Giveaway Update and Seder Plate Challenge

You – my dearest, most awesome readers – gave me the absolute best Blogiversary ever. I’m glad that so many of you liked the gifts I chose for you, but honestly, your words for me far outweighed anything I could have given to you. First of all, let’s talk numbers. There were almost two hundred comments from that many different people. That’s more comments than I’ve ever had in a single post, including other giveaways in which I allowed multiple entries. Many of the entries were from my “regular” commenters, but a lot of you who had been following silently spoke up too. And how do I know you weren’t just brand new visitors wanting in on the fun? (A few were, but that’s great too – the more the merrier!) By your sweet words, of course. You brought up favorite recipes that had been posted years ago and complimented me on the evolution of my blog. You spoke specifically about my cooking style in a way I never feel I can summarize and on my writing, which I always feel could use a little work. Knowing that so many actually read this blog, and moreso, is an incredible feeling, and one that motivates me to keep working hard on this little project that began simply as a creative outlet. Again, thank you.

Now I have some good news and bad news. First, the bad: I had planned on announcing the winners today, but there’s a little issue with my comment platform and I want to get it resolved first. So, no winners just yet. What does that mean? Good news! You still have time to enter if you haven’t done so yet. I’m giving away lots of fun things like an immersion blender, Trader Joe’s goodies, and a Bon Appetit subscription. Stuff you can’t live without!

I must also confess that I bought myself a little gift. One I should have treated myself to a long time ago. See it?

Exciting, isn’t it?!

Now I have another announcement, a call for a culinary challenge in honor of Passover. Last year I ran a two week long Passover Prep Series, but this year I decided to invite other bloggers to celebrate with me. On April 10th, I’m hosting a bunch of the Boston Bloggers here at my house for a Seder Plate Challenge, and I’m extending the challenge virtually as well for all of you who can’t be here (believe me, there are so many of you I would LOVE to have over!) What’s a Seder Plate Challenge, you ask? Here’s how I explained it to the local bloggers:

I bet you’re all getting excited for Spring and perhaps some holiday-related cooking. On that note, I want to invite you to a Passover get together. Some of you might be thinking, “But I don’t celebrate it, and I’d have no idea what to make” or “Great! I want to learn!” Either way, it’s ok. I think this will be a fun way to enjoy some delicious food and learn something new. Let me explain…

On Passover, Jewish people recall our time as slaves in Egypt and celebrate the freedom we enjoy now. We have a ritual meal, known as a Seder, where we re-tell the story of our exodus from Egypt. Part of the ritual involves the Seder plate, which has several symbolic foods (I’ll get to that in a minute.) We also drink lots of wine! When we’re done with the story, we eat a traditional holiday dinner. The dinner actually has little to do with what’s on the Seder plate, so I thought it would be a fun and unique event to get a bunch of food bloggers together and each make a recipe inspired by something on the Seder plate. Then we’ll have a mini-Seder where we briefly go through the story and enjoy our food. Here’s what’s on the plate, and what each represents:

Egg – said to symbolize the ritual sacrifice in the days of the Holy Temple during Passover and all holidays (nowadays, animal sacrifice is not part of the religion); also its roundness represents continuity/circle of life
Charoset – recipes vary based on ethnic background, but it is a mixture of fruit and nuts which represents the mortar our ancestors used to build pyramids when they were slaves. For Jews of Eastern European (Ashkenazic) background, it is usually chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon, honey, and wine; for Spanish/Mediterranean/North African (Sephardic) Jews, it is a mixture of dried fruits and nuts (see here on my blog!)
Green Vegetable – said to symbolize the livelihood of the Jews in Egypt, and the coming of a new Spring
Salt Water – the green vegetable is dipped in salt water to remember the tears of our ancestors
Bitter herb – usually horseradish, though it can be a bitter green as well. Reminds us of the bitterness of slavery.
Shank bone – a roasted lamb shank bone represents the ritual sacrifice the Jews offered during Passover
Matzah – of course, matzah! the flat cracker-like “bread” which is eaten as a reminder that the Jews had to leave Egypt so quickly, they didn’t have time to let their bread rise.

For our Seder Plate Challenge, I was thinking we could each pick one of the items and create a dish to share. It does not need to be a traditional Jewish recipe by any means, but it should adhere to the rules of the holiday. You might already know that we avoid flour and anything leavened, but also anything containing wheat, barley, oats, spelt, and rye. Also, we should stick to some general rules of keeping kosher: avoiding dairy + meat in the same dish, and avoiding any shellfish or pork. Additionally Jews of Ashkenazic heritage avoid corn, rice, and legumes during Passover; these are rules that began in the Middle Ages. Personally, I don’t adhere to this so I’m ok with these ingredients, but note that if you use them, and try to share your recipe with some Jewish friends during the holiday, some might not consider it “Passover-friendly.” If you any questions about what ingredients are ok to use, feel free to ask.

Here are some examples of what I mean by creating something inspired by these items (this is just off the top of my head – I know you guys can be creative too!):

Egg – a fancy deviled egg or a frittata of some sort, perhaps using other seasonal ingredients
Green vegetable – a fun, seasonal salad
Salt water – salted caramel and chocolate covered matzoh, a nut-flour based cookie (macarons, anyone?) with a salted caramel filling
Charoset – chicken stuffed with dried fruit and nuts, salmon baked with apples and sweet wine, or this could also lend itself to desserts
Bitter herb – anything with horseradish, maybe horseradish-glazed veggies, or perhaps wasabi (how’s that for a modern/fusion twist!)
Shank bone – this is hard because probably no one wants to roast a whole lamb shank for each guest, but maybe braised lamb shanks, pulled/shredded, served as a canape on a matzoh cracker or mini maztoh meal pancake.
Matzoh – there are various desserts made with matzoh meal (matzoh ground to a flour-like consistency), a twist on matzoh ball soup, matzoh used in a layered casserole-type dish

If you’d like to join in on the virtual fun, feel free to make a dish inspired by one of the Seder plate items (remember, it does not need to be a traditional Jewish recipe!). Or, if you simply have a favorite Passover recipe to share, those are welcome too. Blog about your dish and include a link to Cara’s Cravings in your post. Send me an email ( with a photo, a link to your post, and a quick description of which item you chose and what you were inspired to make. If you do this by Sunday, April 10th, I will happily include your recipe and a link to your blog in my Seder Plate Challenge roundup.

Happy Spring!

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13 Responses to “Giveaway Update and Seder Plate Challenge”

  1. 1

    That Girl — March 30, 2011 @ 3:53 pm Reply

    I'm totally in!

  2. 2

    lisa — March 30, 2011 @ 4:01 pm Reply

    The seder plate challenge is such a fun idea! I love it! I wish I had the energy to be able to participate this year, but pregnancy is kicking my butt! I'm very excited to see what everyone comes up with and I'll keep them in mind for next year…or this year if I can do it!

  3. 3

    Joanne — March 30, 2011 @ 4:41 pm Reply

    I'm so excited for this challenge! I'm not Jewish, as you know, but I need to find a way to impress my future Jewish husband, wherever and whoever he is. 😛

  4. 4

    Fattyfile — March 30, 2011 @ 4:54 pm Reply

    As a Gentile growing up in NYC, I had a ton of Jewish friends and I have been to many Passover seders. I genuinely look forward to being invited to them as I find the whole tradition incredibly moving. I also am a HUGE fan of charoset. And brisket. And gefilte fish. Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

  5. 5

    Katie @ The Well-Fed Newlyweds — March 30, 2011 @ 5:22 pm Reply

    Cara, this is awesome! What a great idea. I love that it will get me thinking about Passover recipes a little earlier than usual this year. I better start figuring out my recipe!!

  6. 6

    Cara — March 30, 2011 @ 8:00 pm Reply

    So glad to have you in for the (virtual) party!

  7. 7

    Cara — March 30, 2011 @ 8:01 pm Reply

    Mmm charoset, what's not to love? I'd love to have you at the (virtual) party!

  8. 8

    Cara — March 30, 2011 @ 8:02 pm Reply

    Wish you could be here for the real thing, darlin'!

  9. 9

    Cara — March 30, 2011 @ 8:03 pm Reply

    Hope you are feeling well!

  10. 10

    cookingwhims — April 4, 2011 @ 1:37 am Reply

    Really looking forward to the Seder Plate Challenge! 🙂

  11. 11

    cookingwhims — April 5, 2011 @ 1:15 am Reply

    Really looking forward to the Seder Plate Challenge! 🙂

  12. 12

    Cara — April 5, 2011 @ 1:15 am Reply

    Wish you could be here for the real thing, darlin'!

  13. 13

    Joanne — April 5, 2011 @ 1:15 am Reply

    I'm so excited for this challenge! I'm not Jewish, as you know, but I need to find a way to impress my future Jewish husband, wherever and whoever he is. 😛

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