Chag Purim! Chag Purim!

Anybody who doesn't love Purim has not celebrated properly. It has all the elements of being the best holiday ever. A quick checklist.
  • Dressing in costume? Check.
  • The consumption of cookies, chocolates, cakes, sweets and everything delicious? Check.
  • Rabbinically encouraged drunkeness? Check. 
  • Parades, parties, and general revelry? Check. 
  • The tradition of putting on a PLAY! Check! (If any of you don't know, I was a theatre major...) 
  • Gift giving... Check!
Yes, my friends. I love Purim. It may be my favorite holiday to celebrate, although I unfortunately do not partake every year. This year involved me coming home from work, having a little nap, and making cookies. But last year I was in Israel and it was spectacular. It was my second Israeli Purim and one of the most fun weeks I've ever had. 
The kibbutz volunteers all got together in the kitchen and made hamantashen. These delicious treats are made either with a yeasty or a cookie dough, and are filled with countless versions of sweets. The versions I've seen most often are usually strawberry jam, orange marmalade, and poppy seed. I personally love the poppy seed ones, although I don't think everybody agrees with me. Making the cookies on the kibbutz was so much fun, and it was great because we had hundreds to snack on the whole week. Making costumes was great fun, and all the members, volunteers and other groups on the kibbutz took it very seriously! A bunch of us went into Eilat to buy costume pieces and facepaint...my friend Anna (pictured as Wilma Flintstone!) made her dress out of a tablecloth! My costume was decidedly easier...I was supposed to be Sally Bowles. Because, as mentioned before, theatre geek.  I did craft an old fashioned cigarette holder out of a mechanical pencil.
  Our little group of volunteers also did a secret buddy game with mishloach manot; Purim gift baskets filled with sweets. The children paraded around the dining hall in costume, the members put on a Purim play... (it wasn't in English, so sadly I didn't understand much...hopefully next time my Hebrew will have improved!) There was a giant party on the Saturday night of the week of Purim in the kibbutz "pub". (A converted garage with a bar and a dance floor- which I miss more than I can possibly express...) Everybody living on the kibbutz pitched in to decorate for it's theme of movies. It was amazing! The whole pub was covered in stars, recreations of film posters, and other fabulous decorations. We even had a wooden limo in front of the pub and a red carpet! Everybody worked so hard and it was worth every second of time. The pub was completely packed, there was an open bar and a champagne toast, great music...one of the best parties I've ever been to. Wow...feeling so nostalgic...
I made hamantashen today, but I didn't take a picture. Honestly, they didn't turn out so beautiful anyway, so it's not much of a loss. The pictures I am showing were taken by my friend Shayna, from last year's hamantashen making session on kibbutz, so all credit goes to her!  The dough recipe I used, and use every year,  comes from Joan Nathan's The Jewish Holiday Cookbook.

Dough recipe courtesy of The Jewish Holiday Kitchen

2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
Fillings of your choice (I used raspberry rhubarb jam and Nutella!) 

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat in until smooth. Add the vanilla, and then the dry ingredients until a dough has formed. Wrap and chill for at least two hours, or even overnight. (I never plan well enough to chill overnight, but if you're more organized than me...)
After your dough has chilled, flour a surface and roll out your dough.
Preheat your oven to 375. Spread baking paper over two baking sheets.
Using a cup, cut out circles from your dough. Lay on your sheets.  Drop about a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Any sort of jam works really well. I've used lemon curd and that was awesome. In Israel, we used Israeli chocolate spread and that gave me the idea to use Nutella today. Anything goes! Also, if you want to do the poppy thing, I think you can buy the poppy filling in the baking isle of most grocery stores.
Once every circle has a filling, carefully pinch into triangles like so:

Be sure to pinch the corners well so the filling doesn't explode out.
Bake for 11-14 minutes, or when they smell like cookies. 
If you've never had these before, you are in for a real treat. 

Enjoy! Chag Sameach!!!!

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