A benefit of retirement

A Matzah cover Jody made when she was 4
One of the benefits I have found in retiring is that I have time to prepare for the Jewish holidays so it is enjoyable instead of a mad dash to try and fit in everything around running an office. And preparing for Passover is a big deal- not only does it involve lots of cooking and shopping- it involves cleaning- probably the Jewish version of spring cleaning- you have to clean out the nooks and crannies that I should clean no matter what my religion but never get around to it. This holiday makes is somewhat mandatory. So the oven is clean, the refrigerator is spotless albeit full to the gills with food, and my drawers and pantry are crumbless. I cleaned out my pantry and threw away expired food- and the prize goes to a jar of jam with the expiration date of 2004. YUK!
Psychologically I have been able to make peace with the fact that this is a no-quilting week. And since I normally have so much more time than I have had in the past, I am not feeling resentful. Oh- I have managed to eke out a couple hours here and there- but I have no expectation of completing any large task. And honestly- it feels ok. Instead of feeling pressured and resentful I am enjoying being in the moment- a phrase I promised myself I would never use!

I wish that my daughter was going to be home with us- but I have surrendered to the fact that Mexico has her heart- actually Alfredo has her heart- and I am willing to sacrifice her presence for that any day of the week. And she is walking in my footsteps and has invited 20 people over to her place for a meal- and is running around collecting recipes and food for the Passover seder. But I will miss her.

I was thinking how so much of how I relate to this meal is grounded in how I was raised. For the longest time a Passover seder was not right unless it was identical to the ones that I attended at my grandparents. The image of all the grandfathers standing and reading the prayers is one that I have etched in my brain and for the longest time that was the only "correct" way to have a seder.

Now things are very different and our customs are different. I want our meal to be welcoming- not just to the family members and Jews around the table- but to everyone around our table. I have looked for scripts that are more relevant to anyone who has a social conscious.... boy is it tempting not to make a Trump joke here... I want Max's and Jody's partners to feel welcomed and I want them to feel as much a part of the festivities as anyone. And for me that does not mean surrendering my old traditions- but it does mean adapting. And for the last two years I have learned that adapting is an area that I have to practice.

So off I go to put one more batch of Passover cookies in the oven. By the way- these are great flourless cookies from the Smitten Kitten for anytime of the year. But cook them longer than the recipe says or they are too gooey.
 Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
These cookies were crispy at the edges, chewy at the center and have filled our apartment with the most intense chocolate aroma.
Yield: 20 to 24 2-inch cookies
2 3/4 cups walnut halves
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 
Preheat oven to 350. Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and coarsely chop them. 
Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower temperature to 320. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. 
In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioner’ sugar with the cocoa powder and salt followed by the chopped walnuts. While whisking (or once you change the speed to medium), add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen). 
Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.