Some of my earliest memories are of carbs, challah in particular.
My great-grandfather Rocky was a baker, and as a child, my brother and I spent Saturday nights in the home he shared with my grandmother, his daughter. Rocky was 5 feet tall, over one hundred years old, had no teeth, and no larynx, but I thought he was the fiercest man in the world. Especially when he huffed out curses in Yiddish. Rocky had blue eyes, white hair, and long ears with soft, paper-thin earlobes that I loved to touch. When he dressed up for synagogue he wore suspenders and a bow-tie. But at home he was often wearing an apron.
Every Sunday morning, we baked challah. Rocky was always awake long before me, so the dough had already risen when I came to the kitchen. Before we watched Meet the Press on full volume, we rolled and braided the dough. On the banks of Braes Bayou, the bidding smell of freshly baked warm challah wafted through the humid air.
Carb nostalgia can be a thing sometimes, and I still have a soft spot for challah. Not soft enough to bolus for, though. I know the vicious cycle of carbs-insulin-high-low-carbs- rebound high-insulin-high-low, and so on. I make the maximum effort to avoid it. I’ll take the eggs without the toast. The cheese sandwich without the bread. When I get enough protein and fat, I don’t really miss the carbs. It took many years, but even homemade chocolate chip cookies don’t stir me.
I don’t often bake these days, but every once in a while, I try something. And a few days ago, after years of saying I’m going to buy xanthan gum, I finally got around to it. I pulled up the recipe for chewy keto bagels on All Day I Dream About Food, which I’d long wanted to make (but never had xanthan gum). As I was rolling out the dough to form the bagel, I had an intense baking-challah-flashback. It occurred to me to braid the dough. I did, thinking of Rocky, with a heart full of gratitude, and an appetite for good health.
The challah turned out great. It’s full of mozzarella, so how could it be otherwise? I don’t love the distinct flavor of coconut flour. It reminds me of kosher for Passover macaroons, but I can get past it.
Thanks to Moses, we’ve got matzah.
And now, unwittingly, Carolyn Ketchum (with a twist from me), has delivered an amazing keto challah recipe.
Next challenge should be to create a keto challah recipe that’s parve (non-dairy).