Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hanukah Cookout Part I

Every year as we approach Hanukkah I plan to fry up fabulous batches of latkes and doughnuts. Using the holidays as an opportunity to display to my children the mixed delights of Hanukah and cooking.
But then some how my plans go awry. 
The first two candles of Hanukah the children are still at school and their evening time is taken up with parties and rehearsals and visits to friends. And even once they are holidays from school after school activities plough on regardless so that is two evenings wiped out and Saturday evening is spent with the in-laws.
Then the Hanukah holiday frequently falls near the end of December when my husband is busy with preparations for stocking in addition to the usual end of the month rush and I have 'end of month', 'end of quarter', 'end of year' and 'plain badly scheduled' financial reports to churn out. 
My children are quite happy to sit at home vegging in front of the TV or trying out the news games they have received as Hanukah 'gelt' and my parents normally dream up some trip to take them on so I don't suffer too much parent guilt for letting my children turn into couch potatoes. But that doesn't leave much time for a family frying adventure.

Considering that, in contrast to previous years, I now work outside the house 2 mornings and 2 evenings a week a Hanukah frying fest this year did not seem likely but then, as my mother will tell you, I always like to be contrary.
First of all I now possess a deep fat fryer which is great as I have a phobia of deep frying.
Second I shelved the idea of cooking with the children. My kitchen is small, my children are restless and we are dealing with hot oil.....
Thirdly I just seem to be in the mood - the weather is cold and I actually got to wear my hat and scarf a couple of times, even gloves.

So we come to Monday evening - second candle of Hanukah. My children, as part of the local orchestra, had been asked to perform at a Hanukah 'do' for the local council. (I will not dwell of the irony of wind instruments and a gathering of local government!)
Well the local council did their usual inconsiderate best keeping the children waiting for over an hour while each council member in turn pontificated on the wonders performed by himself and his fellow council members. 
Blah, blah, blah 'Aren't we doing fantastic things for Shlomi!', blah, blah, blah, 'Forget about the corruption and nepotism!', blah, blah, blah, 'Vote for me!'
The conductor was furious (Go Reuven!) and threatened to send the children home without performing. Most of us parents sat outside making snide comments about the council gas-bags and reviewing the various types doughnuts and sfinge offered as festive refreshment.

Sfinge, being a traditional Moroccan recipe, has an oral traditional - perfect conversation fodder for a group of restless residents, in a town started by Moroccan immigrants, with no way to pass the time except chat ie I was told the recipe by one of the women I work with as we were waiting.
A transcript of our discussion 
Her: You take 1-11/2 kilos flour, a packet of shimrit and a hand full of sugar (holds out a cupped hand to give me an idea of the quantity). Mix. Add at least a teaspoon of salt, be generous with the salt it adds flavour. Add water. Mix until smooth.
Me: How much water? 
Her : I don't know. Enough. You need quite a soft dough. Let it rise for at least an hour. Also if you add some alcohol it makes them better!!! 

Invigorated with enthusiasm for Hanukah baking I decided to make .....
(Look to the top of this post. It says something about me being contrary:0)
Actually I was going to make both doughnuts and latkes but I remembered to buy potatoes and forgot the yeast!
Latkes frequently suffer from my lack of patience as I grab them from the pan when the potoatoes are still cruncy and almost totally uncooked.
So I watched a couple of videos on making latkes to relax. 
I grated my potatoes and onions, mixed in the flour and egg and then set my timer set at 3 minute intervals while I glanced at the TV through the kitchen doorway treating the latkes sizzling in the pan with a certain nonchalant disregard instead of my usual method of staring at them intently, hoping by force of will to make them to cook at Mach 3.
They were really tasty and after munching through a kilo of latkes my family decided they didn't need any supper. 
Latkes for the win!
Unfortunately I was being so nonchalant I forgot to take a photo!


Wiggley said...

Yum... potato pancake! Is that what you guys eat all the time? Sounds better than hay.

Brittany Newberry said...