Entertaining

KOSHER FOR PASSOVER

Our Oyster Seder Plate - So Wrong, It's Right

oystersederplate

As we prepare for Passover, I put a hold on ordering another loaf of bread from Freshdirect, order matzah shmurah to get extra mitzvah points and dust off the OYSTER plate we use as our Passover Seder Plate. This plate for crustaceans makes me chuckle a little and reflect on this life we are creating for our family.

Our family of three is an interfaith one that takes a little extra planning and thought when it comes to the holidays, and now there are A LOT of holidays. While interfaith marriages cause great strife in some nations, communities and families we chose to forge through it and let love prevail - the hippie faith is one we have in common.  My husband and I both come from rich cultures and neither wanted to lose that identity. Actually, the fondness and respect we have for our own cultures fostered an understanding and excitement to celebrate the other’s. While dating we invented a new holiday we named Purim Gras since both holidays are around the same time and have many similar jovial customs. We served hamentashen next to king cake and hung a greeting sign which read "SHOW ME YOUR TZIT ZITS ". To celebrate our marriage, we set the tone of our life together by calling it our Cajun Jewish Wedding.  We incorporated traditions from both cultures (FYI: Cajuns originally were Catholic).  We were married on the front porch of an Acadian style home under a Chuppah. We had a Friday night Shabbat Rehearsal dinner and a fish fry with crawfish etouffee the night of the wedding. Our goal isn’t to compromise but rather convene on ways to marry our rich cultures and give our new baby the best of it all. His name is part Hebrew and part Cajun with a birthday on the 4th night of Hanukkah and a week before Christmas. When I began to prepare for our first Passover Seder as a family,  I realized an oyster plate has 6 sections and a Seder plate has 6 symbolic foods. You can imagine the excitement  and sense of victory at this perfect melding of the cultures again. It was a sign from G-d letting me know we were doing things right.

To some our interfaith marriage has diluted our heritage and dishonored our family. Tradition and the tradition of marrying within one’s religion is not something to be taken lightly. I understand the desire and sense of responsibility to preserve one’s culture and religion. In many cases, preserving this lifestyle is a way to honor your ancestors’ struggles to maintain their beliefs. My family fled France and then British rule in Canada and my husband’s family left Poland before the war to be able to maintain our sense of identities.

Our journeys, thankfully on our free will, led us to New York where we too were trying to connect to an identity found in an urban space where all your dreams come true. When we met,he was looking for a Jewish girl and I was looking for a European prince to make me a princess.  We could not help but to fall in love. While our journey was not under the pressure of war or expulsion, still we were searching for the kind of life that allowed us to pursue our own version of happiness.  When I look into my baby's eyes, yes, he's not Jewish. He's Cajun Jewish and I am in awe that love created him. Our Oyster Seder Plate will be HIS tradition that connects him to two resilient cultures and serve to remind him of love, hate, acceptance and the ability to pursue happiness.  

 

 

BABY'S FIRST BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

Made with Love, Not the Baby's College Fund

baby's first birthday cake

All birthdays deserve to be celebrated.  A lot of emphasis is placed on the first birthday, yet it seems unnecessary to expend the time and money Pinterest might guilt you into. When planning the celebration keep in mind the purpose: a fun day for the birthday baby AND to recognizing how much the parents have grown in one year too. While it's tempting to dip into the baby's college fund to throw a party they will never forget (haha), there are a few party tricks that can save a small fortune & time without sacrificing the important aspects.

1. THEME

By now the 1 year old probably has a favorite interest or object. This is a good starting place for a theme. Remember, this needs to be a "fun day for the birthday baby". In our case, Noam loved ducks so Rubber Duckies was the theme of his party - his first word was "QUACK QUACK"!!  Using a bright color(s) as a theme is also great for children.

2. DECOR

Who wants a closet full of cheap decorations after a party, and who has the time to make a bunch of expensive, time consuming ones? The Answer: Balloons! Children adore them, they fill up the space making even the drabbest room cheerful and they only cost about $1 a piece once filled with helium. Balloons also do double duty as a take home present for all the guests.

Other decorative items worth your while: Flowers, a Table Cloth, and a beautiful center piece Birthday Cake

3. SMALL GUEST LIST

Keeping the baby in mind - as tempting as it is to invite a crowd - consider a few tiny friends with whom the baby likes to play and invite those families. This way it's truly a party for the baby to have some fun.

4. MENU

Sticking to a theme for the menu will help to not get carried away. Themes could include Cooking style like BBQ or Regional fair like Mexican or Meal Based like brunch. Again, in trying to keep things manageable, serve finger foods that kids love and adults find novel.

With a party at 1 in the afternoon and a yellow theme, Brunch style food was appropriate. We served Deviled Eggs, Bites of Grilled Sausage, Tator Tots, Terra Vegetable Chips and Scones with Lemon Curd.  Oh, and PARTY PUNCH is a must. We needed something Yellow which is why I made a French 75 punch. This was a serious hit. I floated mini rubber duckies in the punch for a bit of humor. *The rubber duckies were also take home presents for the guests.  Other beverages included Lemon Water, Orange Juice and Hot Black Tea.

5. A SENTIMENTAL TOUCH

As this is a great milestone and everyone in attendance is there to celebrate it, this is a perfect opportunity to share pictures or videos of the last year. Displaying pictures in frames, on a banner or even rotating digital frame are all good options. We made a video compilation of photos we took of him every week. The 10 minute video was premiered at his birthday with our friend's and family around.

To add to this video collection, we bought him a Junior Chesty for his birthday so that he could wear our GoPro Camera and begin to make his own videos. Wearing this, he recorded much of his own birthday party. I think in years to come, when the memories of his 1st birthday are a little fuzzy, he can watch this GoPro video and see exactly what he did from his perspective.

 

IT'S A MATTER OF TASTE

NOAM'S FIRST MEAL | FOOD & DRINK

Babyspoon_elegant baby_ first meal_ babyfoodie

There is a lot to catch up on here at Jenée Sais Quoi as Baby Noam is already almost 6 months old ! 

This first post after maternity leave covers a big event: Noam's first solid food! 

Over the years I have enjoyed writing about seasonal and celebratory

cocktails

,

homegrown recipes

and entertaining with

Cajun food

in NYC. So of course, for me, Noam's first meal would be monumental. 

This project meant more than just cooking food for my son. It was about setting the tone for a lifetime of healthy and adventurous eating. I even called a friend in San Francisco,

Melanie

, a foodie and

Certified Holistic Nutritionist

, for her thoughts on this big event.

As I contemplated it, bought it, and prepared it, I thought about the bigger conversation going on concerning food in this country right now such as: 

- Having a conscious about from where our food comes

- The injustice of poor neighborhoods not having access to healthy, fresh foods 

- and

treating food as medicine. 

I wanted all of this to be considered and passed on through the food.

Our pediatrician recommended that we skip over the rice cereal and go straight to complex recipes. Whatever we eat, he can eat. This new way of feeding babies in America is thought to lessen food allergies and picky eaters- I'm a big fan of that. 

I started the meal at the

Prospect Park Farmers Market

. I decided whatever was organic, local and in season would be his first vegetable. There was a small stand with carefully placed bunches of veggies in wooden crates that looked inviting. Since I was not one of the early shoppers, the pickings were slim. Yet, this bunch of White Japanese Turnips looked like a beautiful first meal and Farmer Greg posed for a picture so that Noam can see who grew his first meal. 

japanese radish_ farmers market_ brooklyn_ babyfood

Willow Wisp Organic Farm Stand 

japanese radish_ farmers market_ brooklyn_ babyfood

I considered just boiling them because it was still unfathomable that a baby could handle more than one ingredient at a time. But I decided to go all out and make this recipe from

Epicurious

. Luckily I had all the ingredients laying around. With tons of love, I prepared

Miso Japanese Turnips

. I even served it in little tea cups I acquired during a trip to Japan many years ago. Then I unwrapped a special spoon sent to him by my friend Tiffany. We shared this food on a Sunday - Mom, Dad & Noam - a perfect day for our family's first meal together. 

japanese turnip_ babyfood_miso recipe

baby mush on bottom

As for Noam's opinion on his seasonal, local, organic, miso Japanese turnips- he could not get enough!!!! He was even licking his tray!!! 

Hopefully the thoughtful choice for my son is the beginning of a healthy relationship to food, to his body and the world around him. 

May he always enjoy breaking bread with family and friends as it's one of life's best pleasures. 

Baby Products that helped make this a success: 

(not an endorsement - just a tip to help other moms) 

Bumbo Seat & Tray

- Great for babies that are almost ready to sit, but def ready to eat. 

BabySpoon by

Elegant ba

by

- It's cute, easy grip, just the right size, and BPA free