By Marilyn Baron
This year was the first year in my lifetime—or anybody’s lifetime—that the first day of Hanukkah—The Festival of Lights—fell on Thanksgiving. It’s a phenomenon that won’t happen again in 79,000 years. People have coined the term “Thanksgivukkah,” to commemorate the unlikely convergence of the two holidays. I remember times when Hanukkah coincided with Christmas, but never Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are two of my favorite holidays so I don’t mind if they fall on the same day. They’re both meant to be enjoyed with good food and family.
Hanukkah lasts eight days. The Hanukkah tradition is to light the menorah, a 9-candle ceremonial lamp with space for eight candles, representing one for each night of the holiday, and one candle to light the rest. Hanukkah is a festive holiday. Families sing songs, play a game called dreidel, a spinning top, and exchange gifts. This year a young boy invented a Menurkey, a turkey-shaped menorah.
This Thanksgiving we celebrated with our family in Florida but we had the traditional Thanksgiving and then made latkes separately for the rest of the holiday.
When I had younger children, we would give them one gift each night. Now that they’re grown and out of the house, we typically give or send them one big gift. In the old days, I remember my grandparents lining up the grandchildren and handing out a dollar each. Now the money comes in the form of chocolate coins you can buy at the grocery store.
My favorite memory of Hanukkah is eating the traditional potato pancakes or latkes. You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy potato latkes. My sister Elaine makes great latkes. They require a lot of effort, but when done right, they are crispy and delicious. My mother made great latkes when we were growing up. Today, I just buy them out of a box in the grocery freezer section. They’re not nearly as good. It is traditional to top the latkes with a little sour cream and some applesauce. I prefer applesauce and I also like mine sprinkled with sugar.
Here is my sister’s recipe and a picture of her potato pancakes. Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgivukkah, a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season.
4-5 Idaho potatoes
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup matzoh meal
Salt: I put one teaspoon, then sprinkle more on as they fry
Pepper, freshly ground, several twists
Mix the salt, pepper, baking powder together with the matzoh meal.
Peel the potatoes and drop right away into a large bowl of icy water.
Chop onion: I use a food processor. Decide how fine to chop.
Do not drain liquid from the onion.
In a large bowl, crack the eggs and beat (not too much)
Heat large skillets: Cast iron, or any good pan. Use more than one to speed up the cooking. Start low, and when almost ready with the completed mixture, raise heat. During frying, I constantly monitor the heat level, starting on medium high, then adding the mixture, then turning down to about medium. Then back up to medium high with the next batch, and so on.
I cut the potatoes lengthwise, and in a food processor, using the shred attachment, shred a few potatoes at a time. Then take off the shredder attachment and put the shredded potatoes in a big bowl, put the chop attachment on, and put the shredded potatoes back into the processor, Then give just a few pulses (5-10), until a nice chopped consistency (not too big, but not too finely chopped, either).
Then put the potatoes into a cheesecloth (in the sink) and squeeze as much liquid starch as you can! Then put the squeezed potatoes right into the eggs, and mix around with your hands to absorb the potato mixture.
Repeat this process until all the potatoes are in the egg mixture.
Add the onions and dry mixture to the egg and potato mixture and mix: I use my hands.
Add oil to the fry pan(s), and wait until the oil is hot (but not burning). Add mixture by tablespoons, not too thick. Fry in hot oil. Turn when golden. Keep adding oil to pan before each new batch. The more oil, the better it tastes. The first batch never tastes as good as the rest.
Marilyn Baron is a public relations consultant in Atlanta, a member of Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers, and a charter member of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog www.petitfoursandhottamales.com. She has published four books with The Wild Rose Press: Under the Moon Gate, a romantic thriller/historical set in Bermuda; the prequel, Destiny: A Bermuda Love Story, a historical novella; Significant Others, a humorous women’s fiction set at a retirement condo in Boca; and Sixth Sense, a romantic suspense novel, the first in the Psychic Crystal Mystery Series. The second in the series, Homecoming Homicides, will be out in 2014. You can read more about Marilyn’s books, short stories and a musical, on her Web site at www.marilynbaron.com.