Of Lights and Latkes

There are as many spellings for Chanuka Hanukkah Hanuka Hannukah Channuka Hanaka Hanika Chanukah as days of celebration! Choosing an English pronunciation of the Hebrew word ( חֲנֻכָּה ) isn’t the only choice associated with the holiday. From home decorations to menorah design to candle color to the menu, Chanukah is eight opportunities for personal and artistic expression.

Hanukkah table settings

Chanukah is a party holiday, and I wanted this year’s table to be especially joyful. This is the table as set for party #1: Old damask, the LBD of table coverings, is dressed up with a vintage kitchen towel at each seat. Down the table’s center is a runner of overlapping toweling. The multi-colored candles, plates, glassware and utensils added to the festive look I was going for.

Hanukkah table_dreidels

Set along the runner are menorahs, which I love collecting, and like snowflakes, no two are alike. Sprinkled around the menorahs are dreidels, which aren’t usually very decorative. I found the clownish dreidels at a Jewish book fair a few years back in Richmond, Virginia. The dreidel’s expression cracks me up. I bought only two and so wish I’d scooped them all up.

Hanukkah table desserts

I’m not sure how I entertained before buying this wooden ironing board! Outside as a bar, inside as a dessert serving station, it’s a multi-tasker. The legs are that Nile green color, so the board has been around since the late 1920s. Over eighty years old, and I’m sure this is its debut service at a Chanukah party.

For the first time in years, I made latkes. As I do not fry chicken, I do not make latkes – the splatter, the potato-y smell lingering for a week…but this Chanukah, the Denver Post’s food editor, Tucker Shaw (“a goy-who-can’t-say-no to a latke”) published this easy and delicious recipe

Not Latkes (But a Fine, Bite-Sized Substitute for a Festive Gathering)

Makes 20. Ingredients
About 20 small yellow potatoes
Plenty of salt
Olive oil
Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. (You may do this step ahead of time and refrigerate the potatoes for several days until ready to use.)
Lay potatoes out on a rack to air dry for several minutes. When completely dry, press between your palms to a thickness of 1/2-inch. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, and fry the potatoes, in batches, until crispy brown on both sides. Salt and serve while still warm. (ea: Will hold in the oven for a good hour+. Delish with a sour cream dollop)

Hanukkah table Moussa Aurelie

The evening’s guests included neighbor Terrie, whose outdoor plantings are strung with colored Christmas bulbs, Moussa, our Muslim friend, Amelie, who is from France and was raised Christian, until an aunt searched the family tree and discovered they were once a Jewish family,

Hanukkah John Hank Patricia

neighbor John, who was raised Jewish in Salt Lake City, PC, and Patricia, a French-born apronista.

Sharing our holiday with friends old and new is one tradition we adhere to.

Hanukkah 2010_Mimi Isabel

Evening #7 brought the nicest surprise – guests Isabel and Mimi wearing Chanukah aprons I’d made for them many years ago!

Hanukkah 2010_7th night 3_table closeup dreidels

The 8th night was just us and the clown dreidels. As the candles burned low…one for each night…shedding a sweet light…reminding us of days long ago.

Hanukkah 2010_casualty & cleanup [1024x768] The day after is all about cleanup and casualty. A bath in boiling water, and the menorahs are cleaned of wax and packed away for another year. The blue glass, alas. If I had a Christmas tree, I’d hope Santa would be into vintage!

Whatever your holiday choice this season, wishing you and those you hold dear, best wishes for laughter, and love and much more of both in the coming year.


Tie One On…an apron, of course!