Orange Latkes and a Comprehensive Chanukah Guide Part 1

Kind of as a follow up to my last post, I thought it would be appropriate to give my take on Chanukkah (No one can decide how to spell Chanukah, Chanukah, Chanukka, Chanukah, Hanukah, Hannukah. I’ve given up).

To make things easy and somewhat interesting, I’ve written a “comprehensive guide” to this holiday. Here are some FAQs:

When IS Chanukah?! Its tricky, my friends. Christmas is one day, same day every year: December 25. FYI: Most Jews love December 25th. It’s another paid day off work. We go to movies and out for Chinese food, and Israeli dancing. Chanukah is 8 days. It starts the evening of the 24th of Kislev (on our Jewish calendar which is lunar, like aunt flow), whenever that falls. No one is ever sure. Jews never know until a non-Jewish friend asks when Chanukah starts, forcing us to consult a calendar so we don’t look like idiots. We all have the same calendar, provided free with a donation from either the World Jewish Congress, the kosher butcher, or the local Sinai Memorial Chapel (especially in Florida) or other Jewish funeral home.

Why do Jews celebrate it? The truth: Christmas is a major holiday. Chanukah is actually a minor holiday with the same theme as most Jewish holidays. They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat. And just like Christmas has become more and more commercialized, the same holds true for Chanukah, even though its a minor holiday. It makes sense. How could we market a major holiday such as Yom Kippur? Forget about celebrating. Think observing. Come to synagogue, starve yourself for 27 hours, become one with your dehydrated soul, beat your chest, confess your sins, a guaranteed good time for you and your family. Tickets a mere $200 per person. Better stick with Chanukah! Fried carbs and money giving? I’m not passing that up!

Do you get presents? Traditionally, Jews give “gelt” (yiddish for “money”) but thats basically just chocolate gold coins kids “gamble” with when they play driedel (more on that later). But most often than not, we get “practical” gifts like socks, gloves, underwear, or some book we won’t read but that looks impressive on a book shelf.

What do you eat on Chanukah?

Ah yes….I big part any Jewish holiday is eating. Jews like to have “latkes” which although some people think is a type of potato pancake, its really a kind of oil in which a little potato is thrown in. For the sweet toothed Jews, there are “Soufganyot” aka jelly donuts or really, another type of oil in which a teeny bit of dough is added. All these foods is just to be poilte, otherwise, I think we’d be sippin on oil straight up. Canola shots anyone?

Ok, I’ve bored you enough…. stay tuned for part two tomorrow!

Do YOU have an questions about this holiday for me? Or about anything Jewish? Not that I’m an expert, but I’d like to think I am.

And I decided to just make a bunch of latkes out of what was hanging around my kitchen:

2 yams
1 med-large onion
big hunk of ginger (the more the better)
1/2 medium butternut squash (peeled)
2 tbs flaxmeal
1/4 cup corn flour (or any flour, matzo meal works well!)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup canned pumpkin

1) Grate yams, butternut squash, ginger, and onions (by hand or in a cuisinart) and add the flaxseed meal, corn flour, pumpkin, baking powder, and cinnamon

So pretty in orange. I'm think Dora the Explorer eats too much of these sorts of things

2) Mix it all together

WARNING: These mixing tools are NOT dishwash safe!

3) Form patties
4) Fry in lots of oil
5) Drain on paper towels
6) Serve with applesauce, sour cream or my favorite, greek yogurt


30 thoughts on “Orange Latkes and a Comprehensive Chanukah Guide Part 1

  1. i do love latkes…

    but it’s like chinese new year. 😉 it’s celebrated according to the lunar new year, and it lasts for like five days. on those five days you visit family, eat traditional stuff, and the kids make out with a lot of cash. well, only a lot if your family likes to give the big bills. mine doesn’t, but it’s still fun.

    • The real tradition is to give kids money with the intention that the kids will give it charity. I never got money so not only did I not get anything, I never gave money to a charity so I was always perceived as an ass hole.

  2. I’ve never had a latke.. ever!

    I actually really enjoyed reading this post, because if you couldn’t tell from my last comment, I am a total delinquent when it comes to understanding the Jewish tradition.

    Sounds to me like your gifts are what Christians perceive to be ‘stocking stuffers’. In my family, all the practical things like socks, underwear and toothpaste go in the stockings on Christmas Eve (you know, thanks to Santa), and the bigger more extravagant gifts are given under the tree.

  3. I love me some latkes. Have never sampled orange ones, Eden, but there’s a first time for everything. 😉 I love them with a nice, home-made (but not overly sweetened) applesauce. Happy Chanukah, all!!

  4. My very non Jewish dad makes latkes all the time and I will be passing on your orange latke recipe to him. My best friend growing up was Jewish and I remember the first time I watched his dad make jelly doughnuts. It was magical.

  5. oooo….yum….I’m not Jewish, but those Latkas look amazing! Plus I love learning about different religions and cultureS! It is not boring, Eden!

  6. It’s fun finding fellow Jews in the blog world! Someone at work said to me yesterday, “I forgot to tell you this morning: Happy Hanukah!” And I was all, “Oh, um, thanks. Chanukah starts tonight, though.” And I knew that because, like you said, someone mentioned Chanukah a week or two ago and I had to look at the calendar to find out that it starts so damn early this year.

  7. I almost made latkes with my sweet potato yesterday. Maybe next week? They sound so delicious, but I have only had them at Bowdoin. They would make all sorts of foods to cater for all religions and holidays. If I remember right, they were pretty delicious. I always thought hannukah was a major holiday, too, just because Christmas is so huge.

  8. I’ve never had latkes before. It’s funny that I read about the Jews so much in the bible yet you’re my first Jewish friend, and I don’t know shit about Chanukkah. Or Hanukkah. Gah, so many ways to spell it!

    Why DON’T the Jews “celebrate” Christmas? I mean, even the Buddhists in Asia celebrate Christmas. The Taoists do, too. Uh, not sure the Muslims do. But I was wondering why it’s so taboo….and why ppl whisper about Christmas to each other when a Jew is around. Or at least, that’s what I read…somewhere.

    I’m such an ignorant fool.

    • Lurker and fellow Jew jumping in here. (Love your posts about this “most wonderful time of the year” so far, Eden–all so, so true!)

      As for your question, Sophie, in my experience, there are definitely some secular Jewish families who do celebrate Christmas–particularly if young kids are involved or if they live in a place with a very tiny Jewish population. However, my take on the reason that most Jews don’t just cave in and celebrate Christmas is because Christmas celebrates the very fork in the road that separates Judaism from Christianity–Christ’s birth… If Christmas was maybe a slightly less specific Christian celebration, then I’m sure it would feel much more comfortable to join in. Just my best guess. What do you think, Eden?

  9. As a fellow Jew I find your explanation of Hanukkah very funny. It’s a perfect description really…I feel like people only make a big deal about Hanukkah (I choose to spell it that way, because the “ch” sound seems to be WAY too confusing for non Jews) because it falls around the same time as Christmas, which automatically makes it the Jewish Christmas. But really, like you said, it is not a major holiday for us.
    I would ask you questions about Hanukkah- you probably know a lot more than me- but I guess that is kind of embarrassing since I call myself a Jew. Really, I just like to hear your humorous take on this stuff.

    • Well, there are many schools of thought that think the menstrual cycle is ruled by the moon or “lunar calendar”. Of course if your hormones are messed up like mine, all bets are off!

  10. Thanks for the info Eden!

    Would you believe I’ve never had a latke? I feel pretty ashamed given my love for potatoes but there you have it.

    This may be a dumb question, but what does the lighting of the candles signify?

  11. i love latkes. also, even though i am christian, the festival of lights is an incredible holiday and event. i miss my jewish freinds from college and how food was a focus in their celebration.
    one question though. i was wondering if rashi’s work in the talmud mentions chanukah? my talmudic scholar friends loved to argue his postition on the festival and i never really understood why it was so important to them.

  12. I truly enjoyed this post! I actually have many Jewish friends, and even dated a guy who was Jewish all throughout high school. I definitely went to some Christmas Day chinese dinners back in the day 🙂

    Thanks for the latke recipe. I’ve eaten them, but never made them, and I really want to one of these days.

    How is your dad, by the way??

  13. Happy Hanukkah! (and that’s my preferred spelling since it’s the first one I knew and I see no sense in knowing 14 different spellings since it’s not legal in Scrabble). 🙂

    Speaking of which, there’s even a Festivus Scrabble tournament in Wilmington, Delaware from Dec 24 to the 26th. The Krafchicks, Borensteins, and Ginzbergs are all in attendance. I got invited as an honorary Jew, haha. Still haven’t tried any of the food though.

  14. Babe, i’m so glad to hear your dad is doing better! Made my day.

    these latkes sound absolutely fantastic. I love how non-traditional and yet full of holiday spirit they are.

  15. Pingback: Homemade (5 min!) Cranapple Sauce and A Guide to Hanukkah Part 2 | Eden's Eats

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