Ingredients :: Wheat to Wheatgrass

Every year when I order stalks of wheat to weave for Saint Brigid’s feast day on February first I end up with many leftover heads of wheat. I snap the heads off the stalks then put them into a bowl and leave them on my counter because they’re so unusual and lovely.

This year during Lent I wanted to grow another indoor plot of wheatgrass for all of us to watch turn from seed to new life. It shows in such lovely form the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf. Have you read this parable lately?

Truly, truly, I say to you,Ā unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

So we took those old heads of wheat that I’ve been saving (in years past I’ve simply bought wheat kernels in bulk at the health food store) and started to dismantle them one seed at a time.

Each stalk holds between 30-50 kernels of wheat. We counted. šŸ™‚

The chaff and the seeds. I don’t know why, but it makes me think of the sheep and the goats.

We prepared a bowl of soil that we could keep indoors and sprinkled our seeds fairly thickly on top of the dirt. We covered the seeds with a bit more soil and watered.

The wheat seeds sprout quickly, within a few days. And in no time your wheat needs a haircut!

And then the Vikings invade. At least they always seem to in our house.

We don’t mind, though. We like Vikings. And despite what you might think, they sing Christ is Risen just about as loud as the Greeks! Amazing.

Hoping you play with your food, too…

Some links on growing wheatgrass:

Basics on Wikipedia

Growing wheatgrass in various containers

Growing wheatgrass for Easter

Cheers!

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Truly He is Risen

Christ is Risen!

That is our mantra these bright days, and I’m enjoying all the sunshine, the glimpses of sweet spring all around, the birds, the asparagus pushing their way out of the soil, the blooms on the blackberry bushes.

Now that Holy Week and Pascha have passed. Now that I’m chipping away at my to-do list, I’ll be back with you in this space, hopefully sharing some wonderful secrets–both baking and otherwise.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you as to your favorite baking recipes that involve Ā Easter. There are so many traditions, so many sweet breads and egg breads, and cheese breads that folks around the world love to make. Please share!

(And please pray for my camera, which has gone kaput. The photo above was taken with a friends’ on Holy Saturday… )

Sending you love.

 

Sweet Afterglow

In the afterglow of Pascha, this family has been enjoying each day and all the fun that comes with being able to finally shout out Christ is Risen! Plus, there are Easter goodies to nibble on,

new books floating from table to desk, and flowers all around that shout spring is here!

And spring has sprung. It has been more like summer here on many days, urging me to the beach for a sit in the sand while the little one throws rocks or generally spins in wild circles. My ankle is still a bit tender, so I’ve confined my fun there to collecting rocks…

and more rocks…

And I’ve been baking. Making scones, for tea parties, and trying old recipes again. Sometimes old recipes don’t come out as well as they did before, so instead of being sad, you get silly…

And sometimes you have a friend who gets sick. Really sick. So sick you don’t see her at church for weeks, so you call and ask if there’s anything you can do, and then you make her rosemary rolls.

And then, it’s your birthday! Plus Mother’s Day heaped right on top, so someone else bakes you a cake. And they put a sheep on the cake–just because. Just because you’re part Basque, and you have little sheep here and there around the house, and because this particular sheep just happened to be hanging out near the cake when the photo was taken.

Oh, that yummy cake. A mix from Williams-Sonoma that is so packed with butter that you can only eat slivers at a time. But somehow, two days later, there’s not much left.

And speaking of not much left… The school year is coming to a close, with summer days already tempting me toward a looser schedule and lots of writing time. For this summer will take me back to pen and paper, and hopefully story after story. Stories have been piling up in this red-headed head of mine, just bursting to get out.

Meanwhile, I’ve got bread on the rise, and kids to wrangle, and slivers of chocolate cake still to nibble on.

What about you? What have these Bright Days been like for you? And what sorts of summer plans are in the days ahead in your life?

And do you have little sheep popping up in your pictures, too?

Bright Week and Butter

This year during Lent I looked through many baking recipes to try and find the best bread way to celebrate Pascha. I thought about making the popular Greek tsoureki, which has milk, butter and eggs, plus decorative red dyed eggs on the top–and also considered trying the Lebanese ma’amoul, since I love using orange blossom water in my baking…

But when I told my family my thoughts, they revolted! And I don’t blame them. When you’ve deprived yourself of butter for 49 days, the idea of SCONES pops right to the top of the Meyer Baking List.

I’ve been making the same scone recipe these last twenty years. We rarely have cream in our fridge, so I have substituted the cream for just about every other dairy product imaginable (cottage cheese, cream cheese mixed with milk, sour cream, plain milk…) Ā and still the results have turned out beautifully. My most common swap for cream is plain yogurt. The yogurt is healthier, and the scones are still so delicious. Here’s the recipe from my tattered, out-of-print Crabtree and Evelyn: A Book of Light Meals cookbook, which automatically turns to page 141. On the eve of Pascha, I splurged and used REAL cream for the scones that we ate and shared with our friends at church.

Time Commitment: Fifteen minutes to assemble ingredients and another fifteen minutes to bake. Makes about 12-16 scones.

Tools you need:

  • Just the basics…
  • plus, an ovenĀ :)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup currants (or chocolate chips!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream (or…. plain yogurt)
What to do:

Step One:Ā Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and the salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the cut butter and work into flour mixture with finger tips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add currants, or chocolate chips, and toss.

Step Two:Ā Make a well in the flour mixture and add eggs and 1/2 cup of the cream or yogurt. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough clumps together.

Step Three for Traditional Scones:Ā Knead mixture in bowl for 30 seconds–do not overwork the dough. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and halve. Form each half into a ball and flatten to form a circle about 3/4 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Cut each circle into 8 pie-shaped wedges.

Step Three for Drop Scones: After mixing ingredients together, use a large spoon and simply scoop up spoonfuls of dough and drop them onto the cookie sheet like you would for “drop biscuits.” If my dough is wet (which it usually is when I substitute the cream for yogurt), then I use this method. If my dough is dry, then I use the above method of kneading and cutting into wedges. Both methods make for attractive and delicious scones.

Step Four: Place wedges or “drops” onto cookie sheet. Brush tops with remaining tablespoon of cream or yogurt and sprinkle lightly with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Step Five: Best eaten warm! Serve currant scones with fruit preserves–or eat chocolate chip scones plain, with a delicious cup of green or black tea, or fresh lemonade.

Don’t forget to share šŸ™‚