Tonight begins the Jewish holiday of Purim, otherwise known in our house as the cookie holiday. I am convinced that the reason we give each other sweets on this holiday is to use up the flour before Passover.
This is truly the holiday about which we say, "They tried to kill us, God saved us, let's eat," even though there is no mention of God in the book of Esther. It's the Jewish equivalent of Mardi Gras, when we dress in costumes, drink to excess and generally carry on until we can't tell the difference between bless Mordechai and curse Haman.
I baked 52 hamentashen this year, using the recipe from Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Kitchen as adapted by my friend D, who adds 3 tablespoons of milk and some nutmeg to the dough. I filled some with cooked apples, some with mini chocolate chips (the American version) and some with fig jam and dried cherries. Of course I had to taste one of each...
I had a minor oven incident when taking out the last tray and gave myself a little burn on one arm despite wearing the long oven mitts! Some aloe vera did the trick to take away the sting.