As a child, I looked forward to Hanukkah for weeks and weeks, probably even more than my birthday and our family’s annual Dude Ranch vacation. While I was a little envious of my friends who had stockings and trees full of gifts, I loved our family’s holiday traditions. Each night we would sing songs and light the candles on the menorah until we had filled all 8 (plus the shamash, or helper candle) by the last night.
After lighting the candles and singing the blessings, we would open a present with great anticipation (which was often more exciting than the presents themselves), and then we’d play dreidel for pennies or gold chocolate coins from Israel. On at least one night we would gather with lots of relatives for a big celebration that always included potato latkes with applesauce and sour cream, kugel and beef brisket.
In many homes, especially those with a connection to Israel, families enjoy Israeli Jelly Doughnuts, or sufganiyot, for dessert at Hanukkah time, such as these beauties from Food Wanderings.
Another traditional food for Jewish holidays, including Hanukkah, is a sweet and creamy noodle kugel, such as this one from Sassy Radish.
This brisket recipe originally came from my colleague Linda Wolpert, who discovered it in the 1979 cookbook of the National Council of Jewish Women of Greater Kansas City. She likes to make it a day in advance so the flavor develops, then she skims off the congealed fat at the top before reheating it in the microwave or in a 300 degree oven.
Please share one of your favorite holiday foods or traditions in the comments section below.