At sundown Friday, Susie Klinock will celebrate the beginning of Passover in her Overland Park home with close friends and family members. She and her husband of 50 years, Jerry, have three grown children and two grandsons.
Also known as Pesach, Passover is an eight-day Jewish festival of freedom (seven days in Israel) remembering when Moses led Jews out of slavery in Egypt. Passover refers to death “passing over” Jewish households when the firstborns in Egypt were struck dead, as described in Exodus, the second book of the Torah or Old Testament of the Bible.
Q: What does the feast of Passover mean to you?
A: As Jews we must never forget what happened when our ancestors left Egypt in haste after being freed from slavery, and we are required to retell the story to children, so it is passed down through the generations. This is the reason we do not eat any food with flour or leavening during Passover, because when the Jews left in a hurry, they didn’t have time to allow their bread to rise.
Jewish history is riddled with tragedy, but we are a resilient people, and it is our tradition to overcome obstacles and to ultimately celebrate life. Passover is about a journey and marking the renewal of life. As our family and friends gather to celebrate the Seder — a ritual service and dinner we celebrate on the first and second nights of Passover — I am particularly mindful of my ancestors and the women who came before me.
Q: Preparing for Passover is more than just adhering to dietary guidelines for you, isn’t it?
A: This is the time of year to start anew and celebrate the Jewish exodus out of slavery and the entrance into freedom. It’s a time to clean out the cupboards in the kitchen and get rid of all food containing leavening and start fresh. For the past two weeks I have been working on this preparation called kashering, which means to prepare a nonkosher vessel for kosher use. I swap out all my dishes, utensils and cooking ware for items I only use during Passover, which are specially stored. During Passover in our home there is a heightened awareness of what we eat and how we eat it. The kashering process also extends to cleaning out closets and getting rid of items we no longer need and passing useful things onto others.
Q: You are also very involved in the community as a volunteer, giving of your time and talents.
A: A life of service is one worth living. I don’t want to be preachy, but I sincerely believe that it is important to see the humanity in each individual. When we find commonalities in our humanity, we realize that we really aren’t that different and also learn to respect another’s point of view. We are all God’s children.
There are certain organizations to which I am dedicated, such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society, a disease that took the life of my mother, Mickey Kleg. I have been instrumental in starting Kosher Meals on Wheels and a grandparent volunteer program at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. But now my heart goes out to families in the community with children who have disabilities. It is all of our responsibility to help care for those children and reach out to their families, so this is where I am focusing my efforts now.
Q: You seem to have such a strong sense of family — not only in the global sense — but also when it comes to the bonds you share with your ancestors, children and grandchildren.
A: Family is everything to me, and preparing family recipes during Passover is literally a wonderful taste of my heritage. That is why I am sharing this Passover sherbet and chocolate sauce recipe. I only make this during Passover, so the taste of it is strongly connected to this time of year.
Of course, you don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy this recipe — it would be wonderfully refreshing on a hot summer day, too. Making family recipes is the ultimate in comfort food, and this has been passed down to me through my mother and her mother before her and so forth. One of my most prized possessions is a picture of me as a small child, as part of a five-generational photo of the women in my family. I didn’t come to this on my own, and preparing food from generations before me is a way of keeping memories and traditions alive.
Mary G. Pepitone is a nationally syndicated freelance writer who lives in Leawood. Send email to her at email@example.com to nominate a cook.
Passover Sherbet With Chocolate Sauce
Makes 10 (1-cup) servings
For the sherbet:
3 bananas, peeled and mashed
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice concentrate
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
3 egg whites
For the sauce:
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/2 cup honey
To make the sherbet: Into a large mixing bowl, whisk bananas, orange juice, lemon concentrate, sugar and water together until thoroughly combined.
Pour mixture evenly between two 8-inch-square pans and place in freezer. Allow pans to chill for at least 2 hours, or until mixture is set, but not frozen hard. If mixture becomes frozen hard, allow mixture to soften by placing pans on countertop while preparing egg whites.
Into a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form using an electric mixer, fixed with the whisk attachment.
Scrape partially frozen mixture into a large mixing bowl and gently fold in eggs whites. Again, pour mixture evenly between the two 8-inch-square pans and place in freezer 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.
Stir mixture before transferring to a large resealable plastic container with a lid and storing in the freezer.
To make the chocolate sauce: In a medium saucepan, whisk cocoa, sugar and water together over medium heat on stovetop. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk in honey and simmer another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and store in a resealable plastic container and place in refrigerator after cooled.
To serve: Scoop 1-cup serving of sherbet into a dish, and repeat for 9 additional servings. Evenly divide and drizzle chocolate sauce over each dish of sherbet and serve immediately.
Chef’s note: The USDA warns against the consumption of raw eggs and recommends the use of pasteurized in the shell eggs when using egg whites that are not cooked.
Per serving: 438 calories (3 percent from fat), 1 gram total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 111 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 21 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.