On Friday night, Dec 11th 2009, Jews around the world will be lighting the menorahs and eating oil filled food, in celebration of Chanukah (I feel like I am teaching 3rd grade again). With Thanksgiving coming in a few days, you might not be able to plan for more than one festivity at a time, but I find myself planning for holidays about one month in advance (I’m cutting it close this year…).
As a slight diversion from the usual topic, let’s talk about menu planning. I see the menu as having four essential components, 1) taste, 2) nutrition, 3) ease of cooking, and 4) seasonality. For sake of not making this a novel, I will only touch on each of them briefly.
Let me lay out what my tentative menu will look like, then I will explain why
- Fish – whole medium white fish, baked with oil and herbs (eg, cod or bass)
- Latkes – potato, zucchini, sweet potato, leek, turnip (obviously not all of those!)
- Salad – baby spinach, citrus, nuts/seeds
- Challah (happens to also be Shabbat)
- [I am not making them, but sufganiot are also a Chanukah classic]
So why? For me and my family, latkes are a given. As a matter of fact, I like them so much that growing up, I would have my mother make them for me for my birthday (in March). So given that rather oily/greasy/heavy food is on the table, I wanted to do everything else pretty light. Moreover, the latkes take a really long time to make, so I want every else to be easy.
In a given meal, you should basically plan like this… we need starch, veggies/fruit, and protein. This is really crude, but gets at the point. The latkes take up the first and sort of the second category here. The salad is light and nutritious (fruits/veggies, and maybe even protein in the nuts), while taking a split second to make. Citrus is also in season, which makes it cheaper, tastier, and supposedly sustainable. As opposed to brisket, fish is also light and takes a fraction of the time to make. It also seasonal, in that the oven use really gives the whole house a sense of winter time.
So there you have it – it is so easy… We will be posting plenty of Chanukah recipes, so be sure to check back. Celebrate the Chanukah miracle with friends and family, but hopefully, you will give it ample planning so that there does not need to be a miracle in your own kitchen. Chag Sameach!