Musings on Passover

As Pesach draws closer, I’ve been thinking a lot about preparations for it. The cooking, the cleaning, organizing guests. The more I think about it, the lonelier I get. I live in Florida now with my fiancé and we don’t have many Jewish friends here. All my family is back in MA and I can’t afford to take the time off to fly back up. I miss the people, traditions, and fun we would have every year growing up. Especially because I don’t really get to see or experience them anymore. I know it wouldn’t be the same even if I did fly back up because several of my family friends whom I miss terribly have moved around the country and won’t be there regardless.

I’m trying to establish new traditions here and invite the few friends we are close to and/or invite friends who don’t have a seder. I still feel lonely. I worry because I haven’t gotten official rsvps from those we’ve invited and I’m worried it’ll just be the two of us for one, if not both nights. I love my fiancé, but the thought of chag with just the two of us is depressing. He’s not Jewish and is still learning about each holiday as it happens. So the intuition and knowledge isn’t there yet. I belong to a shul here too but don’t feel connected to it.

Last year we had one set of friends over the first night and just the two of us the second night. I honestly don’t remember if I did a proper seder the second night.

Maybe these depressing thoughts are punishment for not going to barre class this week (so I can clean, shop, and cook for Pesach around my work schedule). Any other people experience similar thoughts near Pesach?

I am excited to cook again this year, even if it’s a bit daunting. I found some new dessert recipes I’m interested in but am unsure if I’ll genuinely have time to cook them. Whatever I end up making, I’ll share next week so you can enjoy for the end of your Pesach.

Shabbat shalom v’chag pesach sameach! L’shana haba’ah b’yerushalayim!

Challah

Just in time for Shabbat, I have finally found a challah recipe that I love! You can find the original version here but I have modified it a little for myself.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of warm water
  • 1 tbsp of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1-2 tbsp of honey for the egg wash
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 8 cups of all-purpose flour (and more for flouring surface/cutting board)
  • 1 tbsp of poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl/stand mixer, mix in yeast with warm water
  2. Beat in 2 eggs, oil, honey, and salt
  3. Add 1 cup of flower at a time until all 8 cups are incorporated.Knead by hand as necessary until dough is smooth and elastic, but not sticky
  4. Cover with clean,d amp cloth and let ride for 1.5 hours. Dough should double in size
  5. Punch down dough and roll out onto floured board or counter
  6. Divide into quarters
  7. Roll/knead each section for about 5 minutes, flouring as necessary to keep from getting sticky
  8. Working with one quarter at a time, divide into thirds and roll out into long, snakes. Each snake should be the same length and diameter.
  9. Braid snakes. I found it easiest (and prettiest) to start braiding them without connecting them at first, but going back to the top after I finished braiding them all the way down. If you’d like to make round challot, bring the edges together before pinching them
  10. Grease baking sheets (or put parchment paper down) and let the challot rest on sheets
  11. Cover with towel and let rise for 1 hour
  12. Preheat oven to 375*F (190*C)
  13. Beat remaining egg with about 1-2 tbsp of honey and brush a generous amount over each challah
  14. If desired: sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds
  15. Bake for 40 minutes (should sound hollow when thumped on bottom)
  16. Cool before slicing

After 20 or so minutes, you can cover the challot with aluminum foil to prevent them from browning too much.

For Rosh Hashanah I’m going to roll apple chunks in it and see if it works out better than the last time I tried it. I used a different recipe which ended up being too sticky and didn’t end up cooking all the way through. Might add some cinnamon too. Yummm!

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Shabbat Shalom

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On this day our fate is sealed for the next year.

It’s this weekend.

So let me explain: it’s a Jewish holiday, the one of (if not the most) solemn day of the year. It’s a 25 hour fast day were Jews all over the world pray, ask for forgiveness, and pledge to be a better person this new year. Kind of like making a new year’s resolution, but [arguably] with more sincerity.

I too therefore apologize if I have wronged you this past year, for I did not mean it. And I forgive you, in turn, for hurting me, for I know you didn’t mean it.

Part of my preparation for Yom Kippur this year is weaning myself off of caffeine. I’m not an avid coffee drinker by any means, but I have my one mug a day and that’s usually it. I am, however, very caffeine sensitive so I’m in the process of weaning myself off of it so I don’t suffer from a killer headache on Yom Kippur. I’ve done it before and I’d rather not again. So now, ALL THE GREEN TEA! Currently drinking Celestial Seasoning’s Raspberry Gardens Green Tea (green tea, white tea, and raspberry). It’s very nice, light, and refreshing.

I think I’m going to leave it at that. I should be back to posting on Sunday. As part of my new Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur resolutions, I plan on blogging Sunday-Thursday at 12:30 and 17:30 EST. That’s my ultimate goal, because just blogging these past several days has made me feel better and I want that to continue. That and exercise. That absolutely needs to happen more. I had made myself a routine and everything and I haven’t been following it well. Okay, I’ll be honest with you I haven’t done it at all. That will change.

“Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending.” Hagakure – Book of the Samurai (Yamamoto Tsunetomo)

This will be my ultimate goal.

May we all be written in the book of life, and have an easy fast.

G’mar chatima tova.