Prayers while proofing…

Half recipe, straight French, two jacos (no starter this time)

Mixed 12:30pm

Molded 3pm

Baked 4:45 pm

Gave: to my long lost writer’s group

Some days have a mind of their own. I had planned on a quick trip to the beach while my dough was on its first rise,  but I hadn’t imagined making my first attempt at St. Brigid’s crosses while there. It just felt right, though. The idea came in a flash and before I knew it I was gathering pine needles and plant material and tucking them into the beach bag alongside the shovel. I had a bit more than an hour before my dough needed me back home…

A solitary day at Hendry’s. The kids drew pictures in the sand and munched down a few more treats from Halloween. I fumbled over my fingers and prayed.

Today I learned of a colleague’s sorrow. A baby yet unborn, has already headed back to heaven. What sadness. So my fumbling with pine needles, and reeds from my yard, had a purpose–to honor this family with the making of a cross and the prayers that came along with it. I wanted just the doing of it to be a mark of hope and healing. I pray it was…

St Brigid cross of pine needles

Brigid cross of dietes

Saint Brigid’s crosses are unwieldy things. But the beach is a magical place and though my first two attempts were poor images of what they might be in an expert’s hand, I didn’t care–I just wanted to do, and to be. But I couldn’t stay too long; I had dough on the rise!

I started to collect the kids, but then noticed strands and strands of sea grass. I adjusted my brain, which holds my schedule, and figured the dough could just go on rising.

So I fashioned my third and final cross from seaweed. It was my best prayer yet, and when I finished, I floated it in the gentle waves before I pressed it in a book to send to my colleague later.

seaweed cross cropped

And now for the bread. It came out golden and delicious, despite the long first rise. I wish I could send that sweet young family this hot loaf of bread as well as the cross, but, it’s a bit far for bread to travel–from here to Indiana.

So, I’ll take it to my writer friends, who will devour it with glee.

Some days simply have a mind of their own and we are called to just follow along and forget  the dough that’s on the rise…

Burning Down the House

Half recipe, two French jacos using half yeast plus sour starter
Mixed 1:30pm
Molded 3:45pm
Baked 5pm
Gave to: see below…

So, I got a bit of a late start baking today. A not-so-typical Monday. My husband has just returned from India, so he was taking time in the middle of the day to do things that he’d missed while away. I was continually examining my list that had grown over the weekend to 19 items long. With my husband away I had lost some ground, and it being Monday, me being somewhat rested, I thought that 19 items, with a miracle here or there, might be possible. Ha! I’m such an optimist.

My husband’s a pretty handy fella, but electrical work isn’t high on his handyman resume. While I was doing some Monday morning tidying, I heard him on the phone with his dad, trying to figure out how to install an outdoor light fixture with a motion censor. It was a replacement for the old one that had been crushed to bits by a wayward basketball. The installation wasn’t going well, and the only reason I was tidying at all was because the power to my computer was repeatedly being turned off. Finally, after many failed attempts at getting it right, I suggested he visit Jack, our electrician neighbor across the street, who happened to be home.

So there it was, 1:30 in the afternoon, and I had “bake sourdough” as number 15 on the list. Not that I do things in order.

I’d wanted to bake sourdough to go with our evening meal of grilled veggies and chicken. Plus, I just like fiddling with sourdough. But where had the time gone? Being optimistic didn’t help; sourdough doesn’t respond to hope and optimism. It responds to warm kitchens and patience. So, I settled for a bread mutt: I mixed my typical recipe for French bread–unbleached flour, salt, and water, then used half the typical amount of commercial yeast and flopped in a full dose of sourdough starter.

Meanwhile, my handy husband was learning from our neighbor, Jack, that his wiring efforts were flawed. That he had connected the white and the red in exactly the wrong places and might have burned the house down. Oops.

So, now it’s 5pm, the bread is beautiful–it’s hot, but who to give the second loaf to? After all, that’s the whole point of this blog–to get me out of my cozy hole and get me giving. I glanced at my 19-item list to see if I needed to give anything to anyone… Nope, no help there. I opened the front door and peered up and down the street for haggard and hungry wanderers.  I thought about walking the loaf down to the neighborhood park, but it was awfully dark outside. Finally, I asked my husband, “who do you suggest?”

Sourdough Mutt for Jack

Jack!

Of course, Jack. It must have been that list. I was side-lined by a list, not able to see past the list. Past the list to Jack, who deserved more than a loaf of bread as thanks for keeping us electrically safe. A sourdough mutt for Jack. I ran it across the street, propping it on a chair so he’d see it when he returned from wherever he’d zoomed off to. I hope he liked it. I checked a half hour later, and it was gone, found, hopefully eaten. Thank you, Jack…

bread for jack

Starting with the starter

It’s a glorious Sunday morning, and I’m trying not to be intimidated by this blog. The accessories and options are endless. I have no idea what a css or trackback or a pingback is. As much as I love learning new languages, this web-language doesn’t seem quite as romantic as, say, learning Romanian.

But where was I. It’s Sunday.  And though today I won’t be baking, I will be freshening my starter so I can bake like a mad woman tomorrow.

I’m terrible at keeping starters going, and every now and then I kill mine and have to run to my brother to get a new one. He doesn’t kill his starter–ever. That starter is the one that came across the Pyrenees mountains, carried in a rucksack, traveled by boat over the ocean, then hopped a train to California in the late 1800’s and has been present in thousands, maybe millions of loaves of sourdough bread. I ate a lot of that sourdough growing up…

Anyway, I’m not going to kill my starter today. Not right now, when I’m trying to be good, trying to launch this new blog! I’m going to feed it some flour, and water, and say nice things to it. I’m going to leave the cover off while I go to church so it can soak up some of the yeasties floating around my kitchen.

And tomorrow, I’m baking bread. I’m baking sourdough.Sourdough starter--lovely Any takers?