Monday, March 29, 2010

Renewal. And brisket.

Tonight is the first night of Passover.  The holiday celebrates the liberation of the Jews from bondage (don't get excited, Michael Steele, the other kind), and is a time to focus on freedom and renewal and springtime and all that good stuff.

We have much to celebrate and pray for.

There is Emma's return to health -- she had a great weekend, and this morning the doctors took out the bolt that attached the ICP monitor to her head.  The occupational therapist examined her and said her muscle tone remains good.  She has started to wiggle and move a little bit.  Josh and Lori have her iPod in the room and are playing music for her.  We are very encouraged that she will make a solid recovery.

There is the renewal of our life as a family unit.  It's been so great to have Jason home.  We have more time with each other, more time to ourselves when we need it, more time to focus on the children as individuals.  Saturday, for the first time in I don't remember how long, Zeke and I went, just the two of us, to the science museum.  We had so much fun, spending three hours running around looking at the wildlife exhibits, playing with magnets, playing with puppets, pretending to walk like different kinds of animals, coloring, dancing in the children's center.  Then that night, after a lovely time having dinner with Rich and Kathleen and their girls, we went home, put the kids to bed, and snuggled on the couch to watch a movie.

And other, little things, that make today feel like a fresh start, a liberation from some of the stressors of the past months and years.  Spring is here, and it's a beautiful day in Denver.  I painted my toenails and am wearing sassy sandals.  My cousin, Aaron, is in town, so Zeke is in heaven.  And on Friday night, I think for the first time since Zeke was born, I spoke on the phone with my friend Karen.

I always think of Passover when I think of Karen, because she and I became friends about 13 years ago right before Passover.  We played on the same club soccer team, and I liked her immediately.  She was one of those people who, from the moment I started talking to her, I just got a great feeling and I knew we were going to be friends.

A few weeks after we met, I was getting ready to host my first passover seder, and, recognizing her last name as one that few (if any) non-Jews have, invited her to come along.  And that was that.  Since then, we have had Passover together, been in each others' weddings, and been great, great buddies.

Since we left for Hawaii, I have only seen her once, when I went back to Atlanta when I was pregnant with Zeke.  We've talked on the phone a smattering of times, but really only kept in touch via email and Facebook.  Talking to her on Friday night was wonderful.  So another renewal I'm celebrating this Passover season is the renewal of my friendship with Karen.

We are going to my cousin's house for first night seder.  I volunteered to bring the brisket, because I make the best brisket ever (Karen makes the best matzo ball soup ever).  I modified the recipe after reading some Jewish cookbooks.  It's largely based upon Joan Nathan's recipe in her Jewish Cooking in America book, but I've modified the ingredients and added my own touches over the years.  For your Passover pleasure, or if you just like really delicious braised meat, enjoy:

5 lbs brisket
2-3 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
3 onions, chopped
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 springs fresh rosemary
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 stalks chopped celery (with leaves)
1 large (20 oz) can peeled tomatoes, with juice
3-4 cups red wine
2 cups Coca-Cola (classic, none of that diet shit)
1 packet onion soup mix
6-8 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup chopped parsley

For best results, this dish should be prepared the day before and then completed just before serving.  

Preheat oven to 325F.  Sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt and pepper and rub with the garlic clove.  Heat oil and sear the meat.

In a large roasting pan with a cover, place the onions on the bottom of the pan and then place the meat, fat side up, on the onions.  Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, celery, wine, tomatoes, coca-cola and onion soup mix.  Cover and bake in 325F oven for 3 hours, basting often.

Remove cover and add carrots and parsley, cook another hour.  Remove from oven, and allow to cool overnight in the fridge.

Before serving the next day, skim the fat from the gravy and cut the fat off the meat.  Cut the meat across the grain into long slices and place back in the gravy.  Cook, uncovered, at 325F for 45 minutes.  Serve on large platter with gravy.  Gravy can be strained or not, but if you choose not to strain (the vegetables are delicious), remember to remove the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.  They're no fun to bite into.

Happy Passover, everyone!


  1. This sounds delicious - I think I'll try it out this week! Happy Passover from a non-Jew!

  2. Thanks! Enjoy the brisket. :)

  3. Happy Passover! from a Jew wannabe! I am going to try your Brisket...(-: Lori

  4. Good news all around! Happy Passover to you and yours, Wendy!