Okay, before I start writing the actual blog post, I have to share my moment of shock and awe with you guys. I know I keep saying that two people read this blog, and one of them gave birth to me, and the other has to keep me happy if he wants to keep sharing my bed. But dudes? This blog now has FIFTY FOLLOWERS. I know that’s not a lot compared to say, Yarn Harlot standards, but for my humble little blog, that is HUGE. FIFTY of you read my posts regularly. I am stunned. And curious – what the heck do you all find so interesting here? Don’t get me wrong, I’m THRILLED you’re here, but I have to wonder why??? (Be forewarned, there is a tiny bit of knitting content at the end of the foodgasm – if that’s what you’re here for, scroll down.)
Anyway, as you know, (see, here I’d make a comment about the two of you who read the blog, but I can’t do that now. FIFTY!) I was flying to Chicago over the weekend to spend Passover with Rob and his family – and to prepare the Passover Seder. First Night Seder has always been hosted by Rob’s mother, in her home. This year was the first time the torch was passed on, because she doesn’t enjoy the immense amount of work it requires anymore, and she knows I love puttering in the kitchen and couldn’t wait to try my hand at it! So she cooked the brisket and provided the jars of Gefilte fish, and I did the rest. Our friends Steve and Beckie came over with their two children as well, and Beckie made the most amazing Apple Kugel. If she agrees to share the recipe with me, I will post it here a bit later.
The food-fest started out by cooking a pot of chili to fill Rob’s freezer with. I love him, but he does not cook much and certainly does not undertake endeavours like ADVANCE cooking. Once in a while, I’ll do a big batch of something and put several containers in his freezer to keep him well-fed and happy. I believe I’ve shared my chili recipe before. Anyway, after I did that, there was a lot of Passover cooking to be done. I’ll post this tiny disclaimer here – we do not keep kosher. We do avoid chametz during Passover, but that’s about as far as we go. If you’re looking for super kosher Passover fare, I’m afraid you’ll have to look somewhere else. I’ll apologize in advance for the lack of photos, but I was so frazzled by the time I got everything set out that I forgot to take pictures (bad blogger, I).
I started out by making applesauce for Marisa’s Apple Horseradish Conserve over at Food in Jars – reason being that I can’t eat traditional charoset (I react very badly to even the smallest amounts of alcohol). I had a bit of trouble with the recipe, in that she says to use 5-6 apples to get 6 cups of applesauce. I had seven very large MacIntosh apples (my favorite for just about everything), and ended up with 2 cups of sauce. I did not follow her directions for preparing the applesauce. She says, and I quote, “simmer 5-6 peeled and cored apples with a little water until tender and mashable.” Ladies and gentlemen, I cooked those apples down to NOTHING in the crockpot. And cooked. And mashed. And cooked some more. They were a very deep brown when I was done. That’s not applesauce, that’s apple butter. I goofed, but it was still delicious (fortunately, Rob had two jars of store-bought applesauce in the fridge). I also plumped the raisins in boiling water before adding them to the mix. And believe me when I say that if you’re using fresh horseradish (and you must, for this… don’t use prepared horseradish!), do it outside. The SMELL. I was breathing clearly by the end of it all. This recipe turned out so fantastic and delicious that half the leftovers went home with Steve and Beckie (who declared it addictive) and the rest will be enjoyed by Rob over the next few weeks. There wasn’t enough left to be canned!
I did make some traditional charoset, using two apples, 1/2 cup of Manischewitz wine, about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, a drizzle of honey and about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. If you make it the day ahead, the flavors have more time to combine and apparently it’s much tastier. (Wouldn’t know.)
A few family members were concerned that there wouldn’t be much in the way of vegetables (HA! they don’t know me yet…). I did a pan of oven-roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions with garlic powder and thyme (just chop them up, toss in a large ziploc bag with 2 Tbsp olive oil and the spices to coat evenly, toss into a baking pan and bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes), some oven-roasted zucchini (trim, drizzle with olive oil, add the zest of 1 lemon to give it a nice flavor and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes), some Zucchini Parmesan Crisps, with the Parmesan omitted (I didn’t know at that point that dinner didn’t have to be kosher – I also used Matzo meal rather than bread crumbs) and a green bean casserole.
For dessert, we had a dish of the requisite fruit jelly slices and macaroons and a HUGE bowl of fruit salad (I used Martha Stewart’s recipe and tossed in some strawberries for good measure). For the record, I don’t think I’ll ever put bananas in fruit salad again. They turn to mush, and they’re disgusting. All in all, everyone left the table stuffed and happy, and leftovers went home with just about everyone. I did learn how to do Gefilte fish from scratch in preparation for all this, but thankfully, my realistic side took over (FOR ONCE) and I decided NOT to undergo a very time-consuming and laborious process for something that half of us don’t like to eat in the first place. The surprise hit of the evening? The zucchini crisps! They were devoured and not a single one was left over! The good news is, I think they’ll let me come back next year!
As for the knitting…. WELL. MIss Hannah (Steve and Beckie’s daughter) was in a very creative rendition of 101 Dalmatians that weekend, and we went to see the play (she was awesome!). Also in town to see the play were Steve’s brother Michael and his wife Chrissy, and their new daughter Lauren. Now anyone who knows me knows that I adore babies! I hadn’t knit anything for Miss Lauren at that point, since I wasn’t sure when I would get to see them again. They’re all very close, since Rob is pretty much the 5th Bergman Brother (or Steve is the 3rd Schwartz brother, however you want to look at it). I knew I wanted to bring something special for this VERY special baby (newest Bergman in quite a while, and Michael and Chrissy’s first!).
I don’t know if I mentioned the crocheted blanket squares I started making a few months ago, but I decided to choose a few of those to make a blanket out of. Sadly, I did not think to get a picture of the completed blanket, since I finished the border on the plane. I’ve asked Mike to take a photo for me. It turned out much better than the last “squares” blanket I made (back when I first learned to knit) and I”m quite pleased with it. I’ve had a growing pile of blanket squares sitting around for ages, because I was afraid they wouldn’t turn out right. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I do have a picture of the squares before I connected them and did the border:
I do hope they enjoy it, although I did warn them it was a bit warm for summer use – I was sweltering with the whole thing on my lap on the plane!