OyChicago articles

The 18 Best Ways to Celebrate Thanksgivukkah

 Permanent link
11/19/2013

We've scoured the web and carved into our creative brain power at Oy!Chicago to bring you the Thanksgivukkah list to end all Thanksgivukkah lists. These ideas are not just your one-stop Thanksgivukkah shop, but ought to hold you over for 77,000 years until Thanksgivukkah rears her menorah-crested turkey head once again to terrorize your greatest of great-great-great-times-ten-to-the-umpteenth-power grandchildren.

 

1. Deep fry a turkey

The 18 Best Ways to Celebrate Thanksgivukkah 1

We've all seen the now-classic Buzzfeed Thanksgivukkah menu. Sure, those recipes look delicious, but come on - one item is clearly missing. How much more Thanksgivukkah can you get than deep-fried turkey? For tips on how to win Thanksgivukkah without blowing your house up, click here. Apparently you can deep fry pecan pie, too …

For more ideas, check out Jewcy's Not Your Bubbe's Thanksgivingukkah Meal.

 

2. Wrap presents in Black Friday sales catalogs

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You have to do all your shopping before Black Friday this year, so put that gargantuan stack of glossy invitations to frolic in consumerism to good use. If anyone gives you a hard time, explain how this year you're thankful for recycling.


3. Combine traditions to be time-efficient

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For example, make latkes while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


4. Watch 'A Rugrats Thanksgiving' and 'A Rugrats Chanukah' back to back

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No better way to spend quality time with the family by watching lots of TV! (Hey, at least it keeps Uncle Morty from bickering with Aunt Esther…)


5. Got kids? Get crafty

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For a fun Chanukah spin on a traditional Thanksgiving craft tradition, try tracing both hands to make a menorah to go next to your turkey cut-out on the fridge. Steven Colbert offersa great tutorial.


6. Okay, even if you don't have kids…

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What's not awesome about these pumpkin menorahs? Nothing, that's what. And they're totally eco-friendly.


7. Pardon a Kosher brisket

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You're saved, little guy! It's a Thanksgivukkah miracle!

 

8. Bet gelt on Thanksgiving football games

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Gambling is a key Chanukah tradition, after all. Just be careful betting on the Lions - you might get nun.

 

9. Open presents first, and then say which ones you're most grateful for at the start of the meal

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Boom. No thank-you notes required.

 

10. Tell the age-old story of Judah Maccabeak

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Yeah … make it up.

 

11. Sing the Thanksgiving version of "I Have a Little Dreidel"

Fast forward to 0:50 in the above video, and sing along!

 

12. Make a giving grab bag

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In the spirit of both giving gifts and giving back, attach the names of different charities to the items in your grab bag, and invite guests to volunteer with or make small donation to the charity they select.

For more philanthropy-inspired ideas, check out eJewish Philanthropy's Eight Giving Rituals for Your Family: Making the Most of Thanksgivukkah.

 

13. Tell some Thanksgivukkah jokes

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Q. What did the turkey say to the Maccabee?

A. "You think you've got problems."

(You've got to have a sense of humor about Thanksgivukkah. Thanks to our friends at Spertus for that one!)

 

14. Get the t-shirt

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Because you will be so cool with your old school Thanksgivukkah shirt in 77,000 years.

Get all the Thanksgivukkah swag you could possibly need here.

 

15. Pair your meal with proper libations

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We're especially into this curated list of Six Beers for Thanksgivukkah. Just pick two more at random, and have a beer for every night of Chanukah! (Seriously, whose idea was it to come up with six?)

Of course, please drink responsibly.

 

16. Get a manicure

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For a step-by-step guide, click here.

 

17. Share the joy with others

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We love this note from Thanksgivukkah Boston: "Hanukkah is a celebration of fortitude and survival, while Thanksgiving is an expression of our gratefulness. Use this special day to remind yourself of the amazing strength and fortitude shown by those living with disabilities, and to be grateful for the amazing gift of their endurance!"

 

18. Take a Thanksgivukkah family photo

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Smile! You won't be getting together for Thanksgivukkah ever again.

Chatting with YLD’s Big Event comedian and author Jim Gaffigan, a.k.a. ‘Dad’

 Permanent link
11/12/2013

Chatting with YLD’s Big Event comedian photo

Photo credit: Gabrielle Revere

When comedian Jim Gaffigan and his wife, Jeannie Noth Gaffigan, had their first baby, they received the usual flood of congratulations from friends and family. For their second, third, and fourth children, people still seemed relatively happy for them. By the time Jeannie gave birth to their fifth kid, "it held the ceremony of renewing an annual health club membership," Gaffigan writes in his new book.

Gaffigan—who will co-headline YLD's Big Event Fundraiser on Nov. 16 alongside fellow comic star Amy Schumer—recently published the New York Times bestseller Dad is Fat, (Crown Archetype)—a title based on the first words Gaffigan's son ever wrote down. The book shares observational humor on being the father of five kids, ranging from age 8 down to newborn. Oh, and all seven Gaffigans live in a two-bedroom New York City apartment, "roughly the size of an airplane bathroom," as he puts it.

Born in Elgin, Ill., and raised in Chesterton, Ind., Gaffigan was familiar with large family size growing up with five sisters and brothers. But as the baby of the family, what he wasn't used to was being around children younger than him—until he spawned his own. "The closest I ever came to a little kid," he writes, "was when I watched The Cosby Show and Raven-Symone came to live with the Huxtables for a few seasons."

Oy!Chicago recently caught up with Gaffigan over the phone to talk about fatherhood, comedy, Twitter, and chicken rings.

Oy!Chicago: Why did you write the book?
Jim Gaffigan: Being an observational comedian, I write about what I know. When I started standup, I didn't even have a girlfriend. I would see comedians go on stage and talk about their wife, husband, or kids. And I told myself I wasn't going to do that. Flash forward to having these kids. I started writing some of it in my act, but I didn't want my act to just turn into the "dad act" because I was the 23 year old who would hear people talk about their wife and kids. I remember thinking I can't get a date—I don't know what they're talking about…The book came out of the desire [for Jeannie and me] to capture some of the chaos of our lives. Kids are pretty amazing. I was a pretty unlikely believer in the whole kid thing. It was a pretty big revelation that this is the most important thing I'll do in my life.

Chatting with YLD’s Big Event comedian photo 2

Your book reads like a love note to your wife, Jeannie, who is also your business partner, the co-writer of the book, and your muse. How do you put your love for her into words?
I am very lucky in this realm…I'm married to this wonder woman. You get a lot out of a partner in life who is going to make you a better person.

Do you feel a kinship between the Catholics and the Jews?
Standup comedy is a very Jewish American art form. It sounds pandering, but when I started in New York, most of the comedians I knew were Jewish. Maybe some of it is because I'm so Aryan looking, I get nervous talking about the Jewish experience.

You performed standup in Israel a few years ago. How was your experience being in Israel?
Amazing. I love traveling internationally. I'm not thrilled about carrying the burden of how Americans are perceived, but in Israel there was none of that…There are so many Americans in Israel. English is such a common language besides Hebrew. There were all these kids that were over there for a year. I loved it.

You have a huge Twitter presence, close to 1.8 million followers. What do you like about Twitter?
It fits the attention span of a comedian. Comedians are really spoiled by coming up with an idea and trying it on stage that night. There's a parallel there that you can come up with an idea and post it. I like Twitter because sometimes I come up with an idea, and it doesn't have to be a homerun because people aren't paying $40 [to read the tweets]. The other day I was at White Castle and I took a photo of their sides [to post]. It's just absurd. You should see it. It's like these chicken rings, rings that are made of chicken.

We know about the hands-on, daily ways kids change a parent. In what ways has your worldview changed since having children?
Once you have a kid, all the tired clichés that you hear about children fall into perspective. I would say that I have a greater interest in local news. When you don't have a kid…if someone robbed a building, you're like, 'Wow, that's fascinating.' But when you have kids, it's a concern.

What are the biggest differences from your childhood as the youngest of six children versus how your kids are growing up in a big family today?
It's much rarer to find a large family now. Also, my kids are growing up in an urban setting, and I grew up in a pretty suburban [world]... I was also the youngest of six, and knew a world of joyful chaos in a large family…I love the fact that my kids are not thrown by seeing two men holding hands walking down the street. Every decade, every generation America changes so much.

What is your favorite part about being a dad?
I could talk for an hour about this. Parenting just grounds you. You don't get distracted by the drama or the silliness or the superficiality of our lives when you're around a 2-year-old or a 9-year-old or a 7-year-old. Their point of view on the world adjusts yours. It's this intentional selflessness that's thrust on you. It's a really good influence for me…I also don't want to sound like I know what I'm doing because that's not the case. I'm a comedian and comedians work at night and there's this occupational narcissism to over-analyze things, and kids shatter that.

Are you excited to return to the Midwest for Big Event?
I've lived in New York for 25 years, but in the end, I'm a Midwestern guy... I'm proud of being from Indiana. It's fun to tell people in Chicago that you're from Indiana because they're like, 'Where's that?' It's like 10 minutes away. 

8 Questions for Sarah Weitz: Co-owner of The Fat Shallot food truck, sandwich expert

 Permanent link
11/05/2013

8 Questions for Sarah Weitz photo 1

Chicago’s food truck scene exploded this summer and adding fuel to that fire was one Fat Shallot.

Hitting the streets of The Big Onion (one of Chicago’s nicknames, for those who aren’t up on their Windy City trivia) this past May, The Fat Shallot (a play on said nickname) slings gourmet sandwiches that combine the joys of comfort food with inspired ingredients and flavors.

When the City of Chicago finally allowed food truck owners to obtain a cook-on-board license, Sarah Weitz and her husband, Sam Barron, jumped at the chance to start their own business together and The Fat Shallot became the first of such licensed trucks in Chicago. It’s been “an amazing six months so far,” Weitz said, but their journey began quite some time before.

Sam and Sarah attended Highland Park High School together, but “re-met” while attending culinary school at Kendall College. They then traveled a good chunk of the world together. They lived in Spain while Sam cooked at a three-star Michelin restaurant and then ventured throughout Europe, Southeast Asia and India. They worked on organic farms and sampled street food everywhere they could their hands on it.

From the grilled salami to the grilled cheese (on sourdough with Muenster, spinach and sautéed onions along with a few different varieties of fries, if you haven’t scoped out the truck to this point then you’re missing out. Follow The Fat Shallot on Facebook and Twitter to keep tabs on its whereabouts; in the meantime, we think Sarah Weitz is definitely A Jew You Should Know.

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Fat Shallot Fries with caramelized shallots, cheese sauce and giardiniera

1. You put so many tasty and exciting flavors into your sandwiches. What’s the culinary concept for your food and what styles from your many travels influenced it? 
Our concept is taking classic sandwiches and adding our own gourmet twist. We try to create sandwiches that you can’t get anywhere else. We love to incorporate flavors from our travels in Europe like the romesco sauce we ate in Spain or the pickled vegetables we ate in sandwiches in Vietnam.

2. Why did you go the food truck route and what are the rewards and challenges of the mobile food business in Chicago?
Sam and I got married in June 2012 and Chicago changed the law two months after that food trucks could cook on board. Both of us were in the food industry and decided this would be the perfect time to start a food truck: lower overhead than a restaurant, casual setting, endless creativity and an opportunity to be on the ground floor of such an exciting time in Chicago's food truck scene. We also fell in love with the idea of setting our own schedules, working for ourselves and being together.

3. What’s the secret to running a successful business with your significant other?
The secret is that we both love food, cooking, eating and each other.

4. What’s your most significant Jewish food memory and do you have a favorite Jewish food you like to make? 
My most significant Jewish food memory would have to be Shabbat dinner at my grandparents’ house. For over 50 years my grandmother cooked Friday night dinner for our family. For almost 20 years I went every Friday night. She cooked the same meal every week with various incarnations. We never got bored and I would do anything to have one of her Friday night dinners again.

As far as making my favorite Jewish food, it’s a tie between baking challah with my best friend Lisa and making gefilte fish from scratch with my mother in law who still uses her grandmother's recipe from the 20's.

5. If you could set up the truck anywhere in the world outside of Chicago, where would it be and what new sandwich would you make to intrigue the locals? 
Truthfully, I think it would be Japan. It’s the next place Sam and I want to travel through together. Maybe a sashimi ramen sandwich with carrot ginger dressing.

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6. What do you love most about what you do?
Part of what makes my job so incredible is being mobile. Every day is an adventure. We jump in the truck and go to a different neighborhood each day. I love feeding and meeting people from all over the city; students, professors, children, doctors, nurses, business men and women. Plus we cater an array of parties and events with the truck. It's very rewarding to help make special events memorable for our customers. We catered our first Bar Mitzvah last week and had a blast.

7. In an alternate universe where you couldn’t be in food service, what would you do?
I’d probably be a caregiver because I enjoy helping and working with people. I'm often told I have an old soul so maybe working with the elderly would suit me.

8. What’s your favorite Jewish thing to do (or how do you Jew?) in Chicago?
Hands down my favorite thing to do as a Jew in Chicago is to celebrate Shabbat with friends and family. 

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