What’s for supper? Vol. 244: Overcome with paschal QUACK

Happy meat Friday! I hope you all had and are having and will continue to have a joyful and delicious Easter! 

Couple little food and other highlights from the previous week (because I may be a monster, but even I don’t do a food post on Good Friday):

On April 1 I made maple syrup from the sap I’d been collecting. I was only able to tap one tree, so I only got about five or six gallons of sap.

Maple sap looks like rain water and tastes only very faintly sweet. I ran it through a sieve a few times to get the debris out, and then just started boiling it. 

People usually boil sap outside or in dedicated sugar houses, and then just move it to the stove for the very last stage, but you can do the whole thing inside if you don’t much care about your kitchen getting all sticky, which I don’t, because it’s already all sticky.

The recipe is as follows: You boil and boil and boil it until it’s syrup, and keep on not caring about the walls. It took about four-and-a-half hours, and right at the end, I couldn’t find my dang candy thermometer, so I had to eyeball it based on how it ran off the spoon. I was terrified of burning it and ruining it after all that boiling! So it actually turned up on the thin side, but better a little thin than ruined. 

It still tastes lovely and mapley and is a beautiful amber shade. I got about a pint of syrup, which is what I was expecting. 

I also took Corrie for her first-ever haircut!

The two of us finally got tired of spending our lives detangling her hair. She loves it, she looks adorable, and, whew. 

I also bought a couple of kayaks off Facebook Marketplace!

Two nine-foot Old Town kayaks, because that is the brand the rental place used, and I figured if they rent them out, they must be durable and good for beginners. We haven’t had a chance to take them out yet, but I am VERY EXCITED. 

We also had two birthdays the first week of April. Irene baked and decorated her own cake, with her sisters:

and Lena wasn’t sure what kind of cake she wanted, so she said to surprise her. WHICH I DID. 

This, if you can’t immediately tell, is a gum paste Chun-Li from Street Fighters. Sometimes she needs to sit down a take a load off after all that street fighting, that’s all. 

But most of the week was super easy, super simple dinners because I was cooking and baking my little heart out for Passover, which we celebrate on Holy Saturday every year. Most of my Passover recipes are here

So here’s what we ate this past week: 


Most of the food turned out pretty good! The spinach pies, which I like to make into little spinach bites in silicone molds, were a little heavy on the pie and light on the spinach, but they were okay. 

The chopped liver was a little uneven in texture, but the taste was out of this world. Tremendously rich and savory. So good. 

The chicken soup was fine. I made 89 matzoh balls, and I do believe they all got eaten. We also had gefilte fish, pickles, and some delicious charoset. Damien roasted some lamb and I roasted some cinnamon garlic chicken. Both quite tasty. It was a pretty table this year, too, and Dora came, and Moe came with his sweet girlfriend. Corrie did the four questions; Elijah did his weird Elijah the prophet thing. You can see some photos here.


And then dessert:

Jelly fruit slices and chocolate covered jelly fruit rings were very hard to find this year, for some reason, but I got ’em. Also a nice slab of halvah, and assorted macaroons. The only things I baked for dessert were chocolate matzoh with almonds, which you can see in the foreground of the photo above, and lemon walnut sponge cake. 

The chocolate matzoh is pretty hard to mess up, and that turned out great. You just make some caramel in a pot, pour that on the matzoh and heat it up in the oven, and then sprinkle chocolate on it and let it sit for a minute, and then spread the chocolate out, and sprinkle nuts on it. Freeze and break, and there it is. I think people make this with saltines, but that doesn’t sound very good to me. Matzoh has those unique blistered layers that hold up very well under the caramel and chocolate.

The sponge cake is very easy to mess up, and I actually did really well with it this year! I used the recipe on the side of the matzoh cake meal can. Of course you can’t use any leavening agents, so it depends on egg whites to make it light. Well, I folded those egg whites in like I was afraid they were going to leap out of the bowl and smack me. And I guess that’s what did it, because that was the nicest, lightest sponge cake I’ve ever made. 

The top had this wonderful crackly baked meringue-like crust, and the inside was tender and airy, just like it should be. I wish the lemon taste had come through more (I was a little low on lemon juice because I was rushing and juiced the lemons so lustily, I broke the bowl, and had to throw it all out), but overall, I was very pleased. Here’s the recipe, which I will type up legibly at some point. Even with my reading glasses on I had to get a kid to tell me what those numbers were supposed to be!

And that was Passover! We have now firmly established that it’s equally hilarious whether you say “young lambs” or “lung yams.” I’m gonna lose it either way. I wasn’t even drinking! So we finished that up and sang the songs, and Damien said “the order of the Passover is now accomplished” and we all shouted “MORE OR LESS” and we had dessert, and then we really had to hustle and get ready for the Easter Vigil, because we do All The Things. 

The vigil was nearly three hours long, and yes, Corrie singed her hair a bit, but only a bit, and then she fell asleep.

Passover leftovers and candy

In the morning we had Easter baskets I got stickers for the kids’ baskets this year, and I thought some of them were pretty good.

I also got edible easter grass, because I figured the dog was going to eat it either way, and I really did not want to see it a few days later in the yard in . . . dog processed form. 

We made eggs on Easter day. The little girls learned how to blow eggs

I tried a new technique, where you put leaves on the egg and keep it in place with tulle and a rubber band,

and then dunk it in dye. Turned out subtle but pretty. 

Chicken cutlets

Monday Damien made the birthday dinner that Lena had requested for her birthday last week, but it turned out she had to be somewhere else at dinner time, so we had it on Monday. It’s the Deadspin chicken cutlet meal, with the delicious sauce and the fresh basil leaf and provolone on each piece of chicken. Delectable as always. 

Aldi pizza

Normally, I try to make extra nice meals that everyone likes throughout Easter week, so everyone keeps on being overcome with paschal joy.  However, this year I achieved a level of tiredness I haven’t known in years, and consequentemente, I just couldn’t get myself to go shopping. So on Tuesday I just snagged some Aldi pizzas on the way home from school pick-up. 

Plus, also, I had my concert on Tuesday night! I personally did not play in a manner that would win any awards, but we were all nice and loud and we ended at the same time, and that’s what counts. Really glad I did the whole band thing. I may look around for a summer band to join, or I may just plug away at the Mozart clarinet concerto I bought, until this band starts up again in the fall. 

Penne with leftover chicken and leftover sauce

Wednesday I just chopped up the leftover chicken and put it in the leftover sauce and heated it up, and cooked up a bunch of penne, and served that. I bulked up the sauce a bit with some sauce from a jar, which had this incredible tip on the label:

You may be thinking, “How is this a time-saving tip, when they are essentially telling you ‘eat the food you bought?'” But this is the era when people use cutting-edge technology to disseminate videos of themselves laboriously turning pasta into much worse pasta, so I guess we need all the help we can get. 

Strawberry chicken salad

We needed a vegetable so bad, so I broke down and went shopping. We had salad with grilled chicken, sliced strawberries, slivered almonds, crumbled blue cheese, and big homemade croutons. 

A vegetable, I say! 

On Thursday we also BROUGHT HOME THE DUCKLINGS! We now have four little ridiculously adorable Pekin ducklings. Their names are Fay, Ray, Coin, and EJ, named after Damien’s great uncles and great grandfather. 

They are living in a tub in the house for a few weeks, and then they can move outside into a little wooden duck house. They’re just lovely. They’re golden and shiny and somewhat belligerent, and their feet are very funny. They stopped being shy about ten minutes after we got home, and now they just stomp all over the place.

We can’t tell if they’re girls or boys yet. When they get their adult feathers, the boys will have curly tails, and I guess that’s how you tell? 

The dog is fascinated with them, and finds them a little alarming. He’s being very gentle. They are pretty much ignoring him. They are incredibly messy and poop nonstop. They also put up a surprisingly loud racket, and peep and whistle very musically (they don’t actually quack yet). They are babies, so they get tired out very easily, and pile on top of each other, snuggle up, and go to sleep. But then if someone makes a noise, their little heads pop up and they have to find out what’s going on. It’s the cutest thing imaginable. Expect to hear more duck news!

I’ve been posting copious photos and videos on Facebook. Here is when they first came home:

and here is when the kids came home from school to meet them:

Here is a quick video of the dog doing his best to figure out what the hell is going on around here:


and here are some pics of their first little trip outdoors this afternoon:


I will attempt to write about things other than ducklings in the future, but I make no promises. 

Fish tacos

I know it’s a meat Friday, but my brain wasn’t working when I was shopping, so we’re having tortillas with beer battered fish fillets, shredded cabbage, sour cream, salsa, avocados, and lime juice, and tortilla chips. 

Oh, one last thing! It’s matzoh brei (pronounced to rhyme with “dry”) season! There is probably still matzoh in the stores, maybe even on sale, so you should pick up a few boxes and try this. 

Take a sheet of matzoh and break it into bite-sized pieces. Put it in a bowl and pour some hot water on top. Let it sit for a minute, then pour the water off and squeeze it to get the extra water out. Then scramble the slightly softened pieces of matzoh into a couple of eggs. 

That’s it. This matzoh brei, above, is a little undercooked because I was starving and I rushed it, but it was still so tasty. The matzoh gets cooked right into the egg but it stays crunchy on the edges, and it’s perfect with just a little salt and pepper. You can also make this with fried onions and it’s superb. 

Okay, that’s it! Quack quack!

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8 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 244: Overcome with paschal QUACK”

  1. My children want an update on your poor, pitiful kitty. Did he survive the second bath? What does he think of the ducks?

    For a while we had both pet rats and a lovely, petite gray kitty with ferocious hunting instincts, which certainly kept us on our toes. And everyone kept all their toes, and all their other parts, thanks be to God.

  2. Forgive this totally off-topic comment (with this on-topic caveat: DUCKS!!), but Simcha, I’ve been a lurker for years and have to tell you 1) how much I love your voice and 2) how much you have drawn me to motherhood. I could not imagine being a mother before I read the work of a mother who, well, sounds a lot like me.

    I’m a fan of Sancta Nomina and was looking through your blog to see whether you’d ever written about what you named your children and why. If such a post exists, I couldn’t find it. If the topic sparks your interest and you have a spare moment between picking up duck poop and comforting your traumatized cat, I for one would love to know how you came to name a Hebrew Catholic brood of 10.

  3. Matzoh brei sounds like Jewish migas, which is the exact same thing but with corn tortilla chips and maybe some salsa.

    I might have to buy some matzoh next year. We don’t do a Seder, but I try to make lamb and salad and homemade matzoh on Holy Thursday every year so that we can have a concrete example to show the kids. Homemade matzoh, at least the way I do it, is a thick chewy abomination that shouldn’t exist. My jaw literally gets sore trying to get it down.

    The wine helps.

  4. What does the poor cat think of the ducks?

    What glorious feasts you have! I didn’t even bake a dessert for Easter this year, and we had a whole roasted chicken as it was easy and cheap.

  5. Syrup! We used to boil sap every year–on a much larger scale–in upstate New York, and I miss it. It was exhausting and sticky and often cold and wet minding the evaporator, but it was also the first harbinger of soon-to-be-spring, and it got us outside after a long winter indoors. For future reference, if you do overboil it, you can either keep going and make maple sugar, which is delicious, or just add some water back to it and re-heat to get it back to syrup.

    1. oh, that’s great to know about overboiling! I hope to do this on a slightly larger scale next year. We have a lot of trees but hardly any maples, but I can definitely find more than one next time!

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