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As promised, today is the “big day” for Alyssa and the release of her new book, Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen {big congrats!}. Don’t forget to pop over and enter to win a copy for yourself in the giveaway this week!

I am thrilled to have her here with us today to share this very special recipe as part of my Heirloom Recipe Series. I must say, when I received her email photo of this recipe card, I nearly fell off my chair. How fabulously well-loved is this card? The scribbles, handwritten notes, splatters of ingredients and splashes of color are simply to die for.

Congrats Alyssa and thanks for being a guest. I know you’ll all enjoy this one as much as I have!


Crazy and Amazing Challah Bread

I recently interviewed a celebrity who went on a tangent about birth control and David Bowie and crème brûlée. I put her on speakerphone for my boyfriend to experience as she layered on more nonsensical storylines—rutabagas, Ryan Seacrest, and Buddhism (or was it Gluten-ism?). He rolled his eyes; I pressed the mute button and screamed, “She’s amazzzing!”

Wow, I could have listened to her tales of hot washcloths and homemade cornbread and Karl Lagerfeld forever. But then again, I love a crazy bird; a woman who is only herself. The art of being unapologetically yourself is a gift. This starlet really owned it, and I would like to think I do, too.

It’s a DNA thing, I tell myself. I was raised around really cool—though measurably more stable—unconventional women. “Quiet rebels,” as I say in my book Apron Anxiety. My aunts and cousins—not to mention my sister, mother, and grandmother—are not your average Janes. They’re strong, hilarious, hard-working females who have never been afraid to be flawed or offbeat. We’re a family of wonderful, why-be-normal creatures, who are loyal, close, and lucky enough to know that laughter heals pain.

My Auntie Ellie is probably the most unique of us all, with her hippy-heart, hyper-emotional life experiences and West Coast (via Western Mass) way of life. She’s a lifetime animal lover and has been a vegetarian for as long as I can remember. While we tend to steer clear of some of her faux-turkey triumphs, everyone begs for her earthy-crunchy baked goods. Here is her famed challah—fresh out of the oven, with a little butter, it’s better than anything in the world. By the way, it was actually this beautifully tattered and stained recipe card that inspired the design of my blog, and by extension my book. So, thanks, Auntie E. Here’s to girls like us!

Ellen Wright’s Challah

Makes 1 large loaf, 2 mediums, or 3 smalls

2 packages of yeast

2 cups warm water

4 tablespoons plus a pinch salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups melted shortening, such as Crisco (or a little less)

4 eggs

7 cups flour

Poppy seeds

Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup warm water. After it bubbles, add 1 more cup of warm water, plus the salt, sugar, and shortening. Blend in 3 eggs, then 3 1/2 cups of flour.  Mix until a dough forms. Slowly add the remaining flour and mix until the batch feels formed.

Knead the dough well for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth. Place it in a lightly-greased bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave at room temperature and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it has doubled.  Punch down and place on greased baking sheet. Braid as 1 large challah loaf, 2 mediums, or 3 smalls, and let rise again at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Brush with the remaining egg, sprinkle with poppy seeds, and a pinch more salt. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F.
Place the loaf or loaves on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour until well-browned on top.  Let rest and serve when cooled.

Be sure to connect with Alyssa on her blog Apron Anxiety, on Twitter at @apronanxiety, and snag her new book here!

Part of our Heirloom Recipe Series, featuring foodies, chefs, artisans, authors, Southerners & fabulous folks willing to share their stories, recipes and photos in an effort to help preserve and share these family recipes for generations to come.

As I always say, the best thing about Twitter is the people I have met online since I first started tweeting ages ago. And, Alyssa Shelasky of Apron Anxiety is no exception. I was beyond excited when she emailed me about her new book that comes out tomorrow and just knew it would be a great collaboration for us both!

If you haven’t popped over to her blog yet, do so without hesitation. Of course we have the obvious “apron” connection, but I instantly fell in love with her blog. She has a frankness that you don’t see much here in the South, and her personality shines through with every word. But, what I love most is the romantic feel it has. The imagery and her selections have a high fashion meets editorial feel with a throwback nod and I love the look.

I’m just thrilled for Alyssa and her new book of the same name – Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen. Today, I have a very special giveaway of the book, and tomorrow stay tuned as she joins us for the Heirloom Recipe Series too. I can’t get enough of the splattered recipe card she shares, you won’t want to miss out.

As always, entering is so simple.  You can earn one entry for each of the below that you might choose to do, for a chance at 4 total entries – just remember to leave a comment for EACH of the below that you complete so your efforts will be counted!

1. Leave a comment below telling us about your messiest moment in the kitchen!

2. Follow @apronanxiety on Twitter

3. Follow @heirloomed on Twitter

4. RT the following: I just entered to win @apronanxiety’s new book at @heirloomed! http://ht.ly/b5r5D

Be sure to enter by Friday, May 25th at 5PM EST.

You can visit Apron Anxiety for all the details of the book and to purchase, starting tomorrow!

Giveaway entries must be submitted between 5-21-12 and 5-25-12 at 5PM EST . Winner to be chosen at random and will be announced on 5-29-12. Open only to US residents. A maximum of four (4) entries per person are allowed. No purchase is necessary of course. Some restrictions may apply.

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heirloomed Blog may contain paid advertisements, sponsored posts and/or affiliate links at times. I will disclose when a post is sponsored and if a brand has provided product as a gift by marking it {c/o} within the post. These opportunities will allow me to do even more of what I love here on the blog. I will only post about things I truly love and enjoy, and appreciate the opportunity to share these things with you.