Baking… Books

Two loaves of French bread

Mixed: 2:45 pm

Molded: 5:15 pm

Baked: 6 pm

Gave extra loaf to Glenn

It’s hard to choose my favorite part of the bread baking process. Like writing, there are parts of the process that are prayerful, parts that require patience, and other parts that get you jumping up and down. I love how bread baking and the writer’s life match up in so many ways…

  • Assemble the ingredients, flour, water, salt and yeast=Research and write your rough draft–let the ingredients–and writing–fly all over the kitchen, and don’t worry about the mess!
  • Knead the dough until its silky smooth=Massage the story, play with the words–this is a prayerful time for me, both while kneading and while editing.
  • Let the dough rise=Walk away from the story and let it sit and ferment. This requires patience and a sense of moving on to another task for some portion of time.
  • Mold the dough into its final shape=Edit. I love editing. This part of writing involves finding  just the right shape for a written piece, and refining the individual words…
  • Bake=Give your work to others to critique. Put it to the fire test, to the heat of the oven and allow the criticism to bake out all the impurities of your writing!
  • Eat it–or better yet, give that bread away!=Send out your work. Let others read it and be blessed, or simply say it’s done and tuck it away. But always move on to the next project. If it ends up being published, then that’s just the icing on the… bread!

Today an interview on my writing life has been posted on the Examiner.com, which is an online news service that has more than 7 million readers. I’m humbled that I was asked to do the interview, and another interview, on the topic of this bread blog, will be featured next week. Here’s the link to the interview.

Sending you blessings and love… as I bake, and write…

Advertisements

Bread for Little People

Four loaves of molasses bread (recipe included back at this post)

(I also started a recipe page–see that cute little tab at the top of the page? A link to the molasses bread recipe is there, too)

Mixed: 7:30 am

Molded: 10 am

Baked: 11 am

Gave to twelve children celebrating the beauty of forgiveness

I know that I made this video as a trailer for my book on Saint Brigid, so it’s odd that I’m posting it again here. But, sometimes you make things, write things, say things, and there’s a force bigger than you involved. That’s what popped into my head when I dropped off the bread today–that these children are stuffed with not only their own human gifts and talents, but that they also hold a force of love inside of them that can fling them into the realm of heavenly beauty in the flash of a lightning bolt, and unveil truths that you never knew were sitting inside…

My prayer is that this type of thing happens every time I pick up the pen to write but, oh, so often, too much of me gets in the way.

This video has more than me and my creative energy behind it. Something beyond what I intended snuck inside. Something that blends the power of the holy spirit and the beauty of God’s endless love for children. I marvel at these photos of innocent faces, and since I baked molasses bread for twelve children today–to culminate a spiritual retreat that has spanned many weeks–I thought this video would be the perfect way to share.

Enjoy.

Fifth Century–Saved by the Monks

Two loaves of molassas bread

Two loaves of no-knead sour, plus spent barley

Gave one to the Brunners and the other to a grieving family

During this month of January I’ve been reading through this well presented book on Irish history written by Thomas Cahill. The man must be Irish himself–the book is filled with the lively humor and playfulness so typical of the Irish. I’ve enjoyed every page, and though I am familiar with much of the story, it was passages like this one, about the early monks of Ireland, that kept me reading:

…And this lack of martyrdom troubled the Irish, to whom a glorious death by violence presented such an exciting finale. If all Ireland had received Christianity without a fight, the Irish would just have to think up some new form of martyrdom…

Cahill brilliantly distills the important forces of history, focusing on the people who have made an important contribution to their cultures and times, and tells their stories. In this book we travel from Ausonius, to Augustine, to Saint Patrick and Saint Columba. We find Saint Brigid entering the story on page 172 and she stays with us until the end. There are other characters who pop in to visit: Cicero, Medb, Cuchulainn and Noisiu–so many of them impossible to pronounce, which is why I thumbed to the the pronunciation guide at the end more than once. (Thank you, Mr. Cahill!)

There weren’t any explanations of how bread was baked in the fifth century. I’ll have to write the author a personal letter about that, even though I’m not entirely sure that Irish bread baking helped save civilization in any way at all, but perhaps he has some notes he could share with me. He presented so clearly his thesis of the simultaneous breakdown of the Roman world with the intellectual and literary build up of the Irish one, that I didn’t much mind. In short–it was Saint Patrick who paved the way for hundreds of peaceful monasteries to be built around and about that grassy, green land. The monasteries housed eager Irish monks who not only enjoyed their work of creatively copying out texts, but who also savored the ancient classical texts, spending their days, and nights copying and illuminating, learning, discussing, and writing little verses of their own in the margins and on scraps of vellum. While most of the lands under Roman rule were deep into the middle ages, losing their educations by way of poverty and serfdom and the burning of libraries… the Irish were enjoying a time of peace–a time of light and discovery–and they gave these treasures back to the Western world, once the dark ages began to wane.

If you don’t know the basic story of Saint Patrick–please go get yourself a copy of Zachary Lynch’s The Life of Saint Patrick: Enlightener of the Irish. Though it’s just a children’s picture book, the story comes with all the dramatic and important details that highlight his story; it is taken straight from St. Patrick’s own Confessions.

I’ve been gushing about Mr Cahill’s writing all month. No wonder it sat on the bestseller list for almost two years in the mid 1990’s. If you’re at all interested in learning more about Saint Patrick and his influence on Western civilization, or if you’re just looking for a an inspiring read that dips you back in history, have fun with this one.

And now, back to my oven. There’s bread in there, and I need to figure out who to give it to!

Any takers?

(…And, if you’re out there, Mr. Cahill, the bread is hot, and you’ve done your share of inspiring me to deserve a loaf–or three…)


Disclosure of Material Connection: Believe me, I have not received any compensation for writing this post. Wouldn’t that be nice if I had? 🙂 I have no material connection to Mr. Cahill, and though I do know Mr. Lynch, he doesn’t know that I’m mentioning his book here… nor will I get any sous, or Euros, or even a cracker for pointing you to either of the two books above. I know these disclosures are supremely silly, and take away from the sweet nature of this blog post, but I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

And the Winner is?…

Been baking up a storm. Scones to school. Bread to Cheryl. Bread to Cara…They all deserve more than what I could ever give…

But forget about the oven for a minute. It’s time to give away a copy of The Woman and the Wheat. Yippee!!! By the way, an awesome review on the book was posted to Ancient Faith Radio yesterday. The review made me cry–which makes me think Katherine Hyde, the reviewer, better keep on writing herself; she’s that persuasive!

Audio review of The Woman and the Wheat

I’m thrilled with this list of favorite children’s books. What a line up! There are several here that are completely new to me–and I have thousands on my shelves. I can’t wait to read each and every new one mentioned…

Favorites

The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M.T. Anderson and Bagram Ibatoulline

Fingal’s Quest by Madeleine A Polland

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Tales of the Kingdom by David R. Mains, Karen Burton Mains and Linda Lee Wells

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Clown of God by Tomie de Paola

The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter and Tibor Gergely

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Olivia by Ian Falconer

If you give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

We’re going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace and Lois Lenski

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus and Jose Aruego

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and P. J. Lynch

The Abbot & I : as told by Josie the Cat by Sarah Elizabeth Cowie

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

From I-ville to You-ville by Mersine Vigopoulou, Emani Heers, and Fr. Peter Alban Heers

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

Make Way for Ducklings (and other books such as Lentil, and Homer Price) by Robert McCloskey

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

The Life of St. Brigid: Abbess of Kildare by Jane G Meyer 🙂 and Zachary Lynch

The Miracle of St. Nicholas by Gloria Whelan

One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham

Books illustrated by Gennady Spirin

Books illustrated by Ruth Sanderson

The Weaving of a Dream by Marilee Heyer

The Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan and Michael Wimmer

Go, Dogs, Go!, The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett

When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dyer

The Monk who Grew Prayer by Claire Brandenburg

The Man and the Vine by Jane G Meyer (another :))and Ned Gannon

Beatrix Potter books

Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gillman

Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch and Sheila McGraw

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

The Gruffalo and The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Celebrate the Earth and The Story of Mary by Dorrie Papademetriou

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney and Ann M. Martin

Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman and Ben Hatke

Hippos Go Berzerk by Sandra Boynton

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister Herbert and J. Alison James

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Tear Soup by Pat Schweibert, Chuck DeKlyen, and Taylor Bills

The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Helen Berger

Christmas Cookies by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jane Dyer

The Golden Book of Poetry edited by Jane Werner

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

And the winner is…

SAMANTHA STARR!

A high school friend from my Samohi days, whose favorite children’s book pick was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Samantha, how fun!

Okay, off to the post office with the book. I wish you all a blessed and beautiful last Saturday before Christmas!

The Woman and the Wheat–a Gift

Having the time and space and energy to write has been a treasured gift.

One of the results is this children’s book, which I humbly offer back to you….

And speaking of gifts–it’d be fun to give one away! (This idea just popped into my mind and I’m going to go with it!)  Write a comment here on this blog post, listing one of your very favorite children’s books. I’ll gather all your names and do a drawing on the morning of Saturday, December 19th. That way I’ll still have time to mail it to you by Christmas Day–all wrapped so you can put it under your tree.

Sound fun? Giving is always fun. Plus, maybe we’ll end up with a great list of children’s books to share with each other!

Many blessings to you, my friends.