Celebrations, Community, and Sababa

I have been totally spoiled this week!

I mentioned earlier that I had a hairline fracture in my foot and was supposed to stay off my feet. I’ve been doing that as much as I can, but just taking care of daily needs ends up taking a lot of steps. But this week, several of my mom friends gave me a wonderful gift––they gave us food so I could take dinner time off!

It started last Sunday. I have a friend who I’ve known since both our sons were 2 and were in the same play group. We’ve remained good friends, and for at least 10 years, we’ve gone to the NC Orchestra Summerfest programs at the open-air amphitheater Koka Booth as our big summer tradition. Up until last year, of course, when the series was cancelled due to COVID restrictions. That was one of the biggest disappointments of all the plans we couldn’t do because of the need for social distancing. We haven’t heard yet, but we are worried that the show won’t go on in 2021 either.

So Sunday, she invited us to her house for “Springfest.” The Symphony is streaming concerts, and she set up a TV on her deck so we could enjoy the concert together in the outdoors with food and drinks, like we do with Summerfest. Plus, she did most of the cooking, making a delicious ricotta pie, among other things. We decided we would keep up the tradition of listening to music together with wonderful food and wine, even if it looked a little different from what we were used to.

My plan for my Nowruz Meatless Monday was to make a Persian quiche, which is a very traditional food associated with that holiday. The Persian version is heavy on herbs and light on dairy. However, another friend showed up and surprised me with a quiche! It wasn’t Persian, but it was a delicious and effortless Meatless Monday dinner. We must have been totally in synch that she not only brought me dinner, but made something that allowed us to continue our Nowruz celebration.

We had leftovers Tuesday night, and Wednesday night I made a delicious one-pan dinner of roasted chicken, potatoes, and assorted vegetables in a cast-iron pan. Thursday, ANOTHER friend brought us the MOST wonderful vegetarian roasted eggplant lasagna with arugula sauce. It was a complicated recipe, so I was really touched, as well as treated.

Friday was leftover chicken and vegetables, which basically was just heating up leftovers again. I did, however, use the cast-iron pan to make some fresh biscuits to serve with the chicken and vegetables, which I covered with some chicken gravy I made from the drippings.

Saturday was Passover, which I wanted to celebrate as a holiday of gaining freedom, which it sort of feels like now that vaccinations are starting to be more available and life seems a little safer (although we’re still taking precautions). A fourth friend had made some great broccoli cheddar soup and apple crisp for us the week before, and had also given me some high-quality, grass-fed stew beef from a different Farmers Market. It was frozen, so I was saving it until I decided what I would make.

I was looking for Passover recipes when I happened upon an online article by Jewish cook/writer Adeena Sussman, who co-authored Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbooks (which are really fun reading along with having some great recipes, just FYI). Sussman lives in Tel Aviv and in 2018 published her first solo cookbook entitled Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen. The word “sababa” apparently means “Everything is awesome”––so who can turn down an invitation like that?

Anyway, in this article, Sussman had a recipe for taking the tastes and ingredients of a kosher brisket, certainly one of the most traditional entrees for Passover, but making it a stew. BINGO! So my friend’s gift of stew meat became the backbone for our Passover dinner.

Today is Palm Sunday, and since many Catholics don’t eat meat during Lent, it seemed like the perfect day to have the remainder of the eggplant lasagna for dinner. It may not be traditional, but it will certainly make the meal a celebration for me.

So I had many holidays to celebrate this week. But even more, I celebrated my friendship circle with a great group of mom friends who have supported each other for years (most of us homeschooled together, so that really is a special sisterhood). The thing is, moms are used to taking care of other people, but aren’t always so good about letting others take care of them. Something I loved about this week was that these moms didn’t ask if I needed help or whether wanted something; they just showed up with food and fellowship.

To sum up, there is only one word I can use to describe this week: sababa!

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