I’m not always the best daughter. Sometimes I’m impatient, short-tempered, bossy, and annoyed with my mother. I work hard to promptly apologize to my mother when I’ve not behaved nicely but I admit that I don’t always do that perfectly either. I may be able to make up for every prickly thing I’ve ever said or done to my mother with this post, because I would like to talk about how she prepares for holidays such as Thanksgivukkah, which happens in a few weeks.
My mom is a great cook. Her Hungarian mother was also a great cook and I bet my grandmother’s mother was a good cook too, and so on, all the way back. My mother specializes in all kinds of food but her presentation, her attention to detail, and the joy with which she cooks and serves food are also noteworthy.
Since I had my first son eight years ago, my mother has started the mini-tradition of writing up menus before holidays. This serves a dual purpose. She is a Type A list-maker and, thus, making menus satisfies her list making needs. Secondly, she likes me to consult about the menu, make changes as needed, and select which items I will be helping with.
A cute thing she does with her handwritten menus is to use stickers to decorate them depending on the holiday and this year is no exception. That’s right, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah stickers are in effect. Here is the Thanksgivukkah menu my mother is preparing this year. I am listing her wording with my comments and clarifications in parentheses.
A. Hot/Cold Apple Drink (I think she means apple juice and hot apple cider.)
II. Appetizers (She notes on the menu: “This is the food that will be out to snack when you arrive.” OK, Mom. Got it.)
A. Mini-Raw Vegetables/Vegan Onion Dip (By mini, I think she means baby carrots, but I like that she used the word mini.)
B. Mock-Chopped Liver (I can guarantee you no one will eat this. She has never made this before and she is the only person who ever enjoyed real chopped liver before she became vegetarian. Also, chopped liver used to make her gall bladder angry, so maybe she misses it and maybe she’ll enjoy it. Good. I want her to be happy.)
C. Endive Spears with Cranberries, Nuts, Vegan Blue Cheese, and Fresh Pears (I’m sorry, but this just sounds awesome.)
A. Vegan Chicken Soup (She highlighted the word “vegan” as if I might think she was serving actual chicken-y chicken soup.)
B. Pumpkin Squash Kreplach (Sounds awesome.)
C. Alphabet Letters Floating in the Soup (She writes: “Hebrew alphabet, I hope!” I hope so too, Mom!)
A. Two Small Gardein “Birds” (I hope they are not shaped like birds because my younger son is lately crying whenever he thinks about animals being eaten. I am unsure what Gardein birds are for the record.)
B. One Large Rolled Gardein “Bird” (No friggin’ clue how large it is, if it’s shaped like a bird, and what it’s rolled in or with. Guess I’ll find out soon enough.)
C. Turkey Dressings:
1. Fresh Cranberry Sauce (which no one will eat)
2. Canned Cranberry Sauce (because that’s the way my ex likes it; he will eat this)
3. Gravy (also something only my ex will eat)
1. Brussels Sprouts (my hand hurts so my ex will make these under my supervision, thank you, Mike!)
2. Mike’s Great-Grandmother’s Louisiana Cornbread Stuffing (the recipe is in my cookbook which comes out in February, and it is literally the first thing I suggest you make from Mayim’s Vegan Table. It is awesome.)
3. Instead of potatoes… drumroll please… Latkes! (My mother notes there will be ketchup, sour cream, cucumbers and dill, and mini baked apples involved with the latkes. I’m not exactly sure how the last few items meld with the latkes, but I can’t wait to find out. The latkes may be root vegetable-based with carrots and yams, but she may also just do the classic.)
A. Sufganiyot (Another job for the ex with my supervision, and yes, the recipe is in my book, too.)
B. Fruit (my younger son’s favorite dessert. He’s kind of a fruitarian.)
C. “Chocolate Holiday Candies” (I’m not sure if she means chocolate gelt or chocolate turkeys? We will find out!)
My mother asked me to bring vegan challah for Thanksgivukkah but I reminded her that since it’s not Shabbat, I’d rather our carbohydrate intake come exclusively from latkes, since we don’t tend to make a motzi (blessing over bread) at non-holiday meals. Plus, it sounds like there will be plenty of food already on the table. Don’t you think?
For all the things I am thankful for, I am thankful that my mother takes such pride and joy in food preparation, especially since she grew up in a home where food and survival were intimately linked, money was scarce, and joy was sometimes even scarcer. Thank you, Ema.
No matter how you spend Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Thanksgivukkah, I hope there is much thankfulness to go around and I also hope that the day will come soon when there is enough for everyone in our world to eat. That would truly be something to be thankful for.