Archive for Passover

Finding Modern Meaning in the Passover Story

We tell the Passover story every year about us being slaves in Egypt and the hardships we endured. How can we really relate it to our modern lives? When I was in Israel, I visited “Women of the Waters”—the most beautiful mikvah I have ever seen, in Tzfat. On their website, www.tsfatmikveh.com, they shared Passover wisdom this way:

“The Kabbalah wisdom teaches us that anything holding us back, that enslaves us and blocks our unique divine light from shining, is called Egypt – (in Hebrew Egypt is called Mitzrayim, the narrow straits). Yes, whatever it is that distorts our clarity of vision and purpose, preventing us from feeling our true essence aligned, things like anger, sadness, jealousy, dependency on peer approval, impulsivity, resentment, laziness, desire to control, dishonesty, materialism etc. are all our modern day “enslavement”, these are all binding and imprisoning us from accessing our true selves and our personal miracles.”

How do we enslave ourselves by narrow minded thinking, prejudice, etc.? With Passover beginning in less than a week, now is a great time to think about your vision of your most free, creative, well “aligned” self.

Is there someone who helps bring out your best self? Why not send a Passover gift basket to that special friend? Feeling distanced from family, emotionally or physically? Vow to reconnect this spring, or even “attend” the family seder from a distance using Skype. Feeling enslaved by technology? Make Passover an excuse for a technology holiday – use the land line only until Passover ends. Looking for a closer connection to your community? Invite someone new to your seder, or offer a seat at the table to someone who just moved to town. If you live in LA, let me know – I know someone who moved there just last week and would really love and appreciate an invitation to seder!

In reaching out to others, we sometimes find more of ourselves. Think about how to navigate your way out of the narrow places, widen your horizons, and expand your expression of your true self during this time of wonder.

 

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Seder Plate 101

The Elements of the Seder Plate

seder platePreparing the seder plate can get to be a little rote – we’ve done it so many times before. We don’t think too hard about it, we just follow the printed directions on our seder plates! But in case you need a little reminder of why we’re really doing “all this,” as it says in the Hagadah, here’s a brief lesson in the elements of the seder plate.

1. Three matzot.

They’re actually meant to symbolize the three castes of Jews: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. Then there’s also the three measures of fine flour Abraham told Sarah to use for the matzo. Finally, Abraham and Sarah were visited by three angels. So three is a big Passover number!

2. The lamb shank.

It represents the sacrifice that was made the night before the Jews left Egypt. After that, a sacrifice was made every year in the Holy Temple on the afternoon before Passover. Can you imagine that sacrifices were made in the temple? Hard to conceive of today!

Passover seder plate3. The egg.

It symbolizes the holiday offerings people brought to the Holy Temple. It’s also a symbol of life and renewal, of course.

4. The bitter herbs (maror).

Our forefathers were plenty bitter during their enslavement in Egypt, and this is our reminder of their suffering.

5. The Charoset.

This delicious treat is meant to symbolize the mortar and bricks the Jews made during slavery in Egypt. Apples, nuts and wine make a tasty reddish “mortar” – good thing there was no concrete back then or who knows what charoset would have to be made of!

6. The root vegetable.

We place a non-bitter root vegetable on the seder plate to remind ourselves of the arduous work the Jews did as slaves.

eclectic Passover seder plate7. The lettuce.

It’s actually also a reminder of the bitterness of slavery. When Pharaoh first deceived the Jews into working for him, he was not so harsh. But eventually the Jews became entrapped in cruel slavery. The symbolism is that the lettuce leaves are sweet, but if you left Romaine lettuce to grow, its stem would eventually turn bitter and hard. So remember, use Romaine, not iceberg!

If you’re invited to be a guest at the seder this year and you need a Kosher for Passover gift, a seder plate is a wonderful Passover hostess gift that will always be appreciated. Many families put more than one seder plate on the table, especially when there’s a large group. So bring along one of our beautiful seder plates, or add to your own collection!

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Win a Passover Gift with our Kosher for Passover Dessert Contest!

kosher for Passover cake

With so many unique and meaningful traditional foods that must be prepared for the seder (like charoset and gefilte fish), kosher for Passover desserts are one part of the seder menu where we can get a little more creative. We want to know what you’ve tried in your own kitchen that’s been a hit Passover dessert!

Enter our Passover Dessert Contest!

Challah Connection is giving three wonderful kosher for Passover gifts to the lucky winners submitting our favorite, most creative Passover dessert recipes.

Have you made your own gourmet version of chocolate covered matzo perhaps? Maybe you’ve kicked that recipe for Passover sponge cake up a notch or two, or created your own version of the traditional Passover raspberry roll cake? Please share your success!

Win a Passover Gift as a Prize, or Send It to your Seder Hostess!

RULES: By Monday, March 18th, post your kosher for Passover dessert recipe in the comments section of our blog or email it to Jane@challahconnection.com along with any other interesting facts related to your recipe. If emailing, include subject line: “Passover Dessert 2013.” Recipes will be judged based on creativity, originality and ease of use. Winners will be announced on March 20th. If you are a winner, we will email to notify you and at that time get your name and shipping address so we can send your prize.

First Prize:

Our delicious Savory Nosh Basket for Passover, a value of $119.99.

 

 

 


passover macaroons gift basket

Second Prize:

A sweet Passover Candy and Macaroon Platter, a value of $39.99.

 

 

 

 

Passover cookies gift basket

Third Prize

Schick’s Assorted Kosher for Passover Cookies, a value of $14.99.

 

Prizes will be shipped to you or a recipient that you choose (US shipping only).

We can’t wait to choose and share some wonderful, creative kosher for Passover dessert recipes with you.

 

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Select a Unique Passover Gift Basket that Lasts

Whether you’re an invited guest for a Passover seder or you want to spread the joy of Passover’s spirit of freedom, a beautiful kosher for Passover gift basket will mark the holiday that heralds springtime! We have a wonderful selection of gift baskets for Passover brimming with delicious treats and staples for the holiday: chocolate covered matzo, Barton’s almond kisses, and Passover nut platters among them. Maybe this year you want to send a special piece of Judaica they’ll use and appreciate now and for many years to come?

Send some Passover Judaica as a Hostess Gift

Passover PlateThis is truly a piece of Passover Judaica to treasure: A beautifully painted Passover tambourine celebrating Miriam’s role in the exodus. This version of Miriam’s timbrel has vivid, lively colors and is a functional tambourine that makes a wonderful, musical addition to your seder. Created by artist Betsy Teutsch, this tambourine is a  professional Remo percussion instrument that can be hung in the home and taken out for joyous celebrations! BUY $97.99

Miriam’s Cup for your Seder Table

Miriam's cup   Send your daughter, your mother, or the wonderful hostess who invited you to the seder a beautiful Miriam’s Cup to grace the festival meal’s table! Not only is it the perfect hostess gift for Passover, but it’s wonderful for any girl celebrating her bat mitzvah this year, or that special young woman starting a household of her own. BUY $45.00

A Special Elijah’s Cup

elijah's cup passover This silver plated Elijah’s cup is wrapped with decorative wire and small colorful beads. Why not make it a Passover gift for your grandson, your son, or that special nephew? Who says it’s only the hostess who should get a hostess gift for Passover, anyway? Bring one to your seder host!  BUY $47.00

A Unique Haggadah as a Passover Gift

unique Passover haggadahThis is a unique Passover gift anyone would love to receive. The Hamsa is thought to bring good luck and protection. Here, it becomes the backdrop of a beautifully different Haggadah. Send this unusual Passover gift and make an artful impression that will inspire and extraordinary seder. BUY $19.99

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Passover: Create more Freedom at your Seder

One of my friends’ fathers jokes every year that “Passover is a holiday where we celebrate freedom by enslaving women in the kitchen.” Okay, so he’s got a point! But isn’t all this preparation for the seder an example of true freedom, when you really think about it? Are we really “enslaved” in the kitchen, or there by choice?

It may not always feel like “freedom” when you’re busy in the kitchen for days on end making matzo balls and chicken soup and polishing up your seder plates. But it’s also a labor of true love: love of family, love of tradition, and yes – love of freedom.

Of course, on the flip side, we are also free to choose not to do certain things on Passover! Preparation for Passover seders and the week of keeping kosher for Passover can be quite tiring. Here are some ways to lighten the load of seder preparation. Or maybe you’re going to a seder instead of hosting this year? Bring them one of our beautiful kosher for Passover gift baskets and be their favorite guest.

Let Us Deliver the Passover Dessert

kosher for passover desserts

You’ve arranged for all the other parts of the seder meal – why not leave dessert to us?

This Kosher for Passover gift basket includes a box of Matzel Toff – matzoh covered with delicious toffee and enrobed in chocolate. Plus the nostalgic Barton’s chocolate Almond Kiss candies, Seder Maven Passover macaroons, assorted cookies, and dried apricots. There’s even herbal tea and honey to top it all off after a fulling meal and scrumptious dessert. BUY NOW $179.99

kids activities for Passover

Keep the Kids Entertained

You can’t be watching them when you’re trying to serve the matzo ball soup, but you can give them some activities to keep them occupied!

Send a Passover gift basket for kids packed with holiday fun. A coloring book, crayons, masks and stickers – what more could they need? Keep the Lollycones hidden till it’s just about dessert time, then break them out while hot coffee and tea is being served – the kids are bound to stay put and stay safe! BUY NOW $49.99.

Passover seder hostess gift

Arrive Prepared with a Kosher for Passover Hostess Gift

Invited to a seder this year? Not sure what to bring as a hostess gift that’s kosher for Passover and delicious? We’ve got you covered, and you don’t even have to bake anything.

Bring some Renanati Cabernet Sauvignon in an elegant gift box and tin of Barton’s Almond Kisses, cello wrapped together and tied with colorful raffia. It’s a simple, elegant hostess gift for anyone hosting a Passover seder. BUY NOW – SPECIAL PRICE! $62.50

Share Ideas for a Simpler Seder

What are some things you do to prepare for Passover that others could learn from? Please do share your ideas here, so we can all learn some ways to make a seder without feeling like we’re “enslaved in the kitchen.”

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Charoset–The Star of The Seder Table

Unlike the other elements of the seder plate; roasted egg, bitter herbs, shank bone, parsley and matzo, charoset is the true stand-out. This is one dish where you can let your create juices and personal taste preferences really soar.
Charoset
Most of us think of charoset, which symbolizes the brick and mortar made by Jews when they were slaves in Egypt, as a simple mixture of apples, walnuts and wine. This is indeed, the traditional Ashkenazi recipe. But given that I am half Sephardic, I have a special yearning for the recipes that include more exotic ingredients such as dates, nuts, ginger and more. In my opinion, these recipes represent a fun opportunity for some real gourmet flair on the seder plate and table.

What I truly appreciate about charoset is that this one small item can bring exciting new flavors as well as history and ethnicity to a meal that tends to be so traditional. Certainly it opens doors for other interesting recipes—and conversation!

Below are some recipes that I am considering for the first seder, this Monday. All are from the outstanding Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook. I plan to make atleast 2 of them and will double or triple recipes so that we can enjoy these healthful holiday treats all week long!

Do you have any favorite charoset recipes? Please post them as a comment to this blog so everyone can share them.

Happy Passover and let’s always remember the sweetness of freedom. We can only hope that someday, everyone will be free.

FAVORITE CHAROSET RECIPES

Yemenite Haroset
10 pitted Dates, chopped
10 Figs, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tsp ground ginger
Red Wine
Matzah Meal

Combine fruit, sesame seeds and ginger. Add red wine and matza meal to bring it to the consistency you want.

Makes about 2 ½ cups

Israeli Haroset

15 pitted dates, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
3 bananas, mashed
Juice and grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup almonds, chopped
½ cup red wine
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Sugar or honey to taste
Matzah meal, if needed

Combine fruits, nuts, wine, cinnamon and sugar or honey. Add matzo meal to get the consistency you want.

Makes about 6 cups

North African Haroset

½ cup pine nuts, chopped
1 hard-cooked egg yolk, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled and grated
½ cup sugar
½ cup ground almonds
½ cup chopped walnuts
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Ground cinnamon to taste
Ground ginger to taste
Red wine—add to your desired consistency

Mix all ingredients until mixture comes together. Refrigerate.

Makes about 2 cups

Haroset from Suriname
7 oz package unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 ½ cups raisins
1 ½ cups dried apples
1 ½ cups prunes
1 ½ cups dried apricots
1 ½ cups dried pears
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ cup cherry jam
Sweet red wine

1. Combine in saucepan all ingredients except cherry jam and wine. Add enough cold water to just cover fruit. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if necessary.
2. Remove from heat; stir in cherry jam. Set aside to cool.
3. Add just enough sweet red wine to be absorbed by the fruit. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Makes about 9 cups

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Passover Starts March 29

It’s amazing and exciting that the days are noticeabley getting longer. After all of the snow and frigid temperatures, I am beginning to feel a sense of spring excitement coming on. I may even take my dog for a walk later!

Of course the warmer weather means that Passover is also coming. No rest for the weary here at Challah Connection. While some of our crew is packing up leftover Purim graggers, the rest of us are making the finishing touches on this year’s Passover Gifts. Later this week, we have a scheduled photo shoot so we can add them to our Challah Connection and Kosher Gift Box sites.

We are going to be offering several new and exciting Passover Gift Baskets as we have sourced some great new products as well as some traditional favorites. The buzz at this year’s Kosherfest was about the reappearance of Barton’s Almond Kisses after it was announced last year that they were being discontinued. You can count on us to carry them along with Matzel Toff, another exciting product that will be included in our kosher gift baskets. If you didn’t catch it in the Spring, the Matzel Toff folks were on The Martha Stewart Show showing how they make this yummy Passover treat. Chocolate Frogs? Why of course! A customer emailed asking for them and they are now on our site (Note: they are kosher, not Kosher for Passover). Chocolate Seder Plates are in full blossom at Challah Connection as are Kosher for Passover rugelach, macaroons and rainbow cookies. You’ll be able to purchase these classic baked goods separately or in our Passover Bakery Tower, which will be live on our site soon. New this year is the Passover 2-Sided Puzzle; a perfect afikomen gift. This is just a small preview of what’s in the works for Passover. You can be sure that we will have great Passover gifts for everyone on your list: from young kids to college kids to business associates and all of the rest of us in between.

I often get asked how we plan our holiday inventory. That is always an “interesting” exercise! For those of you with inquiring minds, here it is from the horse’s mouth: GUESSWORK!! Prior to every holiday, we decide exactly what kosher gift baskets and other gifts will comprise our holiday selection. Once that’s done, we make sales projections; for example 50 of this Passover Basket and 40 of this kosher gift, etc. Now it would be lovely if we could simply look at the previous years’ sales and increase it by our growth rate. But what I have learned is that as soon as you change the holiday offering by even one product, all of those projections are out the window. This year we have several new Passover Gift Baskets, so that means we are back to the “GUESSWORK.” Just please do me a favor: whatever we sell, buy every single one! Nobody wants macaroons in July.

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