Shabbat and Farming Piece

Those of us in in the mid-Atlantic are hopeful that tonight will bring our first real snowstorm of the winter.  We need the moisture and I am ready for a nice mid-week snow day. Maybe it will give me a chance for a real post tomorrow if we don’t lose power. In the meantime, I want to share an article I have up on Huffington Post Religion today about the challenges of trying to do better at observing Shabbat beyond Friday night during the farm season.  Please jump over there to read it and feel free to leave a comment …

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Chickweed and my Jewish Farming Retreat

Last weekend my family attended this amazing retreat in Baltimore, the Beit Midrash at the Pearlstone Center.  You can read my article about the retreat in the Jewish Daily Forward here. I absolutely love pluralistic Jewish events, especially when we get to talk about farming.  I have been thinking a lot more about the idea of shmitta, the once in every 7 year sabbatical from farming and I am sure I will be writing more about that soon. One very compelling piece of shmitta is the idea that if you had to feed your family without any farming, you would …

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Babka Inspired Challah

I had been thinking about making a traditional babka based on this amazing looking recipe from the Smitten Kitchen which emphasizes the key to babka is the combination of cinnamon and chocolate (plus lots of butter).  I took that inspiration and tried a challah with plenty of cinnamon, chocolate chips, and extra sugar.  Otherwise I used my regular recipe and 100% whole wheat flour, so it was sweet and healthy too. I will definitely be making this again, and I recommend it to any other bakers out there.  You just might have to be careful of little hands reaching in …

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Lessons from a Broken Candle

A few weeks ago, my two year old found this havdalah candle on the table and picked it up. She was probably twisting it around in her hands, maybe she wanted to see if she could unbraid it and before she knew it, the candle broke. Havdolah candles are lit for a ceremony marking the end of Shabbat (the sabbath). We don’t do it every week, so the candle was a bit of a novelty to have out. I came in the room and before thinking said, “oh, you broke it”.  I saw her whole body startle.  She looked at …

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Guest Post today on Challah Baking

I am happy to have a guest post today on the Jewish Daily Forward’s Food Blog “The Jew and the Carrot“.  The piece called the Ecology of Challah Baking grew from an earlier post on this blog and a comment from a reader. It is exciting to appear in one of the newest online branches of one of the oldest Jewish newspapers in the US. The Forward was once read primarily in Yiddish by thousands of Jewish immigrants to America including my own great grandparents.   The paper remains a strong force today and in addition to the English and Yiddish print editions now has a website with a lucky seven blogs. If …

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On Challah

by Tanya Tolchin Most Fridays, I bake two loaves of challah for Shabbat dinner.  Sometimes I have no other plans for dinner beyond the challah, and we need to scramble to add something to complete the meal. I use a standard recipe, which varies based on how much whole wheat flour I add, whether there are raisins on hand, how much time there is for rising, and the temperature and humidity of the kitchen.  They come out differently each week and even between the two loaves on the same week there is often variation, one dough compliant and neatly braided, …

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