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Favorite Passover Recipe: Carrot Citrus Horseradish from Gefilteria

We have asked nicely, begged and cajoled our friends at Gefilteria to produce this outstanding horseradish, as they did several years ago. Unfortunately, it’s not in the cards, but they have made the recipe available and we are pleased to pass it on to you. Naturally, it goes beautifully with Gefilteria, the nouveau take on gefilte fish (which we LOVE).

Feel free to play with the ratio of carrots to horseradish for a milder or spicier final product. If you don’t have a food processor, don’t be deterred. You can make this recipe by finely chopping the carrots, grating the horseradish on the small or medium holes of a box grater, and mixing it all together in a large bowl with the other ingredients.

Makes about 1 quart
1 pound carrots, halved
1/2 pound coarsely chopped peeled horseradish root
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
3 1/4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Place the carrots in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to boil over high heat. Boil for about 5 minutes, until the carrots are cooked through but not soft. Drain the carrots, and place them in a food processor along with the horseradish pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, and cold water and bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to the food processor bowl. With the motor running, slowly pour in the vinegar-sugar mixture. You do not want the mixture to be soupy, so add the liquid a bit at a time and stop at the point when the carrots and horseradish are fully coated, shiny, and moist. You may need to stop and stir a few times to ensure that the horseradish is fully ground. Run the processor until the horseradish and carrots are evenly ground and as fine as your processor can get them.
  4. Transfer the horseradish to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Horseradish relish will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 months.

 

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Seder in a Box—What’s Behind this Bestselling Passover Gift Basket

Seder In a Box Challah Connection

We have been selling our “Seder In a Box” Passover gift basket for over 10 years and every year it is one of our top sellers. What’s the concept behind it and how did this gift come to be?

We learned early on that our customers seek out Jewish holiday gifts to send to kids and grandkids far away to remind them that the holiday is here. Afterall, we don’t live in Israel where Jewish holidays are mainstream and for many Jewish-Americans, a reminder is the key to even the smallest holiday observance. In the same vein, how do you learn how to make a seder? Well, if you are from a family (like mine) who held seders at home, you may know some basics. But there are many (most?) people who have never been involved in creating a seder and there is so much to know. For starters: what goes on the seder plate? How do you lead a seder? What kind of wine to serve? What is the afikomen? What to serve for the “festive meal?” These are just a few of the questions that need to tackling when seder preparations.

Our Seder in a box is an attempt to provide the novice seder holder or holiday observer with the basics. Of course there is so much more to it, but we consider this gift to be the first step. Our thinking is: get the matzo, haroset, grape juice, macaroons, holiday candy and hagaddah in their hands and the rest will flow from there. And for people like us who learn through eating, Seder in a Box is a terrific teaching aid. Happy Passover!

-Jane Moritz, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

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Exploring Cuba–notes on my recent trip

Blue CarMy husband Josh and I recently returned from 9 days in Cuba. We went with a group of 8 friends on a “people-to-people” trip. We had a fabulous time and would like to go back to explore more of the country. However, if you’re curious and thinking about going, please know that it’s not for the “faint of heart.” It’s a country filled with friendly, nice people, great weather, fascinating history and terrific music as well as lines for everything (restaurants, changing money are 2 examples), poverty, stray dogs, cats and chickens (some of which are dead on the side of the road).

Synagogue

As we always do when we travel, Josh and I sought out Havana’s Jewish community and food. Like many places in Europe, where Jewish communities once thrived, Havana’s Jewish scene is fairly light. Before the revolution in 1959, there was a significant Jewish community however most of the Jews of Havana left for Miami or Israel, leaving a very few (200 or so?) who currently live there. The Jewish food scene also is sparse. There are 2 “Jewish food” items I saw: “Grandma’s Chicken Soup,” which is on many restaurant menus and it is described the way we think of it but without the matzo balls. The other is “Cuban humous” which is made with black beans and possibly tahini (not 100% on this). If you can consider rum a Jewish food, then it’s abundant and possibly the best I’ve ever had (I am now a champion pina colada drinker and missing my daily double).

pretty building
There are atleast 2 synagogues in Havana and one day we took a cab (one of those American cars that are long overdue in the car cemetery, in my opinion) to the Vedado section of Havana to find Congregation Beth Shalom. Vedado is also the area where University of Havana is located, which we were interested to see but was unfortunately closed for the official mourning day of Fidel’s death. We then started our navigation to the synagogue, which was not completely straightforward on the map, but a really pretty walk in an area very different from Havana Vieja (old Havana) where we were staying. In Vedado, the houses were large, beautiful and mostly old Spanish-style with palm trees and greenery. We sat in a pretty park and decided that this part of town was the Upper West Side of Havana (like NYC’s UWS) and Old Havana being more like Times Square.

Sign

Once we were about 10 blocks from Beth Shalom, we started to see signs for the synagogue like the one above, which we found comforting, not just for the obvious reason but also as it signified Havana’s respect for the synagogue and Jewish community. We found it and unfortunately it was closed BUT as we were leaving, someone ran after us calling us to come back. This kind man worked there and wanted us know that there would be a Shabbat service on Friday at 6:30 and we should come since “this is our home.” We were delighted by his friendliness and warmth and came back 3 days later for Shabbat, arriving just before 7.

When we walked into the sanctuary, we were taken aback by the almost-full sanctuary—200 or so people. This was not what we expected given the history. The bima was full of Virginia Tech students who were completing their week long community service trip with a final prayer from the Rabbi. Another group was there from a Minneapolis synagogue plus many local Havanites.

Unfortunately the service had actually started at 5:30 so we missed it almost entirely, which we were extremely disappointed about. But we met several of the people there and they could not have been more friendly. It was a lovely reminder of the Jewish solidarity that can be found anywhere in the world.  When we returned to our travel buddies (sipping their mojitos–great rum!!!!), they were all excited to hear about our excursion and genuinely disappointed that we missed most of the service. As we had already learned several times already on the trip: “It’s Cuba,” which is travelese for “go with the flow.”

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Heros and Heroines: Hospice Caregivers

I recently read a fascinating article in the New Yorker about something I knew nothing about: care givers in hospices. As part of life, I have witnessed the loss of 2 close family members; my own father and my father in law. Both died in the hospital so I have never had the occasion to go or learn about hospice and the amazing people that work in them.

Fruit and Friends Comfort Crate | Challah ConnectionSimply, hospice is where people go to die. Whether a patient is suffering from an incurable illness or has suffered a stroke or accident that will lead to death in the next few months, it is often hospice where they go. Dying, is often a difficult and drawn out process and can be one or more of the following: boring, painful, scary, easy, ugly or more. Unlike the role of a nurse or Dr. where the job is to restore to health, the hospice worker is there to smooth the road to death and that road is often very bumpy. There are unresolved issues and anger that won’t allow the dying to let go and die. There is the looming birthday that keeps one hanging on. There is fear. There are difficult family members and unresolved family fighting. There are patients who are made happy only by certain music. The list goes on but these amazing caregivers act as stewards to the next life by doling out support however they see fit: acting as therapist, or as great listener, birthday party organizer, bedpan cleaner and so on. They seem to have an innate ability to understand what is needed for each patient while never forgetting the mission: to usher them with kindness and respect into the next phase.

I am in awe of these dedicated and hardworking caregivers and am so grateful to the author, Larissa Macfarquhar, for writing this piece. These caregivers seem to be almost a step or 2 above the rest of us with their ability to see the present and the future so easily. There are no gifts that could truly honor their almost G-dlike work but I think we should start with some essentials to keep their nourishment up and to show the immense gratitude for their dedicated and courageous work. Here are some gift ideas from Challah Connection for your favorite care giver, whether they are caring for someone in hospice, at home or for your favorite childcare provider. We always feel happier when we acknowledge others and show them gratitude.

-Jane Moritz, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

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Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof Finds a Perfect Match with Challah from Local Company

Norwalk, CT, March 1, 2016 – When a show representative for the new Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, began searching for props she wanted to find just the right challah to be used on. The challah, a traditional braided bread, would symbolize the union of Jewish tradition and family which are such strong themes of the show. She did a quick Google search for “challah delivery” to find just the right vendor to deliver this old world baked good to Broadway night after night, and discovered Challah Connection. Based in Norwalk, CT, the company specializes in traditional Jewish foods and gifts. Challah Connection was named “Official Nosh Partner,” delivering 16 kosher challahs weekly as well as providing additional noshes for unique occasions.

“Challah Connection is about connecting people to Old World Jewish foods like challah, babka, rugelach and so much more,” says company owner Jane Moritz. “We are thrilled to be a part of this production of Fiddler on the Roof, with our signature challahs being used on stage in every production!”

“The producers of Fiddler on the Roof are thrilled to be partnering with Challah Connection. We’ve been drooling for some delicious and homemade tasting challahs over at The Broadway Theatre and are happy that our on-stage Fiddler family led by five-time Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein as Tevye and Tony nominee Jessica Hecht as Golde, will get to enjoy the bread 8 times a week.”

Challah Connection was launched in 2002 as a challah delivery service, helping people in and around Fairfield County, CT get weekly deliveries of this ritual bread that was, at the time, hard to find. The company expanded into offering the highest quality kosher gift baskets brimming with favorite Jewish foods. “We put thought and meaning into our baskets. Our offerings soon included acclaimed babka loaves swirled with chocolate and cinnamon, comforting rugelach from Eastern European recipes, and gift baskets with dried fruits, nuts and specialty candies,” says Moritz.

To celebrate the Fiddler connection, the company has created a new website page http://www.challahconnection.com/fiddler-gifts/ featuring new product offerings like “Tevye’s Traditions” and “Golde’s Bakery Gems.” They’re filled with classic kosher bakery goods: challah (just like the one now on stage), rich chocolatey babka, Eastern European rugelach pastries, and black and white cookies.

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Entrepreneurs are Everywhere

A few months back I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Steve Blank for his radio show, Entrepreneurs are Everywhere. We talked about the many challenges and rewards associated with starting your own business. If you’re toying with the idea of being an entrepreneur Blank’s show can be heard on Sirius XM Channel 111. And here’s my interview — hopefully good food for thought. :)

https://soundcloud.com/sgblank/jane-moritz-on-entrepreneurs-are-everywhere

 

 

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New Holiday Products

My favorite thing about my job is talking to you–our beloved customers. Whether it’s to hear of something we did with awesome greatness or about a problem where our “human-ness” got in the way, speaking to you allows me to learn more how Challah Connection can secure that special place in your heart called “online home.”

My second favorite job activity is finding new products for you. I have been having ALOT OF FUN lately! I’ve scoured the food shows, gift shows and every possible place to find you gifts that you want to share with friends and family–or for yourself! My travels have produced some exciting new kosher gifts, such as the NYC Food Tour Tower, Happy Hanukkah Chocolate Gift Box and Blissful Brownie Gift Box (we are happily working our way through the sample box sent to our office–these are GOOD). As for Jewish and Judaica gifts, we have some gorgeous new menorahs, dreidels and decorations from Emily Rosenfeld, Gary Rosenthal, Tamara Baskin and some terrific Israeli artists. We have also found a really impressive new artist, Murray Eisner, who has taken a pop art approach and applied it to some of our favorite food icons. His prints make stunning additions to your homes and offices. Finally, for all of the baseball lovers out there (and there are alot of you!), we have teamed up with Steiner Sports to offer you Ballparks of the MLB and a baseball commemorating Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit.

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Video: Shiva, the 7 Day Jewish Mourning Period

Death is part of our journey. The more we can accept that, the more free we will be to live our lives to the fullest. Here is some helpful information about Shiva, the 7 Day Jewish mourning period. May we all live to be 104, but if not, there are things we need to know…

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Let the Challah Connection Mavens Help With Your Mother’s Day Shopping

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How to Write a Sympathy Message

Writing a sympathy message is one of life’s most difficult tasks. Jane Moritz, Challah Connection owner shares with you give messages that customers have used over the last decade.

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