Tag Archive: Bread

  1. Good Ju Ju

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    Ju Ju means energy; the experience of positive and negative forces all around us that charge our lives and shape each unique day on this planet. You know Ju Ju. It’s that thing when you enter a space and get that “off” feeling in your gut telling you it’s time to leave, it’s the woman who smiled at you when you were crossing the street yesterday, the long, warm embrace of your loved ones, the sensation of sand between your toes walking on the shore. It’s the powerful stuff that we pick up on everywhere when we let our intuition take the reigns.

    We can give it, receive it, create it, share it, leave it behind, pass it on; you can even give Ju Ju a good kneading like homemade yeast bread. We need good Ju Ju. We need bad Ju Ju too though. The polar forces help guide our decisions, steer our relationships, and challenge us to think about life in new, interesting ways. It’s a balancing act; I think the potential for both kinds of ju ju live in us at once and can be used to direct people when we least expect it. Some people call it vibe, at yoga you’ve probably heard it referred to as Prana… but whatever name you give it, you know that it’s some powerful stuff.

    Despite the fact that each day I generally rise to the blessings of good health, supportive relationships, and an intentional purpose; my Ju Ju reserves can still get a little low from time to time. Life gets messy, our heads get fuzzy, and the spark within us can grow dim. When I need good Ju Ju, I call my Mom. She shares her wisdom and light and helps re-ignite my own to honor and pass on to others.

    This week my Mom was flanked with a host of givers. I received more good Ju Ju than I knew how to process all at once. Surprise coverage from The Kitchn, Food52, FoodieCrush Magazine, Food In Jars, an interview feature with Kaileen Elise, and the positive affirmations from readers and friends have been a needed nudge. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your energy with me this week. If I could bottle it, seal it with wax, and send it right back to each of you ten-fold I would.

    Too often we disregard the profound impact that our simple words, actions, and intentions can have on the world and one another. Don’t. Seriously. We carry each other; everyday we take turns by sharing our Ju Ju. Give it away and watch it grow.

     Chickpea Fritters with Tomato Jam 

    Slightly adapted from Whole Food by Jude Blearau

    Tomato Jam 

    • 2 tsp olive oil
    • 1/4 cup crushed ginger
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 3 cinnamon sticks
    • 5-6 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped and most of the seeds removed
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    Heat olive oil in a saucepan over gentle heat. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the vinegar and cinnamon sticks and cook until reduced by half. Add tomatoes, sugar, cumin, and cloves. Cover with a lid, and cook for 5 minutes over gentle heat. Remove lid, increase heat, and stir for 5-8 minutes to thicken. Reduce heat again and let simmer until thick.

     

    Chickpea Fritters 
    • 1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for at least 8 hours
    • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • pepper to taste
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 handful of parsley, chopped
    • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
    • 4 tbsp mint, chopped
    • 2 tbsp chickpea flour
    • olive oil, for frying
    Pour soaked chickpeas into a strainer, rinse and drain. Put soaked chickpeas in a food processor with minced garlic. Pulse for about a minute. Add the spices and pulse for another minute until finely ground, then place in a large mixing bowl. Add chopped onion, herbs, and flour and eggs and use your hands to combine. Form the mixture into small patties about 1/2″ thick. I started out thinking these would be chickpea burgers, but with half a loaf of bread on hand and no intention of running to the store, these became open faced sandwiches. Oops.
    Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, just enough to cover the bottom well. Place patties in the pan and cook over medium heat (with a gentle sizzle) for 5-7 minutes on each side. Jude warns “don’t rush the process, the insides take a while to cook.” Serve with grilled olive oil bread and tomato jam.
  2. Fig and Anise Seed Bread

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    “The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight… [Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”  — M.F.K. Fisher (The Art of Eating)

    For a girl whose happiness owes a great deal to the likes of yoga, games of rummy over coffee, and a good concert; I find myself starting a lot of these posts peddling the benefits of meditation by cooking and baking. There really is something uniquely therapeutic and recharging about directing our thoughts and energy to the instructions of a recipe. Washing, mincing, shucking, stirring… suddenly, we’ll have realized we’re breathing again. Ms. Fisher says it beautifully of bread-baking in particular; how the business of measuring, kneading, and letting rest can help us slow down, pay attention, and actually wait for good things to unfold.

    Waiting. What a concept. How often do we really have to wait for anything, anymore? Many have labeled ours the generation of instant gratification; and although Shaun and I would like to think ourselves excluded from the categorization, we do fall into the trenches of haste from time to time.

    You can’t rush bread. Measuring. Kneading. Resting. Rising. Second rise. Baking. There aren’t any shortcuts or many special tricks, there are just a few simple ingredients, and time.

    Successful loaves, I realized during the process, are like successful relationships. They can be attributed to attentiveness, patience, and our full presence – the trifecta of mindfulness. Don’t rush the process, don’t try to force it be something it doesn’t want to be, keep it simple, and savor the hard work. Give it some TLC and you’ll feel so proud that you didn’t take the easy way out (as in, buying it from the supermarket). Start a relationship with bread-making and you’ll start to understand more about your own, I guess.

    This bread is well worth the wait. Inspired by a variety we’ve always loved from a local vendor at the Farmers Market, it’s sweet, savory, and will disappear right before your eyes. Fresh figs are just starting to arrive at the markets, but dried ones will turn out just as swell.

    Fig and Anise Seed Bread, built from Best French Bread by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything

    • 3 1/2 cups organic bread flour
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
    • Scant 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons anise seed
    • 1 cup chopped black mission figs (I use dried)

    In the bucket of a food processor with the steel blade attachement, add the flour, salt, and yeast and process for 5-10 seconds. While the machine runs, pour the water through the feed tube and mix for 30 seconds to a minute, or until the mixture becomes a sticky ball. Add a teaspoon or two of water if it seems too dry. Scoop the sticky ball out of the container,and as Mark says “dump” into a large bowl. Add the anise seed and chopped figs, and knead together until well spread throughout the dough. Shape into a ball. Cover with a clean towel and let sit for 3 hours. Wait. Patience.

    Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and give the mound a second light knead, and back to a ball. Pinch together the seam that forms at the bottom of the ball. Place a clean kitchen towel in a colander and sprinkle well with flour. Place the dough ball, seam side up, in the towel and sprinkle with more flour. Fold over the towel, and let sit for another 3-6 hours. Wait. Patience.

    Preheat the oven to 450′ with a baking stone on the bottom shelf. When the oven comes to temperature, remove the ball from the colander and slash the top with a sharp knife. Be vigorous about it, it takes a bit to break the gluten. Transfer to the baking stone. Bake for 30(ish) minutes. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. 

  3. Spring Panzanella

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    Life has a funny way of bringing things into our lives that tote a particular message just when we need it most. Last week I was sitting in a waiting room after a particularly tumultuous morning and picked up an old issue of O Magazine and opened it at a random page where “The Journey,” a poem by Mary Oliver was highlighted:

    One day you finally knew / what you had to do, and began, / though the voices around you / kept shouting their bad advice / though the whole house / began to tremble / and you felt the old tug / at your ankles. / “Mend my life!” / each voice cried. / But you didn’t stop. / You knew what you had to do, / though the wind pried / with its stiff fingers / at the very foundations, / though their melancholy was terrible.

    It was already late enough,  / and a wild night, / and the road full of fallen branches and stones. / But little by little, / as you left their voices behind, / the stars began to burn / through the sheets of clouds, / and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, / that kept you company / as you strode deeper and deeper / into the world, / determined to do the only thing you could do / determined to save the only life you could save.

    I could have melted right out of my seat. Mary’s wise words snuck into my day and gave me the boost of energy and confidence I desperately needed to stay the course.

    The gift was unexpected, as they often are. Rarely do signs appear with big flashing lights to guide or comfort us in difficult times. Inspiration surrounds us at every moment, gently whispering and nudging us in the right direction – half the time, we’re just too busy or distracted to even notice. Direction and guidance lie tucked in the innuendo; the passing smile of a stranger, old songs on the radio… little reminders that we are not alone and that it’s all okay.

    It is our work to practice mindfulness and give ourselves permission to spend time just noticing. When we stop to simply notice, our busy and anxious minds are forced to the sideline and our intuitions get a chance to shine. The little signs around us end up only pointing to what we already instinctively knew.

    Spring is the perfect season to practice the art of noticing all the beauty and wisdom the world has to offer us. The winds are shifting, the flowers are blooming, and the markets are bursting with fresh and invigorating vegetables that help keep a lightness about our days. The delicate bounties in our CSA box inspired a spring Panzanella based on Erin’s at Fresh365, but with produce this good my version ended up more like a big salad with extra croutons. The ingredient list may feel long, but hang with me.

    Spring Panzanella

    • ½ loaf of bread, cut into 1” cubes
    • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 leeks, sliced thin
    • 1 small bunch of asparagus, cut to 1” pieces
    • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
    • 2 small fennel bulbs, cut thin with a mandoline
    • 1 cup onion sprouts
    • 1 carton cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cup spring peas, halved
    • 2-3 cups rocket, or arugula
    • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
    • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
    • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and tossed with lemon
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
    • juice of ½ lemon

    Toss bread cubes in olive oil and generous amounts of salt, and pepper. Lay flat on a baking sheet and toss in the oven at 400’ for 10 minutes. Switch the oven to broil, and toast on one side for 2 minutes. Shake the pan to turn the cubes and broil until golden brown and crispy. Set to the side.

    In a small pan, bring 3-4 cups of water to boil and cook asparagus for no longer than 2 minutes. Remove from heat immediately and immerse in cold water to stop cooking. In a large bowl, combine the leeks, red onion, mint, basil, fennel, tomatoes, sprouts, and spring peas, toss with a splash of oil and vinegar, then add the rocket/arugula and cooled asparagus. Toss with the additional dressing, garbanzo beans, and bread cubes. Season with a bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Let's get in Touch

I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.