How to Survive: Gift Giving & Potato Latkes

Holiday Gift Giving tips

By: Honey Good

Chanukah begins at sundown this Sunday. My Menorah is out with all it's multi colored candles that we will light for eight nights. These candles were given to me by one of my closest girlfriends, Patti, who lives across the hall from me. She will have her Menorah aglow too, (though she is from the Catholic faith) because one of her daughters is married to a Rabbi's son! So you see darlings, we are truly 'all one'.

Now back to my story...

I to want wish all my Jewish darlings a Happy Chanukah! This holiday is so festive and happy; the candles brightly lit in homes around the world; gift giving and family dinners; children lighting the Menorah while gleefully opening their presents and eating tons of delicious Latkes around their tables; a Chanukah tradition, that moms and grandmothers, around the world, prepare for their family. And like Christmas, it is a time to share love and joy with family and friends.

Lets talk about Chanukah and Christmas gift giving.

I say this with 100% confidence your gift should be a reflection of you. I want the present you give make you smile inside and out as you present your beautifully wrapped package to a family member, a friend or an acquaintance. Obviously, you want the receiver of your gift to be as excited as you are and I believe that person will be because your gift is a reflection of you.

That does not mean you should not take into account the receiver’s feelings. I am saying…be creative, give a gift they don’t expect that reflects your thoughts and style while keeping in mind their life style, their personality and their favorite colors. Just weave off course and add your own drama! I believe in drama darlings. Makes even gift giving so much more exciting!

Here are a few tips

You have friends that eat out nightly. They have their restaurant routine…five favorites (meat, potatoes and pasta) that they frequent once or even twice a week.  Wouldn’t it be a nice to purchase a gift card to one of ‘your’ favorite French restaurants? What makes this gift exciting is that you are giving them a new experience, a little drama, while remembering their life style and yet interjecting a ‘piece of you.’ The exchange of this gift will be enjoyed by all of you.

One of my girlfriends loves the color red. I decided to buy her a gift that had a patch of red, yet reflected my taste and the knowledge that she would never buy this particular item for herself. I bought her a beautiful paperweight. It has a red abstract heart under glass that looks like a kite flying up into the sky. It is a gift of friendship, it is a keepsake, the heart is red and the gift is a reflection of me. I can’t wait to give it to her so I can watch the expression of happiness on her face. I feel as though I am getting a gift. And, in a wonderful sense I am!

Do something GOOD today: Shop with your children or grandchildren to teach them the value and joy of giving.

Holiday Gift Giving Tips and Latke Recipe

And now darlings, a delicious Latke (potato pancakes) Recipe to all of you from me!

Here are a few tips: 

  1. You want a crispy, lacy edged latke. So…
  2. A starchy potato= a crispy latke. Buy russet potatoes.
  3. Use a box grater to grate the potato and onions. Not a Cuisinart.
  4. As you grate the potato place it immediately in a large bowl of ice water to keep the potato from turning brown.
  5. After grating, squeeze the water completely out of the potatoes. This is key!
  6. Use only egg whites, not egg yolks. Yolks make the latke cakey in texture.
  7. Do not use inexpensive oil. Olive oil is the best and gives better flavor.
  8. Do a sizzle test in your pan with a half- inch of oil. When a shred of potato immediately sizzles the pan is ready for cooking.
  9. Do not freeze or refrigerate latkes.
  10. If you make them in the a.m. place them in a baking pan in your oven on high for a few moments to heat them.

RECIPE: Serving 20 Latkes


  • 2 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled, grated and placed in large bowl of ice water.
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and grated.
  • 2-3 egg whites
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. potato starch
  • 2 tbsp. potato starch
  • ¼ cup of all- purpose flour plus up to 2 tablespoons
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying


Drain your potatoes and transfer to a large kitchen towel.

Squeeze out all moisture making sure potatoes are completely dry.

Transfer potatoes to a mixing bowl.

Squeeze the grated onions in same towel until all moisture is gone. Transfer the potatoes and onions to a bowl.

In another large bowl combine the egg whites, salt, pepper, potato starch and flour and mix thoroughly. Add more flour if necessary, to form a batter that is loose but still holds together.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat about ½ inch of oil until a shred of potato dropped into the oil immediately sizzles.

Drop latke batter (2 tablespoon per latke) into oil and flatten the latkes slightly with back of spoon. Turn each latke once until browned - 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Use a slotted spatula to transfer latkes to a platter lined with paper towel.

Serve immediately with applesauce and enjoy!

Happy Chanukah! And Merry Christmas! This recipe is for everyone to enjoy!

Do something GOOD today: share the Latke cooking experience with your children and grandchildren.

Photography by Hallie Duesenberg

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