Sunday, December 30, 2012

I didn't even get a chance to photograph this loaf of bread before it was sliced up for a feast with friends. We had a beauteous evening, after a day of snow that made our garden look like Narnia. Inside, my Pap had a fire going and come darkness there was good food, laughs, and time enough to be calm. The year has come to a close. 

2012 was something. For me, it was one of the hardest and yet one of the fullest and finest so far. I'm not much of one for New Year's resolutions, but I will say I have some ideas for 2013, ideas I'm rather excited about. 

But until then, I leave you with a recipe for a humble loaf a bread. I can say from experience that it's quite tasty with chickpea spread, blueberry goat cheese or tapenade. But I imagine it would pair well with just about anything else you like, eaten pipping hot alone in the kitchen or cooled and consumed at the table with friends. 

Happy New Year, best wishes, be merry and happy! Cheers!

Simple Little Loaf
(adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey 
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I'd like to experiment using other flours. Spelt maybe.)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted, for brushing
sunflower seeds and poppy seeds (optional) 

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit - 5 - 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.
Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When the bread has risen, sprinkle seeds (if using) on top. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat - to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn't steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.
Makes 1 loaf.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

favorite things: my new roots

Sarah Britton's blog My New Roots is probably my most favorite food blog ever. Sarah is trained as a holistic nutritionist and cooks in Copenhagen, making and photographing food that is the best it can be.  

Her banana bread (sans sugar, white flour, butter, and cow's milk) is my go-to recipe. The sweet potatoes and hummus she made brought together two of my favorite things. And she explained the extraordinariness of quinoa

A few days before December 25th, I made her date bars. No sugar, no baking even. They were my contribution to the family Christmas cookie platter and my Nana (who makes candies that are pure sugar) even liked them. 

Date bars
(from My New Roots)

for the filling: 
2 cups chopped dates
2 Tbsp water
½ – ¾ cup orange juice
zest of 1 orange

for the crust:
2 cups pecans or walnuts
1 cup raw oats, ground into flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp maple syrup

quick oats to sprinkle on top

1. Soak dates in water and orange juice for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on quickly they soften.

2. Coarsely grind nuts in a food processor. Add ground oats or oat flour and pulse to mix.

3. Add cinnamon first, then maple syrup one tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together.

4. Lightly oil a 9-inch square pan or round cake pan with coconut or olive oil.

5. Press a little over half of the nut mixture into the bottom of the pan, reserving the rest for later.

6. Puree the date and orange juice mixture until it reaches a desired consistency. I left a few larger pieces of dates for texture, but you can blend them to a perfectly smooth texture too.

7. Crumble the remaining half of the crust mixture over the dates; press lightly with your hands of a spoon. Sprinkle some quick oats on top for garnish (this is optional, but looks nice).

8. Refrigerate. 

For the filling, using 2 cups dates, 3/4 cup water, and a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger. For the crust, use 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a large pinch cloves, a large pinch nutmeg. 

I also tried using 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 pecans, and 1/2 cup sunflower seeds. Consequently, I had to use more maple syrup and a little coconut oil to make the crust stick. 

Sarah recently also did a TEDtalk in Amsterdam. She's a pretty inspiring lady. 

first image by: sarah britton
second image by: me

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seeing: the farm (much changed) and tiny snowflakes falling.

Hearing: this lecture and the great gusts of wind outside.

Tasting: cough drops and honey. 

Smelling: chocolate chip cookies baking. 

Feeling: like it cannot possibly be Christmastime yet. Isn't still just October?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I find this rather exciting.

In my Society6 shop you can get my images printed on all finds of things: cards, iphone cases, laptop skins. They just recently added throw pillows to their line of products. Pretty darn cool. 

And in my etsy shop, you can now purchase 2013 calendars and giftcards

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My third semester at university has come to a close.

I'm one of those people who thrive at school. If I had the money for it I'd get more degrees than you could shake a stick at. As it is, I'm become even more enamored with my major: anthropology. It might have something to do with having a professor who brings in a traditional Mexican healer, a Lakota Soiux woman, and a sound healer and lets them do their thing: a healing, a ritual, a sampling of singing bowls. (This is the same professor who has the class sit in a circle, allows the students to guide the course as they will, and wears the most amazing Native America turquoise amulet ring.) And then there was also the research I did: I interviewed two CSA farmers and wrote a twenty-five page paper complied from said interviews. I felt like a real anthropologist; I was.

This semester: I was introduced to this book, I wrote two papers about this couple, I watched this horribly sad film, and became a reader for my school's literary magazine.

And yet I do not know what I want to be "when I grow up." People ask me this question constantly, it seems. Nervously, I answer some ridiculous little something about perhaps working in non-profits, or museums, or maybe permaculture. When I say I'm studying anthropology I typically get one of two responses (except the one time when the reply I received was an obscenity): "Wow!" and "What are you going to do with that?"

The truth is I don't know. I'd like to, but I don't. It used to bother me that I didn't have a firm job title in mind, something I could cling to and say: this is exactly what I'm after. I'm not studying anthropology because I want to be an anthropologist. We do not live in a world that needs another Margaret Mead or Claude Levi-Strauss. That I understand. But we do live in a world where we need people who are work to create cross-cultural understanding. I want to be one of those people. And I wouldn't mind getting my hands dirty in the process.

At this point in time, that is as much as I know. And that is okay. Ken Robinson, in one of his TED talks, says we can't predict with any accuracy what the state of the world is going to be at the end of the week, let alone in five years, so how can we prepare? Now, I do not feel the need to chose a career and say absolutely this is what I am going to do with my life. What I have is the present, and in it all I can do is study what I love, and open my mind, my eyes, and mouth.

And get really good grades. That helps too.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Seeing: the many things I want to knit.

Hearing: this song.

Tasting: this dish.
(But next time I'll use sweet potatoes.)

Smelling: clementines. 

Feeling: a chest cold coming on.

Monday, December 3, 2012

november afternoon

I spent the last day in November with my Nana and Pap, my grandparents.
But they're my friends too.