Jerusalem, Israel: Today, while I was walking/jogging inside our deserted RV resort, I again listened to my local NPR station, KPCC. The morning host, Larry Mantle, started talking about “beloved song-writer, musician, singer, etc. Randy Newman... and I was thinking Larry’s next words were going to be “passed away today from Coronavirus” - but he did not! Mr. Mantle went on to say Randy Newman had written a “social distancing” song for KPCC. Whew! Short people have enough problems! A few minutes of happiness in a bad period. Thank you, Mr. Newman!
It rained so much overnight and we woke to see Joshua Tree National Park (closed for the duration) covered in snow. I mean, REALLY covered in snow:
Actually, all three mountain ranges forming the Coachella Valley were covered in snow - but it was usually impossible to see today due to thick cloud cover. This late snow is a huge plus! We need rain so much, but when it falls as snow - DOUBLE BONUS! In April? Super rare.
Tonight “was to be” the first night of Passover. The kids were supposed to be here. Lisa had the menu planned. Obviously, this didn’t happen. Dave and I were in no mood for Passover. We had no matzo. No family. No guests. There are too many parallels between the ten plagues in Egypt before the Jews escaped, and this current plague. (Don’t get me started on unleavened bread and the current yeast scarcity.) Too many answers to the “why is this night different from other nights” question asked at the Seder. Poor Elijah. How could he possibly appear at our open door this evening? Could we ask him in? What if he wasn’t wearing a surgical mask?
We did our best. We pretended, but it just wasn’t Passover. We FaceTimed with the kids after they had shared a Seder with Lenny’s family in DC at 2p. I made smoked salmon canapés on my mini matzo “cocktail” crackers... though, I swear, it was difficult to find 6 whole crackers in the box - they were so smashed!
While we were enjoying our appetizers, the clouds parted enough that we could see Joshua Tree National Park again - the snow had all disappeared!
Such an odd day.
For our dinner tonight, I roasted the last whole chicken in the Coachella Valley
when I found it a few weeks ago. Thawed and stuffed with rosemary from our garden and lemons from neighbors, this turned-out to be one of the nicest chickens I had roasted in a very long while. It was perfectly crispy on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside.
In a total change from anything normally Kosher-for-Passover at our house, I made a dish served tonight at every Persian Jewish household in the world, Jeweled Rice. I didn’t use a recipe, but the dish consists of cooking par-boiled basmati rice in a layer of butter, topping it with sautéed onion, dried fruits, and then another layer of rice. Saffron and spiced-infused water is then drizzled over and the rice finishes steaming, while a crispy crunchy rice “crust” appears on the bottom layer. The dish is then turned-out (upside-down) onto a serving platter. It’s just so wonderful.
Toasted pistachios and walnuts served as garnish. I used dates and dried apricots in the middle layer. Butter is the key ingredient in this dish.
Asparagus was the vegetable served tonight.
Our neighbors brought us a few pieces of matzo this afternoon! We were so happy they could share.
Though we did not have a Seder this year, we have a new version of the verse always recited at the end of a Seder: Next Year, Jerusalem. Except we said: Next Year, Los Angeles.
Until my next update, I remain, your wheat-free correspondent.