Friday, February 19, 2010

Homeschooling With Hamantaschen

I decided today, would be a good day to use up the left over strawberry curd from our tea party. I did a quick search for "what to do with lemon curd" (lemon curd is more common than strawberry), and found people were using it as filling for hamantaschen. That was perfect, if a little premature, because hamantaschen were already on my "must make" list for next week, when I had hoped to do a tiny Purim study with the children.

Actually, I had just planned to make the cookies, while the kids watched Veggie Tales - Esther, and clearly, we could do that today, just as well as we could next week, so we were off to ancient Persia, via a central European recipe, which I actually got from Canadian Living, that's a whole other story, though. But maybe I'm jumping ahead of you - do you know what hamantaschen are?

The easy answer is they are a triangle shaped pastry pocket (taschen means pocket in German, and apparently in Yiddish, too), holding a fruit or poppy seed filling, given by jewish families to friends and relatives during the celebration of Purim. Purim is the celebration at the end of this month, that was initiated at the end of the book of Esther. Haman is the villain of the story, and so Hamantaschen, stands for Haman's pockets.

Only, they're not supposed to be his pockets, they're supposed to be his hat. That's if you can buy the idea of an ancient Persian official wearing a three cornered hat (I'm pretty sure those hats came later). Otherwise, some people say they are supposed to be Haman's ears, but other's claim Haman's ears, or Oznei Haman, are a fried, orange flavored dough, twisted to look like ears.

Probably a more likely explanation was the one I found on The Jew and the Carrot. Ha, or rather Hey, is the Hebrew definite article. Mohn means poppy seed, a traditional filling for these cookies. Taschen, again, means pocket. Put together then hamentaschen, would be the poppy seed pockets. That sounds reasonable, if not as romantic as some of the other explanations.

Regardless of what exactly they stand for, they can be filled with just about any type of filling imaginable, including strawberry curd. Which brings us back to today, when after perusing several dozen, different, hamentaschen recipes, I decided to try this one, from Canadian Living.

My seven year old helped me roll out the dough,

and cut it into small circles with a glass.

We placed the circles onto a greased cookie sheet, and then added small dollops of strawberry curd to the middle of each one.

We pinched the sides into a triangular shape, or at least attempted to.

And, after we had chilled them for a short while, so they could firm up, we baked them.

Not all of them turned out exactly picture perfect, but those went on the bottom the plate, where they won't be seen until everyone has had a chance to sample the pretty ones. I'm sure ours are too flat, but they taste quite good. And really, they're a cultural journey combined with a historical mystery, connected to a Bible story, with a little linguistics mixed in for fun, and all wrapped in a sweet tasting cookie - they don't have to look perfect to make for a perfect day of homeschooling.

If your interested in knowing more about hamantaschen, or Purim, below are a few links I found useful. for kids - filled with videos, games, recipes, and kid friendly explanations of the holiday.

Creative Jewish Mom - an insiders look at the celebration, from a mom living in Israel. - the Purim story for children.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Ticia said...

So, for a romantic date night movie to watch with your husband "One Night with the King," the story of Esther put together in a wonderful movie. I don't know how old your oldest are, but some of them might be ready for it.
Either way, those look like a yummy way to learn the story of Esther.

Unknown said...

OK, this post totally makes me feel uneducated and lacking in cooking skills...

You are amazing Mamma!