Scoop of the Day…

Baking from scratch is something that has been engrained in me since I was a mini Scoop. It all began in my second grade class with my teacher Miss Athenasiatis. It’s a mouthful , I know. Imagine saying that 10 times a day when you’re eight years old and you’ve only been speaking basic English for 6 years. Not so easy. So, for our sake, and to save her face, we will refer to her as Miss A. When I was in Miss A’s class we had weekly spelling tests, and I HAD to get a 100% on each one. If I didn’t get a 100%, I didn’t get a new troll doll, and if I didn’t get a new troll doll, the whole world would come to an end. Seriously, you do not know what I was capable of at that age, and I hope you never have to feel the residual effects. Well, one day Miss A gave us a spelling test, and there was a really difficult word on our study sheet. Even though I was prepared, and even though I kneeled down next to my bed the night before, stretched my chin to the edge of my mattress, and prayed for this word to magically not be on it, the very next day, Miss A stood before our class and said, “Spell the word…”Because.” Laugh all you want, but for one reason or another, I just could not master this word. Maybe it was because I frequently heard it paired with “…I said so,” or maybe it was the silent ‘u,’ but whatever the reason, as soon as she announced the word, my face got hot and my mind went blank. To my advantage, right after she announced the word, she was called out of the classroom to speak with another teacher. This was my chance, this was my one moment. In my little cubby to the side of my leg, my blue spelling book was standing tall, ready to be flipped open and reveal the true spelling of “Because.” As I sat there, however, I started to get the sweats. And then I got the shakes. Innocent Miss A would have no idea what I had done, but I would have to live with the fact that I had cheated. Every time I spelled the word “Because,” I would have to think of that one time Miss A was testing us and I cheated… for a troll doll.

This moment, believe it or not, helped define who I am today. Due to my inability to defy Miss A, I am now unable to cheat or cut corners in anything I do. And while I do envy those who are so comfortable swiping past years exams, entering equations on their calculators, or even having someone else do their work for them, I am wholly uncomfortable with it. The only time I really enjoy cutting a corner is when I J walk across the street… there’s something so thrilling about it, you know you agree.

While I know the easy way out would make my life, well, easier, I find pleasure in doing things from start to finish. This way, I am learning and manipulating steps as I go along, and creating an end result I can call my own. I take this quality with me through life, and I especially take it with me into the kitchen. Do you know what a box of Duncan Hines cake mix does to me? I get that same feeling I got in Miss A’s class when I tried to cheat, I get hot, I break into the sweats, and I start to shake.

Baking without cutting corners, a.k.a baking from scratch, is one of my favorite tasks to take on from end to end, and I had the ultimate scratch experience this weekend when I baked my left over homemade challah bread into a Maple Spiced Bread Pudding. While the bread making was exhausting, the bread pudding I could have done with my eyes closed, and the finished product was absolutely divine. The feeling (and results) you get after successfully baking from scratch do not come in a box. As Christopher likes to say, “Made from scratch, down the hatch.”

Oh, and about that last spelling test in Miss A’s class… I didn’t cheat… and I got my troll doll. ūüėČ

Scoop of the Day…

Please don’t let this deter you from reading on, but I (pause) am Jewish. Yes, I am a member of The Tribe. And this evening marks our New Year, 5772 to be exact. If you are not a member of The Tribe, then I regret to inform you that this is not your New Year. You have no excuse to reinvent yourself, unless you feel so inclined. You have no reason to re-promise unfulfilled resolutions, unless you feel so inclined. And you have no reason to wear sequins, drink champagne, or stand in the middle of Time Square, unless of course.. you feel so inclined. Alas, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so do not despair… there is a good chance that you WILL be invited to go to a Jewish dinner and, unless you want to bear the wrath of Jewish Mother Guilt, you should feel so inclined.

Rosh¬†Hashana, the New Year, is frequently¬†refered to as the Jewish “Day of Judgement” or “Day of Remembrance.” We pass before God, and he/she/shim evaluates us based on our deeds. If you are not a Tribe Member, than I guess you are omitted from this obligation, but I am definitely feeling the pressure! I’m not entirely sure what kind of “deeds,” per se, I performed throughout the year, but, in order to make up for my lacking thereof, I decided¬†to bake a Challah¬†bread to sway the scale. Challah¬†is sweet for a “sweet” New Year, Challah¬†is the Holiest of baked goods, and Challah¬†feeds the Jews! That has to be a Top 10 “Act of Humanity,” right? You can’t let a Jew go hungry… Neesh¬†Keet (yiddish: Not Good).

Needless to say, my contribution as a Tribe member this year was quite noteworthy. While I am a frequent baker, these past several hours¬†of¬†mixing, kneading, waiting, punching, braiding, and washing¬†had me feeling a¬†bit¬†like Sybil. Baking always asks that you treat¬†your dough either¬†roughly or gently, but, Holy Challah, this¬†bread likes it ALL! I’m surprised no one recommended that I yell at the dough to make it rise even more!

I do have to say that, once the deed was done, I felt proud and satisfied. Proud that, although I thought I totally botched it from the Get-Go, I persisted and saw my project through. Satisfied in that I added to my list of Firsts for the year, and successfully made a beautiful and (hopefully) sweet Challah bread. If you, too, want to add this to your list of accomplishments, please feel free to check out my Recipe Book for a little guidance.

Challah Back!

Happy New Year Tribe Members and Non-Tribe Members! To another year of persistence, satisfaction, and, full bellies ūüôā