Couldn’t Share It

Couldn’t Share It

This Challah didn’t turn out. The dough was too firm and I couldn’t get the tightness out of it. I let it rise longer, for an extra 4 hours, and then braided and baked. It was o.k. Seriously. O.k.

I tossed the second Challah. I’m committed to stepping up my game, if I’m even in the game, and this was not good enough to share.

Almost good Challah, tossed. Garbage. Right???

One way to get better is to set a minimum standard and do the work to move beyond it.

It was a mix of depressing and disheartening to throw out food that was made to share. And, really important, my Challah will get better and I will share it with my people, AND, it will taste amazing and inspire people to believe peace is possible.

The Challah must taste better than it looks!

Challah with Guacamole

Challah with Guacamole

What do you do with Challah when you are feeling that bohemian vibe?

Avocado Challah Toast


Guacamole on Toast

I picked up some Micro Greens from Min Hee, who is the source of amazing pickles, at the Sunday Farmers Market in San Rafael, knowing this is next level hippie secret food for energy or at least crunch on Avocado Challah Toast. Also, sprinkled some Muldoon’s salt flakes on top, breathe into the flavors.

If you want some help making Guacamole, here is a recipe that is easy to make and has great tips from Scott Groth and I’d Rather Be A Chef. You can put this on a slice of Challah and call it Sunday. Right?

Seriously, note the thickness, we are rolling deep in Challah so I am a little more generous in the thickness of the slicing and a little heavy handed with the topping.

Yes, this is one variation of New Bohemian Avocado Challah Toast, make sure you add one more element to go beyond my imagination!

Finally Made It To Friday

Finally Made It To Friday

After a few weeks of holidays followed by amazing travel, I am grateful to make it to Friday.

Took my time and made 2 Challah, one for the family to share and one for my neighbor and friend Brian Colbert.

I texted to make sure he was home, wrapped it in parchment paper, and rolled over on the bike to bring him a Challah. I have to figure out how to wrap and deliver a Challah. Maybe butcher paper? Or clean brown bags. String to tie the parchment paper? I can’t go to plastic bags.

I dropped off the strangely wrapped Challah to Brian who enthusiastically welcomed the warm bread. I stumbled through explaining the idea of kneading and meditating, baking and sharing peace and Jewish culture. I waved awkwardly, encouraging them to do anything with it, from butter to challah French toast and biked off feeling elated, maybe too happy, unsure if the giving is laden with stress or relief or, connection. I never see Brian enough, so 5 minutes on a Friday afternoon was wonderful. Connection. That is why this is so important and necessary, at least for me, right now.

Meditate and Bake.

Experiment – Raisin Cinnamon To Chocolate

Experiment – Raisin Cinnamon To Chocolate

We have to experiment, try new things to discover what is possible. When we are talking about food, I am always a mix of afraid and excited to try new things. With restaurants, I find myself eating at the same places and even eating the same food, I have to challenge myself to break out of my routines, order a different dish, go to a different place, risk not liking my meal, which seems far more likely than enjoying what I know. Ridiculous.

We have to take risks.


Golden Raisins. Cinnamon. Brown Sugar.

I made a center divet in the roll and filled the mixture in, wrapping the dough around and squeezing the tube of dough together.

Breathe and Braid.

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips.


The Chocolate abstracts into slices of rich bitterness to balance the sweetness of the bread, Chocolate Challah. Yes, Please.

This can NOT be a regular thing. Seriously.

The Raisin Cinnamon Challah is Sweet and Glorious. Maybe it’s the Golden Raisins I got at the Farmers Market? Maybe it is Brown Sugar brings Cookie? Maybe it is that Challah is a platform for delivering ANYTHING. More on that in the future.

I am experimenting with getting fluffier Challah and I am not there. Just ok and a bit too firm. Not every experiment is a success. It’s important to fail. I remind myself of this because it is against my instinct, which is to do better, even lie to myself that it is better. And, in the reflection and observation, we learn.

I want to get better.

The process works, kneading the dough this morning was relaxing, right? I tried something new, focused my energy thinking about the family around the house and the changes in the humans around me and the changes in these Challah. We are all experiments.

Challah Back.

I’m encouraging you to experiment everywhere in your life, experience failure and growth, which equal change.

Meditate and Bake.

Getting Ready To Grow

Getting Ready To Grow

Practice. That is how I get ready to grow. I know, I should build up to that, make it more complex sounding. The reality is, practice is the discipline of change. Also, you literally might NEED to Meditate and Bake at any time, any of the other 6 days of the week besides Challah Friday.

Permission Granted.

For what?

To Practice.

The best time to knead some dough and meditate, is when you want to.

I cleaned up my area, laid out my supplies and braided up a few Challah.

Two hours later, the Challah was cooling on the counter and I felt O.K, maybe even good. You know what I am saying?

Yes, the Challah smelled and looked delicious. O.k. It tasted even better than it looked.

And, that’s not my point.

I felt better.

The movement of my hands squeezing the flour into dough, the letting go of mistakes and the extra effort to improve the Challah, the process of caring about something, created a good feeling. Peace.

Kind of. I was fired up, MOTIVATED.


You know, riding the meditation wave.

I sloppily wrapped two Challah in parchment paper and headed out in the Mini to make some deliveries.

Give and Connect!

I stopped by Cassiday’s house and said hello and caught up briefly as I passed her a bread. We are both down with Peace and can talk forever, and this is why I have to get out of my comfort zone and bring my friends a Challah, I miss them.

My next drive by was to Kate’s house, she’s a real chef, I swallowed my ego and humbly brought the Challah to her and Scott. I have to get out of my comfort zone and be ok with feeling “not good enough,” or even “not Jewish enough,” the sharing of food we make is life, it is what connects us. Plus, Kate opened my mind up to Quinoa and inspires me to cook, so sharing Challah with her is almost mandatory!

I can’t promise you baking Challah will change the World, I can guarantee you kneading dough is a meditation that will change your mind and baking Challah will grow my favorite part of Jewish culture, Peace.

Meditate and Bake.

Challah Back.

Too tight

Too tight

The Challah was too tight, maybe a little compact and firm.

At first I was suspicious we didn’t use enough yeast, and the dough rose nicely, so the Tablespoon of Active Yeast was probably good.

Alex did a nice job of braiding and because we cooked them individually, they had plenty of time to rise.

I think this Work In Progress photo holds the secret of my end user ID10T issue (nerd humor?), the oven temp was too high. I had the oven at 360 instead of 350, besides baking a little faster, it didn’t continue to rise in the oven.

Let It Go.

The Challah was still delicious and used for multiple meals over the weekend. It’s ok to make a mistake, learn from it, and move on.

I’ll probably bake another Challah tomorrow to clear it out of my system.

Meditate and Bake.

The Steps

The Steps

These are the days of Challah.

Alex measured, mixed, kneaded, braided and baked this Challah!

I was an ok assistant, prepping and cleaning everything, providing basic support. And, I had a GREAT time.

Such an important gentle reminder, sometimes the glory is simply being on the team. Right?

Bake Day

Bake Day

Friday!!! Challah Back!!!

Seriously, I have a mix of nervous anxiety and unbridled excitement to bake on Fridays. Challah!

I’m using Challah like Amen?

No doubt.

I prepped and cleaned the cooking area in our kitchen this morning, checking in on my supplies and cleaning surfaces, allowing the stress to leave my mind. When I was a young lawyer, my mentor Dale Markowitz told me simply, we win because we are prepared. He had some other brilliant advice, like always answer your phone and let the person know you hear them and will follow up. Right? So, I dialed the kitchen in this morning.

50 Pounds of Bakers Flour from Central Milling. This is how we do this! More like, this is what Excessive Compulsive Disorder looks like. ECD, it’s like OCD and yet different.

Part of my planning for 2024 is practice intentionally with light structure for growth. I am setting up my supplies and storage so I can practice daily and it is enjoyable.

That sounds like a lot of Challah.

Fridays. And Holidays.

These are the best days, when we make Challah, ease into the flow of the ingredients, mixing the water and sugar and oil with flour and yeast, kneading the dough and allowing rest, air to flow, energy to rise, gluten spreading and moving, growing, willing to divide and intertwine, forming something new. Challah.

Maybe today is a prep day or maybe it is your bake day, either way I am encouraging you to bake Challah and Share it. This is a scary and liberating experience that will bring you peace and joy.

Meditate and Bake.

You Home?

You Home?

I am out of control. Seriously. I kneaded through 25 pounds of Central Milling Bread Flour like I could create peace in Israel and Palestine if I just made enough Challah.





Elaine B. Challah Toast

I texted Elaine, “You Home?” Seconds later she replied, “Bread Delivery?” I biked over the Challah, reminding myself that Chanukah opened the door to baking a few extra Challah, it’s not Friday and yet in between the competitive gift buying for multiple holidays and trying to be ok with The World, Elaine knew immediately why I was dropping by, breathe.

Challah is a beautiful bread, it holds all of life’s struggle and glory, weaved together in 2 hours of gentle effort. The practice is challenging, requiring preparation of space and resources, a commitment to cleanliness and time management. And, Letting Go.

Letting Go.

Giving away the Challah is strangely important. It allows us to practice Letting Go, of something we have created and developed a relationship with as we experience and witness change, sharing that with someone, by giving them Challah. It is humbling and scary, borderline exhilarating.

I know, Loco. It’s true. It is far harder to give away a Challah than it is to bake one for yourself. The risk changes, as does the reward. Let Go and Share.

By now, you know we aren’t just talking about Challah, we are talking about whatever you are feeling inside. Your choice. It will all be processed in the kneading and baking of the Challah, sharing the Challah is hella vulnerable, trust me! AND, are you willing or able to share emotionally? There is power in using our words as a form of expression, as there is in using gluten as communication. Let the words bind you with the people you share Challah with. Right???

This is all an experiment, Knead, Meditate, Bake, Meditate, Share and Connect.

You Can Do It.

We are moving in the same direction

We are moving in the same direction

Wow! Reading thru the Michigan Alumni email, I am immersed in Marissa Wojcik’s Challah Journey!

There is this sense of, be open to all of the things happening around you, keep your eyes open and your heart open to all of the people on similiar paths. Did you read the Celestine Prophcey? Literally a grocery store romance novel of spirituality and I STILL LOVE IT.

There are so many of us looking for answers, gently kneading, baking and sharing Jewish culture.

This is also an important time to connect with you or whoever I am sharing a Challah with, let them know the bread is a meditation on peace, braided together intentionally connecting us.

I was feeling bad this morning, looking at my Challah that was wrapped from yesterday, knowing it was just ok at best. Maybe it was the cooking, maybe I over rested, probably both. This isn’t about perfect Challah, or maybe it is, you know.

Yesterday, I biked over to Peter and handed over a Challah, a little too sweet forward, to my friend who is under the weather and needed the thoughts I was having for him as I baked. It was a quick and distant exchange and only possible because Peter expects me to be a little crazy.

The second Challah was a block over to Elise and Kevin who inspire me to create and share. I’m a fan of Kevin’s art, and I know Elise can really cook so it is doubly important that I let go of my ego and remind myself that the intention is to share peace and remind them they have Jewish friends who are still working on it, peace.

People, we all practice differently, I’m hoping to inspire you to bake, meditate, and share that with people you care about.

Paul’s Oven Baked Challah French Toast

Paul’s Oven Baked Challah French Toast

I texted I was coming over, wrapped up the Challah in parchment paper and walked over to Paul’s house to deliver the goods.

Kock, knock, knock.

Louder, with a touch of the ring tapping on the wood.

Ring the bell Long, Short, Short, Short. 

The cars are in the driveway and the lights are on, maybe the got picked up for dinner? Why am I so uncomfortable in sharing this Challah, maybe it is basic insecurity with a hint of shame, knowing my braiding was just ok and my end tucking game can be stronger. I must slow down and paint the Challah at the 20 minute mark instead of rushing to avoid the heat changing too much in the oven as the steam singes the hairs on my arms and blurs my glasses.

Paul open the door, talking with someone on his phone across the World, smiling and trying to explain the situation at his front door, wondering why I was waving a bag at him in the evening dusk, muttering, Challah, enjoy!

Sharing a Challah with my neighbors who meditate daily and teach mindfulness to people all over the World is strangely important to me, sharing how I am working to create peace internally and finding a way to engage with Jewish culture in our community. Even my mis-shapen braids in the Challah and awkward communication in handing off the bread, the intention and feeling are conveyed, this is a small moment of peace I experienced and you can make it your own. 

 This is the test, does it work.

Baking and Meditating.

Sharing Jewish culture.

I will get better at it all, I promise! And, see below the recipe from Paul and the lovely photo from Jeannie.

Oven-Baked French Toast
 8 slices of Jamie’s Divine Challah – ¾-1” thick; cut the evening before to let it
“dry out” a bit
 1/3 Cup Melted Butter – I enjoy a lightly salted variety
 2 Tablespoons Sugar – my preference is Turbinado (cane sugar w. a touch of
molasses added in the processing – rich a maintains a bit of “crunch”)
 ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
 3 Eggs
 ¾ Cup Orange Juice
 ½- 1 Teaspoon Orange Zest
 1 Splash Amaretto (Jack Daniels is great too – use what you have on hand)
 Dusting of Powdered Sugar to finish

How to
– Pre-heat oven to 425 °
– Pour Melted Butter into a pan large enough for the 8 slices (I use a Corning ware
oval…whatever fits is best)
– Mix Sugar and Cinnamon; sprinkle over the butter
– Beat Eggs with Orange Juice, Zest and Amaretto
– Dip Each slice of bread in the batter, 15 seconds of so – a good soak – and place
in pan
– Pour any remaining batter over the arranged slices
– Bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm and lightly browned
– Sprinkle w. Powdered Sugar
– I love it drizzled with a good organic maple syrup…whatever suits you

The First Share

The First Share

It had to happen. I have to get over whatever not got enough see all the issues thing sooner than later and Share A Challah. First thing I did, PANIC.

The Challah was glazed with a mix of Maple Syrup and Oat Milk and the Maple was a little too much, resulting in a little too much sweetness upfront and too effective at keeping the sesame seeds attached, almost sticky. Maybe leaving it out wrapped in parchment paper was a mistake, I wrapped it in cream wrap early morning and biked over to my friend Michael Grasso’s house.

Challah and Big Daddy’s Spicy Nuts

It was early, I left the Challah and a series of panicked texts stumbling to explain why I left a Challah on his deck at 8am. Amy and I were talking about how his family was visiting from Texas, and what could be better than a massive family Challah as a metaphor for how different things are visiting family in California. Really, I know family is always a mix of joy and stress and I thought man, everything is bigger in Texas, from Michael to his huge SUV to the size of this Challah!

There was a lot of radio silence. I don’t think they had any idea how fraught with anxiety I was, the bread was a little dry and the bottom was suspicious. I don’t know what made me think I should share bread with my friends, what about the nuts? Damn. A little dry also and not that hot. What have I done?

Michael’s Challah French Toast


Meditate and Bake.

It’s that simple.

Check out the amazing looking Challah French Toast Michael sent me! Here is the recipe he used. This is better than I ever could have hoped for, Challah French Toast is almost a threat used to describe mythical breakfast places that deliver what we really want, sweet goodness and relief from the present moment, Michael took my slightly rough imperfect Challah and turned it into an EPIC experience.

I need to be clear, EVERYTHING about this Challah can and will be better in the future!!! And yet, we have to start somewhere. This was my start, my first Challah share.

It was exhilarating and scary and a wonderful bit of immigrant and Jewish culture to share, too much food, in that family size Challah. or maybe, enough for the whole family to enjoy?

There are many aspects of being Jewish that I hope to share through Knead For Peace, the same spirit that took my ancestors across the ocean with little more than the clothing on their back, that survived famines and the holocaust, is imbued in this attempt to create a movement of peace within that is shareable in the form of Challah. Also, LOVE.

Seriously, making Challah, moving your hands in the dough, the gentle turning and pulling and pushing; this is an act of love, of meditation and personal freedom that is scaled by giving some of what is created. Peace.

Peace starts with us, today. I’m encouraging you to make some Challah, and share what you experience with your people, make our community smaller. It’s Friday and I am making Challah!!!

It’s ok to be a work in progress

It’s ok to be a work in progress

I keep reminding myself to be o.k with being a work in progress, so many rough edges.

Each Challah I make is better in some way, as I focus on improving “something,” each bake. And, I know I have to keep each improvement, allowing some fails to drop off.

The photo above is strangely important, the Challah looks like it is the early stage this project is in.

Focus on the low hanging fruit. Do some easy tasks that need to happen and will have a significant impact. Like practice your braiding and shaping? Yeah. Basics are so important.

Also, this Challah was delicious! Improving my dough handling, braiding and brushing will add 10% finishing, that is a this week goal!!!

My bigger point is, wherever you are, be in the process, practice and improve intentionally, we are all works in progress.

Challah At Me!

Challah At Me!

I just got back from a road trip, man, I missed baking! I got right back in with a double large Challah.

In between rounds of cards and discussions, I made some Challah on Thanksgiving afternoon.

This is my second round using the Bakers Bread Flour from Central Milling. I sifted the flour, applying one of the pro-tips, and was generous with the water, this is some thirsty dough.

While I was kneading, I thought about the holidays and treated the dough with the same care as we do our friends and family, patient and firm without too much pushing and pulling, more of a steady love than a tough love.

I put most of my thought into the Active Yeast. Seriously. I started using this yeast and I want to get the balance right of water temp and sugar. I’m close, and need to do more research. I don’t really know why Instant vs Active, I just got it in my head that Active Yeast has better flavor. Maybe?

We ate the Challah at Thanksgiving dinner, what??? I know. Not Traditional. Also, I made a bread and brought it to dinner!!! This is way out of my comfort zone. And, a very important step. Peace starts at home and Thanksgiving is a great holiday to practice peace, with your people in a relatively high stress environment!

I’m wishing you Peace and encouraging you to make some Challah and Share it, more on that coming.

Start at the bottom and don’t get burnt!

Start at the bottom and don’t get burnt!

I knew something was off as I put the Challah into the oven, I was rushing a little and felt the rack was low and went with it.

Slow Down.

If you’ve read Thinking Fast Thinking Slow, by Daniel Kahnman, you might forgive the “slide th Challah on the oven and set the timer moment,” as one that requires no thought, it’s a just do it and save your brains moment. Not this time.

I was panicking, the challah was too long to fit on my half pan, I quickly switched to a full pan and switched from my Air Fryer to my oven, leaving behind my careful preparation in the air fryer and using slow sweeping movements to place the Challah in the oven with a flourish.

I noted the top rack was a little close, the bread was swelling with air and I moved deftly, sliding and tucking the end, lengthening the braided dough.

My first mistake was letting one end casually rest against the metal end of the pan as it pushed past the parchment paper. I glanced at the edge and kept moving, the end pushed against the metal, getting a little too brown and hard.

My second mistake was literally bigger. I burnt the bottom. Note: raise the rack one level up. Yo, when you trim off the burnt part, the bread is delicious!!!

The goal is not to make perfect Challah,

Meditate and Bake.

Blackened Challah.

You Can Do It

You Can Do It

I am literally saying this to me, and you. You Can Do It.

You Can Do It.

You Can Do It.

Seriously. Starting takes more belief, more faith, than I normally have. Hmmm. Not true. I Am Blessed, with the ability to believe, to take that leap, of faith.

This is a Work In Progress, everything is subject to improvement!!!

I put my attention into the Active Yeast this evening, spreading the yeast across the plate of water carefully heated, sprinkled some sugar on top and allowed some of my hope to rest for a few minutes, while I kneaded dough.

I sifted the Bakers Flour vigorously into the large mixing bowl, panicking there was too much water, the dough was too lumpy, then sticky, with a little flour it started to stretch and pull, folding and finding a shape. Maybe I didn’t knead enough?

I let the dough rest.

Like us humans and how we need rest to grow.

Yes, the dough rises over the next 30 minutes.

It’s all different, the color, the feel, the braids are like ropes, swollen and pressing against each other, filling the space between warming the oven and tucking the ends under.

The Challah came out beautiful, sweet and delicious, far from perfect and thick, soft and flavorful. It’s on.

The Movement Is On!

The Movement Is On!

Challah! It’s possible.

Practice, not perfection. This is my first Spelt Challah! As I started, I reminded myself to be generous with the water and gentle with the kneading.

There are so many details to improve, including the glazed topping. I was too light with my first Challah and was looser and more heavy handed and generous applying the glazing on the second Challah, which was better. I mixed equal parts Oat Milk and Maple Syrup, o.k a random splash of each, stirred vigorously and applied with a brush to the top of the Challah 20 minutes into the baking, sprinkled sesame seeds on top, and continued baking for another 30 minutes.

Whole Wheat Challah is Delicious. I know, that sounds like a California Jew from the 70s. It’s true. The Spelt is sweet and full, ready to be toasted and the topping of your choice applied.

In the old days, this would have been butter or cream cheese for me, slice some cucumbers on top and my Bubbi would have called it lunch. Today, I’m dipping into Olive Oil with Zatar spices or slathering it in hummus or tahini. I crave the flavor and excitement of my tastebuds more than the creamy thick satisfaction of my hunger, that’s generational privilege. Maybe it’s just privilege??? Whatever, there are no bad choices for whole wheat challah, you can top it with sardines or tuna or avocado or oat butter!

What are we doing here? I am gently encouraging you to make Challah, Meditate, Bake and Share Jewish Culture with your friends, neighbors and family.

Knead For Peace.

It’s Not a Black and White Issue

It’s Not a Black and White Issue


It feels complex right now. That’s what people are telling me. I hear the pain and confusion voiced that I feel inside.

The lawyers will point out the gray areas, they are right.

The historians will search for answers, and have more questions.

I started getting ready this morning to bake, pulling out bags and supplies. I’m working with Spelt today, true story, that’s what’s left in the pantry! I immediately reminded myself, be generous with the water early in the mixing. Breathe.

All of the waves of fear and not enough and panic flooded through. I took a deep breath. And let that shit go. It’s Friday and I get to Bake Challah!

After prepping the space, I rummaged through the back of the silverware where I keep random serving tools, searching for the light blue soft cloth, enclosing our “Challah Knife.”

Fahgetabout the fact that the knife needs to be polished and cleaned up. This is a wedding present, an ornate knife, gently serated for smooth slicing with a braided handle, claiming a place, a use. CHALLAH.

Ok, who am I kidding??? This is Silver. It needs attention, care. I’ll polish it up as a project when it’s raining this Winter. I’m not fancy, barely presentable! And, gather up your tools, clean and prep them for whatever is next in your life.

We are baking Challah every week. It’s part tradition, part therapy, 100% an act of love.

Make Challah, Practice Peace, Share Love.

What if it is that simple?

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

Paulo Coelho

Start With What You Have

Start With What You Have

It is too easy of a trap to fall into, I’ll start when, some perfect condition exists.

I’ll start when I get my certification or degree.

I’ll start tomorrow.

I have all kinds of rational and irrational fears about whether I can make 3 Challah, whether I will overcook them, or undercook them, whether anyone will want to eat them and whether I have the right supplies to make the perfect Challah.

And I am just getting started!

All of those fears are blocks, literal stumbling blocks.

Equally possible are all of them amazing outcomes, from 3 beautiful Challah to hugging old and new friends and sharing delicious bread together.

I found my barely used dough scrapper and said out loud, “I’m going to use this to divide the dough into 3 balls.” Whether that is for braiding one Challah or separating a larger amount of dough into 3 Challah, I am finding tools to make the process more accessible to me.

Also, this tool is so extra!!! If you have one, great, find it! If you don’t, Fahgetaboutit! Maybe something to ask for this Chanukah?

Start this week, with what you have.

If You Call

If You Call

I will answer. This is me calling!!! I sliced up the last 2 pieces of the first Challah, spread some plum jam from my Chef friend Joyce Liu, and reveled in the uneven chunks of fruit, the deep color and the balance of sweet and tart as my teeth broke off a piece of the firm, toasted, 2 day old bread.

I’m thinking of Joyce as she takes the Bar Exam this week, sending her my strength to persevere; we can do difficult things, whether that is take a 5 hour exam or learn how to turn ground wheat into bread.

This is a breakfast sweet. I remind us that life is not all hard work to a difficult and bitter end. Even when things are a little too tough, like my Challah, giving a little bit of attention, like toasting, and care, like jam, we can create change, together.

You can start today.