Passover represents freedom. But freedom from what?
The following are the 10 plagues of Passover cooking from which we must separate ourselves. Hopefully, this will make the holiday even more meaningful for those who are planning meals.
- "Old cooking habits that keep us stuck in the mud." Just like Pharoah's chariots crossing the Red Sea, whose wheels became imbedded in the sea bottom, so too do our patterns and routines from Passover past. Did old recipes stick around that called for pounds of margarine, cups of dairy creamer? Rethink in the light of day or better yet, find new recipes.
- "Over-shopping and over-cooking." Although we have to prepare for our holiday meals in advance, fresh food tastes best and no one wants to sit down to food that didn't sell the first time around.
- "Keeping up with the Egyptians." If everyone else is going overboard and designing multi-course menus with fiddley garnishes, and it doesn't appeal to your lifestyle, forget it!
- "Matzah meal at every meal." Assuming that we have to design menus around matzah meal, farfel, etc, no wonder it feels like we're walking around with lead in the pit of our stomachs. When we cook our meals through the year, how often do we use flour as a main ingredient? Not often for me.
- "Processed, packaged foods." These items are meant to imitate our chometz favorites, often loaded with tons of sugar, preservatives, and very high price tags.
- "One person assuming responsibility for all the Passover meals." After all the cleaning in preparation for the holiday, we may be too frazzled to use the holiday as a time to train new cooks (either young or reluctant). Yet (especially if you have children and they are off school) it's a great time to share cooking duties and teach them a thing or two.
- "All alone and home on the range." Ever get that sinking feeling when the meal is finished and you're suddenly the only one around left standing in the kitchen? (Pets and toddlers don't count!) Perfect time to invite family members to share in the experience and appreciate the "Zen of dishwashing."
- "I'm too busy to plan. I'll just wing it." We all have to put extra effort into making Passover wonderful, in all ways. If you can invest a little planning during a few rare thoughtful, quiet moments, you just may head off last-minute, full blown disasters (fried farfel kugel anybody? No offense intended).
- "$$$" Is there more to be said? Try and cut back a little a month or two before (right after Purim sounds good to me), so that if you want to splurge on an expensive cut of meat, wines, a wonderful cheese or exotic fruits or vegetables, it won't hurt too bad. (Refer to #5.)
- "Where's the beef?" Although there is nothing wrong with enjoying meat, don't forget to serve fresh fish. And why not serve a meal made up of your favorite vegetables with a little butter or salt? Think outside the box.
For great Passover recipes, visit our Passover Gourmet Cookbook.