Well, the countdown to Passover is on and we are busy preparing ourselves and our homes for the most celebrated Jewish holiday of all. Growing up, this was the time when my mom spent the most time in the kitchen. She would pull out her well utilized version of Love and Knishes: An Irrepressible Guide to Jewish Cooking put on her apron, and get to work. I remember distinctly how the kitchen soup would smell as it simmered on the stove. The cover to the pot would shake and rattle as all the flavors fused together. Once the chicken had completely cooked, the liquid was separated and put into a lime green Tupperware bowel. This liquid love would sit in the fridge overnight until it was good and chilled.
When it was time for the soup to be put on the stove in preparation for the Seder, my mother would skim the chicken fat from the liquid with a small metal spoon. Once that was complete, the pot of chicken soup complete with carrots, celery, onion, and a bay leaf would simmer on the flame. Meanwhile, in another bowel, the matzah ball mix would appear and small round balls would be placed into the soup. The temperature on the stove would be reduced to a simmer, and the soup would simmer like a well scheduled masterpiece. Meanwhile, we would take our seats and the Passover Seder would begin. The familiar and beloved smell of chicken soup would waft over to where we were sitting. Our stomachs would growl with anticipation as we slowly navigated our way via our Haggadahs. We banded together as if we were slaves in Egypt and out through the desert to our home. Accompanying us along the way were very sweet cups of Manischewitz wine, crispy boards of matzah, and sweet and sour Passover specialty condiments (haroset and maror). Once we were at the point of the Seder to actually begin the meal, I would join my mom in the kitchen and stand next to her at the stove. She would ladle oh so eloquently heaping servings of soup with the most perfect matzah balls I have ever seen. I would ever so carefully bring each bowl to the table, serving my father first. His face would light up as the aroma eased up into his nose. His first spoonful was executed so succinct, as if this was the very first bowl of matzah ball soup he had ever had. From there, the rest of the meal would be served, along with my mom’s savory and soft brisket. I have never been able to recreate such perfection!These moments are still so fresh in my memory, as if they were happening today. It has been a long, long time since my immediate family sat together without today’s modern technologies beeping away. One memory that is very, very visual this time of year is that of my late father. He lost his battle to Alzheimers this past October and it had been many, many years since he was able to take his seat at the head of the table. Yep, Alzheimers is a dreadful disease. One thing about my dad and Passover is that he loved matzah all year long. In fact, he frequently took over the kitchen from my mom and made Matzah Brie for the entire family. I was able to share his very special rendition of Matzah Brie for an article in The Jewish Week. For the full story and recipe, please check out The Jewish Week’s article, 5th Question How to Make Matzah Brei here. What does Matzah Brie look like? Thanks Ronnie Fein for capturing this so well! We love our matzah memories and recipes. Next I will be sharing two of our favorite family Passover recipes; Super Easy Passover Brisket and Matzah Ball Chicken Soup. What is your family favorite to serve during the Passover meal? Why is it so special, share below, I would love to hear about it.