Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Seder with our Young Women

I help out with our church's youth group --with the girls 12-13 years old. We do an activity every Tuesday night. In the beginning of the year, we sit down with them and plan what we are going to do with them for 12 months, and one of the ideas we had was to do a "Jewish cultural night" with my friend in our congregation who was raised Jewish. We thought passover time was appropriate, and decided to do a Seder. My friend's son agreed to host, and did a terrific job, giving a rich historical background for our girls first so they'd understand what a lot of the symbolism meant. I don't think anyone on earth knows all the depths of the symbolism as this is a tradition with layers and layers of meaning. Along with performing the script, providing some of the food, and giving explanations, our hosts also brought an array of objects from the Holy Land including a Menorah, Hanukkiyah, Dreidel, and a small clay oil lamp (like in those paintings of the parable of the 10 virgins). The Seder plate for each girl contains an egg (representing new life), sprig of parsley (representing the sweet and bitter time), Charoset (a fruit and nut compote representing the mortar used by Hebrew slaves), and horseradish (again representing the bitter). There were bowls of salt water in the middle of the table representing the tears of the slaves, and then the matzo.
The Seder feast centers around the matzo --the unleavened bread. This is supposed to be made of special "matzo meal" which is flour supervised by a rabbi from the time it is harvested until packaged to ensure no moisture or leaven has come in contact with it. Once the water has touched the flour, it must be completely cooked within 18 minutes. They have decided in the tradition that after that time, the flour will start to ferment, and will be in a sense "leavened" which is against the seder (or law for the passover feast). I went all over town looking for matzo or even matzo meal and couldn't find it. I finally went ahead and made it with regular flour, doing my best to stay within the 18 minute thing, working in small batches. Yeah, it was a little stressful.
I also made some macaroons for dessert --a traditional Jewish treat. I was worried about the whole not mixing meat and dairy thing, so used a recipe that didn't include condensed milk, but it turns out chicken's eggs are "pareve" or neutral, so I needn't have worried. I guess the big deal is to again not use flour, which macaroons don't --or at least my recipe didn't.

Here are our girls down the table, with our host, and his mother -my friend at the head of the table. We ended up having a big group with some classes joining us at the last minute, which made it really fun.

Here's one of the leader's sons wearing the Yarmulke. He looked so cute I had to snap a picture.

It's also traditional for the girls and women to wear head coverings as a sign of modesty and respect. Our hosts told us that the Jewish girls in Israel get really good at twisting up their hair inside of a fabric scarve so it doesn't move or come undone as they go about their daily business. Here is one of our girls modeling the technique. I thought she looked beautiful with it. But then this girl always looks beautiful.

I thought I'd throw in a couple of pictures from our Young Womens group's trip to Temple Square to hear the broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word. This is a radio broadcast with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that's been going on for over 80YEARS! Can you believe that?

The girls were all excited because David Archuleta was there --he's in the picture somewhere down there. The prophet and president of our church Thomas S. Monson was also there, but guess which one the girls told their parents about?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Point Half

(before shot --this was all I ate of this dry toast by the way. I was so nervous I left it at home next to my coat.)

OK bear with me, because this was a big deal for me. I've never been a fast runner --my mom and I always were of the theory that the closer your feet were to the ground, and the shorter your steps were the better time you had on your run. I used to tell my mom when I was in Jr. High that my idea of hell was a bunch of tracks. When high school hit though, we were jogging together. Funny how that puberty weight gain changes your perspective (did i just say puberty? sorry.). Anyway, running (I really should say jogging) was my method of choice for exercise for years. When I moved to Mapleton though I met Wendy's Tae Bo class and it KICKED MY BUTT. And it was more fun. And my friends went. No more running. Then the class decided to enter the Wasatch Back Relay, and I needed to train and couldn't make myself, but my friend Kelli had a great idea --let's enter this half marathon together. One word about Kelli: major foot surgerieS (more than one) less than a year ago. She wasn't even WALKING a year ago. So we entered and started training. I want to get to a 8.5 minute mile pace for the Wasatch Back, and so I've been really trying to push my time and speed. I decided if I did 13.1 miles anywhere between 8.5 and 9 minutes I would be happy. Istarted out at the back of the pack thinking I would feel better if i passed a few people than if they all passed me.

So the pack really annoyed me by about 3 minutes into the race. The path was pretty narrow and there were all of these people running together (Kelli and I decided that running is like reading --it's an individual pursuit. You don't go up to someone and say "wanna read books?" --unless you're Meesha :) ). So they would spread out and roadblock the whole path. A little annoying. But I have to say narrow paths and all it was a beautiful beautiful course. See Kellis's blog for pictures along the way. I didn't want to lose those 23 seconds. We went through the gardens, past the biggest manmade waterfall in North America (can that be right?), and then along the Jordan River. I saw a pair of Canada geese land together on the river. I'm in the picture above, the girl slightly behind the other girls. This was right near the end of the race. Those girls picked it up for the last mile, and I told myself I'd keep up with them. Haha -I passed them (woohoo --told you you had to bear with me). See that guy out in front?

Here he is going "heeeey!" as I smoked him (hee hee). I don't think people usually care about sprinting and passing people at the end of a half marathon --it's not that kind of a race. But it made me feel good. I'm sorry I sound like such a jerk. So guess what my finish pace was? 8:57 minute miles. Yay! Just under the 9 minute mark so I'll take it. Jeff DID say "what --did you go to the bathroom a few times along the way?" but then said he was just mixed up with his numbers....yeah yeah whatever. I love him still.

So tenth in my age group, which doesn't sound very impressive, but that means I beat 60 other people in my age group right? And I was 158 out of 583 people. I was happy with it. I've still got some work to do before Wasatch Back. This was a flat flat course. No downhill really, and no uphill. The Ragnar Relay will have legs of straight up where I've clocked myself at a speedy 12 minute mile. Oh well. That's life --always a new goal.I was FREEZING after it was over. I promised myself a big ol' Iceberg shake when it was done, but all I wanted was hot chocolate. I got it. I love my sweet husband.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bruschetta night and being paranoid.

I had a great idea for dinner last night courtesy of a recipe I saw in vegetarian times and some input from my sister. We did a bruschetta night with al kinds of toppings for little crisp whole wheat baguette toasts. I'm sorry for the quality of these pictures. I had to take them with my phone because my camera's battery was dead and I couldn't pass up this dinner as a post.

I know I used to do more interesting, personal posts, but frankly, I got a little gunshy about criticism and and so for now I'm sticking to recipes and menu ideas. Maybe if I take it off of facebook I'll get braver again. I've got a lot of things going on in my life, but I'm nervous about sharing with everyone. How do other bloggers get past that? I don't know.

So for some of the toppings I grilled a bunch of veggies. I marinated in lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, and evoo (lighthanded on the last two ingredients), with lots of garlic and Italian herbs. We had eggplant slices, red bell pepper rings, zucchini, yellow summer squash, asparagus (so cool it's in season and cheap), and red onion. Can I just say that the jarred roasted bell peppers have got nothing on fresh charred and grilled ones? I put both on the table and "nada que ver" --they were nothing alike.
The little toasts were easy --just sliced and broiled a minute or two on each side with a light coating of vegetable oil spray.
I also did a butter bean hummus. I saw cans of butter beans at the store the other day, and remembering my B-52's, knew they had to be good. I added lemon, garlic, and fresh basil. This was a great hummus.

The last two things were an easy olive tapenade, and a fresh Italian salsa. The salsa I know will be twenty times better in the summer with good garden tomatoes, but it was still a hit with my family last night with crappy grocery store ones. Tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, fresh basil, fresh oregano, parsley, and rosemary (I always feel so rich with my own herb garden --the only thing I had to buy was the basil since it doesn't kick in until later in the summer).

Of course I just made a big old beast of a salad for me with all of the toppings and some spring mix. Man this satisfied. I guess it was the hummus and the olives, but it filled me up for almost 3 hours which is a record for me. I'm usually hungry again at two.

Here's Ari doing her thing. Anyway I CAN tell you all (without getting too nervous) that I'm doing a half marathon next weekend, and the big Wasatch Back Relay (Ragnar relay) in June. My goal is a 8.5 minute pace for the Wasatch Back, and this morning for a 5 mile run with hills I was at a 9.06. That's really great for me. Something about running and I don't push myself as hard as I do in a class. Maybe it was the episode of This American Life I was listening to. Verrrrrry Interesting. It'll make you mad. Here's the link in case you're brave.

What else am I brave enough to post about? I'm gonna stretch a little. Got my front yard weeded, and the peas, 3 kinds of spinach, kohlrabi (has anyone eaten this? it looks like turnips but I've never seen it for sale), beets, carrots, daikon, and parsnips planted. Now how do I keep them wet until the irrigation is turned on? I bought a new hose sprayer. Sigh. Just what I need, another daily chore.

One more thing (see how brave I'm being?) my oldest child has been abducted, and in her place is myself at 13 years old. I got my first eye roll out of this child last night. Middle child? She's given me the eye roll for years --but not my oldest. Honeymoon is over I guess. Time for parenting graduate school: the teenage years.