Paris

My husband and I jetted to Paris for three days this last week. What a treat!

Three days isn’t long enough for much, not for visiting museums or long boat rides on the Seine, but it’s plenty long enough for several wonderful meals celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, a stroll or two across the Pont Neuf, at least one chaussons aux pommes in the morning, and a dinner with a niece. Plus,

The Wedding!

Family friends have a beautiful daughter who has been living in Paris for several years now. She found Gabriel, and now they’re married! They celebrated their vows at a church I’ve longed to see for many years, the Saint Serge Orthodox Institute.

I was delighted at the sight of the Chateau Champlatreux–the setting for the reception. What a lovely venue… and as we walked through the front door, there was the traditional Slavic custom of bread and salt offered on an embroidered cloth, signifying the gift of hospitality and friendship and the blessing of a new home.

Three days. Three days of Paris! Three days to celebrate our own 25-year journey and the blessing of a brand new union…

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San Francisco Baking

On a recent trip to San Francisco, my kids and I stumbled across Arizmendi Bakery. The sign immediately caught my eye because the name and the type looked so BASQUE. Not very many Basques around, but I’m one of ’em (well, only a quarter, but that’s plenty!). We popped our heads in the door, inhaled the wonderful aroma of fresh breads and pastries, and even with my camera on the fritz I managed to trick it into taking a single photo of a large banner hanging from the ceiling:

Make Loaves, Not War.

We also ordered a giant cinnamon roll to share. yum.

You know what? It’s not every day that I choose peace over war. I should, I’m trying. It’s a much better occupation to bake a loaf of bread and share it with my family or neighbor than argue with my kids or the guy who cut me off any day.

Cheers!

Bread on the Road

Before I bring you all back into my kitchen, and we return to the baking that helps keep me giving, and sane, I just wanted to leave you with one last road trip post.

About bread!

Yum… Having been born a baker’s daughter, I’d say that I’ve always had a high awareness for the quality, look, smell, cost, labor of, ingredients in, and especially the taste of bread. So, when I lived in France, I was in heaven. I bought baguettes on occasion, and boules, and country loaves… I could tell the bakeries apart–and learned to turn my nose up at those that flash froze their products and baked them off later… I learned to love (and eat daily) chaussons aux pommes (pastry filled with cooked apples or applesauce).

When in Italy I shunned most of the breads and learned to make homemade pasta.

When in Colorado I was dismayed by the many soft, enriched, nutrient-boosted white breads with super long shelf lives, and finally decided to try to bake for myself.

This short story is getting long!

Anyway, even though our 5,244 mile road trip was a whirlwind, we did have to eat. And along the way we stumbled on a few very bread-worthy moments. Here they are:

I asked the server at Teddy’s Deli in Keystone, South Dakota about this bread after the first bite. “Where’s it from?” I mumbled and chewed and exclaimed, pointing to the swirled rye bread on my sandwich. “Montana,” he said. “All the good bread comes from Montana,” he added. Who knew?! And even before eating this sandwich I’ve been dreaming of making a really fabulous rye at home. We love our rye crackers, but I have yet to bake a fabulous sourdough rye, or pumpernickel, or really any sort of rye that I’d want to repeat regularly. After this sandwich, I’m on a quest!

We looked ALL over Keystone, South Dakota for a place to eat breakfast. We wanted eggs, and something other than donuts… And finally we ended up at Peggy’s Place, which my sister-in-law charmingly called “Cathy’s” because she just does that sort of thing. After seeing these massive cinnamon rolls, then tasting them, we came back two days in a row. Who wouldn’t?  

Moving on to Montana, but still stuck in rye mode, I purchased this small loaf of dark rye at On the Rise in Bozeman. Yum.

Here’s the storefront, and below is a rack of hearth bread with the listed prices. Montana is a big grower of winter wheat, and I’m tempted to purchase some wheat directly from this company, a Montana family of farmers who seem to love their trade. But look at those prices?! Makes you want to bake your own hearth bread, doesn’t it?

In Washington we mostly ate at home (at Harvey and Linda’s, I mean!), and there I baked up a fresh batch of buttermilk biscuits right off a recipe card that looked to be about 40 years old. Honored.

And in Oregon, I thought about pulling out my starter, which I’d kept secreted away for the whole trip, but didn’t. We were sidelined by snow and other things and before you knew it, we were home!

Now it’s your turn. All you beautiful people come from hither and yon. I’d love for you to post your favorite bakeries or breads that you find in your part of the world. It’d be fun to compile a list of faves for that next time–that next road trip, that either you–or I–take.

How ’bout it?

Hit the Road, Jack

Nineteen days on the road. The first three days we clocked 29 hours of sitting, so I stopped counting hours in the car after that. Five people, in one rented (thankfully large) car,

What did we do?!

Played the Harmonica

Fiddled with Yarn

Really, REALLY Enjoyed Picnicking at the Rest Stops

Sang

Were Weird with the Cousins

Stopped at Diners

Exercised

Looked at the Scenery (and the cows… and the giant buffalo statues…)

Scoped out license plates

Chatted with the Highway Patrolmen

Loaded and Unloaded the Car

Read

Slept

We also snacked, and listened to audio books, and Mad drew pictures on her arm, and Andrew sang SO loud–and sometimes all was quiet, and we simply looked out the window at the changing scenery…

If you like details, then here is the tour–Santa Barbara, California to Las Vegas, Nevada to Glenwood Springs, Colorado to Fort Collins, Colorado to Randolf, Nebraska to Keystone, South Dakota to Bozeman, Montana to Goldendale, Washington to Portland, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park to Fort Klamath, Oregon to Lassen Volcanic National Park to San Jose, California–then once again home, to Santa Barbara.

5,244 miles

Many dollars in gasoline

Will we do it again next summer?

No way. That would be pressing our luck–plus, we’re hoping to revisit la sourceand let our sourdough starter soak up some more yeasties from the place of its origin–if we can drum up a few free plane tickets. Anyone with a few free plane tickets?

But that’s then, and this is now, and …we’re HOME!

California

When I was a little girl I used to sing and tap dance for folks in wheelchairs at rest homes. I sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and School days, school days, dear old golden rule days… and I especially liked to tap the Shuffle Off to Buffalo. I remember rarely being nervous, but also marveling at some of my friends who were actually quite good at being little girl and boy performers…

One obvious song from the olden days kept inching its way to the front of my brain this last week as we drove the long road through Oregon, into Northern California where we visited Lassen National Volcanic Park–into San Jose where we stayed with beloved and longtime friends–and finally home. Home! I’ll leave you with the lyrics, and a few last photos of our time away. What a whirlwind–I’m still amazed that our family survived 5,000 miles in the car unscathed! And here we are home, it’s still summer, the beach is beckoning LOUDLY, and outside of making a lot of rye bread this coming week, that’s where I’ll be. Well, at the beach, and home doing laundry…

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of our time away.

Cheers!


California, here I come
Right back where I started from
Where bowers of flowers
Bloom in the spring
Each morning, at dawning
Birdies sing and everything
A sun-kissed miss said, “Don’t be late”
That’s why I can hardly wait
Open up that Golden Gate
California, here I come


Oregon

Portland

For two days before we hit Powell’s Books in Portland, I racked my brain to remember the book I desperately wanted to buy there. Really–I saved the buying of this one book for the biggest bookstore experience I was likely to have in a long time. What author doesn’t want to roam the various colored rooms and floors of Powell’s? Desperately I begged my children to tweeze the title of the book out of me as we approached the store. I moaned. I complained. I swear I almost ranted! Goodness. A very long forgetful moment ended in everyone purchasing something except me–my two sons being especially booky that day. I’m sure there’s a moral in there somewhere 🙂

The Surprise of Snow

 

 

 

 

This whole road trip we’ve been carting around our tent, cooler, and sleeping bags, for this one opportunity we’d planned to camp–at Crater Lake National Park. We stopped in Bend, Oregon to stock up on food, and arrived in the park in the late afternoon.

I was more than mildly surprised that we left summer behind just a few feet into the park. By the time we reached the rim of the crater and stared into the almost 2,000 feet of blue water below us, there were snow banks all around, the chilly air nipped at our bare arms and legs, and I was already talking about crocheting sweaters, hats and mittens out of the extra wool I had by my feet. Indeed, my daughter talked me into quickly beginning a green beanie.

Then, plenty of comedy. Most of the campsites were flooded from the snow melt. The kids were going over protocol if you meet bears (of which there are plenty in that place) while we circled in and out of campsite A, B, C and D, then A again, and B, and C and D again–John Ronan was playing the harmonica–and Douglas and I kept glancing at each other with those knowing looks that come with 23 years of marriage. The fork in the road came when we chose a campground, got out to inspect it and were swarmed by massive, monstrous mosquitos. There were thousands, and we are wimps.

Into the car–over to the lodge for a very pricey sit by the fire and dinner. And just like that, we left the park, making vows of Next Time.

Next Time–we will actually read about the park and know its geographical features.

Next Time–we will show up to find a campsite in the morning like all the other seasoned camper-outters.

Next Time–we will make reservations to simply stay at the lodge. 🙂

The Oregon Range

So, we drove out of the park to find a place to stay that was wimp-proof. On the road we encountered the most beautiful valley, filled with that soft evening light that even makes cows glow with glory. We pulled over and snapped a few photos of this new place…

Then, the first town we encountered, Fort Klamath, had a funky little motel and a vacancy sign in the window. It was late-ish, but we found a clean and comfortable room at Jo’s Motel, equipped with organic coffee, bunk beds, views to the sheds out back, and a complimentary copy of The Secret of Roan Inish.  All in all–perfect! We drank tea and cuddled and watched the movie of the little seal and the little boy and the little girl who swim and boat back and forth to the island of the seals… My John Ronan doesn’t really get it yet, but his name, Ronan, means little seal in Gaelic.

From Portland and all its city-ness (plus Powell’s–and 30 miles out of the city I remembered the title of the book!), to Crater Lake that boasts 54 feet of snowfall this last year and the biggest mosquitos I’ve ever seen, to Fort Klamath and Jo–and her earthy hospitality, I’d say I’d like to spend a lot more time in Oregon.

But this road trip is coming to an end. We’re all speaking of home, and laundry, figs on the tree, and seeing friends… It’s been a long and beautiful road, this loop to Nebraska and back. California here we come!

Washington

Driving across western Montana, and then eastern Washington there are forests, and forests, and then fields and fields of grain and open land. I wonder if any of it is wheat, but we don’t stop. We keep driving.

And we drive, and we drive. For hours we drive, and I finish the first crocheted bag, and start on a second. And we listen to Alice in Wonderland. And we stop for lunch in Coeur d’Alene and eat at the Beacon on Sherman Street.

And we’re back in the car, eating caramels from Bequet, and we listen to Nora Jones, and Switchfoot, and I ask John Ronan over and over what he can see out of his window. “Trees,” or “grass” or “nothing,” he says.

And we stop for dinner in Toppenish–we eat Mexican food.

And then we arrive at Harvey and Linda’s house! We stretch our legs, and sigh with excitement–that we are released from the red Chevy Traverse, that the landscape will stay stationary for at least a few hours. How many miles have we driven since leaving Santa Barbara–home– ten or twelve, or fourteen days ago?

Clustered around the Saint John the Forerunner Monastery, outside the small town of Goldendale, Washington, live several dear people who once resided 900 miles south. They have built homes, and sheds, and learned to shovel snow and make cappuccinos and ride ATVs. And they tell stories of bears and cat miracles, and give the biggest, fiercest hugs. So, for two and a half days we visit, and go to church together, and walk in the woods, and meet new friends,  and drive the hills, and talk of coffee and Christ and are refreshed.

jk

And then, there are several last good-byes and we are off.

And it’s hard to say good-bye. It seems we are saying good-bye too many times in a row, over and over

we pass through a new place,

see an old friend,

and say good-bye.