How are we holding up? Some days I wake up feeling normal and then I remember that the proverbial storm is still in flux, and not quite proverbial.
Nothing is normal, but the world still has to go on as if it is. I haven’t put on real clothing in almost two months. I’ve been forced to get into the weekly habit of dusting off my shoes. But each morning I wake up at 6:30am and go through my morning coffee routine and prepare for work.
I have to be honest, because we’re all friends here, I started writing this post about a month ago and then continued with a very laissez-faire approach. If you’ve written anything before, or even if you haven’t, it’s likely clear that such an approach does not work because words don’t find themselves on paper accidentally. Well, except for that one time I went to bed after drinking something called UV Blue–which was my college vice of choice– and woke up with about five pages of what I thought, I’m sure while writing, was sheer brilliance, but turned out to be illegible. You can call that by accident, if the accident is some sort of blueberry vodka and keeping a humming Macbook next to your bed. I am assuming UV Blue is blueberry flavored, but I don’t know and will not look it up.
So here we are about a month later and I can honestly say I have no idea where I was going with this, but what I do know is that it had something to do with baking Challah. How do I know that? Because I titled the entry “Challah.” So there we are. Here we are, time to talk about challah. I hate baking. Have I mentioned that before? I enjoy making some family recipes, I enjoy the food the ridiculous activity breads, but it doesn’t soothe me like cooking. Probably because the fear of messing up the measurements looms over my head. I don’t own a food scale and I approach baking with a kind of hubris that really shouldn’t pay off.
Currently there’s a flour massacre in my kitchen and I proofed my Challah in a 60-year-old pot, but this is only my third time making Challah and so it is what it is. The first time I made it was in my first apartment my partner and I shared. My mother never baked challah, not as long as I’ve been on this earth. But I sent her a recipe the other day and she decided to take a stab at it. I’ll spare you the grueling details because it wasn’t pretty, but imagine someone took a pile of wet dough, dropped it on the floor, and then proceeded to bake it in whatever shape it landed.
Once again I’ve forgotten my point. I didn’t grow up with generations of women baking challah or really bread of any sort. That’s the one corner of the culinary world that had eluded me my whole life because it feels like work. Worse than work, it’s science. I don’t want to follow rules, I just want to cook. So I’ve made challah three times in my life and I haven’t really cared for a single one of them. I started baking them because I have what some people might call a household now and I have to start building a life, they say. So I bought a dining room table and found a challah recipe online. That’s really all the effort I can muster at this point in time.
Another week has gone by, maybe two. Not three. Definitely not three. And the reason for this post is buried somewhere underneath some pile I have little patience to dig through. So I will just carry on about the challah, that I baked… which by the time you read this could have been a year ago. How did my third attempt at challah go? I don’t really remember, but like most of my baking excursions, I want to say fine? It was eaten and so that’s a good sign.
I know baking is a science and I admire those among us who can do it well, I’d worship at their alter when given the chance. The amount of knowledge that goes into someone being able to produce a good bake when it comes to bread, is more than I can ever hope to be gifted with… unless I practice which I’m probably not going to do.
Wow, I think I remembered the point! Normalcy. Bear with me just a little longer. The only times I’ve baked challah in my life was to try and input a sense of comfort and normalcy into my life. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Daniella, didn’t you just spend way more words than you needed explaining how baking bread is not normal for you and not something you grew up with?” Yes, way to pay attention folks! While it’s true that I only remember store-bought challah as the staple in my house, it was always there. Being away from my parents and the challah they made a point to pick up every Friday morning from the local kosher bakery, I can’t seem to walk into a grocery store and just throw it into a cart with my PBR.
In trying to make my home feel like my home, I needed ceremony. So I went about the process of mixing ingredients I sort of measured, kneading dough, braiding and hoping for the best, which is fine even if it’s, ya know, fine.