Zack and I have only used our kitchen table three times. The first time was on the first night Zack put it together; we wanted to make sure it was sturdy. The second time was for his 23rd birthday on 9/9/9 at 9. The last time was 2 months ago on Break-fast. So we decided we should get our money’s worth and have people over for shabbas. So we invited one family over Friday and another family over Saturday. I decided to take off the Friday night before everyone was coming. I thought I could sleep late, start cooking, go to the gym and have a calm preparation day… boy was I wrong.
Tuesday night we decided to start getting ready for our big weekend. I was very overwhelmed and didn’t know to start. Zack told me that we have to figure out what we are going to make for shabbas. So we went through cookbooks and our refrigerator and tried to figure out a way to optimize the meat our parents bought for us. We are on a tight budget so we needed to make sure that everything we needed was under our $100. I suggested ordering pizza on Friday and putting it on my credit card and having it delivered on Saturday, but Zack shot that down. Then I thought, “well since it is the first meal of the day we could do like a breakfast- omelets , pancakes, french toast.” But we couldn’t figure a kosher enjoyable way to do it since we can’t cook. So I got frustrated and let Zack figure out the menu and I would just follow along. I was just too tired to fight. So Zack wrote down in his Civil Law Procedure notebook our shabbas menu.
Matzah Ball Soup (Manaschewitz matzah ball and soup mix with soup vegetables (technically a parve soup)
Salad (lettuce, carrots, grape tomatoes and Italian dressing)
Deli Rolls (pastrami and corned beef in a puff pastry)
Honey garlic glazed turkey breast, cooked with baby potatoes
Chicken Fingers (Of Tov chicken tenders (there was a little kid coming))
Pumpkin Trifle Cake (spice cake, with a butterscotch and pumpkin filling and cinnamon whip cream decorated with parve graham crackers)
Pasta Salad (pasta, coleslaw and red pepper)
Thursday night we decided we were going to go the grocery store. There were three problems. The first was that Zack had a huge law school paper due on Friday. The second was that I didn’t get home from work till 10:30, and the third was that Shop Rite closed at 11pm. So we had a half hour to run through the store to get all of our groceries all throughout the large store. We split up the grocery list and sprinted through the store. It was like that TV show “Shop Till You Drop” we had to beat the clock and get everything in a short amount of time. This was just, what I wanted to do after a 12 and a half hour work day. We managed to beat the clock and get all of our food under $100.
We got home, put everything away, and started cooking. Zack marinated the turkey breast in the honey garlic marinade and I was going to boil the potatoes. But at the last minute, I decided to get lazy and threw the potatoes in the marinade. I never made shabbas dinner before. Ok that is a lie. I did once in college, but it wasn’t even kosher (meat lasagna) and it was more of an excuse to drink. We finished 3 cartons of boxed wine (non-kosher), played Apples To Apples, and I was the only person at dinner that was actually Jewish. So this was the first time I was going to make a kosher meal for actual Jewish people. I started making the matzah ball mix and put it in the refrigerator. It didn’t look like a lot of batter so I started to get nervous. But Zack said once you put it into the soup, it expands. At 11pm I started to work on my trifle cake. I made a parve Duncan Hines spice cake mix, and layered it with butterscotch and pumpkin filling and cinnamon whip cream. I finally finished the cake around 1am.
Friday morning I woke up to a text that our shabbas night guests came down with the flu. I was really disappointed because I put in so much effort and it I didn’t want it to go to waste. So I called up another one of our friends to come over. Her husband answered the phone in middle of their shabbas cooking and I told them to stop what they were doing and come over tonight instead. I really wanted to have people over in order to show Zack that I can be a good Jewish wife (even though he is doing a majority of the cooking).
After I got off the phone, I hopped out of bed and started cleaning the house. I had to pick the clothes off the floor and vacuum every room because the only way to the bathroom is through our bedroom. This was not how I imagined my day off from work. I don’t know how Orthodox people have guests over every week. This was lot of work and I was exhausted already and at this point I haven’t even finished cooking yet.
By 2pm I was done cleaning everything up. I don’t know where the time went. I swear I didn’t stop for a minute. Keep in mind shabbas started at 4:15pm this week, so I had two hours to make the rest of the meal. Zack came home from school and put his turkey in the oven and then started to shower and get ready for shabbas, while I was making the boxed chicken soup. It was so easy: I put water in a pot, poured in powder, the soup vegetables kit you buy in the store, matzah balls, covered it and was all cooked by shabbas. Even though our friends with kids weren’t coming, I still cooked chicken nuggets because that was part of the plan (they were probably the most popular thing we made). At 3:30, when I was about to get ready for shabbas, Zack started to make the deli rolls. As he put down the dough on the tin foil he noticed that we got filo bread instead of pastry puff. But there wasn’t enough time to run out get the right stuff and cook it. So Zack just tried to make it with filo bread and see how it turned out. Let me tell you it didn’t turn out to good. But what could we do? We tried!. By the time I got out of the shower and ready it was 4pm. Our kitchen looked like a bomb went off in it. Keep in mind, I just cleaned it a few hours ago. Looking back on it I probably should have cooked and then cleaned everything. Now I had to do twice the work. So I sent Zack off to minyan and I started cleaning everything up all over again.
After I lit candles, I sat down and looked over my “tweebrew school” lessons. I try to learn a little Hebrew on shabbas because I am so antsy on shabbas, so I need something to keep me busy. Then at around 5:15pm I hear the soup bubbling over so I start cleaning up the mess. I then realize I don’t have a ladle!!! This is a pretty important utensil in order to serve soup. My first thought was to use the 1 cup measuring cup in order to get soup into bowls. But we aren’t in a trailer. So I had 15 minutes to scavenge a ladle. I sprinted a mile down the street to my friends house to see if I can borrow hers. These are the times I wish I could you use my cell phone and car on shabbas. So I got there out of breath sweating in my nice shabbas clothes. She gave me the ladle and I told her I would give it back to her tomorrow, when she comes over for lunch. Before she could answer, I was sprinting back towards my house. So, on my way home I saw the pack of Jews walking back from shul. So I whizzed by them pumping my arms as fast as I can trying to make it 2 miles in 15 minutes. Usain Bolt better watch out! The Jewish men were yelling back at me not to run in the dark, but I had to make it in time in order to make a salad before the guests came. I sprinted into the house and started making salad and Zack walked in alone and scared me. Luckily it wasn’t our guests because I was not ready. Finally, they came over and we had a nice dinner. I don’t know if they actually liked it, but they seemed content. One of our friends who we originally invited decided to stop by because he wasn’t sick (unlike the rest of his family) and wanted the good dessert. So I gave him a huge piece, because he looks like a starved child. But the problem was by the time everyone left Friday night there was no more dessert for shabbas lunch. I was freaking out because I can’t run out and buy more or cook anything on shabbas. Luckily I told my friend who was coming over Saturday that she should bring over dessert in case my turned out bad. I guess it was better than I thought it would be, because a large trifle cake was gone in a day by 5 people.
Saturday morning we could not wake up for shul. We were so exhausted from having everyone over and doing dishes till 12:30am. We had to get them done Friday night, because we needed them the next day for our next shift of guests. I put the food away and Zack did the dishes. Before we went to bed I set the table for our next meal. Luckily, I got my ladle from the friend who was coming over Saturday and I told her not to come over until 2ish, which was great because by the time we were done with lunch, shabbas was over! So we were able to play rock band and hang out the rest of the night!
1. Before you make soup, make sure that you have a ladle
2. Don’t invite people over two days in a row if you have never cooked before in your life
3. More is better, you never know who is coming over and going to eat some dessert
4. Filo bread and puff pastry are different… very different
5. Clean up the house after you finish cooking. It is stupid to do it before because you make a mess cooking.
6. Having friends over on shabbas makes the day go by so much faster.