Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Beautiful Early May Weekend

Saul and I really enjoyed sleeping late in our own bed on Friday morning. The last few weeks we had been running back and forth from Washington to Baltimore. We had no plans for the day other than to prepare Shabbat dinner. I had no idea what I would prepare. After we dawdled and had some breakfast, he suddenly had a big gulp and checked the calendar. It turned out that one of his students was presenting a senior project and had begged him to attend even though Friday is his day off. He left me to finish up some garden work and prepare dinner. I really didn't know what I would make for dinner until Faith called to say she would join us and asked if dinner was meat or dairy. I decided at that moment it would be meat and went scrounging in the freezer. I had some chicken soup frozen and some chicken dumplings frozen that Saul had perfectly filled and folded after I made the filling. I had some chicken cutlets and a package of Moroccan sausage from Simon's. I had a bunch of Granny Smith apples in the refrigerator. After a few hours, Saul returned and joined in the labor of preparing dinner. Ari had commented last week that I hadn't made Uncle Jack's chicken in a long time.

Uncle Jack lived with us for a few months when he was recovering from open heart surgery. He was diabetic and until he was strong enough to inject himself, Saul gave him his shots every morning. His diet did not allow salt or sugar. I invented this chicken in desperation for something with flavor. I used to saute loads of onions in some toasted sesame oil, toss in thinly sliced chicken breast meat, and then add Ken's Lite Honey Mustard dressing. We would enjoy it in a long roll which had been scooped out. A few years back, it became dairy and I could no longer use it on chicken. Friday, I invented something similar adding Dijon mustard, fresh ground black pepper, dried tarragon, orange blossom honey, a splash of orange juice and some yuzu. It was delicious over wild and brown basmati rice. I think I will be doing it again, except today, Beth pointed out that I have not made her favorite satay sauced chicken in a long time either, so I guess that will be next. I'd better stock up on chicken cutlets!

I made a crumb-topped apple-quince pie for dessert with the apples and the last jar of preserved quinces from my trees. The quince trees are in flower right now and are absolutely beautiful. Hopefully, the coddling moths that ruin them will leave me enough to preserve in the fall.

I think that the last month or so is the longest I have gone in twenty-five years without baking challah on Friday. We were using up all the extra ones in the freezer before Passover, and then Passover fell on a Saturday, so there was no challah for two weeks in a row. We all really savored the fresh-baked ones.

At synagogue on Saturday there was a bat mitzvah, Brianna Spector. She was very poised and well-versed in her parasha. Sitting in front of us was a whole contingent of kids whom we had taught at Temple Sinai. It was a very warm and pleasant experience, even though the kids were a bit antsy (who isn't at that age?). I learned from Janice Eisenberg at services that Sandy had actually died from a ruptured aorta. I think that that was more information than I actually had wanted to know, just like seeing the crushed car in which she died.

After a lunch of leftovers, I did the previous Sunday's New York Times Crossword Puzzle, my great weekly pleasure (even though I am not supposed to write on Shabbat) and we took a long afternoon nap. Saturday evening, Faith Rubin joined us. We ordered in a fried eggplant pizza from Franconi's and sat and schmoozed for a few hours. SNL had a rerun.

Today, Ken and Randi picked up Mom, took her for a walk in a nearby park and went to Pumpernick's for breakfast. Saul and I begged off so we could continue getting our landscaping in order. We really enjoyed being outside in the great weather. When we became too tired to work any more, we got in the car and visited one of my favorite nurseries, Brick's, where they usually have a great selection of herb plants. I did get an incredible assortment of basils--lemon, lime, cinnamon, Italian, mini, etc., but not my favorite--Thai. I will have to keep hunting through more nurseries. How sad ;-).

Beth came over and we had dinner in the gazebo. How wonderful that there are no mosquitoes this time of year! If only we could have summers without mosquitoes and Japanese beetles. That would be the Garden of Eden for me--perfect weather with no pesky, stinging, destructive, disease-carrying bugs to spoil the enjoyment. I guess I would have to eliminate deer, groundhogs, voles, raccoons and rabbits, too. I guess my idea of heaven is getting a bit exclusive.

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