Latkes

Makes about 14 latkes – serves 4 to 6.

– Ingredients –
4 medium potatoes – organic if possible
1 medium onion
2 eggs
2 pieces of matzo (or ½ cup flour)
1 Tsp. salt
¼ Tsp. pepper
Olive oil to coat the pan

– Method –
Wash and peel the potatoes. Grate them on the medium side of the grater (by hand- don’t use a food processor). Put the results into a colander and rinse well to get out the starch. Place colander over a large bowl. Press down on the grated potatoes to remove moisture. Leave the colander sitting over the bowl to drain out more moisture while you do the rest.

Peel off the outer layer of the onion. Slice off the top and bottom. Cut into four wedges and place into a food processor. Mince the onion in the food processor. Set aside in a separate colander over a bowl to drain.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Add the salt and pepper.

Crush the matzo into tiny pieces – flour-like consistency. You can do this in a thick sandwich bag, using a rolling pin.

Gently mix the potatoes, onions, and egg mixture together in a large bowl. Fold in the matzo (or flour) Do not overmix – this will transform the grated potatoes into mashed potatoes, totally altering the texture.

Pour the oil into a pan and heat medium-high. When hot, use a tablespoon to scoop up the mixture. Flatten gently with the back of the spoon. Use two spatulas to turn, cooking the latkes golden brown on each side. You will likely need to add more oil to the pan as you cook the rest of the latkes.

Transfer the latkes to paper towels over newspaper to drain.

Keep them warm while you cook the rest by placing them on a cookie sheet covered with brown kitchen paper – placing them into the oven at 250 degrees.

Serve warm with sour cream or applesauce (traditional)

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Chanukah books for children

These are very good picture books for children that are about Chanukah. I will add to this list as I find more.

Simon and the bear: a Hanukkah story by Eric A Kimmel

The menorah story by Mark H. Podwal

Hanukkah Bear by Eric Kimmel

The Count’s Hanukkah Countdown (from Shalom Sesame) by Tilda Balsley and Ellen Fischer

The Chanukkah gift

Chanukah1 (the lights from the first night of Chanukah)

I learned something on the second night of Chanukah.
I learned to trust that God will provide.

I have a small box of Chanukah candles that I bought last year on clearance. That was the first year that I have lit Chanukah candles. If I did it the normal way, by the time the whole thing is done the entire box would have been used. That is 44 candles. That seemed really wasteful.

What I did instead that first year was to light them and say the prayers, let them burn for maybe ten minutes and then I’d blow them out. I’d use the same candles over and over, so over the course of the holiday this meant that the candles were different heights and looked very odd. There was a definite slope downward to the right where the first night’s candle was, which had been burned the most.

This year I learned that not only are the candles supposed to burn for at least 30 minutes, but the woman of the house is not supposed to work for those 30 minutes. I’m not one for sitting still, so I decided to dedicate that time to making 4 x 6 collages.

I’d started making these this year and posted some here, but got out of the habit of assembling them. I’d taken the time to cut out and sort words and pictures already, so I really have no excuse. The funny thing is that so many of my craft projects are like “There’s a hole in the bucket” song – where in order to do one part, I have to do another part, and I have to do yet another part to get to that part. So sometimes I don’t do anything at all. I’m learning to break up the projects into small bits so that I feel that I’ve gotten something done. Since I already have all the pieces, it is easy to do at least two of these while the candles burn.

This year, while making the collages, I looked at the candles on the second night and saw how lopsided they looked already after letting them burn the longer time the first night. I got up and blew them out.

And then I thought about it. Part of what is celebrated in Chanukah is the miracle that the oil that was supposed to only last for one day lasted for eight. They needed to rededicate the Temple after it had been desecrated, and didn’t want to wait. It took eight days to make more oil, but they knew that it was too important to delay. They lit the light anyway, and God made it last long enough until the new oil was ready.

It is about trusting that God will provide for our needs.

Why was I being so guarded about these candles, only letting them burn for a little bit? I got them on sale, after all. Even before that, they cost $7. I can buy another set next year. They’ll make more.

Things are tight right now, with my husband out of a job, but even before that I’ve lived like a pauper most of my life. I was raised poor. Not having much is my normal. Worrying about future finances was part of my training.

We are comfortable, but not set by any means.

But God is using these candles to teach me something important.

I relit the candles and watched them, delighting in their cheery light.

I don’t think God wants us to be wasteful – certainly not. I think that God wants us to be good stewards of what we are given.

What does Jesus teach us?

Jesus tells us in the story of the loaves and fishes that God can make the little we have much more. We have to give thanks first, and we have to give what little we have away. This isn’t about making more money and hoarding it.

Jesus tells us in the story of the ten talents that we have to use what we are given. God gives us resources (as they said in my previous church – “time, talent, and treasure”) to use them for God’s glory, not our own, and not to hide away.

Jesus tells us to not worry about anything, that God provides for the least of the creatures, so surely God will take care of us.

So this was the gift that God gave to me – to trust, and not be afraid. To not think that I have to do it all. To remember that everything comes from God, and God can do anything.

The miracle(s) of Hanukkah

When the Maccabees went to rededicate the Temple they discovered there was only enough oil for one day. This was a problem, because the Temple menorah had to be lit all the time. Making the oil was very difficult and would take at least a week to prepare more. It has been said that it was a miracle that the one bottle of oil that they found was enough to keep the flame burning until more was made.

I think it is a miracle that they went ahead and lit the lamp anyway.

They knew that they didn’t have enough oil and yet they still did what they had to do. They didn’t wait until they had a backup supply in order to get started. They knew how important it was to have that lamp going to honor God.

How many of us hold back, waiting until we have enough to get started? The Maccabees trusted God. They didn’t expect a miracle to occur. They lit the lamp anyway.

Certainly someone was at the task of making more oil. God kept things going until humans could take over. It isn’t that God made that oil last for years. It lasted just long enough until the new supply was ready. It isn’t as if they stopped making the oil when they noticed that it was still going after a few days. They kept on, fulfilling their part of the task. Each did their part – God with a miracle of making the original oil last, and people with their work of making more oil.

This reminds me of the story of the prodigal son. He started back towards his father, and his father ran the rest of the way to him. This is how God treats us. If we make an effort to go towards God, God will more than make up the difference. But we have to do our part too. We have to get started.

We can’t sit around and wait for God to take care of all of our needs. We have to put in the effort. But we also have to use the gifts that God has given us and not hoard them up. We have to trust God and do our part as well.