Dear Shaina,

Passover flew by; Mother’s Day is over and now on to Shavuot. I know I have said many, many times (only because it still catches me off guard) that time super speeds up the older you get. Dad and I have been married for thirty years and there are still surprises. There is just not enough time in a lifetime…and that’s the good news.

We spent a fabulous long weekend in New Orleans celebrating Mother’s Day and our anniversary. We missed you. Not to worry—we did not neglect our taste buds. The restaurants in New Orleans are plentiful, artful and bursting with exciting flavors. We ate lots of fresh fish with fancy creole-inspired sauces.

Everything in NOLA is ramped up—the spices, the music and the local sights. Imagine all your senses overdosing at once. If we weren’t listening to live music inside a local club, we were laying in our bed awake, hearing the rhythmic beats of street musicians playing until four in the morning to a crowd that just wouldn’t let them stop. Talent is everywhere…all the time!

I am definitely ready to settle back into my more mundane routine of yoga, mahjong, cleaning out closets and preparing foods that don’t quite singe your esophagus as they go down. Dad and I were at the grocery store and got mesmerized by the multitude of exotic rice varieties in the bulk section. We bought some of each of our favorite colors. I pulled out my never-used rice cooker and decided to test it out—I made a lot of multicolored rice!

My first plan was stir-fried veggies over rice. That meal hardly made a dent in the rice. You know I am the queen of leftovers. I can’t bear to throw out good food. My overzealousness led to some great experiments in reinventing leftovers, specifically leftover cooked rice.

I happened upon some incredibly large, fresh Portobello mushrooms and knew exactly where I wanted to go. Even though the main ingredients in both recipes were rice and vegetables, the end result couldn’t have been more different. It reminded me of the music we heard in NOLA…you put the same instruments together, change the notes, vary the tempo, add some personal style and vocals and the variations are infinite. I guess all experiences have infinite possibilities and pleasures. OK, stop rolling your eyes. Sometimes, I get a little carried away with the magic of cooking, especially after spending four days in a city that is exploding with tastes and sounds and even a little voodoo magic.

Enjoy your days off for Shavuot. Only three more months left for you in Israel. The year has flown by. I won’t rush the days. They go fast enough by themselves, and I know you have infinite possibilities and pleasures yet to be experienced in your last weeks in Israel. And that’s the good news!