Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Chanukah Oh Chanukah: Edible Menorah

It was another successful Chanukah here in Thathouse.  We watched Chanukah movies, read Chanukah books, and sang Chanukah songs.

Every night we would light the menorah. The boys took turns with this part of the tradition.

We wore our Chanukah pajamas.

We made latkes.

And I tried out a Chanukah challah.

Even Thatdog got in on the action.

On the last night of Chanukah we headed to the Hotel Del Coronado for a "Chanukah on Ice."  

The Hotel Del calls their ice skating "Skating by the Sea" because it's right on the sand of the beach.  We make it a point to go every year, and going to celebrate Chanukah was the best way to experience it.  It was especially meaningful to me because I grew up without a lot of Jewish kids around, and my children are in a similar situation in their schools.  So to have them surrounded by other Jewish kids who celebrate the same things they do was something I wanted so badly when I was young, and something I wanted them to experience.

There was even a sand-menorah!

The Minions made a special guest appearance.

Once we got on the ice, Thatkid took off.  

On the other side of the spectrum was Thatbaby.  This was his very first time on ice!

I told Thatboy that Thatbaby has taken to ice the way Thatkid took to water - not very good, but very overconfident.  And he loved every minute.  He had already been asking to start ice skating lessons, so I promised him that after soccer was over, we would sign him up.

We did a quick run into the Hotel Del to see the Christmas tree and their menorah display.

The menorah is the key symbol of Chanukah and they come in all shapes and sizes.  Just scrolling through the pictures here you can find 5 very different menorahs! In our house, we also have wooden toy menorahs, and felt menorahs, and wooden placard menorahs.  We have a menorah surplus.  I thought I would add one more menorah to our collection, with a little help from my kids.  This menorah is fun for them to make AND eat!  

Edible Menorah
4 oz white chocolate
9 pretzel sticks
yellow sanding sugar
1 banana
  1.  Melt the white chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.
  2.  Roll the pretzel sticks in the white chocolate to coat completely.
  3.  Dip one end of the coated pretzel stick in the sanding sugar and place in the banana.
  4. When placing the pretzel sticks, press 8 of them down as far as you can into the banana, and just place the last stick in so that it remains taller than the others, to represent the shamash.  I placed mine in the middle, but placing it on either end works also!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Desert Lights: Japanese Curry Chili

Thatboy has been complaining for months that we never get out to Palm Springs anymore.  We used to go several times a year but it has been a while.  So for his birthday, I booked us a weekend in Rancho Mirage - right between Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

We've been having a fair amount of rain lately, but the skies were clear last weekend.  And that rain, meant the mountaintops were dusted with snow.

Our hotel had its own fun surprises.  The boys took advantage of the hotel pool and water slide.  There were also tortoises and giant...desert hares?  Big big rabbits.

We didn't have any big plans for the weekend, we really just spent the time walking around and hanging out.

I love traveling during the holidays and seeing towns all "dressed up."   There were even photo ops on the street.

We missed our town's annual tree lighting, but we were in town for the Palm Springs Festival of Light parade.  We got to the parade route early enough to stake a claim on some prime curb real estate, and ate our dinner al fresco.

Once the sun set, the parade began.

Garfield was the Grand Marshall for the parade, and Thatbaby got a big kick out of waving and screaming to him.

The parade is a Festival of Light parade, so there are lights.  Lots of lights.  Even the marching bands had lights on their instruments.

And the dancers had lights on their clothes.

But the main draw were the floats and vehicles that were just covered in lights.

Like all the best parades, there were also giant balloons.

And fire engines, both old and new.

Along with other interesting vehicles wrapped in lights.

The parade ended with a visit from the big guy himself - Santa!

The kids had a great vacation.  Thatkid even asked if he could get something to remember it by.  Which is about the cutest way to ask for things there is.  And he was really serious.  We ended up in a spice store where he picked out special sugar for making cookies, and a new spice mix for his "house famous" taquitos that end up on our menu week after week.

Kid takes after me.  I also get a little giddy over spices.  Like when Raw Spice Bar sent me these two spices to try out.

I'm already quite familiar with Garam Masala, and I used it to create an Indian cashew chicken.

But the Japanese curry powder was new to me.  And intriguing.  The only recipes I could find which used it were all Japanese curry - a sweet stew style dish served over rice.  The sweet, stew-y nature seemed like it would lend itself pretty readily to a chili.  A warm, thick, fall chili with sweet apples, sirloin, and potatoes.  The addition of tomatoes and kidney bean is not the traditional way of serving Japanese curry, but made for a really nice hybrid.

Japanese Curry Chili
 1/2 lb sirloin, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 large yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp Japanese curry powder
1 qt beef stock
28 oz canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 can kidney beans
1/4 cup grated apples
1 Tbsp honey
  1.  Brown the sirloin in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Remove meat and set aside.
  2.  Place onions in the now empty dutch oven and sweat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the potato and carrot.  Cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  5. Add the stock and bring to a simmer for an hour.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes and beef and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  7. Add in the beans, apples, and honey and cook for another 30 minutes before serving.