If you were born in any year between 1946 and 1964, I probably don’t need to tell you what you’ve been labeled. That’s right; you’re officially a Boomer, part of the surge of babies born after the end of World War II.
Boomers have always been the subject of a lot of press, good and bad. If we believe what we’ve read or been told, you were largely responsible for major changes in our attitudes about sex,sexism and women’s place in society, and heaven knows you changed our music in ways we’d never have imagined.
Between us, John and I (along with a couple of ex’s) were responsible for five Boomers; two mine, three his, five really “ours.” Thus, I feel we are qualified to discuss Boomerdom with a certain amount of authority, especially since I doubt any will be reading this.
Right from the beginning, Boomers were told they could aspire to greater heights than their parents ever had. “You can do anything, be anything you want to,” we told you.
For the most part, you were better educated, healthier and less restrained than any previous generation. You would make more money and live longer, and many of you would have more than one spouse, as you embraced the idea that an unhappy marriage need not be until death do you part, after all.
Many of you survived a nasty, unimaginable war (too many did not), while thousands of you shocked us with your blatant, publicly demonstrated outrage over that war. You were openly rebellious, notoriously vocal about anything and everything, often tiresome with your “It’s all about me” attitude, but memorable in so many areas of both the arts and science. You made great strides in every direction, and there is no doubt in my mind that Boomer attitudes changed the way I viewed the world and my place in it.
But, even for Boomers, time passes.
The earliest Boomers are just now turning 65, collecting their first Social Security checks and probably wondering where the years so quickly went. Retirement, however, for the majority of Boomers, is not so much the end of a career as it is an opportunity to try something new, which is pretty much what we’d expect of a Boomer.
There are things, however, we never told you about, dear Boomers, that you’re now learning the hard way.
We never mentioned arthritis, stenosis, osteoporosis, did we? Nor talked about joint replacement, dementia, stents, ED or IBS (if you don’t know what those are, consider yourself lucky).
We forgot to mention that you might find yourselves caring for both aging parents and unemployed kids, that all those strenuous sports we urged you to try and you embraced so avidly might lead to a lasting relationship with your orthopedic doctor, and somehow we neglected the part of the manual that covered how to manage when you’re middle-aged, out of work, and in the midst of a depression.
Bette Davis once said, “Growing old is not for sissies,” and she’s right, but we never talked to you about growing old, did we? Probably because we didn’t want to think about it ourselves. But, there is one thing I know we can count on, a thing we have always known about Boomers. You are not sissies.
Many of our readers, Boomers and otherwise, may be celebrating the first day of Hanukkah tomorrow, so I’d like to offer both my wishes for a Happy Hanukkah and a few of my recipes for latkes.
I happen to be very fond of latkes, and like to make them any time of the year, which is why I have a file of variations on this important element of any Hanukkah feast.
CURRIED YAM LATKES
2 cups (packed) peeled and coarsely grated red-skinned sweet potatoes (usually called yams in the market)
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
3 T. cornstarch
1 can (15-16 oz.) garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), well drained
2 t. curry powder
1 t. salt
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 t. mustard seeds
Vegetable oil (probably about 1/3-1/2 cup)
In a large bowl, combine the yams and bell pepper. Add cornstarch; toss to coat.
Purée the garbanzo beans in a food processor to a coarse paste. Add egg, curry powder and salt; blend well. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Mix in cilantro and mustard seeds. Stir garbanzo mixture into yam mixture.
Preheat oven to 325. Place a baking sheet in the oven. In a large skillet over med. heat, heat 6 T. of oil until shimmering. Working in batches, drop 1 heaping tablespoon of batter per pancake into hot oil. Use the back of a spoon to spread to about 3-inch rounds. Cook until brown, turning once, about 3 min. per side. Transfer to the baking sheet to stay warm; repeat with remaining batter, spooning any liquid that may arise off the top of the batter and adding oil to the skillet as necessary. Serve latkes hot, with sour cream or yogurt as an accompaniment. Makes about a dozen. Note: These are excellent with a pork roast, or with ham.
This next recipe is close to classic for latkes; the difference is using Yukon Gold potatoes, which gives these a special color and very buttery flavor. Delicious, served with traditional homemade applesauce.
2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 med. onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large eggs
2 T. unsalted matzo meal
1 t. salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ t. baking powder
Vegetable oil, 8 T. or more
Using the med. shredding blade of a food processor, shred the potatoes and onion. Transfer mixture to a kitchen towel, wrap tightly and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. (One of the important things about making latkes is to get the potatoes as dry as possible before proceeding.) Place potato mixture in a large bowl and let stand for 5 min., then pour off any excess liquid that may have accumulated. Mix in eggs, matzo meal, salt, pepper and baking powder.
Preheat oven to 325; place a baking sheet in the oven. Heat 4 T. oil in a heavy large skillet over med.-high heat. Drop a heaping tablespoon of potato mixture into hot oil; flatten to 3-inch with back of a spoon, repeating but not crowding pancakes in the pan. Fry latkes until crisp and golden brown, about 3 min. per side. Transfer to baking sheet in oven to keep warm and repeat with remaining potato mixture, add more oil to skillet as necessary. Serve warm, with applesauce. Makes about
Another latke recipe is an unusual one with artichoke and feta from my sister, who makes an outstanding Hanukkah feast for her Jewish family.
LATKES WITH ARTICHOKE AND FETA
1 1/2 lbs. red-skinned potatoes
1 pkg. (9 oz.) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, diced and patted dry
2/3 cup chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 T. chopped fresh mint
2 t. dried oregano
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
6 oz. feta cheese, diced
1 1/2 cups (approx.) fresh bread crumbs
Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 20 min. Drain, cool completely, and peel.
Preheat oven to 325 and place a cookie sheet in the oven. Using a hand grater, coarsely grate the potatoes into a large bowl. Add artichokes and leek.
In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, egg, mint, oregano, salt and pepper. Add to potato mixture. Stir in feta and enough bread crumbs to form a mixture that holds together.
Press about 1/3 cup of potato mixture into a 3-inch round, repeating with remaining mixture. Heat 6 T. oil in a large skillet over med. heat. Place pancakes in skillet, not crowding, and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 min. per side. Transfer to baking sheet in oven to keep warm while frying remaining cakes, adding oil to skillet as necessary. Serve hot, with yogurt/mint accompaniment. (Stir some chopped fresh mint into plain Greek yogurt). Makes about 1 dozen.