Easter Day

Apr. 17th, 2017 12:13 am
lillibet: (Default)
Lately, Sundays have become especially busy. If I only have two or three events on my calendar for a Sunday, that's a pretty easy-going day--sometimes there are five. Perhaps because of that, today felt only moderately busy.

I was surprised to find, as Easter approached, that I was thinking of my mother more than usual. It felt so strange to be planning for the day without figuring out how to include her. Perhaps it's because for her it was still a very religious holiday, or just because I have so many memories, so many pictures of us all gathered in the sunshine in our Sunday best, with her tucked between her giant girls.

This year I actually wondered if we had to celebrate Easter as a family. And then I thought sure, keeping the tradition of getting the family together a few times a year is no bad thing. I wondered if I might turn to my sisters and ask what plan they might come up with that didn't involve my house, or me cooking. And I thought about hiring a chef, which I've done a few times, or going to a restaurant. But in the end I decided that I did want to cook and to gather family and friends around the table.

The day started early, getting to First Parish by 8am so we would have time to eat breakfast there and practice our skit before the choir gathered at 8:30. Jo and I were performing a piece based on The Yellow Tutu, with narration by our fabulous DRE and some mean-girl assistance from members of the choir. It was short and sweet and involved the indelible image of the two of us dancing in front of the congregation wearing tutus on our heads.

Our minister had asked us to wear silly hats and I'd decided to get this blue fascinator, which was an utter hoot to wear. The adult and children's choirs collaborated on "Easter Bonnet" and we sang lots of joyful hymns. We also did a responsive reading that I found really moving, adapted from a sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber:

Some Modern Beatitudes )

During her invocation for communion, Marta also gave us a chance to speak the names of the dead who were in our thoughts today and I was so grateful for the chance to say my mother's name, to invoke the presence that has been hovering over me this week.

Alice had a grand time in the Easter Egg Hunt--her first year in the graveyard with the big kids. We stayed for the first part of the second service, in which Alice was one of the readers, while Jason and I reprised our performances, and then snuck out. The car said it was 82F as we pulled out and I was dreading turning on the oven for dinner. But while I took a nap, Jason turned on the AC and it was actually pleasant inside throughout the day. Alice found her Easter basket and seemed to enjoy the various treats and toys I'd included in it.

While Jason de-cluttered and got the dining room set for dinner, I roasted the lamb that had been marinating since yesterday, on top of potatoes, onions, mushrooms and garlic, which I seved with a very tasty demi-glace. I made way too many deviled eggs, with the help of Lisa, Paulo, and George at various points. Beckie & Neil brought the traditional too-much-nosh (shrimps and cheeses and summer sausage and pate and olives, oh my!). Anne & G. brought Greek-style braised green beans and I made a chopped Greek salad and heated up some Hawaiian rolls that miraculously survived several months in the freezer to be wonderfully soft and tasty. Dave and Jo collaborated to decorate the spiced carrot chiffon cake I had made yesterday with honey-cream cheese ice cream and pecans. By the time Hatem got out of work and could join us, we were just about ready to put it all on the table.

The food was reasonably good (not the best I've ever managed, but no one complained) and it seemed like an especially good group of people and conversations. Jo and Beckie helped enormously with the clean-up and by the time everyone had left around 5:30, another half hour got the kitchen to a state where I felt I could leave it. So I took another short nap, rising in time to be awake when the Mourning Becomes Electra arrived for a line-thru of the whole show.

I was able to do the whole thing without my script, though I did get confused and have to call "line" a couple of times. I felt pretty good about it and most other people are also in pretty good shape. This is going to be a really powerful show and there are a lot of dark moments, but we had fun together and it was really nice to be in a room with most of the cast, since that hasn't happened much yet. Jason got Alice to bed during one of the stretches when he's not on stage, but I was able to pop up and kiss her goodnight.

The cast and crew took off and after a break, it was time to finish up the kitchen and get the garbage, recycling, and compost to the curb. And now, I think I can say that I am well and truly done. I'm very excited that Alice doesn't have school in the morning.
lillibet: (Default)
This year our guests had a wide range of dietary needs (no dairy, gluten-free, vegan, etc.) so I ended up making smaller quantities of more dishes than I usually attempt. All of them were tasty, so I wanted to note the recipes for future reference.

Various Nosh - baguette, an assortment of crackers, mousse truffee, lemon artichoke pesto, white anchovies, olives, cornichons, cheeses (Cremont, Belton, Beemster) and a couple of kinds of Qs Nuts.

Turkey Breast - Rather than do a whole turkey, I just roasted the largest breast I could find (8.2 lbs.), rubbed with herbed lard. That was a bit of an adventure--last year I tried and failed to find lard, eventually ending up with a jar of duck fat from Dave's Fresh Pasta, which was extremely tasty. I noticed the jars on their shelf a couple of months ago, but when I went to pick one up, they'd discontinued it. So I bought half a pound of lardo (a quarter-pound would have been enough), rendered it over low heat, combined the liquid fat with sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, and left it to re-congeal overnight. I threw the remaining chitlins into the stuffing--it was that or just stand around eating them straight. I think the lard worked well, but if I found duck fat again, or accumulate some in a timely fashion, I would go with that. I roasted the breast over a cup of chicken stock at 350 for just over two hours, covering the skin when it started to get dark and blister. The drippings were especially wonderful.

Slow-Cooker Stuffing - The crust that this recipe promised never developed, but since I wasn't sure that would be a good thing, that was fine. I made it with 20 oz. of mixed breads (some ciabatta, some Italian white, some regular white, some whole wheat--I missed the rye I sometimes add), onions, carrots, celery, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, in addition to the aforementioned chitlins and some of the drippings from the turkey. This was a very nice way to free up some space in the oven and it made wonderfully moist dressing.

Turkey Gravy - Making the gravy ahead of time is my big discovery this year. I made this on Wednesday morning, then reheated it with added drippings just before serving. It was easily the best--and smoothest--gravy I've ever accomplished.

Mushroom Gravy - A vegan and gluten-free alternative gravy, it was tasty, but I think will be much better with beef than with turkey.

Mashed Potatoes - I quite liked these mashed potatoes made with margarine and almond milk. But when I realized that I needed to use two bowls, and I needed to warm another batch of liquid, I went ahead and made the other bowl with butter and cream, and those were tasty, too. I put chives in the vegan ones and cracked black pepper in the dairy ones and that made it easy to keep them straight on the table.

Vegan Green Bean Casserole - This came out very well and disappeared, so I guess other people liked it, too.

Brussels Sprouts Salad - Made with quinoa, cranberries, and pecans with an orange vinaigrette, it was a really delightful mix of textures and flavors.

Beet Salad - Another great combination of flavors and textures. We served the goat cheese and vinaigrette on the side.

Anne's Famous Cloved Yams - This year's version was vegan and gluten-free butternut squash with apples and cinnamon.

Brian's Pumpkin Bread - We got to sample this a couple of weeks ago and I think this loaf was even better--so light and tasty!

Lynne's Apple Butter - We have the best neighbors and this was delicious on the pumpkin bread.

Truffled Lobster Mac & Cheese - Alice has never been fond of any of the traditional Thanksgiving foods and that bothers me more than perhaps it should. So this year I said that I had noticed and would really like to make something special that she would be excited about. She liked that idea and suggested this. I was a little nervous--I've only made mac & cheese from scratch once before and this required a lot of attention just at the crazy "getting it all on the table" part of the process. But it worked really well and Alice and ate two servings and couldn't stop telling me how much she loved it.

Winter Fruit Compote - This is really easy and very tasty. It would work really well mixed with oatmeal. The one thing I would change is to cut the liquid to about a quarter of what's called for in the recipe.

Whipped Coconut Cream - Today's didn't work out as well as when I followed this recipe precisely, but it's delicious and you should do as they say.

Petsi's Pies - Beckie brought pecan and pumpkin pies and they were both really yummy.

Whipped Dairy Cream - sweetened with maple syrup!

Brian's Wonderful Fudge - because he loves us and wants us to be happy.

I did a lot of prep over the past couple of days and had a lot of help, both preparing the food and table, and cleaning up afterward. In some ways this felt like one of the easiest Thanksgivings I've ever done. There's one more load of dishes for the dishwasher, but otherwise the kitchen is clean and I'm thinking I'll turn in early, feeling extremely thankful.
lillibet: (Default)
This morning I am saddened by news from a friend, but I wanted to remember what a lovely day we had yesterday.

Mother's Day is kind of complicated, because we always share it with my mother and sisters. In the past we've tried going out to various places, but it's always a hassle with such a large group and last year, at Flora, was particularly disastrous. So when I found kitchensurfing.com, I thought this would be a perfect solution--and I was right!

It's a clearinghouse for independent chefs. You put in a request for what you want--food dropped off for a meal, a week of meals, a cocktail party, a family dinner served, whatever--and any chefs who are available and interested send you bids. Since it was Mother's Day, I put Jason in charge of the plans and he found Gita Kantrow.

She arrived at noon and got cooking. She served us pan-fried chicken dumplings as a nosh, then we moved to the table and she plated salads of spring greens, pears, and blueberry goat cheese that were light and delicious. That was followed by an amazing glazed salmon with mushroom risotto and there was a dessert of Nutella ravioli with banana caramel muffins for dessert. And then she departed, leaving the kitchen spotless.

The best part? The whole thing cost half what our meal at Flora did.

I generally love cooking for parties and gatherings, but this was such a treat and seems like a great solution for many situations. The whole family agreed that it was a lovely, low-stress day and so much better than any restaurant.
lillibet: (Default)
Today at church the sermon was given by a member of our congregation, Lori Kenschaft. I could have written her opening words myself, about the ambivalence she has always felt about Memorial Day--on the one hand a glorification of war, on the other hand nothing more than the start of summer--but she went on to discuss how she has reclaimed it for herself by exploring its history as an African-American holiday.

Memorial Day was first celebrated on May 1, 1865, by tens of thousands of people--mostly recently freed former slaves, including 3000 black children recently enrolled in new schools--honoring specifically the prisoners of war who had died at a camp in Charleston, SC and more generally all the Union soldiers who had fought and died in the Civil War that was just ending.

Lori talked about the ways that extending the respect and honor of Memorial Day first to those who fought on both sides of the Civil War may have helped the country to restore a sense of unity, but pushed under the rug important differences and contributed to the idea of war as honorable no matter what the reasons for fighting. She talked about the terrible difficulties of black Americans over the next eighty years and connected that to the present day with a few words about the racial injustices of the War on Drugs and the shameful statistics of our prison system.

And then she read from the writings of a black UU minister, Rev. Mark D. Morrison-Reed. He wrote about the differences between the Jewish remembrance of their time of slavery--the suffering acknowledged and liberation celebrated in ritual each year--and the lack of a central moment of remembrance of the history of slavery and oppression for Africans and their African-American descendents, and for the terrible spiritual burden that all Americans continue to bear from that time.

Patriotism is a difficult subject for liberals these days, myself among them. The proudly held right to criticize and protest the excesses and injustices of our country, the ways that we fail to live up to our ideals and to treat our own citizens with dignity and humanity, the importance of remembering not only our glorious moments, but also the shameful ones that have deeper lessons for our future--all of those can make it hard to be simply proud. And yet I am very proud to be an American, to have as my birthright a part in this grand experiment, and to shoulder my part of our history, personal and collective, bright and dark.

I am grateful to Lori for giving me new things to think about this Memorial Day, new ways of connecting this holiday to past, present and future. I hope that all of you have a great weekend, full of friends and family, fresh air and cool drinks. And I hope that each of you takes a moment to think about where we are as a country, where we have been, where we are headed, what you honor and what you feel the need to challenge.

As our postlude, the wonderful Ken Seitz performed our National Anthem. It is our custom to sit during this closing of our time of worship (a word that comes from the concept of worth, of those things that we value highly), but raised by a devout patriot and veteran, I rose to my feet. I was not the first to rise and quickly the entire congregation stood together, honoring our country. I felt proud.
lillibet: (Default)
Fine Cooking had a lot of appealing recipes in their Thanksgiving issue, so I chose several of them. They require registration, so if you don't want to do that, but would really like any particular recipe, let me know and I'll get it to you.

tday 2010 menu

#43 Roasted Turkey Breast Porchetta Style )

#44 Stuffed Turkey Thighs )

Bread Stuffing with Fresh Herbs )

tday 2010 buffet

#45 Jewel-Roasted Vegetables )

Cranberry-Orange Relish with Ginger )

tday 2010 dessert

#46 Pear-Cranberry Crisp )

#47 Brown-Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake )

I also made mashed potatoes and Mom made gravy, Trish got rolls and made the sausage stuffing, and Anne made her Famous Cloved Yams (which this year was Roasted Pumpkin with Cranberries and Sage Brown Butter). And that was our Thanksgiving feast!

lillibet: (Default)
Fine Cooking had a lot of appealing recipes in their Thanksgiving issue, so I chose several of them. They require registration, so if you don't want to do that, but would really like any particular recipe, let me know and I'll get it to you.

tday 2010 menu

#43 Roasted Turkey Breast Porchetta Style )

#44 Stuffed Turkey Thighs )

Bread Stuffing with Fresh Herbs )

tday 2010 buffet

#45 Jewel-Roasted Vegetables )

Cranberry-Orange Relish with Ginger )

tday 2010 dessert

#46 Pear-Cranberry Crisp )

#47 Brown-Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake )

I also made mashed potatoes and Mom made gravy, Trish got rolls and made the sausage stuffing, and Anne made her Famous Cloved Yams (which this year was Roasted Pumpkin with Cranberries and Sage Brown Butter). And that was our Thanksgiving feast!

lillibet: (Default)
We had a relatively small gathering this year, but that meant that we were able to all fit around the table.

Food Notes Behind the Cut )

All-in-all, this meal didn't thrill me like Christmas dinner did, but it was a lovely day and nice to sit around the table with all the windows open and the breezes carrying away the heat of the oven. Huge props to [livejournal.com profile] jason237 for all his assistance and to [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo for pitching in to help out in so many ways.
lillibet: (Default)
We had a relatively small gathering this year, but that meant that we were able to all fit around the table.

Food Notes Behind the Cut )

All-in-all, this meal didn't thrill me like Christmas dinner did, but it was a lovely day and nice to sit around the table with all the windows open and the breezes carrying away the heat of the oven. Huge props to [livejournal.com profile] jason237 for all his assistance and to [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo for pitching in to help out in so many ways.
lillibet: (Default)
I've been making Christmas dinner for my family regularly--not every year, but many--since 1991. I usually make roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. This year somehow it all came out and came together better than ever before, so I thought I should write it down while it's still fresh in my mind.

Read more... )

We were all sad that [livejournal.com profile] bex77 and [livejournal.com profile] audioboy couldn't be with us and Dad had a bad spell this afternoon that threatened to make him miss dinner, as well. But he rallied and it was really nice to gather around the table for some family time at Christmas.

I hope you've all had a wonderful day!
lillibet: (Default)
I've been making Christmas dinner for my family regularly--not every year, but many--since 1991. I usually make roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. This year somehow it all came out and came together better than ever before, so I thought I should write it down while it's still fresh in my mind.

Read more... )

We were all sad that [livejournal.com profile] bex77 and [livejournal.com profile] audioboy couldn't be with us and Dad had a bad spell this afternoon that threatened to make him miss dinner, as well. But he rallied and it was really nice to gather around the table for some family time at Christmas.

I hope you've all had a wonderful day!
lillibet: (Default)
I decided to host my family for Easter dinner today--any excuse for new recipes!

#34 Herb-Stuffed Boneless Leg of Lamb )

#35 Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms and Greens )

#36 Greek Style Potatoes )

#37 Green Beans with Feta Cheese )

#38 Baklava )

The latter was served with the Oatmeal Carrot Cookies from Friday night and deliciously creamy homemade vanilla ice cream, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo. She also showed up bright and early this morning to take the savory cheesecake over to her house for baking. For the many of you who've expressed interest, the recipe for that is here. She also did yeoman work cleaning up.

Anne & G. brought a huge salad (and another guest, Divia) and [livejournal.com profile] heliopsis brought biscuits and sartorial splendor to the occasion. [livejournal.com profile] bex77 brought beautiful blue hydrangeas and took Alice off for the morning while we were in last-minute prep frenzy.

Special mention also goes to my father, who sat and picked thyme off the stalks for about two hours yesterday. He picked more thyme than I needed--about a cupful--which was just amazing and luxurious!

And many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bookly who dropped by yesterday, all unsuspecting, and ended up snapping all the beans for a meal she couldn't even stay to eat.

Lastly, Jason continues to be my hero--he helped so much all around the edges and listening to me talk out the various decisions and then entertained Alice all evening after our guests had left so that I could get a much-needed nap.

I love making big meals for the family, but it's especially nice for it to be such a joint effort.
lillibet: (Default)
I decided to host my family for Easter dinner today--any excuse for new recipes!

#34 Herb-Stuffed Boneless Leg of Lamb )

#35 Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms and Greens )

#36 Greek Style Potatoes )

#37 Green Beans with Feta Cheese )

#38 Baklava )

The latter was served with the Oatmeal Carrot Cookies from Friday night and deliciously creamy homemade vanilla ice cream, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo. She also showed up bright and early this morning to take the savory cheesecake over to her house for baking. For the many of you who've expressed interest, the recipe for that is here. She also did yeoman work cleaning up.

Anne & G. brought a huge salad (and another guest, Divia) and [livejournal.com profile] heliopsis brought biscuits and sartorial splendor to the occasion. [livejournal.com profile] bex77 brought beautiful blue hydrangeas and took Alice off for the morning while we were in last-minute prep frenzy.

Special mention also goes to my father, who sat and picked thyme off the stalks for about two hours yesterday. He picked more thyme than I needed--about a cupful--which was just amazing and luxurious!

And many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bookly who dropped by yesterday, all unsuspecting, and ended up snapping all the beans for a meal she couldn't even stay to eat.

Lastly, Jason continues to be my hero--he helped so much all around the edges and listening to me talk out the various decisions and then entertained Alice all evening after our guests had left so that I could get a much-needed nap.

I love making big meals for the family, but it's especially nice for it to be such a joint effort.
lillibet: (Default)
Who brings the cheese on April 3rd?

The Cheese Weasel

He's not a silly bunny or a reindeer or a bird,

He's the Cheese Weasel

He's got a cute black tail

And tiny buck teeth

He doesn't bring fish, and he

Doesn't bring beef

So you'd better be good if you wanna get some cheese

From the Cheese Weasel.


Wishing you and yours lots of tasty cheese today and every day.
lillibet: (Default)
Who brings the cheese on April 3rd?

The Cheese Weasel

He's not a silly bunny or a reindeer or a bird,

He's the Cheese Weasel

He's got a cute black tail

And tiny buck teeth

He doesn't bring fish, and he

Doesn't bring beef

So you'd better be good if you wanna get some cheese

From the Cheese Weasel.


Wishing you and yours lots of tasty cheese today and every day.
lillibet: (Default)
Yesterday was a really good day. I spent the morning being productive, then Alice and I went to our class at Isis Maternity, where we made Valentines by sticking her hand in paint and then onto a red heart--we got to make two, one for each grandmother!

In the afternoon Alice took a three-hour nap and then ate an enormous supper. J. and I got dressed up, dropped Alice off with my folks for the evening, and went to Rendezvous. It's one of J's very favorite restaurants and we hadn't been there in quite a while. It was a surprise to him and I inadvertently threw him off the scent by taking a clever back way that got us to Central without having to go through either Inman or Union Squares. We even got an easy, convenient and free parking space!

Food Porn and Relationship Musing Behind the Cut )

Full and happy, we came back and picked up Alice, who'd conned Mom into feeding her a whole tuna sandwich and had a lovely time. She ate her yogurt and went right to sleep when we got home, so then J. and I could spend a while soaking in the hot tub, which we use shockingly infrequently, but love every time. We got to bed before 1am, for a change, and Alice slept through the night--she's been doing less-well at that this week, so we are being especially grateful for it.
lillibet: (Default)
Yesterday was a really good day. I spent the morning being productive, then Alice and I went to our class at Isis Maternity, where we made Valentines by sticking her hand in paint and then onto a red heart--we got to make two, one for each grandmother!

In the afternoon Alice took a three-hour nap and then ate an enormous supper. J. and I got dressed up, dropped Alice off with my folks for the evening, and went to Rendezvous. It's one of J's very favorite restaurants and we hadn't been there in quite a while. It was a surprise to him and I inadvertently threw him off the scent by taking a clever back way that got us to Central without having to go through either Inman or Union Squares. We even got an easy, convenient and free parking space!

Food Porn and Relationship Musing Behind the Cut )

Full and happy, we came back and picked up Alice, who'd conned Mom into feeding her a whole tuna sandwich and had a lovely time. She ate her yogurt and went right to sleep when we got home, so then J. and I could spend a while soaking in the hot tub, which we use shockingly infrequently, but love every time. We got to bed before 1am, for a change, and Alice slept through the night--she's been doing less-well at that this week, so we are being especially grateful for it.

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