Two important things happened Saturday: We hosted our Easter Seder, and Kent taught Fluffy how to photo bomb.
So while I’m snapping pictures of the dining room like this…
…suddenly tomfoolery commences!
That’s my cuckoo bird! Way to successfully photo bomb my decor beauty shots, girl. Genius.
This was our best Easter in years! Easter 2013 had stiff competition from other years when we’ve been involved in glorious choral music, but this year was so wonderful, I have to make some notes to remember for the future.
1. Suspended centerpiece
I have been trying to figure out how to make a tastefully gawdy (that’s me) centerpiece that didn’t make the diners crane around to see each other or give up and talk to the plant. This year, I moved the main centerpiece up to the chandelier and, though I’m not one to decorate with poultry, I suspended little acrylic birds from it. At first, I wanted larger white feathered birds on the scale of the little nests that held the place card eggs, but I feared such fowl would have been at too best, distracting, and at worst, creepily reminiscent of a certain Hitchcock movie. These delicate little birdies worked great with the nests and seemed to be flying up into a cherry tree over our heads. No acrylic bird poops rained down, so I count it a success. Fluffy was ecstatic over the birds–especially since she got to help me put them up.
2. Cook once, eat twice.
I thought, “Let’s have the big Seder program and dinner on Saturday, then have leftovers for Sunday.” The result was so successful, I don’t think we can ever go back.
Reading the novel Sotah about extreme orthodox Jewish culture in Jerusalem, I was impressed both with the enormous amount of work women do cleaning the house and preparing all the food for the Sabbath (spoiler alert: the work actually kills a woman), and also with the sublime peacefulness which that kind of preparation produces on the Sabbath. I’ve never mastered the trick of making Sunday a day of rest. Getting everyone to church on Sunday is some of the hardest work I do all week. But this Easter Sunday was peaceful! That is, if you don’t count my whirring through the house like a brush-and-hairspray-wielding tornado trying to get everyone’s hair to church on time. (We still failed at punctuality by the way, so whirring wasted. Oh well.)
I did most of the decorating and some of the food prep Friday, then finished the rest and hosted our Seder Saturday. That meant National Diabetes Awareness Day, aka “Easter” was for candy, church and family time. I loved not cooking or hosting or whatevering today. We went to church. I sang a solo. We came home, hung out, went for a nice drive, ate too much chocolate, and played with the Easter stuff. Perfection.
3. Sharing the cooking together at my house.
Years ago I would work myself and Kent to the utter bone doing every bit of the hosting myself. Then I discovered the concept of sharing the workload by choosing the menu and letting people volunteer to bring things. This year, I did one better by inviting our family friends to come hours early and do the cooking and prep together here. This method had many advantages:
- We spent more time together.
- We started socializing when we were fresh and energetic rather than after we had run ourselves ragged and limp doing food prep and whipped ourselves and families into a frenzy trying to meet a deadline.
- The kids were heartily entertained with each other rather than mauling us in the kitchen demanding attention.
- We set our own schedule, coordinating with each other as we went. When something took longer than usual, we didn’t sweat it because all the food was in one place and could be held. No one was “late”. No one’s food got cold.
- No one got a lapful of Turkey juice like poor Jenni did that first year we transported food to the Lunsfords’.
4. Separating the Seder ceremony from the Easter dinner
We decided to hold the Seder ceremony at 3:30 while the babies were sleeping, then dismiss the kids to a photo scavenger hunt (Kent’s idea and project) while we finished up the cooking for the actual dinner. Maybe it seems like overkill to have essentially two dinners, but it really worked.
5. Holding the Seder around a little table with family-style plates of food.
In previous years we have made everyone a plate with each of their foods and objects and held the Seder in the dining room. That worked fine, but the youngest kids needed a lot of help. This year, sitting on the ground together and reaching for the olive plate then the coin plate was so intimate and communal. Washing each other’s feet was easier, too. The moment of silence was sweet and poignant and, well, healing.
Around 6-ish when we sat down to Easter dinner in the dining room, there was a sharp contrast to the Seder on the floor.
6. Loading the haroset
To the usual apples, toasted walnuts and spices, I added prunes, dates and even a few cranberries. So delicious with matzoh and horseradish, but even more so with ham!
That last sentence probably produced some cringes. I have wondered whether my many Jewish friends are appalled at the coopting of Seder ideas, themes and foods into our Easter celebration. I had the audacity to mention our tradition when I called in to the Kojo Nnamdi Show (my third time on his show!) last week, and his Jewish panel didn’t even want to comment. I feel like maybe I get away with it because Kent’s family are Ashkenazi Jewish. I don’t know how I would feel about other religions borrowing and changing my traditions. I hope I would be okay with it. Modern families are so culturally complex that a great many of us are making the rules up as we go.
By the by, did you know Kojo’s given name was Rex Orville Montague Paul? Yeah. Next time I call, I’m going to start with “Hey, Rex”. Kent insists the next time I call, I start with “This is Heather from Put That on Your Blog.com”, because everyone loves a shameless plug.
Not so successful
1. Lamb cake.
I keep trying to convince Kent how difficult it is to make a sculptural cake that both looks and tastes great. “You’re saying it’s impossible to make a lamb cake that looks good and tastes just like a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting? It can’t be done?” he demands. “No, I’m saying I can’t do it, and neither can most people,” I tell him. “Those cakes on Cake Wars are ‘edible’ in quotation marks. They’re mostly rice crispy treats and stiff, dry frosting or fondant. ‘Edible’ means, they don’t contain poison, well not much, anyway. But they would taste horrible. You often have to choose one or the other.” Did he never notice there’s the display cake and the eating cake on those competitions?
This year, I didn’t aim very high on either looks or flavor. I made a box cake with a last-minute American buttercream frosting job. Yet again, the lamb cake was fun for the kids to look at, and not very interesting for anyone to eat.
2. Hiding the Easter baskets
In lieu of an Easter egg hunt which might end with reeking unfound eggs, I sent Fluffy looking for the Easter baskets when she woke up Sunday morning. After 5 or 10 minutes, Fluffy was in hysterical tears: “I can’t find my Easter basket! It’s gone! I will never find it!”