Celebrate Purim with Hamentaschen

Tracey R. Rich Teaches Jewish Culture with her Website

Here is an excerpt from the  Judaism 101 website:

Purim   pvrym

Hamantaschen

Celebrate Purim with Hamantaschen cookies

Significance: Remembers the defeat of a plot to exterminate the Jews
Observances: Public reading of the book of Esther while “blotting out” the villain’s name
Length: 1 day
Customs: Costume parties; drinking; eating fruit-filled triangular cookies

Purim begins at Sunset on March 23, 2016

The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.

The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. 

Here’s Tracey R. Rich‘s Recipe for Hamentaschen

Hamentaschen (lit. Haman’s pockets):  These triangular fruit-filled cookies are supposed to represent Haman’s three-cornered hat.

Hamentaschen

Yield:  Approx. 20 – 24 cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (the smooth kind, not the pulpy)
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour (DO NOT substitute white flour! The wheat flour is necessary to achieve the right texture!)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Various preserves, fruit butters and/or pie fillings.

Directions: Blend butter and sugar thoroughly. Add the egg and blend thoroughly. Add orange juice and blend thoroughly. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating white and wheat, blending thoroughly between each. Add the baking powder and cinnamon with the last half cup of flour. Refrigerate batter overnight or at least a few hours. Roll as thin as you can without getting holes in the batter (roll it between two sheets of wax paper lightly dusted with flour for best results). Cut out 3 or 4 inch circles.

Proper folding of HamentaschenPut a dollop of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold up the sides to make a triangle, folding the last corner under the starting point, so that each side has corner that folds over and a corner that folds under (see picture). Folding in this “pinwheel” style will reduce the likelihood that the last side will fall open while cooking, spilling out the filling. It also tends to make a better triangle shape.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown but before the filling boils over!

Traditional fillings are poppy seed and prune. (Apricot is Tracey R. Rich’s favorite) Apple butter, pineapple preserves, and cherry pie filling all work quite well.

On her website, Judaism101  Rich writes, “I usually use Pathmark grocery store brand fruit preserves, and of course the traditional Simon Fischer brand prune lekvar. I have also made some with Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread); I find it a bit dry that way, but some people like it.”

The number of cookies this recipe makes depends on the size of the cutting tool and the thickness. Rich use sa 4-1/4 inch cutting tool and roll to a medium thickness, and gets 20-24 cookies out of this recipe.

Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Variation

If on a wheat-free diet for wheat allergies or a gluten-free diet for celiac-sprue, substitute 2 cups of buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup of milled flax seed for the white and wheat flour. Reduce the baking powder to 1 tsp. The resulting hamentaschen will have an unusual pumpernickel color, but taste great.

Make sure the buckwheat flour you use is wheat-free/gluten-free.  Sometimes buckwheat flour is mixed with white or wheat flour. The Hodgson Mill buckwheat and flax  are gluten-free and have reliable kosher certification.

Find more information about Purim at the Judaism 101 website© Copyright 5756-5771 (1995-2011), Tracey R Rich

Click here for more Hamentaschen recipes.

Day of the Dead – Día de Muertos

Representations of Catrina, one of the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico

Representations of Catrina, one of the most popular figures of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico/Photo:Wikipedi

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday observed throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the triduum of Allhallowtide: All Hallows’ Eve, Hallowmas, and All Souls’ Day.

Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world.

goddess, Mictecacihuatl, ruler of the afterlife
Lady of the Dead goddess, Mictecacihuatl ( ‘Meek-teka-see-wahdl’). In Aztec mythology, Mictecacihuatl is the Queen of “Mictlan,” the underworld, and she is ruler of the afterlife.

 

 

 

 

In Brazil Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain there are festivals and parades and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

Check out this Hollyday Blog by Holly Tidwell

Re-create this delicious centerpiece for May Day or any occasion featured on Holly Tidwell‘s blog.  Click here for more information:  Everyday is a “Hollyday” with 4.

 

May Pole cake

Let them eat cake! All will gather around this tasty May Pole.

Celebrate Groundhog Day

What is Groundhog Day?   Groundhog Day is celebrated in the United States and Canada on February 2nd.

chocolate treat shaped as  a groundhog

Shop Punxsutawney Phil’s website for groundhog gifts.

The day involves weather prognostication by a furry creature, namely the Groundhog.  The most famous and the biggest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds as large as 40,000.  Since 1886, people have gathered here to celebrate the holiday, which is based on when winter is going to end.

The tradition holds that if the groundhog (Marmota monax) pops his head out but sees a shadow when emerging from its burrow, and pops back down, winter will go on for another six weeks. But, if it doesn’t see its shadow, and the groundhog comes out of its burrow, then it is thought that winter will be over soon.

What you should know is… that National Climatic Data Center has described the forecasts as “on average, inaccurate” and stated that “the groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years.”

Although Punxsutawney Phil’s weather predictions have been correct 39% of the time, accordingto the StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, he is still considered the Number 1 prognosticator in the United States. 

Looking for gifts and/or party favors to celebrate Groundhog Day?  Click on Punxsutawney Phil’s website to find chocolate treats and more….

Also check out the Recipes page.

groundhog poop _ chocolate candy

A fun gift for Feb. 2nd, give “groundhog poop,” which is really chocolate candy.