayonnaise in it which is why it appears white.  Your sauce will be yellow and only chopped egg whites will garnish the sauce. More like a Hollandaise with chopped egg whites on top.


1 # fresh asparagus 

1 hard boiled egg

1 raw egg yolk

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

1 1/2 TBS white vinegar

1 tsp salt

Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water to cover  till crisp tender and bright green – 5-7 minutes.  I used an asparagus steamer.  Immediately immerse in a large bowl of ice water with ice cubes to stop the cooking.  Drain on paper towels and refrigerate covered.

Mash the hard cooked egg yolk in small bowl with the raw yolk and mustard till smooth.  Gradually add the olive oil whisking till smooth.  Combine the vinegar, pepper and salt and add to oil mixture.  Whisk thoroughly.

To serve:  Lay asparagus on a platter, spoon the egg sauce over and garnish with chopped egg white.  It makes a lovely presentation and is served at room temperature so if you are bringing a side dish, this is perfect to travel.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Read Full Post »

English: "Holyland" brand matzah, ma...

“Holyland” brand matzah, machine-made in Jerusalem and purchased at Trader Joes in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight which as you know is unlike any other night or if you don’t, you can check out a previous blog of mine https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/why-is-this-night-different-from-all-other-nights/.  Anyway tonight we are going to my sister-in-law’s home for a Seder dinner.  It will of course be a feast, and being the balabusta  she is, she is cooking a very traditional meal as well as adding vegetarian dishes for the one or two non-meat eaters in the group.  And by group I mean she is seating and serving 11 people tonight!

I asked what I could bring and was assigned an asparagus dish.  I’m going to make a room temperature asparagus platter with an egg sauce on top.  If I haven’t already posted this recipe previously, I will tomorrow.  It was a traditional Easter Sunday dinner side in my family for years.

And then if I can organize myself, I plan to make some Matzo Crack!  This is a surprise addition to the meal.  Naturally Stacey, our hostess, who is size 2 is planning on serving strawberries and cream for dessert, something light and moderately healthy.  I, on the other hand, am hoping for the taste of chocolate and in keeping with the holiday tradition of no leavened bread, I’m going to make chocolate toffee matzoh! 

So simple to do (they say) and since I’m posting this prior to actually making it, I can’t attest to that but I do believe this is not going to be difficult at all.

4-5 pieces of matzo

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate bits

Toppings as desired

Preheat oven to 375º

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and/or parchment paper.  Place matzo in one layer on baking sheet, breaking it when necessary to fill pan complexly.

In large sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Once mixture reaches a boil, continue to cook for additional 3 minutes, still stirring, until thickened and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat and pour over matzo, spreading evenly with a heat proof spatula.

Put the pan in the oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees.  Bake for 15 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.  If it looks like it is starting to burn, turn heat down to 325 degrees.

After 15 minutes, the toffee should have  bubbled up and turned a rich golden brown.  Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate over the pan.  Let sit for 5 minutes and then spread the now-melted chocolate evenly with a spatula.

You can leave as it is or add a topping such as sea salt or toasted nuts.  Let cool completely, then break into smaller pieces and store in airtight container.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Read Full Post »

Burning Chametz in Ofra, Passover eve

Burning Chametz in Ofra, Passover eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know what chametz is?  I’m not even sure myself – my sister-in-law, Stacey told me it is the stuff you rid your house of before Passover.  She mentioned something about food stuffs that are not part of the Passover meal or week-long celebration, are thrown out.

Well today was ONE of those days! It’s the day when you open the refrigerator and with newly-opened eyes (in my case I had on glasses) and you SEE!  I mean you really see-the crud in the grooves of the bottom shelf, the jar of mustard that is for all intents and purposes empty and you discover not one, not two but at least 3 jars of capers.  Capers, for God’s sake!!!  Delving deeper into the recesses of the Frigidaire, I found a small container of dried-up cream cheese, a jar of jam that had grown a furry winter coat (it must be really cold in there).  Out with it all!  I threw out a jar of some mysterious brown sauce, I threw out salsa before it had a birthday on Cinco de Mayo and some expired bottles of indeterminate substance!  Out with it all!!

When I had filled up my recycle bin and my trash can, I sprayed the shelves with Simple Green.  I LOVE Simple Green, it cleans everything which means it probably shouldn’t be used in a refrigerator.  Now onto the next project.  Hey this is beginning to sound like Spring Cleaning,

I put the summer slipcover on the antique stuffed chair, changed the pillow covers to colorful awning-stripes and had Peter switch the foyer rug from the dark wine-red Oriental to our seasonal beige patterned rug.  He even took down the winter drapes in our bedroom and put up very light-weight airy beige curtains.  Out with the winter dark colors and in with the spring pastels.

I think what really got me going this morning was the fact that by some inner-maniacal drive force, I completed my income taxes early today.  I was up till 2AM working on the world’s most heinous task – assembling a year’s worth of information, collating it, copying it and preparing a statement for the accountant.  I had almost finished last night, uh, rather early this morning and then got up and finished it up.  I HATE doing the taxes!  BUT, when it’s done, I feel so good!

Spring is the time of renewal and rebirth; what was gray, brown and barren bursts forth into bright green life.  Flowers re-appear out of virtually nowhere since the ground looked like just ground to me and along with new tufts of grass, I noticed the lawn was also sprouting bunches of wild onions and even a few dandelions.  AND I get the urge to clean.  My mother always did spring cleaning and so do I.  My mother changed the carpets, drapes and slipcovers to reflect the new season and so do I.  Old habits or genetic programming?  The windows will be washed inside and out-here in NYC, we hire a man to do them but at the cottage, we’ll do them.  This year the carpeting and the couches in the apartment need steam-cleaning.  OUT with it ALL; dirt, dust, grime and most of all, the Chametz!

Read Full Post »

Passover plate with symbolic foods: maror, egg...

Passover plate with symbolic foods: maror, egg, haroset, karpas, zro'ah, dish of salt water

I haven’t taken the time to calculate how often the Jewish holiday of Passover coincides with Easter, but of course it does happen now and again.  That makes this weekend VERY HOLY and VERY  SPECIAL!

It started on Thursday for the Christians with Holy or Maundy Thursday services.  I remember them well.  This was the terrible night in the Garden of Gethsemane when, while Jesus prayed, Judas dropped the dime on him or in his case, 30 pieces of silver.  Now the term 30 pieces of silver has come to denote ultimate betrayal.  Once the deed was done, and Judas was remorseful he hung himself which only would have compounded his sins in the eyes of the Church.  But then again, there was no Church at that time!.

Next came Good Friday which ironically is one of the most somber days of religious observation for the Christians and an evening of joyous celebratory feasting for the Jews.  Although also threaded with somewhat somber overtones as the story of the Jews plight from Egypt is read at the evening’s Seder, it is also a time for families to gather together to share in this traditional meal replete with special and significant dishes.  While Jewish families are feasting on brisket, gifelte fish and matzoh ball soup, Christians are fasting between meals and eating only seafood as is their tradition on Good Friday.  Why do they call it GOOD?  I haven’t done any research prior to writing this blog and I’m ashamed to admit that 6 years in St. John’s Parochial School didn’t leave me with the answer, but if you know it, please share with us all.  My only guess is that according to my Catholic beliefs, it is characterized as good because that’s the day Jesus saved us all by sacrificing himself for our original sins – well that’s the way the story goes anyway.  Also, the word good is derived from the word pious which means holy, so perhaps we should refer to it as Holy Friday.  We always went to a long and arduous service on Good Friday;  There was the Stations of the Cross,  a long sermon and most of all I remember that at one point, the priest would call out things we would implore God to grant or guide us by responding with “Lord, Pray for us” or “Lord Hear Our Prayer”. One of my favorite memories, as I like to tell my Jewish husband,  is kneeling in church and the priest intoning something about the Jews of the world and our collective response “Lord, Hear our prayer” .

Today is Holy Saturday and as a kid, I remember it as thank God, we don’t have to go to church today, we can eat what we want and tomorrow although a going-to-Mass day would still be a celebration.  My girlfriends were allowed to gather but it was supposed to be a day of quiet play and I remember so clearly, sitting on my front steps playing ball and jacks with my two best friends.

This year Saturday is also the second night of Passover and we are on our way to Brooklyn to join in a non-religious Seder meal at my sister-in-law’s.   They will read from a Haggadah, however it will be devoid of any reference to God.  Mmmm unusual…but befitting of their own atheistic beliefs.

Tomorrow is Easter, the hat is ready, the outfit sort of picked out.  Photos to follow.

A Zissen Pesach and Happy Easter to all.

Read Full Post »

DSC04059 Six-Word Memoir banners

Six Word Banners

Well that’s me and sorry that my six word title had nothing to do with today’s (OK yesterday’s) Six Word Memoir theme which if you recall was about love and relationships (of all kinds).   So first let’s get to those clever gems sent in by some of my readers:

Rich is coming home. Thank goodness! – Susan Celtic Lady

She better be the last one! – Spinny Liberal

I loved. I lost. Leaving Vegas. – Weez

Listen to gut when wavering – Heide

Can’t wait till tomorrow. Maya Thursday! – Anonymous

Second marriage – my best friend forever. – Me

Since last Monday, a couple of other events have occurred;  First off, we had April15th, the dreaded Income Tax Due Day come and go with a blessed 3 day extension, Passover began and Spring showed itself for maybe 2 of the last 7 days.  Here are some Six Word Memoirs reflecting this past week.

Tax day, Ocean Grove, no line! – Heide

No more pancakes. Thank you Passover! – Lauren

Tennis, lunch, read, nap, dinner, bed –Heather

I do think themes are a good way to get you thinking about summing up an experience in just six words, no more, no less.  This week is a continuation of Passover and ends in Easter, not to mention some people are on Spring break.  Let’s try to come up with something along those lines.  AND remember there REALLY IS A SIX WORD PROJECT  online at Smith Magazine.  The editor and publisher ACTUALLY stopped by the blog one Monday and read what we have been doing and encouraged all of you to visit the site and post your own Six Word Memoir.  www.smithmag.net

See you all in the blogasphere.

Read Full Post »

Passover Seder Plate

The Seder Plate

During Passover, it is custom and tradition in the Jewish culture  to invite friends to share a Passover Seder meal;  especially friends who are in need or alone and additionally inviting a goy, (shikse in my case) to join is a way to extend the hand of friendship.  Lucky for me I have good friends!  Susan and Jim invited me to join them tomorrow evening for a Passover meal, not a full-blown Seder but that’s ok with me.

Last year I posted a blog about the story of the Seder and a bit of an Italian Easter thrown in.  You might enjoy reading it:   https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/why-is-this-night-different-from-all-other-nights/you will have to copy and paste this link.

Yiddish phrases every Goy should know especially if they happened to be invited to a Seder.  And this is a good post to read if you are going to attend:  https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/ten-yiddish-words-every-goy-should-know-2/   Copy and paste.

You’ll know you are NOT at a Seder if during the evening meal, the conversation is peppered with some or all of these  Yiddish words:

kvetsh To complain, whine or fret.

mishegas:  Insanity or craziness

shlemiel: a clumsy or inept person-the kind of person who always spills his soup.

shlimazel:  someone with constant bad luck – the person the shlemiel spills his soup on.

shmendrick:  a jerk, or stupid person

tsuris:  serious troubles, not just minor annoyances

plotz:to explode in aggravation.

Have a Zeisen Pasach and for heaven’s sake, watch out for the 7 plagues.

Read Full Post »

Well for one thing I didn’t have to cook! And yes that can be a blessing!! We were invited to participate in a Seder dinner hosted by one of our friends.  A delightful evening with excellent food and old friends as well as some new.

Tonight ( I started to write this last night)  is the first night of Passover and it is quite powerful to think that all over the world where ever Jews have gathered together, the ritualistic meal and ceremony being celebrated will be virtually identical.  There are variations;  shortened versions, some more religious and some more guest interactive than others.  Over the years I’ve been privileged to attend many Seders and I’m partial to the full blown ceremony – where there is a leader and all of the guests read a passage from the Haggadah.  Our friend, Ellen always hosted the most elaborate and meaningful Seder dinners.  The table is set traditionally and explanations are given for the meaning of the symbolic foods and tableware.  It’s true that this type of Seder can lead to some seat squirming by the younger set and there is a point where you get really hungry and hope that the gifilte fish will be coming out of the kitchen soon!! But I ‘m Catholic and old enough to have been raised with the Latin Mass  and I like ceremony…. High Mass with its incense is still a clear memory in my mind.  I digress slightly….  Passover is the story of celebrating the freedom the Jews obtained when they fled Egypt.  Passover is literally the story of the Angel of Death passing over the households that had the blood of the Paschal lamb above the doorway indicating that there were Jews living there and the first born male should be spared from the Tenth Plague.  The Seder plate, a traditional platter on the table holds the following items: Maror – the bitter herb symbolizing the bitterness of their slavery, Karpas – the vegetable, usually parsley which is dipped into salt water (symbolizing the tears of slavery) as an appetizer dates back to biblical times, Charoset –apples, nuts, spices ground together and mixed with wine symbolizes the mortar the Hebrew slaves used to build the Egyptian structures, Zeroa – shank bone of a lamb symbolizing the Paschal lamb sacrificed for Passover, and Beitzah- a roasted egg symbolizing mourning of the loss of the Temple and also spring, the season when Passover is celebrated.  There is Matzoh served in lieu of any bread because when the Jews fled Egypt they didn’t have any time to leaven their bread.  Conservative Jews refrain from eating any leavened bread for the full week of Passover.

Matzoh, Matzah, Schmura


Some of the courses include Gifilte fish, often served as the first course and accompanied by the bitter herb, horseradish, followed by Matzoh Ball soup, delicious in homemade chicken broth, which has now become a New York coffee shop staple, and followed by an array of dishes; brisket, stuffed breast of veal, kugel, potatoes and way too much more! There are the 4 questions, the most well known of which is the title of this blog and asked by the youngest person at the table and finally the Afikomen hunt which is the official ending of the Seder.  At the beginning of the Seder, the leader breaks a piece of Matzoh in threes and hides the largest piece.  At the conclusion of the Seder, the leader asks the children at the meal to look through out the house for the Afikomen and bring it to him so that the Seder can end.  There is so much more to this traditional holiday but Dayenu or enough.  Dayenu is a traditional Passover song; the essence is It would have been enough for us…. further meaning to thank God for his many gifts – it would have been enough for us just to have received the Torah or it would have been enough for us just to be freed.

As a Gentile and Catholic sitting through and listening to the Seder, I am always struck by the similarity of many of the Easter traditions and those of Passover.  Take for instance the time of the year, both occur annually in the spring. The green vegetable always a sign of spring is always present at the Easter meal, often asparagus as they are the forerunners of the fresh vegetable season.  Many Christians serve an Easter ham for their dinner, however, just as many serve a Leg of Lamb.  Both slaughters of a newborn animal done traditionally in the spring.  Then there’s the Easter Egg, for us the egg symbolizes birth, rebirth, new life – very much in keeping with the season when the trees, flowers and plant life are all coming back to life.  Do you  see a parallel  between the annual Easter Egg hunts and finding the Afikomen?

Easter as a Christian holiday universally celebrates the Risen Christ, however, after that the holiday takes on many cultural and ethnic traditions.  As an Italian-American, Easter in my home included Pizzagaina, a traditional Italian Easter pie.   My Grandmother used to make it and we always looked forward to this once a year treat.  It is a pie or bread that is stuffed with various meats such as ham, proscuitto, sopressatto, mortadella and cheeses and eggs.  The story as it has been told is that the women of the household would gather on Good Friday and make and bake the pie.  It was then cooled and chilled and could not be eaten before noon on Holy Saturday.

There are other ethnic traditions such as the intricately decorated eggs of Czechoslovakia, the Passion Plays in South America, in Austria eggs are dyed green on Maundy Thursday and crullers are fried, in Russia pussy willow branches are picked and used to tap friends on the shoulder bringing them good luck.  There is Paasbrood in the Netherlands, a yeasty bread made with currants and raisins – sound familiar? Hot Cross Buns!

Christian Easter Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

My husband and I have our own tradition, one shared by hundreds of other New Yorkers – we walk in the Easter Parade down Fifth Avenue.  We don our Easter bonnets, well in his case, a Straw Boater and we stroll up and down the Avenue.  It is great fun and I love making an outrageously floral and ribbon concoction  for my Easter Bonnet. This year is going to be thrilling for me because ever since Finley Ray was born (19 months ago) I have been waiting for the Easter Sunday that she would be able to walk or maybe stroll – er with us.  This Easter Sunday, little Finny will be with us, all decked out in a traditional Easter outfit a la my past – She will be wearing a mint green dress with a matching coat and hat – pink roses on the hat and all!!  Look for a future blog with photos.

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.
I’ll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter Parade.
On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the girl I’m taking to the Easter Parade.

Happy Easter to all and a Guten Pesach!

Read Full Post »