It's a week later and I can almost say that the smell of fried foods has left the house. Slowly.
It was a long, wonderful and hot Chanukah here in Florida. We had sleepover company, dinner company, Shabbos company, a bbq with new and old friends and more than our fair share of visits from the FedEx guy, carrying huge boxes. And now a stomach virus.
I can't say for sure, but I don't think I've ever gone almost a month without sharing here since I first started blogging. It felt weird - on many levels. I have so much to say and yet no time to say it. I kind of feel that way with my kids too - so many lessons to impart, so many ideas I want to share but between their hours in school, my hours in the classroom or planning for the classroom and then the few hours between school and bedtime, crammed with homework and baths and stories and playing outside, there's not too much time left to talk.
Which is why I really liked Chanukah this year. The kids are a little older and for the most part, were not passing out by the time we lit candles. And then there was all this time while the candles were burning to sit around and read with them or play board games; it was kind of like Friday night, but for eight straight days. We even sat around one night eating latkes, debating the merits of applesauce vs sour cream - even though not one of my children, and most likely Josh, have ever, in their lives, even tasted sour cream.
I know it's a little late, but here's a glimpse at Chanukah 2013, in no particular order:
1. Some of my classes made these menorah dripmats in art, right before Chanukah. I was not at all sure how they would come out - or rather how'd long they would last under a drippy menorah with lots of melty wax, but they survived. After eight nights, they were beyond covered in wax so I just chucked the ones my kids made (I know, I'm horrible) but it was throw them out or scrape the wax off with a knife. I hope you would choose the same.
We made them with 18" square floor tiles I found sitting in our garage when we moved in, some paper, scissors and Modge Podge glue. That's it. We let them dry for a couple of hours and then hand-delivered them to the waiting cars on the pick-up line. You want to drop your very-breakable-floor-tile project? Do it on your own time. I'm sending home intact projects.
2. Chanukah in Florida? It's weird. Lovely, but weird - it kind of feels like I should have been decorating the sukkah in 80 degree weather, not putting out menorahs. On the flip side, our tangelo tree is doing wonderfully. As is our palm tree. I'm just saying.
3. Remember the Chanukah raffle I was working on for the school? All I can say is - thank goodness it's over! It was super successful and I am super-relieved because can you imagine the whole thing falling apart on my watch? I can. I imagined it over and over and over. I stayed up at night thinking about it and my general anxiety level was definitely at code orange if not at code red. But as I've learned - mostly from having newborns - every day ends and another dawns and the "day after" always comes. The day after the raffle came and I breathed again. Breathing is really great.
These are the cupcakes I made with a friend for the dessert portion of the raffle:
A special thank you to whoever posted these cupcake toppers on Pinterest. They saved me.
4. I only have one thing to say about the jelly donuts this year:
They ain't from Brooklyn. And they ain't Dunkin Donuts either. But they'll do.
5. If you've been following along for a while, you might remember these Judah Maccabee cookies we made last year. If not, we made them again this year - and if I would have looked at last year's post before baking them, I would have remembered just how much of a pain they were to make. Oh well.
Packed them up and gifted them to a few individuals who've been beyond helpful to Josh since we moved here.
6. And finally, I just have to say again, even though it's not Chanukah weather, you really can't beat sitting in a hammock in December, even if you might need a little sweatshirt late in the day.
Winter break is coming quickly, here and in NY. The bed and breakfast is open, the guest room has clean sheets and slots are filling quickly. We'd love to see you if you're making like a bird and heading south at any point this winter. I'll even clean the bathroom before you come.
I hope that title was decriptive enough.
Three things to discuss today:
3. A Whole30 Vegetable Soup
I'll start with number 3 first because I'm always hungry. This soup was so good that Josh was concerned he might have to make room in his life for a third soup. Currently, he only eats chicken soup and oddly enough, cauliflower soup. And now there might be a third. He's worried.
You should try it - and it's Whole30 compatible too.
Here's what you do:
Saute 3 sliced onions in some olive oil.
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a little salt to the pot and keep sauteing.
Wash, peel and thinly slice two large carrots.
Add to the pot and saute the carrots too.
Wash and slice 6 zucchinis into 1 inch pieces, add them to the pot, cover and let them cook for about a minute.
Add 5 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
Partially cover the pot and lower the flame so the soup simmers until the carrots are done. The zucchini will be done a lot faster than the carrots, even though the carrots are a lot smaller than the zucchini. Go figure.
Once the carrots are done, allow the soup to cool and then use your very handy immersion blender to partially puree the soup.
It's really very good.
Moving right along to numbers 1 and 2 on the list above. They're intertwined so we'll just mix 'em up and call this number one and a half.
Manners and Chanukah**. Mannukah. Something we seem to have none of these days.
Right around night #4, my kids seemed to get very blase about the whole "gift each night" thing. As in, this is it? I didn't want that!, along with some tears. And that my friends, is not
even a little bit okay. But lest we defame only my children, this seemed to have been going on in many other houses in the neighborhood. And before we malign the neighborhood, I really do think it's a generational thing. Having said that, next Chanukah I am supposed to remind several of my friends about this ungratefulness. Next year, we are not giving the kids a gift each night of Chanukah. Yup. You heard me.
So here's the thing. I grew up getting a little something each night of Chanukah and I kind of like that tradition. But it's not working for us. In fact, on night five of this Chanukah, we did not give gifts. We had a gift for each kid, wrapped and ready to go, but we didn't hand them out. Instead, we used a popcorn maker to make popcorn and we all watched a movie instead, with the lights off and the couch turned to face the tv. And once the kids got over the initial shock of not having anything to unwrap, they loved it.
I think that's what it she be about - experiences. Popcorn and movie might not sound like much of an experience, but for my kids, it really was. Piling onto the couch and getting cozy under one big blanket with popcorn and drinks - it's just not something we do as a group, ever. Maybe it should be, maybe we should do it more often, but that's a whole other guilty-mommy-blog-post.
*In case you've been wondering where the heck we've been since seemingly dropping off the internet since the middle of Chanukah, we've been right here. Being lazy. I think (hope) we're back now.
** I know it's over, but I think it's still okay to talk about Chanukah, mostly because I still haven't finished putting away the menorahs.
Oh, December 11th, how I've been waiting for you.
Tonight marks the end of day #30 of this Whole30 experiment.
I have been surrounded by chocolate Chanukah gelt, jelly donuts and many many homemade treats this week, but you know what? I was really okay with my clementines. Shockingly, a clementine provided enough sweetness so that my brain was able to decipher the "end of meal" message. Tomorrow morning, I weigh in. I'm, at the same time, both terrified and super excited.
Tonight also marks the fourth night of Chanukah. And in case you ever wondered what a living room looks like when four kids receive lego at the same time, well, wonder no more.
Not to change the subject or anything, but what comes to mind when you hear the word Chanukah?
I mean besides for presents.
Yes, very good, latkes and other assorted items that require frying. And grating. I hate grating vegetables. But as we were having dinner company tonight, I kinda sorta had to fry something, so like the good wife that I try to be, I made potato latkes (from a box and no one said a word - ha!) and I made corn latkes, a special request from the husband.
Josh has also dropped many hints this week regarding sufganiyot, also known as Chanukah jelly donuts. There's no where around here to get real sufganiyot (and jelly donuts from Dunkin Donuts are not the same thing) and I think Josh thought that I might make some. From scratch. Are you laughing? Cause I am. I mean, it a calm world where all I had to do was make dessert, I would absolutely try and make donuts. But see, here's the thing. The amount of frying that went on here today between the regular and corn latkes was, in my opinion, obscene. But I did want the hubby to have sufganiyot. So I found a recipe for Jelly Donut Muffins.
I only made one switch in the recipe and that was to swap almond milk mixed with
a tablespoon of vinegar for the buttermilk because I wanted to keep the muffins
pareve. Otherwise, I stuck with the recipe as is - and they were great, or so
said the people who actually like jelly donuts. Everyone else ate leftover sugar
Happy fourth night!
I was in charge of dessert today.
Not such a simple task because really, even though today is day 28 on the Whole30, I wanted to dive head first into the chocolate Chanukah gelt today. Seems that I have not yet slain my sugar dragons. Have to keep working on that.
This afternoon, we attended our family's annual Chanukah party, giving extra thanks that the party was not in our house this year.
We brought along some of the Chanukah sugar cookies we made the other day, some sugar-free peanut butter cookies for my dad, cinnamon bun muffins* and some cheese latkes. The cheese latkes were not part of dessert, but I felt empty handed coming with just those few other foods. And also, I had about a quarter of a big container of ricotta cheese left in the fridge and it was very unclear to me how much longer it would last.
Having never made cheese latkes before but at the same time wanting to use up the ricotta cheese, I went with google and a few seconds later, I had my recipe from shiksa.com, a website that I had never heard of before but will be visiting again.
I changed her recipe very slightly because I was concerned that the latkes would not be sweet enough and in my head, I was picturing something along the lines of latke cheesecake. Either way, they got great reviews, with a request for a make-again from the husband, and that's saying a lot about something dairy. Again (and even I am getting bored of saying this) but I did not taste these myself - no dairy allowed on the Whole30, but all the latkes were gone so that must be saying something good.
Here's what I did:
1 and 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup flour
5 tbsps sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Mix all the ingredients very well. Cook as you would regular pancakes, starting with a hot frying pan and flipping the latkes after two minutes. Just an FYI, this latke batter does not bubble, thereby giving you an instant clue as to when to flip 'em. Just flip them after two minutes and you'll be fine. Oh, and the second side does not need that full two minutes. I guess it depends on how high your fire is, how large your latkes are and so on, but you'll get the hang of it. Just remember, the first pancake is always the sacrificial one - kind of like your first kid. You have no idea what you're doing so you just wing in, and in the end, all is still good.
These made 15 large latkes and at the end of the meal they were all gone.
*More about those soon.
You know those cookies we baked yesterday? We used the same recipe we used last year, and once again, it did not disappoint.
And happily, we decorated today. We love this icing.
My kids sampled one of each kind of cookie and they all approved. (I wanted to write "unanimous approval" there but I wasn't sure how to spell either word. Did I spell them right? Wrong? Who knows.) My point? All the cookies are exactly the same, just in different shapes. The kids were not grasping this and so many many cookies were eaten in the name of "just tasting". Josh better come home soon if he wants to "taste" too.
Anyway, would love to see your Chanukah cookies!
A Farmer's Market opened up near our house a while back. And I capitalize Farmer and Market because it's not actually a farmer's market where locals come to sell their eggplant and squash; it's an actual store called Farmer's Market.
I really like this store because it forces you to shop the perimeter, as nutritonists like to recommend. The whole store is the perimeter - all fruits and vegetables and more fruits and vegertables, with a few aisles at the far end of the store with all kinds of overpriced canned goods. I don't visit those aisles, except to grab the weirdly cheap milk they carry. And it's horomone-free milk too, so I'm not really sure why it's the cheapest milk in town, but I am not complaining.
So why am I telling you all this when the title of this posting clearly indicated that some cookies should be coming to town? I'm sharing the wonder that is my fruit store because as I ran through the store ten minutes before pick-up at school this afternoon, I noticed that the cauliflower looked very nice and was very on sale. So I bought some.
And when we all got home, I made cauliflower soup, a yummy soup that has been a staple of my journey through the Whole30.
I love soup, but I don't like washing and peeling a bunch of different vegetables. Cauliflower soup is easy. Saute an onion and some garlic in olive oil, wash the cauliflower, cut it into large pieces and add them to the pot. Fill the pot halfway with water, season with salt and pepper and bring the water to a boil. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is cooked, about 30 minutes, depending on the size of your cauliflower pieces. Once cooked, let the soup cool completely. Once cooled, use your handy dandy immersion blender (you must have one of these. If you don't, go get one now. Go. It's okay, I'll wait for you) and puree the soup. And you're done.
Wait, you can make this even easier. Use frozen cauliflower. I do it all the time.
And my point here? I ate the soup while rolling out my Chanukah sugar cookies. Yup, I stuffed myself with two bowls of soup, which incidentally, is the right amount of soup to make you feel like if you eat even one cookie, you will explode. Works for me.
My new motto: I love cookies, but I love (almost-but-kind-of-not-yet-at-all) skinny more.
Next up: cookie decorating with the kids.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)