Saturday, August 29, 2009

Making Challah

Braiding a 4-strand challah with Annette.

Patrick and I are at a cottage on Madeline Island (on the coast of Lake Superior) with our friends Annette and Chris. There is minimal intermittent internet service, no tv, and spotty cell service. This is as off-the-grid as I can stand. To reward myself, I decided to spend the day pretty much in the kitchen. I decided to make challah for Shabbat, and a huge mezze spread for dinner. The challah was from Sara Simpser's recipe, and it turned out a-mazing! I think it's a good step toward taking on the mitzvah of challah, which includes using at least 5 lbs of flour (now I know that there were huge Shabbat meals in ancient Israel, because using the minimum quantity to fulfill the mitzvah makes like 6-8 challahs!). I haven't decided when in the process to freeze the extra loaves (before baking but after braiding and the final rise, I am thinking), but I think sometime in the next few weeks I am going to do the full Monty.

The final product-- gorgeous!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Praying for Strength

Giving up pork is a really hard thing to do. Not for everyone, I am sure, but it is for me. Honestly, I've never been very good with self-denial when it comes to food. I always rationalized my eating pork as falling into the category of "Well, I won't make it in my house, but if there's bacon on a breakfast menu somewhere, that's okay...." Then when Patrick came into the picture, we occasionally made pork or bacon, but I always felt guilty afterwards.... sort of. Not so guilty that I didn't eat it, but guilty in that "Oh I know it's bad for me but it's soooooo tasty" kind of way.
Now after the JWRP trip to Israel, I'm trying to give up pork. I am not always successful, but I still try. I had no idea it would be this hard. Patrick and I went to dinner tonight at our favorite neighborhood place, Cafe Levain. They have a special Sunday night prix-fixe menu, but tonight I had to have the vegetarian version because the only animal protein offered on the regular version was pork! I was unbelievably bummed. The funny thing is that I was resentful because I was forced to restrict my selections even further than I wanted-- I only wanted to give up pork, not all meat!
That's why I am praying for strength. This is one of my tests as surely as Sara Yocheved Rigler talked about the day before we left Jerusalem. The issue of kashrus is more squarely in my choice box than ever before. I guess I should be grateful that I'm even working on it, when it used to be a harder choice than I was able to face.