This week we hosted Seudat Hodaa for my husband’s… not recovery exactly, but for our New Normal: Yom Yom.
His health crisis is multiple myeloma, a rare and treacherous form of cancer, and while it is not curable, it has moved from the status of deadly to that of manageable in the past decade. As he is always told by his cancer team, he chose the perfect time to get sick.
A Seudat Hodaa is a meal of Thanksgiving to the Almighty for Seeing us through our ordeal.
Seudat Hodaa is also meant for all the family, friends and neighbors who provided endless comfort and help during the darkest times of his illness and beyond, and who offered prayers, Tehilim, good wishes, meals and visits around the clock during my husband’s multiple hospitalizations. Our Seudat Hodaa brought together guests who traveled from literally all over the world, a deeply meaningful reunion that set in motion the great Six-Degrees-of-Separation dictum. Just one example: our dear friend Devorah Benjamin, lifelong Champion of the Hachnasat Kallah Cause and drill sergeant of every Simcha in Crown Heights, who in all the years we have known her seemed much too busy to leave her headquarters, and recently set up shop on a busy street in this tiny modular tent where she collects money for young couples’ weddings: they love their guardian angel! I was as delighted to see her out of her comfort zone, a mere train ride away, as I was to see people who came from far and wide. We have so much to be thankful for, and so many people to be thankful to!
I don’t suppose the Doctors on our Cancer Team read my blog much, busy as they are with saving lives, but you do. So let me just say that although I hope and pray you will never come to need it, the care at Ruttenberg Center in Sinai Hospital is nothing short of extraordinary; you will see miracles all sizes performed all day long by heroic people, from doctors to nurses to the amazing Bikur Cholim of Satmar. The whole experience was so heartwarming that in truth we never found a minute to feel sorry for ourselves, but rather felt endlessly grateful. I made this flower arrangement for our doctors’ office reception desk, with several hundreds of my Chocolate Chip Cookies to mark a smidgen of our appreciation and gratitude.
The cookies are long gone, but my flowers endure and look very real, and get me many compliments.
This year of catastrophic treatment also marks a major project I have been working on putting in place relentlessly: Levana Complete Meal Replacement. That story is for another day, soon Please Gd: Stay tuned. Suffice it to say, I am totally overwhelmed with exciting and meaningful work at a time where many of my soul sisters decide to finally brush up on their knitting (I shouldn’t have learned my arts and crafts so early in life!). I hum daily to myself that line from Simon and Garfinkel, Your time has come to shine, All your dreams are on their way.
Now I’ll bet you want to hear all about our dinner. I want to share our menu, but also give many thanks and wholehearted recommendations along the way to everyone whose wonderful products we used. Tell them Levana sent you! With 130 guests, you need a little help, but if you only get the best, you will be OK!
I am grateful to the speakers (my husbands, my sons, our Rabbis) for keeping the mood the fun side of reflective so it never devolved to tear-jerking.
All Recipes for our Seudat Hodaa are all on my blog. Thank you Rachel for making our spread look so beautiful!
All Natural Grape Leaves Galil Brand
Moroccan Olive Lemon Salad: I used Roland Castelvetrano and Martinis Calamata
Roasted Beet (I used Gefen Brand), Orange and Pistachio Salad with Raspberry Dressing
Roasted Red and Yellow Peppers. I used Roland Brand
Tomato, Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Salad
Marinated Artichoke Bottoms. I used Cento Brand
Saute Cremini with Herbes de Provence
Guacamole. I bought it at Costco, and added my own minced cilantro, jalapeno and red onion
Hummus and Tehina
Smoked Salmon, Salmon Pastrami, Matjes, Herring in Wine Sauce. I bought all the fish from Capricorn in Brooklyn. (no link) Their phone number is 718 965 5334, and my contact is Norman Weisen. They deliver, all beautifully fresh and well priced. It is worth noting that they carry more and more individual portions of frozen vacuum packed sea bass, grouper, tuna, tilapia, all fantastic quality.
Cheeses to die for. From Tzidkyahu at Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem:
Four wheels carried with love and care by my dear friend Leeann on her recent visit to New York. I asked her for the stinkiest runniest cheeses, and, rebel soul sister that she is, she was happy to oblige!
I added to our cheese display a new award-winning goat cheese in town, ridiculously creamy and delicious: Leveze. not sure how to pronounce it, distributed by Fresh and Healthy. I sure hope they will bring it to stores near us!
Our gorgeous breads came from Brooklyn Artisan Bakehouse in Crown Heights. Owner and artisan Levi Krinsky understandably takes great pride in his loaves: one look, one bite and you will see why! I still can’t believe how fast they were demolished, and let me tell you I bought lots of them!
Herb Butter with Fennel Pollen
Rice Noodles with Fresh Seaweed Miso Sake Sauce. I used Annie Chun’s Brown Rice Noodles
Moroccan Carrot Spinach Salad
Mixed greens: Bib lettuce, celery, radishes, cucumbers. shallots, corn, avocado, goat cheese. Oil and vinegar dressing
My sister Lea’s delicious Almond Orange Torte
Liz’s Fabulous Oatmeal Cookies, Biscotti and Brownies. My dear friend Liz makes the greatest cookies!
Cheese Babka. Babkalicious by Lana Our guests were swooning! Can’t make your own babka? Just order from Lana, she’ll take great care of you!
Some drop dead delicious chocolate logs from Elegant Desserts New York (I recommend: Coffee, Orange. and the Chalvah). They were inhaled in no time flat
Moroccan Almond Pastries (made by Moi!)
Berry Fruit Salad (Ditto) I bought all frozen berries at Cosco.