Exciting, impossible to duplicate

We had a late Passover here in Nevada County. A week late. People weren’t vaccinated yet, no one could get it together, then someone thought they could in fact stand to host and it was suddenly all happening. (I am not actually even Jewish, by the way, but I did recently find out that my mother’s biological father was Jewish. I will probably write about this someday but it won’t be stupid or boring or about how it made me realize anything, because it was mostly just fun for me, though maybe not that much fun for my mom.)

But I never miss a Seder, and I said I would bring a vegetable dish, and I decided to make it Thursday because I was cooking dinner anyway, what was one more thing. I sauteed some carrots and fennel in olive oil in my new large GreenPan that I truly love more than anything else other than my dog, I added garlic and salt and pepper, but it just wasn’t very good. It tasted all right. But it wasn’t the kind of thing you bring to a party, especially because one of the people who would be in attendance owns a restaurant. It’s not that I need to impress this person but I certainly don’t want to embarrass myself in front of them. I would have to try again.

Friday night, the night before the Fake Late Seder, the Badger came over for dinner. The Badger comes over a lot, he is both an honored guest a member of the family. I told him we were just going to have some chicken breasts and this vegetable dish I’d made for the Seder that was only decent. The Badger was fine with this. He said he’d make some rice because he was really hungry. He wanted tomatoes to put in the rice. I didn’t have any. I offered him a jar of peppers. He said that would be fine.

While he made rice with canned peppers and a little canned pepper juice, the Badger told me a story about how much he loved rice. When he was in high school his mother went to get a nursing degree and didn’t have time to make dinner anymore, so his dad made dinner every night. Every night it was the same thing, chicken and rice. So the Badger got sick of rice. But then years later he realized that he actually really loved rice, and then he started eating it as much as he could.

He apologized for that being a sort of boring story and I said it was fine. I told him that my mother went back to school when I was in high school as well but in a whole other town, like she wasn’t even living with us anymore, and my dad and I ate three nights a week at a diner in Lee, Massachusetts, called Joe’s Diner. It made me both happy and sad to think of my dad and me sitting in Joe’s Diner, because I wouldn’t want to live my life all over again but I also wish I could. You know how it is.

After I made the chicken breasts there was some liquid in the pan, some broth. Usually I give this to Chompies on her dinner, but since I had to reheat the vegetables I decided to dump this tiny amount of stock-like stuff in with it to help it along. But then T. came home with the couch we just got, the only nice couch I have ever had in my adult life, and the two of them were moving it, and I was watching them, and I just forgot about the vegetables and they cooked down and got a little browned in the hot stock. And now they were delicious, epically so, they had gone from ho-hum to unbelieveable.

So the next morning I made the exact same dish again, with the broth addition. I also cut the vegetables more carefully, I like a uniform vegetable cut when I’m making food for “the public.”

The Seder was outside, the trees were vivid green, and the flowers blooming all around us. There were two cute children to ask the Four Questions. The fennel and carrots were good, but not as good as the accidental version. I don’t think I can duplicate it, I’d have to forget it on the stove again for just the right amount of time. I think someone told me they were good. Or maybe no one did. It was totally unimportant. I probably could have brought anything.

Sarah Miller is a writer living in Northern California.

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