It’s definitely not love at first sight for Amanda and her cute but mysterious new neighbor, Ben. Can a Chanukah miracle show them that getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean they can’t walk the same road?
Chanukah Fun with KK Hendin
Favorite Chanukah Memory or tradition:
My favorite memory is from the first year I lived in Israel. I was in school there, and we had the afternoons off that week. A bunch of us wanted to do something fun before lighting the menorah in the evening, but we were all too poor to do anything that really cost money. So we split up into two groups and wrote a ridiculous list of things to do. The goal was to see which group could do more things on the list, with picture evidence to make sure nobody lied. By the end of the afternoon, we had done things like decorate a public bathroom, confuse the heck out of a bunch of soldiers, ask random strangers both silly questions and very serious questions, and hired ourselves to work at people’s restaurants. And all for the price of a bus ticket.
My favorite tradition… hmm. Lighting the Chanukah candles every night is really nice, because we do it as a family. Everyone gets together in the living room, and we all light our menorahs together, and sing. And laugh when my dad reminds us not to go near the candles, because when it comes to menorahs, he seems to forget we’re all perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves near fire.
Favorite Chanukah Dish/Dessert:
It’s traditional to eat both dairy products and fried food on Chanukah, which is the greatest possible combination of foods to eat. One Chanukah night every year we ignore the concept of a balanced meal for dinner and have latkes, homemade french fries, and a bunch of different kinds of cheese. It is a ridiculous overindulgence, and the next day everyone just eats salad as a recovery food. (I eat my latkes with cottage cheese, not applesauce. I don’t understand the appeal of latkes and applesauce. I’m sorry.)
(When I called my mother to make sure I got the latke recipe correct, I mentioned eating latkes and cottage cheese. Her response was something along the lines of, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? WHO EATS LATKES AND COTTAGE CHEESE??”. When I reminded her that I have ALWAYS eaten latkes and cottage cheese together, she told me she probably blocked the memory.)
The recipe we use for potato latkes is our potato kugel recipe tweaked.
Potato Latkes (Or Potato Kugel)
5 pounds potatoes
1 large white onion
(You can substitute a zucchini for a few of the potatoes if you want for the potato kugel.)
(1/2 cup oil-for kugel)
1 tablespoon Salt
LATKES: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, salt and pepper. Use a food processor to shred the potatoes and onions, then add to the mixing bowl. Form into patties, and fry them in oil. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or (to quote my family), if you’re irrevocably broken somehow like KK, cottage cheese. Makes a lot of latkes.
POTATO KUGEL: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, salt and pepper. Cover the bottom of a 9×13 pan in oil and place it an oven set at 450. Use a food processor to shred the potatoes and onions, then add to the mixing bowl. Combine all ingredients together, and the take the mixing bowl directly to the oven, and pour the mixture into the pan without taking the pan out of the oven. Cook for an hour and a half, or until the potato kugel is at the consistency and texture you’d like. Serve hot with anything at all, because potato kugel, and if you have extras somehow, potato kugel is delicious cold with a bit of mustard on top or dipped in humus. Makes one delicious pan of potato-y goodness.
(Alternative, if you’re feeling fancy: instead of baking the kugel in a 9 x 13, you can bake it in cupcake tins for fanciness and extra crispy bits. Adjust temperature and cooking time accordingly.)
Do you have any real life experience with finding love during Chanukah?
I think I really and truly fell in love with Israel on Chanukah- I finally was settled in, I knew how to get places without taking the bus, and there were an abundance of cheerful soldiers. It was finally sweater weather, and every person, regardless of religious observance, was excited about Chanukah, and about sufganiyot.
Also, as a New Yorker, getting to go to the beach in December without freezing your face off is pretty cool.
What was your favorite scene to write for ALL I GOT?
Besides the ending? Probably the rain. I’ve done my share of dance parties in the rain in Israel, and it was so much fun to write one for Avi.
One line that describes your holiday romance.
Sometimes you can meet the love of your life at a bus stop.
Chanukka! Making copyeditors gnash their teeth for over 5000 years!
I really enjoyed this Chanukah-themed anthology, even if I felt like I needed a glossary at times to decode what they were talking about 😉 (Don’t tell me there is one, because I’m serious. I had no idea what a good 75% of those words meant.)
Despite my total ignorance, all four romances were absolutely adorable–it would be hard to pick a favorite! (But if I had to it would probably be KK Hendin’s All I Got because I just loved the voice of Tamar, her heroine. That, and the snippets of dialogue the author added in from different people in between sections was very When Harry Met Sally-like.)
Megan Hart’s Miracle was an opposites attract story–or is it? Ben and Amanda start things off on the wrong foot–and poor Ben is struggling to find his place in a new world, which makes him all kinds of awkward and adorable–but they just might find out that they have more in common than they think.
Jennifer Gracen’s A Dose of Gelt is about a perfectly-in-love couple…until they aren’t anymore. Or are they? Divorce lawyer Evan’s sure that marriage isn’t in the cards for him, until he admits as much–under duress–to Shari, his girlfriend of seven months. She very much wants to get married…someday…and begins to reconsider their relationship. Can the holiday season help them to repair the damage?
In Home for Chanukah by Stacey Agdern, two neighbors come together to plan the perfect holiday party and decide they might like to come together in another way as well. But when Molly thinks she’s found the perfect gift to give Jon, will it end up tearing them apart forever? (Bonus: Jon’s sister is just as much fun as the two main characters–maybe more, because she bakes and knows the restorative powers of chocolate and sugar.)
And finally, Tamar of KK Hendin’s All I Got has the vacation of a lifetime in Israel, where she meets (or is it meets again?) soldier Avi. All good things must come to an end, though…or do they? 😉
All four stories are quick reads, and will leave you with a smile and a warm fuzzy feeling. Oh, and chances are you’ll might be a teensy bit hungry too.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.