Look Ma! It gelled. Whipping cream to come.

Had lunch two days in a row with two different knowledgeable and helpful friends; with no office to go to besides my couch, it’s important to keep touch. Don’t isolate; “no good can come of it,” as the Bible says. But back to food: Had lunch both days at Cafe La Tour, which has quickly become a favorite as it’s a short distance away and the food is reliably good. Yesterday: mesclun salad with chunks of roasted beet and little kinney-size marbles of goat cheese, lightly breaded and deep fried, plus a well-balanced balsamic vinaigrette. But a highlight of the meal is a cold drink I definitely want to learn how to make: mint water. It’s not just muddled mint in chilled water as I expected but pureed mint and some very light sweetener. Utterly delicious. I’ll be calling them to ask for a the recipe.

Today, my lunch was a Wagyu beef pot pie; tasty, but rather a waste of expensive beef, I thought, and a little too much (delicious but fattening) short crust to the percentage of meat and veg. filling. Tasted great, though. And more mint tea, of course.  As always, the breads are incredible (they’re owned by Ba Le, the folks who make fabulous French-style and artisanal breads for hundreds of Island restaurants). See them at the Kapi’olani Farmers Market (they outta bring the mint tea there).

All very lovely but I’m much more excited about what came next: The filling for my lemon chiffon pie gelled; however, it’s still not right, a trifle lumpy. I should have pushed it through a strainer. But you shouldn’t have to do that. I  have received two recipes I’m going to try next. Meanwhile, this one employs whipped cream, not meringue, and a graham cracker crust.

My Shabbat table: candles ready to be lighted; two are standard but I'm doing four on behalf of our children and grandchildren.

And I’m beside myself with anticipation of my first Shabbat dinner in the Jewish tradition. I am not Jewish but I’ve always had a heart for the Jewish people and I LOVE Jewish food, especially that of the Sephardic (Meditteranean) tradition. Tonight, I’ve made a Tunisan chicken dish with onions, lemons and some Morrocan salted lemon that I made last year. The starch will be rice, sauteed in olive oil, cooked in chicken broth and flavored with pine nuts, golden raisins and a touch of ground cardamom. And the green will be hand-picked Portuguese cabbage, seared in olive oil with lots of garlic.

I depart from proper Jewish tradition with my lemon dessert because it contains dairy and this is a meat meal.

Still I will light the candles precisely at 18 minutes before sundown; I’ve brought out the best china and Grandma’s silver; I’ve dressed up; I’ll finish all cooking before Shabbat starts, as is required. I love the prayer:

Transliteration: Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-dee-sha-nu bi-mitz-vo-tav vi-tzi-va-noo li-had-leek ner shel Sha-bbat ko-desh.
Translation: Blessed are you, Lord our G?d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the Holy Shabbat.

My dear Southern Baptist cousin, who observes many Jewish traditions because of her love of Israel, says Shabbat, celebrated from dusk Friday to dusk Saturday, is truly meant to be a day of rest. No work. Very observant Jews even hire Gentiles to do whatever needs to be done, such as turning lights off and on. They cook every meal in advance, refrain from operating any appliance. The day is one of rest, celebration and time with family and at the temple.

Doesn’t that sound good? I don’t know about you, I can really use some rest! Tomorrow, I’m going to cruise and make a painting for some friends who helped with my sister as she was dying. No work (except a brief book signing; see Pupu Platter).