Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah! Nearly belatedly! In honor of the Jewish Festival of Lights, I have another Mimi paper doll available to print and color; you can get it here. There's a brief story-ette about Mimi going to a Hanukkah feast, and it includes a menorah that can stand up when assembled, as shown above. The top part of the menorah is a "pocket" in which you can insert the correct number of candles for the current night of Hanukkah (today is the 6th day of Hanukkah for 2009, so you'd insert six candles, plus the center one or shammes candle, which is used to light the others). I was too lazy/rushed to color Mimi and her menorah, but she looks great "colorized" with colored pencils or crayons.
Not sure why this image came out vertically; thought I'd saved it rotated...

Quick question: I've been posting various paper dolls as sort of doodly coloring pages - just pencil sketches, and no color. What do you think - should I keep doing them that way, or would you greatly prefer something more final-artish that you'd have to print in color? (Keep in mind that would likely mean I'd make even fewer of them...)

One of my favorite things about December is the variety of special days (Christmas, Hanukkah, St. Lucia Day, St. Nicholas Day, the winter solstice, etc.), and the opportunities they provide to learn about different cultures (or even just people who have different traditions). My husband and I both grew up celebrating Christmas, so that's the December holiday we celebrate with our kids, but our extended families include people from diverse backgrounds, including the Jewish faith. We live some distance from them, so our kids have only occasionally celebrated Hanukkah with those relatives. Fortunately, though, we long had a tradition of sharing holidays with neighbors and good friends who are Jewish. Their kids came over each year to help decorate our Christmas tree, sing a few Christmas songs, and have a holiday dinner, and our kids went to their house each year for a Hanukkah feast, complete with dreidel games and songs and decorations. (They always sent extra latkes home for me, the latke-fiend. Yum!)

Here's my favorite low-fat latke recipe. I don't have a photo to show you because I haven't managed to make them yet this year, but I'll try to add a picture later. These are quite tasty, though perhaps not as scrumptious as the crispy fried ones. I cut the recipe out of some newspaper many years ago; more than that I can't tell you about its origin. Sorry.

Low Fat Potato Latkes
3 lbs. potatoes (I've used both Idaho and Yukon gold)
1 onion
1/3 cup matzo meal or flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 T chopped parsley
2 eggs plus 4 additional whites
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2-3 T canola oil (I've used olive oil on occasion and that was good too)
Low fat sour cream and/or applesauce for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 F, with a nonstick baking sheet inside. Peel potatoes (if desired) and grate them and the onion coarsely. Squeeze handfuls to remove as much liquid as possible. Transfer potatoes and onion to a bowl, and stir in meal/flour, baking powder, parsley, eggs and salt and pepper. Pour the oil onto the hot baking sheet and spread it around with the back of a wooden spoon. Spoon 2 1/2 inch mounds onto the sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between. Bake until golden, 6-8 minutes (or a little more), turning at the half way point. While they're baking, sing "The Dreidel Song" ("Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,/ I made it out of clay./ And when it's dry and ready,/ Oh dreidel I will play!") and challenge the kiddies to a game for gelt (the chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil that you may have given out on St. Nicholas Day). You are not allowed to cheat, although you may save a little "grown-ups only" chocolate aside for later. Serve latkes promptly with sour cream and applesauce.

Two excellent vintage Hanukkah-related books to enjoy (both fortunately are still available new and both squeak past the CPSIA axe):

The Trees of the Dancing Goats written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco tells the true story of an incident from her childhood when her Christian neighbors came down with scarlet fever right at Christmas. Her family used their Hanukkah feast and decorations to assemble holiday food and lovely trees to rescue Christmas for the sick families. The illustrations are fabulous and the story could not be any more heartwarming or more beautifully told. We read this book every year. Here's a link to her website, with assorted printable and freebies related to this book (and others too)

Next: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.
I love this book. It's perfect for kids who like a bit of a scare (though I remember one of my kids made me read the goblins' dialogue in my "regular voice" because my goblin one made the experience a bit too terrifying). It's a longer picture book, which is another reason to save it for slightly older kids. But what a great tale, of the triumph of good over evil, and cleverness over brute strength. Lots of fun. And as for the illustrations, well, sadly the world will never again see the likes of Trina Schart Hyman. She was really something.

Happy Hanukkah! Or however you choose to spell it!


crzylady said...

Woot For Hanukah! We have a small hanukah area in our home every December. And it is a busy month for us with A's bday and christmas and festival of lights (which we HAVE to celebrate since Aurora IS light and named afte light and all of those good things)
Love the mimi doll! So sweet! And it makes me feel happy to think she's kosher.

Lisa Holewa said...

My vote is for the simple ones you can color -- my kids love them, and it doesn't cost me a fortune in ink to print.
We love all of your fun and creative ideas, templates and instructions here -- thanks so much for sharing so freely!

Xintara said...

I love your printables but I must point out something odd. A pig who celebrates Hanukkah?

Otherwise, great stuff here!

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

For @Xintara, I must say that pigs are perfectly fine as long as you're not planning to eat them. Even pig heart valves are fine, though not Mimi's, of course. She's adorable - thanks!