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{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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Posted 5 years, 8 months ago at 6:00 am. 3 comments

Sourdough Foccacia with Cranberries, Sage, and Thyme

Focaccia is another of those recipes that is redolent with memories. I was introduced to this Italian snack in its simplest form, topped with olive oil and salt during college. The humanities department would have semi-regular meetings where all the professors and students would gather together. (It was a small school, so this wasn’t as big an ordeal as it may seem.)

While we heard tell that other departments had the usual spread of chips, cookies, and soda, we were favored with homemade focaccia baked by our beloved secretary Elizabeth Davis. While she usually tried to keep a low profile in meetings, there was no disguising the warm yeasty smell that accompanied her through the door. She and her bread were the center of everyone’s attention.  Even if we tried to politely finish listening to whomever was speaking, our minds and hearts were with her and the bread she was slicing.

Her focaccia stands in my memory as a culinary beacon of hope in an otherwise dreary foodscape of cafeteria food and boxed cereal. It was beguiling in its simplicity, managing to be both fluffy and crisp at the same time. The olive oil, warmed by the bread, pooled in the fingertip deep wells, dribbling over the sides when it was cut. The more refined among us ate with a napkin in hand to dab at the drips. Call me rustic, but I could never resist licking my fingers clean of the buttery oil mingled with the sharp bite of salt.

While plain and simple focaccia still heats my oven, I have recently been enamored with recipes using seasonal fruits, like this Grape and Rosemary Focaccia from Nourished Kitchen. Living in the South, I made it with muscadines rather than concord grapes, but the combination of peppery olive oil, sticky sweet grapes, and salty herbs worked its way into my blood. Sadly, muscadine season is painfully short. Nowhere near long enough to satisfy my craving. When cranberries started poking around the produce, I saw my way clear.

While this recipe is obviously evocative of Thanksgiving, I won’t lie and say I’m not stashing a few bags of cranberries in my freezer so I can enjoy this a few months down the line.


Sourdough Focaccia with Cranberries, Sage, and Thyme
Inspired by recipes at Nourished Kitchen and The Fresh Loaf

1 cup frothy 100% hydration sourdough starter
1 cup tepid water
1  cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
3 tsp salt
~ 1/2 a bag of cranberries
2 T chopped fresh sage
1 T chopped fresh thyme
2-3 T unrefined coarse sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter and water. Mix briefly to break up the starter. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, one cup each of the flours, and the salt. With a dough hook, mix the dough until it comes together. If it’s still excessively sticky, add more flour until it becomes more manageable– it can stick to your fingers, but it shouldn’t coat your hand like a glove if you try to knead it. Let the mixer knead it until you can stretch a piece paper thin, about 10 minutes. Roll it into a ball, drizzle the bowl with olive oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge over night.

The next day, let the dough come up to room temperature, about 60-90 minutes. Rub olive oil onto a 9×13 baking sheet. Pat the dough out to fit the baking sheet and let it rise, covered, in a warm place for 2-3 hours, until it looks puffy and doubled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475°.  After the dough has risen, use your finger tips to make several indentations in the dough. Not holes, just dips. Drizzle an ample amount of olive oil over the dough and down its sides. The bread is essentially going to fry on top, so do be generous. Sprinkle the coarse salt and then spread the cranberries out. They might roll into great cranberry canyons, so you might need to press them gently into place.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden and crisp. Take it out of the oven and drizzle some more olive oil and scatter the herbs over the top. Using a pizza cuter, cut the focaccia into squares. Serve hot or a room temperature. If you happen to have leftovers, it makes a fabulous breakfast reheated in a toaster oven for about 5 minutes.

This post is participating in YeastSpotting, a “weekly showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient” hosted by Wild Yeast, though guest hosted this week by Hefe und mehr.

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 9:59 pm. 3 comments

Every Leaf’s a Flower

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.” — Albert Camus

I think I once faked being sick in order to stay home and watch out my bedroom window as the leaves drifted to the ground.  Or maybe I just planned to and then chickened out at the last minute. I don’t remember.

This year I don’t have to play hookie to watch the leaves fall. Not only have Baby-tidian and I enjoyed many walks through our crunchy leaf strewn neighborhood, we’ve spent countless minutes watching out our windows as leaves have transformed the cement dead zone of our driveway into a sea as vibrant as any coral reef.

I always forget how falling leaves makes one appreciate negative space. We tend to scamper about with our eyes fixed where we are headed, whether that’s the front door, the coffee shop window, or our car at the other end of the parking lot. What stands between us and our goal is just empty space to be gotten through. Leaves falling through it changes the way I see that empty space. It’s like lining a blank hallway with pictures. With a big gust of wind, I’m suddenly aware of the depth of the space I inhabit. There is value and beauty in the getting there.

Autumn also gives a blessed relief from the monotony of summer and winter. I love lush landscapes as much as the next person. And I’m a sucker for the pristine harmony of a fresh snow. But it’s fortifying to see trees bursting out of their verdant uniformity like a woman kicking off her slick high heels and stretching her bare feet. Where there was once a fire, now there are flames.

I find myself collecting these newly emancipated leaves. I’ll pluck one off a tree in the grocery store parking lot or stoop to pick another off the ground as I fumble for my keys at the door. I’ll find these leaves days/weeks/months later in my pockets or forgotten corners of tables in various states of crumbly decay.  Here’s a peek at my stash from this year:

 

Some are the color of Venetian glass while others sport the texture of a leather handbag. They evoke both the setting sun and night’s inkiness. They tell stories of swans, and rivers, and turkey tails. Of age, and beauty, and playfulness.

 

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 11:50 pm. Add a comment

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . .

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 8:09 am. 3 comments

For Now

For now, I don’t yet have to explain that sometimes things don’t go the way you’d hoped. That sometimes people go away and never come back. That sometimes saying you’re sorry doesn’t heal the wound that was created.

For now all it takes to ease those worried looks is a nuzzle. My body and presence are all he needs to feel that all is right with the world.

For now I’m trying to cherish these cries that are so easily soothed. Even when my dinner’s getting cold. Even when the laundry needs to be hung out. Even when my skin feels numb from the constant touching.

For now, I know. I know.

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 8:50 pm. 1 comment

Fun in Jars

Baby-tidian does not seem to have a very refined palate; everything tastes equally good. Fingers. Edges of blankets. His pet dragon fly Merve. His bottom lip. A fistful of cat fur. When he lunged after a jar of dried strawberries, he couldn’t decide which was more fun– gumming the glass or watching the red berries jump around the jar. My Mama Sense tingled. This was a good toy.

It all came together in a jiffy. My stash of Italian glass beads that I’d been saving for who knows what jangled into the oddly shaped jelly jar I had just washed. The cool glass feels good on his pre-teething gums. The beads are pretty to look at. It goes easily from floor to diaper bag. No plastic. No tinny electronic voice. And it’s free. The perfect toy.

Until he learns to unscrew the lid.

I love things like this. The reuse part of “Reduce Reuse Recycle.” It makes me feel like a genius mama and is less annoying than washing plastic baggies.

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 10:00 pm. Add a comment

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . .

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 6:49 am. 3 comments

Breakfast the Color of Autumn

  • Steel cut oatmeal made with buttermilk
  • Almost too ripe persimmon
  • Homemade elderberry rosehip syrup

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 12:07 pm. Add a comment

Milestones: The First BooBoo

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 6:28 am. 2 comments

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual from SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . .


Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 5:00 am. 3 comments