I love a good potato pancake (or latkes). And, since yesterday marked the start of Hanukkah, I decided to wip some up. Now, I must confess, I never had a potato pancake until I was in my 20s. I grew up on a mountain in Western North Carolina and there wasn't exactly a thriving Jewish population. My first latkes experience occurred while I was living in Florida taking care of my mother. After being diagnosed with brain caner, her first surgery caused her to loose some of her peripheral vision. Since Jason and I were young and married, we moved in with her so that I could take her to Dr's appts, the store, or really anywhere else she needed to go. The first few weeks I was there, I would drive her an hour each day into Orlando for radiation treatments. Looking back, this was some of the best time I spent with my mom. Don't worry, I am getting to the potato pancakes. Later in her sickness the placement of her brain tumor started to affect her memory and mood but early on the symptoms were subtle. Anyway, after her treatments, we would spend our days kicking around Orlando. She just talked and talked. She told me stories and took me to places that held memories of her life (she spent a good bit of time in and around the Orlando area). Many times our conversations would be about Ronnie's, a New York style delicatessen owned by a Jewish man where my mother worked for several years. Ronnie's was a institution in Orlando. Seriously, if you talk to anyone who lived in the area in the 60s - 70s they will know of "Ronnie's." She told me a 101 fabulous stories about that eccentric restaurant. Things like, how on her first day the owner asked her to go to the kitchen and ask for kosher ham. Being the little southern lady she was, she cheerfully did what she was told. It was only after several moments of laughter that she put it together that Jews and ham don't jive. Unfortunately, Ronnie's closed when I was a little girl. I only remember going there once and I was so little that I could barley see over the table. All I remember about the visit, is that we sat in an awesome round booth and we ate a basket full of amazing fresh-baked rolls.
Mom talked so much about "Ronnie's" that we found ourselves craving that style of food. The quest lead us to TooJay's. While it was certainly no Ronnie's, it had a very similar menu. And there my friends is where I consumed my first potato pancake. It was awesome. At my mother's promoting I ate it topped with both apple sauce and sour cream. It was love at the first crispy bite. My favorite way to enjoy my pancake was with poached or over easy eggs and corn beef hash. I love corn beef hash. During the time I lived in Florida with my mom we ate numerous meals at TooJay's deli. I watched her slowly change and decline over eclairs and pastrami (and of course latkes). I hadn't had a potato pancake since she passed. With the combination of the start of Hanukkah (it is probably just me but I swear latkes were everywhere today) and a sentimental craving, I decided to make some. I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, she's Jewish so I figured she knew what she was doing. They were yum, yum. I have no picture, because they were eaten too quick. But, they looked just like hers. Oh and I busted out the hash, although no one in my family cares for it much. Jason likes to refer to it as "kitty food." I will say that corn beef hash is something I eat once every year or so. Let's be honest, it is awful for you and no one really should be eating it more often than that. Henry sides with his daddy. Here he is NOT enjoying his hash. Later in the video he does enjoy the sour cream and apple sauce. Not on anything, just by themselves. Toddlers are weird. And, we usually just let him go wild at dinner which means most the time he looks like this by the time he is done. Learning to eat is messy work.
Speaking of Henry, here he is in my cast iron skillet that I used to cook my potato pancake bliss. I know, that you are thinking that I posed this. Nope. Do you really think I have that much control over my toddler? He pulled this off my open storage shelf and sat down in it. I guess he is starting to take my proclamation that I am going to eat him up to heart and is helping me make sure he is nice and crispy.
P.S. Links of interest . . .
Here is a really interesting story about Hanukkah's U.S. roots.
Fancy latkes topping ideas.
8 thoughts about Hanukkah from Jewish blogger Suburban Sweetheart. Oh you should check out her Esty shop too, her stuff is super cute. Jason, I really like her black bird necklace (hint, hint).
And last . . I think Henry might have put himself in a frying pan because we put him in a crock pot and tried to make him the filling in a wrap. Weird, I know.