“You tell me Mikael. Look around. What do you see?”
“Ahh, the saffron. Saffron from
“Brilliant goofy one. But it is not that they are from
“Now pull the dough from the bowl and knead it. Kiss it at each turn. Knead and turn, kiss and dream. Knead and turn, kiss and dream. The dough will become infused with everything Ariel desires for you. Understand? Wanderlust. Fulfillment. Experience. Hope. Wild crazy sex….”
“Bubbala, it’s true! You think old women don’t have desires?”
Mikael spent the next two weeks practicing his new art. The smells coming from his mother’s house drifted up to Ariel’s mountain, of course, and began working in her heart even before the first night of Chanukah. The moon turned the snow into a ribbon of silver that blessed night. Mikael whispered a wish to God and the sea and lit his mother’s Menorah before starting off.
He looked back once at the flickering light, then turned and began his journey, away from the little cottage by the sea up the road to Esther’s ridge, through the Elk meadow, across the footbridge and up the long mountain road, his boots pressing neatly waffled tracks into the snow. In his hands, he carried a plate of fragrant Moroccan Chanukah donuts and a small vial of olive oil from the
At last, through the snow-covered branches, he saw the beeswax glow of Ariel’s menorah in her cabin window. He trembled with both fear and anticipation as he approached. The hound began barking wildly. Ariel flung open the door and yelled out his name even before he reached it.
“Mikael, my Mikael!”
“Well that’s not right,” Mikael thought, his mind spinning, not realizing he’d been wooing Ariel all this time with his cooking lessons. “It can’t be this easy. I have to fight for her.”
Ariel invited him in, taking the plate from his hands with shaking fingers. Her eyes looked all dewy and bright. She was as beautiful as ever. Being in her house again made him dizzy. Even more so because it was winter and he’d known it only as a creature of the warm season. It was deliriously cozy in her cabin, the fire blazing, a kettle on the stove. A decanter of blood-red wine on the table, her shelves stacked with jars of grains and beans and beautifully preserved fruits and vegetables for winter.
“Happy Chanukah,” lovely bird,” Mikael whispered, pulling Ariel close and holding her to him. Oy she felt good, the warmth and fragrance of her skin, the brightness that he loved so much about her, bursting from her soul like the sparks in the fire.
“You seemed to know I was coming.”
“Oh boychick,” you amuse me. “Of course I knew you were coming. Did you not think I could smell your cooking? I’ve been in a state of insane desire for weeks.”
Mikael laughed. “All the way up here?”
“A Chanukah miracle, truly.”
Moroccan Chanukah Doughnuts
--Adapted from The Jewish Journal
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
grated zest of 1 orange
Pinch of saffron
1Â¼4 cup canola oil, melted margarine,
or melted unsalted butter (optional)
1-1/2 to 2 cups warm water or part water, part orange juice
Peanut or canola oil for deep frying
Granulated sugar for sprinkling or warm honey for dipping (optional)
1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. Pour into a large bowl and gradually stir in the flour and salt.
3. Stir in the eggs, zest, saffron, and 1-1/4 cup oil, margarine or butter, if using.
4. Stir in just enough water or water and juice to make a soft and elastic dough.
5. Knead well, with a dough hook or by hand, on a lightly floured surface, until the dough is elastic, smooth and shiny.
6. Roll the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl and turn to coat.
7. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1-1/2 to 2 hours).
8. Oil your hands. Divide the dough into 20 balls about 2 inches in diameter.
9. In a deep saucepan or wok, heat 3 inches of oil to 365 F.
10. Take a ball of dough, make a hole in the center, and pull it out to make a doughnut shape. Deep fry a few at a time until the donuts are puffed and golden.
11. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain.
12. While still hot, sprinkle with granulated sugar or dip in warm honey. Serve warm.
Makes about 20 donuts.