Posts Tagged ‘Hanukkah in Ocean Grove’

The New York Times posted three short films today which are in the running for an Oscar.  So, I decided to bring back two of the shortest films ever made by the crew from Blogfinger.  Maybe we’ll get a nomination.

The first is called “Eileen Makes Chicken Soup in our Ocean Grove kitchen.”  You will notice that things are blurry and go south at the end of the video, but that is intentional—done for artistic effect and will make our film acceptable at MOMA for their MOM film festival  (films about MOMS).

The second is called  “Latke-Man Makes Authentic Latkes in Eileen’s Kitchen While Doing Shtick for Extra Points.”  (Note: a latke is a fried potato pancake–have maalox at the ready.)

The first film is by Paul Goldfinger.   The second is by our sons who studied artsy film making at BU and NYU and studied latke making at home.   Can they make a living with those skills?   Hey guys—–I’m talking to you!


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Frruit cake in Eileen's garden. 12/22/16. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Frruit cake in Eileen’s garden. 12/22/16. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to see the nuts.   ©  If the frogs eat this they’ll croak.

B Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Every Christmas my father would come home from work, not with a bonus, but with a fruit cake. I never knew to expect anything else, but I did learn to like fruitcakes.  Fast forward, and my wife Eileen never liked this particular pastry, so we never had it.  But last weekend, I spotted a display at Wegmans which had small fruitcakes that looked really festive and delicious.  So I bought one. She looked at it with disdain.  But when I opened it to have with coffee, it was moist and good.  She even tried a piece.  But then, I looked at the ingredients which numbered about 40. It turned out to be a veritable chemical concoction.  The main ingredient was corn sugar.

But, a little research indicates that fruit cakes have many variations around the world, and the culinary origins can be traced to the Roman Empire where they actually offered the world something sweet besides conquest, slavery, pillaging,  and men in short skirts  (which they got from the Greeks.)

Eileen's Christmas cactus. 12/16. Paul Goldfinger photo. The prehistoric figure is explained below. ©

Eileen’s Christmas cactus. 12/16. Paul Goldfinger photo. The prehistoric figure is explained below. ©

The other sign of Christmas for us is Eileen”s Christmas cactus which remarkably blooms at Christmas time each year in our entrance hallway . The primitive figure in the pot was found when digging up the garden at our Ocean Grove house.  I imagined that some ancient maritime group lived around here, perhaps emigrants from Phoenicia or ocean fishing American Indians who made figurines.  I often wondered about it.

One day I took a really close look, and on the back I found two initials and a copyright sign   ©.  It didn’t say where it came from , but unfortunately I can’t sell it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As most of you know, we have Hanukkah and Christmas at the same time this year.   Hanukkah commemorates a Jewish revolt by a group of revolutionaries—the Maccabees against their oppressors in the Seleucid Empire  (blame it on the Greeks..)   The Jews won  (I like to think of my ancestors as warriors rather than dentists and accountants.   That is why I am so proud of my uncles, all 5, who served in WWII.)  I am also reminded of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) whose bravery has saved the Jewish people there many times.

The crowning achievement of Hanukkah was to reclaim the holy 2nd Temple in Jerusalem  (which later was destroyed by the Romans.)  The miracle of the oil is less well decumented. Hanukkah is not even mentioned in the Bible, but there are reasons for that.  The story is basically true.

The history of Chanukkah seems simple, but if you are a historian, you will find it to be pretty complicated.  Anyhow, it occurred about 160 years before the birth of Christ.

In the past Blogfinger has acquainted Grovers with the Chavurah (Jewish fellowship in Ocean Grove founded in 2007).)  Here is a link to our 2014 piece on that subject. This year the Chavurah met at a member’s home to talk about the holiday and to eat traditional foods such as deep fried potatoes pancakes (latkes) which were crisp and delicious–home- made by Eileen.  She wrote the cookbook on heart healthy cooking for our book “Prevention Does Work” but in the holiday spirit she laced them with Pepcid and they were enjoyed by all.


So, on Blogfinger, we have some music which incorporates two great religions:     We have the Klezmonauts playing a well known carol.  It is from their album “Oy to the World—a Klezmer Christmas.”

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Dinner is ready. the seventh candle is lit with a blessing. And then it's ready, set, go. Blogfinger.net photo. December 12, 2015

Dinner is ready. The seventh candle is lit with a blessing. And then it’s ready, set, go. But get the flowers out of the way–we need room for reaching long distances.    Blogfinger.net photo. December 12, 2015

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

We light a candle  (an electric one–it’s the miracle of JCP&L) every night for eight times, but we all, immediate family,  get together  on one night only for a lovely meal including the traditional potato latkes (pancakes.)  The latkes are fried with oil, a traditional nod to the miracle of the oil that is recalled at Hanukkah time.

We decided to replace Eileen’s 30 year old food processor, so we went to fine stores everywhere in the Grove  (Shrewsbury) and visited Eileen’s favorite store Williams-Sonoma.  The idea was that we wouldn’t have to grate the potatoes by hand anymore  (ie to abandon a multi-generational tradition.) But, when push came to grate, our son #1 did his usual thing—–to grate them using a box grater; his challenge was not to bloody his knuckles.  When she made her latkes she fried them in a stove top pan in about 1/8 inch of canola oil.

Williams-Sonoma in the Grove. No man should go there alone (without a woman guide) Blogfinger photo

Williams-Sonoma in the Grove. No man should go there alone (without a woman guide)   The guy in the photo just spent over $900.00. He was babbling.   Blogfinger photo 12/12/15.

There are many recipes and traditions regarding how to make latkes.  Eileen made her’s small  (diameter about 2 inches) thin and crusty–browned around the edges—- for the ultimate crispiness.

On the menu were Stilton cheese, crackers, guacamole (in honor of our Aztec ancestors) and chopped chicken liver with eggs and onions for appetizers  (you either love the liver or hate it.)  For dinner there was a fine salad with a new feature—cabbage for crunch.  Then she served roast chicken, skirt steak grilled on the stove top  (my job was to measure the temperature of the meat), grilled asparagus, latkes just out of the pan—- served with applesauce, home made cranberry sauce, and an Italian bread.

For dessert there was a chocolate fudge cake from Wegmans and 2 flavors of ice cream  (mocha fudge and chocolate chip mint.)  Also s’mores from Williams-Sonoma.    And coffee and herbal tea.

Then were gifts: some clothing, a Blue tooth wireless speaker, gift certificates, some booze, and a snazzy wine carrier.

Next year we’ll do it again.  But now Eileen has to figure out what to do with her new Cuisinart.

DEBBIE DAVIS and MATT PERRINE   “Hannukah in Santa Monica”

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