This past Friday, my family attended Camp it Up! Family Winter Camp. While we’ve attended this amazing organization’s summer camp for the last few years (complete with 100 degree days in the Sierra’s), winter camp promised snow, snow, snow, in beautiful Lake Tahoe. As fate would have it, the past few days have literally been the warmest on record, so no visits by snowy angels.
We thought it would be fun to Challah-it-Forward to the camp community, so after mixing, fermenting, and braiding the dough in Berkeley, we hopped in the car, planning to bake it fresh at camp later that day. After a few hours in a warm car, we discovered upon arrival that the challahs had expanded three-fold, and were bursting the seams of the cassorle pan lid where it was resting. That, along with baking at a higher altitude, and my continued hesitation about knowing when a challah is “done,” made for a very interesting baking drama, indeed. While I thought it would take longer than usual, at the 21 minute mark, they looked DONE, so I bit the bullet and took them out. Surprisingly, they looked great!; a fork came out clean, and a tap to the bottom produced a hollow sound. Did I miraculously pull this thing off, or what?!
Though not a Jewish camp, there is a lot of representation, so I offered to lead a very informal Kabbalat Shabbat singalong with my ukulele. Starting small in front of the lodge’s toasty fireplace, with each song, more folks joined in, until finally there were about 70, all singing a Shabbat version of “Goodnight Irene,” which finishes off with:
Looking around at the assembled crowd, I wondered whether the two challahs we had prepared would be enough for everyone. But after lifting the challah to say the blessing, and breaking the loaves into six chunks, we started passing them around. Everyone took little pieces, plopped them in their mouths, and smiled; before you knew it, these two little challahs had put the sweet taste of Shabbat into 70 hungry mouths. What a wonderful way to start our holiday weekend…