moss_raven arrived at, um, I dunno, maybe 6 or 6:30 ish? And I promptly put her to work squeezing a Costco-sized bag of lemons. She did a stellar job of completing a task I detest without a single complaint, while I dilly-dallied around the kitchen pretending to be useful. Mostly I was slicing strawberries for salad and getting everything onto the blech and so on. We had a pleasant little chat while Julian rampaged around the house, Seth got ready for shul, and we awaited our other guests.
By the time licht benching rolled around, I was actually ready! I mean, I didn't have the table completely set, but it had table cloths on it. And aside from assembling the salad, which I didn't want to do too early, all my food preparation was complete. Go me. (this is most unusual if you haven't figured that out) caryabend and psu_jedi arrived a little before shabbos, and got settled in before we had to light candles. Eventually, shabbos descended upon us and we took care of the last niggling details, like getting the table set. The goal was to have everything ready to go when Seth came home from shul because Seth was going to be making an early exit from dinner (more on that later).
moss_raven earned my undying approval because, without me saying a word, she noticed how I was folding and placing napkins on the table and corrected the ones she'd already put down. Now, some of my LJ readers may not recognize how huge this is, because you may not recognize the magnitude of my OCD when it comes to table setting. But I've lightened up a LOT. I didn't used to let anyone set my table other than me, because no one can do it right. They put the napkins all willy-nilly, the plates don't make perfect concentric circles, maybe they're even crazy enough to point the knife in the wrong direction, some kind of ridiculous thing like that. Those of you who have eaten at my table in real life can attest to my insanity. I always use a table cloth. I only use cloth napkins (my but it does seem like I need to buy some new ones), even during the week, and I almost never use paper plates if there is company around. My plates are all the same distance from
the edge of the table, the glasses are all placed in the same relationship to the plate. I do this. I admit I have a problem. But I have lightened up. Witness that moss_raven was helping me lay out the napkins. In a past life, that scenario never would have occurred in the first place. These days, others are free to set my table and then I try to discreetly go around after them and shift things into their proper places. Suffice it to say, moss_raven is welcome in my house anytime she darned well pleases from this point forward because she didn't need me walking behind her and moving things back to where they belonged. I set one place and without any consultation, she followed suit, carefully placing everything on the table with the same loving care I would have used. I heart moss raven!
Ahem. Now that the diversion is over... onto the meal. We had the following guests at our table:
- The aforementioned moss_raven
- The aforementioned psu_jedi and caryabend
- Ellen F.
- Ellen F's son, Yitz
- Yitz's friend Danny/Denny/I'm not really sure what his name was
- Ellen T.
- Keely, who is gluten-free, so yay for me for having had a menu that accidentally worked for her
Our meal consisted of:
- Challah... the only thing that Keely couldn't eat, but she brought her own spelt matzoh.
- Non-gebrochts baked gefilte fish (I stocked up before Pesach, and I save them for when I need gluten-free fish for a first course)
- Strawberry and Avocado Salad served with the fish course. Yes, AGAIN. Get over it. The salad is DELICIOUS, everyone loves it, it's easy, it's beautiful, and I happen to love every mouthful every single week. Maybe next week I'll do something different, but I wouldn't count on it.
- Cheryaki Chicken and Honey-seasoned chicken (served on my brand new beautiful platter!)
- Broccoli Kugel (yes, I'm boring, but it's quick, it's easy, and it's tasty... also, since I used cornflake crumbs instead of breadcrumbs on the bottom and top, Keely was able to eat it. So there!)
- Tomato Salad, made with "gourmet" tomatoes, which is to say, red, yellow and orange tomatoes in interesting shapes and sizes. It was very pretty, if I do say so myself, and I do.
- Roasted Cauliflower.
- Green beans tossed with sauteed onions and pignoli. Not as good as usual, as I think I undercooked the beans a little. It's a fine line, you know.
- Roasted Potatoes. Delish, of course, but there weren't enough of them. The previous week, I had made WAY too many of them, so I made fewer this week, but then ended up with two originally unplanned for shabbos guests (Ellen T. and Yitz's friends), so I was a little short. I mean, everyone got potatoes, but I'm sure someone was wishing for seconds and none were available (except the three that I'd hidden in the kitchen for psu_jedi because I'm smart like that).
- Dessert was a beautiful cake that Ellen F. brought; some strawberry tofutti that Ellen T. brought along with nuts and whipped cream; and assorted random things I found in my kitchen at the last minute. Quite tasty.
So it was a lovely meal, meeting my color-requirement. What? You didn't know I cook by color? Where have you BEEN? I like to have at least three vibrant colors on a plate. It's prettier that way, and tastes better too. Don't laugh until you've tried it, because it's True!
Seth skipped out after the main course, because he had some male-bonding thing to get to. Lots of chest-pounding and grunting, I imagine. Or, um, alternatively, some Torah learning and booze-drinking. I hear there was rugelach, which doesn't sound particularly manly to me, but what can I say? I didn't pick out the confections.
By the time Seth returned home, most everything had been put away, the dishes were neatly stacked, awaiting his post-shabbos dishapalooza. As we were all exhausted, we gave moss_raven a quick rundown of the next day's schedule including davening options, a key, a lesson on how to lock our door with the key (it's not complicated, but it's counterintuitive), and a warning that Julian would probably try to wake her up in the morning. ":Not to worry," she chirped pleasantly, "I'm a very heavy sleeper." (I will not say "I told you so." I will not say "I told you so." I will not say "I told you so." I will not...)
Saturday was very nice as well. I rarely talk about Saturdays because they are mostly the same, but this one was a little different. Normally I head over to S & S's house while Seth (another S! Coincidence? I think not!) is at shul. Then we all head back to our house and nap. Eventually we have lunch. Eventually Seth goes back to shul. Maybe Julian and I will find someone to play with for the late afternoon, maybe not. Then shabbos is over and we do dishes. This week, however, S&S were sponsoring a kiddush at the godawfulearly minyan. Seth and I had been up too late to even consider going to the early minyan, and although I did wake early enough to go to the kiddush, I awoke with a splitting migraine with no desire to traipse, in the heat, to shul. Instead, I tried to amuse Julian at home with trains while the far-more-pious-than-I moss_raven and sethcohen went to the regular minyan.
After shul, we all went to lunch at Kevin and Nechama's. K's father and stepmother were visiting, and they were delightful. K's father is a pharmacist and his stepmother is in IT, so it was a pretty good pairing, if accidental, and I think moss_raven enjoyed herself as well. K&N are pleasant to talk to and K's parents proved no different. Nechama served challah (duh), cholent (I didn't try it, so I assume it was delicious, but I can't say for certain), schnitzel (Julian actually ate the schnitzel!!), salad, and spinach kugel, with brownies for dessert. Lovely. We lingered, but only as long as Julian would let us, because he was getting to that "I NEED A NAP" stage of his day.
moss_raven and I chatted for a while after Seth and Julian went down for their respective naps, and when she started to droop, I ordered her to bed. I briefly contemplated a nap myself, but then Julian woke up. I could have been the nice wife and let Seth sleep for a lot longer, since I was obviously not going to take a nap, but I am mean, so after half an hour of hanging out with Julian, I suggested he wander downstairs and find out if there was an Abba to tickle. Indeed there was, and after about half an hour of prodding, we managed to get the Abba-monster out of bed.
We had a nice seudah shlishit around 8 pm: cheese, crackers, grapes (oh heavenly grapes!), tomato & avocado salad (my latest obsession), a little bit of the required shabbos candy, and, um, I think there was other stuff. Unfortunately, moss_raven wasn't awake for it, and I felt badly for not sharing, but in my defense, I did knock on her door several times with no response. After eating, we put Julian to bed and all of a sudden, Shabbos was over! We waited until about 9:30 to wake moss_raven, figuring she obviously needed the sleep having just returned from California and started a new job the same day she returned.
All in all, it was a lovely shabbos, though for once I really do wish I'd made it up to shul.
If you read the entire thing, you get, um, a cookie. That seems rather cliche, so maybe I'll think of something else. How are all of you???!!!???