Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #46, March 21, 2021

 Hi all,

Today was the second day of spring, and Mother Nature was showing off!  It was a beautiful day here in New York, and Luke and I spent it doing a bit of light gardening and gearing up for a number of home-improvement projects over the next few weeks and months.  It seems everyone is working on their homes - everywhere I turn, I see gardeners seeding lawns and people swarming Home Depot, and I hear carpenters hammering on roofs and even woodpeckers building their nests.

It's still Women's History Month, and perhaps the best tribute I can offer is a brief overview of my own women's history.  One of the pieces of art I am most looking forward to hanging on our walls is a piece of family history - my great-grandmother's apron.  Nanny, as she was called, is responsible for passing down nearly all of our family recipes, from our brisket (I think every Jewish family has its own secret recipe!) to our Passover matzah kugel to our Rosh Hashanah kreplach.  Although I never met her, I'm lucky enough to have been given her china (so I will actually be able to serve Nanny's dishes on Nanny's dishes), her rolling pin (clearly well-loved), and her pink skirt-apron.  I actually use the apron often, so my plan is to use a front-open shadowbox to allow me to both display it as art and easily grab it when I start baking.

When I think of my childhood memories of food, I picture my grandmother's French toast, baking cookies with my mom or making matzah brei or pancakes or her famous chicken cutlets, and that same family brisket cooked to perfection by my aunt.  I think of our family gathering around my parents' dining room table for the seder, with my mom magically making dozens of dishes appear, flawlessly, from the kitchen.  But when I think of the women in my family, food isn't the only thing that comes to mind.  I think of strength, and feistiness, and the freedom to speak our minds.  I think of my grandmother telling me I could be anything, do anything, dream of - and achieve - anything.  I think of how much I've always looked up to my cousin, Melissa, and how much my little cousins, Ava and Dylan, inspire me every day.  The women in my family (both those I've mentioned and the others who I'm thinking of) have made me who I am, and I am absolutely proud of that, and of all of them.  On my wedding day, I requested this photo - of me, my mom, and my paternal grandmother - and I think it speaks volumes about who I am and how I got to where I am today.  To the women of my family, thank you.  I love you.  To everyone else, happy Women's History Month!

As always, previous digests can be found on my blog at  If you have suggestions or would like to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.


The Vaccine
i've been trying to avoid giving advice on how to get the vaccine, since it varies so wildly from state to state, but here's what I know:
  • There is now an unofficial national waitlist called Dr. B that promises to match up people who are interested in getting the vaccine and clinics or distribution sites with leftover doses each day that will go to waste if not used.
  • Remember to check your state's eligibility criteria and guidance for making an appointment.
  • I've also heard of success calling local pharmacies and keeping an eye out for pop-up distribution sites.
  • I've also heard that some states are allowing people to volunteer for a few hours of volunteer work fielding calls and helping eligible people to get appointments (such as the elderly, who have largely struggled with the online appointment systems) in exchange for getting an appointment of their own.
  • Stay calm and patient - the rollout appears to go fairly smoothly in most areas of the country, and the speed is picking up as more and more of those who enthusiastically want the vaccine are getting it.  The numbers of cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and more are also dropping fairly quickly.  That doesn't mean we should let our guard down, but it is a reasonably hopeful sign!  Stay safe, stay cautious, and stay hopeful!
Passover and Easter
  • Passover begins next Saturday evening.  The quarantine is preventing us, for the second time in a row, from gathering together as a family for the seders.  However, that doesn't mean you have to forego the traditional seder feast.  Here are some options for delivery of either Passover meals or the fixings to make them yourself:
    • FreshDirect offers wonderful Passover dishes - they're absolutely delicious, easy to have delivered, easy to make, and even come with a run-of-show to keep you on track and simplify the art of juggling your entrees and sides and get everything on the table on time.
    • Check out this article about where to order delivery meals from for Passover in cities across the country.
    • If you live in London, Deliveroo has you covered!
    • Zabar's will deliver a seder meal for 6 (or 12).
    • Goldbelly has plenty of options for delivery of Passover treats, including this often-recommended option from Philly's Abe Fisher.
    • Days United offers holiday kits complete with crafts and baking projects, games, and holiday paraphernalia.
    • Kosher Box has a whole Passover menu to choose from for delivery.
    • J-Chef, a kosher meal kit company, has kosher-for-Passover selections in next week's boxes for subscribers.
    • Baldor's offers numerous Passover items, including pre-made items from iconic restaurants (even Hill Country is getting in on the action this year), as well as high-quality grocery items, and they'll even deliver full seder plates and entire festive meals.
    • Tune in for a Passover desserts cooking class tomorrow evening (7-8:30pm Mountain Time, $10/household), or a Virtual Women's Seder on Wednesday, both courtesy of the Boulder JCC.
  • For Easter meals, try these options:
    • Baldor's also has plenty of Easter options, including a meal from legendary caterer Abigail Kirsch - scroll down to the bottom half of this page to see the selection.
  • Struggling to envision a virtual seder, or to find the right groceries for your seder plate?  Here is some helpful advice from the Rabbinical Assembly, including items you can substitute for hard-to-find seder plate staples and resources for remote celebrations.   They have also made available a Haggadah supplement for the 2021 seders to commemorate the losses of the past year, and a free download of a Haggadah if you want to ensure that everyone around the Zoom table has the same text in front of them.
  • For Easter celebrations, try these tips for a virtual Easter Egg hunt, or these alternate activity ideas.
Recipes of the Week: In honor of Women's History Month!

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