Delightfully Simple

A batch of rolls and a beautiful boule

Mixed: 9 am

Molded: 10: 40

Baked: 11:45

John Ronan, my littlest, loves words and uses them often (often, often!). He is adventurous and inventive with his speech, and is even learning to use just the right lines to charm the ladies.

“Lylah!” he said, trying to get a new acquaintance’s attention. “Would you be delighted to share one of your buns with me?” Lylah reached into the bag and broke a warm roll in half. John Ronan hesitated. “The whole thing!” he finally said, losing a bit of his charm and a measure of his cool. But he recovered, and he  shared. And I wasn’t surprised at the choice of words. Meeting Lylah was delightful.

Our family has been in Arizona this last week visiting family. We scurry from house to house, eating, playing, loving each other and making up for so much lost time. It’s always a treat to be here (my husband has a gazillion brothers and sisters, plus parents and aunts and uncles and grandmothers!!!). Last visit we were lucky enough to see a blue moon and try out a new way of bringing in the New Year. This visit has been more about walks in the desert, book signings, small gatherings and a visit to The Simple Farm where we met Lylah.

Lylah and her husband Michael have started an urban farm in Scottsdale, near my sister-in-law Val’s house. At The Simple Farm they have hens and goats, and grow herbs and vegetables. Lylah believes in working hard, in tending the plants from start to finish, encouraging lettuce to bolt in order to finish the growing cycle and develop those precious seeds… Val has talked of Lylah to me, and has talked to Lylah about me–seeing something similar in who we are. Maybe it’s that we don’t mind dirt under our fingernails, or that we appreciate many things with a French country twist… Anyway, I was honored to be introduced to this lovely woman and her way of life.

I brought her bread. Rosemary rolls seemed appropriate–and after that initial breaking of bread and sharing together, she gave us a tour. John Ronan really wanted to take home a chicken, and you know what? so did I! A chicken and a goat. Or maybe, five chickens and three goats. This rural way of life, urban or not, appeals to me.

Do you have any folks in your neighborhood making a go of an urban farm?

Maybe give them a visit, take them some bread, invest in their goats or just buy a dozen eggs. I’m guessing they will be a lot like Lylah. And though we didn’t take home a chicken this time around, (just a feather), we did make a new friend who is lovely, giving, and……… delightful!

Tuna for a Cracker

Olive Oil Crackers

Yes, I bake, but my husband is a fabulous fellow in the kitchen, someone who dances between the spice cabinet and the pantry, music blaring, wooden spoons dipping in and out of delicious sauces. He does all of the evening cooking around here, and I’m noticing that John Ronan is becoming something of a miniature version of my husband. They are often found together at 5pm, both clad in aprons, concocting dishes for dinner. I wasn’t surprised the other day when I came in from working in the garden and the little one had emptied the bottom half of the spice cabinet onto the island.

“I want to make something,” he announced with a broad grin. “With all of these!!!”

I don’t typically like disorderly clutter, but after three kids you learn that most piles have a lot to do with learning. After a deep breath, I racked my brain, trying to think of something we could make with that odd assortment of sesame seeds, sea salt, chili pepper, dried herbs, garlic, etc… Thankfully the light bulb flickered on. I had an olive oil cracker recipe that I’d wanted to try for a while, so I got to mixing, and voila!

CRACKERS! (By the way, that one with all the chili pepper on it was HOT!)

For toppings we used: sea salt, sesame and poppy seeds, garlic powder, piment d’Espelette (that’s the hot chili peppper) herbes de Provence, Italian herb mix and shaved parmesan. (Notice the three burnt crackers. I’m well known for burning things…)

The story only gets better. I really couldn’t imagine who we could share these trial by error crackers with–but then, our neighbor, Steve showed up on our porch, holding a raw filet of tuna that had just been caught in the channel. Steve’s the sort of mellow fellow who shows up on your doorstep with raw fish–AND who is willing to try anything made by the hands of a four-year-old. “Have a cracker!” I told Steve as he presented us his catch.

He ate a cracker dusted with sea salt.

And we had delicious fresh tuna for dinner.

Thanks, Steve!