◊ On My Way Back

 

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Dear mom,

I know I started it, but I REALLY want to change the topic. I’m tired of this working-mom-only-child-guilt back and forth grumble. I just have one thing left to say: I can’t decide whether my lack of embarrassment about you mentioning my green poop in public is an indication of good or bad parenting. I have zero shame about my vibrant digestive tract and blue jello/kool-aid habit.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.18.39 PMRegardless of how that relates to your parenting skills, let’s give ourselves hardy pats on the back to forgive the mistakes and acknowledge our okay-ness and move the F on. Or do you need more space to process?

Passover is over, Natalya’s wedding is over and the opulent days of cooking, eating and celebrating together have come to a pause. I am now laying on the floor of terminal 4 at JFK, legs up the wall, trying to get some blood flowing before hours of cramped feet on my flight back to Israel.

I was weirdly not looking forward to coming home for Passover and now I’m weirdly not looking forward to returning to Israel for the rest of the semester. I feel disconnected from life there after being away for only three weeks. Whenever I come home, I sleep too much, eat too much, whine too much, throw my clothes on the floor like someone will pick them up for me (because someone most always does) and am reckless at the grocery store. I regress. I just want to crawl back under my big down comforter and go shopping at Whole Foods when I wake up. The energy required to have responsibilities again is daunting.

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Things at home were good. There were no tears at any of the family dinners; yelling in front of strangers was kept to a minimum; we only did one round of shots before each Seder and your gefilte fish was good; conversations were tame. I didn’t even pick up any quotable Abe references. There’s not much to report about Natalya’s wedding either — it was just plain fun.

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So the visit was good and normal, which is strange. Maybe I built up the eccentricities of our family and friends in my head while I was away… but I’m pretty certain that all this normality is not normal for us. Am I disappointed by the lack of crazy? Maybe just bored.

This is why our blog is important … Now, after this small reflection, I am feeling more optimistic about getting back to the streets that no one is allowed to forget that Moses, Jesus, Mohamed and Natalie Portman worshiped… To using physical force against hunchbacked old women in our fight for the best cucumbers in wrinkled veggie bins at the market … To bearing the strength of my elbows as I squeeze my body onto buses. In a few hours I’ll be back to this craziness and more. Until then I’ll muster the will to go back to being in charge of my life. It seems hard and fun and I’ll still miss home.

xo,

Shaina

Below are a few of the Passover recipes I mentioned in our previous post for Passover ideas. I will say that year was our best year for Seder food yet. Especially the Yemini Charozet… yum. IMG_2266

Dvora’s Yemini Charozet

  • 2/3 cup walnutsIMG_2232
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 inch slice of ginger root
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 tbs ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne powder

 

First, toast walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds separately. Spread nuts evenly on tray and place into toaster oven on 350 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. All toaster ovens work at different speeds, so check frequently… nuts go from toasted to burnt very quickly (especially the sesame seeds!), so be vigilant.

Once nuts are toasted, dump dates, raisins and spices into a food processor and add orange juice as needed. Add walnuts and almond once the fruit is blended and pulse until nuts are crushed, but not pureed. Once desired consistency has been reached, stir in sesame seeds. If you are nervous about the spices, you can stir them in afterwards. The result should be sweet with a spicy edge. This charozet doubles as a jam – the cumin is a surprising touch. It’s perfect treat to swirled into yogurt or spread over an apple.

 

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Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 8 Persian cucumbers
  • 2/3 C raw peanuts
  • 1/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (about 3 big handfuls of loose cilantro)

Dressing:

  • 1 tsp chili flakes or ground cayenne (depending on spice tolerance)
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs salad vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar or honey
  • dash of sea salt

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Creamy Avocado Quinoa with fresh dill

  • IMG_22883 medium zucchinis, cut into 3/4-inch circles
  • 3 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 3/4 inch circles
  • 
1 1/2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 
dash of sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 
zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 
2 cloves grushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (optional)
  • 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked, room temperature (I use tri-color quinoa)

Garnish with:

  • 
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup goat feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 
chopped fresh dill

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Preheat oven to 375 on convection setting. Place zucchini and squash coin in large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread thinly on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place into oven for 15 – 25 minutes, until outer edges become brown and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, mash all of the dressing items together with the back of a fork into a creamy sauce. Gently fold dressing and zucchini and squash into quinoa. Garnish with dill, feta cheese and pine nuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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♦ NO, What?!

Dear Shaina,

No, What?!

It does seem that thou protesteth a wee bit much.

I do not hold you responsible for your only-child status.  Nor do I hold you culpable for my mother-worry (something that even mothers of multiples have). And who ever asked you to tailor (nice Zayde metaphor) any of your needs or actions to my neuroses?!  Putting you back in the womb?!…you have spent less time in the womb (literally and metaphorically) than almost any kid I know, including Abe’s.

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So, NO, WHAT?!

No, you won’t stop traveling around the world or wherever! I don’t expect you to.

No, you won’t stop experiencing your life to the fullest! I hope not.

No, you won’t live your life for me! Who asked you to?

No, you won’t stop running 10 miles a day…so your feet will hurt!

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Despite my mother-angst and neuroses, I have spent much of my parenting consciousness focused on mitigating the burdens of your only-childness…from play-group to sleep-away camp, from staying out of your classrooms to encouraging you to make your own decisions about schools, coursework, career, travel, friends…just about everything. Dad and I both understood the importance of you finding and being your own person…and supported you in that process and its outcome. Personally, I think we did a damn good job (maybe too good a job)!

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I am sorry that you bear this burden, but I also know that even if you had 5 brothers and sisters, the challenges of finding your own life burdened by fulfilling your fantasy of your parents wishes and dreams would still be there. My own parents, your Bubbe and Zayde, wanted only one thing from us…for us to be happy…the ultimate in a catch-22 parental demand/burden/expectation. If you defy them, you suffer; if you comply, they win…but so do you.  That takes a while to learn. It is my only wish for you, also.

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I recognize your separateness from me and mine from you. My feelings are my own and not intended to impose expectations on you.  That is your problem to deal with (although you seem to be dealing with it just fine). I accept fully who you are and who you are continually becoming.  My mother-love is bursting with pride and I am, with some objectivity, in awe of all your accomplishments, your daring, your zest for life and your skills in managing the hurdles of growing up and staying alive. If there ever were expectations, you have exceeded them all…so get over it.

And now that your SHAINA sign (from your Bat Mitzvah) has fallen off your bedroom door, it may be time for you to clean out that childhood shelter of protection and fantasy.

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That doesn’t mean I won’t always being praying for your health, happiness, safety and mazel. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t be hoping that, one day, I will see one of those eggs (which I absolutely know are your own) come to fruition. No pressure.

I couldn’t love you more…just the way you are.

Love,

Mom

xoxooxoxxoxoxoxoxoox

Crustless Quiche Appetizer

After all of our recent discussions, I thought I might send a blander recipe to settle things down a bit.  It still has lots of flavor, but could be spiced up if you want.

I made this dish for an event I was going to.  I needed something dairy or veggie that would yield a lot of pick-up bite-sized snacks that could be served at room temperature. This worked out perfectly!  It can also be made in a more traditional quiche dish and served hot or made in individual mini muffin trays (although that seems like a lot more work).

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To adapt for Passover, leave out the flour and you could add a little matzoh meal.  If you leave out both, it becomes gluten free.

Preheat Oven to 350°

  • 1 pound chopped spinach, fresh (sautéed) or frozen, drained
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms, sautéed
  • 1 large or two small onions, chopped and sautéed
  • ~ 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup jarlsburg cheese, grated and mixed together
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 6 eggs, slightly beaten
  • Scant 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese for topping

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Reserve 3/4 cup of the cheddar/Jarlsburg cheese mixture for the topping and set aside.

Place spinach, mushrooms, onions and cheddar/Jarlsburg cheese in a large bowl and mix together.

Combine milk, cream, cottage cheese, slightly beaten eggs, flour and spices in a bowl and mix together.

Add the milk/cream mixture to the vegetable/cheese mixture and mix thoroughly.

Lightly spray bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” glass baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray.

Pour quiche mixture into the baking dish.

Mix parmesan cheese with remaining cheddar/Jarlsburg mixture and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Bake at 350° for 40 – 50 minutes or until top browns slightly and casserole is set.

Casserole may be undercooked and frozen for later use. Defrost and allow to come to room temperature and finish baking in the oven at 350°.

Cut into 1″ squares for pick-up appetizers.