Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

Hanukkah: The Blogumentary

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Dear Ann,
My knitting continues in a scarfcentric drone, meaning I’ve made another one, but even I am sick of blogging about scarves. Aw, I’m lying. In truth, today the light is not good enough to capture the FRESH WONDER of my latest scarf tribute. I will hold back nothing. You shall see my new scarf and rejoice, ‘She scarfs yet!’
Meanwhile, we have been celebrating Hanukkah these past three nights, mostly with our friend Orna and family. We had the first night at Orna’s sister Aliza’s, in a HanukkahSurround environment so rich and dense that it would make my mom (mayor of Lill’s Fabulous ChristmastownTM) salute. Last night, when we arrived at Orna’s and I said, ‘Hi, it’s us again, here for another party,’ she said, ‘It’s the same party. It moves around but it keeps going for 8 days.’ Which is true. Orna takes breaks from having people over so she can make more food for people to come over again, or she goes someplace else to make food there.
What Is Hanukkah: Let’s Google Shall We
From Judaism 101. (The URL– ‘Jew FAQ’–cracks me up.)
From Wikipedia, which we know is never wrong about anything.
From Adam Sandler. If you don’t want to sing it yourself (despite the helpful notation of guitar chords), go ahead and watch it:

My work is done here. Yet I persist. Now come the photos of our Hanukkah Nights 1 and 3. (I’m cutting you a break because I didn’t take any photos on Night 2.)
First Night: World Tour of Menorahs
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Aliza has a lot of menorahs. These are just a few.
I was so relieved to see the Menorah lineup at Aliza’s. Over the years, I have collected quite a few menorahs. I like to light them all up in a blaze of glory. Some of them are person-specific menorahs (Carrie’s, Joseph’s, mine, Hubby’s), and others joined the parade en route (the Wedding Present Menorah, the Portable, the Modular, the This One Is So Cool, the Ugly One That Needs Really Big Candles and Looks Like It Belongs in a Bank Lobby, the One That Looks Like It’s From The 1400s But Actually I Got It At Costco). As a longtime student of Judaism: How It’s Done, I had noticed that some families seemed to be getting by with just one or two menorahs. I started to fret that I was Christmassing up Hanukkah, engaging in what is called (affectionately I hope), goyishe nonsense. But Aliza is the real deal, and I will henceforth refer to her all who mock the Lutheran Girl Who Is Doing Her Best.
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Here we have The Frying. Stage One: The Latkes. Latkes are mysterious. It is hard to get them to stick together. (See above, Lutheran Girl Doing Her Best.) It it is easy to be tempted by Tater Tots, which stick together so wonderfully on their own, seeing as how they’re frozen. Aliza and Orna will have none of this nonsense.
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(From The Sayings of Orna, Book 1.)
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The Frying: Stage Two: Jelly Donuts. It is traditional to allow children to participate in the highly dangerous Frying of the Donuts. Hey–why do you think they are called small fry? If we want to preserve the Way of Frying unto future generations, we must teach the young.
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Did you think I was kidding about Aliza being the Hanukkah Queen? Would you be convinced if I told you that she has special tools to inject jelly into jelly donuts?
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This was the highlight of the evening for the young. Forget the songs. Forget the presents. They were CRAZY to get a turn with the Jelly Injector.
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But don’t forget to light the candles.
Third Night
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Last night was a subdued affair. No Jelly Injecting. A reduction in the menorah count, but higher candle power (you light an additional candle each night). Raucous singing and dedicated eating and drinking. Very dedicated, considering it was a School Night.
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So that was my weekend. That, and the scarf-knitting.
The Return of the Light
Didja see Harlot is at it again, cheerleading the knit-blog world on to ever greater heights of philanthropy? My humble prediction: we are going to knock the chaussettes off Medecins Sans Frontieres. Bill and Melinda: meet Stephanie. Go get ‘em, knitters! Light the lights (on the tote board)!
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Love, Kay
Edited to add: P.S. I do apologize for the tempting photos of fried foods. For those craving a latke, or a potato pancake, you probably cannot beat this recipe from the excellent Joan Nathan.

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37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Happy Hanukkah, Kay. Thank you for sharing your family photos- they are beautiful. I am looking forward to seeing more scarf photos. I’m almost done with my Argosy- its flying off the needles!

  2. My uncle is an engineer and metallurgist and he has an electric menorah. He says he screws in one more light bulb for each night of Haunukah. I don’t know why, but that cracks me the heck up, every time I hear it.
    And, uh, where are the blintzes? And the champagne? Isn’t champagne an important kosher food??!?
    Have a very happy holiday. :)

  3. Happy Hanukkah to you and yours. As a Presbyterian of Irish/English heritage married to a Polish Catholic – I have to say that every food you have mentioned so far I’ve eaten at my MIL’s or learned to make myself for hubby. And some of them we will be having on Christmas Eve – – I never really understood why people think the world is so large and want to fight over differences – I like to look for the things that are alike and it becomes small and cozy instead. :D

  4. Happy Hanukkah!
    Loved the Adam Sandler bit, too funny.

  5. Happy Hanukkah, Kay and fam! Could anyone be as amused with Adam Sandler as he is with himself? He gets away with it though. And we all should heed his advice–don’t smoke marijuannakah.

  6. I may never get the whole ‘iron people’ thing you’ve got going on, but really, I now honest and truly believe my life will not be complete without a jelly injector. It may even make me learn to make doughnuts.

  7. It’s almost 10:15 p.m., and thanks to your yummy little photo I’m craving latkes now. Happy Hanukkah Kay!

  8. Due to my southern roots and Southern Baptist upbringing, I grew up with potato pancakes not latkes but in my adult years, I have learned that they are in fact the same thing. Do you have a good recipe for traditional latkes that you would be willing to share? (Because I know you don’t have enough to do.)

  9. I wish I could read the warning on that kid’s shirt.

  10. Woo hoo! I am also a Lutheran Girl, Doing Her Best. I do have a menorah, but I can’t find it at the moment. I think it’s buried under a pile of yarn.

  11. Happy Hanukka from another person who is also so sick of knitting gift scarves. What beautiful pictures.At my work today, we actually get latkes!

  12. Happy Hanukkah !
    I rather wish we could join you. Warm, well fueled socialisation, with candles and ritual. Fantastic !
    You’d have loved the Christmas concert. In French, no less. O was a tree [?!], bestowing orange and red autumn leaves from his raised chair. He played first bell in the ”Batty Bell Ringers”. Perhaps we need to combine celebrations.

  13. There’s only two of us (one Jew, one Greek who thinks he’s a Jew) and we’ve got like five menorahs. Don’t even start in on the dreidel collection. I have yet to light one this year. Very very sad. Thanks for the recap.

  14. If it makes you feel better, I’m a Southern Episocpalian (Don’t let anyone tell you that Texas is part of the Southwest. My half is as Southern as it gets.) and I have 8 creches, including two that Bean can play with. And I usually get another one each year at the church bookstore, because they are half off on Christmas Eve. My version of potato pancakes is parboiling a small yukon gold, smashing it flat, drizzling it with copious amounts of olive oil, and roasting until crispy. Healthwise, I’m sure it’s just as bad as frying, but it does have the advantage of not getting oil spattered all over my kitchen.

  15. Thanks Kay, I’ve been thinking of getting a new menorah (I have a Catholic husband who does his best), but mine is Mom’s from when we were kids, so I didn’t know if two would be wierd, now I know it isn’t!! I’ve been quite latke deprived this year though, have to work on that quickly. Happy Holidays.

  16. My husband gets frustrated trying to get the latkes to stick together (and I am Presbyterian Girl Trying Her Best). This year he baked them in the oven first, and then fried them. They stuck together and were delicious! (if a little dense).

  17. Actually it’s traditional for each kid (or even family member) to have his or her own menorah (in Israel they call menorahs “hanukkiah”s (rhymes with IKEA), so no worries about being over the top. Looks like it was a great party – chag sameach (that means happy holiday)!
    Also, it’s kind of a Hanukkah tradition in the US to give socks. Basically parents give kids the “good” presents for the first night or two, but by the 6th or 7th night you start giving them things you were going to have to buy them anyway, like new socks and underwear. My kids got their socks last night. :)

  18. We have a large collection of menorah’s, too and when all lit they look rather dangerous! My Smith makes the best latkes. Happy Hanukkah to you and yours!

  19. Oh, The Jews, they are So Smart! I realize this every year when I am going to get one lousy, ridiculous day off for Christmas and y’all are partying every night for a week. A Beatles-style 8-day week.
    Also, I’m finally picking up on something… most of the Jewish foods left Germany with the Jews. Did you know that you couldn’t get a bagel in Berlin again until 2000? And that you still can’t get a decent pickle anywhere in Germany? They eat a lot of fish in the north, but they don’t do smoked lox like New York. However, fried foods are the foods that unite. Potato pancakes? Check. Jelly donuts? Check.

  20. Hey! I met Orna! She has awesome hair and she smells good too. ;) A woman of many talents I see.

  21. Happy Hannukka and Merry Christmas. Its so funny that Orna’s first name is my last name! I’ve heard several people say that Orna is an Isreali name (1st name not surname) and never met anyone with that name. Now I can say that I have. Those donuts look so delicious, I am salivating right now all over my keyboard!

  22. Yum! I want a jelly injector.
    My husband and I got 5 or 5 menorahs when we got married a mere 4 years ago; now we’re up to 8 or 9. We used to light a different one each night, but a lot of them are now hidden away because we’re renovating here and there, so we are using just three this year, plus our toddler’s electric menorah that plays a song.
    The trick to getting your latkes to stick together: add an egg and some matzoh meal.

  23. Those jelly donuts look mighty tasty…
    Happy Hanukkah!

  24. You should try to find the photo book, Jewishness. My daughter found it in Powells (57th St. in Hyde Park, Chicago) – pages and pages of menorahs (and other Jewish artifacts including a holiday card featuring someone’s little white dog dressed in blue/white iconography). Orna might not have the book –
    I also draw your attention to the tiny tea set on the page of the china cabinet with the french dancing ladies which is a cultural tie between the Frankfurt Jewishness and the Illinois Catholicness – common denominator being the Germanishness, I would say. I inherited that little tea set down my father’s side, in the painted bamboo decoration rendition.

  25. Wonderful pictures of Chanukah. By the way, the trick to getting latkes to stick together when frying is to be sure to wring out the water from the potatoes before mixing with eggs. I know this from experience, the first year we had shredded potatoe homefries, not latkes.
    JRtheKnitter

  26. Thanks for all the great photos and Happy Chanukah! When I was in Div school one of my roommates was Jewish and every year she would throw a big Chanukah party- chili, latkes, and very competitive games of dreidel. And every year her latkes would come apart and we would have to go rescue them and every year there would be wisecracks about how the latkes had to be made by the Catholic (me) and Goddess-worshipping (other friends) friends in order to come out right….

  27. From a lapsed Lutheran to a Lutheran turned Jew — I gotta salute you. You go girl — your latkes look good to me.

  28. Happy holidays1 Thanks for sharing all this great stuff! Stuff being the temptation to fry everything in the fridge;) You party animals you!

  29. Our family has FOURTEEN menorahs this year and we light EVERY one of them, every night. On the last night we invite our neighbors and friends to bring theirs along and celebrate what has come to be known as “The Great Hanukkah Conflagration”.
    We haven’t burned the house down . . .yet. But if you see a blaze in the sky just north of San Francisco one Hanukkah night, it’s probably us.
    It wa great to see that we aren’t the only ones. Thanks for your lovely pictures and Happy Hanukkah!

  30. i made jelly donuts for the first time last night – didn’t look half as pretty! (also Trying My Best for a loved one)

  31. After making 10 dozen latkes this week, here’s my method to getting them to stick together: When you squeeze the water out of the potatoes, squeeze it into a separate bowl. Then when you’re done squeezing, pour off the water, but keep the starch that’s settled in the bottom of the bowl. Whisk into the starch 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of matzo meal or flour, 2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. This makes almost a slurry, which you then mix back into the grated potatoes (I use about 10 Yukon Golds, not peeled, and a small onion, grated). Mix it together really well (use your hands), and mix occasionally as you fry them. Have a wonderful Hanukah and a joyous New Year!
    ps I love Joan Nathan too, especially “The Jewish Holiday Kitchen”

  32. Heyyyyyyy, we totally don’t have jelly donuts in our Hanukkah celebration! Not FAIR! Must remedy immediately.
    Mwah, much happiness to you, Kay.

  33. Friends who joined us for first night brought their menorah with them and said, “Doesn’t everybody do that?” I could see where a big party would beget quite a few menor..ot? Menorim? I keep meaning to look that up.
    And it looks like Orna’s is the perfect kitchen for all that frying. That’s quite a hood! I realized the next morning that even my _bra_ smelled of oil. Geh!
    Lovely post. Thanks.

  34. We NEED some more menorahs. I like the stair-steppy one. I want a pottery menorah.
    However, my latkes stick together great. Although for us, it’s just an excuse for three people to eat an entire jar of applesauce in one night. All we had for dinner Saturday was latkes. And applesauce.

  35. Um, hey, I’m doing a Heifer International fundraiser on my blog. Considering Steph’s already raised $60K+ in the last couple days, maybe folks could spread the love around. Just sayin’

  36. When I was in high school, I actually had a summer job injecting jelly into jelly doughnuts! Where was Flavor Express when we needed it?
    I love to peek into what everyone else is doing during the holiday season. Thanks for sharing. Happy Hanukkah, Kay!

  37. Let me say that the best latke recipe is from Cooks Illustrated, um 1997? I have it. The jelly doughnut recipe – Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food. Fantastic book. Yes I have a book by Joan as well. No injecting, just the old fashioned way which means hot jelly! Have to let those babies cool.