* I tried to use as many Yiddish words as possible because Yiddish is awesome. I highlighted them in blue.
I am a Shikse (pronounced shick-sa). If you don’t know what that is, then you are one also. A Shikse is a non-Jewish woman. My husband is Jewish and that makes my four children half-Jewish. So what is a Shikse supposed to do to bring a little Jewish heritage into her children’s lives?
Every year, I throw a Hanukkah celebration for our family. And even though I am a Shikse, I believe my Hanukkah dinner can rival the most seasoned Jewish Bubbe (grandmother).
Hanukkah is a time when we enjoy the best selections of wine and I prepare traditional Jewish cuisine that always produces culinary pleasure. But it is much more than a delicious feast; Hanukkah is a special evening that includes lighting the Menorah, making toasts, piano playing and games of Spin The Dreidel.
My Hanukkah Menu
– Beef Brisket with Horseradish Sauce by Sara Mullen
– Homemade Applesauce
Last year I purchased a beautiful Star of David Bundt Cake pan at my local grocery store.
We start out our Hanukkah feast with Matzo Ball Soup, the unofficial symbol of Jewish cuisine. The Matzo dumpling dates back to the Torah itself. As the story goes, the Israelites rushed out of Israel with the Pharaoh’s chasing close behind. Along their journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites mixed unleavened breadcrumbs, eggs and oil to create Matzo balls, and put them in boiling water to for a nutritious soup.
One of the most delicious parts of the Hanukkah dinner are the latkes, which symbolize and commemorate the miracle of menorah oil in the Jewish Temple. The Jews used potatoes because they were plentiful and easy to obtain in Eastern Europe back in the day.
There are many different kinds of latkes, but I prefer to prepare a classic potato latke. Years ago, I would hand shred my potatoes, which was a major pain in the tushi. But now I have a Cuisinart food processor and I can whip those potato shreds out in no time at all. Latkes are always served with sour cream and applesauce. I prepare the latkes the day before and then freeze them.
I make my own applesauce by simply peeling and dicing six pounds of apples, adding a cup or two of apple cider, two teaspoons of cinnamon and cooking them down for an hour. It’s very easy to make your own and it tastes much more delicious on the latke.
Every year I buy a six-pound brisket from Whole Foods and I get busy preparing Aunt Rifka’s Red-Wine Braised Brisket. The beef brisket takes a total of six and a half hours from start to completion, so it is wise to begin in the morning. If you have some real Chutzpah, you can soak your brisket in Coca-Cola all night before you cook it. I have never tried this, but it sounds fantastic.
Along with Matzo Ball Soup, beef brisket and latkes, the final, most important part of a Hanukkah dinner is the Challah. Challah is the traditional braided bread served by Jews on Sabbath and any other occasion that calls for celebration in the Jewish home. My mom makes the Challah for us because she is a very talented baker. (One time I tried to make Challah and it turned into a round hard brick.)
While I make sure our food is delicious, my oldest daughter Ava practices the Hanukkah prayers and some special piano pieces that she plays for our guests during the evening.
My husband Chris prepares a schtick for our guests during the lighting of the Menorah. Giving a toast or a speech well is a gift and my husband has it. In his speeches he gets really schmaltzy, tying together the elements of Jewish tradition with the importance of breaking bread with friends and family.
At the end of our last Hanukkah celebration, Chris did something unexpected and quite disturbing. He brought out the newest addition to our house; the Mensch on A Bench. I wanted to throttle him since I already have immense disdain for The Elf On The Shelf. This is just one more thing that I will be forced to move from place to place throughout the house each night, telling my kids yet another holiday lie about make-believe people making gifts and such.
This morning the kids woke up to this:
There is peace between the Middle East and the North Pole this holiday season.
This post was syndicated with permission to Multiples Illuminated.
Megan Woolsey lives in Northern California with her family of six, including triplets and a vivacious big sister. Megan authors the blog, The Hip Mothership where she talks about parenting children in a time of iDevices and helicopter parenting. Megan has been published in Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Mid, XOJane, Mamalode, BLUNTmoms, BonBon Break, Role Reboot, and Erma Bombeck’s Writer’s Workshop. She has an essay published in the anthology, It’s Really 10 Month Special Delivery. She and her partner Alison Lee are working on an anthology called Multiples Illuminated, all about the wonderful world of raising multiples. When she isn’t sweating it out in hot yoga or writing her next article, Megan is seeking out the perfect glass of red wine that doesn’t render a hangover. When Megan needs a break from the kids, you can find her perusing her social media pages,Facebook,Twitter and Pinterest.