Sheri - each family handles gifts in their own way. Some give token gifts each of the eight nights, some give a single more expensive gift, some don't exchange gifts because that's not what it's really all about... it's very very hard not to commercialize the holiday as Christmas has become - especially in areas where Christmas is advertised to death if you know what I mean. It's especially hard to deal with young children who don't understand why their friends get gifts for Christmas, while Chanukah is not really about gifts.
Jenn - you have mentioned that Judaism is part of your heritage, so it would be wonderful for you to explore all the holidays and participate in them. Since I never went to Hebrew school, the cultural aspects of the religion are what I am familiar with. I'm afraid I wouldn't be any help with the prayers, but I'm sure you could find them online - there are some excellent websites for that. If you can't find it, I'm sure I could ask my husband to help.
As for the latkes recipe - Dodge actually posted it when she was talking about making potato
pancakes for dinner the other night. It's really very simple:
grate some white potatoes
- we use Idaho potatoes
, and usually a 5lb. bag - lots of leftovers!
grate 3 large onions for a 5 lb. bag of potatoes
salt and pepper
mix all together and drop large spoonfuls of batter into heated oil - we use an electric frying pan, you could use any pan deep enough to fry in. Fry on each side until golden brown. (I prefer them to be crispy!) We like to drain them on a few layers of paper towels to get rid of some of the excess oil.
Don eats them with a sprinkle of salt and a dollop of sour cream.
I like them sprinkled with sugar and applesauce on the side.