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