Thankful in Vermont

12 rosemary rolls
Mixed: 9:30 am
Molded: 11:15
Baked: 12:20
Gave to handymen, Pat and Jack

Everyone had left for the coffee shop; I stayed behind to start on some bread. I wondered who I might be able to share some rosemary rolls with in this remote setting here in Vermont. With no neighbors nearby (we are staying at a 200-year-old farmhouse on lots of open acres) I prayed, while kneading, for someone to share with…
…and then in walked two older gentlemen, Pat and Jack, straight into the farmhouse. They startled me at first, and I startled them. Neither of us knew why the other was there…

I came to learn, through a very lively conversation, that they are retired, but work a bit doing small side jobs in the neighborhood. I liked them immediately–they were funny and open, and seemed to think it humorous that I was enjoying the rain.

And it was raining. Southern California is not known for its annual rainfall, so I’m always a bit childlike when it starts to drizzle. I immediately want to send everyone outside to dance in puddles and sail boats down the street gutters. We rarely get to wear rainboots… And though we didn’t pack any rainboots for this summer adventure, just the thought of them made me happy.

“You know,” Pat said with a grimace. “Here in this county, it rained 23 days last June.”

I pondered 23 days of rain in one month while I continued baking and told the gentlemen to come back in three hours for some hot bread.

So off they went to clean a neighbor’s barn and three hours later they were back.

Feeding new friends, in the rain, in an old charming farmhouse, in a Vermont that smells so green and alive, with lots of time and space to pray… It doesn’t get much better than that.

Today is a good day to be thankful. Don’t you think?


Rhode Island Play-by-Play

Two loaves of French bread
Mixed: 9:45 am
Molded: 11:30 am
Baked: 12:15
Gave to: the neighbors down the road who sell eggs

We’re renting a house this week in Rhode Island as we explore New England. It’s a two-pronged adventure. Travel=new experiences, relaxation and fun. New England=many fine colleges for my son who is already set to fly the coop, and fly far.

It’s hot. It’s humid. And there are no measuring cups or spoons in this rental house.
To start the play-by-play, I first have to tell you that this house

is not air-conditioned. Sooooo hot. Like a baker’s proof box.
I woke, still drowsy, but was rousted by an eager John Ronan who wanted to do anything but sleep. I came down the stairs, stairs that are wooden and so noisy that it sounds as if gun shots explode from each of them. I dressed. I cooked three very brown eggs that we bought from the house up the road

(we bought a full dozen and four of the 12 were green. I was so happy!) We turned on World Cup soccer and I started to mix.

I had to improvise. Guessing on the amounts, I fiddled with the water, added more flour, worried that I added too much salt, and had to knead on the glass cafe table. But it all came together nicely; it looked like bread dough!
Then John Ronan got stung by an angry yellow jacket. Poor little fellow. We tended to him and I forgot all about the dough, and meanwhile, South Africa scored a couple of goals against France. Can’t say I was too upset about that, even though I was in the middle of making two loaves of French bread.
The little one fell asleep

and I got back to baking. I molded the loaves, admiring the super speed of the yeast in this climate, and fiddled with the oven. The oven actually worked!

Baked. Finished watching the games and right now I’m awaiting the return of my two big kids to hear of their giving adventure. (I normally would have set off on my own to give away the bread, but I felt I needed to monitor the little one to make sure he wasn’t allergic to the sting…)

Here they are!

Mom: “So, tell me how the giving went.”
Andrew: “Fine.”
Madeleine: “We ate it ourselves…”
Mom: “No, really.”
Andrew then sang this (stupid, sorry for the naughty word) song he made up that goes like this, “lol, oh, lol. lol, lol, lol, lol…”
Mad: “The giving went like a roller coaster. We gave the egg people bread; she was nice. I was terrified out of my wits; it was embarrassing to give to a total stranger.”
Then, both my kids started quoting Shakespeare… “to take the bread or not to take the bread. Tis nobler in the mind to suffer…”
Andrew: “Those people might think we poisoned the bread.”
Madeleine: “She offered us more eggs.”
They then agreed that they felt relieved to have been done with that assignment. Reluctant givers, but givers all the same.

John Ronan is still sleeping off his sting. And I’m off to eat a slice of bread and cheese and watch yet another few matches of World Cup soccer.

I like Rhode Island. I’ve seen more mushrooms here than I ever dreamed existed

and I made the acquaintance of two very handsome frogs…

and a beautiful luna moth…

With all these wonders, who needs measuring cups?!

Sixteen Candles and World Peace

32 rosemary rolls

Mixed: 1:15 pm

Molded: 3:15 pm

Baked: 5:30 (had to do a bit of retarding because of oven sharing)

Gave to: Kai, Wayland, Andrew, Austin, Garrett, Riley, Mad, Hannah, Ben, Gabe, Aaron, Leti, Donny, Chiara, Douglas, and John Ronan

Summer is in full swing, and there’s nothing like a herd of teenagers to cause a baker to have to quadruple her recipe. What fun I had mixing up more than eight pounds of dough to contribute to my eldest son’s birthday celebration. And there’s nothing like baking bread for happy customers. I had intended to give away any leftover rolls to neighbors, but was there any leftover bread to give?!

Part of the birthday gang

Boys being boys- taking showers with soda

Four lemon meringue pies, sixteen candles

Soon, we’re off to New England on a long-awaited adventure. I’ll be toting along some of our family’s ancient sourdough starter, hoping to bake, and give, while we’re away. I learned just last year that sourdough starter travels well in luggage–no bursting out of its baggies, or bubbling over in the suitcase, so my already well-traveled mama dough will gain some new yeasty companions to intermingle with. I think the blending of the yeasts will be a peaceful affair. I pray so. There’s nothing like the pursuit of peace, whether you’re a boy of sixteen candles or a mama…

who needs a vacation.

Ten To Do’s

It’s summer. I’m on a baking reprieve, since I’m traveling and in my brothers’ bread baking territory. My two older kids are spending a week working at the bakery here in LA, waking at 4am to wrap bread and clean mixers and mold sourdough. I stopped in for a visit today, and here’s a bit of what I saw ūüôā

250 pounds of sourdough on the rise

Dad, and my two growing teens, scaling the dough

A lot of dough on the rise

And flour everywhere...

I’m a tad bit jealous of their hours breathing in that yeasty air that I love… ¬†But I’ve been a bit unwell, and this time to relax and ponder the upcoming months, while they gain a bit of work experience, is needed and welcome.

As I reassess my days and think about new goals now that my health has recovered (yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I’ve made a list of those things in my life that I most cherish and that help me stay grounded and growing. Here are my top ten To Do’s:

Pray    Write    Walk    Family    Bake    Garden   Read   Clean   Knit    Entertain

Now, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fit all of the above into one actual day–it seems a bit much, and most days I manage about four out of the ten. But why not try for the whole lot! I’ll be trying this summer, with prayer, writing, and family time as absolute essentials. I’ll be baking, too, and giving. The giving has proved especially important during this time when I’ve only wanted to sink into a stupor and moan about my misfortunes… Summer baking, with the warm weather urging the yeast into super speed, is going to be fun!

Anyway, enough about me…. What about you, what would make the top ten on your list? I’d love to know…