Friday, December 21, 2007

It's hard to be a Jew at Christmas

Chanukkah came and went so fast this year, if you blinked, you missed it. I always have mixed feelings about the holiday. Growing up I was the only Jewish kid in my school (well, except for Alex, but given that he's the younger sibling no one expected him to know much of anything.) This meant that every year in December it was my job to inform the entire school what Channukah was and how it was celebrated. There's nothing more fabulous for a self-conscious tween than having her get up in front of her peers and explain why and how she's different from all of them.

As I've gotten older, my role as "Jewish educator" hasn't changed. It seems no matter where I go am always the only Jewish person. In college my roommates delighted in learning the Channukah blessing and singing it each night (A even called me once when we were no longer living together so she could sing with me once again).

I was also the one in charge of teaching my in-laws. This is a feat in itself because they regard ritual objects as decorations. When I arrived at their house yesterday afternoon I noticed they were using the menorah as a centerpiece.....

My favorite part of Channukah is my dad's latkes. Unlike other family traditions, the latkes have evolved over time, getting better and better. The first big change came when my dad used powdered sugar instead of flour by accident. No matter how much he added, the potatoes just wouldn't stick together. However, they tasted excellent. Now his latkes use both - but of course I can't tell you the quantities - that's a family secret. The came the day when he used sweet potatoes instead of baking potatoes - I think those are my favorite!

This year dad made his famous latkes, just as good as always. However, now that I'm an old married lady, I need to make my own latkes for my family. Since dad makes the good ones, I had no need to try to recreate his recipe and disappoint myself. Instead I just used a quick, shortened version. Of course, I love dad's better - all crispy with potato poking out everywhere. Jon however prefers these which are more pancake like.

2 1/2 cups grated potato
1/4 cup grated onion
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp AP flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1) Squeeze as much moisture out of grated potatoes as possible. In medium bowl, combine potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt.
2) Heat oil on griddle over medium high heat. Drop potato mixture onto hot griddle by spoonful and spread into 3" pancakes. Cook until browned on bottom (reduce heat if necessary).
3) With a spatula, turn pancakes and cook until crisp, about 2 minutes.


  1. It amazes me that you were always the only Jew. I guess I've been fortunate to be surrounded by your peeps! :)

  2. MMMMMMMMMM....I love Latkes :)

    Hang in there Kate, soon enough you will be on your fun part of the vacation with your hubby and Ringo :)