So everybody knows that Hanukkah is all about miracles, right? I think when it comes to miracles we’re each entitled to our own, so I’d like to nominate my personal best modern day miracle: stepping on the scale after Hanukkah and noting that the number is lower than it was before the holiday.
This year, we’re combining our Thanksgiving feast with Hanukkah treats. That’s right. I know Hanukkah is “supposed” to happen at the end of December, but this year the Hebrew date falls in November, on Turkey Day! It’s all about crossing lunar calendars with solar calendars and somehow this year we wind up making latkes out of yams and tying paper dreidels to roasted drumsticks. I just know we’re going to waddle away from that table, fully stuffed, prayin’ for a really big mama miracle.
Somehow we’ll have to stagger through the next seven days and nights too. But we can handle it. Really. Strategy is important, as well as a few simple rules.
1. Eat your latkes standing over the sink. Everyone knows calories consumed over a sink don’t count.
2. For goodness sake, make those latkes smaller! No bigger than a quarter is good.
3. Choose unsweetened apple sauce over sour cream (like choosing water over champagne). It’s really great once you get used to it; so, um, subtle.
4. Eat no more than one latke for every candle you lit in the menorah that night. When you get to four, start eating ½ a latke for every candle. Better yet, eat the candles and light the latkes.
5. Drink two diet sodas for every Jewish Star cookie you consume.
6. Eat a carrot and pretend it’s a jelly doughnut. With frosting. And, oooh, powdered sugar.
7. Okay, if you must eat that doughnut, just suck out the jelly. Then do five hundred jumping jacks or jog three miles. Do that for each doughnut you eat.
8. Chocolate Hanukkah gelt is so cute. Eat only the small coins and put the rest in a charity box.
Armed with these preventive tactics, it’s time to get down to crafting the perfect latke. I’ve got my gourmet grandparents’ recipe, though I confess to taking a shortcut or two. I don’t grate the potatoes by hand because I don’t like the taste of my own knuckles in the food. So I use a food processor. Then there’s the agonizing question: do latkes of the purée variety, or shoestring? They’re both terrific, but such different textures! It’s a big decision. Sometimes I worry about it for days.