When I was thirteen a Lender’s bagel was about the closest I had ever been to anything Jewish. All that changed with our move to a town where the majority of the kids in my school were Jewish. My friend Bequa was my tour guide, introducing me to real bagels (with a shmear), delis (if there isn’t a bowl of half sours on the table, it’s not a deli), and my very own NJB (nice Jewish boy, who, as it ends up, is actually an atheist, but that works for me).

I came to love Yiddish (Is there a better word for a rag than a schmuttie? A better way to say pretty face than shana punim? A better word for those little rolls of fat on babies’ legs than pulkies?), although my accent is apparently painful, the food (a knish from The Butcherie cannot be beat – oh, wait, I’m vegetarian now…), and, of course, the boy.

I may be a shiksa but I’ve learned to make a mean kugel, I hear my kasha vanishkas may just be better than a certain grandmother’s, (ok, it’s her recipe, so I’m not sure if that’s possible, but anyway…), and I have mastered the filling and the pinching of hamantashen. Until yesterday, though, I never tackled challah. My mother-in-law’s challah is really good. Really good like you just want to eat the whole loaf yourself and not share any. Frankly it’s just plain intimidating. She’s agreed to share her recipe with me, but it’s apparently complicated enough that she needs to show me. Oh, and it makes 5 loaves. In the meantime, she talked me through some braiding instructions over the phone, and I found this recipe.

Isn’t it pretty? Rowan did most of the braiding. She’s got skills.

Neither Jon or I thought it was as good as his mom’s. I couldn’t tell you if that’s because it isn’t as good or because you love what you know and especially what your mom makes. But, yum – I wouldn’t have minded a bit eating the whole loaf myself and not sharing any, but with eight other people in the house I didn’t stand much of a chance.