I feared a few things knowing I was in charge of latkes this year. One, the grating. All you hear is how much better latkes taste when they’ve been shred by hand; I’ve also grated the cheese for macaroni and cheese before and whew!, it’s hard work. But latkes go back a long, long time and I just feel like to take a lazy, lone finger to the pulse of a KitchenAid would not be following in the traditions of my Eastern European ancestors. Ugh, and then it was the squeezing of the potatoes-wrapped cheesecloth, a task I am 100% confident went all wrong. Sometimes I feel like a pro in the kitchen and then there are times where it’s like I’m looking at a fork and a spoon, and saying out loud “Which one is the fork?” I hate feeling dense, but the cheesecloth did not wrap all the way around my soaking wet potatoes, literally drenched with water, turning brown faster than the Hanukkah candles were burning. (Our Hanukkah candles burn fast.) And then, of course, it was the week long search for an inspirational recipe, which meant scrolling through too many blogs and articles and really pretty pictures of people shredding, squeezing, and frying. Would my trip down latke lane work out as well as their trip? You really do need confidence in the kitchen and for this oily undertaking, I just didn't have it. Pictures of brown potato mush under hot orange kitchen lights does not a blog-worthy photograph make; I swore up and down on the hand grating, refusing my mother's food processor but then threw in the towel / shitty hand-grater (we couldn't find the box grater) before I could finish one potato; I think there might have been bits of cheesecloth mixed in with the latkes.
Fortunately, if you fry anything in oil, it will taste good.
Especially with homemade apple sauce and leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
And my brother's enormous pot of beef chili.
Top it all off with hand-knit gifts of hats and gloves from my sister-in-law, and a family game of Cards Against Humanity, and you could say we had ourselves a fifth night of Hanukkah.