Sometimes when I think about Pesach I get overwhelmed. It doesn’t help that the local food store has already set up their Pesach aisles before it was even Purim. Nor does it help to hear about my super efficient friends and their cleaning schedules, and, most of all, it is nearly paralyzing to see all the posts for Pesach recipes on Facebook, when I’m still deciding what to give for Shaloch Manot!
When I was younger, my whole family would turn over the kitchen the night before Pesach. We would have to take a little break to do bedekat chametz and then continue on our Pesach mission. My brothers were in charge of bringing up the Pesach boxes from the basement and my sister and I were in charge of covering the counters and tables with some sort of plastic tablecloth-that always had the smell of Pesach. I have two distinct smells from my childhood; one as I mentioned in the past-- fresh brewing coffee, and the other-- the smell of the plastic as we got ready for Pesach.
The night before Pesach we would kasher the kitchen and get it prepared for cooking the next day. There would be excitement in the air. There were no weeks or days of preparations; We prepared for the seders on erev chag. My grandmother would make her famous meatballs and her mashed potato kugel, which we only had on Pesach. And of course my mother would make gribiness. (for the record…I never liked it, even before I knew how unhealthy it is for you!) And we all pitched in, making it truly a family affair.
I look back fondly on those times and those memories– and that is the way that I want my kids to embrace the holiday of our freedom, with excitement and great memories.
For the past few years I have been consciously preparing for Pesach in a simplistic manner. I don’t believe Pesach needs to be a time of stress. Pesach can be done in a more relaxed, down to Earth fashion, while still remaining meaningful and producing great memories. I try to keep it simple and stick to the basics. I view the one-week of not having leavened bread as a challenge of sorts to make yummy and scrumptious food without the need to go overboard. (Granted I have the excuse of a daughter who is gluten free so I don’t have the pressure to come up with fancy matzo/cake meal gourmet delicious menus.) I stick to the basic recipes and enjoy serving them on our beautiful Pesach dishes. What I find is most important is the fact that when the Seder night comes, not only is the food delicious, but the family is happy. My goal is to be cognizant of the true meaning of the chag. I thank God for our freedom and our ability to remember and discuss the Exodus of Egypt as a family. This is not always an easy task, yet I feel that as I grow in my spiritual self, and from the wisdom of my past, this is how I want my family Pesach to be experienced.
With that in mind, here is a recipe for Easy Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges.
Author’s note: Another way to enjoy the chag is with a thought provoking Haggadah. My husband, Stan Lebovic, an artist and writer just came out with a new Passover Haggadah, Escape velocity. You can check it out on Amazon.