Baking challah & cultivating joy in the soil of sorrow

Good morning friend :) 

I'm grateful to report that my shoulder is feeling a lot better than it did last week. While I am not yet back to large scale bread production, I'm glad to be back to making bread for the family. 

This weekend I made sourdough challah bread. It was a real joy to make this for the first time. It was on my mind because I had been thinking about my friends that were/are observing Hanukkah during this week. As such, I was determined to find a recipe rooted in an appreciation for the rich symbolism and tradition associated with this Jewish braided egg bread. Simply put, my hopes were exceeded when I found Maggie Glezer's James Beard award-winning book A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World. She has also published her challah recipe online [here]. I will admit that I thought there might be a typo in the amount of water that she was suggesting when I first read this challah recipe. However the egg and honey compensated for the lack of water and the final bread turned out spectacularly well. 

I don't think my first attempt quite matched the challah that my wife has been making for the past several years... but we agreed that this sourdough version was preferable for the complexity of flavor in the final loaf.

A post shared by Baking Mo πŸ“§ #BreadAndJustice (@bakingmo)

Thursday night was the night that I made up my mind that I was going to try something new and make this bread. This was the same night that federal government officials chose to ensure that 40-year-old Brandon Bernard never experienced anything new ever again. Brandon has the distinction of being the youngest person in the United States to receive a death sentence in almost 70 years. As I reflected this weekend on the knowledge that he was 18 when he was involved in the crime that he was convicted of… I kept thinking about how much I've learned in the past 22 years. And then I thought about how much more I hope to learn in the next 22 years. 

It is gut-wrenching to know that after 17 years of our federal government not pursuing the death penalty, we've suddenly changed course and the United States has executed nine people in the past year. And what's worse, in the remaining days of this current administration, they are preparing to take the life of four more Americans. 

The death penalty is retributive violence, and we must not let it continue in our name. 

While struggling with the unsettling reminder that Americans are utterly confused about the difference between vengeance and justice – I stumbled across this album of spoken word, poetry, and music by Iyanu Adebiyi. The themes of hope, healing, identity, resilience and courage in her album brought some semblance of calm to my spirit, and I hope it does for you as well. 

In Love,