Chanukah is the festival of light. Instead on one day of presents, Jews get eight crazy nights.
Tonight is the first night of Chanukah.
I was raised Roman Catholic, so you may be wondering right now what right do I have to post about the eight nights of Chanukah. Well, my husband is Jewish, and the reality of Judaism is that it isn't all that far off of Christianity. After all, the original book is one & the same.
Chanukah is another celebration of overcoming great odds and rising above, of being faced with a problem and miraculously being saved. When oil was scarce and Jews were being persecuted and there was great fear that the fire in the temple would die in only a day, that light stayed lit for over a week. It may have saved the entire race. Therefore, oil plays a big part in Chanukah as a reminder to the oil burning on all those nights. Latkes are traditionally fried throughout the holiday, but my family always has them on the first and last nights.
They're simple, and recipes abound, but the key to good latkes are texture and its hard to get perfect. These, I think, were shredded just a little too finely and had a little too much flour in them. They were dense instead of light. This is one of those items that really requires a test cake.
When I make them, I always use the griddle. If there are only a couple people eating, I keep the back on low to keep them warm there while more cook on the hotter front end. Otherwise, I heat the whole thing and hold them hot on a tray in the oven.
Traditionally, latkes are savory and served with applesauce & sour cream. They can be the whole meal all by themselves. If you want to celebrate Chanukah this year, have a Jewish night (much like you might have Mexican or Chinese night) by taking the theme even farther. Pick up some geld (chocolate coins) and a dreidel so you can play the gambling game, and share the story of Chanukah with your family.