Category Archives: bread

Creative Endeavor Year

 What a delicious last couple of days.
Beet greens rescued from limpness, crisped up with bacon goodness

With New Year’s Eve on a Saturday and New Year’s Day on a Sunday this year, some may have groused about losing days off work, but I made the most of the celebrations not being smooshed into a few tired late-night hours, only to be confronted with the office coffeemaker the next morning. Ha!
I successfully kick-started my Creative Endeavor Year! I’ve stated lately what I’m interested in, and how differently I want to orient myself, so you maybe have an idea what I’m talking about. No? Ok, then I’ll go first with activities from the last few days, and then would you please chime in?
Lists. Yes, I made lists, in different places, on different-sized scraps of paper, and with overlapping topics. Maybe a little overzealous, but now I get to synthesize! Places I want to travel, places I might want to move, key areas of focus for my new work, my annual review, and goals. Totally exciting, right? Well it is for an introverted organizer.
Slowly Scrambled Eggs (you’re allowed to zone out while scrambling!)

Writing. Yep- as the new tagline indicates, I’m going to let writing take up a lot more space in my life this year. The focus will be on this blog, as I navigate the transition, and on the novel, which will give me a product and some experience in creative process (little out of practice).

Outdoors. A long run, several moderate-length walks in the cool air- clearing the clutter that tends to clump onto my brain if I spend too much time inside. You know what I mean: meant-to-do’s, errands, shoulda-coulda-woulda’s. Unless these get out and on a list, they just hover over my shoulder and make me unproductive or regretful. For me, moving at some speed outdoors tends to banish these thoughts. I return refreshed, like my brain had been through a permanent press and spin-cycle!
Apple, cinnamon-sugar, and perhaps a little butter was involved

Back-to-Basics. Return-to-Roots. (I like alliteration, OK?) On NYE, I made my first loaf of bread in the bread machine I received for Christmas, and have been finding ways to appreciate the simple white slice since then. Today, I tried out my first batch of plain yogurt in the new yogurt-maker, and await the results tomorrow morning. While there are a lot of blogging cooks out there who know how to combine many beautiful exotic ingredients for amazing dishes, I like to take the more minimalist approach. Because really, life is what you make of it. So if you don’t have pimenton de vera or spelt flour or fresh cilantro when the urge to create in the kitchen strikes, don’t fret. Take what you’ve got, and figure out how to honor that. In fact, I think that’ll be the philosophy for this Creative Endeavor Year.

Stale croissant, melted chocolate = uncomplicated souffle
I’ve been cooking pretty simply in the past month, both because of the desire for wintry comfort food and the need for something simply being enough. Call it an overworked metaphor if you like, but here are a few photos to inspire you to take a stab at this philosophy. Whatever you’ve got, honor that.

You may see several of the items listed in my Favorites List, which is no accident. What’s on your List?

Last Bits of Juice from the Road Trip: Part 4

The last two legs of the journey. I drove from Vermont to upstate New York, spent the night, and continued on to DC the next day. It was a lot of driving but I certainly found sights to amuse, distract, and make me think over the course of the two days.

 On my last morning in Vermont, which was Sue and Nigel’s second-to-last morning there, they did a morning run to the Harvest Market in Stowe. Their website may not be much, but their shop is gorgeous and chock full of gourmet delicacies, not to mention fresh baked goods. And we mean FRESH- we ended up waiting for about 30 minutes for garlic sticks that were coming straight out of the oven. They were amazing.

 Once I sadly departed from friends, I toodled through Vermont and came upon a Civil War days fair– didn’t think they had those north of the Mason-Dixon line? Well, neither did I. But apparently, country is as country does, and part of country is remembering heritage. Here I heard a lecture about troop badges, and spied some lovely baked goods, as well as women in antebellum costumes. Nevermind the rain, we’re tough Yankees!

Dakin Farm is the site of … my weakening resolve to not buy everything kitschy and delicious-looking in sight. There was lots of good stuff there, and I bought cheese and fudge, both very good!

But really, the stop at Vergennes, VT is where I hit the big time. The couple thrift shops I was going to investigate turned out to be closed, but then this popped up, as well as a different thrift shop, where I found a couple books. The Daily Chocolate has really amazing flavor combinations- I picked up one type of bark named “Nibby” (milk chocolate with a generous helping of coconut and sesame seeds), and another named “Moroccan” (dark chocolate with pecans, raisins, and Garam Masala spices). They were free and easy with their samples, had a reasonable code of conduct on responsible sourcing, and … so I also bought a little container of maple roasted cacao nibs. Obviously I was totally sold on their creative approach and wonderful flavors! So do try them out if you’re in the area…

These next few photos illustrate the totally captivating sense of whimsy I felt while trawling through the picturesque countryside. Perhaps there is a hipster site dedicated to haystacks dressed up as creatures, but I’m completely content to post these as my only sample. Two are haystack creations of a dog and cat (and thank goodness it was a lonely stretch of road, because I had to make a few U-turns), and one is a trailer painted like a cow. Perfect Road Trip scenery, really.

This deserved a mention, even though it was closed (basically a miniature golf course, but with a tailor-made theme … to please the locals?)

After passing through scenic park land, I came upon this, the Pocono Bazaar, a sort of swap meet writ large for locals and curiosity hunters. I found it a strange, somewhat surreal experience, because I’ve always heard of the Poconos as a sort of midcentury luxury getaway destination. Here I was confronted with empty lots, creaking structures, and bathrooms serviced by attendants hoping for tips, like Mom and I saw in southern France.

Civil War Memorabilia…

My last stop before the long journey home: Oregon Dairy! I had stopped for gas at a spot that looked like it had a restaurant or two, but turned out to only be Chili’s and a bar. So I persevered in the interests of health and foodie-discovery, and came here, unfortunately too late for their dining room. Apparently they close their restaurant at 2 PM on Sundays, and my Pocono visit had made me arrive later than the usual lunchtime.

I found more than enough to satisfy me, even without the restaurant: the supermarket had a great bakery section: see baked oatmeal above- delicious and entirely unknown to me before this. I also tried shoo-fly pie, something I’d heard of as a legend but was fairly disappointed by– figgy consistency and lacking flavor. OD also had a bulk section, where I found some grains and spices I’d been looking for at a good price. Plus, mini-marshmallows! My resolve, and my hunger, were too weak, and strong, respectively, at this point to resist the cuteness. I had the equivalent of a slider sandwich, then proceeded to the … Milk House (an ice creamery, truth be told).

I may not have appreciated the sizing titles, but the teens serving me were country-considerate (nothing like the Montreal uni students!), the ice cream was great, it was shelter from the rain, and I wasn’t sitting in my driver’s seat for a bit– deliverance! Thus ended my awesome Solo Road Trip adventure. Full of good food, good fun, and dear family, both related and in spirit.