This will be my second Rosh Hashana without my beloved wife. But yomtov must continue as she made it in her lifetime. I can still taste the floimen tzimmes (prune & carrot pudding) and the kneidlach in the chicken soup, each one round and soft floating on a sea of seasoned broth.
Once again it is my task to do the cooking. Much of it has been done and put into the freezer. My daughter will make the gefilte fish following her mother’s recipe. The chicken soup (without kneidlach) sits in three containers in the freezer. Basic ingredients of water, salt, chicken breasts and thighs, carrots, onion and parsley.
Next, the main entrees are a choice of baked chicken with honey or baked chicken with garlic, thyme, cumin, marjoram and olive oil. Followed by two large turkey thighs and enough kolichel (beef stew) with potatoes, onion, and carrots to last until the end of Sukkot (or maybe even Chanukah).
And a tray of Of Tov chicken meat balls cooked in a tomato and basil sauce (the sauce is my secret recipe).
A side dish of a noodle kugel which I made with honey and raisins for a sweet new year and a last-minute tray of cooked vegetables (all which I do not like, but made for my children): broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts (the carrots and string beans are for me) and then a tossed green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.
All washed down with applesauce (bought, not home-made), honey cake and hot tea.
It won’t compare to the luxurious meals that my Rahel always made but my own poor efforts will have to suffice. The rimonim (pomegranates) are saved for the second night; apples with honey on the first night).
Her seat will remain empty as it has been since her death a week before Rosh Hashana last year. When making Kiddush I lift up the cup of wine and turn, facing her framed photo on the dining room table in front of her empty chair, and chant the prayers wishing that she could hear them.
I had thought of using lovely plastic dishes that could be thrown away in order to save us the task of washing dishes. But my daughter was amazed. “Abba, it’s a yom tov. What is the matter with you? We have to use the fine fleishadigge (meat) china dishes that Ima always used”.
Out of the mouth of babes (a 50 year old one).
And so my preparations for Rosh Hashana meals is almost complete. Have I missed anything?
As it is written in the Pesach haggadah: “kol dichfin yaitai v’yaichel”… let all who are hungry come and eat.
B’tayavon! Good appetite. And a good and healthy and peaceful New Year to all. And as Charles Dickens would have said “and to all, a goodnight.”