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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.
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The Chometz-mobile
Posted: March 29, 2011 By: Leah Jaffee

I start thinking about Passover around Thanksgiving; wondering if I should buy lottery tickets or get on JDate in hopes of getting out of cooking for Passover for the community. I don't like the feeling of losing or being out of control....so, I don't buy tickets or renew my subscription to JDate. By December, the vendors are looking for orders for kosher for Passover ingredients. I then start bugging Kris about whether or not I'm doing the Passover program at Hillel. It is actually a very fun community event. A huge first night seder followed by chol moed lunches. Depending on how the holiday falls out, the number of lunches varies. This year is like last year, fairly easy. Only 1100 meals. By January, all the menus are done.

By February, certainly by a couple of weeks before Purim, I start to feel the crunch. I have to start cleaning at home because once Purim is over, it is all about readying for cleaning the commercial kitchen and gearing up for Passover production. I have work clutter around but underneath that isn't much else. I go through the closets and debate: keep or Goodwill this or that. It doesn't take too long. If I haven't used it in a year, I decide if it is too valuable to off-load or if it should be given away. Some years are more ruthless than others. But, I don't like to shop so I can go through the apartment in a day. I live with a fear of what an 'estate sale' would look like at my place. I only want the possibility of pseudo decent stuff being sold at a fraction of the price I paid.

I have a couple of vehicles; one is a large Express van which I hate driving as it has all sorts of blind spots and is difficult to park. The other is my Honda Element which I love and end up using for work all the time. Benoit took it upon himself to clean out the van. He surprises me by also cleaning the Honda. Uncertain as to what to do with some of the backseat clutter, he piles it behind the drivers seat for me to look through.

What a shocker! I took a peak the other day; gasped and then laughed. We have to be especially diligent in removing 'chometz', all the non-kosher for Passover foods and beverages, from our homes and cars. I see I have about 5 pounds of flour, the remnants of the 25# bag I used when making the challah video. There's yeast, sugar, and an entire box of various seasonings and oils. Lifting this box up, I find a box of partial bottles of grain alcohols from a high school reunion party 2 years ago...I was going to give them away last summer. Nothing like Passover to make this stuff disappear.

I'd insert a photo of my chometz-free vehicle but Aviva, my newly driver licensed 16 year old rear ended someone last Sunday. Thank G-d, everyone is fine; my car is not. It is parked in Seward Park, the insurance adjuster calling to make an appointment. Are you serious, an appointment now? I've been telling new event customers that I can't talk until April 27th. Looks like I'm driving the white van for a while.

Tonight, looking in my small kitchen cupboard, I think of 'Chopped'. It is my favorite cooking show on TV. Contestants have a limited amount of time to create foods out of oddly paired ingredients. I think it would be fun to do a menu based on only using what is on hand. Then again, maybe not; looks like it would be something like fried panko encrusted rice flour lasagna topped with hot sauce. I do most of my cooking at work; not a whole lot to work with here.

Ah, this Sunday we turn the kitchen over to kosher for Passover. We remove all the year around equipment laying about and take it downstairs. We have a giant work party to scrub every last inch of stainless steel counters, 10 sinks, 4 ovens, a walk-in freezer and refrigerator, the double door refers and freezers, the dishwasher, transit racks and warmers, and the room of steam tables. Once this is all spotless, pot after pot of boiling water drenches everything to kasher the surface. With the final mopping, all trace of chometz is gone. Then, we can open the kosher for Passover storage area and bring up all the equipment used to cook Passover food. We could have up to 100 'man' hours of intense cleaning before we are ready to actually start production.

It is just shy of 3 weeks to the first seder. Start cleaning now...recycle, dump, and give away anything unnecessary. Keep the focus on using up foods and don't buy anything you don't need. I'll start sharing my menus and recipes over the coming weeks. Hopefully, Passover will be a meaningful and fun holiday...without the stressful madness! G-d willing!

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