Dreidel! Dreidel! Dreidel! and other Chanukah adventures

22 Dec

As I was raised Catholic, I had never celebrated Chanukah before in my life. I was aware of the Dreidel song, and knew about potato pancakes because they make ’em in Germany and call ’em Kartoffelpuffen — which, incidentally, was my favorite German word for a long time and thus became my nickname in middle school. Anyhow, the only Jewish tradition I’d ever been able to participate in before was a friend’s Bat* Mitzvah, and I didn’t even go to the awesome party** part at the end. So I was very excited when Zack said he wanted to throw a Chanukah party to celebrate the beginning of the 8 days. He made delicious latkes, I made our long-awaited Dublin Dr. Pepper cake, we invited our dearests over and asked people to bring red wine and $10 for quarters. It was time for a party.

*Caitlin pronounces it Bat (Like the guy who fights the Joker or the nocturnal upside-down black flying dudes who hang out under the Congress bridge. If you’re wondering, it’s pronounced Bahh-t)

**A perfect metaphor for young Caitlin. She went to the boring, school-ish part and not the party. She’s now sticking her tongue out at me while reading this. I assume.

Zack worked tirelessly* on these latkes to make them absolutely perfect, and kept them warm in the oven so they’d be ready for nomming as soon as we took them off of the pan. I decided to eat mine with applesauce**, and it was super moist and delish (although I did continue to taste onion*** and egg the rest of the night in my mouth).

*It took about an hour altogether. You mix a couple eggs with two cups of water and the mix. Yeah, I used a mix. We didn’t have a potato grater and I didn’t feel like buying or using one. 

**I went with applesauce as well. My dad calls it “the under-rated side dish” and I agree. I even bought a giant jar of cinnamon flavored, even though that wouldn’t go well on latkes. I’m also still getting over my fear of white gooey foods, so sour cream was a no-go. 

***Same deal with me. I apologize for that. I snuck one more latke after I brushed my teeth and I’m sure it rivaled the time when I had a third of a tray of stuffing while drunk the week after Thanksgiving. Again, sorry.

I was really pleased with how the Dublin Dr. Pepper cake came out*. The cake was moist and springy, and although some of the corner pieces stuck to the pan, the chunks in the middle came out beautifully. The frosting was my favorite, though — sweet, rich and decadent. Mmm!

*It was every bit as glorious as we imagined. In addition to sticking to the corners, the bottom of the cake stuck as well, but that means you get to scrape the bottom of the pan, which is a fun game.

I sported one of the awesome Star of David* stickers that our friend Lisa brought to get myself in the spirit. I also got nervous** about the candles, and went so far as to ask if we should blow them out before they burned all the way down to prevent a fire. I’m new at this.

*How adorable is my little Shiksa? I didn’t know she knew what the Jew stars were officially called.

**I think we all know your nervousness had little to do with your newness to Jewness and more to do with your “never leave the oven on if you’re not in the room,” fear of fires.

My handsome* man, posing with his latke mix and wearing the awesome White Stripes shirt I bought him.

*Ugh, could I look worse? Here, shoot me from underneath and I’ll scrunch my chin(s) into my neck.

Tiffany and Antonio are the reason we have photos of the night at all. Thank you, awesome friends!

If you haven’t read their account of this, you really should. http://ohspooning.com/

The first thing you’ll notice in this photo is what we like to call Robface. However, apart from the other Caitlin’s adorable nose peeking into the photo, I’d like to point out that my younger brother Edward looks like he might as well be the younger brother* of Eric P., sitting to his left on the couch. Beards? Check. Plaid shirts? Check. Sweaters over plaid? Check. Facetious sense of humor? Oh-so-check.

*I wouldn’t go so far as to say doppleganger, but long lost brothers!

The Pulsifers! I love this photo* of them next to our Christmas tree (we send mixed religious messages at our parties, thank-you-very-much).

*It’s almost as adorable as their Christmas card. The card captures their wedding joy so well and they personalized the card so thoughtfully. And, Eric let me borrow his jumper cables last night. It’s great to have married friends to be your rock in Austin. 

In my cell phone, I have our friend Monte’s name written as “Monte Money*.” This expression combined with this circumstance have never warranted that title more.

*Even more Money was his Chanukah gift to me. An Elmore James blues record. For whatever reason, it says Elmo James. I’m half hoping when I play it, it sounds like that Muppet. Caitlin isn’t. She hates Elmo.

Our pals Melissa and Nick, mid-dreidel spin. That’s a nice lookin’ spin*, y’all!

*On the other hand, Melissa was the only one who never figured out how to get a good spin going. Some of us could even do it upside down, but we weren’t able to pull it off in-game. Dreidel is a lot of pressure, you guys.

Our big dreidel winner! Antonio walked away with $40-plus dollars in quarters. I started out great, as my first spin allowed me to take everything in the pot. However, turns 2, 3 and 4 swiftly undid all of that, and I wound up losing all of my money. I was a bit of a spoiled sport about it, but I have to say, the game of dreidel itself is definitely fun. Next time, I’d want to lower the stakes a bit*.

*I can’t believe we’ve gone this long without talking how dreidel went down. Or my killer soundtrack! We split the dreidel into two games, the “kids table” for those playing with $5 in quarters and $10 for the big boys and girls. Eric and Lisa, Nick and Melissa and Edward sat up at the kids table. I taught each table the rules and advised the kids table to put in two quarters every time someone got a hay and four quarters in every time someone got a gimmel. They soon realized these stakes were too high and went down to 1-2. The big kid table should have played at 2-4, but we were at 3-6. There was a run on Gimmels (the best thing you can get.) Rob, Monte, The Other Caitlin, Tiffany and Antonio all got Gimmels. In lamens terms, you lost 30 of your 40 quarters if you weren’t one of the gimmel getters. (We debated on whether Gimmel Run or Nun Run would be a better band name.) Caitlin and I were the two who did not get Gimmels. We lost our $10 almost immediately. I bought back in and Monte Money spotted her a few quarters, but her luck soon run out. I ended the game losing a total of $10, with The Other Caitlin up $24 and Antonio raking in $32 in profit. 

Between Zack’s impressive Chanukah mix*, wonderful friends and a night of relaxing with games and food and drink, I think I’m sold on Chanukah. L’chaim!

*I made a 50+ song playlist on Spotify to fill 2+ hours of partying, but narrowed it down to a 17-song best-of playlist for you (Click Here) Light those candles. L’Chaim!


2 Responses to “Dreidel! Dreidel! Dreidel! and other Chanukah adventures”

  1. Tiffany December 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Can’t get “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” tunes out of my head, but I love the playlist!


  1. The 2nd Annual Wittbloom Chanukah Party « rockloveaustin - December 11, 2012

    […] into our second Chanukah party, I figured it would be a lot like last years. The ingredients for the party would be pretty much the same. I’d make latkes, Caitlin would […]

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