Blessed Mahershala and Other Miscellany

Open the newsletter with a gif of Mahershala Ali? WHY NOT????


Dame Margaret finally saw HIDDEN FIGURES this week, so his exquisite face is on her mind, and maybe by mentioning him we can assure a fully deserved Oscar win for him on Sunday night? If you’re thinking, “huh, where have I seen this fine fellow before?”, he has been gracing screens large & small for some time on shows like House of Cards and Luke Cage, and in movies like the aforementioned Hidden Figures and Moonlight.

We your Dames are together this weekend, celebrating Friendsgiving with our cherished pals from Appointment Television, Overdue, and The Unfriendly Black Hotties, so this week's issue is going to be a little brief, and a little less themed than usual, but still chock full of excellence. ENJOY!!



Times being what they are, we your Dames have been feeling a lot of rage towards straight white males. We decided to channel all of it productively into a Spotify playlist for all of you! Please enjoy!

Odds & Ends


The Google Image Search results for “odds & ends” are pretty great, you guys.

Dame Sophie’s Bubbe’s Challah Recipe

My late grandmother was the type who baked & iced special cookies for my elementary school classes at Halloween and Valentine’s Day. She was super practical, ensuring that my sisters and I learned how to swim so we’d always be safe on the water, and a little whimsical, too (a longed-for birthday gift of a weeklong trip to a working farm in Pennsylvania? LET’S GO!). One of five daughters of immigrants, she’d grown up very comfortably thanks to her father being a produce salesman, and gave back by serving as an Army nurse in France during World War II. She was loving and tough and funny and generous and difficult as hell. She was the first person (after my husband) who I told about my pregnancy 12 years ago. I loved her a lot.

Her challah, which was her mother’s challah before her, was the very best challah anyone has ever tasted, and after she died, I made up my mind to master her recipe, which my mom’s cousin had managed to capture after years of observation. I made four loaves for the Friendsgiving meal Dame Margaret and I will be enjoying with our families & special fronds from Overdue, Appointment Television, and The Unfriendly Black Hotties this weekend. I can’t think of a better thing to share -- during this hateful week of increasingly strict Homeland Security directives, the eviction of water protectors at Standing Rock, and abrogation of the rights of trans students -- than her recipe, as a giant hug & kiss to you all, and an equally giant, Johnny Cash Live At San Quentin-style middle finger extended in the direction of those who would tell you you’re less than in any way. Baking is love & community & resistance. Hang in there, loves.

Bubbe Zelda’s Challah

(When stale, this challah makes outrageously delicious French Toast and is a perfect balance of fluffiness & sturdiness for all your bread pudding needs.)

(The metric measurements below are based on online converters, so proceed with caution if you are a metric baker!)

Ingredients for 4 loaves:

  • 10 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (1280 g)

  • 2 packets of dried yeast

  • ½ c sugar (100g)

  • 1 T salt (12 g)

  • 2 ¾ c lukewarm water (650 mL)

  • 4 eggs, beaten, plus one more for brushing the tops of the loaves

  • ⅞ c oil (210 mL) - I use half canola oil, half extra virgin olive oil

  • Ancillary things: cooking spray, extra flour for kneading, poppy seeds (optional, but lovely)

Materials you’ll need:

  • Stand mixer with dough hook - I’ve never made this recipe with a hand mixer, though theoretically you could if the motor is very strong & you don’t mind doing a solid 10 minutes of hand-kneading once the dough comes together.

  • Large mixing bowl

  • Measuring cups for dry ingredients

  • Sifter

  • 4-cup measuring cup

  • Measuring spoons

  • Loaf pans

  • Food scale (you can eyeball the size of your dough pieces, though a scale will help ensure more even sizes)

(Optional: if you’re concerned about the freshness of the yeast, you can proof it with a bit of the warm water and a teaspoon of the sugar.)

Sift the flour, dried yeast, sugar and salt into a big (seriously big) mixing bowl.

With the mixer on low, incorporate the wet ingredients. Once mixed in, turn the mixer speed up to medium-high and let ‘er rip for 5 minutes - the dough will go from being a bit of a mess to being a silky, elastic ball of goodness.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface & knead for another couple of minutes, rinse out the mixing bowl & spray with a light coating of cooking spray. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place to rise til it’s doubled in size (check after 30 mins).

Punch the dough down & knead again, then put back in the bowl to rise again while you preheat the oven to 350 F / 170 C.

Grease your loaf pans.

Turn the risen dough out onto your floured surface, punch it down and cut into 4 equal pieces. Cut each of the four loaf-balls into 3 equal pieces, squishing each one into longish snakes. Braid the snakes & gently place them into your loaf pans. Cover the pans with a tea towel or plastic wrap & let rise to about ¾ of the way up the pans.

Brush the tops with the beaten egg & sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for 30-40 minutes - the tops will be a lovely golden brown.

By this time, your house will have filled with the most wonderful, mouth-watering aroma, and a crowd of eager tasters will have assembled in your kitchen. Serve the challah to your salivating masses of friends & family, and let the well-earned compliments roll in.