Blog Hop - Hanukkah traditions
Sunday, December 11, 2016
One thing that all holidays have in common is family traditions that we associate with the holidays. It just doesn't seem like the holiday is here until that special "something" is done or the invite is out in the email box.
Our family traditions with Hanukkah are like many others, revolving around family and food. The "backstory" of Hanukkah revolves around oil, so the key oil component is to light the menorah - as the original one used oil. "Modern menorahs" use candles, but I have an oil menorah that I bought in Israel. Many family's have multiple menorahs - one for each family member, so the house can be really lit up. The second part of the "oil tradition" revolves around food. The tradition is do make foods that are fried in oil, going back and forth between sweet and savory. For me, it started with Grandma's potato latkes. I remember helping with the grating process and then she took over at the stove, pan frying them in vegetable oil. I then took over at the table, sprinkling the sugar to make the holiday sweet. Other families used jams or applesauce, for us it was simple sugar (as I remember it, way too much).
Some families made jelly doughnuts, but my Mom drew the line at the latkes. Every year we have them, now created by my DBIL, and he does some variations - using sweet potatoes and sometime making what we call a "latke pizza" where instead of small ones you use a big frying pan and making a large latke and then slicing like a NY pizza. It's a great way to combine the tradition with more convenience - if you can do the flip!
The savory aspect is to add minced onions or shallots to the grated potato before frying. It can make a great "side" for a regular dinner - which is the way you get them at Ben's a local deli in NY and Florida - Not bad, but a bit heavy in my opinion.
As the baker in the family, I tend to focus on the desserts for the big family party. Some years I make "brownie bags" for everyone to take home. My niece is my "baking apprentice" and we collaborate on cool stuff to bake. We've done "embellished pretzel rods" - coated with chocolate ganache and dipped in nuts, or sprinkles. We also do "Chagall stained glass cookies" which are Star of David and Dreidel sugar cookies topped with royal icing. While the icing is still "wet" we drop some food coloring and smear the icing for a stained glass effect. Multiple colors make them gorgeous. I even do a Star of David cake which is starts our round and then I cut the cake into a star shape and then frost white and blue.
Maybe this year I'll "rebel" and do some doughnuts - I've never tried to do doughnuts, but I'm sure that they would be better than Dunkin's!
Off to the treadmill now, so as always, remember that quitting is not an option, so what's your next move?