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Indio, California: Today we celebrate a very fun Jewish holiday - Purim. On this day, a really, really, really long time ago (4th century), the Jews of Persia were saved by yet another clever woman - famed vegetarian, Esther. The victory is celebrated by wearing costumes, drinking wine and eating pastries. Purim is a "there was a war, we won, let's eat" holiday.

Before the holiday cooking commenced, I clocked 10,000 steps around the resort while a cleaning crew scoured our casita, pavilion and motorhome. (Why I didn't have them clean AFTER I cooked all day is mystery.)

Please notice all the snow on the mountain west (towards Los Angeles) of town. The Coachella Valley received a lot of rain on Sunday, and the snow levels dropped much lower than usual. It is rare to see snow on the the mountain tops on the left of the photo. Yeah! Southern California needs rain and snow - and the desert can always use a nice long drink of water. NOTE TO OREGONIANS: Mt. San Jacinto (the high peak centered between the two palm trees in the above photo) is 10,835 feet tall, so only about 500 feet shorter than Oregon's famed Mt. Hood. It really shoots out of nowhere too, because our campsite is barely above sea level.

This is what a perfectly clean, tidy, dusted covered shade pavilion looks like for about five minutes after the cleaning crew left and five minutes before I started cooking.


And this is the view from our campsite. It never gets old.

Hamantaschen are served on Purim. Triangle-shaped butter pastries, traditionally filled with poppy seed, date or apricot filling. The triangle shape mimics the shape of the evil Haman's hat (or so some say). If you ever find these delectable pastries in a bake shop in the spring - do not miss the opportunity to try one.

Unbaked Hamantaschen

And when I say "if you find one in a bake shop", I mean, "if you find one in a bake shop". Do not attempt to bake them yourself. Of all the pastries I bake, these triangles are the trickiest. Difficult dough. 50/50 chance they will/will not seal and spread in the oven.

Apricot was the only filling I used today. Not lazy, it is simply my favorite. For some reason, today my pastries turned out very well. (Last year - disaster!)

Friends gathered at our campsite this evening. I made a salad using tomatoes from our garden... but not from our new tomato plants. We are still harvesting Roma tomatoes from a tomato we planted last season! Tomatoes - old and future:

Dinner was a super simple recipe that has been recently resurrected from ancient Gourmet magazine pages by Deb Perelman of Smitten KitchenOven Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Garlic has just those named three ingredients (plus salt and pepper) - beef chuck roast, canned tomatoes and garlic - placed in the oven or 3 for 4 hours.

The recipe calls for unpeeled cloves... which then requires the cook (or the diners?) to squeeze garlic out of the skins... so I opted to simply slice the cloves... eliminating all squeezing, yet diners could easily see they were eating garlic.

And run away.

Ready for the oven

I put the tomato-smothered roast, covered, in the oven for four hours at 300°. (There is no reason this dish cannot be cooked in the slow cooker. Ms. Perelman gives direction in the comment section on her site.)

There is a slice of roast beast under all that red sauce and basil (from our garden) garnish, and Pappardelle noodles. Very popular dish tonight.

Cook. This. Now.

Purim flowers

Oops! I also made an apple and hazelnut tart. Hey, it's a party!

Speaking of partying... look who is sitting up in a high chair now?

Lucy (6+ months) is in a high chair but she isn't eating. (The orange thingy on the tray is a mesh bag to hold foods for toddlers to gnaw.) Lucy does not yet like food. Bananas will not cross her lips. Sweet potatoes, rejected. Still, odds are Lucy will be noshing on Bubbe's Hamantaschen next year.

Until my next update, I remain, your sweet correspondent.

RV PARK: The Motorcoach Country Club