Friday, December 07, 2012

Chanukah is Early This Year - Vintage Photo Friday

Chanukah starts on Saturday night at sundown.  It's early this year!  Didn't we just finish with Thanksgiving?  Oy!  More cooking, more family, more parties!
When I was a kid, we usually celebrated Chanukah at Grandma and Grandpa Bloom's house in Hollywood.  Grandma Ethel used to write all of her grandchildren's names in some sort of white paint on the mirror over the decorated sideboard in the dining room.  We would light candles, play games and eat Grandma's delicious fried latkes (potato pancakes)., along with brisket, chicken and more.  Grandma Ethel passed away when I was around 8.  After that, we'd have our family Chanukah party at Uncle Hi's and Aunt Betty's house.  Aunt Betty's latke recipe was probably the same as Grandma's, but Aunt Betty deep-fried her latkes instead of just pan-frying them.  Yummmers!  We used to call them "Kentucky Fried Latkes."
 old-fashioned meat grinder

Once in awhile, my Mom made latkes at home too.  I remember my Dad getting out this antique meat grinder that he would clamp to the carving board.  After Mom pressure-cooked the potatoes, Dad would peel them and run them through the grinder.  This was a messy process.  There was always lots of starchy liquid that had to be drained from the grated potatoes.  Often, the grated potatoes would turn a purple color unless Mom and Dad remembered to sprinkle them with lemon juice.  
the perfect pan for frying latkes

Here is Mom's basic Latke Recipe:
1 pound potatoes, peeled and grated *
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons matzoh meal**
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Oil for frying

Mix everything together and then drop mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  Pat down into cake.  Fry on both sides until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels before serving with applesauce and sour cream.

I make the same basic latke recipe as Mom.  HOWEVER, over the years in the need to simplify this process, I've opted for *frozen hash-browns (defrosted) instead of boiling, peeling, grinding and draining.  This cuts out about one hour of preparation.  Also, those lovely defrosted hash browns never turn purple! 
My good friend, Rhoda makes her latkes more multi-cultural.  Instead of matzoh meal or flour, she adds Aunt Jemima's powdered **pancake mix to the potato mixture.  You should see those puppies rise while frying!  Brilliant.
Chanukah - 1958.  Grandma Ethel and her Grandchildren

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