Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Helllllo, April!

It’s that wonderful time of year where the days are getting longer, the winter gear is getting relegated to the back of the closet and, even though allergy season is about to hit, all is right with the world, because Pesach is coming. Sure, Pesach might be a little labor intensive, but it brings incredible opportunities to spend quality time with your nearest and dearest and this year, I am heading into Pesach confident that even with my kitchen helper off in Israel until June, I’ve got it all under control with new toys to make pre-yom tov prep easier than ever.

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Much as I prefer cooking to cleaning, Pesach starts with tons of vacuuming, one of those household chores that I don’t mind because, really, it is the vacuum doing the hard work, not me. Making a relatively modest investment in a hand held vac that you can grab whenever you find a colony of dust bunnies lurking in your home is a smart idea. My newest love is Black and Decker’s Pivot Hand Vac – the dirt-sucking nozzle folds into the handle for storage, translating into big cleaning power in a relatively small footprint. Be sure to keep this bagless, cordless model charged so it is ready to roll when an adventurous toddler armed with a box of Rice Krispies strikes. #BeenThereDoneThat

There is nothing like a good set of pots and with a whole arsenal of OXO’s thoughtfully designed products already in my kitchen, I was thrilled to find their 12 piece Non-Stick Pro Cookware Set, giving me the ability to practically eliminate oil while making for super-easy cleanup. Kudos to OXO for bundling the sizes you need most into a single set: one, two, three and six quart pots and ten inch frying pans with see-through glass lids – making it easy to tell when your soup is about to boil over. Further sweetening the deal, these durable beauties are dishwasher safe, have a lifetime warranty and are oven friendly up to 420°F.

The most commonly used piece of cookware in our house on Pesach? Frying pans, which work overtime making noodles, endless batches of fried onions or piles of scrambled eggs. Diamotech’s ceramic coated non-stick 9.5 inch frying pan is a keeper. Dishwasher safe, scratch resistant and oven safe up to a fiery 500°F, this one goes the extra mile and lets you completely eliminate all fats from your cooking.

Another workhorse in our Pesach arsenal is my immersion blender and, as someone who babies her non-stick pots and has trained everyone to never stick even so much as a metal spoon in her cookware for fear of damaging the finish, I was very unhappy to realize that my immersion blender’s metal base was scratching the bottom of my pots. This time, it was Chefman to the rescue with a 12-speed stick blender whose blades are surrounded by a heat resistant plastic casing that is gentler on non-stick finishes. Thank you Chefman, both for the turbo button that provides extra oomph and for making sure the chopping mechanism is detachable and dishwasher safe.

Spice Ratchet is out to forever redefine the word “blossom” with its totally unique and bizarrely addicting floral-shaped trivet as featured on The Grommet. Made of heat resistant silicone that can withstand high temperatures and available in several colors, Blossom can be used in its floral shape as a funky looking trivet, or opened to get hot dishes in and out of the oven or on the table without burning your hands. Able to stretch from four to 30 inches while squishing down to nearly nothing, Blossom takes up virtually no room in your cabinet, and is chic enough to use on your yom tov table.

Saving space is the name of the game for another Grommet-featured item, Kitchen Gizmo’s clip on silicone strainer. For a few years I started buying Pesach pasta in a desperate attempt to feed my family something other than potatoes, and having to make room in my already cramped cabinets for a full-sized strainer. Snap ‘N Strain, a half-sized silicone dishwasher safe strainer that clips onto the edge of any size pot, solved that problem and lets you neatly drain just about anything while still storing away easily thanks to its petite profile.

Joseph Joseph is another favorite around here, with unique and practical eye-catching designs. Their Cut & Carve Plus multi-purpose chopping board is another standout product, its slanted design holds a roast at the top end of the board on a series of little spikes, while juices are collected by a lower lip to be poured back onto your freshly carved roasts. And because a product that does double duty means you can halve your kitchen clutter, Cut & Carve is also reversible, making it perfect for, well, just about anything.

Sick of peeling potatoes? Starfrit’s Rotato Express automatic peeler saves the day. While you will have to hand-peel the very top and bottom of your spuds, two areas that Rotato’s super sharp blades can’t attack, the rest will be ready to roll without any further intervention on your part, making it a real godsend for a holiday that sometimes feel like an eight day long potato-fest.

Am I the only one out there who tries to prevent family members from frying things in a freshly cleaned kitchen so that the cooktop can remain splatter-free for just a little while? The days of banning frying may have come to the end with Frywall, a silicone collar available in eight, ten and 12 inch sizes to fit most frying pans that keeps the mess inside the pan where it belongs. You will have to reach up and over Frywall’s collar to turn your food, but that is a small price to pay for not having to clean up greasy oil splatters an hour before Shabbos. It is tough enough to withstand your dishwasher and temperatures up to 450°F and folds up to fit neatly in a kitchen drawer.

Last but not least, get ready to meet The Negg. If you have ever struggled peeling hard boiled eggs, another Pesach staple, or like me have an illogical aversion to eating imperfectly peeled eggs, Airigan Solutions’ The Negg, another The Grommet find, is going to be a welcome asset to your kitchen. Just pop an egg into The Negg, add some water and shake, shake, shake, giving you an egg whose shell by and large, slides right off, a real timesaver when you are peeling lots and lots of eggs.

With goodies galore to make your time in the kitchen simpler and more productive, get ready to make culinary magic for Pesach faster than ever before. And should you find yourself with a few extra minutes and happen to be nearby, feel free to pop over and join me in my cozy makeshift Pesach kitchen – I have no doubt that we will have a blast cooking up a storm together.

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