Thursday, December 7, 2023

Grandma Honey's Infallible Latkes

A neighbor texted looking for my once famous latke recipe. It was never mine. It was Grandma Honey's. (Her name was Helen, but none of us knew her by any other name than Honey. If I smell a latke (or if I am an honest, even a French fry will do), I am transported back to her kitchen. About 17 years ago, my son Ethan challenged me to a fry-off. Grandma Honey's latkes are perfect. And they are grated, not shredded. He insisted shredded was better. An aspiring foodie, he used scallions instead of onions and I think a specialty oil. He was declare the winner by my wife and his brother. I never made Grandma's latkes again. And at this point, Trader Joe's product is pretty darn good. I think only my cousin Amy still makes them. To honor the memory of Grandma Honey and to help out my neighbor Debbie, here is the recipe, which I published in the temple bulletin in 2006.

Of course there is a true "Miracle of the Oil!" I experience it every Chanukah. In the beginning the miracle happened at Grandma Honey's house. The whole family met at Grandma and Grandpa's for the Miraculous Latkes. The 10 pounds of white russet potatoes were already peeled and soaking in water in the giant yellow Tupperware bowl by the time we arrived.

It was several years before I was allowed to help grate the potatoes. Grandma was sure that no one could grate them into the fine mush as well as she. We all sat around talking while she rubbed the potatoes against the grater. Then she added the small box of Rokeach Potato Pancake Mix and the salt--just a little bit to taste.

Grandma started laying out brown paper bags—cut open to lie flat, while I took a big serving spoon and used it to spoon off the water that was gathering at the top of the potato mixture. Grandma spooned batter into the hot frying pan, filled with about 1/8th inch of hot Crisco. The potatoes sizzled immediately—giving a sigh of deep contentment. A Re-ach Tov—a Divine smell--filled the kitchen and rose to heaven.

Grandma turned the latkes with a spatula and a fork when they got crisp around the edges, and they sizzled again. Ahhhh!

When each batch was done, it was removed to the brown paper bags. It is a known fact that the bags impart an extra special flavor to the pancakes--paper towel just won't do.

My mom told me that we always had other food at dinner on Chanukah. She said we had either chicken or corned beef as well as salad or cole slaw. When I checked with Uncle Stanley, though, his memory matched mine: Latkes and Apple Sauce for dinner. Period. If there was something else, it was at best a garnish.

There have been several innovations in the family miracle--a true blending of tradition and progress. As Grandma's fingers became less agile, she agreed to my mother's suggestion of using the Cuisinart with the metal blade to liquefy the potatoes in small batches.


10 lbs White Potatoes

1 Box of Potato Pancake Mix for seasoning


2 Eggs

(Some add an onion)

Puree it all and fry in Crisco, cool on brown paper bags

TO FREEZE: Mom also pioneered the art of freezing the leftovers (we sometimes made an additional 10 lbs. in order to have leftovers). She places the pancakes on the paper bags, and puts them into the freezer upon the bags. After they have frozen, she transfers them to Ziploc bags. This keeps them from sticking to each other. TO REHEAT: After defrosting the desired amount of latkes, place them onto a brown paper bag on a cookie sheet. Place the whole assembly into a very hot oven until crisp.


  1. Great story, Ira. I remember your Grandma Helen and Grandpa Leo, right?

    1. That was from me, Cousin Barbara (Wise). Susan is here visiting and she remembers your grandparents too.