I almost forgot to answer: what was the secret of the challah???
They were "schlissel challahs" - "key challahs" which we traditionally bake the first Shabbos after Pesach.
The key, I believe, is a symbol that the year will "open up" into a year of blessings, peace, and alle gute zachn (all that good stuff).
This year, I let Naomi into the secret - the challah on the left is hers, I believe. She was pretty giggly about hiding hers, and managed not to tell anybody.
So it was lots of fun when Ted almost broke the challah knife slicing into the keys. BOTH meals! He forgot, I think, before he cut into the smaller lunchtime one.
What are the keys for?
We always have so many spare keys lying around the house so I just grab a couple that don't look utterly greasy. I do wash them super-well, though, before sticking them in the dough.
A few years ago, I noticed a bakery selling schlissel challahs after Pesach, and I thought "what a cheat"!!!
The whole point, for me, is to get your act together enough to haul the food processor and all the flour out of storage merely minutes (okay, 3 hours) after Pesach ended - in the midst of holiday and post-holiday chaos and laundry - so your family can have warm, fresh mama-made challah not 24 hours later. It's not always 24 hours (it could be almost up to a week), but to me, the joy of providing fresh challah at times when it is difficult - right before or after having a baby, or right before or after Pesach, cannot be equalled on an ordinary Shabbos (when I have been known to cheat and enjoy bakery challahs on occasion...!).
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