One of the highlights of my time at Jubilee was helping plan and host a Passover Seder for the community. In fact, it was such a treasured memory that I was inspired to host a Passover seder again at the Borner Farm this spring. I eagerly invited the farm owner and her family, the farm manager and her family, and the newly arrived intern, excited to introduce them to this tradition. My enthusiasm soon turned into a panicked frenzy as I scrambled to plan and prepare a meal for up to ten people and compose the haggadah, the liturgy for the seder, in whatever gaps of time I could find between full-time farm work and chores. This also happened to coincide with tearing out the downstairs kitchen. Oy vey! Deeply grateful for how helpful and supportive everyone was, taking over chicken duties at night, providing company while I sliced and chopped, reassuring me over and over that there would be enough food, setting the table, and providing the wine, horseradish, and candles. In the end, there was indeed more than enough to feed everyone, and it was a truly lovely and meaningful time together as a farm “family” as we entered a new growing season. But I think I’ll refrain from trying to pull off such an ambitious feat again next year!
The Passover seder commemorates the story of the deliverance of the Hebrew people from Egypt through a series of blessings, rituals, and symbolic foods. I designed the meal around the traditional elements of the seder, gleaning as much as possible from the garden:
First comes the karpas, the fresh greens, signifying the reawakening of spring. Parsley is traditionally used, which I incorporated into a quinoa and a cauliflower tabbouleh. We also enjoyed a simple salad of overwintered spinach from the garden and slices of hard boiled egg, another symbol for the promise of new life.
Next is the quintessential matzo, the bread of affliction. Here I strayed a bit from Jewish law and tradition, as to be kosher for Passover, matzo must be mixed from carefully guarded flour and baked off within the course of a few minutes at extremely high temperatures, and blessed by a rabbi. But for me, haphazardly baked bread made from the simplest of dough seems more in the spirit of Hebrews scrambling out the door with no time to wait for bread to rise. In this case, it certainly was “bread of affliction,” since I accidently mixed up the measurements on one batch and had to struggle for quite some time with a disasterously sticky mess.
To make matzo, simply mix 3 cups of flour (whole wheat or all-purpose, I preferred the whole wheat version) with 1 cup water, divide into balls about the size of an egg, roll each out as thin as possible on a sheet of wax or parchment paper, stab all over with a fork to prevent puffing, and bake at 475ºF for 3-5 minutes. Any remaining moisture will make matzo spoil quickly, so make sure it is fully dry and brittle, and store in an airtight bag or container.
On top of the matzo we piled maror, horseradish, representing the bitterness of oppression, and everyone’s favorite, charoses, a sweet salad of chopped green apple, walnuts, honey, and cinnamon.
And in place of roasted lamb, representing the sacrifice of the Passover lamb that spared the Hebrews from the plague of death, we feasted on roasted parsnips from the garden. Mmmm.
Certainly a night unlike all other nights!