Category: Bread

Waste not, want not: A teaser

When life is busy and all your waking hours (and even some of your sleeping hours) are spoken for, a rare moment of quiet stillness is a moment to revel in.  That hot cup of tea at the end of busy day, well-deserved and therefore sipped serenely without the suffocating pressure of things to-do; those brief moments curled up on the couch, eyes blurring words from stories of magical realism—those are the moments when you muse contentedly before dreamily drifting away that life is indeed good and not a moment of it is being wasted.

And when not a moment is being wasted—when every moment that is spoken for is a moment readily given—then you might find that you want for nothing.  Because even the moments of exhaustion, of physical discomfort (say, when rolling baguettes outdoors in sub zero weather, your fingers frozen and claw-like); moments of confusion, frustration or disappointment—they’re all worth it.  Why? Because you’re doing something you love.

I’ve never been one for idleness, be it idle chatter or idle activity.  I’ve never mastered the ability to engage in small talk or to whittle away time.   Luckily for me I have found myself perfectly positioned along a time-space continuum where opportunities I have dreamed of are within arms reach, seemingly almost too good to be true.  But I’d like to think I’m an optimist, and therefore I can only acknowledge that it really is true.

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Seeking out nostalgia: Breakfast banana bread

I’ve written before about my lack of baking-induced nostalgia.  The kitchen of my childhood was not filled with aromatic breads and pies.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t seek out these misty familiarities in the foods I eat.  An alluring slice of Italian bread dipped in a spicy olive oil can transport me back in time to the kitchen of my non-existent Italian grandmother as she pulls a fresh loaf from the oven, the scent of the olive trees in the backyard breezing in through an open window.  A deliciously crunchy baguette can weave me through a false memory of picnicking on a summer’s day along the Seine, a checkered scarf around my neck, the smell of a well-aged cheese under my nose and the lingering tingling of a rhubarb chutney on my tongue.

Nostalgia is a fleeting and blurred sensation, our memories inevitably having become milky and obscured with time.  Our imagination, however, often steps in to fill the gaps in the same way that it allows us to feel like we’ve existed within the frame of a film or the storyline of a novel.  On particularly dull and rainy days, when I find myself distracted by faint rumblings of uncertainty, I sometimes recall fabricated memories of meandering down the streets of 19th century England from Dickens’ Great Expectations.  On a balmy summer’s day when I’m feeling unusually whimsical, I might find myself daydreaming of the 100 Years of Solitude spent in time-warped and magical Macondo.

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Aligning Atoms: The Daring Bakers’ December Sourdough Challenge

There have been many moments in my life where I have felt defeated.  Where the goals I set for myself seemed unattainable, extending far beyond my reach.  If I was feeling exceptionally self-absorbed, I sometimes felt like I was being punished, like all the atoms that make up the universe were aligning to prevent me from doing or being what I wanted. Other times I wondered if perhaps I was being ungrateful—that I wanted or expected too much.

And then there have been moments where the exact opposite has been true.  Where I have felt that everything I have wanted has been handed to me as if on a silver platter.  During these moments my chest tightens over my inability to fully express my gratitude to the universe.  I marvel at how everything—timing, people, places, events—have come together in such a way to make my goals attainable. I suddenly forget all of my hard work and dedication—those moments of defeat and the sacrifices made—instead perceiving myself as being unduly privileged and fortunate.

I find myself now in one of these latter moments.

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Learning By Doing Lesson #287

Speaking to my Father on the phone the other day the conversation turned to a question I think everyone considers at least once in their life, and perhaps if you’re like me, with some trepidation due to the kind of muted disappointment that only the deep contemplation of unrealistic life plans can generate: what would you do if you won the lottery?

I’ve never purchased a lottery ticket and my Father is not a frequent or enthusiastic lottery hound either.  But last week, for whatever reason, he picked one up.  “I may be a millionaire right now and not even know it,” he remarked.  To which I responded, “So what would you do?  Would you quit your job?”

He told me he wouldn’t make any grandiose life changes.  He’d give a million to each of his siblings and myself, pay off the mortgage on his house, and continue to work the same job with the same company.  “I like working there, why would I leave?”

I’ve never been after the big bucks, myself.  That’s pretty obvious from the student debt I’ve amassed studying subjects that are unlikely to generate much income.  Money has only ever been important to me as means of acquiring knowledge and being prepared for emergencies.  So it wasn’t surprising that a brief reflection revealed that if I won the lottery, I’d probably just become a lifelong learner in one way or another.

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