bleeding hearts

As a northerner reborn I can tell you there are a few things I have noticed so far that have been absent in my life for far too long.  The grass; there is nothing anywhere in the south that compares to the fluffs of cool green grass that grow in the spring here.  Nothing.  The smell; the salty scented skies of cool spring mornings fill my nose with a misty chunk of heaven.  I am constantly craving fish.  And my memories.  My memories.  Each time I turn a corner with my two babies in tote, another memory creeps in feeling like deja vu at first and then becoming a solid real thing as I relive it.  I remember the cracks in the street lining a foursquare court, I remember a branch in a tree being the perfect spot to curl up and read, I remember a patch of moss being precisely where a group of fairies resided once upon a time, long long ago.  It is nothing but super sweet and in the newest phrase of my almost-almost two-year old “special special”, to share these artifacts and stories that make up my life.  And now there’s too.

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This one pictured below came as a most pleasant surprise.  Bleeding hearts; a dainty little chain linking up a hopeful spring reminder.  They have a little story hidden inside each flower.  Spread out for my boys to see, they too now have this little tale they can tell again and again.  

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It goes like this:

Once upon a time there was a man had a wish, the only thing her really truly wanted was to marry this woman he loved.  She wasn’t to keen on the idea and he spent quite of bit of time thinking about how to win her over.  He gave her two swans to show her his dedication.  But she said, “no.”  He gave her two earings to show her his sincerity.  But she said, “no.”  He gave her two slippers to convince her of his compassion.  But she still said, “no”.  He wished on a magic lamp and she finally, finally agreed.  You can push the two earing together like so, to make a heart indicating its the real deal.  My mama told it with the ending being a bottle of perfume, but I had forgotten and replaced it with a magical addition.  I rather like this change anyways.  But either way you wish to tell its cute and a lot of fun.

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Our stories are really all we have.  It is what we live for and what we will be remembered for (if we are so lucky).  They are something to share and something to keep.  They are silent, they are loud, they are life.  Oh, it is so good to be back.

Bread #41 Sarabeth’s House Bread

I have been thinking lately… why so many breads?  Why?  For this is surely a hefty resolution I have been quite adamant about keeping, so how come?  Of course I have pondered this before and it seems that each time I come up with a different logic.

But, this time I think I have figured it out once and for all.

Each time, I stand in front of my cook book filled window frame, sighing and squinting trying to decide where I shall find my inspiration for the day, a little man no bigger than two and a half feet tall, with a dirty blonde mushroom cut, comes and stands beside me.  Silent.  Sometimes he asks, “What kind are you making today mama?”.

This question usually elicits a simple response.  We take a few books down and drool over the gorgeous loaves and their possibilities.  And then, we begin.  My sweet boy perches on the counter kneading his little piece and playing with the spices while I step over my other little cherub time and time again as he “mixes” some concoction of his own.

Perhaps, this is the thing their first memories will be made of.  Perhaps the yeasty smell of dough rising will remind them of their old mama one day.  Maybe the sight of a home-made bagel or slice of toast will bring back a flood of memories of their first days walking around this here life they live.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

For it is true, so many days, I wonder if I fail them.  So many times I think to myself, “Now, I could have done that quite differently.”  Or I silently scorn myself for losing my temper.  Or I wish I had taken that incident more in stride.  You get the idea.

But, while so many moments are hurried and frazzled (or perhaps filled with guilt), with two little ones in tote, these days of bread rising and baking are good.  Maybe even peaceful.

The most recent loaf was mixed up for the vegan and dairy intolerant of the crowd at a recent pot luck the boys and I went to.  The ladies there were oh-so-sweet, a breath of fresh air really.  Us girls are like that aren’t we?  It seems like you get a group of ladies together, with kind hearts, and there is no end to the amount of sweet words that flow around.  It is really something.

This loaf is tweaked a bit from its original Sarabeth’s House Bread.  She included sunflower seeds and I just didn’t have any.  But, I did have pumpkin seeds so I chopped and sprinkled and it turned out just fine.

Sprinkle 3.5 teaspoons of yeast over 1/4 cup of warm water.  Add in 2 cups of cold water and 1/4 cup of honey when the yeast begins to froth.  Combine 3 cups of wheat flour, 2 1/4 cups of bread flour, 2 tablespoons of yellow cornmeal (stone ground grits here), 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, and 2 tablespoons of crushed pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.  Slowly add the yeast mix.  When it becomes to difficult to stir place on a dusted with flour surface and knead away.  Five or ten minutes should do.

Let it rise in an olive oiled (or buttered if dairy is ok with you) bowl for about an hour until its doubles.

Cut the dough in half and flatten out then roll into a loaf, sealing the sides as you go.  Place in an oiled bread pan and let rise in a plastic bag with a tall cup of hot water holding the middle of the bag up.  This is a fantastic way to let all your bread rise I have found.

After about 45 minutes your bread should dome over the top of the pan.  At this point brush them both with a beaten egg quite thoroughly.  If you would like coat the tops with pumpking seeds.  I found that to be a delicious addition in one of my loaves.  The picture doesn’t show it, but this was such a good loaf I made it twice, the second time experimenting with the pumpkin seeds.  Finally, place them in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Cool and slice.

I always try to reach back for my first memories.  I try so hard my brain hurts.  And as far as I can tell, it is either riding on the bike seat past mackerel cove with my dad, or tasting sand at the beach for the first time.  Whichever happened first, they both bring a smile to my face.  What is your oldest memory?