This is going to sound a little weird, but sometimes I forget all about this blog for days or even weeks and then someone else will remember, like one of the kids (did you put that on the blog, mommy?) or a friend will send a quick email (you okay, no blogging lately?) and I'll be all, oh yeah, the blog! And then I'll come back to it. I used to be much better at this - it must be my old age.
But today, all the kids remembered the blog because they were so excited that not only did we finally make it to the Water Taxi, but that the Water Taxi was open for business. And they wanted to share their fun.
Our first Water Taxi attempt was made on December 24th, when we were truly shocked to get there and find out that the Water Taxi is closed the day before Christmas. Shocked. Although in retrospect, everything was closed here, so I'm not so sure why we were so shocked. I keep telling the kids, this just ain't New York. When we first moved here, I used to say it ain't Kansas anymore, but I stopped when I realized that actually, I think it is kind of like Kansas.
Anyway, here's some Water Taxi fun. For a mere $24 (and I'm not beings sarcastic - what can a family of six do for $24 anywhere else? Nothing, that's what) we took a pretty serene, if somewhat windy and chilly, ride on a nearly empty water taxi on the beautiful St. John's River. I think it was the St. John's River, but really, we could have been anywhere. I'm so bad at things like that. I could ask Josh but he isn't here and does it really matter? A river is a river is a river and woohoo, we were on a boat!
And the cherry on my ice cream sundae of a day:
Parking downtown. It's practically free. It's almost like they pay you to park there. And wash your car for you. But you know what's even better? We found a spot on the street - and we didn't circle for several hours first, because we've done that in Manhattan. Nope, here we just decided to park on the street and ooh, look, a whole empty block on which to park. On a Sunday afternoon. Downtown. The only question is where the heck was everyone? Was there some amazing festival somewhere that we were missing out on? Because this cannot possibly be the norm. Or maybe it is. Maybe we've found downtown heaven.
Wanna see the easiest mishloach manot ever?
Good. Look at the picture on top.
Whatever candy you want to throw in.
Some ribbon, whatever color you have around.
A hole puncher.
That's about it.
Okay, a printer too. But really, you can go to Kinko's if need be.
There was no actual theme that required finding certain foods or matching colors or play-on words. And it was so liberating. We do a theme every single year - and I thought we'd do one this year as well. It was going to be Mr. Potato Head and we were going to the be the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads and the Potato Kids. I ordered brown t-shirts, I was planning on visiting Michael's for felt to make faces on the shirts. The mishloach manot was going to be brown bags decorated as Potato Heads, filled with potato soup, potato salad and a sweet potato muffin.
And then I think I spent too much time thinking about it, procrastinating and contemplating the how and the when this was all going to get done and then all of a sudden, it was the week of Purim and I hadn't done anything at all and panic set in.
A few good friends tried to quash the panic attacks with long phone conversations, but they couldn't talk for too long because they had costume issues of their own.
And then I did something I never did before. I chucked it all, the whole idea, out the window, four days before Purim.
Instead, I pulled the costume boxes out and let the kids pick whatever they wanted. We wound up with one SWAT team guy and three Yankees - two of them girls. Josh went as his usual - in his scrubs and I pulled out the football Jersey I wear on a semi-regular Purim basis.
And shockingly, it was fine. Totally fine. Dare I say it? It was good enough.
That's my new mantra - good enough. I like it.
And instead of my elaborately planned out mishloach manot, we went with brown paper bags filled with whatever nosh I could find at BJ's. We printed funny little colored labels that read:
Queen Esther had a little party.
Party bags for everyone!
And guess what? Shockingly, it was also fine.
No one looked at me funny.
No one whispered behind my back - look at that ridiculous mishloach manot that she threw together. At least I don't think anyone did, but even if someone did, who cares. I went to bed at a normal time on Saturday night after megillah reading while it seemed like everyone else stayed up till 2am finishing theirs.
Don't get me wrong, I totally see the value and the fun of a themed mishloach manot with matching costumes. I enjoy these creative pursuits and I'm not embarrassed to say that I kind of think I know what I want to do for mishloach manot next year already.
But it just didn't happen this year. And that's okay too.
Maybe next year.
Or maybe not.
And that will be good enough too.
Purim hasn't even started yet and already there is way too much junk food in this house.
And it's only my fault.
Once I start making triangle shaped food, I can't seem to stop.
I need help.
These were from our second attempt at hamentashen this year. If you've been following along, you'll know that our go-to recipe failed us this year. It must be all this beautiful weather here. (Isn't that what people always say when a recipe goes wrong? Oh, must be the weather.) Anyway, we used my friend Sarah's recipe and yahoo, they're so pretty. Sprinkle hamentashen - a little tip: If you sprinkle the sprinkles onto the dough as your are rolling it out, the rolling pin will push the sprinkles into the dough and it'll be much easier. Just flip the sprinkled dough over before you cut the circles so the sprinkles are on the underside of the dough. That way the sprinkles will be on the outside of the hamentashen as they bake. How many times can you say sprinkles in one sentence? Go ahead, try it.
Five, count 'em, five different kinds of hamentashen. All wrapped up for the teachers that we won't be seeing on Purim. (Okay, I'm lying, it's not really five different kinds. There are only two fillings - chocolate brownies and apricot. We dressed them up in five different ways with sprinkles and some chocolate dipping and things like that. Does that still count as five?)
It's Friday afternoon. I gotta go.
Wishing you a super fun Purim!
Oh, Fleischmann's-Pareve-Full-Of-Chemicals-And-Other-Disgusting-Things-Margarine, how I miss you! Not so good things happens when I don't have you around and I am forced to bake with some fancy-pants non-dairy, GMO-free margarine from Whole Foods.
Purim is coming quickly and today was a very rainy and very perfect morning to bake some hamentashen. I dug out my trusty old hamentashen recipe and followed it exactly - except for the margarine. It seems to be that no matter how hard I look, I cannot find Fleischmann's margarine around here and while in theory it shouldn't matter, it does.
I rarely bake with anything but oil - the two times a year that I'll whip out the margarine are Chanukah and Purim. I used this weird margarine on Chanukah and I definitely noticed a difference - the cookies spread while baking, no matter how long they sat in the fridge, just chilling out and relaxing, before baking. It's almost like they were a little too relaxed.
In the back of my head, I knew the hamentashen would probably not make it, but I thought, hey, maybe there'll be a Purim miracle. But, sadly, it was not meant to be.
I'll show the hamentashen in a minute - the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe in sharing the failures as well as the successes so let me start with the the fillings this year:
The winner - chocolate chip hamentashen. But these aren't your regular chocolate-chips-in-the-center hamentashen, these guys have chopped up chocolate chips in the dough. And then, okay fiiiine, chocolate chips in the middle. With the right margarine, these guys could be fantastic.
The loser - that sounds harsh. Let's call it the runner up. But we all know what that means. Vanilla-coconut. In theory, a nice combination. In practice, not so much.
I had some Duncan Hines vanilla frosting sitting around, so I mixed it with a little shredded coconut and used that as a filling.Then I baked them. And I learned that there is a reason that frosting is added to a cake after baking and not before. Frosting does not do well in the oven. It melts. It runs. It sticks to everything.
Wanna see? Are you sure? It's okay to look away. I did.
If you don't mind scraping them off the pan and sharing them only with people who won't make fun of you for your weirdo hamentashen, then yes, these are quite good. But if you intend to share them with neighbors and other people you must give mishloach manot too, I might just stick with regular ole hamentashen. Like these strawberry ones:
Except not these strawberry ones, because oh my lord, dang it to heck and back, this margarine is going to be the end of me! These guys turned out almost cake-like. Hamentashen are meant to more cookie-like. What to do?!
Shall I go on?
Wanna see what else the margarine did?
Can you guess what these were supposed to be? I couldn't tell for a second either. They kind of look like Rainbow Bright got into some kind of terrible accident. These were actually more of the vanilla frosting ones, topped with rainbow sprinkles. What a waste of rainbow sprinkles. So sad.
Okay, so let's recap.
This hamentash recipe? Very good.
New hippie margarine? Very bad.
Chopped chocolate chips in the dough? Very good.
Frosting as a filling? Very (very) bad.
Got it? Good.
If you are looking for some fantastic hamentashen inspiration, check out the ones we made last year. I'll have to rest on my laurels because I'm pretty sure another round of hamentashen ain't happening this year. Good thing our theme doesn't need any hamentashen because if it did, at this point, I'd just change the whole theme.
Happy almost Purim!
ps For a fun reminder of how to shape and bake hamentashen, click here.
We have been so sick in this house - and if I hadn't been sick too and if I was at all into epidemiology, I'd have been fascinated by watching how the germs and the sneezing, coughing and fever jumped from one person to the next. But I'm not and I wasn't and all I wanted for the past ten days was to just lie down. Not for a long time, just for a little.
It ain't easy being the mommy and the sicky at the same time. Josh is amazing but at the end of the day (or really, at the very beginning of the day), he couldn't really hang with us; he had to go to work.
Today is the first day that everyone is back at school. I'm home and I'm still coughing and I really think that the doctor that told us that we had a virus was wrong. I think this was the flu.
Anyway, besides following kids around the house, picking up dirty tissues and watching way too much PBS and Food Network with my kids, I spent the week making chicken soup. I made many batches and speaking as the girl who grew up thinking that chicken soup is made by squeezing chickens and who couldn't fathom that water could be turned into soup, I think I can safely say that I have come a long way.
There are hundreds (thousands?) of chicken soup recipes out there. Here's mine. And may you only eat it because it's part of your dinner plans and not because you must as part of a cold remedy. And let us all say, Amen.
My Chicken Soup
1 whole onion
3 lbs carrots, washed, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 parsnips, washed, peeled and cut into large pieces
3 big zucchinis, washed and cut into thirds
2 lbs of chicken - bottoms, tops, whatevers - cleaned and skinned
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a really big pot.
Add water to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil.
Lower the flame, cover almost all the way with a pot lid and let it simmer for at least two hours or until dinner.
Your house will smell amazing and don't be surprised if you find yourself with the urge to bake challah.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)