In January of 2011, pregnant with my first child, I knew my life was about to change in a big way. And there was no better sign of the times than to document those changes with a blog. For that entire year, each week, I blogged about every Shabbat meal I ate, who was around the table with me and what recipes we used. The blog functioned as a diary, a community talking point and a beloved cookbook.
Through a little chutzpah and a lot of generous connections from friends, when that year ended, I kept the Shabbat blog running with friends posting about their own meals, and I took my blogging energy to the Jewish Exponent, in the form of Miriam’s Advice Well. While I’ve been answering your questions here ever since, that run is ending today.
A lot happens in a decade, and that baby born in 2011 now reads this column regularly during her middle school classes. I’ve written about all kinds of life cycle events here, from births (including the birth of my second child in 2013) to first days of school, from bat mitzvahs to weddings to funerals, and everything in between. It’s been an honor and a privilege to offer advice to members of the Philadelphia Jewish community for the past 10 years.
As of December, this column will be moving to TC Jewfolk, a product of Jewfolk, Inc., and the Twin Cities’ only independent Jewish online media hub. While the column will no longer be Philly-based, I still will be, and I hope you’ll continue to read my advice (and ask me questions!) as the column moves to its new home.
I’d like to close by offering you one final piece of advice, which is to pick something you want to try, and just go for it. My little blog project turned into a whole thing, which turned into another whole thing, and here we are. More recently, during the early days of the pandemic, when everyone was all into sourdough and I knew that would never be my thing, I decided to make challah every week. I haven’t kept to this perfectly, but more often than not, mixing challah dough is my regular Friday morning routine.
So, in homage to my Shabbat blog where it all started, to that one thing I hope you’ll do for yourself (plus forgiving yourself when it doesn’t go as planned) and to my spouse who said I should include a recipe in this final post, I leave you with my easy weekly challah recipe. I don’t remember where it originally came from (and I’ve certainly added my own spin to it), so I can’t give credit where it’s due, but I hope you’ll give this recipe — or some other activity that speaks to you — a try. And finally, I hope you’ve found, and will continue to find, my advice worth reading.
Easy egg-free challah
4 cups flour
2½ teaspoons instant yeast
6 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons oil
A little more than a cup of warm water
Mix everything together, preferably in a stand mixer, but by hand is also fine. Knead until the dough isn’t sticky anymore and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add a little more flour if needed to accomplish the right consistency. Let it rise for an hour and a half. Divide the dough in half if you want to make two loaves.
Braid the dough on a tray lined with parchment paper, and let it sit for another 20 minutes or so. Brush it with egg wash or oil and sprinkle it with Everything Bagel seasoning, cinnamon sugar or a topping of your choice. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!