Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow (Ice) Day

With ice storms last night and more predicted this afternoon, there is no school and my office is closed. The ice on the trees is very pretty but it is not so pretty on the roads, or on the dogs when they mix it with mud and bring it into the house.

At my house, we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas throughout the month of December. We fit in traditional family holiday rituals with basketball games, karate tests, chorus concerts and work related trips out of town. Many of the holiday traditions that have been handed down for generations involve food. Hanukkah is not complete without Neil's Potato Latkes, although in my house we may eat them while we decorate the Christmas tree.

Peel 4 large potatoes. Grate potatoes and onion, if desired, in food processor. Put grated potatoes in cheesecloth and squeeze out liquid in sink. Put grated, dry potatoes back in food processor. Add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup flour, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix into a smooth batter. Drop batter by serving spoon (1/4 - 1/3 cup) size spoonfuls into pan with very hot oil. Cast iron pan and peanut oil work well. Fry over moderate to high heat until brown on underside. Turn to brown on top. Lift out of oil and drain off excess fat on paper towels. Serve with sour cream and applesauce.

Another essential part of the holiday season is Christmas cookies. I made some snickerdoodles and chewy gingerbread which have already disappeared. If I get ambitious this afternoon, I will get out the cookie cutters and rolling pin and make one of Grammy Baugh's cookie recipes. The simplest one is Grammy Baugh's Cinnamon Crackers:

Cream together 3/4 lb butter and 1 lb sugar (2 cups). Add 3 eggs and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Mix in 1 lb of flour (4 cups). Using more flour, roll out dough and cut out cookies. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until brown. Thinner cookies may bake faster.

If you are an ambitious cookie decorator, you can make royal icing and decorate these in very fanciful ways. If you are not an ambitious cookie decorator, you can sprinkle colored sugar on top of the cookies before putting them in the oven to bake. Even better, you can have a small child sprinkle the sugar on the cookies.

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