Hanukkah – Cote de Texas Style


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Ready and waiting for the overcooked beef tender and soggy potato latkes!


I promised I would show the pictures from my family Hanukkah party this year.    Unlike my husband’s Webb Family Christmas which means 3 to 4 gifts for everyone, the Cohen Family Hanukkah party is more subdued, thankfully!!!!!    The adults all pick names on Thanksgiving, with a limit around $50 to $100 per gift, but you can go over or under if you find just the right thing.  The grandchildren each get a present from all the adults.    I have tried to institute picking names in the Webb Family, and one year we did do it, except Ben’s mother cheated and bought presents for everyone!   So, we went back to not picking names.  With the economy getting so scary, I think picking names is a wonderful way to keep the holiday season manageable, so maybe in 2009 we’ll try it again at the Webb Family Christmas.  

For the Cohen Family’s Hanukkah, we served beef tender, potato latkes, salad, and green beans.   Dessert was a tiramisu picked up from Carrabba’s.   Unfortunately, the beef tender was a disaster this year, as it was totally overcooked!   I like my meat well done, but beef tender is NOT supposed to be that way.  Sorry guys, next year it will be better!   Latkes are a universal problem for Jews everywhere.   They only really taste delicious when someone stands over the stove and fries them right before they are eaten.    Of course, then your house stinks like stale grease for about a week – it’s awful!!!   Plus, its hugely labor intensive, someone has to peel and prepare enough potatoes to feed a small army  and then the cook might as well not even be at the party – she’s just busy frying at the hot stove.   So -----  a lot of people make their latkes early, or pick them up from a deli, and then heat them up.   Unfortunately, ours were not really crispy this year.    Oh well, the point of any holiday is getting together with family and having fun, but still, you do want the food to be good.   Each year is a learning experience for me as I am not the best of cooks.  And, I promise to get new baking sheets and have them ready to go next year.  (Don’t ask!)    I serve buffet style off the kitchen table where there is plenty of room to spread everything out.


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The only preparation in the living room were fresh flowers and a few lit candles.   I used peach roses and white tulips in this room.  I love my reflection in the mirror – still in my sweats!


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The “adult” table.


At the “adult” table – I used pink roses to match my china.   Since I have an oval skirted table in my dining room, I really can’t fit a lot of people at the table, so I put out a couple of extra tables around the house.  This year we were missing a few people – so I only needed two tables.  Actually  - this is a perfect time to discuss skirted tables and dinner parties!   Underneath the white linen table cloth is my silk yellow skirt that I use daily.   But, in order to protect it against food and water spills,  when entertaining,  I first cover it with a plastic waterproof, table liner with a felt backing.   These can be bought at places like Bed Bath and Beyond.   You just cut them with scissors to fit the table.  Over this, I then place the white table cloth – or any other festive cloth for the occasion.  This way – if someone spills a glass of wine, I don’t have to worry about my “real” table skirt being damaged.  Whenever I have a client that wants to use a skirted table in the dining room, we go over this procedure in detail.  It’s a “must”  - skirted table cloths are not made to be eaten off!!   (Alyse – are you taking notes?)



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Pink roses, wooden dreidels and chocolate gelt.


On the tables I spread chocolate coins or gelt, a Hanukkah tradition for the kids.   Also, I put out a handful of little wooden dreidels for some holiday spirit.    There is one interesting tidbit about my china.   When I got married, I chose the same china that my mother, my two aunts and my sister all had!   This way, in our family, we have a huge set of place settings in one pattern.   As long as you all like the same pattern – it’s a great way to accumulate a large set of china – in case you ever have the Russian Army for a dinner party.   It’s hard to see in this picture, but the rim of the china is a celadon green color, so I used fun green colored wine glasses and put the napkins in the bubble water glasses (before the water was poured, of course – I’m not quite that inept.)


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The “kids” table.


The “kids” table is right across from the dining room – I actually used my wine table that is usually here and my breakfast room chairs.  The table is set exactly the same as the “adult” table.    I do have several  round office conference tables that I store in my infamous garage that seat 8 or 10 for when the crowd is bigger.  The wine table is a little wobbly, but it was the perfect size to use this time.   This year the party was a little early – set for 5:00 p.m. because we have a new baby in the family!!!



AWWWWW, here she is, my great niece – Laine !!!   Can you help but smile?   She’s six months old and she arrived in her new pink coat and hat that was a gift from her great grandmother, my mother.   Isn’t she just the cutest thing!!!!  The other cute thing in the picture is her uncle, my nephew, Jeffrey.   Still available, ladies!




Laine’s father, my nephew Philip, and her great grandmother, Nana, get ready for Laine’s first Hanukkah.




Here we go! 

Usually, the youngest in the family says the prayers in Hebrew and English and then lights the menorah, but since Laine didn’t know the prayers and my daughter was away for her BBYO Regional Convention, the prayer lighting fell to Philip.   That’s my mother and father and my nephew Jeffrey, on the right, who doesn’t look too happy here for some reason -  I think he just anxious for his present!!!!



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Everyone got Laine a present, of course.   Philip is smiling because he’s glad he won’t have to buy her anything new for a while.  That’s my sister Cathy, the new grandmother, and Allison, Laine’s mom. 


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Watching Laine open her gifts – the three biggest UT Football fans in the world:   Ben, my brother in law Robert, and Jeffrey, still waiting for gifts!!!




Ben, Elisabeth and I gave Laine this rocker toy.  I think she really liked it.   I thought it would look cute in her nursery – always worried about design.



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She really liked it!!!   In case you like it too, I ordered it online from a Dallas store – www.roomservicebyannfox.com.


We had our party on the first night of Hanukkah.   For the next 7 nights, we lit the menorah ourselves while Elisabeth was gone and then with her when she came back.    It’s really pretty on the 8th night, when all the candles are lit, but it’s always a little sad that it’s over for another year.  Sunday was the final night.    I’m sure it’s the same feeling at your house the day after Christmas when it’s all over after all the planning and decorating and cooking.    We spend Christmas at my sister in law’s ranch and it is such fun, but it all goes by so fast.   There is always lots of laughs and great food – so much food that we all need to go on a diet by New Years.     Every Christmas Eve, they have a dinner party for the family.   My sister-in-law, her sister and their mother put on quite a feast.  Here’s a peek at her table this year:


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 My sister-in-law’s dining room is part of a big living area – so she can have a large table with all the leaves in place – something I would really like one day.  Everyone fits around one table, even all the children, which is so nice.  



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Holding the flowers is a large silver epergne – something you get for a wedding gift and then put away, which is a shame because epergnes are so beautiful and make such wonderful centerpieces!!  Also, she put out three sets of mercury glass candleholders with gold candles and lots of holly and pomegranates.



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Each place setting was marked with a gold charger, and the napkin rings were made of velvet roses.  She used red crystal stemware and her Christmas china.  She served beef tender which was properly cooked, and yes, I took a lesson from her!!  There was also a to-die-for cornbread casserole type dish that was out of this world.    But the best thing of all was a coconut cream cake that her sister’s husband baked.  We finished it all off, it was so delicious.  There was plenty of beef tender left over, so it made great sandwiches for a few days.   One thing I know – I’ll eat really great when I go to the country for the Webb Christmas.


A few of you have asked to see pictures of the KW Ranch.  If you are interested in seeing the ranch,  I wrote about it last year.  Follow the link HERE to see those pictures.   I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza!!    We’re looking forward to the New Year and the UT Bowl game, go Horns!!!!!

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