Wild about Sourdough and Snow

Two loaves of sourdough (the 24 hour kind, and baked in a pot)

Mixed: 3:45 pm

Molded: 10:30 am next day

Baked 4:30 pm

Cold weather and warm ovens mix so beautifully. The storm that passed through our state over the weekend beckoned me into the kitchen, and wasn’t I pleased when my batch of sourdough came out looking authentically wonderful? I just had to share.

It was already dark, but I noticed most of my nearest neighbors weren’t home. I grabbed the umbrella and prepared for an adventure. After combing the two nearest streets, I ended up almost back where I’d started–right next door, chatting on the front porch while the rain fell all around.

Warm bread. They were pleased, I was pleased, and that nice mood kicked off all sorts of weather planning once I returned home.

Having grown up in sunny Southern California, I relish any weather that veers from blue skies and warm breezes. Now, there are those around me, who grew up in just the same way, who don’t appreciate my viewpoint. I don’t mind this at all–for when a sprinkle of snow comes to our mountains, only the wild-eyed weather-seekers are motoring their way up the hills. And that is just what we did the following morning.

What fun. Whatever the weather, I pray this day finds you well, my friends. I’m off to bake some rye crackers and maybe even find my way to the library with the little ones. If it snows again, grab your boogie board, a thermos of hot chocolate and I’ll meet you on Figueroa Mountain.



Thunderclaps and Cheesy Bread

Four French bread recipe boules (with some extra cheesy goodness grated in)

Mixed: 1:45 pm

Molded: 3:15  (had to retard the bread in the fridge while the oven was heating)

Baked: 4:30

Good news and bad news. Bad news. The bread was overproofed–either my yeast is going bad, or I’m just being lame. Good news. It’s raining! Fall has arrived (finally!) and we’ve not only had a bit of rain, but we enjoyed the most dramatic evening  of thunderclaps and lightning. A rare occurrence here. Wonderful. And, well, other good news. My oven heated right up to 500 degrees. Looks like I got lucky, since later in the evening my husband tried to bake a frozen tart, and it never really unfroze. 😦

We’ve been wanting to share a loaf of bread with Carissa and her husband Sean for a long while. Carissa used to babysit John Ronan when he was a babe, and ever since she moved into the neighborhood we’ve hoped to pay her a visit. A cheesy loaf of French bread seemed just perfect for her, so we stopped at her home and yelled out her name from the curb. “Carissa!” We just about left (we usually don’t show up at peoples’ homes and just shout for them, but the front door had a padlock on the handle, which made us think that it wasn’t used, and we didn’t know what else to do..) “Carissa!” Little John Ronan yelled the loudest. Just as we were leaving she burst onto the porch, and we all hugged. Hugs are so very good.

One more loaf to give away. The Heath family often hosts teenagers to play games and watch movies in their very cool, boat-like home up on the hill behind us. I needed to pick my teenage Andrew up, so packed them a loaf of bread as well. Mrs. Heath bakes–so I felt a bit silly bringing her something I’d made, and yet, she announced when I handed over the small boule, “Yay! We’re having stew and didn’t have any bread to go with it!”

Giving is good. Though sometimes I feel uneasy about figuring out where the bread should go, this uneasiness helps me step outside of my selfish skin and keep sharing at the top of my to-do list.

And with more thunderclaps predicted

for thunder and lightning are perfect music to accompany kneading and baking–it looks like I’ll be busy for several more days, dancing in puddles, and handing out loaves of cheesy (and hopefully not overproofed) bread…

Thankful in Vermont

12 rosemary rolls
Mixed: 9:30 am
Molded: 11:15
Baked: 12:20
Gave to handymen, Pat and Jack

Everyone had left for the coffee shop; I stayed behind to start on some bread. I wondered who I might be able to share some rosemary rolls with in this remote setting here in Vermont. With no neighbors nearby (we are staying at a 200-year-old farmhouse on lots of open acres) I prayed, while kneading, for someone to share with…
…and then in walked two older gentlemen, Pat and Jack, straight into the farmhouse. They startled me at first, and I startled them. Neither of us knew why the other was there…

I came to learn, through a very lively conversation, that they are retired, but work a bit doing small side jobs in the neighborhood. I liked them immediately–they were funny and open, and seemed to think it humorous that I was enjoying the rain.

And it was raining. Southern California is not known for its annual rainfall, so I’m always a bit childlike when it starts to drizzle. I immediately want to send everyone outside to dance in puddles and sail boats down the street gutters. We rarely get to wear rainboots… And though we didn’t pack any rainboots for this summer adventure, just the thought of them made me happy.

“You know,” Pat said with a grimace. “Here in this county, it rained 23 days last June.”

I pondered 23 days of rain in one month while I continued baking and told the gentlemen to come back in three hours for some hot bread.

So off they went to clean a neighbor’s barn and three hours later they were back.

Feeding new friends, in the rain, in an old charming farmhouse, in a Vermont that smells so green and alive, with lots of time and space to pray… It doesn’t get much better than that.

Today is a good day to be thankful. Don’t you think?