Do any of you know the Hanukkah story? Did you know there IS a Hanukkah story? It's one of my favorites...
In the tradition of Cliff's Notes and Reader's Digest, here's the short version:
Way back when, there was a group of soldiers in Israel called the Maccabees. When the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the Maccabees went back to the site to rededicate the altar with the eternal light (an oil lamp that continuously burns) and could only find enough oil to light the lamp for one day. But, miracle of miracles (cue earworm...now) the small amount of oil lasted for 8 nights, more than enough time for a soldier to go to the next town to get more oil. So, Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 nights to celebrate the miracle of that little lamp not going out.
Since the tradition of Hanukkah revolves around oil, many traditional foods for Hanukkah are fried in oil, my favorite being potato latkes. When my mom asked me to come over to help her cook for our annual family Hanukkah party on Saturday, I of course obliged!
I walked into my mom's house at about 10 a.m. on Saturday morning to find her already hard at work, and these already finished:
Nothing like a sweet teriyaki chicken wing with my coffee! Soon, we got to work making cookie meatballs (a family Hanukkah tradition) and set them on the stove to simmer, and then out came the shredded potatoes. This is 8 pounds of cleaned potatoes, shredded in the Cuisinart, and then salted and drained:
Then, we mixed a dozen eggs (I think) and some flour into these shredded potatoes, and about 8-10 grated onions, and heated 2 pans of corn oil on the stove. Now, let me rewind...
My mom is the latke queen. Seriously. I've never met anyone else who could successfully make latkes year after year in dozens of different scenarios! In my lame little kitchen with a crappy frying pan? No problem. At high altitude in Boulder, Colorado? Sure! In Los Angeles, for my cousin's engagement party, and oh by the way, make them miniature and vegan? Absolutely! She's made potato latkes, zucchini latkes, matzah latkes at Passover... yeah, she's the latke queen. I think she needs a crown!
I tend to rush my latkes when I've made them, and this day of frying with my mom taught me one very important lesson: WAIT! The crispy shreds around the edges are the best part, and we can only get those with cooking them a bit longer than I ever want to.
Our first batch:
These promptly got eaten with some sour cream, and we realized that the mixture needed more salt, and there was a hot spot in one of the pans. We continued to fry and fry, and I finally got one pan done myself that didn't look any different than my mom's!
Next thing we knew, those two huge bowls were empty and we had an entire counter full of latkes:
Since they were cooked the day before, we laid them out to cool like this, then they were stacked and wrapped and quickly frozen, and then warmed in the oven before serving yesterday.
My mom and stepdad's dog was appropriately dressed for the holiday when we arrived yesterday:
The menu was extremely impressive and delicious and included:
And my plate:
- teriyaki chicken wings
- cookie meatballs
- hot dogs
- baked beans
- broccoli and mozzarella salad
- applesauce and sour cream for dipping the latkes
- Tarte tatin for dessert (I'll try to get my sister to part with the recipe)
- Chocolate chip cookie dough truffles (which I made WAY too big
In all, it was a stellar evening in which we exchanged gifts, ate well, and truly enjoyed each other's company. This was the first post-wedding get together of all the new family on both Adam's and my side, and I think we all truly had a great time! And just another glimpse into how quirky we all are: my sister and her boyfriend bought Adam and I the Bacon of the Month Club!
ALSO! I know many of you have asked, so I thought I'd share: our wedding photos are online! Go to www.photosbydale.net and click on Mara & Adam Wedding. The password is rosenbloom and there are 1190 pictures!
Back to normal cooking posts tomorrow, and don't forget to enter the amazing cookbook giveaway!