◊ Thanksgivukkuh

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Dear mom,

I’ve been waiting and waiting for your reply and can’t hold out any longer. For the first time in decades, thanksgiving falls on the first day of Chanukah… celebrations commence in just 5 days and I have recipes to share!

Vendors in Jerusalem are revving up for Chanukah with stacks of sufganyiot glistening with sugar and dripping with red jelly. I’m banking on the Chanukah goodies in Israel to fill the void of not being home for Thanksgiving, but I know it won’t  work.

For me, the flavors of our Thanksgiving are easy to recreate; it’s the spirit that I will miss… especially the spirit of one tradition I wouldn’t dare repeat outside our home, the “women’s Slivovitz shot.”

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I remember hosting holiday meal after meal at our home back in the day – the men sat around sipping cocktails,  you women busied yourselves with mealtime preparations and us kids ran around recklessly. Just before serving the meal, all the ladies in the family discreetly downed shots of Slivovitz (plum brandy… 50% alcohol?) in the kitchen. You stumbled out with big platters of food and goofy smiles.

Shots of Sliv evolved from necessity to ceremony (who am I kidding? It’s still a necessity)… Now, before each holiday meal, all women gather in the kitchen with shot glasses full of Slivovitz (and grape juice for the girls) while the men stand around us. They applaud your toast and root for us women. I always feel pride as we down the liquid fire together.

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I’ll say it again: our family is special.

Please don’t taint our blog with your deep fried Turkey recipe. Happy Thanksgivukkah!
xo,
Shaina

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To bring some Thanksgiving flavors into my life here, here’s a recipe for Chanukah sufganiyot that invite Thanksgiving nostalgia: Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts (sorry Israelis, I know that baking donuts is a total insult … But it’s the only way I’ll be able to stomach Chanukah and Thanksgiving indulgences all in the same week!).

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Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts
Makes about 20 donuts
35 working minutes, 140 total minutes (including rising time)

  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/3 c slightly warm (not hot!) milk
  • 1/3 c pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbs butter (melted)
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger powder or 1 tbs fresh shredded ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Stir yeast into 1/3 cup of warm milk. Mix the remaining cup of milk with butter, sugar and pumpkin puree, and then add to yeast mixture. In an electric mixer bowl, whisk the eggs, flour, spices and salt. Beat the dough with an electric mixer dough hook for 3-7 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.

Once the dough is formed (it shouldn’t be too sticky and should pull away from your hands easily), knead it a few times and place it an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour (similar to the process of making challah).

When the dough has grown, hit it down and roll it into a 1/2 inch thick sheet on a floured countertop. If you have a doughnut cutter, great. If not, use a large glass or 3 inch cookie cutter (I used a wide mouth mug) to cut the dough into circles. Use a smaller glass or cookie cutter to cut a hole in the middle of the circles.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and line the circles on top. Cover with a cloth and let rise for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake donuts for 8 -10 minutes until tops are browned. When done, sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and/or nutmeg, or enjoy plain.

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For another healthy-ish Thanksgiving twist on a Channukah classic, try Zesty Cranberry Yogurt in place of sour cream on your latkes. It’s great with old fashioned latkes, but with sweet potato latkes…. omg.

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Zesty Cranberry Yogurt
Serves 10 as a sauce for latkes
Prep time 25 – 30 minutes

  • 2 C cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3/4 C chopped dates
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 1/2 tsp clove powder
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  •  1/2 C dried cranberries of raisins
  • 1/2 C toasted walnut pieces
  • 2 C plain greek yogurt (whole fat always tastes better, but feel free to use fat free if you want to same caloric space for latkes and other Thanksgivingkah treats)
  • 1 tbs orange zest for garnish

Cook cranberries, dates, orange juice and zest, clove powder and cinnamon on low heat for 15-25 minutes until berries’ skins break apart. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, remove from heat and let thicken. Stir dried cranberries/raisins and walnut pieces into mixture.
Stir resulting cranberry sauce into greek yogurt and garnish with orange zest. Eat with latkes in place of sour cream for a Thanksgiving twist on a Channukah classic. Use leftovers as a complimentary topping for savory sweet potato dishes. Or, drizzle cranberry sauce over yogurt and granola for a zesty breakfast or midday snack.

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