I’ve been feeling extra Jewy lately. When Nazis and white nationalists come out of the woodwork, you see, my instinct grows strong to pull out the gold Star of David my great-great-uncle made for my grandmother and wear it proudly, unabashedly around my neck — just like I did when I visited Auschwitz and a little nearby Polish town called Bedzin, where my grandfather’s parents were from, once so bustling with Jews but now containing only an overgrown Jewish cemetery in the middle of a forest and one sole Jewish family. It’s my middle finger to those who wish us gone. Great-Great-Uncle Adrian, the jeweler who made that beautiful star, came here, with his parents and brother and sisters — including my great-grandmother — from Bucharest, like so many Jews, like my other great-grandparents, to escape persecution. Lucky they left when they did. So many others could not. So many others never would. So many others were trapped.
Which is why this week I decided to make some challah. A braided, enriched, eggy bread, challah, to me, is comforting in its tenderness. And braiding challah is, in essence, a meditation on humanity: many separate strands woven together to create a whole. I’m no Jewish scholar. I’m not sure if that ever was what was intended in the weekly preparation of this special bread, eaten on the Sabbath and all holidays (besides Passover). But today, I feel more than ever that it’s what it’s meant to be. Continue reading →
I’m a little new to the pumpkin party, in the grand scheme of things. I knew nothing of pumpkin pies growing up — in my family, it was all apple, all the time. I’m not so sure I’d truly eaten a whole lot of pumpkin before I met the fella, but now, like so many of you, I’m addicted. I would not say obsessed. I don’t drink pumpkin lattes (I take mine straight, thank you very much), and I don’t even have a jar of pumpkin spice in my cabinet. But we did insist on a pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting for our wedding, and when those little orange cans are on sale, hoo boy, I stock up, I make haste, and I make use. And while pumpkin pie is tops in the Thanksgiving dessert department (I love this one), sometimes you just want to rip into a baguette, drench it in a rich, decadent pumpkin custard, and call it a day. This year I’m foregoing pies and making this pumpkin bread pudding with maple cream cheese sauce, and I’m not apologizing — and once you taste it, I think you’ll agree I don’t have to. Continue reading →
There are, in the great encyclopedias of cooking and baking, very few things that require as little written embellishment as the humble cinnamon raisin swirl bread. It is perfect the way it is: sliced fresh, toasted with butter. The aroma wafting from a toaster as it crisps it up smells like childhood, like home. Never complacent to buy a loaf of something that’s been packaged in plastic, when I saw a recipe for it on the Tasting Table, I had to get it in my oven. Continue reading →