Make ahead recipes for Yom Kippur.
"My sister-in-law stuffs Thanksgiving turkeys with a matzah ball mixture," says Faye Levy, food columnist and author of 14 cookbooks. "Instead of making patties and poaching them, she cooks this tasty mixture inside the turkey."
This never struck Levy as odd, because her mother used to make noodle pudding on Thanksgiving.
"Her Thanksgiving dinners were almost like Shabbat meals," she says.
One of Levy's all-time favorite dishes is Thanksgiving potato kugel with asparagus. "I first tried it at the home of a friend from Colorado," she says, explaining that it was his grandmother's recipe.
"In his family, that dish was the essence of Thanksgiving."
I grew up in a family that never seemed to do anything right. Our approach to Yom Kippur, for example, was mixed: My father and I observed it; my mother and brother did not. Returning from synagogue at the end of the day, Dad and I were starving, so we grabbed a couple of slices of challah and spread chopped liver on top. Without ceremony, we leaned over a kitchen counter inhaling this snack.
Although the experience was a bonding one, by high school I realized that something was wrong with this picture, that something made me feel uncomfortable. Standing on linoleum, I'd pivot on one of my high heels and contemplate what routine other families followed when they came home from synagogue. How and when did they resume eating?
It wouldn't be the second night of Rosh Hashanah if our friends didn't come for dinner, contributing a cornucopia of dishes, especially divine desserts. There are enough pastries covering the buffet to keep judges at the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest busy for a week.
"Mother used to leave jars full of schav in the refrigerator," says a friend of mine. "Because the stuff looked like seaweed, I would run from the kitchen in horror."
"I was searching for Chanukah on my calendar and couldn't find it in the month of December," said Jennifer Felicia Abadi, author of "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen" (Harvard Common, $24.95)
Who could have guessed that this year Chanukah starts in November -- the day after Thanksgiving?
"Can't we spread these holidays out a bit?" Abadi said. "It's not fair,"
This merging of secular and religious holidays leaves many Jewish families in a quandary. Should they skip Thanksgiving in favor of Chanukah? Should they gather for celebrations two nights in a row? Because Thanksgiving comes first, will it overshadow the Festival of Lights? Because the first night of Chanukah falls on a Shabbat, doesn't it deserve special attention?
magine a Rosh Hashana table adorned with fruits and vegetables galore. Ruby-red pomegranates beckon; their jellied seeds symbolize your good deeds in the coming year. A bowl of crunchy sesame seeds promises that your virtues will be as numerous as the seeds themselves. You partake of pumpkins and squash for protection; you nibble on olives and fava beans, too. To keep enemies away, you sample spinach and beet greens. You taste tantalizing dishes seasoned with garlic and leeks, believed to cancel your bad deeds. And to guarantee a sweet year, you delight in figs, quince, dates -- and apples soaked in honey.
Although most American Jews break the Yom Kippur fast with bagels and lox, there is no reason why the menu has to be limited to what has become for many people, everyday fare, the equivalent of Jewish fast food.
Potato latkes are Chanukah's signature dish, not because of the potato -- but because of the oil. Potatoes did not exist in the Holy Land when the ancient Israelites triumphed over the Syrians.