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The Tasty Holiday, Three Ways

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Its that time of year again! In just a week, the holidays will be here (but let’s be honest, we all started celebrating a month ago) so spread some cheer with this article featuring recipes, reviews from my family members, and a quick history lesson about Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa.


 

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration, beginning on December 6th and ending on December 14th this year, that commemorates the purification and re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah starts on the 25th day of Kislev and ends on the 2nd or 3rd day of Tevet. The holiday is meant to remind Jews to stand up against forces that would like to destroy Judaism and for Jews to keep their culture and religion alive.

In celebration of this holiday, Jewish people make traditional foods such as dough balls, marshmallow dreidels, Sufganiyot, and many more delicious foods.

In my personal celebration of the holidays, I made a Jewish staple: potato latkes.

 

Cheddar Potato Latkes

2lbs Idaho or Russet potato, peeled and grated

1 cup finely chopped white onion

1 ½ cups mild cheddar

¼ cup all-purpose flour or matzoh meal

2 large eggs, beaten

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons salt

½ – 1 teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup  vegetable oil for frying

latkes ingredients

Directions:

  1. Put grated potatoes and onions in the center of a large kitchen towel. Gather sides together and ring out/ squeeze the mixture as tightly as you can (I had to have my mom’s help) over a bowl or the kitchen sink. Get out all the juice you can, this will make your latkes delicious and crispy.
  2. Transfer the potato mixture to a large bowl and stir in cheese, flour, salt, pepper, and beaten eggs. Stir with rubber spatula or spoon to combine.
  3. Heat oil (about ¼ cup or as much as you think you will need to cover the latkes in your pan) over medium heat in a saute pan or cast-iron skillet.
  4. When the oil crackles when a drop of water is put into it, it’s ready for frying. (Make sure if you aren’t experienced with frying that you have an adult, or someone who is experienced, with you)
  5. Use as much as, but no more than ¼ cups latke mixture when frying, flatten with a spatula after you put it into the pan. Cook 2 ½ min – 3 ½ min before carefully flipping and cooking the other side until golden brown.
  6. Place finished latkes onto a plate lined with paper towels for draining.
  7. Repeat and add about 1tbsp oil after each batch.

latkes finished

Happy frying!


Christmas is a Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus which has evolved into a worldwide holiday, celebrated even by secular and agnostic people. Festivities usually include Christmas dinner, waiting for Santa Claus (a mythical being who brings presents to good children), the exchanging of gifts, and visiting family members. Foods eaten on this day can include, but aren’t limited to turkey, fruit cake, candy canes, ham, eggnog, and Christmas pudding.

For this recipe I chose a yummy, spicy gingerbread. Don’t worry! I know some of the ingredients sound weird and expensive, but everything here can be found in the baking and spices aisle at WalMart.

 

Soft and Chewy Holiday Gingerbread

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

¼ cup vegetable oil

⅓ cup unsulfured molasses

1 extra-large egg (or 2 regular-ish sized)

Granulated sugar for rolling

gingerbread ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt (yes sift, a really closely woven metal strainer works great). Then combine them together with a whisk or a rubber spatula.
  3. In another bowl, use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Check every minute or so to ensure that the mixture isn’t just climbing up the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the egg. Beat for 1 minute.
  5. With the mixer on low slowly add the dry ingredients (I recommend about ½ cup at a time) and then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  6. Use hands or a spoon to scoop dough, roll each cookie into 1 ½ inch ball, and the roll dough ball in the granulated sugar (in a bowl or plate). Place cookies on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 13 minutes.

gingerbread finished


 

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Dr. Karenga created the holiday after the Watts riots erupted in Los Angeles. Kwanzaa was created to bring African Americans together as a community. Seven nights, December 26th through January 1st, of celebration represent the seven principles called Nguzo Saba. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols that show us the values and concepts of African culture, translated in English: the crops, the place mat, an ear of corn, seven candles, the candleholder, the unity cup, and gifts.

Finally, I chose a sweet potato biscuit recipe.

 

Sweet Potato Kwanzaa Biscuits

2 medium cooked and smushed sweet potato

¼ cup sugar

1 beaten egg

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 cup milk

1 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup shortening

sweet potato ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Add sugar, egg, and melted butter with sweet potato in a bowl. Stir/beat with a fork until smooth. Add milk and stir.
  3. Put the potato mixture aside. Mix flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in shortening with a knife or pastry knife until mixture is crumb-y.
  4. Add the potato mixture to the flour mixture until combined
  5. Gently squeeze and knead the dough on a smooth surface about 12 times.
  6. Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch. Cut with a knife or cookie cutter (I didn’t cut mine).
  7. Place the biscuits about 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

sweet potato finished

 

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The Tasty Holiday, Three Ways