These days, it takes a lot more than a rousing game of spinning the dreidel or some gold foil covered chocolate coins to keep kids interested in Hanukkah. Even more to get the attention of seemingly eternally bored teenagers.
After all, an eons old story of a day's worth of lamp oil lasting for over a week is no match for iPhones and Xboxes.
But cookbook author and mother of four (including two teenagers) Susie Fishbein has a secret weapon — food.
Kids love to eat as much as they love to "schmooze" and socialize, says Fishbein, and Hanukkah is very much about its symbolic foods and traditions of hospitality.
She suggests getting your teenagers involved in choosing and preparing traditional foods. This might not only get them excited about the holiday, but also will create an opportunity to talk.
And she speaks from experience. While developing recipes for her new cookbook, "Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-somethings" (Artscroll/Shaar Press, 2010), Fishbein relied on her own teens and their friends to help test the recipes she was creating.
The teenagers, she points out, were at ease during these gatherings because they weren't being asked to reveal anything personal, but instead just to talk about the food, which in turn allowed them to relax and be themselves. And when kids are being themselves, they tend to open up more.
In fact, Fishbein points to food and cooking as a conduit for keeping communication lines open between adults and teens all year.
In her new book, which is part of a kosher cooking series, Fishbein offers fun, accessible recipes that serve up new choices for teens who favor fast food, as well as fresh and healthful cooking projects for the teen or college student.
VEGGIE CORN FRITTERS
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Makes 10 fritters
1 small zucchini, with skin, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 large egg
1 cup milk or plain unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1?2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups (10 ounces) dry cornbread mix
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Canola oil, for frying
Jarred marinara sauce, warmed, for dipping
Place the zucchini into a 2-cup measuring cup. Break the broccoli and cauliflower florets into tiny florets, cutting away any thick stems.
Add enough of the tiny broccoli and cauliflower florets to the zucchini to make 2 cups. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl. Add enough water to cover, then microwave on high until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, tablespoon of canola oil and salt. With a silicone spatula, stir in the cornbread mix until a smooth batter forms.
Sprinkle the flour over the drained cooked vegetables. Mix floured vegetables into the batter, using the spatula to distribute them evenly.
In a large skillet over medium, heat 1?2 inch of canola oil until a tiny amount of batter dropped into the pan sizzles. If it sizzles too vigorously, turn the heat down.
Add the batter to the oil 1/4 cup at a time. Use a metal spatula to gently flatten each fritter. Work in batches of 3 or 4 fritters at a time; do not crowd the pan. Fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. When flipping the fritters, flip away from your body to prevent splattering yourself with hot oil.
Drain on paper towels. Serve with warm marinara sauce.
Nutrition information per fritter (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 186 calories; 55 calories from fat (30 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 23 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 3 g fiber; 548 mg sodium.
(Recipe from Susie Fishbein's "Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-somethings," Artscroll/Shaar Press, 2010)