Fully Vaccinated!

May 4, 2021

Fully Vaccinated!

Today, we are fully vaccinated! Achieving it wasn’t easy because the vaccination roll-out in New Jersey was horrible. Eligible in early January (Group 1B), we signed up on the NJ State site as well as on other vaccination sites. But week after week, no luck! Finding an appointment was worse than looking for a needle in a haystack. Ultimately, we have our mayor, Jonathan Hornik, to thank for coming to our rescue. On Friday, March 19th, we received an email advising that he was about to make a concerted effort to get all Marlboro seniors vaccinated. Apparently, his office had been receiving complaints about the same difficulty we were experiencing. We immediately signed the necessary on-line forms and figured it would be a while. However, on Monday morning, March 22nd, the phone rang at 8:30 a.m. Shock of shocks, it was a Seniors Dept. staff member calling to tell us that appointments were available the next day! Elation!

On Tuesday, March 23rd, we drove to the County Agricultural Building 10 minutes from our house for our 2:30 p.m. appointment. Checking in at a table in front of the entrance, we noticed two huge white tents alongside the building each holding two lines of people. We were told to go to the further of the two lines in the second tent. There were markers on the floor six feet apart and, of course, everyone was wearing masks. We made our way very slowly along both lines in the first tent and then along both lines in the second tent before arriving at the front and being ushered into the building. It took more than an hour.

Inside, we went to a table where we were officially registered (we had downloaded the necessary paperwork and filled them out at home). We were given our vaccination cards and, since we were getting the Moderna, an appointment for the second shot exactly four weeks away, on April 20th. We then had to contend with another line in a corridor leading to the vaccination room. Once we made it into the room, each of us was sent to a different table (I think there were 7) to get the first shot, after which we waited the required 15 minutes. Total time from arrival to exiting the building: one hour and 45 minutes! We certainly hadn’t expected it to take anywhere near as long especially after hearing from my brother and others who were in and out of their vaccination sites in NY in less than half an hour. We were told that there had been some kind of problem earlier in the day that caused the back-up. In any case, whatever annoyance we felt was tempered by the fact that we had actually gotten the first shot.

The next day, in anticipation of when we’d be fully vaccinated, we made a number of medical appointments in May and, for me, an appointment for a haircut! I’ve been cutting Michael’s hair (we bought the appropriate scissors on Amazon). Since he’s happy with the job I’ve been doing, he wants me to continue doing it.

Fast forward to April 20th. Our appointment was in the morning, at 11:30. As we drove into the Ag Building’s complex, we looked over to the parking lot. Unlike the first time when it was full, this time there were only a few cars. Michael blurted out, “The building must be closed,” while I was thinking: Great! No line! A bit further along there was the sign indicating that the vaccination center was open. And I was right. This time, the entire process, including the required 15-minute after the second shot, took 25 minutes! In two more weeks, on May4th, we’d be fully vaccinated.

Which brings us to today. We did some errands where we went inside buildings which we hadn’t been doing during the past 14 months. The last time we ate in a restaurant was March 10, 2020. So, to celebrate being fully vaccinated, we went out for dinner! Stay tuned for the details.

At Home 2021: Spring

May 2, 2021

I always look forward to signs of spring. Started happening a few weeks ago. First to appear in front of our house were the flowers on this tree.

At Home 2021: Spring

Now it’s leafy. And the azaleas, another sign of spring, are blooming.

At Home 2021: Spring

This tree getting ready to flower is 51 years old!

At Home 2021: Spring

I always thought it was a Japanese cherry. Wrong! Our landscaper recently told me it’s a crabapple, one of two plantings left from the original landscaping done in the spring after we moved into the house in December 1969 (the other being the huge triple trunk tree in the backyard). It has faithfully bloomed every spring with bright pink flowers. I didn’t take a current photo of it in flower. But I do have this shot from a few years ago.

At Home 2018: Japanese Cherry Tree

In the backyard, there was this lonely little daffodil.

At Home 2021: Spring

Last year, that’s all we got.  Just that lone daffodil. So, I was surprised that there are now a few more.

At Home 2021: Spring

I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason the daffodils haven’t done well in the backyard is that there is not enough sun. The first landscaping in 1970  included daffodils on the right side of the house. Because that side of the house gets a lot of sun, they thrived and were profuse.

This backyard plant, the name of which I don’t know, started to show signs of life.

At Home 2021: Spring

Then went to this.

At Home 2021: Spring

Now looks like this.

At Home 2021: Spring

Eventually, it will have flowers.

We have an azalea in the back outside our kitchen window. Here it is with buds.

At Home 2021: Spring

It has now flowered though because it doesn’t get as much sun as the azaleas in front of the house, it doesn’t flower as abundantly.

At Home 2021: Spring

Lastly, another shrub whose name I don’t know shows off its spring colors.

At Home 2021: Spring

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners for Two

April 4, 2021

Passover 2021<

For the second year in a row, the pandemic forced us to celebrate Passover at home with two Seder meals for just the two of us.

The Seder plate, which you can see in the photo of the table above, held the traditional items: a hard-boiled egg, greens (parsley), horseradish (Gold’s), and charoset (made by yours truly). There is supposed to be a shank bone but, alas, our shank bone is in the freezer in our apartment, so I drew a small sketch of one and placed that on the place.

Passover wouldn’t be Passover without Matzoh. You can see a plate with some on the table.

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Both meals began with the same appetizer.

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Gefilte Fish, My Famous Chopped Salad, Horseradish

However, there were different main courses each night.

First Night

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Sautéed Chicken with Mushrooms & Tomatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus

Second Night

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Lamb Shank in Red Wine Sauce, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Candied Carrots

Michael drank this wine.

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

Dessert both nights was Ice Cream. (Photos taken only on the first night.)

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

For Michael: Breyer’s Strawberry

At Home 2021: Passover Seder Dinners

For me: van Leeuwen Vanilla, Jeni’s Salted Caramel,
Fox’s U-bet Chocolate Syrup, Goodman’s Almond Macaroon

You can see the entire photo set of the Passover Seder Dinners on my Flickr here.

One Year Later

March 12, 2021

The evening of March 10, 2020, we returned home to New Jersey from NYC, never imagining that the kind of life we lived would very soon drastically change. We arrived in the city late Sunday evening, March 8th, and went to doctor appointments for me on Monday and Tuesday, the 9th and 10th. Those of you who frequent this blog know that dining out has always been a major part of our life especially when we go to the city and stay in our apartment. So, we had three meals out.

MONDAY, MARCH 9TH

Lunch at Blue Smoke Flatiron

Whenever we’ve been to Blue Smoke, we always start by sharing the Deviled Eggs, the best around.

Deviled Eggs

I’m not keen on Blue Smoke’s bbq.  But we both really like the excellent Blue Smoke Burger. Cooked perfectly to our medium rare specification, it comes with accompaniments. We always share it at lunch.

Blue Smoke Burger

Blue Smoke Burger

Drinks

Barg’s Root Beer for me (front) and Diet Coke for Michael

Sadly, we will never again be able to eat at Blue Smoke Flatiron just a few blocks from our apartment. A victim of the pandemic, it closed permanently. The Battery Park location remains open, but it’s inconveniently located for us.

Dinner at Majorelle

Majorelle is one of our favorite restaurants for upscale dining. Gorgeous floral arrangements decorate the beautiful dining room, a signature of the manager Charles Masson who for many years managed his family’s restaurant La Grenouille where floral arrangements abounded.

Majorelle

Majorelle

The French cuisine at Majorelle is always perfectly prepared and seriously delicious. Service is polished and attentive; seating is extremely comfortable; and the room is blessedly quiet! No music. Just the pleasant hum of conversation.

Gougères

Gougères

Bread Basket and Butter

Bread Basket and Butter

Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Saint Jacques au Citron et Kohlrabi

Saint Jacques au Citron et Kohlrabi

Sea Scallops with Lemon and Kohlrabi

Foie Gras Poêlé au Porto

Foie Gras Poêlé au Porto

Pan Seared Duck Liver with Port Wine

Filet de Boeuf Périgueux

Filet de Boeuf Périgueux

Grass Fed Filet of Beef with Truffle “Périgueux” Sauce

Magret de Caneton à l’Orange

Magret de Caneton à l’Orange

Breast of Duckling with Orange

Grand Marnier Soufflé

Grand Marnier Soufflé

With Crème Anglaise

(We both had this dessert.)

Banana Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream

(Compliments of the House)

MIgnardises

Mignardises

TUESDAY, MARCH 10TH

Dinner at Eros

Eros is a Greek restaurant located a short walk from our apartment. The food is well-prepared and delicious. Service is friendly and efficient; the surroundings are pleasing; and the noise level is fine — except for Thursday and Friday nights when there is a d.j., so we avoid going there then. On the 10th, since we were going back to NJ, we ate at 5 p.m., and were the only diners there the entire time. I guess you could say we were social distancing to the extreme before social distancing became a thing.

Pita

Pita

Olives

Olives

(Compliments of the House)

(Chardonnay

Chardonnay

Melitzanosalata

Melitzanosalata

Eggplant Salad

Spanakopita

Spanakopita

Spinach and Feta Cheese Pies

Dolmades

Dolmades

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice

Whole Lavraki

Whole Levraki

Imported Branzino

(We shared it.)

Roasted Lemon Potatoes

Roasted Lemon Potatoes

Galaktabouriko

Galaktabouriko

(All diners receive this dessert compliments of the house.)

The day after we came home, we went to ShopRite together to get a few things. On Sunday, March 15th, I went to Wegmans to pick up a bag of Yukon Gold Potatoes (I like their house brand), and on the way home stopped in briefly at Dunkin’ Donuts to buy a vanilla crème filled donut for myself. A day or two later, the quarantine began.

One year later, we still have not been back to the city, and those three restaurant meals were the last times we dined out. Since we are in the group most vulnerable to the virus, we have been exceedingly careful. We have not been inside any supermarket or food purveyor, only ordering delivery to our house or doing curbside no-contact pick-up. Restaurant dining of any sort is out of the question. Our efforts to get an appointment to be vaccinated have so far been in vain, so when all this “new normal” will change remains to be seen.

At Home 2021: Purim

February 26, 2021

Today is Purim. Yesterday, I made Hamantaschen. In addition to making the cookie-style dough, I made the prune and apricot fillings.

At Home 2021: Purim

It has become a tradition for us to have Bobe Bopsy’s Holiptches* (aka Stuffed Cabbage) on Purim. So, I made them yesterday for our Erev Purim dinner.

At Home 2021: Purim

To start:
Chopped Liver from The Pickled Herring Appetizing and Deli, plated with sweet onions, tomatoes, red pepper, and stuffed green olives.

At Home 2021: Purim Dinner

Then:

At Home 2021: Purim Dinner

Ended with:

At Home 2021: Purim Dinner

We had this same meal today for a our “dinner for lunch.”

Chag Sameach!

*To see my post about Bobe Bopsy’s Holiptches which includes how to make them, click here.

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael’s 80th Birthday

February 20, 2021

Reaching one’s 80th birthday is truly a milestone.  It should be celebrated with those nearest and dearest.  But due to circumstances beyond our control, i.e., the pandemic, celebrating Michael’s 80th took place at home with just the two of us. We came up with a plan: He would chose the menus for the day’s meals, and I would prepare the food.

BREAKFAST

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Bagel with Nova, Cream Cheese, and Onion

LUNCH

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

French Onion Soup

DINNER

To Start

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Caesar Salad

Main Course

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Beef Wellington for Two

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Beef Wellington for Two

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Beef Wellington, Potato Gratin, and Roasted Broccoli

To Drink

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Dessert

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

For Him: van Leeuwen Vanilla Ice Cream with Kahlua

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

For Me: van Leeuwen Vanilla Ice Cream, Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup & Homemade Whipped Cream

In June, Jen will celebrate her 50th birthday! Hopefully, by summer, everyone close to us will be vaccinated, and we’ll be able to get together to celebrate Michael’s 80th and her 50th.

Happy 80th Birthday, Michael!

January 26, 2021

Watercolor Painting by J.

BIRTHDAY GIFT

Watercolor Painting by Jen

Michael and His Beloved Triumph TR4A

From an old photo, circa 1967

At Home: New Year’s Eve 2020

January 3, 2021

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

Spending New Year’s Eve at home just the two of us is hardly new though we did depart from this norm in 2015 and 2017, both times going out to Eleven Madison Park. For many years, our New Year’s Eve meal centered around Beef Fondue. However, last year, we decided to change things up by making the centerpiece my first ever Beef Wellington. This year, we changed again, bringing back an “oldie but goodie” from New Year’s Eves in the distant past: Rack of Lamb.

The rack came from Lobel’s, a premier butcher located in Manhattan. I’ve been having orders shipped to us from their Madison Ave. store because they customize items for me. However, a few weeks ago, they offered free shipping for on-line items totaling a certain dollar amount. Since there was no need to customize the rack of lamb (it was already Frenched), I ordered it and a few other things that also didn’t need customizing. Everything from Lobel’s, whether ordered from the store or on-line, comes unfrozen and cryovaced. So, I froze the rack until I was ready to use it.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

I chose a classic preparation. Sprinkled with salt and pepper, the rack was seared briefly on all sides in a pan. After resting a few minutes, a coating of Dijon mustard was applied. It was then liberally coated with breadcrumbs mixed with garlic, rosemary, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Back in the pan and into the oven.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

I used an alarm with probe to make sure it would be roasted to the correct temperature. Et, voila!

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

After letting the lamb rest, I sliced it.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

Beautiful!

I had already prepared a Potato Gratin which was in the warming oven.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

Haricots Verts Almondines awaited in a pan. (I didn’t snap a photo.)

TO START

Salad: Red Leaf Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Pickled Red Onions, and Vinaigrette, along with warmed and buttered slices of French Baguette.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

MAIN COURSE

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

Michael’s Plate

I ate two chops and Michael had one more. That left two chops. Along with a bit of leftover gratin, it made a pleasing small lunch the next.

Michael used his Coravin to have a glass of Bordeaux.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

DESSERT

For Michael: Breyer’s Strawberry Ice Cream.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

For me: There was some leftover dough hanging around in the fridge from when I made Turkey Pot Pies after Thanksgiving! Needless to say, the dough wasn’t in very good shape. Even so, I managed to make a midget free-form Apple Tart using a quarter of a Granny Smith apple. (I did say midget!) It turned out better than expected and was quite tasty. I cut it in half and paired it with van Leeuwen Vanilla Ice Cream.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

As usual, we listened to the WQXR Countdown.
#1. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Quel surprise!! (As far back as I can remember, it has always occupied first place.)
#2. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7
#3. Dvorak’s New World Symphony (No. 9)
#4: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5
#5: Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2
#6: Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos

I’ve listed #5 and #6 because their positions really surprised me because I don’t recall them ever being this high up. They are both among my most favorites.

The photo set for this dinner can be viewed on my Flickr here.

Best wishes to everyone for a safe, healthy, and joy-filled New Year!

At Home 2020: Perfect Food for a Snowstorm

December 29, 2020

Winter officially arrived on Monday, December 21st. But Mother Nature didn’t bother to check the calendar when she decided to “gift” us with a major snowstorm on Wednesday, December 16th.

It started early in the afternoon…

At Home 2020: December Snowstorm

At Home 2020: December Snowstorm

… continued throughout the day, into the evening and overnight.

This is the kind of weather that called for food that’s warming and comforting.

LUNCH

Classic French Onion Soup

Because it is so filling, it’s a complete lunch in a crock. (Note: Amounts given are for two servings.)

Start browning lots and lots of sliced onions (1 very large and 1 small one) in a tablespoon of oil.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

After a few minutes, add a large clove of chopped garlic.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

After incorporating the garlic for a minute or two, mix in 1/8 tsp. dried thyme and a bay leaf.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

Continue cooking the onions until they become very browned but not burnt. (Browning start to finish takes about 45 minutes.) Add 3 cups of beef stock.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

Stir, lower the flame to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toast slices of French bread, grate about a cup of Gruyère cheese, and set the oven to 350 degrees.

When the soup is ready, add salt and pepper to taste. Using a slotted spoon, put lots of onions into the oven-proof crocks (or bowls), and add the broth with any remaining onions. Top bowls with a slice of toasted bread.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

Top bread with copious amounts of cheese.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

Place in oven and cook until the cheese has melted and the soup is bubbling.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

(Note: I put the crocks on a foil lined baking sheet in case there is any spillover and to more easily facilitate taking the piping hot crocks out of the oven.)

Lunch is served!

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

DINNER

Ginger-Orange Duck “Cassoulet”

I saw Sara Moulton make this dish on her program “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” It looked delicious.

The recipe can be found here.

This was exactly the right time to make this hearty dish. I had ordered duck legs from D’Artagnan to have them on hand.  Her recipe is for 4, but I cut it down and made it for 2. I made two changes. I used a jalapeno instead of a serrano pepper and a regular carrot cut into chunks instead of nubs.

At Home 2020: Duck "Cassoulet"

Dinner is served!

We started with a salad: Red Leaf Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Red Onion, and Vinaigrette. (No photo)

Then:

At Home 2020: Duck "Cassoulet"

For dessert, Michael had a Whole Foods Vanilla & Chocolate Ice Cream Pop. I had a slice of 7-Layer Cake that came from The Pickled Herring Deli & Appetizing. (No photos)

By the time we woke up the next morning, the snow had stopped and we had about 6 inches. We got away easy when compared to other places that got a foot or more. The people who mow our lawn clear our snow. Always reliable, they came at 8 a.m. Looking at the forecast for the next few day, which includes temperatures in the 50’s with rain on New Year’s Eve, we’re done with snow for 2020.

At Home 2020: Chanukah

December 11, 2020

At Home 2020: Chanukah

No Chanukah dinner with Jen and Louis this year. Just Michael and me at home in NJ.

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Pot Roast

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Red Cabbage with Apples

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Potato Latkes

First of a sizable batch.

To start:

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Ball & Noodles

From The Pickled Herring Deli & Appetizing

Followed by:

At Home 2020: Chanukah

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Homemade Applesauce

For the Potato Latkes

Michael drank this:

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

For dessert, Michael had an ice cream pop. (No photo) I had this:

At Home 2020: Chanukah

7-Layer Cake & Jeni’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream

7-Layer from The Pickled Herring Deli & Appetizing

Chanukah Sameach!