I’m adding that title to my business card.
Seriously. It would make you think, wouldn’t it? Plus, it’s the person I like most being. In the literal sense, and in the metaphor, too.
More specifically, yesterday my children stayed home from school for the last day of the fall Jewish holidays, and Eliana and I spent the morning turning everything in the refrigerator into something delicious for Shabbat dinner last night. I love doing that.
When we go to the beach with my hubby’s family, I make the last dinner, the day after the big dinner party, turning the leftovers into a feast. I love diving into such creativity and figuring out what goes with what for new creations. I love emptying the refrigerator into dishes that meld and knowing we used everything and used it well.
Yesterday, there were still a ton of veggies from the farmers market last weekend and I hate wasting food. So we roasted the carrots and leeks together with sesame seeds and ghee and spices, mixed the cooked combination with cashews and raisins and added a healthy tablespoon of raw honey to mix throughout. It was amazing and colorful and new.
The colors on the table last night were vivid. Some of the carrots were pastel and striped, mixed among the darkest orange and some white ones, too. There was swiss chard with hot pink stalks mixed with pine nuts and figs. The broccoli became a soufflé, with feta cheese and egg and cream and nutmeg. The zucchini and tomatoes became a sunshine-colored gratin with parmesan and cornflake crumbs crusted over top.
The crowning dish, Eliana’s creation, was a colorful Israeli salad of small tomatoes in all shades, a rich red pepper, Syrian cukes, scallions and a homemade lemon vinaigrette in which it had the day to marinate so the flavors were more pronounced come dinner time.
We also put out the meat leftovers – roast and purple potatoes from the crock pot the day prior, chicken in gravy and some steak Diane and rice from Eddie’s mid-week.
We made challah late in the afternoon and it baked up plump and soft, Eliana’s sprinkled with cinnamon, mine covered in sesame seeds. And for dessert, gluten-free oatmeal chocolate chip bars on Shaya’s account – but we all ate them. Melted chocolate in anything makes it worthwhile.
While most of the world worked yesterday morning, I was in the kitchen with my kids, creating new flavors and combinations, so that we could gather around the family table for the first time in a while, all of us there, laughing, talking, together.
It was one of my favorite mornings in a long, long time.
I’m not saying I want to dump it all and stay home in the kitchen. No thanks. I love my work, and I love being in the world.
But a soft morning of no expectations and silent creations among the people I love most, that’s such a gift. We are not religious in the traditional sense, but I was really glad to take the last two days to be with my children and celebrate who we are and what we believe. On Thursday, it was more tangible – lunch in a family’s sukkah, then dancing in the synagogue.
Yesterday was a different kind of ritual. The kind where you realize what matters and tuck away what doesn’t. The kind where the stories of the world don’t even factor in.
I wish we lived in a world where things like this were more cherished and work didn’t factor so large in everyone’s purview. Yes, we must work and accomplish and serve and earn and succeed. No question.
But what about those quiet moments with loved ones? What about the exercise of creativity to fuel our ambition? What about the down time, the sunshine, the walks in fresh air, the being together?
The other night, after all the religious stuff, I watched my son run around the baseball field, so in love with the moment. After, in the car, he said, tired and content, “I love baseball.” It was the kind of statement fueled by passion, from the heart, where I knew his whole soul and mind and body were focused on the task at hand and nothing superficial or silly filtered in.
We should all live in that state. I am going to do my darndest to try.