Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

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Farewell to Challah: An Open Letter

Dear Challah,

After many weeks of deliberating on my relationship with you, I’ve decided to say good-bye to you. I am putting this letter on a public forum in the hopes that others may also gain insight in what works for them.  I think it’s crucial that I finally address our co-dependent relationship. Hopefully, this will be the first step toward my recovery.

First, let me say that I appreciate all you have done for me over the years. Every Friday night at our Shabbat table, since my childhood, you’ve provided me with comfort, warmth and excellent taste. As my father would make the blessing on the bread with our entire family around the table, then cut you into even slices, and pass around a piece to each one of us, I’d wait with my mouth watering and eyes glazed with love.

Then, invariably, after everyone took their first bite, the compliments would flow. First my father would praise my mother for baking you so perfectly. My mother would smile and shrug, and kind of humbly say, “Oh it’s the new oven” or “It’s my friend’s recipe.” But we knew she was just being modest. You were great. Maybe she brought out the best in you, but still you were great and we all knew it.

Truth is, you were special and you excelled on your own, without anyone to help you out.  Your recipe was quite simple and accessible that when my mother bought me as a wedding gift a Kitchen Aid mixer, I learned quickly how to bake you almost as well as my mother.  Yea, I compared myself to my mother when around you, which was also a problem. But still, I felt good baking you so well and of course you were yummy to eat.

Your ingredients were so basic and earthly: flour, oil, eggs, salt, sugar, yeast. So even when you had a bad day and didn’t turn out as well as other times, you were still great to have around. Soft, sweet and tasty. The best comfort food around.

Over the years we’ve become attached at the hips – (mine, not yours).  I’d eat one piece, then two, then three. My mother would look at me with that expression of “control yourself, there’s a whole meal ahead of us.” But I was on a roll and I couldn’t stop. Back then, it didn’t matter that gefilte fish, chicken soup, brisket, salad, chicken and potato kugel were to follow. I wanted you and only you. I was willing to share my stomach with the others, but you came first.  Your aroma was enticing, your flavor and texture were wonderful. But you became addictive and  your calories were  way beyond my allotment for a meal.

These days I’ve evolved and have become more introspective than I was back in the day. But at some level, I’m still that little girl. I may tell myself that I’m big and grown-up and I can eat “just” one piece and stop. I may try to convince myself that “come on, just have the crust or end of a piece and stop right there.” And here’s the thing: I really like you. I think you are good.

But you don’t work for me. At least not right now. Dear Challah, no matter how many times I promise myself that I will just have one small challah roll (the equivalent of a few points on Weight Watchers) or just one end piece, I always go back for another. And another.

You’ve been calling my name for so long that I hear your voice calling out “Eat me, eat me…I’m here for you…” every week at our Shabbos table. I’m a mother and grandmother and I still find you very seductive.

I can no longer succumb. I have to say good-bye. Just as an addicted alcoholic says, “One drink is too many and a thousand is not enough….” I say the same about you.

“One slice is too many, and a thousand is not enough.” You are an addiction and I must let go.

A few weeks ago, I was at a wedding and a friend and we made a pact. We both promised ourselves that we would not eat the challah bread at the wedding. We were going to hold back, and just eat the meal. No challah for us. Well, it didn’t work. I found myself washing my hands, making the blessing and then eating it. I didn’t ask my friend if the pact worked for her, but for me, it was a no-go.

And so dear Challah, in spite of my efforts to cut down, to use portion control, to enlist a buddy to do it together, nothing has worked for me. Our relationship has become toxic.  We need a separation. I need to make that difficult decision to not even have a tiny piece of you. Because as much as you arouse those warm and fuzzy feelings of childhood, and as much as I adore you, our relationship is not working out well at this time.

I say this all with sadness. I admit you are delicious, charming, charismatic, warm and inviting, but I can no longer hang around you. Ironically, I can still eat your cousins – certain kinds of whole wheat breads and matzoh. For some reason, I am able to have them in my life in moderation. But not you.

You – my dear challah – I can no longer have you in my own life. Not for now.  Not when you’re clothed in whole wheat, spelt, white flour, or poppy seeds. Not your water recipe, nor your egg recipe. Not your raisin toppings, nor your sesame seed toppings. Not your round ones nor your oval shape.

None of you. I say good-bye.

Good-bye Challah. Farewell.

Your friend,

Miriam


The Aftershocks of Criticism

It happened yesterday. I thought I could push it off for at least another few months. But alas, the inevitable occurred. Deep down I knew it was bound to happen, but I was in denial and I was enjoying the honeymoon. And when it — the inevitable –happened, it hit me between the eyes. I felt the sting for about a minute. Then the pain , having reached its peak, began to subside. After several minutes of deep breathing, I was fine. Yes, I survived and yes, I am here to tell the story. Continue reading


The Bubby Book-Mania

You see, my Number One fan is my mother. Yes, my mother has been promoting my book as soon as it arrived in the containers from the printer to the publishing house. My mother has been to visit (read: check up on) every Judaica book-store in her Brooklyn neighborhood. Her purpose and modus operandi is to to do one thing: make sure that “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!” is positioned and propped up on the shelf in the store, for optimum visibility.

My mom is not alone in her agenda. Two weeks ago, one of my sisters walked into a Judaica Store called “Torah Treasures” (plug, plug…) to ask whether the owner was planning on stocking MTIAB. (you think I’m going to type out all the words and exclamation points every time again and again??). Well, he gave her the wrong answer. “Probably.”

To which my sister said…well, actually I don’t know what she said!  But whatever she said may have worked for that store —but here’s another scenario:  the day of release, my niece called me from another section of New York, whilst in a prominent bookstore over there, wondering, “Aunt M, why is your book not in this store? I’m here at 10 am and they don’t have it…”

Well how was I supposed to know? Hey, I’m 3,000 miles away from New York, and she expects me to be following the arrivals of every one of MTIAB in every store?

Does my niece (or anyone for that matter) think that I have spies in each store, tracking which store stocks first, second, third, and which one is the slow poke and waits until the book is practically read by the whole world, to order it?

I walked into a store here in Los Angeles (yes, I’m guilty of store stalking as well) and asked the owner if he has “MTIAB” (I said the words, okay okay —- not the initials), and he had that dazed look on his face.

“Who is the author?”

“Uh…ME!” (BIG smile.)

Problem is the guy didn’t know me. LA is big enough that people don’t all know each other.

Well, to make a long story short, by the time I got out of that store, the guy knew my name, my book, what it’s about, who already has it in town, and why he had better get it in fast before it goes out of print.

So sellers beware – I – or anyone of my minions  or scouts – may be coming out to check up on you whether you have MTIAB on your shelves.

And by the way, sellers: my suggestion to you is to please put those books prominently near the front of the store, at eye level with the average customer when he or she (probably she, I guess) walks in.

Because you don’t want the Bubby’s mommy coming in to reprimand you about your placement of the Bubby’s book. That’s not something you want, if you know what’s good for you.

Good luck – and may you all read lots of good books this year.


Blast Off!

The following post was composed by my friend, the lovely PR person who has such a word with way – I mean way with words..so without further ado:

Here we go:

10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2, ONE – BLAST OFF!

It’s a baby – No.

It’s a blanket – No….

Wait a minute – it’s a BOOK! Wooooooooooweeee. It’s a book to say Mazel Tov about!!!

Yes, folks, Mazel Tov! It’s a Book is a book written by the author of Mazel Tov! It’s a Baby, woops, I mean Bubby.

Yes, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! or: MTIAB for short.

It’s due out in less than 12 hours  – well cooked – right on its due date, completely formed….with a great, adorable cover that is unmistakably a picture of three stages of becoming a bubby.

The Kallah (bride) or mechutonim (in-laws) stage.

Then, the mother-in-law stage, and finally the coveted stage of high esteem, the Bubby or Grandma, Granny, Babi, Nana, Omi, Oma….stage.

And of course – the Mother (of older, single kids…) stage as well.

Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to buy it right NOW. Well, in 11 hours, or actually whenever the stores open in your town or city or state or province….on September 5, the day that seemed so far away — but has finally come!

Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! (out in stores on Sept 5! – or online at www.israelbookshoppublications.com)


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