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Challah Connection is 10 Years Old!

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Challah Connection Friends,

It’s true, I’m kvelling. I am surrounded by my family of men (husband and 3 sons) and a solid, growing company that is 10 years old. I feel very blessed, especially in the difficult economic environment we are living in.

When I founded Challah Connection back in 2002, I felt in my heart that you would enjoy sharing traditional Jewish gifts as much as I enjoyed creating them for you.

Little did I know that 10 years later, Challah Connection, with our sister company Kosher Gift Box, would become the leading e-commerce company in the kosher gift-giving market.

Over the years, you have shared your gift ideas, compliments, critiques and recipes and have been active participants in our growth. As a result, we have been able to create a successful company that is clear in its mission and focussed on providing you with unparalleled products and service. I truly thank you and am proud of our accomplishment.

I look forward to sharing many more holidays and gift giving occasions with you over the next decades. Thanks again for all of your continued support!

With love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jane

P.S. That’s me at a challah baking class in Jerusalem this summer. I learned how to make a challah flower. Love it!

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Exciting New Kosher Gifts for Rosh Hashanah

The summer sure is flying by, isn’t it?  Here at the Challah Connection we’re busy gearing up for our favorite time of year – Rosh Hashanah!  In 2012, the Jewish New Year will be celebrated on September 15.  It’s a great time for gift giving and sharing wishes for a sweet, happy and healthy year to come.

I especially love this holiday because it gives me the chance to get creative with our gift baskets.  Each year we are able to offer more options so that there is something for everyone on your list.  Be sure to request a catalog so you can see all of the exciting new Kosher gift baskets and Kosher gifts I’ve been cooking up.

Here are a few notable ones:

The Rosh Hashanah Breakfast Basket (RHBRBASK) is filled with all you need to start the day, and the New Year, with sweetness and happiness – especially because we are so lucky to have Rosh Hashanah fall on a weekend this year!  We are also excited about featuring Sarabeth Chunky Apple Spread.  For those of you who don’t know, Sarabeth is a famous chef who got her start on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  This gourmet spread features all natural ingredients.

 The Macaroon Gift Box (MACGIFTBOX) is a delicious assortment of four different types of chocolate-covered macaroons.  It’s perfect as a gift for sharing or just for yourself.

Life on the Lower East Side (BKLOE) is a moving collection of photographs taken by Rebecca Lepkoff between 1937 and 1950.  Together they give an authentic impression of what life was like in this Manhattan neighborhood of immigrants.

 

Two CDs by the favorite Klezmer band make up this Metropolitan Klezmer Set (KLEZSET).  Experience both their concert performances and humor with a live album, as well as a joyful, upbeat and perfectly put together studio album.

And of course we would never forget about the kids when putting together new Rosh Hashanah gifts.  The Rosh Hashanah Puzzle (RHPUZ) is a colorful and educational 30-piece wooden jigsaw.  Kids will love to learn about the history and traditions of the Jewish New Year as they put it together!

 

Don’t forget to check our website for new, exciting, creative Kosher Rosh Hashanah gifts.  And be sure to sign up to be on our mailing list to receive exclusive deals via email!  It’s never too early to get organized for the New Year to make sure everybody on your list gets something special.  As always, we have just what you’re looking for when it comes to Jewish gifts and kosher gift baskets.

 

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Bagel vs. Crepe, Which Will Win?

An industrious couple in Brighton Beach is giving the bagel a run for it’s money.

Will the down-to-earth NYC bagel stay the supreme schmear-vehicle or will it be the elegant crepe as the ultimate roll up? Basically, same ingredients; one more fattening then the other with the key difference that you put your topping ON instead of IN (of course, that’s not the only differences, but the main ones).

What’s your vote? For the complete article, click here.

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Trader Joe’s Chip Change – Where Do You Stand?

You may or may not have heard that earlier this month, Trader Joe’s sparked national outcry when it changed the Kosher certification of its chocolate chips from Pareve to Dairy.  Kosher observers everywhere are rushing to clear the shelves of the original chips before they are replaced with their dairy counterpart, with some buying as many as 90 bags in one trip.  So much commotion has been caused that the internet seems to be full of consumers speaking out against the change; the Wall Street Journal even wrote an extensive article and reported that (as of one week ago) more than 4,200 had signed an online petition to reverse the decision.  Both Trader Joe’s and the Orthodox Union have received “hundreds” of letters and voicemails.

Trader Joe’s reported in a statement that the ingredients of the morsels had not changed, only the bagging process.  In an effort to save money, the manufacturer has reportedly eliminated a cleaning step of the conveyor belt between the bagging of dairy chips and the previously-pareve TJ chips.  Many industry experts believe that the voiced disappointment will not go unnoticed by the company, and that a revised processing plan should emerge, allowing the chips to once again be labeled Pareve.

The issue at hand – the reason those who eat Kosher diets noticed the change immediately – is that according to Kosher laws, dairy and meat may not be consumed together (or within three hours of each other, for that matter).  The old chips allowed customers to eat and bake with the chips without having to worry about eating meat with a meal before or after, as they were dairy-free.

As kosher gift baskets are my business, I, Jane, pay attention to these kinds of things happening in the news.  What do you, Challah Connection readers, think?  Does this change affect the way your family enjoys desserts?  Will you need to shop elsewhere?  Did you notice the change at all?

While some concerned patrons argue that TJ’s chips were the only mainstream, high-quality pareve produce available, I actually prefer other types of chocolate chips to the TJ brand.  Nestle and Callebaut are two of my favorites, and they are both certified Kosher Dairy.

Let us know what you think!  And feel free to include your favorite chocolate chip recipe – whether it’s for cookies, muffins or a cake; vegan, dairy, or gluten free, we want to hear it!

 

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The Land of Milk and Honey–What Does It Mean?

The phrase “land of milk and honey” is one that many of us have heard before. First mentioned in the book of Exodus as a description of Israel’s agricultural abundance, it was Moses’s destination while leading Jews out of Egypt.

Since then, it has become a visual metaphor for all things flowing and abundant. It is a term that conjures up pure pleasure including freedom, delicious, birth, fertility and more.

Order Cheesecake By 2PM, EST Thursday, May 24
Marble truffle cheesecakeThe holiday of Shavuot begins this Saturday, May 26 and celebrates the giving of the Torah* at Mt. Sinai, and the season’s first harvest of fruits. It’s customary to eat a dairy meal on Shavuot, reminding us of the land of milk and honey.

Favorite dairy dishes are blintzes, lasagna, noodle kugel, cottage cheese pancakes and cheesecake. As a matter of fact, cheesecake has become the most popular Shavuot dessert. Our cheesecakes, all OU, Dairy, are shipped nationwide. Last day to order for delivery at the start of Shavuot is Thursday, 2PM EST. Of course, cheesecake is also a Memorial Day favorite.

* the Torah is the primary “Jewish document” showing Jews how to act, feel and participate in every aspect of life and death. It is the “blueprint” for Jewish life and death.

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Cook Something Fabulous for Mom

This Mother’s Day, give Mom something really special: some of your home cooking. I’m not talking about a 5 course meal, although that is certainly fine. I’m thinking about 1 very special “something”
that will bring smiles and tears of happiness to her eyes.

Here are 3 delicious ideas, recipes included. Naturally, you’ll have to select your “project” based on Mom’s locale and whether you can cook “in person” or need to send your gift:
1) Apple Cake: I have baked this recipe about 5 times in the last few months. It is always outstanding and my family and I love it. Ships easily.
Challah French Toast2) Challah French Toast and Cottage Cheese Pancakes are both outstanding brunch dishes. Just add coffee, orange juice and fresh fruit and you have terrific meal!
3) Tomato and Onion Tart is a savory dish that can be served for brunch or lunch. Pair it with a salad, glass of white white and you’re done!

This Mother’s Day, I will be in Pennsylvania at my son’s college graduation–a terrific Mother’s Day. But the weekend after, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day with my mom and Mother-in-law. I will definitely be cooking for that!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Hats Off to Frieda

Do you know who is the visionary that brought exotic fruits to your supermarket shelves? Honestly, I had never thought about it, until today. Freida Caplan, who is 88 years old, started her business, Frieda’s Specialty Product,  50 years ago. The first female business owner at the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, she made her mark for her interest in unusual fruits and veggies. Freida is most known for bringing Kiwifruit to the US but spaghetti squash and Asian pears are also tied to her legacy. I thank Frieda for her out-of-the box thinking as well as confidence that these products would appeal to us. Indeed they do!

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Charoset 2012 Recipe Scramble

Passover Begins April 6–Get Your Culinary Juices Flowing

When it comes to making the Passover Seder Plate, most of us take a task oriented approach: Roasted Egg? Check, Horseradish? Check. Shank bone? Check. You get what I mean: it’s one of the seder tables’ most important items but making it is all about following the list of ingredients rather then how each looks or taste. Actually, the seder plate does have an opportunity for culinary creativity: CHAROSET*.

Announcing Our Newest Recipe Scramble:  Charoset 2012

Here’s how it works: Following are 5 categories of ingredients: fruits, spices, nuts and seeds, liquids and “glue.” To enter our recipe scramble, select a minimum of 4 ingredients from any of the categories, to create a charoset that you would enjoy. Don’t see an ingredient you want? Add it!

 There are only 2 requirements to follow: 1) that it have a mortar-like consistency and 2) that it be tasty enough to be enjoyed. Sweet or savory are ok.

Fruits

(fresh or dried)

Spices Nuts & Seeds Liquids “Glue”
Dates Cinnamon Almonds Red Wine Almond butter
Apricots Curry Power Walnuts Grape Juice Cashew Butter
Raisins Ginger Sesame Seeds Soy Milk Mashed egg yolk
Apples Tumeric Roasted Edamame Almond Milk Matzo Meal
Pears Cardomom Pomegranate Juice Avocado
Prunes Cumin Lemon Juice
Figs Coriander Lime Juice
Bananas Fresh Orange Juice with Pulp
Fresh Ginger
Cranberry
Mango

RULES: By March 27, post your charoset recipe in the comments section of our blog or email it to Jane Moritz, Challah Connection Owner along any other interesting facts related to your recipe. If emailing, include subject line: “Charoset 2012.” Recipes will be judged based on creativity, originality and ease of use. Winners will be announced on March 29. If you are a winner, we will email to notify you and at that time get your name and shipping address so we can send your prize.

PRIZES: First prize wins our fabulous Passover Fruit Basket (value $89.99) Second and Third prize wins a family gift box of 8 parve dark chocolate kosher for Passover bars from Matzel Toff! (Value $31) Prizes will be shipped to you or a recipient that you choose (US shipping only)!

CHAROSET 2012 sponsored by CHALLAH CONNECTION and our friends at MATZEL TOFF!

*What is Charoset? It’s typically a combination of chopped apples, walnuts and red wine that signifies the mortar to make bricks used by enslaved Jews in Egypt. It is one of the symbolic foods that we eat at Passover to remind us that we were once slaves but are now free.

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Purim, Hamentashen and College Kids

You don’t have to be Jewish to love Purim.

That goes for everyone of course, but most certainly college kids. Purim is about celebrating and partying and who does that better then college kids? (not that I am altogether thrilled with their abilities in this area)

As a mom of 3, 2 of whom are in college, I can attest to their love of having fun and here’s my point: hamentashen, challah, babka and black and white cookies are part of the fun!

Let’s just take my older son Sam (#2 Harry is an art student and seems to have far more limited time for partying-ok by me). Sam is a senior at a small liberal arts college where there are not too many Jewish kids. He was also the President of his fraternity. These 2 distinctions are what has taught me what I know–that everyone–Catholic, Buddist, Protestant, Atheist–loves our favorite “Jewish” baked goods. Over the last 4 years, I have sent enough challah and babka to fill all of the frat houses on campus and I am pleased to say that over the years I have received so many thank you emails and seen many posts on Sam’s facebook page like–“need challah”, or “where’s the hamentashen bro” “get your ma to send some brisket.” Of course I am kvelling. Fedex and I have singlehandedly introduced these yummies to people who had never had them and now they are clamoring for more.

As the good mom that I try to be, with admittedly easier access to the goods then most of you, yesterday I packed up good sized Purim gifts for both my boys. They’ll be getting all the favorites–challah, babka, hamentashen and Purim blowers. And of course there is plenty to share with their friends. Can’t wait to see the posts and tweets!

So if you want to wow your child and his or her friends, come to challahconnection.com and shop away. Purim is on March 8, but there is still time to order for on time delivery. You can put together your own Purim Gift or choose one of these shown here (my personal favorites). Happy Purim!!

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Purim is Next Week!

Now that President’s Week school break and the Oscars is over, it’s time to face reality: Purim is next week, Wednesday to be exact. We know so many of you love sending Purim gifts and shalach manot to friends and family, but it’s time to wake up and smell the sweet smell of fresh baked hamentashen: Purim is a little more then a week away. What does this mean?

It’s time to go to challahconnection.com and shop for the finest Purim gifts available anywhere. Our hamentashen (the triangle shaped cookie that we eat on Purim) is fresh-baked-delicious and comes in five flavors: raspberry, apricot, poppyseed, prune and chocolate. While our Purim gifts are outstanding, so is our customer service. As so many of you know, we go way out of our way to make sure that your gifts arrive in perfect condition and on time (It’s a sad state of the world that our customers are happily shocked when we call or email to tell them that we changed their shipping method to save them money or that the shipping method they chose is not going to deliver the package on their specified date. We are constantly amazed that so many companies DON’T do this–shame on them!!).

Salespitch over–Please get your Purim shopping done–while we still have stock of everything on our website!!

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