Monday, December 16, 2013

It's time for Hanukkah and latkes!

Since I was raised in a Jewish home, I grew up not with Christmas, but with Hanukkah.   It was a cherished time of family. As children, my sister and I lit the menorah candles, said the prayer in Hebrew, and received a gift from our parents for eight consecutive nights!   My parents always invited grandparents to come celebrate with us at least one night and we'd have a big dinner. When I married Rich and we started having kids, we continued to share the tradition with my family.  Therefore, our kids grew up with all the traditions as well and love Hanukkah.  Nowadays, I host and my sister and her family come, as well as a cousin of my mom's.

Now, the crown jewel of our Hanukkah meal is the latkes.  Latkes are basically potato pancakes which are deep fried.  Though they are made with shredded potatoes, they actually bear little resemblance to breakfast hashed browns.  They are more like the texture of (flat) dumplings, as they are made with flour, eggs, and grated onion as well.  Making them is a laborious process so we don't have them but once a year.  They are absolutely delicious! Everyone in our family loves them. My favorite way to eat them is with sour cream and a little sugar sprinkled on.  Applesauce is also a traditional topping.  However...some people in our family (who shall remain nameless) put KETCHUP on theirs, which is such a gentile thing to do (and so very WRONG). I do not allow the ketchup to be on the table, so the bottle is usually smuggled in by a certain person and clandestinely shared with others also in the wrong.  :-)

We have always had a tradition that everyone gathered must "rub" some of the potatoes.  We do them by hand and the method is more of ricing than grating, as we rub the potatoes over an old rectangular cooling rack!  Kind of funny, but the small grid of the cooling rack gives the mixture the best texture. One by one, each person goes to the kitchen to rub, and then my dad mixes in the rest of the ingredients to just the right consistency.   He then frys them in oil over the stove, which takes over an hour.

This year, Dad handed the tradition over to his oldest grandson, Drew.  Dad taught Drew how to make the batter just right, and then Drew fried all the latkes on his own.  I must say he did a great job!  I was so proud of him, and my dad was literally beaming that his grandson was now fit to carry on our family tradition.  Drew was very enthusiastic and loved the experience, too!  He even had Hanukkah music playing in the kitchen and was quite into it.  He is the best.  :-)

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Drew showed up sporting his yarmulke (that he got from his semester in Israel).

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My nephew Luke doing his "rub."

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Other nephew Vance got a little tired of rubbing (and poor Stephanie looks a little freaky here).

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A much more flattering pic of my lovely daughter-in-love, as she puts in her time.

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Steadman doing his part. :-)

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Dad and his girls.
One thing I realized recently is that my dad and I have EXACTLY the same teeth.   That probably isn't interesting to anyone but me, but I thought I'd throw it in anyways (you must admit that you went back and looked -- didn't you?) :-)

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The soon-to-be-married couple!

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Proud Grandpa moment!

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Drew hard at work frying the latkes to perfection!


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2 comments:

Carol Blanchet said...

I want to join the fun!
I might be a heathen, though, and sneak the contraband too.;-)

Sarah "Angel" Faoiltiama said...

I want to join in on the fun! ;)
But syrup is what I put on my latkes whenever I make them. I have an amazing recipee for them and make them every now and then because - yes it's takes all day.