You-Can-Do-It Bread!

My parents, who were born and raised on the westside of Los Angeles, moved to Santa Barbara a year and a half ago. They purchased a home near us where they knew they could have a lovely garden, and chickens, far from the craziness of westside traffic, where driving has become a sport for some, and almost war-like for others.

But in order to have the garden and those chickens, they had to make their home live-able. With no bedrooms on the ground floor, they embarked on a remodeling adventure that still isn’t over!

So close, though.

For all of this time they’ve lived virtually out of a suitcase, but just last week the final round of their things from storage arrived. What a big task, to sort and question, and figure out how to make this new home theirs, and what to do with all the Stuff!

To encourage them, we’ve been having them to our home for meals for these 18 months–not every night, but often. And though their home isn’t quite finished, we decided to barbecue at their place to mark the progress of it being Almost Done! My dad is a breadmonger, being a baker and all, and he really doesn’t eat a meal without a piece of bread near his plate. So I mixed up a batch of country French–a blend of white flour, freshly ground kamut, and rye, with some sourdough starter thrown in for flavor. We toted it over to their place, then I took the loaf for a quick tour of their new home. The real housewarming will come when the landscaping is done and all the furniture is placed, but here’s a glimpse into their current world–mess and stuff and all. (Made complete by the visiting neighbor dog, Puppy, who literally roams where she likes and spends at least half her day inspecting the workers and their work…)

IMG_4588 IMG_4589 IMG_4591 IMG_4592 IMG_4593 IMG_4599Cheers, friends!




I’ve been wandering through a period of friendly baking/easy sharing. Last year at about this time I was recovering from a spate of struggles and barely making it through each day–so I’ve walked into this season of Autumn 2012, into the new school year and the changes that that brings, with careful steps.

Recent Realization: Unconsciously I’ve been a bit wimpy in my bread sharing. Lots of loaves for friends and neighbors. Some for those with new babies, some for those struggling with grief, but none where I’ve had to really stretch and open myself up to the uncomfortable.

So this is a way of telling myself that it’s okay to take some risks before this trend of friendly bread goes on much longer. Last fall is over; it is a brand new season, and today is wanting to reveal itself without my manipulating it. I sense God wanting to work and I don’t want to side step the many opportunities that may come my way.

So, to recap some sharing endeavors with friendlies this last week:

  • Gave yet another loaf of bread (this one with cheese!) to neighbors that we adore and don’t get to see often enough.
  • Shared bread with my parents, who live way too far from my brothers’ bakery to have the delicious daily fresh loaf that they’re used to.
  • Made muffins and rice crispy treats for the first grade class and the 7-year-old’s marshmallow party. (Happy birthday, John Ronan!!!!)

All very friendly. And so much fun. But I sense the season for stretching is here.

Cheer me on, will you?!




Banana Bread for Breakfast

(You have to admit, bananas are a lot more fun to look at–and to hoist onto the shoulders of playmobil soldiers–than banana bread…)


My parents have just moved into a new house, in a new town (our town!), after having grown up in one place, the same place that their parents grew up in. ┬áIn the last few weeks they’ve cleaned out closets, scrubbed floors, directed movers, signed papers–so many papers–given away gads and gads of things, explained their thoughts to their friends, been begged not to leave, and left all the same.


Here they are. And they will be in flux for a long while, with their new house already under construction, and most of their things in storage. And my dad–all he really wants–is to rush down to the feed shop and buy some chickens.


We had them over for dinner, because it’s important that they eat in the midst of all this flux. And while dinner was cooking, banana bread was baking, because I knew they needed breakfast the next morning and all they had in their makeshift kitchen was grape juice and pickles.

I am extremely excited to live in the same town as my generous parents. They really are the epitome of giving people and there is much that I can learn from them. Since I was 18 I’ve been on the move, living in Europe, and in the Bay Area, and in Colorado. What a treat to have such beautiful people right down the street!

My dad was a baker by trade, so I’ll let you know what he thinks of my bread, since he’ll have more occasions now to try it now. But the banana bread, whether it was good or not, it was fun to send them home to their new rooms, their new house where the chickens will eventually reside, and know that at least they’d have something for breakfast.


Bakery Field Trip–The Real Deal

Brief baking hiatus

Too embarrassed to bake in my father’s house…

Our family is sneaking in a quick visit to wish our LA clan a merry Christmas. I haven’t baked in two days, and the only giving has been one of trying to keep our things from invading every corner of my parent’s clean home. I could never outgive my parents–nor would I ever try. They are the most generous people I’ve ever met…

But bread baking isn’t far from our minds. My brothers are just about to launch a new commercial baking enterprise, and yesterday we got to visit the construction site. There were dough mixers, conveyor belts just for baguettes, proofers, retarders, and a lot of talk about a certain dough cutter… There is an artisan oven being installed as we speak. It was a great field trip–so that’s what I’m bringing you today. A peek into Etxea Bakery; they will be testing bread in their new custom, Italian-made oven before the New Year arrives.

Dad and Chris, the contractor.

Such pretty new machinery

The intermediate proofer

Loves the machines!

Enormous proof box--got locked in one of these in St. Louis once. Almost ended up in the headlines...

Baguette conveyor belt

Bare bones of a rack oven--you insert a full rack on wheels into the oven for baking

Michel and his crew are installing the Italian-made, custom deck oven

My son with a very odd conversation piece from years past