Last night (Monday) was Erev Pesach (the evening on which Passover begins), and Dan and I made a lovely Passover Seder at the Elkhorn Inn:
We had handmade Shmurah Matzah (THE best matzah!) from Chabad of Morgantown, West Virginia, and that made it a VERY special Passover, indeed! This is the second year Rabbi Zalman & Hindy Gurevitz from Chabad Morgantown have sent us Shmurah Matzah, and it truly makes our Passover wonderful! We used the beautiful Seder plate given to us by our dear Irish friend, Megan; the pussy willows & forsythia were from the Elkhorn Inn garden; our hand-embroidered coasters were from our amazing honeymoon in the Central Highlands of Vietnam; my prayerbook was my Dad's mom's, and our Manischevitz wine was from the Kimball, WV WalMart! I made the Charoses (a yummy mixture of apples, almonds, and wine), that is eaten on Matzah as part of the Seder service, and Dan got the horesradish, and other foods we needed for our Seder plate; the herbs came from our windowsill garden!
Make no mistake: I am NOT a Chef. Dan is the Chef. I can basically follow recipes, "potchkee", doctor and tweak them- but I truly impressed even myself Monday night!
basically chicken, ginger, garlic, Thai chilis, scallions, & a bit of brown sugar; the claypot gives the dish a wonderful smokeyness, and it's wonderful served over rice; it turned out SO good, in fact, that we've put it on the Elkhorn Inn's menu!
We treated ourselves to Freemark Abbey 2006 Viognier, one of the "Wines of the World" that the puppies had bought Dan for "Dogfather's Day" onhttp://wine.com, and it was Superb with the spicy ginger chicken! This is Definitely a wine we'd love to buy more of...
We then REALLY treated ourselves to a desert of the great banana and guava wines we brought back from Vino Del Grotto in St. Augustine, Florida- tropic summer in a bottle! Neither is too sweet, as fruit wines are wont to be; the Guava wine would be an excellent accompanyment to a spicy, tropical dinner, & the banana wine is Fabulously Banana-y! And we WILL be ordering at least a case of their wines as soon as we can!
After this fete of culinary extravagance, Suzie Homemaker Not then Totally Outdid Herself, and made a Vietnamese flan (also from Mai Pham's cookbook), which is creamier than the more dense Spanish version; it's more like a creme brulee than a flan- and it was Excellent! Flan is a Very tricky thing to do right, and as I was able to do it spot-on my very first time, this means that: a) Mai Pham's recipe is Really good, & b) I CAN (contrary to popular belief) Follow Directions! LOL
I pulled about 10 different flan recipes before I attempted Mai Pham's, & I learned something REALLY cool from thewww.ElBoricua.comrecipe forPuerto Rican flan: Instead of trying to make the caramel sauce in a pot (with the resultant mess of hardened or burnt sugar), you put sugar and water in the bottom of each ramekin (they must be both oven and microwave safe) and then put them in the microwave for approx. 2 1/2 minutes (you must watch them VERY carefully!), and you make the caramel sauce in each little ramekin! Pull them from the mircrowave the Second they turn light brown, let them cool, & then pour in your custard mixture through a strainer. Then you bake them in a "Bain Marie" (a pan of water) and Voilla!: Flan-o Perfecto! If I can do this, ANYONE can do this!
As loyal readers of this blog know, April Fools Day is my 51st birthday, but I'm not finding it Nearly as depressing as 50. LOL (I didn't find 40 NEARLY as depressing as 38, either...) I am therefore not planning to do or buy myself anything extravagant- although I Did treat myself to a ProPlay golf club handle/glove set & a cool (pre-loved) Helen Welsh "pony" zebra handbag on eBay, and am Hoping Dan & I get a chance to have a celebratory sushi-saki fest @ Kimono in Princeton...) I Am, however, still hunting for an engagement ring to replace the one I lost doing laundry, and so was back this week on DiamondNexus, in the Continuing Saga of Elisse's Great Ring Hunt. I, at 50, have been truly suckered in by the "Journey Jewelry" ad campaigns, which tout a string or a circle of diamonds, each one representing a 'milestone' in one's life. Having passed more than a few milestones to date, I find that concept Extremely appealing, and when I found the "Emotions" pendants onDiamondNexus, I began to think that maybe I want one of those, too!
Once you get to 40 or 50 (or 60 or 70 or 80 or 90...) and you have a few milestones to commemorate, the idea of a Journey Pendant is Very appealing. Whether it's kids or pets or jobs, military service or marriages or divorces (LOL), countries traveled to, illnesses survived, or houses owned (or all of the above, LOL), at some point it hits you that you Have been on- and are still on- a "journey", that life is, essentially, a "journey", and that it would be Really Cool to celebrate it all (or at least a few of them) in diamonds!
What is cool about DiamondNexus is that while a diamond Journey pendant with stones of any size would be obscenely expensive, (and my journey has been Livin' Large, so I want Big Rocks! LOL), theirs, beautifully & perfectly set in 14k white or yellow gold, are actually affordable! (And Boo-Boo wants a 3.2 carat one, to be sure!) And they have them with emerald, ruby, saphhire, & chocolate gems, too!
And as someone who's mom has fought- successfully, B"H- the fight against breast cancer, and who has/had many friends and loved ones affected by this horrid disease, I LOVE that DiamondNexus has a 7-stone rose-pink "Journey of Healing" pendant, and that $200 from the sale of each pendant and chain set goes towards funding the fight against breast cancer.