Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Passover

So Pesach was really great! I didn't take any pictures because I couldn't find the camera easily in the rush of all the cooking and all the people, so you'll just have to use your old-fashioned visualizing skills!

We had 29 people total - after 4 or 5 people who were planning on coming weren't able to make it! Which is probably a good thing, because although they were missed, we used every single available piece of furniture from our apartment, Faye and Katie's apartment, and Amanda and Tom's apartment in our quest to seat everyone and provide them a surface upon which to place their food. We have finally found the limits of our hosting capabilities! It actually didn't feel that packed, because we did a great job the day before of thinking it through and arranging all the furniture (in a long line through both living rooms of tables flanked by couches and chairs, with the bar sticking out into the center of the library to turn it all into an L-shape) so that everyone had at least a small space of their own, and passage wasn't too difficult.

We had enough food and just exactly enough wine. Alex and I had spent probably 6-8 hours each in the days leading up to Monday prepping, cooking, and arranging the house - not counting planning the menu or grocery shopping! Which really wasn't too bad, spread out over several days, particularly since I actually enjoy cooking and baking! On Monday itself we had a lot of help, particularly from the lovely Jillian, who showed up at 2:30 and didn't stop chopping vegetables for an hour and a half! Menu items included 96 deviled eggs (one batch of which I forgot to serve, which means we have leftovers, which is AWESOME! because all deviled eggs will always get eaten if they are put out in public, it's just the way of the world), veggies with hummus and delicious (if I do say so myself!) ricotta basil dip (with homemade ricotta! well, fake ricotta, made with acid rather than whey), matzo ball soup chock full of veggies (although for some reason the matzo balls got passed around before the soup, and mostly got eaten separately. weird), utterly scrumptious fish soup that Jamie and Alf had spent the entire previous day making, leek patties, potato-leek matzo casserole (no one in the Seid family likes wet matzo, but it is very popular with all other people of my acquaintance, and the leek patties and casserole were big hits), charoses concocted by Rivka and Lital, startlingly fresh horseradish as well as enchiladas and baklava from Lynne and Teri, a hilariously inappropriate but fairly tasty ham-cheese-and-noodle casserole that I'm not even sure who brought, cupcakes from Esther, fresh mint ice cream and cinnamon ice cream from Amanda and Tom, and some ugly-because-I-was-rushing-but-still-tasty macarons (pistachio with white chocolate pistachio ganache, and hazelnut with leftover caramel).

We used the Kinderland hagada that I stole when I attended their seder my first year in New York. It's a little Holocaust-heavy and has some lines that have great intent regarding solidarity with other oppressed groups but which could use slight rewording so as not to appropriate the experiences of others, and also it's generally just not as well written (or as short) as Judy's. Also, too many candles to light, which this year we lit only metaphorically, thank goodness. But it's still a pretty good progressive secular hagada. It took about 40 minutes to read through, which isn't bad for a raucus group of 29 people, only two or three of whom are capable of reading Yiddish transliterations in a non-absurd way. It afforded a few moments of solemnity, which I appreciate. I had updated it to be slightly more explicit (although still a little even-handed and a little opaque, as I have guests with Israeli families, and I haven't talked about the issue with them previouly) about my justice-for-Palestinians sympathies, and next year I'll remember to add the Rape of Nanking to the list of events that we are committed to remembering. Although next year we'll be using the Seid family hagada, which we would have done this year if I had located my copy of it BEFORE I made 7 copies of the Kinderland one! Heck, maybe I'll even put together my own, with bits from each and bits of my own! If I'm feeling ambitious.

We had a good 6-8 Jews present, which was cool, and another probably 5-10 people for whom this was their first seder (plus everyone in the middle, friends who are not Jewish but who have been to my seders before), which was very cool. Passover is turning into the favorite holiday of all my New York-based friends, and I will totally take credit for that! It turns out that my Jew-job is providing people with their first Passover experience, and it is a job I totally embrace! Also, providing expat Californian Jews with a home for the holiday while exposing them to a more progressive version of the holiday they know (and boy do they tend to be super thrilled about it).

And so today I am tired but pleased, and I only work six hours, until 3:30, when I can go home and take a nap before book club! (We're reading The Summer King by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Emily's pick, and it's pretty cool so far. I can't tell yet if there will be more books, though? I hope not, only because I am already in the middle of 11 unfinished series, which is way too many!) Then tomorrow I work at StarVest and then go straight to Xanadu rehearsal, and then on Thursday Esther and I will watch the last Lizzie Bennet Diary together (AGHAHGHGAHGHGH DEVASTATING SADNESS THAT LBD IS OVER AGHAHAGHAGH) and then I'll go out for Carla's birthday, and then on Friday we will all have an LBD wake, and also Ben (the brother of Alex) will get here and we will hang out all weekend, which will be great. Then Andy gets here and stays for a week, and then I have some music directing master classes to go to, and then Xanadu goes up... basically, I don't get to rest until the end of April. Yikes! But it will all be great stuff, and I will try to remember to blog about it! See y'all later :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

To Winter

(since clearly my hope for spring was in vain)

O winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o’er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain’d, sheathed
In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes;
For he hath rear’d his sceptre o’er the world.

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

He takes his seat upon the cliffs, the mariner
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch! that deal’st
With storms, till heaven smiles, and the monster
Is driven yelling to his caves beneath Mount Hecla.

That's William Blake. And I love it, but if someone could explain the meter in the last stanza to me, I would be obliged.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Y'ALL, I AM REALLY GREAT AT THIS

Baking, that is.

View my BEAUTIFUL MACARONS, please:

 (1st - cacao nib macaron shells; 2nd - buttery almond macaron shells; 3rd - buttery almond macaron with salted mint buttercream; 4th - cacao nib macaron with bittersweet espresso ganache)

(also, they are SO DELICIOUS. the cacao nib ones particularly. the butter ones are no bittersweet espresso, but they are pretty freaking good when sandwiched with their creamy white buttercream - with a hint of sweetness giving way to faint mint, and finally leaving a lovely salted butter aftertaste. mmmmm.)





Macarons, Austen Day, and Work!

Hey, y'all!

Baking right now, for Austen day tomorrow - two kinds of macarons. Sweet vanilla almond macarons with bittersweet espresso ganache and cacao nibs, and buttery almond macarons with salted mint buttercream.

The first one I found online (and here's a secret - "sweet vanilla almond" just means "regular," actually); the second I made up. Not sure how it's going to taste yet - I added a 16th teaspoon of butter flavor and an extra pinch of salt to the meringue, and added another 16th teaspoon each of butter flavor and peppermint extract, with another pinch of salt, to the buttercream. The meringue batter and the buttercream individually tasted lovely when I stuck my finger in them, so here's hoping! The cacao ones are out of the oven, pictures to come; the delicate yellow buttery ones are still in the oven. And can I just say how much I love my new insulated cookie sheets? My cookies in general are coming out so much more even - and so far the whole macaron batch has only one, count 'em, ONE cracked shell! Booyah!

Austen day, by the way, is to be approximately 12 hours of Jane Austen movie adaptation marathoning (Keira Knightly P&P, the 2007 Persuasion with that blonde guy, the 1999 Mansfield Park with the brunette holding a key, the Emma miniseries, and one or another of the Northanger Abbeys. No Sense and Sensability because I haven't read it yet and ACTUALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN IT, so no spoilers, please [yes, I'm aware it's been out for two hundred years, thank you very much], and not the for-real 5 hour P&P because it's too long, and no Clueless/Lost in Austen etc. because we don't have time - we'll just have to have Austen day part 2 at some point!), accompanied by appropriate-feeling snacks (tea sandwiches, maybe scones) (yes, I know macarons are French) and tea.

In other news, I saw Pentatonix a couple weeks ago and it was very cool - big theatre, lots of lights and pop/rock concert style effects. Not gonna say I don't prefer them in a more intimate venue where I can hear the less-amplified vocal blend and see their faces a little better, but they handled the bigger show very well, managing during most of it to continue to provide a pretty friendly, intimate feel. Plus now that they've earned doing whatever they want from their last tour, we got to see some beat-boxing/cello playing from Kevin, some (AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING) dwarf singing from Avi, and some very cute goofing off, plus of course a double handful of new arrangements and a new audience sing-a-long. It's been great watching them grow as a group!

Further news - I'm music directing Xanadu at Little Radical Theatrics in White Plains in March and April, and I'm working for Edlyn's company, StarVest, as clerical support, starting now. (No more unemployment - yay! Although of course I still have to make sure they give me the $ for the 7 weeks during which I filed... haven't seen that yet, eh....) I have also accepted summer work at Thin Air Theatre Company in Cripple Creek, Colorado, for which I am totally excited quite a lot.

Gotta run and check the macarons! Plus sandwiching them, and taking photos... ttyl!