We asked our Cook-Off finalists to reflect on a few special thoughts about their own personal Passover memories and experiences and were kind enough to share these with us. Enjoy!
One thing that I have always done for Passover is have a children's art table (Passover is very long...hours...) I have all kinds of markers and crayons, stickers and the like. Every child gets to design their own placemat on a piece of construction paper which we then cover (both sides) with clear contact paper. And there you have it! A placemat for the dinner table! Also, I have Passover coloring books and children's picture books on Passover. On another note, we always try to invite a new Jewish family (new to our town whether they moved from another town or from another country) to our home for the holidays.
Although we don't keep kosher at our house, I do have friends who celebrate the holidays. I enjoy learning about the different traditions and also letting my kids have the experience of the different cultures and religions. I don't know if I have any "twists" other than just incorporating the Manischewitz products into the recipes I make. I make this for a Jewish friend during Passover. I've used the Manischewitz website as a great resource.
As far as our family Passover "story" or traditions - We have had the family Seder in our home since we got married 12 years ago. Our Passover Seder is like many other American family Seders. We invite friends and family and sometimes have as many as 25 guests. Our Seders are very child friendly and usually have our daughters (ages 5,7,9) and other children singing songs about pharaoh and the plagues that they learned at school. We also have many toy plagues and masks around the table that they can play with during the Seder. One year, when they were very small we sat under a small tent that we set up in our living room where we recited the majority of the Seder. We all sat on pillows and were very relaxed. One tradition that our family has is that we invite our guests to bring their favorite haggada and we go around reading some of the prayers from each. It is always interesting to see how each differs. Our Seders are not always perfect but they are always followed by a fabulous meal!
There is nothing like a holiday, but in terms of Jewish holidays, Passover for me simply takes the cake! Literally it takes the cake, that is the leavened cake, but it also creates a whole special aura, because of the unique food preparations involved. The return of Passover to my calendar, for me, means a return to tradition and a rush of olfactory and auditory memories that we repeat year after year.
In my home, that meant the sound of the crunchy paper and cardboard inserts lining the boxes of the special dishes we only saw once a year, the familiar feel of the stained sheets of recipes, and ancient Passover cooking pamphlets we used each year and the smell of the delicious cakes and cookies my sister would bake for days to satisfy her sweet tooth on the long days of the holiday.
When my siblings and I started getting married and bringing newcomers into our home, that meant sharing some of their Passover food memories as well!
Every year I am in charge of a making one traditional dish and one non traditional dish. For the past few years it has been a soup. Sound familiar? I have been making matzoh ball soup for as long as I can remember, but for the past few years I have been making a carrot and ginger soup for a choice. The reason I have been doing this is my family opens their doors for anyone to join regardless if they observe or not. We sit around the table and tell the story of Passover and read the Hagaddah. It is the one holiday I look forward to most every year.