Archive for Challah Connection Friends

New for 2012: Miracle Brunch Hanukkah Gift Baskets

We Love these Great New Hanukkah Gift Basket Items!

It’s been really fun coming up with great new products to our Hanukkah gift baskets this year. If you’re looking for special Jewish holiday gifts, Challah Connection has a creative selection of Hanukkah baskets that I’ve put together to suit the people on your list.

Kosher Gift Baskets Hanukkah Brunch Basket

Kosher Hanukkah Baskets that make  ”Miracle Brunches”

This is a great kosher gift basket for anyone who likes to cook and entertain.Send this Jewish holiday gift to friends or family, and they can whip up some delicious blueberry muffins in adorable Chanukkah muffin cups to serve overnight guests – or themselves!   I love it when there’s an opportunity to make breakfast into a special occasion. There’s also flatbread and gourmet smoked salmon pate in this Hanukkah basket, along with some fantastic Meditalia basil pesto tapenade (great on crackers or in an omelette), and roasted chickpeas for snacking.

We rounded out this great kosher Hanukkah gift with coffee, tea and honey. I couldn’t resist adding a Happy Chanukah dish towel, and topping it all off with some peony foiled chocolates. Yum! It’s a delicious and festive Jewish holiday gift that’s perfect when you’re looking for something a little different, and memorable.

Get your Hanukkah Basket Shipped for December 8th!

When you sign up for the Challah Connection newsletter, you automatically get holiday discounts and shipping priority. This means if you are on our list we will ensure your gifts arrive by the 1st night of Hanukkah (December 8th), if that’s what you request. Don’t forget to sign up!

 

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Challah Against Hunger

Last week I went to a friend’s essay reading. My friend wrote about her hardscrabble childhood in Idaho. One of the images I couldn’t get out of my head (and written here with her permission):
“Hunger was always with my sister and me. We snuck into the neighbor’s shed and stole canned fruit. We carried it into the sagebrush and ate the sweet peaches and drank the juice. When we were very hungry, we stole dog food, too, and ate it.”

Now, I don’t about you, but my childhood was a little different than that. I always had plenty to eat. And here at Challah Connection I am surrounded by food. I’m constantly sampling new products, as well as sampling my own holiday cooking.

My friend’s essay reminded me that other people are not as fortunate as I am, and my company has made a big commitment to donating unused food to our local food pantry, as well as monetary donations to Jewish charities.

And my friend’s experience is not unusual. I was shocked to open up Tuesday’s New York Times and read the headline, “49 Million Americans Report a Lack of Food.” From the article: “The number of Americans who lived in households that lacked consistent access to adequate food soared last year to 49 million, the highest since the government began tracking what it calls “food insecurity” 14 years ago,” the Department of Agriculture reported Monday.

49 mIllion!? I was shocked to see that number. It’s outrageous in a country as wealthy as ours, where 10-year-olds carry cell phones and 18-year-olds drive BMWs.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s a terrible problem, so huge that nothing can possibly be done about it. But I’ve decided to act, to make a difference, and I’m inviting you to join me.

challah  med
For every challah you order, we’ll match it. We will send it to our homeless shelter. Or, if you prefer, we will include it in your shipment, for you to deliver to a food shelter of your choice.  To participate in this offer, be sure to add the code HUNGER at checkout.  Our pledge will continue until December 4.

I know we can make a difference, one loaf at a time.

Best,

Jane

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The Year of the Pickle

It’s a famous Jewish tradition: Chinese food and a movie on Christmas. Who knows how it all got started? Years ago, some enterprising Jewish family must have ventured out into the empty streets–with all the stores shuttered- on Christmas Day and discovered a light glowing in the distance. Hurrying closer, that Jewish family stood under the light and saw that it said “Sakura.” After stuffing their faces, the family headed out into the empty street and saw another light. “Cineplex” it said.

Thus a tradition was born (reversing the order is optional) and my family has certainly partaken of that tradition. But my love of Chinese food isn’t limited to Christmas alone. During any season, but especially during cooler weather, my family has been known to happily decamp to our favorite Chinese restaurants in Connecticut and New York and enjoy all of the savory delights. While shoveling in all this delicious food, I’ve noticed and been fascinated by the Chinese Zodiac imprinted on the placemat. You know–Year of the Dragon, Year of The Rat, etc. I’ve thought: Why not a Jewish tradition like it?

Imagine, then, my excitement, when I came across some wonderful new products that playfully combine Jewish food and Chinese culture–Seth Front’s The Jewish Zodiac.

Of course it’s not “The Year of the Ox” but “The Year of The Lox” I’m talking about! I love anyone who can make me laugh–and Seth’s products are just hilarious.

Here at Challah Connection, we’re proud to offer these fun, new products like The Year of the Pickle t-shirts and Year of The Black & White t-shirt. (My husband is sporting one now, but has yet to fess up to whether he is on the black side of the cookie or the white). I chatted with Seth at the recent Kosherfest where I asked him which of the amazingly creative shirts is the most popular. It’s the Year of the Pickle–that must be a new way to refer to our current economic problem. (Maybe I’ll send a shirt to President Obama and his speechwriters.)

While I love the shirts, since I am really kitchen person, I also love the Jewish Zodiac Placemats. Jewish Zodiac Placements

Last night, we set the table with these fun placemats and I could have sworn that my salad pizza had a distinct taste of broccolli with garlic sauce.

Instead of being born in the Year of the Rat or Year of the Sheep, find your Jewish zodiac sign. Were you born under the Year of the Egg Cream, Year of Pastrami, or Year of the Schmear?

Happy Shopping!

Best,

Jane

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A Recipe for World Peace

Call it fate. Kismet. Serendipity. Divine Intervention. The day I met Elaine, I had just about given up on making new friends in my new town, Westport, Connecticut.

My husband, three sons, and I had just moved here from New York City, drawn by the good schools, numerous amenities, and the reputation Westport had as a town with a strong arts community. My sons were certainly thrilled with their schools and the friends they had made. My husband Josh liked living in a house, where he could retreat to his home office for a few moments of sanity–impossible with apartment living.

I was the only stick in the mud. I was friendly, outgoing, interested in other people. But I was used to the casual interactions of the city, meeting other working Moms on the playground, grabbing a quick cup of coffee. Westport was different. Playdates were planned weeks in advance, and conversations revolved around the intense sports culture. I was out of the loop for the first time in my life.

All that changed one day on the playground of of our preschool, Learning Community. My son Mike was climbing up the slide, closely followed by a strong, athetic looking, light-haired girl. They were chatting away.

“Is that your son?” I heard a woman say. “My daughter loves him,” she said. “I hate this whole planned playdate thing, but…”

To paraphrase a famous movie line, Elaine had me at “I hate playdates.” We talked and talked that day, discovering that our 5th grade boys, Sam and Misha were also good friends. Soon, Josh and I had dinner with Elaine and her husband George. We were a United Nations of backgrounds and interests and religions. A melting pot of Italian Catholic, Russian Orthodox, and Judaism; between the four of us, we had every Eastern European country covered, along with Italy.

Our friendship was cemented by a calendar of holidays. We were introduced to their wonderful traditions:the midnight Easter mass of George’s Russian Orthodox religion, the festivity of their Christmas, and the sheer pagan decadence of their New Years’ Eve party.

They, in turn, delighted in our holiday rituals. They came to my 3 sons’ Bar Mitzvahs, where they danced the hora. They came to our Erev Yom Kippur dinner, and our Break Fast. They have come to our seders, where Elaine’s mother delighted in my mother’s brisket, while George ate at least two bowls of piping hot matzo ball soup. That alone cemented my mother’s love for George.

Food has been a way to celebrate our differences and our similarities. Recently, friends hosted a 25th wedding anniversary for George and Elaine. I made stuffed cabbage and pierogi to honor Elaine’s Polish roots, and beet salad to honor George’s Russian tradition. Elaine’s 90-year old Polish mother pronounced my stuffed cabbage superior to her own! Whether or not this is true, I’m deeply honored by her compliment, and thrilled that in this shared recipe, Jews and Poles come together. Can–dare I ask–stuffed cabbage begin to heal the scars of history? I don’t need an answer for now, just Elaine’s mother enjoying it.

A deep and abiding friendship with our Catholic and Russian Orthodox friends has, I believe, taught my children a valuable lesson. From an early age, my Jewish children learned not mere tolerance, which is a good starting place for everyone, but a deep appreciation of others’ cultures and religions. They learned we’re all not so different. We all like stuffed cabbage.

It’s not just a family or personal message, but the message of my business, Challah Connection. Here at Challah Connection, I strongly believe that my customers are not just people like me. No, they’re Catholic and Buddhist and Russian Orthodox. They are in Idaho and Florida, California and Canada. They–we–come from all different places and beliefs. That’s what has made my company something I am deeply proud of. We’re not just a company that provides goods for nice Jewish people like ourselves. We’re a company that provides for the richly diverse world in which we are so lucky to live.

As we approach the holiday season of Hannukkah and Christmas, I look forward to lighting the candles of the menorah. I know that on at least one of those nights, Elaine and George will be by my side, spinning a dreidel, sampling a latke, learning a few Yiddish words.

Soon after, I will marvel at the star on the very top of their Christmas tree.

Best,

Jane

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A Community of Entrepreneurs

When I left the corporate world 20 years ago, I didn’t know what to expect.  After successfully launching and running my own marketing firm (first client: American Express), I wanted my next career step  to combine my passion for baking challah with the business acumen I had acquired.   Because I grew up with the aromas of my own mother’s wonderful baking (usually old world Jewish recipes, for the Jewish holidays), it was only natural that I would come to love baking myself, and my family knew they could always count on the smell of home-baked challah every Friday afternoon.

In 2002, I saw the opportunity to marry my interests by purchasing Challah Connection, then a small challah delivery service. The decision to expand and revitalize Challah Connection was a big commitment, both professional and personal.  Knowing my almost obsessive need to give 150 % to any work venture, I wondered: would I ever allow myself to relax?

Seven fun, sometimes difficult, but always interesting years later, I know the answer to that question: no!  There’s no time to relax.

But I have the genuine satisfaction of knowing that each and every gift that Challah Connection ships out is of the highest quality.  It may sound corny, but it’s like that credit card commercial.  Offering a truly thoughtful shiva basket or Hanukkah gift to a very-missed college student on behalf of his loving parents is priceless…to me.

But enough about me!

One of the great things about launching my own business was discovering a community of like-minded entrepreneurs in Westport and the surrounding towns.  Through networking and through daily life, I’ve come across a truly amazing group of people who have also had the courage to go out on their own and launch serious, profitable  businesses. Once a month, I meet with these women to discuss each others business issues, always with the goal of business growth. The community of these fellow women entrepreneurs has been so helpful and satisfying.  We are proof that it is possible to do what you love and be successful.

Jessica Bram, Author, Happily Ever Divorced

Jessica Bram, Author, Happily Ever After Divorce

Jessica Bram is the author of Happily Ever After Divorce. It’s funny and hopeful a book as you would ever want to read –reading her essays on her divorce is like eating potato chips…you get the point).  She also runs the Westport Writers’ Workshop and offers all kinds of classes on writing, from memoir writing to short story writing  (I’ve heard they fill up fast).

Barbara Ross, Evocateur

Barbara Ross, Evocateur

Barbara Ross is the owner of Evocateur. After a long career in corporate finance, she is fulfilling her dream of gorgeous jewelry and accessories. Handcrafted in Connecticut, her pieces are droolworthy.  I especially love her 22 K gold cuffs.  Although I wouldn’t say no to the sterling silver leaf pieces either…  Her line also includes  bangles, pendants, earrings and belts.

Donna Jackson launched  Saraswati’s Yoga Joint in Norwalk–a yoga studio that must be seen and experienced to be believed. Think walls painted the color of sorbet and a yoga practice that is challenging without being demoralizing and spiritual without being sappy. I must admit to be totally addicted to twice and sometimes thrice weekly doses of Donna’s down dogs.

Lyn Girdler, Not Another Guide

Lyn Girdler, Not Another Guide

Lyn Girdler’s website Not Another Guide offers travel guides written by locals. Even though I grew up in the New York environs, I have actually used her guide to New York City because its loaded with tidbits about food and shopping that make me feel like a native…again.   And quite honestly, without her eclectic guides, I never would have discovered Alphabet City’s amazing array of vintage shops.

nancycollamer

Nancy Collamer, Collamer Career Consulting, Jobs & Moms

Last but certainly not least, Nancy Collamer’s very helpful website Jobs and Moms.  Nancy is a career coach who founded The Jobs and Moms Career Center.  She advised women online as the “Jobs and Mom Pro” for Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen Media. Nancy has the knowledge and compassion to guide women in careers that work for their families, often outside the rigid 9 to 5 parameters.  I highly recommend checking out her website if you are thinking about making some kind of a career move. Nancy and I had lunch yesterday and I found out that she counsels clients nationwide–thanks to Skype!

Kudos to those of you out there who had the courage to go for it!  Good luck to those of you about to try something new.

And may today we all take a risk…a leap of faith in ourselves,

Jane Moritz, Challah Connection Owner

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