Chocolate Babka

This year I have been really trying to delve deeper into my Jewishness and teach my kids more about their Jewish heritage.  I think that may be me approaching 50, or maybe because my kids are in their late teens, and I am worried they do not know enough about it.  For whatever the reason, I have been doing my best to teach them about the holidays and therefore I made a traditional Rosh Hashanah dinner, including the apple dipped in honey and a nice roast.  But I wanted to make a special dessert, and scoured the internet for something I had never made before and that was a “traditional” food.  Also, since our Jewish ancestors emigrated to the United States from Poland and Romania I wanted to pay homage to that ancestry as well.

So with all of that in mind I looked and looked, and came across Chocolate Babka.  A sweet bread with chocolate mixed in the dough.  Well, they had me at chocolate.  So I dove in!  I found this recipe on one of my favorite cooking sites:  Smitten Kitchen!  She has wonderful recipes and great instructions on there, you should definitely check her out!!

Chocolate Babka

Makes 3 loaves

1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Streusel topping (below)

1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

5. Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

6. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

7. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.

8. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

9. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

Streusel Topping

Makes 3 3/4 cups.

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

Now for the pictures:

Ingredients

Ingredients

Yeast #1

Yeast #1

Yeast after activating

Yeast after activating

batter before flour added

batter before flour added

mixing in flour mixture

mixing in flour mixture

all mixed up, switching to hook

all mixed up, switching to hook

mixed up. :-)

mixed up. :-)

in bowl, getting ready to cover and set to rise.

in bowl, getting ready to cover and set to rise.

chocolate mixture ready to go

chocolate mixture ready to go

rolling out dough.  Please excuse the blur, Karol took the photo while my hands were moving...

rolling out dough. Please excuse the blur, Karol took the photo while my hands were moving…

all rolled out

all rolled out

putting chocolate on dough

putting chocolate on dough

rolling it all up.  again, sorry for the blur

rolling it all up. again, sorry for the blur

getting ready to twist it up.

getting ready to twist it up.

all twisted and ready to put streusal on and fold over in pan

all twisted and ready to put streusel on and fold over in pan

ready for the oven

ready for the oven

Done baking!

Done baking!

So Good!!!!

So Good!!!!

 

Notes:

** I did not use all of the chocolate in the recipe, it just seemed like too much!

** I made two large loaves and three mini loaves.

**  This bread was amazingly rich.  But AMAZINGLY yummy also!!!

 

10 things you should NEVER say to a gay Parent!

So I have read a few funny posts lately about “if latinos said the things white people say” and if “asians said the things white people say.” Also, things you shouldn’t say to a lesbian, or a gay dad, and I decided to add my own list of things you shouldn’t say to people.  Specifically gay people.  Even more specifically gay parents. 

Now admittedly some of these things would not necessarily apply to me personally, but I still think they should be on the list, because, the list.  So here is my list of things you should never say to a gay parent:

1. Are you worried your son/daughter will become gay?

Are you just fucking with me, or did you really mean that?  Ummm, I don’t know, are you worried your kid will grow up to be straight?  Hmmm, now let’s think about this for a minute.  First of all, both of my parents were straight and I am not, so I guess people just are what they are? 

huh1

2. What do your kids call you?

Well, my kids call me mom. What do your kids call you?  To be honest our family is a blended family so my bio kids call me mom and call my partner by her first name, and vice versa.  If all  of our kids were our bio kids I am sure they are smart enough o be able to tell us apart.  So mom/mommy or mom/mama or mom/mum, any combination of the words could be used.  Or you could simply notice that your kid is looking at you and speaking to you to know they are addressing you.    That could make it easier.  Dumbass.

nicki

3.  Are you worried people will tease your kid because you are gay?

Well, to be honest this has crossed my mind, but when I really think about it kids are teased all the time by their peers.  For anything.  Having braces, having glasses, their clothes, whatever.  So should I not have kids because they might get teased?  If that was the case nobody would have kids. Ever.

judgejudy

4.  Does your child miss out on doing “dad” things?

I am sure my face would contort if someone asked me this.  Really?  “Dad” things?  I am not sure I even know what a “dad” thing is , but if you are implying that somehow I or my partner are incapable of doing “male gendered” things you are crazy as hell.  Although I suppose it would be rather difficult for us to spell our names in the snow by peeing (due to not having the ability to spray our urine away from our body..), there isn’t anything else I can think of that is “male gendered” that one of us cannot or has not already done.  Throw a ball? Check. Change a car tire? Check. Take care of the lawn? Check. Teach my son to tie a tie? Check. Fix a helicopter? Double Check.  Done.

what

5. Along the same lines as #4. “Which one of you is the Dad?”

Well, dipshit, neither of us is the dad.  We are both moms.  Because we were both married to men before we fell in love our kids do have a dad they know and spend time with, but this is not always the case for same-sex parents.  Sometimes babies are born to gay couples.  I know that may amaze some people, but two women and two men can adopt a baby, or use a surrogate to have a baby or use a sperm donor to have a baby. LOTS of advances in medical science over the past 100 years can give people all kinds of ways to “get” a baby.  That is just as bad as asking us “which one of you is the man?” Umm, neither, we are both women.  Enough said.

picard facepalm

6. (Similar to #1, but it still gets asked believe it or not) Will you be upset if your kids turn out to be straight?

Well, I suppose if our kids turn out to be straight we will clearly decide to never speak to them again, kick them out of the house and tell them they are an abomination because they have “chosen” to be something “different” than us.  Yup, that about sums it up.  No of course not.  Our kids can be whatever they want to be or are born to be.  They are who they are, and we love them no matter what.

when_someone_is_wrong

7. Sometimes my husband and I just don’t get along.  It must be great to be with a woman.

Of course, because the fact that we both have the same XX chromosomes make us inherently more able to get along.  Are you kidding me?  We have kids!  We fight! We have jobs and are tired.  We fight! We are crabby! We fight! I will say that we don’t fight as much as we used to, but that isn’t because we are both women.  It is because we have grown into a comfortable place in our relationship and know when to not push the others’ buttons.  

catfight gif

8. “I didn’t know you were gay, you look so straight.”

Hmmmmm, that one has come up before.  Even though I have heard it many times, it just stops me dead in my tracks every time.  I will admit that I have countered that one with, “Thanks, I tried my best to do that this morning before I left the house. Were you trying to look stupid?” Now I admit that wasn’t a very nice thing to say, but it did get my point across, and led to a conversation about what an ignorant thing that was to say, and an opportunity to retrain someone’s way of thinking.  Even if they didn’t “get” it, I am pretty sure they won’t ever say that to someone else again.  

Gay

9. “Wow, you are so brave.”

Well, thanks.  I did calmly put that spider outside the other day and came within 5 inches of it.  Oh, and I attended my kids high school graduation. Oh and I had the “talk” with all 4 kids about the birds and bees.  Wait, you meant because I am with a woman and raising kids?  That doesn’t make me brave. That makes me a moron.  I knowingly got into a relationship that a great many people in the world not only frown on but outright kill people because of, AND we decided to blend our families which is difficult with straight families, let alone families with same sex parents.  That was NOT brave, it was crazy!  But it has turned out to be the best thing I ever did! For me AND my kids.

bravesoldier

10.  Do you think your kids will turn out okay?’

As opposed to what?  Becoming ax murderers, or bigots? I think every kid everywhere has a chance to be great or not so great.  Part of that is HOW they are parented, not by WHOM they are parented.  Part of that is the kid’s own personality, self motivation, work ethic, etc. Part of that is simply chance  Life is crazy and random. You never know what is around the next corner or what opportunities may be presented to you.  My kids have the same possibility of greatness or failure as every other kid out there and that has NOTHING to do with my sexuality.

rachel done gif

So that is my list of 10 things you should never say to a gay parent.  This list can also easily be adapted to single gay people as well.  Please feel free to educate others on this topic because you never know who may suddenly realize they are not who they thought they were, or have friends who realize the same thing.

If you would like to add anything to my list, or comment on questions you have been asked that you wish had never been uttered please feel free to share them!

A great way to send flowers: The Bouqs review

When I started blogging more regularly I had to start wading through quite a few emails from companies asking me to review their product, or that they wanted to feature my blog on their site, etc.  Most of them were not the types of businesses I wanted to work with and a couple were outright frauds, but I received a very entertaining email from a guy named Adam Meyer, who is a marketing guy for The Bouqs flower company.

Of course like any other offer I get I research the company, and the more I researched, the more I liked.  First of all I found this very entertaining video, and anything that entertains me scores big points!

The email was also very clever and entertaining…more points.  But the real points were earned when I read about their company. The Bouqs is a company that was started because ordering flowers online is not always what it appears to be.  Prices start out okay, but skyrocket when you add in shipping and the cost of the vase?  Seriously I don’t need any more vases.  I usually end up giving them away. Why pay for something I give away? For most of them the starting prices are around 40.00…..and can go way up from there.  When the flowers arrive they are dead or wilted and don’t last a long time.

The Bouqs is different.  Prices start at $40.00, but that is THE price! FREE shipping with weekday deliveries in the United States, and the BEST part for me was that the flowers are cut and shipped within a day of cutting  So they don’t come from a refrigerated warehouse.  They come from the farm on the side of a volcano!  Yes, I said volcano.  AND the farms are Eco friendly and sustainable.  I did not see that they are “fair trade” farms, but when I googled the farm my flowers came from I was equally impressed with it. They are certified with the Rainforest Alliance, which is an “international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods”  Way to go The Bouqs!!  I love who you do business with!!  My flowers were shipped from Fiorentina flowers in Ecuador.  They have a Fiorentina Flowers Facebook page, as does The Bouqs. 

So back to the flowers.

I chose this bouquet to send to my beautiful Karol: desperadobouqs

I asked for them to be delivered on a Friday, and they were.  They arrived on time, and were shipped very securely:

flowers3

I opened them very carefully.  They stems were encased in a gel like substance to keep them moist I am sure.  I carefully unpacked them:

flowers4

so pretty.  Just like the picture from the website!

so pretty. Just like the picture from the website!

I counted 27 roses in all!  The leaves were in good shape, as were the flowers.  They had a nice fragrance, and I loved the flowers that were shipped with them as an “accent” flower.

Now I am NOT great at arranging flowers, but when I finished cutting the stems at an angle and placing them in TWO vases this is what I ended up with:

flowers7

So pretty!  I was very pleased with the quality of the flowers, the ease in purchasing them and the price of $40.00  !!

vase 1

vase 1

vase 2

vase 2

Together:

flowers6

The flowers lasted about 9 days.  Although to be honest if I had changed the water in the vases they may have lasted longer. I just put them in the composter this morning.  They arrived on 5 September. Not bad for $40.00.  Of course I did get mine for free, but if I had paid the $40.00 I would still have been satisfied!

Please check out The Bouqs!  Great company doing business with eco-friendly sustainable farms in South America!

I highly recommend them!!! To get to their website just click on the Bouq on my website.  And for transparency for every click through and order, I receive a check from them as The Bouqs affiliate!!!  So thanks for that and I am sure you will love your flowers as much as we did!

Disclosure: My Bouq was received for review purposes. No compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own.