December 23, 2016 12:34 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

For a lot of us, Holidays and food are wholly intertwined. Food has a unique way of engaging all of the senses simultaneously. The sounds of the food cooking, the scents wafting in the air, the visual appeal of the food, the sensation of tasting it and feeling the texture in our mouth – it’s no wonder food is one thing that universally brings people together.

Jewish holidays all have traditional foods associated with them. And not merely because they became traditions, but because the food themselves represents a very deep, very essential part of the holiday. For example, we eat apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashana because we want to bestow upon ourselves a happy, and sweet new year. On Passover we eat matzah, because G-d commanded us to refrain from eating leavened breads for eight days, and even more so, the Jewish people who left Egypt ate Matzah during their mass exodus from Egypt. And let’s not forget that you simply cannot experience Shabbat without Challah bread! Any which way you put it, food is the one thing that brings the message of the Holidays home for everyone, regardless of affiliation or observance.

As parents we all want to impart to our children the joy and love we have for all of the holidays – and for many of us that means sharing out favorite dishes and recipes. On Chanukah, we have the tradition to eat oily foods because the miracle of Chanukah was brought about through oil. In the times of the first Temple in Jerusalem, Israel was under Greek authority. The Greeks desecrated the Temple and destroyed all of the pure oil designated for the Menorah. When the Jewish people returned to the Temple Mt. they could not find pure oil to light the Menorah which was a daily practice in the Temple. Finally they found a small sealed jug of oil. The oil was only enough to light the Menorah once, but the oil lasted a full eight days, the exact time it took for them to press more oil! The traditional oily foods that we eat are potato latkes, and doughnuts!

At Skylar Mai Hebrew Montessori we experience every holiday through the sensation of cooking. While cooking with a Toddler can feel really overwhelming, it is so worth the effort! The trick is to think the recipe through, and break it down into steps suitable for a Toddler. We promise, you can do it!

latkes with toddlers 101

1. MAKE SURE YOUR HAVE ENOUGH TIME: The first step is to be prepared. Don’t ask your Toddler to join you in a batch of Latke’s if you’re pressed for time and expecting your guests to ring the doorbell any minute. Remember, Toddlers are processing information at a much slower rate. You cannot rush them through the process.

2. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE: Gather all of your ingredients and be sure to do any prep work ahead of time, for example, scrubbing the potatoes, and peeling the onion. If you’re going to use a food processor than I recommend cutting the onions into smaller pieces in advance since they can be a bit tricky to cut with child safe utensils.

3, ALLOW FOR INDEPENDENCE: Let the children take leadership on tasks they want to do, and at the same time set them up for success by guiding them. For example, if your child wants to cut the potatoes but they are not there yet, use the “hand over hand” method. This ensures their safety while allowing them to be autonomous.

6. LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES: Take advantage of all of the amazing learning that will organically happen as you’re cooking! We learned how to check eggs for bloodspots – if an egg has a bloodspot it is not Kosher and we need to throw it away!

5. DON’T STRESS: Even with the very best intentions, things don’t always go exactly as planned, so be flexible and don’t stress if something spills or things get messy! That’s all part of the fun!

Our Latke Recipe:

5 large potatoes, peeled

1 large onion

3 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

3/4 cup oil for frying

Grate potato on the large or fine side of a grater, or in a food processor.

Strain the grated potatoes and onion through a colander, pressing out excess water. Add eggs, flour, and seasoning. Mix well.

Heat 1/3 cup of oil in skillet. Lower flame and place 1 large tablespoon batter at a time into hot sizzling oil and fry on each side for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown. Turn over and dry on other side 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain excess oil. Continue with remaining batter until used up, adding more oil when necessary.

Serve with applesauce on the side!

Get Creative!

If you’ve made Latkes with your Toddler last year, try upping your game this year with some really creative Latkes! Check out these gourmet recipes from Brit.co!

(click on the image for link)

We hope this Chanukah brings your family light, happiness, and miracles!

XOXO,

Chana’le

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