What is Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah)?
Sometimes called “The Festival of Lights,” a Jewish army called the Maccabees fought back after an occupation that killed many and abolished Judaism. They were a small army that was unlikely to win. They beat the odds and took back their temple. Chanukah literally means “dedicate” and it was a time for the Jews to rededicate themselves to the temple and their religion. Normally there would be candles always lit, but there was only enough oil to last for one day, but it was considered a miracle that the oil lasted 8 days, enough to get more oil.
Traditionally, Jewish holidays are often represented by the food. Oil was so important for Hanukkah so the major foods for the celebration are supposed to be oily. My husband (not Jewish) jokes that he married me for the latkes (deep fried potato pancakes). He loves anything potato so he looks forward to latkes all year long!
It’s a process for sure. It begins with the peeling of potatoes, and then you have to grate them. In sections, put them in a cheese cloth and squeeze with all your might. It’s tiring work but oh so worth it!
Mix in the Matzah Meal (basically bread crumbs), salt, eggs and onions and then shape into patties. Everyone’s recipe is different. My dad couldn’t find my bubbe’s(Yiddish for grandmother) recipe so we used a traditional one from my mom’s old cookbook, “The Best of Jewish Cooking.” We have tried different recipes each year so this year we stuck to the cookbook and doubled the recipe. We’re hoping to stick to one and just revise as needed. 🤞🏻
Now despite what my husband says, they are not hash browns and should not be eaten with ketchup! Traditionally they are eaten with applesauce or sour cream.
Deeelicious! We heartily enjoyed them even though we would make them thinner next year. Afterwards we lit the Menorah and exchanged presents!