Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Passover Confession (and Desserts)

I know Yom Kippur is the time to atone and that confession is more of a Catholic thing, but I have to get something off my chest.

 

I hate matzo. No, really, I really hate it. I try to get through Passover eating as little of it as possible. I am usually able to make it through with just what I have to nibble on at the seder after we say the blessings. Occasionally, I will take an obligatory serving of someone’s matzo kugel or other such dish that they just love and promise tastes great. I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to offend. I am willing to try it, but please, matzo is never delicious. I dislike it so much I have considered pretending I am gluten free just for the week so people stop offering me matzo.

 

I really hate everything with matzo in it. Except maybe matzo balls, I don’t hate matzo balls, but I don’t really love them either. I think it is more that I like the soup than the matzo balls themselves. I will eat them, but I never miss them, crave them, think loving kind thoughts about them. And matzo-brie? Matzo “bread” or “cakes”? NO. They are an unnecessary abomination of food and an assault on my taste buds.

 

That is my big confession. I hate the main symbolic food of one of my favorite religious holidays. The 4th of July and Thanksgiving being my favorite secular holidays, in case you are curious.

 

As a baker, I am often tasked (although, admittedly, I happily offer) to bring dessert to most events. During Passover, this can be a challenge. I suppose I should also tell you I don’t love coconut (sorry macaroons) and meringues don’t particularly thrill me, blasphemous I know… this also limits the typical dessert selection at Passover. My goal is to find desserts that don’t taste like matzo, and don’t make me feel like I am just settling for an excuse for dessert.

 

Last year, I discovered THIS amazing recipe. I almost don’t want to share it with you so that you can only enjoy it if you invite me over…but I will be a better person than that… (begrudgingly). If you make it, watch out, you will be asked to make it again and again. Or you could just have me make it…

 

This year, I made it again (2 actually), but you remember that cousin that had that sweet little peanut? Well that peanut isn’t much liking when his mommy eats dairy. So whipped cream frosting is out. Even chocolate filling isn’t looking promising. So I decided to make something else that she could enjoy. Oh! and it gets more complicated…her husband, my cousin, his birthday falls on the first night of Passover.  So he obviously needs a birthday cake. A kosher for Passover, dairy free, matzo free, cake. Challenge accepted!

 

I start researching (yes, that obsessive thing I do more often than I realized). I find all kind of interesting gluten free, dairy free, kosher for passover cakes. This is going to be great. A real baking adventure. I send the cousin his choices. He choses a German Chocolate option. Great! The ingredients are…what is another word for weird and expensive…nonstandard…unique…inventive? I am regretting this choice, but, typical me, I am going to make it work! I lament to a friend, send her the link. She points out it has baking soda. So less than 24 hours before the first seder I need to drop back and punt. Are you kidding me?!

 

I find a recipe for a chocolate cake. I modify the recipe some. Decide I can use “fake” chocolate, you know that diary free stuff that I suppose I am grateful exists, but I hope to never have to eat it. As I am resigning myself to making a coconut dairy free excuse for frosting, the no-longer-pregnant cousin texts me that she is going to try reintroducing some dairy into her diet. Hurray!! I charge full steam ahead with the most delicious whipped cream frosting I can throw together.

 

The cake was a success. It didn’t look beautiful, but it sure tasted amazing. I had some for breakfast this morning.

I also made matzo crack. If you are unfamiliar with this, try making it. Matzo crack is a tolerable exception to my no matzo rule (I still don’t usually eat it). Anything covered in that much sugar, butter, and chocolate is going to be edible, maybe even a little yummy.

 

Next time you are asked to make or bring dessert during Passover, please consider that just because our diets are limited during Pesach, it does not mean that our pallets do not have to suffer.

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I Am Just Not A-M-Y

Why does it matter so much when people spell my name correctly?

 

Yesterday, someone asked for my phone number. As they were putting it into their phone I made sure to spell my name for them. Sometimes I feel like this is a silly habit, but when I see something that it supposed to be mine with my name spelled some other way, it just feels…well wrong.

 

I know some of my friends can relate to this. We have lamented the woes of a “uniquely” spelled name. Our coffee is never ours, we often have to correct people, those touristy souvenirs almost never have our names… For those friends this post is one I think you can relate to. For the rest of you…I don’t know, maybe you can try on a creative spelling for a while…

 

I don’t remember learning how to spell my name, but I know the story well enough to tell it.

 

It goes something like this:

 

Mom would take me to story hour at the library where we would be given name tags. The librarian asked me my name and then gave me a name tag that read AMY.

 

Mom told me next time I would need to tell her, “I’m Aimee, A-I-M-E-E.”

 

We practiced. The next week I waited my turn in line, the librarian asked me my name. I replied,  “I’m Aimee, A-I-M-E-E.”

 

This was apparently impressive. It is also apparently how I introduced myself to people who asked my name for a long while (a long, long while).

 

About a year ago, I was getting coffee. It was early, I was tired. I got my coffee and got back in the car. Halfway to my destination, I saw my name on my cup… A-I-M-E-E. I was both ecstatic and a little creeped out. Did this person know me? I went to a high school with 4,000 people. I often run into people and don’t realize we went to high school together (this makes me feel like a horrible person every time).

 

Because I am a little crazy (and was overly excited about this), I went back the next day and asked the guy behind the counter if we knew each other. He looked at me like the crazy lady I am and said we did not. I explained to him that, for the first time ever, my name was spelled correctly on my coffee cup. It was very very exciting. Apparently, he always spells people’s names creatively on their cups in hopes that he will get someone’s name right from time to time. I told him he made my day. He spelled my name correctly every time I went in after that, new favorite coffee shop.

I was so excited I shamelessly posted it to social media
I was so excited I shamelessly posted it to social media

So why does it matter? My name is who I am. I have curly hair, when I straighten it, I feel like I am wearing a costume. I am not a pink girl, when I paint my nails pink (except for maybe neon pink) I feel like I am looking at someone else’s hands. I am an Aimee with two e’s, when its an Amy, it feels like someone else.

 

My parents didn’t pick my name because they wanted me to have to spell it for people my whole life, or because they didn’t want to have to buy me all the souvenirs with my name on it. They wanted a French name because Grandma was from Belgium. Mom has a French name too. Aimee (with an accent that I never write, except maybe in French class) is the French spelling. It also means loved or beloved. And guess what. I was born on my parents wedding anniversary. Pretty cool right?

 

I am proud of my name. It has meaning. It is part of my identity. Yeah, people spell it wrong, and if they know me I get a little irritated when they do. My coffee and to go orders and pretty much anything where a stranger asks for my name usually feel like they belong to someone else. That’s okay, those people don’t know any better.

 

But old habits die hard. The other day I was distracted and tired. Someone asked my name and I said, “Aimee, A-I-M-E-E.” We shared an awkward moment. I apologized. She smiled and told me she was Erinne, with two n’s and an e. She understood. We bonded for just a second. Maybe I will start a club for people who have names they have to spell out…

Found this gem at a gas station on a recent road trip
Found this gem at a gas station on a recent road trip