Our Passover 2017

Confession: Even though the month of April is history, I still want to share pictures of our Passover supper with you.

For the past two years, we’ve chosen to celebrate a Passover feast with our children on the Thursday night before Easter, as part of remembering Jesus’ last days before death. My giant disclaimer fits here: This is an American Anabaptist Passover. The main event is the food, and we don’t go kosher – we shamelessly pick which pieces to observe, and then fill in the rest with foods we like to eat together.

But our children love it, and we leave an empty place setting and a glass of grape juice for Jesus.

We eat lamb, because that follows the original story of when God’s people left Egypt. It’s a costly meat, special for our family – I know we could roast a chicken instead, but there’s something so perfect about the Lamb. We buy a small roast, already seasoned delightfully with garlic and lots of rosemary.

Last year I roasted potatoes and carrots, which is more traditional. This year, having served roast veggies a couple of nights before, I whipped creamy mashed potatoes.

We picked bitter herbs from the yard – dandelion, yarrow, and parsley (does parsley count?) – and dipped them in salt water. The herbs symbolize the bitterness of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, and the salty water is their tears.

For unleavened bread, I tried homemade matzo this year – thin crackers with salt. That was a hit, especially when we dipped them in the haroset.

Haroset is an apple salad, made in a food processor to look like the mortar the Israelites used. I can’t for the life of me find the site from which I originally borrowed this particular recipe, though I tried hard. It was from a private blog and I really liked how he wrote about Passover. We love this recipe well enough to eat it any time of year. Its spices and honey add a curiously delicious twist. So thank you, Mr. American Haroset, wherever you are…

American Haroset

3 red apples
3 green apples
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans
To taste: honey, cloves, and ginger

Process all together in food processor.

Of course we ate hard-boiled eggs, though when I turned them into mice with cheese Ryan said “Do you know how horrified a Jewish person would be to think of a mouse on the table?” I just laughed and said “Okay, well, yeah. Good thing we’re not Jewish?”

We lit candles and poured our homemade sparkling grape juice, and served everything up.

Each year I think, “This time we will do some of the readings and questions.” I even found Elisabeth Adam’s beautiful Haggada and printed it off, trying hard to include it. But then…

Do Jewish babies not fuss?

Are Jewish mothers more long-suffering when they do?

We skipped the readings for another year, and just ate a lamb cake for dessert. I told you the food was our main event, and hey.

It made Jenny happy again.


What ideas will you give me for next year’s feast?

Gifts of great beauty

So now that we are talking to each other, what should we talk about?

If I were a smarter blogger, I would have quickly followed up on your willingness to talk with a titillating post on a hot topic, like “Q: What do you think of The Shack?” (A: I don’t think of it at all. What shack?)

I’m not stupid, I’m just stubborn. And occasionally tongue-tied.

So this is a popcorn post – random bits of delight from my days – and then you can share some of yours with me.


First I have a few things to say about food. I found a new favorite cake: chocolate, with maple and buttercream frostings alternating. So yummy.

I’ve been eating my Grandma Grace’s peanut butter toast for breakfast (okay, my peanut butter toast made her way; I’m not stealing poor granny’s brekky). Take a piece of wheat bread and toast it. Spread with peanut butter and long slices of banana. Top with honey and cinnamon. I’m not sure if it’s *that good* because it’s *that good* or because I grew up on it.

This is my favorite lunch: a changing kaleidoscope of color, texture, and flavor. The best edible cure I know for gray days.

I’m spending lots of time with my family. I was watching this basketball game happen and they said “Do you want to play?” and I sort of laughed and panicked because I don’t know the rules. But I said yes, and it was actually fun. No one took pictures of that part, which on the whole is probably a good thing.

Then I found this on my kitchen counter, a teeny bouquet tied up with grass.

Only a six-year-old can be that artistic and precise with weeds, turning them into gifts of great beauty. I love that about her.

She is growing her writing skills too, and has spent much time on this paper just for the fun of it, imitating her big brothers’ assignments. (click to enlarge)

Spring has sprung in Meadville. Last fall I finally remembered to plant the bulbs for which I long in March, crocuses and tulips and daffodils and hyacinths, and I can’t wait to see more of them pop.

I am thinking often of Easter, remembering the wonderful things we did last year to celebrate. This year we are adding handicrafts in the form of glittery eggs from Dollar Tree strung on bare branches. I can’t stop looking at them. I never know how to decorate for this holiday, but if eggs are a symbol of new life, I cannot think of anything more appropriate for Easter than new life hung on a Tree.

Plus it makes the children busy and happy, cutting and twisting all that wire.

We revived last year’s mercy garden, with fresh things from the yard and gardens. On Easter weekend I will put a candle in the tomb.

I think it is so amazing that I found an incredible photo backdrop I didn’t know I had, in the form of my dilapidated basement doors (above). Isn’t that smashing? You might see more of them in future. I always assumed foodie bloggers had cardboard backgrounds they stood behind their masterpieces… I didn’t know they carried the food outside and set it on top of their junk.

But talking of eggs, my son brought me a real trophy from his flock. “Imagine being a hen laying normal eggs and then having to lay this one,” he said.

She is doing well on bedrest.


What popcorn would you like to share from your days? Three pieces at random.

Happy Tuesday!
Shari

Easter celebrations 2016

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When I began blogging four years ago, one of my first questions for you old-timers who were there was—How do you celebrate Easter?

In my experience it is the almost-missed Christian holiday in the Mennonite church. All sorts of treats and traditions have grown up around our Christmases, including non-overtly-spiritual traditions like homemade candy, piles of presents, and sledding parties. But somehow Easter…

Hmm. Easter. Let me think.
There’s an early service at church, and um…
Let me think…

Four years ago, I wanted to find ways to build excitement, anticipation, and joy into this best of holidays. Since then, we’ve found delight in trying new ideas as a family and seeing what works for us. Some years we’ve travelled. Some years we’ve hosted Easter egg hunts for children, with slices of layer cake for the adults.

This year we reinstated some favorite traditions, and started some new ones I predict will be keepers. I know I’m a month late. But I’d like to share our most meaningful with you, to tuck in your brain file for next year…

1. Resurrection eggs

eggs_5706

Did you know it’s very simple to make your own set of resurrection eggs?

You fill a dozen hollow egg shells with symbolic items to tell the story of Jesus’ final week. Your child opens one a day, and reads the accompanying passage of Scripture. We tweaked ours to include a few extras, combining ideas from this site and this site with a few of our own. (There are even printable Scripture cards here.)

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My favorite bit was our tiny crown of thorns.

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2. A mercy garden

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I am about five years behind on this one. I understand Ann Voskamp created or popularized the idea some time ago, but this was the first year I joined in with my five-year-old daughter. We found it surprisingly meaningful, to dig real earth and arrange real stones and know that his body rested in THIS. Our tiny tomb was chilling, and beautiful. We put a candle in it.

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3. A Passover meal

I’ve always wanted to attend a Passover meal; this year, I did a little research and hosted one for our children on Thursday night, the evening Jesus shared Passover with his disciples before his death. The Zook family did not go kosher. I got a headache just reading the regulations, and in the end I said “All things are lawful unto me” and served normal food, picking and choosing which symbols to keep and which to omit.

We ate roasted leg of lamb and unleavened bread and bitter herbs and haroset.

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This is not a good shot, but I was a little too busy being there to also be a great photographer.

Since our children are young and squirmy, we didn’t get to do the readings I was hoping. We were in this for the food alone. But there is always next year…

4. Good Friday singing

In our community, a Friday evening church service is not a thing. This year, my parents invited us to a beautiful new tradition—meeting in their home with a few friends to sing. We sang by candlelight, songs of the suffering of Christ interspersed with Scripture readings. When the music was done, we blew out our candles and left in silence.

pumpkin maple candle

5. Time in a graveyard

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Photo credit: Ryan Zook

Maybe this one sounds macabre—but did you know that Jesus actually died? Saturday night, Ryan and I took our family to a much-beloved and beautiful graveyard. The children played while we sat and talked, then Ryan read aloud the story of Jesus’ death. Then we went out and bought ice cream. There is no symbolism in ice cream that I can find, but it is sweet to share with your family.

And Sunday?

Waking in the darkness to hurry our family to church. Coffee and donuts. An early praise service. Songs from little children. Brunch shared with our congregation. Naps at home. Chocolates. A delicious evening dinner with extended family.

I think it was the best Easter I’ve ever had.

Now it’s your turn to add to my files for next year… How did you celebrate? What traditions have you passed down or begun?

Dawning of the age

Early in the morning

Afraid of what they’d find, a

Sisterhood of grief and trepidation

Turned the final corner of the age to find an

Empty bed, drooping linens, risen Lord

on

Resurrection morning.

 

Eagerly we work and wait the advent

As His kingdom comes, His will is done, we

Scan the earth and sky for

Tombstones shattered

Energy unleashed, heaven coming down

on

Resurrection morning.

Easter treat

jelly bean bag 2

Confession: I never saw much point in jellybeans.

The only ones I ever truly liked were the Buttered Popcorn variety from Jelly Belly. But their chief virtue lay in how much they tasted like something else. Sigh.

Still, when I found a poem* justifying their existence, I decided to share it with my Sunday school children — treat and theology, all in one. I know it’s a little too early for Easter proper yet, but our recent lessons have focused on the death and resurrection of Christ, so this is perfect.

Jelly Beans Tell a Story
Written by Barbara Hooks

Black is for the evil planned that night.
Yellow is for God’s Son who is the Light.

Red is for the precious blood that Jesus gave.
Green is for the grass that grew beside the grave.

Orange is for the setting sun as soldiers slept.
Pink is for the rising sun as Mary wept.

Purple is for rulers who could not win.
White is for the cloth He left within.

Blue is for the water in the sea.
On the shore “The risen Lord! Oh, could it be?”

Many people witnessed this great event.
Disciples watched as heavenward He went.

The angel said He would return–
Exactly when, we do not learn.

A bag full of jellybeans helps us tell
A story of love we know so well.

Share the candy; share the joy;
Jesus died for girls and boys!

bagging

I am slightly color-starved at the moment, so I decided to really play the color theme and cut rainbow-colored ribbons from my stash of fabric scraps.

snipping
rainbow cloth strips
jellybean bag 1

I printed a copy of the poem for each child and folded it up like an envelope, sealed with a sticker.

1 2 3 4 5 6

They loved it.

alena josh katy

* Inspiration and poem found at daniellesplace.com!