Like me, Sarah cherishes the attention that her birthday brings. Tradition is to throw birthday brunch, but as her birthday fell smack dab in the middle of the week this year, as well as right in the middle of Hanukkah, we decided it’d be more appropriate to turn combine the two and do something in the evening. Instead of birthday gifts, we’d have a white elephant exchange. Instead of shallow-fried, crunchy-on-the-outside-soft-in-the-middle french toast, there’d be s-f, c-o-t-o-s-i-t-m potato latkes. Instead of cake at noon, there’d be cake at 9.
If it weren’t for the latkes, this time of year, with all its jingle this and ho ho that, would be unbearable. As it is, the first sight of tinsel going up awakens in me the memory of a kitchen soaked in deep fried aroma. It makes my mouth water for the day I get to break out the grater and grapeseed oil and get cooking. Where I otherwise might scrooge it up all season, latkes keep me happy. Even though we usually only get to indulge for one night.
This year I got lucky and got to make them twice in three days. First was for a holiday party on Monday. By the time Wednesday rolled around, I had my method down and was able to kick them out with great efficiency. No need to make this oil last for eight nights, I was on a roll. Though I do need to give credit to Syd for taking over the fry daddy job halfway through, so I could tend to important tasks like changing out of my cooking clothes and welcome guests.
How many potatoes does it take to feed a weeknight birthday party crowd? We went through eleven (and three onions) with no leftovers to spare. Which is probably a blessing for our home, because I think I absorbed more oil just standing over the stove this week than any human should be allowed.
Playing a supporting role in this dinner was Adrienne’s tasty peanut cabbage salad, a slow-cooked stuffed cabbage dish, and some homemade applesauce. That last item was going to be (gasp) store-bought, until I stumbled across our friend Julie’s recipe on Flickr earlier that day, and it looked so damned easy I had to do it. The Internet gets blamed for a lot of things these days, but when it plays a major role in getting homemade applesauce on the table for Hanukkah, the way the Macabees intended, I say God bless.