Category: Entertaining

put on your yarmulke.

Fresh Scratch, Menorah, HanukkahI didn’t grow up celebrating Hanukkah. It’s one of those things I’ve created space for in my life as an adult. I was drawn to it years ago when I noticed on my family tree that my great-oma’s last name was Morowetz. I pieced together a story somehow, and that story led me to purchase the gorgeous menorah in this picture, hand-forged in Vermont by some blacksmith in his barn. Because – come on! – this is my menorah we are talking about. It simply had to be folksy.

Long, long ago, somewhere up my family tree – maybe past what I can see – these eight nights were a big deal. I don’t want to forget that. I want to remember it and honor it. A lot was lost for these celebrations to continue. It feels more right each year that I should make space for these flames.

It’s funny what we come to know about ourselves. Some of it takes so long to rise up to the surface. When my girls and I light these candles at sundown during this season of hustle and bustle, it’s like my soul sighs a sigh of great relief. Everything goes quiet and still inside of me. It is indeed a holy time for a girl whose idea of “holy” is generally pretty unconventional. It feels right.

These candles and this ritual that we hold for just a hair over a week center me somehow. They pull me into myself. They pull me out of myself. The stillness makes me feel a gratitude that moves me. When the shamash is lit each night, I almost feel a memory that is not mine. It exists further back. I feel tethered to something that’s hard to explain. It’s the weird deja vu feeling I get when I am in eastern Europe; it somehow feels connected to the way I love the grittiness of those cities and towns because the grittiness makes the beauty sparkle all the more. It’s kind of like life, isn’t it?

So this is my menorah in my new front window. I think it looks best here of all the homes it’s been in. I will take that as a bit of holiness, as well. Look what happens when we just feel our way through everything – we stumble sometimes into the divine.

The runner-up to lighting these candles every night of Hanukkah? Hanukkah dinner. I do not even know if this is a thing. But I have made it quite the thing, so let’s just go with it. I just finished up the dishes from tonight’s big feast {dish duty was accompanied by a dog at my feet and this! podcast! with! bruce!}. My cousin Evie and her family were over earlier, and kids were running around, we were drinking wine, I burned my hand in the oil… and we still managed to feast on brisket, noodle kugel, and latkes with applesauce. If you could scratch and sniff that photo for the smells all around that menorah, you’d want to write home about it.

There is absolutely zero I change in these recipes when I make them, so we will call them “borrowed.” Just click on the links above – the brisket goes in the crock pot all day and couldn’t be easier, the noodle kugel isn’t much more than mixing some stuff with some par-boiled noodles and throwing it in the oven, and the latkes aren’t too scary to make, even if they are from a Martha recipe.

There’s one more night left, homies. To quote Adam Sandler, “have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah.”

Or whatever it is that brings you quiet deep down in the places that matter.

xoxo,

ms. fresh scratch

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goonies never say die!

Fresh Scratch, Kelli Samson, Shelby Payne Photography

So it’s the day after Labor Day. School’s about to start. In comes the routine. But I’m here to tell you that summer can still live on. It just takes a little effort on your part to eek out the last of the season. The glass of Sangria is half full, not half empty, my friends.

Fresh Scratch, Sangria, St. GermainSangria? Yes. In September. Because it’s not too late.

I hosted a clothing swap with my lady friends a couple of weeks ago, on the last fine evening in our weather report for what ended up being like 10 days. The rain finally arrived, and it was glorious and sobering and cozy and sad all at once. But first came the muggy night with Sangria in the backyard under the twinkle lights.

Stuff You’ll Need:

* ideally, a punch bowl or large pitcher, though you could break this down glass-by-glass

* the fruits of the season: stone fruits, late summer berries, apples, and – dare I say it? – pears

* 2 bottles of white wine {my fave? L’Ecole. But Sangria is a good place to go even cheaper.}

* 1 bottle of elderflower liqueur {try something cheaper than St. Germain – if you go nuts, this Sangria could easily cost you $60, so simmer down.}

* sparkling water

What to Do:

1) chop all the fruit into bite-sized pieces & dump it into the vessel of your choice

2) pour in the alcohol

3) serve with some fruit in each glass and top with sparkling water to help dilute it a bit. Seriously. I didn’t do this part because I forgot I had seltzer water in the pantry, and after three or four of these, I definitely felt it the next morning.

Viva la Summer! …but welcome to fall, too. Let’s not be haters!