Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Purim was last week, so this post is obviously late, but I thought I'd share my musings anyway because I'm sure it will trigger similar experiences for each of you, regardless of your religion.

Purim was always my favorite Jewish holiday when I was little and again when my daughters were young. You can read about the story of Purim here, but in a nutshell...it's a story of Royal intrigue...with kings, an evil Prime Minister and a beautiful and courageous queen who saves her people. As a holiday, it's perfect for the young and young at heart, filled with festivals and partying, dress-up in costumes (Joanna was always Queen Esther) and

Sharron was often the Court Jester or some other totally fun, totally non-princess character.

The food star...Hamantashen - stuffed cookies shaped like the three-cornered hat of Haman (I won't give away the plot)... suffice to say...a delicious ending to any party). My mother made tangy prune and apricot stuffing, other mothers filled their hamantashen with a poppy seed stuffing and still others, liked dates and nuts or chocolate. Even the dough varied. One thing is certain...they take time to make. First there's the dough...many of the recipes require refrigeration, so on top of the time it actually takes to form these cookies, you also have to plan - little room for spontaneous cookie making.

If you know me, you know that while I love to spend time in the kitchen, I like simple, fast, easy to prepare dishes so it's no surprise that I've only made Hamantashen a handful of times over the years, and definitely not since the girls were much younger. Too much work for me...I'm definitely not one for spending hours creating detailed, time consuming, confections that take way longer to make than to eat. No wonder my mother (the ultimate baker) was annoyed with us when we would devour her perfect cookies in minutes.

But, like everyone else I know, when I eat hamantashen (and I do love to eat them) I automatically compare them to my mother's and usually, they fall short of my expectations. They're never tangy enough for me and the dough usually is missing something. So this year, I joined Joanna (who does make them every year) and it was much more fun...although I still complained about how much work it was and she did have to remind me how to shape the tri-cornered "hat". And, as is typical, we made different doughs and different fillings and kept reminding everyone that it wasn't a competition. Truth be told...both kinds were gobbled up in no time flat. And when Joanna's mother-in-law bit into her first one and said "this is just like my mother used to make"...I knew exactly what she meant. So I decided to share the two versions we made...those of you looking for Mun filling (poppy seed), you're out of luck. I made the prune and apricot and Joanna made her filling with dates and cocoa powder. Her dough was easier to use and mine was easier to make.

Hamantashen Times Two

The point of this post...beyond the sharing of recipes...just a hope that I made you think of a great food memory from your past and hope you share it with us in the comments.


giz said...

Seems we're both on the same wave length and love the dress ups - such nice memories indeed. Now that we're all a "little older" and everybody has food preferences and/or allergies we end up making 6different kinds with 3 different dough recipes. Norene's oil dough is good and doesn't need refrigeration - it's my favourite.

Ruth Daniels said...

Norene does make a great dough! As for making 6 fillings! All I can say is...you're a much better "mom" than I am. ;-) and when can I come over?