Monthly Archives: December 2010

I Throw My Latkes in the Air Sometimes

I know Hanukkah is over now, but I’m an equal opportunity celebrationist (it’s a real thing, I promise). Before I left for San Francisco, during Hanukkah, I did some research to understand the Jewish holiday a little better. First, I learned that there are a million different ways to spell Hanukkah. So naturally I asked my Jewish coworker Jessica what her favorite spelling was. The conversation went like this:

Lauren: Hey Jessica, what’s your favorite way to spell Hanukkah?

Jessica:  uhhh… (C)han(n)uk(k)a(h)

Lauren:  Not fair.
Jessica:  I think Channukah
Jessica:  noo
Jessica:  ugh
Jessica:  i dunno
Since that research was inconclusive, I dug a little deeper on my own. Via Google search. Thankfully, I found a YouTube video that taught me pretty much everything about the eight crazy nights. Learn up, friends:
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Light Reading

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I made it home to the parents’ house finally, though without the furball since she adamantly refused to get in her carrier after an hours-long standoff. Now the parents are out on a Christmas Eve Eve date to a movie and lunch, the little brother is still asleep (at noon, shocker) and I’m catching up on my holiday recipes courtesy of Southern Living’s holiday issue. Martha Stewart Living is on deck.

It’s good to be home for the holidays. Even if home isn’t far away.

Fa La La

This Christmas season is going by way too fast. Of course I can’t wait to pack up the furball and head home tonight, but the fact that Christmas is only days away means that the season is almost over. Sigh.

And my Christmas tree just started looking so festive with all sorts of red presents underneath it.

Excuse the cell phone photo — I was too lazy to get out the nice camera.

Also, once I go home for Christmas there’s no longer a chance that I’ll run into the Orange Line Caroler on the way to work in the morning. On Monday, he stepped onto the train and as soon as the doors closed behind him he launched into Angels We Have Heard on High. Solo, loud and a capella. And he did not stop until he’d sung every verse.

At first I was annoyed, and so were many other people, because the golden rule on the metro in the morning is silence. But as he continued and eventually finished the song with “Thank you, merry Christmas everyone!”, I really began to appreciate him. And now I’m sad that I won’t see him again.

I fully intend to soak up the rest of this week (and next week, since it’s still technically the holiday season) and sit by the fire with the family, watch Christmas movies, eat festive treats, and do other Christmasy things. Maybe I’ll even go caroling alone, loudly, on the metro.

Catch Up & Cookies

Sunday morning I woke up after only a few hours’ sleep in a panic over everything I still had to get done that I couldn’t do Saturday because my flight delays had eaten up the majority of the day. But the number one priority was cookies.

Great Grandma Lily’s Italian Christmas Cookies (aka biscotti), to be specific. They’re a tradition. Many times, if not every year, as we were growing up Dylan and I went to Grandma and Grandpa’s (my mom’s parents) house, spent the night there with our younger cousins Corinne and Cameron, and made Great Grandma’s cookies.

As the four of us grew up and became involved in school, sports, activities, and college for me, we stopped getting together to make the cookies because there wasn’t time. In December of 2007, Grandma and Grandpa came over to our house where they supervised — and helped — Dylan, Mom and me make the cookies. The next year, mom and I made them together. Christmas of 2009 was the first without Grandpa, so even though time was in short supply I knew it would be important to have the tradition continue. I made them myself that year, and it was my first time making the dough.  I had a little trouble with my Crisco measurements, so I was nervous for Grandma to taste them, but they ended up just fine and passed the Grandma test.

This year, instead of doing them by myself I asked Dylan and my two cousins if they’d like to help. Since Dylan and Cameron are big tough guys these days, my lovely, almost 17-year-old cousin Corinne was the only one willing to spend Sunday afternoon baking.

I was scared of messing up the recipe for two reasons:

  1. The Crisco debacle of 2009 had never really been resolved.
  2. I hadn’t had time to make the dough 24 hours in advance, which is a pretty important step.

I did some math to come up with a better Crisco measurement than last year. You see, the recipe that’s been passed down from Great Grandma measures ingredients and total yield in pounds. As in, 1/2 lb of Crisco, 2 lbs flour, yields 2-3 lbs of cookies. No other recipe I’ve ever read (not that I’ve read many) measures in anything other than cups. A 2lb. bag of flour is easy to buy, and then there’s no measuring required. But the Crisco comes in a pack of three sticks, totaling 1.4 lbs. Yes, this is difficult math for me, I was a liberal arts major.

Long story short, Corinne came to my apartment, we baked and caught up on The Office and reality shows since I’d missed the last few weeks. We gossiped about Zac Effron. I accidentally fell asleep on the couch at the end of an episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The recipe yielded delicious cookies (even though I made the dough that morning … secret: I chilled it in the freezer for an hour, then the fridge until we were ready to use it) and a great time.

(My photography skills and ability to focus a picture were pretty disabled due to my lack of sleep.)

It really made me feel somewhat old and dare I say mature to be sharing this tradition with just Corinne. From my Great Grandma, to Grandma, to Mom, to me — I’m the one carrying on the cookie tradition now and I think it will make Grandma really happy on Christmas Eve when she realizes that Corinne helped too. It’s still a surprise for Grandma, so don’t tell her. She’ll find out after we have sauce Friday night for dinner.

Of course Mom isn’t totally excluded from continuing to bake the cookies. She’s especially good at the dough’s second use — honey balls — the greatness of which I cannot explain in words right now, given my current hunger status.

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