Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Hanukkah

This is the second night of Hanukkah. The menorah shown here was given to me by my mother-in-law. There is always an extra candle for the menorah, which is the shamash. The shamash is lit first and is used to light the other candles. It does not figure in the number of candles lit each night. The candles are placed in the menorah from right to left according to which night of Hanukkah it is (first night, one candle; second night, two candles, etc.) and lit from left to right. Hanukkah candles come in various colors. An extra blessing is said over the candles on the first night only.
The prayers are said as the candles are lit:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav, vitzivanu lehadlik ner shel Chanukah.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, she’asa nisim la’avoteinu bayamim haheim baz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.

This prayer is said on the first night only:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu, melech haolam, shehechiyanu vekiyamanu vehigianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

Traditional foods for Hanukkah involve cooking in oil. A favorite of ours is potato latkes. They're very fattening, but quick and easy to make. The traditional way involves grating with a food grater. I myself prefer the quicker, more modern food processor. I would never make them if I had to stand and grate by hand. They taste the same to me. Here's the way I make them:
Peel and wash several baking potatoes and a large onion.
Cut into manageable pieces and place through the grater on the food processor.
Dump all into a colander to let drain a few minutes.
While this is draining, place about a quarter to a half inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet and begin heating on medium to medium high. Transfer the onion/potato mixture into a large bowl. Add pepper generously.
Add enough plain flour to be able to form patties. I do this by feel, so it's hard to give you an exact amount, but I think it's probably about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
Mix well, then dip out a large serving spoon size into the hot oil.
Keep a watch because this cooks pretty quickly.
Watch the edges. When they begin to brown in the middle of the pan, turn around so the other edge is browned.
Flip (carefully, remember this is hot oil) when the bottom is sufficiently browned.
Keep turning so the latkes are browned evenly.
Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a plate with paper towels to drain.
Serve with either sour cream or applesauce, or both.

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