Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Castle Passover Haggadah

For those of  you wondering how to hold a Christian Passover Meal, Here is the "Castle Haggadah". Even with our reductions, this is a LONG evening, so make sure your pillows are comfortable and that you have back support.  I still crop here and there keeping the most important parts if I notice my children losing interest.  I love the symbolism and any excuse to celebrate and renew my deeply held beliefs. 

 Remove the Chametz
Explanation:  In the days preceding Passover, Jews clean the house thoroughly and remove any trace of chametz or leven from the house.  Leaven (yeast) is a necessary element in baking but also has the power to decay and destroy.  Thus removing leven carries a deeper significance than just its association with the exodus.  It symbolizes the willingness to remove any corrupting influence from ones life.  So in removing the chametz, we symbolize our willingness to obey God in the smallest details.
Preparation:  Before the family gathers, we hide several pieces of regular raised bread in obvious hiding places.
Action:  The young children collect all the hidden pieces of leavened bread to prepare the room for the celebration of the Passover.  When it is collected, it is carried out in a basket so all can see and witness our preparation and willingness to obey. 
Foot Washing
Preparation:  A small bowl of water and a towel for each family member.  
Action:  Read the New Testement account of Christ's last supper, including the part about Jesus Christ washing the feet of the twelve apostles.  The head of our family then gently washes the feet of each family member.  
Light the Passover Candles
Explanation: The Seder begins with the lighting of the Passover candles.  The mother of the home lights the candles.  They symbolize the light of Christ in our lives.
Action:  The Mother lights the candles.  Songs are sung throughout the Seder.  (It is a celebration after all)  Here we sing a song about spiritual freedom or light.  We usually sing, The Lord Is My Light.  At this point we have our prayer and blessing on the food.  Our prayers are not memorized but are heartfelt gratitude for our Savior Jesus Christ and his amazing sacrifice.  

The First Cup:
Explanation:  Passover is about memory and fulfilled promises.  But it is also about hope for current and future redemption.  With four cups from the fruit of the vine, we celebrate and recall God's four "I will" promises.  
Action:  Read Exodus 6:6-7 
Explanation: In the four cups that we drink tonight, we celebrate these four "I will" promises of God:  Freedom, Deliverance, Redemption, and Thanksgiving for fulfilling His promises.
Action:  Each person pours a small bit of Grape Juice.  Read Exodus 6:6.  What will he free us from?  Drink the first cup.

From here on out the Haggadah is meant to be in question/answer form.  The youngest or in our case, all our children are to ask questions.  Since the meal looks really different, it is not difficult.  I tell them to ask about any and everything as it is all symbolic.  Some questions and answers that are normal in traditional Haggadah are:
Q:  Why are we seated on the floor?
A:  We celebrate our freedom.  When Israel was slaves to the Egyptians, slaves had to stand during meals.  We recline and relax to celebrate our freedom (especially our freedom from sin).
Q: Why are we drinking grape juice?
A: The grape juice symbolizes the blood of the lamb that was painted on the doors of those who believed.  Then the destroyer passed them by and their eldest was not killed.  This was done in symbolism of the blood of Jesus Christ that saves us from the destroyer and death.  
Q: What is that green stuff?  
A:  This parsley represents life, created and sustained by Heavenly Father.  He gives us life and all good things.
Action:  The parsley is dipped in salt water and each person dips then eats the parsley.
Q:  Why do we make it salty?
A:  Life is also full of tears, joy and sorrow go together.  We must have the tears, but we remember the good of life.
Action:  At this point, we eat a green salad, or vegetable hors d'oeuvres.
Breaking of Bread: The Matzah
Action:  The Leader uncovers the three pieces of unleavened bread and takes the middle piece.  He breaks it in two.  
Q:  Why did you break the bread?
A:  The broken bread represents the broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We remember him.
Q:  Why is the bread flat?
A:  When the Israelites left Egypt, they left in such a rush they did not have time to leaven their bread.  Also, we removed all leaven from our lives for this night symbolizing our obedience to Heavenly Father's commands.  
Action:  Leader wraps half of bread in towel and hides it during the meal in the room.  (children will later find it and redeem it for a small gift). Everyone else eats or saves the bread on the plate for later
The Story of Passover:
Action:  In whatever way is best for you and your family, tell the story of Israel going to Egypt and their redemption.  It can be read from a child's story, directly from the scripture, shown in short movie form, or creatively with a clothesline of pictures.  We've done all of the above.  During the telling, we drink the second cup of deliverance as we discuss the plauges:  blood.  Frogs. Lice. Swarms. Cattle Disease. boils. hail. Locusts. Darkness. Death of the first Born.  Each plague is supposed to get a drop of juice on the plate by a spoon.  With small kids, I usually skip that part and instead have them search for plastic animals that represent the plagues.  We discuss the things that can be plauges in our lives; lies, pornography, anger... etc. 
Action:  The Lamb bone is held up when telling about the the final plague.  "This is the symbol of the Passover lamb that was killed so that our children might live.  The true unblemished lamb that was killed was Jesus Christ.  His blood ensures that all of us will live spiritually and physically.  It reminds us of Heavenly Father's grace in providing for us in death and life.
Action:  The Lamb bone is replaced with the egg.  "The egg has no beginning and no end and is a symbol of new life and hope.  Christ's sacrifice has no beginning and no end.  We look to eternity with hope because of him.
Action:  Egg is replaced with Matzah and held up:" Deuteronomy 16:3
Action:  Matzah is replaced with Maror (horseradish) for all to see.  All take a bite.  "Tonight we eat bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of slavery.  Slavery in Egypt was bad, but slavery to sin is worse.  We remember so we never forget the bitterness of bondage.
Action:  We dip a bit of parsley into the Charoset.  "Tonight we dip twice.  We also dip into the Charoset to remind us of the sweetness that God can bring into the most bitter of our circumstances and the sweetness of repentance.  
Action:  Song of Testimony:  example (Amazing Grace, I know that My Redeemer Lives etc.)
The Second Cup (the cup of Redemption)
Action:  Exodus 6:6  We all drink the second small cup.
The Meal:
The meal is detailed in the post below.  Eat!  Enjoy!
Q:What is this dessert we are eating?
A: Charoset is a mixture of apples, honey and nuts.  It symbolizes the mixture of clay and straw that the Israelites used to make bricks for the cities of Pharoh.  But the apples of the mixture also remind us of something else.  apple trees set fruit before the tree has leaves, and then grow leaves to protect the fruit.  In Egype, the women of Israel gave birth to children under the trees of the orchard to avoid the decree of Pharoh, with no assurance of the safety and future.  Their hope in a future from God sweetened the misery of slavery.  Life is a mixture of the bitter and the sweet, of sadness and joy.  
The Third Cup: Cup of Deliverence
Action: As everyone is finishing, the leader fills one more cup sitting at an empty place setting.  
Explanation:  This place setting is for Elijah the Prophet.  It has been the hope of God's people that Elijah would come at Passover, to announce the coming of the Messiah.  Historians believe that this is the cup that Jesus used to institute the sacrament at the Last Supper to indicate the fulfillment of this promise.  
Action:  A child opens a door to welcome Elijah to the Passover.  Leader drinks the cup.  "I drink this cup because Elijah has been here to herald the Messiah.  Christ has come.  This cup of deliverence has been fulfilled.  
Action:  It is time to reveal that which has been hidden.  We will find our Afikomen so that we may finish our meal.  The children search for the hidden bread and receive their small gift.  
The forth Cup: The cup of Thanksgiving and Hope
Leader:  Our Seder is complete as our redemption is complete.  
Action:  Mathew 6:31,32,34 and Isaiah 43:2-3
Leader: The story of God's redemption is not ended.  We celebrate what he has done in our history and what he has done for us but at the same time we await a new future.  He has promised that he will come again and restore all things.  We raise our glasses one last time in Thanksgiving and Hope for the future.
Action:  All drink
Everyone:  Next Year in the NEW JERUSALEM!
Leader:  extinguish Passover Candles.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Christian Celebration of Passover

Passover is one of our favorite dinners each year.  It is a way we extend the Easter season and bring meaning to a holiday often overshadowed by bunnies, eggs, and candy.  Passover is the oldest and most important of all the Jewish religious celebrations.  It commemorates God's deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and his creation of the Israelite people.  Early on, it marked the beginning of the Jewish year.  The story celebrated is found in Exodus Chapters 12 through 14.  We are not Jewish so we are not bound to a strict dietary code or Seder, though we try to keep it true to its intended form.  I found that the only way to keep it meaningful for our young family is to keep it tons shorter than traditional Seders.

I keep the decor simple.  Passover is a celebratory symbolic dinner where we celebrate our freedom.  For our family, the most important freedom we celebrate is our freedom from the bondage of sin and death through Jesus Christ.  Passover celebrates new life, a new life in Christ and new beginnings.  Spring flowers, grasses, eggs, and Easter type decor is appropriate for the Passover table.  With candlesticks for the ceremony, it is perfect!

Passover is preferably eaten seated on the floor around a low table to symbolize our freedom to recline and eat leisurely.  We always add cushions so our rear ends don't hurt and place the table next to a wall or surface Briz can lean against. 

The items neccasary for the Seder plate are:
  1. Boiled egg (I decorate them to help tell the story)
  2. Haroset (apples, nuts, and honey... I'll post a recipe)
  3. Lamb meat with a bone in it
  4. Parsley
  5. Salt Water
  6. Horseradish (or Mazta which I don't like as well)
  7. Unleavened bread 
The celebration dinner is a bit more flexible.  I've seen celebrations with:
lamb, chicken, or Gellite fish,  there is always a really green salad (sometimes with dandelion leaves or spinach included), sweet potatoes, and always Haroset. 

To complete preparations, I place leavened bread around the room in obvious places, then hide a piece of unleavened bread wrapped in a cloth.  Scriptures and hymnals are placed around the table for readers.  A basin of warm water and towels for each guest are set in the room as well. 

We're ready!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

    In celebration of one of our FAVORITE authors, we started the day with green eggs and ham.  At dinner we continued our celebration.  We started with Dr. Seuss activities downloaded from the Target website, then as each course was introduced, the family had to guess what it was (the name) then we read about it from the appropriate book.  

    Our menu consisted of Pink Ink, Grin-ich Spinach, Who Hash, Roast Beast, and Red Fish Blue Fish.  So, we read excerpts from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Sneeches and other tales.  The spinach comes from the story about the pants that walk around in the dark.  As a child, this story contained my personal nemesis.   I had regular nightmares about meeting those pants.  

    Quick decoration was easy.  I focused on lots of red and blue from the Cat and the Hat.  With lifts and levels, I positioned stuffed Seuss characters with their books.  I surrounded the table with Maisy Daisy pots of a single daisy.  

    After dinner, a fun idea is to read and act out The Sneeches.  The stars are made of green construction paper with yarn to go around the neck.  The machine is our crawling tube connected to a colorful box.  Sylvester McBean wears a cool hat and a bow tie, and I narrate.   

    Pink Ink
    Frozen Strawberries
    Sweetener (I use vanilla Stevia)

    Blend in blender till pink and frothy.

     Grin-ich Spinich  (Garlic Sauteed Spinach)
    1 1/2 lb. baby spinach leaves
    2 T. olive oil
    2 T chopped garlic (6 cloves)
    1 t. kosher salt
    3/4 t. ground pepper
    1 T. butter

    Rinse and spin spinach.  
    In a large pot, heat olive oil and saute the garlic for about 1 minute (not till it browns).  Add spinach, salt, and pepper.  Toss well.  Cover and cook for 2 minutes till wilted. Uncover, turn heat to high and cook till all spinach is wilted.  Top with butter and squeeze of lemon.  

    Roast Beast (Roast Beef/ Blue Cheese Roll Ups)
     4 triangles Light Cow Cheese or 1/3 c. softened butter
    1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
    1 lb. thinly sliced med. rare roast beef
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 bunch watercress, stemmed
    1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
    1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin

    Cream cheeses together with a fork in a small bowl.  

    Lay roast beef slices on flat surface.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Spread 2 teaspoons of cheese mixture along the short end of the beef.  Pile on the rest of ingredients.  Roll the beef into a tight cylinder.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate till serving time.  To serve, halve the rolls, crosswise.

    Who Hash
    2 grated sweet potatoes
    1/2 chopped onion
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 T. olive oil
    2 t. thyme
    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

    Heat  a large skillet,  add olive oil.  Cook onions till carmelized.  Add garlic, sweet potatoes, and seasonings.  Cook till brown on one side, then flip, continue till all is lightly browned. 

    Fish Snack
    Berry Blast Jello (blue)
    gummy fish

    Tuesday, December 29, 2009

    Bethlehem Supper

    Our favorite family Christmas tradition is our Bethlehem Supper on Christmas Eve.  Santa waits in the wings while Jesus Christ takes center stage, where he belongs. 

    We remove the glitz and glitter from the room and decorate it simply.  Usually we set a piece of plywood on the floor and cover it with a plain cloth, then line the center of the "table" with candles.  Soft simple carols of the harp, flute or guitar play softly in the background.  Each family member dons a scarf or towel, and we make our way down to the basement to Bethlehem.  Seated on cushions and lit only by candlelight, our brood is unnaturally quiet and pensive. 

    Dinner is always simple.  We use an amazing cookbook, A Biblical Feast, by Kitty Morse for authentic foods from the place and time of Christ. 

    We love the simple flavors of everything we've tried.  Over the past, menus have included:
    • grapes/ grape juice
    • dilled cucumbers
    • pomegranates
    • fish
    • honey
    • pita bread
    • hummus
    • olives (kalamata or black for the little ones)
    • flat bread
    • chicken and garbanzo stew
    • feta
    • goat cheese
    • stuffed dates
    • lamb
    • leeks
    We eat, discussing our food, what could have been eaten that night in Bethlehem, and discussing what might have happened or how it might have felt to have been there. 

    At the end of our meal, we begin our candle ceremony.  I, the mother, start.  I hold the candle and tell the children what the light represents, the light of Christ, that lights our souls, our world, and everything.  I mention the hope, faith, and joy we've discovered earlier in the month during advent.   I then share my gratitude for this special birthday, my private feelings, and my love for my family.  I pass the candle and the sharing goes on till it finally reaches the patriarch of our gathering, which this year was my sweetie.

    This meal ends on such a sweet and tender note for all of us.  Then, while the Bethlehem Magic is still on us, we watch Luke II, the best, most authentic nativity we've ever seen, and all under 5 minutes.   

    I'd love to share our favorite "authentic" dish from Kitty Morse  with you.

    Chicken, Leek, and Garbanzo Bean Stew 

    (Though it may not look appealing, usually guests ask for seconds.  It is savory, tender, and simple)
    Serves 4-6
    "Domesticated hens were one of the "clean" or acceptable birds for Hebrew to eat, as mandated by Mosaic law.  They were introduced from their native India around the time of Christ.  Many farmers in the Holy Land raised poultry, either in the "free range" manner or in enclosed areas.  This stew is best served with warm leavened griddle bread or over cooked millet." pp 52

    2 large leeks
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 2 inch pieces
    1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean cooking liquid, water, or chicken broth
    1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (I use 1 can)
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (I use a little more to taste)

    Trim the leeks, discarding the tough, outer leaves.  Rinse thoroughly under running water.  Cut the leeks crosswise into thin slices.

    In a heavy pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the leeks and chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken turns golden brown, 8-10 minutes.  Add the liquid.  Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, 30-35 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl, and set aside.  Decrease the heat to low, and add the garbanzo beans.  Simmer uncovered, and reduce by one-third, 15-20 minutes.  Season with salt and vinegar to taste.  Return the chicken to the pan and heat through.  Serve immediately. 

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Nutcracker Celebration

    Tonight was Nutcracker Night. Everyone raided the costume closet and dressed in their finest ballet attire, complete with a dusting of sparkle powder to help feel beautiful. Sunshine wore a cape and a sword so she could be the nutcracker. Briz refused to wear tights and figured he was scary enough as is to be the Mouse King. Little Mother chose to be Clara, and Ladybug the Sugar Plum fairy.

    As we watch the ballet unfold, it takes place in 2 dimensions on our screen and in our family room right in front of our eyes.

    Little Mother pirouettes, Sunshine spins then stabs Briz as he gets too close to Clara.

    At intermission, we decorate the Sugar Plum Tree with candy wrapped in plastic wrap.

    Then we begin our nutcracker feast. In honor of its Russian origins and the Russian Trepak, we ate Solyanka (Russian Beef Soup)

    Arabian Pita Bread (for the Arabian dance)

    and Barbecued Chinese Lettuce Wraps (for the Chinese Dance).

    Solianka tastes like pickle soup. Briz liked it. I thought it was very different and enjoyed the experience of trying something so totally different from what I am used to. The kids ate it but not enthusiastically. The Lettuce Wraps and Pitas were a hit. Are these like Chinese sandwiches? Ladybug asked.

    The dancing continued until Clara went back to sleep, then so did my little ones. 

    If anyone wants the Solianka Soup Recipe, just ask, but I will probably not make it again.  It was a great cultural experience, just not one I want to repeat.  

    Arabian Pita Bread

    1 T instant yeast
    1 1/2 cups water
    2 tsp sugar
    3 cups flour (I usually use 2 cups wheat, 1 cup white)

    1 T dry milk powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    6 T oil
    1 T toasted cumin

    Mix yeast, water, and sugar.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine flour, dried milk and salt.  Pour in the oil and yeast/ water mixture and stir well.  You might need to add more flour or water depending on the absorbency of the flour.  Knead dough briefly, divide into 18 egg sized balls.  Place on a floured surface, cover and let rest for 15-20 minutes.  Roll one ball out and press cumin seeds on the top with the rolling pin.  Cook in a skillet until large "bubbles" form.  Flip pita over and cook the other side for a few more minutes.  Flatten with a spatula.  Keep bread warm (wrap in a towel or place in a ziploc bag) while cooking the rest of the bread.  Can freeze the dough or the cooked product.  

    Sometimes I will brush the top with butter or olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of garlic and sea salt.

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    Christmas Decoration Party

    The day after Thanksgiving we go Christmas crazy! I pull out all the Christmas boxes and turn decorating into a party. We dance, we jingle, we decorate, we play "remember when?" This is something we'd do anyway, I just make the food look special so everyone gets into the party atmosphere.

    Essential elements include:
    Santa hats for everyone
    Loud Christmas music with a beat
    Finger Foods to eat while decorating
    Good Punch or Wassail
    Food made from Thanksgiving Leftovers

    Mashed Potato Soup (inspired by Leanne Ely)
    It can't get any easier than this (especially when you are using Thanksgiving leftovers)

    1 large pot of mashed potatoes (about 4 cups)
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 cup milk
    grated cheddar cheese
    Salt and Pepper
    pinch of thyme

    Optional add ins
    fresh parsley
    ham or bacon
    frozen peas

    Make mashed potatoes. Add chicken broth and milk. Bring to an almost boil. Stir it up. Serve it up. Top with a little cheddar cheese.

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Romantic/GPS Picnic Idea

    The Idea:

    1st: Surprise husband at work with a romantic picnic. Made the food. Luckily, I called first and found that he was booked all week with business lunches.
    2nd: GPS picnic: Use the geocache site to find some treasures on a river walk near our home. Add picnic items to our list of items to find hidden along the trail.
    3rd: Deposit all picnic items around neighborhood using clues to find them. End up at a neighbors with a much nicer backyard for our picnic.
    Reality: Severe sinus infection, high winds, rain. Don't want to waste my picnic. Simply laid the picnic out in the Family Room and watched Princess Protection Program with my babies and sweetheart.

    Sometimes the best plans don't turn out. Oh well. I'll share some of my favorite picnic recipes with you all though.

    Romantic Picnic Food

    Strawberries Lemon Creme Blossoms Fabulous!

    12 Strawberries, washed
    4 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
    2 T. Sour Cream
    1 T. Lemon Juice
    Lemon Zest

    1. Whip together cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice and lemon zest.
    2. Slice off green at the top of strawberry.
    3. Cut strawberry in half almost to the base.
    4. Turn berry and cut crosswise almost to the base.
    5. With a spoon or pastry bag, pipe the creme filling into strawberry.
    6. Refrigerate till serving time.
    Mellon Prosciuto Balls This is probably too grown up of a taste for little people. Mine ate it but I noticed that they didn't fill up on them.

    1/2 cantelope
    1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciuto
    1/8 cup lime juice
    Mint Sprigs

    Ball or slice mellon. I prefer larger slices to the smaller mellon balls. Pour lime juice over top and swish to coat. Wrap balls in 1/2 slice or slices in full slice of prosciuto. Secure with mint sprig.

    Bruchetta on Baguettes From my friend Melanie. I eat so much of it, we call it Holly-Candy

    Cream cheese or goat cheese
    1 bunch basil, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    fresh ground pepper
    3 tomatoes, chopped
    1 small bottle capers, rinsed
    1/2 tsp. olive oil
    Parmesan Cheese

    Brush baguettes with olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Toast in oven. Combine rest of ingredients (tomatoes, basil, capers, garlic, olive oil, and pepper) Let sit for a minute.

    Spread goat or cream cheese on toast, then the bruschetta, or just serve with bruschetta on toast.