Category Archives: downton abbey

Will Mrs. Patmore Bake My Hamantaschen?

Purim is around the corner — the closest thing we Jews have to our own Halloween. We dress up, give out treats, and wait for treats to be given to us. Of course there’s a whole story behind it: a Persian king got rid of his wife because she wouldn’t dance naked for him and his creepy friends one night. He replaces her with a young hottie who may or may not have been betrothed to her cousin. The cousin convinces her to hide her Jewishness and marry the king and save her people from the plottings of an evil madman. We won. The end.

To celebrate our victory, we eat hamantaschen — these triangular cookies stuffed with fruit, chocolate, and sometimes poppy seeds.  Because I live in a community of cooks and bakers, each year I am inundated with Facebook uploads of trays and trays of perfect hamantaschen. I think I may have tried to make them years ago but it was a complete and utter disaster and I haven’t dared try since. But the kids are off school today and I thought: “How hard can it be? Are my children missing out on the experience of stuffing jam into rolled out dough? Could I be doing more?”

So I spoke to my sister (another accomplished baker), got some advice, and dove in.

I made some fillings:


I got out my tools, made the dough, and dove in.

The result:


Even if you don’t know what hamantaschen look like, you can probably tell that they are not supposed to look like exploding brains. Jews may eat some pretty crazy stuff, but even we are above eating exploding brain cookies.

Luckily, you do not have to bake well to be a Jew. (My Mormon pals tell me I’d be all but excommunicated by now.)

I’m not even sad about it. I used up all my sad last night watching the Downer Abbey season finale. While the show was grim and cruel, my biggest takeaway from the entire episode was watching the downstairs crew prepare the family for the Scottish sojourn, and thinking: “Really? These people don’t even have to pack for themselves?”

Forget baking these bloody hamantaschen. I’d never have to remember to pack pacifiers, bathing suits, and toothbrushes for seven ever again.

Sign. Me. Up.


Filed under children, downton abbey, food, parenting, Uncategorized

Downton Hangover.

He may not be (sigh) Matthew Crawley, but M really put on quite the dashing display of Solomonic wisdom this morning.

Efram usually gets out of bed first so he can lay claim to the morning paper. Sometimes, though, Bennett drags his surliness out of bed and gives him a run for his money. It is never pretty.

The boys raced down the stairs, half dressed, and had we not intervened, would have pummeled each other for the paper. When Bennett got to it first, Efram declared that he wasn’t hungry anymore and stormed into the basement.

After all attempts to have them sit side by side and read the sports pages together failed, M grabbed a pair of scissors and… yes, that’s right, sheared the paper in two. What a hero.

Sadly, it was not enough for Efram, who was already in a remarkable funk. I don’t know what his excuse was; he wasn’t up late watching Downton Abbey.  (None of this would happen if our butler woke up, split the paper, ironed it, then brought it to the boys in bed; they’d never know the difference.)

Because all the staff was off, we both had an especially productive Sunday. While M took the two boys skiing, I took the three girls to Costco and cleaned out the fridge. Sometimes I cannot bear the glamor of my life.

In the afternoon, while the boys watched football at various friends’ houses, M built yet more bookshelves in the boys’ room and shelving in the office. I walked into the boys’ room (he was listening to a football game and shvitzing from the lifting of heavy Ikea boxes.)

“I’m here to help.” I say.

“Great. Hand me that box,” and he points to a very long, very heavy looking box of Billy shelving.

“You do know that by ‘help’ I mean ‘offer moral support’, don’t you?”

He knows better. I do not, as a rule, lift heavy things. (I especially do not lift heavy things in and out of cars, and while on vacation.)  I tell him a few jokes, offer some refreshments and leave the room as quickly as I can before I am asked to do any more things that I do not do.

Today, I will be even more useless. How am I supposed to watch close to two hours of programming about a house full of servants and still be expected to cook dinner?



Filed under children, downton abbey, parenting, Seattle, sports