• 2015 book list

    Since I made the commitment to read one book a month, I have been reading much more than I used to. I’ve read thirty books since my last list, and that’s not including the ones I read out loud to the kids or the ones that I started and never got around to finishing (there are a lot of those). There’s another reason I’m reading more: I’m learning to count reading as part of my work. If I’m going to write a book, I must read, both for research and to better my own writing. So now I have an excuse for reading in the middle of the day.

    Here’s what I’ve read in 2015:

    *100 Sideways Miles, by Andrew Smith. I’m not generally a fan of Young Adult Lit, and it’s been a year since I read this book, but I remember liking this one.

    *I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson. Another YA fiction. Enjoyable.

    *Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. A page-turner. My husband and I literally read it at the same time (see above photo).

    *The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. I read this years ago and loved it. It seemed different this time around, harder to understand, almost. Does that even make any sense?

    *The Presence of the Actor, by Joseph Choikin. I read this book (and the other two acting books on this list) because the director of the play I was in said it was required reading for his beginning acting classes. Since I’m a beginner, I read it. (Or skimmed it, rather.)

    *An Actor Prepares, by Constantin Stanislavski. Because the director said to. The book’s concepts would’ve been easier to absorb if I had been reading the book in conjunction with actual acting classes, I suppose.

    *Yes Please! By Amy Poehler. Fairly insipid. Lots of famous-name spouting, so a person like me who can’t remember famous names to save her life (probably because she doesn’t know them in the first place) finds it rather dull.

    *The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. Another YA Fiction (what is up with me?). Well done, but nothing thrilling.

    *The Actor At Work, by Robert C. Benedetti. I probably gleaned some valuable information, though I can’t remember what.

    *Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Pronson and Ashley Merryman. I bought it and then wrote about it here. Highly recommend.

    *Things I’ve Learned From Dying: A Book About Life, by David R. Dow. The author defends inmates on death row and deals with his father who is dying from a terminal illness. Well done, raw, and thoughtful.

    *The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne. A staggering book. Tears and five stars.

    *Maus I and Maus II, by Art Spiegelman. Graphic novel memoirs about the author’s father’s experience during the Holocaust. All the Jews are drawn as mice and the Germans as cats. I cannot recommend these two books highly enough.

    *Small Wonder, by Barbara Kingsolver. Another re-read. I love her essays, particularly the personal stories.

    *Red Kayak, by Priscilla Cummings. Another YA. I finished it, so I guess it was okay.

    *The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Interesting story plot, but underdeveloped characters. Lacked credibility but still a fun read.

    *Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott. And yet another re-read. Anne cracks me up. Love her.

    *John Barleycorn, by Jack London. An autobiography about being an alcoholic while still managing to deny that he’s an alcoholic. The guy had a fascinating life, but about halfway through the book, he started to drone. (Side note: London is a great example of an unschooler.)

    *Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson. Fun, but I find her humor tiresome after awhile. My older son loved it.

    *Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Another re-read, and, now that I’m trying to write something bigger than a blog post, quite pertinent. Reading about Anne’s writing process affirmed my own, normalizing my angst and helping me relax.

    *The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling, by Quinn Cummings. About a mother who decides to homeschool her middle school-aged daughter for one year. The book is well-written and engaging, but I got the impression Cummings was engineering and exploiting her experiences (for example, visiting an unschoolers’ conference and an ultra-conservative homeschool group) for the sake of book material, boo-hiss.

    *The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. A non-scary page turner.

    *Motherlunge, by Kirstin Scott. Craftily written (or so they say) but I thought all the pretty words were overkill. I’m in the minority, thoughhere’s a more positive reviewso give it a try.

    *11/22/63, by Stephen King. My first King book. It didn’t give me nightmares! (And then I watched The Kennedys on Netflix streaminghighly recommend the eight episode dramadocumentaryand, when it we got to the Oswald shooting scene, I felt like I had already seen it before.)

    *On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. I enjoy his personal writing more than his fiction. After reading the book, I bought it and the Strunk book he kept going on about.

    *Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. In the style of Yes, Please!: light entertainment in a hollow sort of way.

    *Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Revolutionized how I think about the creative process. Slightly repetitive, but, since my beliefs are so entrenched, I needed the slow pace to mull things over. Highly recommend.

    *The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. A novel about a writer and her biographer. The story sucked me in, and for several days I lived in a satisfying haze. (The biographer was always drinking hot cocoa, so I drank a lot of hot chocolate while reading.)

    *You’d Be So Pretty If…: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their BodiesEven When We Don’t Love Our Own, by Dara Chadwick. Clunkily written (example, see title) but extremely valuable and helpful. It gave me some good tools and much-needed perspective. If you have daughters, read this.

    It’s your turn! What thrilling and transformative books have you devoured in 2015?

    PS. This blogger has great taste and fabulous book reviews. Every time she posts a write-up, I end up putting a book (or three) on hold at the library.

    PPS. 2014 Book List.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (12.23.13), dancing mice, and other Christmas tales, raw, and on doing the dishes.  

  • old-fashioned sour cream cake donuts

    I did it! I did it! I have finally mastered the art of the old-fashioned sour cream cake donut and I am all puffed up with pride (and donuts).

    It was no easy task, make no mistake. At one point I almost said Screw it and posted a less-than-satisfactory recipe complete with photos of scorched donuts, but I stuck it out and here we are! Like I said, so happy. 

    When I decided to take on the sour cream cake donut (my favorite), I first turned to the Internet where, weirdly enough, I discovered that all the recipes were nearly identical. I wanted variations for comparison’s sake, but no luck. So I switched to cookbooks, but those cake donut recipes either didn’t call for sour cream or I could tell at a glance that they wouldn’t be any good.

    Since there was only one much-touted recipe on the Internet, you’d think that mastering the cake donut would be fairly straightforward. But no. My mother, one of my key taste testers, said my first donuts were too yellow (from our homegrown eggs), plus, they were puny. “Cake donuts must be substantial,” she said. So I tweaked and experimented, but the donuts kept flopping. The pigs got a lot of them.

    Last week’s batch was nearly perfect: satisfactorily substantial with a white interior and excellent flavor…but, go figure, burned. I could not seem to figure out how to not to burn them. Any less time in the hot oil and the insides were raw. But then I went back to the original recipe and read that the donuts were to be fried at 325 degrees, not 350 like raised donuts. Oh. Also, when I gave Mom a half donut to sample (they were good enough that I was getting scroogey), she said they were still a bit dry. Could I cut back on the flour, perhaps? 

    Fine, sure, okay, whatever. This was getting ridiculous. But then I cut back the flour (and added vanilla) and fried the donuts at the proper temp and, Voila!, I had my donuts. And you know what? All that struggle? Totally worth it.

    Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cake Donuts
    Adapted from various recipes around the web, like this one from Handle the Heat.

    Some tips:
    *Use anemic, store-bought eggs for a whiter dough.
    *Many of the recipes I read called for a third cup sour cream but the dough absolutely needed a full half cup.
    *I adore this glaze recipe. Raised donuts get all weepy (after about six hours, moisture from the donut seeps into the glaze and makes it watery), but cake donuts do not. The glaze holds up well over time and to freezing.
    *I think these donuts taste even better the next day.
    *The dough, either shaped into donuts or not, stores well in the fridge right up until it’s time to fry them.
    *These donuts dirty the oil pretty quickly, so I almost never save it to reuse.
    *My husband says that these still don’t taste quite as cake-y as bought donuts. I suspect it’s because I’m not using additives like cake enhancer (though I did consider buying some).
    *This recipe makes about 7 or 8 large donuts, plus 2 donut holes.

    for the dough:
    2 tablespoons butter
    ½ cup sugar
    2 egg yolks
    2 cups cake flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    1½ teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
    ½ cup sour cream
    canola oil, for frying
    1 recipe of glaze (recipe follows)

    Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the yolks. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, finishing with the dry ingredients. Cover the dough (it will be sticky) with plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to several days.

    On a well-floured surface, gently roll out the chilled dough until it’s 3/8ths to ½-inch thick. Cut donuts into desired shapes. This is a tender, sticky dough, so it’s easier to handle when cold. Also, when re-rolling, be careful not to work in extra flour as extra flour will make a tougher donut.

    Place donuts on a lightly floured cookie sheet. Score the tops of the donuts with a sharp knife. This makes a craggy, crinkly top, better for catching all the crackly, sweet glaze. Cover the cut donuts with plastic and put the tray in the refrigerator.

    In a large-bottomed pan, heat a couple inches of oil to 325 degrees. Fry a few donuts at a time, two minutes for each side. Remove from hot oil and set on a cooling rack that’s set over newspapers or paper towels.

    for the glaze:
    3½ cups confectioner’s sugar
    1-2 teaspoons corn syrup
    ½ teaspoon vanilla
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ½ cup hot tap water.

    Whisk together until smooth.

    Dip the donuts in glaze and set on a cooling rack to dry. As the glaze sets up, you may want to spoon more glaze over the donuts.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (12.22.14), Christmas pretty, turkey in a wash basket, and lemon cheesecake tassies.

  • the quotidian (12.21.15)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Not there yet, but getting closer.
    Soup for the soul: another double batch.
    Trimming the tree: no longer my job.

    To the kids: To Kill A Mockingbird.

    A shelter for her prego (we hope) sheep.

    Cutting roof.

    He wanted new clothes so he went to town.

    Clockwise: knitting, writing an essay, reading a novel, listening to a podcast.

    Saturday morning running buddies and the photobomber.

    This same time, years previous: on my to-do list, how to have a dunging-out date, toasty oatmeal muffins, self care, the quotidian (12.19.11), chocolate-dipped candied orange rinds, middle-of-the-night solstice party, and walnut balls.    

  • brightening the dark

    My husband forgot to wake me this morning. He rises before I do, so he’s my alarm clock, knocking on the ceiling of the room under ours at my requested time. But last night I told him he didn’t need to wake me—I wasn’t planning to go running—and I was eager for a leisurely wake-up. But then, right before I fell asleep, I remembered that I had scheduled a writing morning for myself and had to get the kids over to Mom and Dad’s first thing. So I roused myself enough to tell my husband to wake me at seven. He mumbled a response, but I don’t think he really heard me. When I opened my eyes it was 7:23.

    Even with only a half hour to get out the door, the morning felt relaxed. The rain thundering on the roof made everything darker and cozier than normal. I scurried from my room, dreading having to drag sleeping kids from their beds, only to discover my daughter reading in her bed by the light of her crazily-hung Christmas twinkly lights, and then, downstairs, my son reading by the light of the Christmas tree. I still had push them to get a move on, but at least they were awake.

    Now it’s early afternoon and the sky is still heavy with rain clouds, the air filled with thick, soupy fog. The dirty breakfast and lunch dishes are piled at the sink (and soon I’ll exchange my computer for my earbuds and a podcast—or maybe Christmas music!and step into the kitchen to make an even bigger mess), but sweet-smelling candles are burning. Kitchen mess doesn’t feel so chaotic when there are lit candles to brighten the dark and soothe the nerves.

    This same time, years previous: mini dramas, supper reading, the quotidian (12.16.13), fa-la-la-la-la, the quotidian (12.17.12), peppernuts, my baby, and cranberry white chocolate cookies.     

  • the warming

    It is the middle of December. I just stepped out of the house to snap a picture of the forsythia. It’s blooming.

    The weather is balmy and gorgeous, but I feel anxious. It feels ominous, this upset-the-fruit basket weather. Our wood stove sits, stone cold and dark. Our winter coats hang uselessly on their hooks. Flies swarm the kitchen.

    Even with a brisk breeze, the air feels stifling, claustrophobic. I keep having the thought—a daytime nightmare, really—that I am trapped inside a house that’s locked tight and the temperature is rising, except in this case it’s the whole world that’s heating up. We’re trapped in our atmosphere with nowhere to go.

    Perhaps I’m being melodramatic. That’s always a possibility. On the other hand, there’s climate change and El Niño, so something is going on, right? Whatever it is, it makes me feel slightly panicked. Which is too bad because then I can’t enjoy this lovely springtime December weather.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (12.15.14), crazier than usual, gingerbread men, and a smashed finger.

  • the quotidian (12.14.15)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Getting smart: combining a potluck with yet another experiment.

    Shoofly pie: because it’s what I wanted.
    My older son’s idea: pepperoni rolls for his voice instructor.
    How a young mind works:
    I’ve spent years trotting from kitchen counter to computer while following a recipe; 
    when it was my older son’s turn to cook, he simply enlarged the font.

    A doorway visit with the dogs.

    Special permission: Legos on my bedroom floor.

    Total absorption: he never even noticed the plate of cookies.

    Christmas show at the horse farm.
    Some people bring their dog with them when they travel; my daughter’s friend brings her horse. 

    This same time, years previous: constant vigilance!, sunrise, sunset, bits of goodness, light painting, my elephant, soft cinnamon sugar butter bars, cracked wheat pancakes, fig and anise pinwheels, and ginger cream scones.      

  • Italian wedding soup

    I’ve been battling a wicked virus. The main symptoms are a cough, exhaustion, and a lost voice. Or an almost lost voice, rather. My talker sounds like a mix between a frog, a purring cat, and a bag pipes (but without the tootling). I’m on Day Ten of nastiness and while I’m functioning well enough, I still have no desire (and possibly no ability) to go running, or even for a vigorous walk.

    When my affliction first struck, I bent over backwards taking care of myself: lots of fluids, sleep, cough drops, rest, vitamins, and more sleep. But when the illness drug on, I despaired. I would never get better, it was clear. I would be sick for the rest of my life. So I quit babying myself and slipped into an apathetic stupor. There was lots of heavy sighing followed by violent coughing fits.

    Then several days ago I decided I simply had to buck up and kick this thing. I decided to make a killer cure-all soup and eat it round the clock.

    I knew exactly which soup I wanted: Italian Wedding Soup. When we traveled to Chattanooga for Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law served us this soup the first night we arrived. She couldn’t have chosen a better post-travel supper. After being stuck in a stale car and subsisting on crunchy carbs and fast food for an entire day, the spinach-packed broth with turkey meatballs was just the fortification I craved. Along with the soup, she served bread, and there was small pasta to add to the soup, but I skipped both in favor of a second bowl of the brothy lusciousness. 

    Back home, I bought all the soup ingredients straight off, so earlier this week when I decided it was that soup I needed, I was prepared. I made a double batch. It was so amazingly perfect. Light, protein-packed turkey meatballs, rich, flavorful turkey broth, mountains of silky soft veggies…

    We ate it for supper that night, then I had it for lunch the next day, and then I served it for supper again the next night (at which point I called it Deja Vu Soup). And then it was gone. What a bummer.

    But guess what? I am better now! Not all better, but notably so. I’m crediting the soup.

    PS. Along with being a great soup for sickies and the perfect meal to end a long day of car travel, this soup is also a fabulous antidote to All The December Sugar. Serve it pre- (or post-) sugar bomb party and you’ll feel practically virtuous, even if you do end up eating a dozen cookies yourself.

    PPS. I went on a run/walk this morning! (I wrote this post yesterday.) It felt amazing, even with the wheezing.

    Italian Wedding Soup
    My sister-in-law adapted her recipe from the one found on Good Life Eats Blog, and I, in turn, adapted mine from both of theirs.

    I recommend using the full amount of broth, and possibly more, especially if you have a rich, homemade stock on hand. I started my soup with less stock, but added another quart during one of the reheats. Towards the end, when we were down to just veggies and meatballs, I was kicking myself for not adding even more stock.

    The raw meatballs are rather sticky. I ended up dolloping them onto the baking tray, à la cookie dough, instead of actually rolling the meat into balls.

    Considering the fact that ’tis the season for car travel, illness, and sugar, might I kindly suggest that you make a quadruple batch? I suspect it freezes well, though I wouldn’t know for sure, seeing as we wasted no time slurping it into oblivion.

    for the meatballs:
    1 pound ground turkey
    ½ cup bread crumbs
    2 eggs, beaten
    1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
    1 teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon each basil, oregano, black pepper, and garlic powder
    3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)

    Combine all ingredients. Shape into small balls, or dollop them as though they were cookie dough, and place a sided baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until no longer pink inside. Add to soup, or, if saving for later, place in a container and freeze or refrigerate.

    for the soup:
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 onion, diced
    2 medium carrots, diced
    2 stalks celery, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1-2 quarts chicken broth
    1 quart canned tomatoes
    1½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
    1 teaspoon each dried oregano and dried basil
    3-4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
    1 12-ounce frozen package chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and well-squeezed
    black pepper and salt, to taste
    the meatballs
    freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

    Saute the onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, vinegar, and herbs. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and heat through. Add the meatballs and heat through. Add the salt and pepper; don’t be shy. Serve with buttered toast, and don’t forget the Parm.

    This same time, years previous: in my kitchen (sort of): 4:15 p.m., hot chocolate mix, iced, stuffing, pimento cheese spread, the quotidian (12.12.11), Sunday vignettes: human anatomy, Ree’s monkey bread, and cashew brittle.

  • managing my list habit

    My husband is not a list maker. When—if—he manages to scrawl a column of words, that’s about as far as he gets. More often than not, he’ll get up to go do something and then never look at the list again. Or, if it’s a shopping list, there’s a good chance he’ll leave it at home (like he did on Saturday). Even when he remembers to take the list with him, he often forgets to refer to it, which means he is notorious for forgetting key items.

    I have tried to help. “Cross the stuff off as you go, hon,” I’d coach. “It’s not hard. At least make sure you read over the entire list before entering the checkout line, okay?”

    When my suggestions didn’t do the trick, I took to reading my lists out loud before he’d leave home. “It says fresh ginger,” I’d say, “but I only need a little. Just two or three inches worth.” Or, “The generic seltzer water. And don’t get something flavored by mistake, hear?”

    “I know, I know!” he’d huff impatiently, trying to snatch the paper.

    “Call me before you leave town,” I’d shout as he hustled out the door. “So I can make sure you have everything!”

    To be completely fair, he does do a pretty good job most of the time (as long as he remembers to read the freaking list). It’s just that he’s not … list-inclined.

    There is one exception to his I-don’t-do-lists rule. Whenever I get hit—usually on a Saturday morning at breakfast or late at night before bed—with a wave of there-is-so-much-to-do anxiety and launch into an involved tale of all the ways the world is crashing down on my head right this very minute, he’ll listen for approximately 17 seconds (about how long it takes him to judge the severity of my meltdown) before cutting me off.

    “Just write it down,” he’ll say. “Make me a list.”

    And so I do, and then he does all the things. (Except for the ones he skips. But I’ve learned to compensate for his sub-par list-reading skills by bulking up the list with extra items. That way I don’t get as peeved when he skips a few.*)

    I, on the other hand, am a voracious list maker. I make grocery lists, to-do lists, wines-I-like lists, books-I’ve-read lists, food-I’ve-served-company lists, ideas-for-gifts lists, what-to-write lists, and so on. Lists keep me focused, rooted, and productive. They are my coping method for managing the crazy town that is my brain and the chaos that is my house and the whirlwind that is my husband. In other words, lists are my cheap therapy.

    My list habit means that I’m always jotting things on bits of scrap paper and then leaving them lay. This drives my husband crazy. He can’t stand all my fluttery reminders cluttering up the surfaces. He’s been hounding me to get a notebook for years. But I don’t want a notebook; I like the transience of scrap paper and the fun of throwing it away when it has served its purpose. Then just a few weeks ago I hit upon a method that makes both of us happy. It goes like this:

    On Monday I make my typical to-do list. This list usually includes a section of studies and chores for each of the children, so I can keep track of them, plus my own agenda. Throughout the day, I cross tasks off and add new ones. I also use the list to record phone numbers, recipes, and other random bits of pertinent information.

    On Tuesday morning, I start a fresh list, place it on top of Monday’s list, and staple the two together. Then Wednesday’s new list gets stapled a-top the old, and then Thursday’s, Friday’s, and so on. By the end of the week, I have a fat packet of accomplishments. I review the lists and copy over anything that’s still relevant to a new list before discarding the whole pack of scraps (or, confession, letting the packet lay on my desk for another few days).

    So that’s my brilliant new method. Aren’t you impressed?

    *When my husband read my bulking-up-the-list technique, his eyes grew round. “I don’t…Are you…? What in …,” he stuttered. His shock quickly turned to indignation—You are so bad!—and then laughter, “Are you sure you want me to know this?”

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (12.8.14), okonomiyaki!, the quotidian (12.9.13), smoking hot, a family outing, zippy me, peanut butter cookies, baked corn, and butter cookies.

  • the quotidian (12.7.15)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    I am of the firm opinion that Little Brother needs to relocate his family to the Shenandoah Valley…
    or at leastpretty please?Washington D.C.
    For research purposes.

    Uh, now what, Mama?

    The Russian nesting doll of babysitting: I babysit girl babysits twins.

    My companion in illness: good health ought never be taken for granted.

    Turkey is so easy. Why don’t I make it more often?

    I wanted leftovers. Now I have leftovers.

    This same time, years previous: holding, iced ginger shortbread, winter quinoa salad, my kids are weird, raisin-filled cookies, chocolate truffle cake, and the selfish game.      

  • oatmeal sandwich bread

    It is after five p.m., the sky is darkening, and I’m sitting on the sofa in front of the fire where I’ve spent most of the day sleeping. I don’t feel awfully sick, but it’s not like me to sleep off and on until mid-afternoon so I guess I am. I did rally enough to clean out the bathroom cabinets, which is totally not my sort of thing, thus making me wonder if my condition is more dire than I first thought.

    Mid (one of my many) nap, the neighbor woman stopped by with a basket of grapefruits and oranges. She didn’t know I was sick, and I didn’t even go talk to her—she was gone before I could heave open my eyelids—but all that citrus generosity made me buzzy happy and eventually I toddled out to the kitchen to eat one of each. And then I ate graham crackers, cleaned off the art table, and picked up my (coughing, oh dear) daughter from work. In keeping with my random, sick-girl behavior, I just ate a bowl of potato chips and now I want to tell you about bread, so humor me, please.

    We eat sourdough bread most of the time in this here house, but every now and then I get a hankering for fresh bread the easy peasy, commercial yeasty way. So a couple weeks back when I had whole grains on my mind and a large sack of hard red spring wheat in the pantry, I did some old-fashioned recipe perusal and then settled on an oatmeal sandwich bread from Kim Boyce’s fabulous book, Good to the Grain.

    It was neither the “oatmeal” part nor the “sandwich” part of the recipe that intrigued me, but rather the recipe’s straightforward method and the bread’s dark golden hue. It looked perfectly wheat-y and whole grainy, exactly the brown bread I was after. So I made it and fell, as is my custom with good recipes and delicious food, madly in love.

    The recipe was a breeze to work with (especially when enlisting a Kitchen Aid) and I learned all about autolyse, which is the delightful and profound process of allowing the ingredients to rest before adding the salt and kneading. Autolyse(ing?) allows for the grains to absorb more of the liquid so the bread stays more moist. And boy, does it ever! The bread was angel cloud, meltingly soft. I was S.O.L.D. sold.

    And then, rather by happenstance, I ended up using the fresh bread to make sandwiches—we were running errands or going to the theater or something, so I rustled up a ham salad and slapped together some sandwiches—and then I totally understood why the bread was classified as sandwich material.

    The bread was so tender and soft that it melded to the filling. Sometimes you want a sturdy sandwich bread to stand up to the filling—that’s the way of sourdough—but other times you want a bread that is a bit more comfortable with sharing its space, more accommodating towards textures and flavors, and this, my friends, this is that bread.

    PS. I wrote this post on Thursday. On Friday I felt like a million dollars and made an entire turkey dinner to celebrate. On Saturday, I didn’t feel quite as hot but still managed to muster enough energy to make a batch of this bread. For the requisite turkey sandwiches, of course.

    Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
    Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.

    This recipe is supposed to yield one loaf but I made two. My pans were on the large side so I worried that the loaves would be too skimpy. Turns out, the dough rises well so the loaves shaped up quite nicely (though slightly on the small side).

    1 tablespoon yeast
    3 tablespoon molasses
    2½ cups whole wheat bread flour
    2 cups bread flour
     1 cup rolled oats
    ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
    1 tablespoon salt

    In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer), measure 2 cups of warm water, the yeast, and molasses. Stir briefly and let sit for five minutes until bubbly. Measure in the flours, oats, and melted butter. Mix until just combined. Now, autolyse! In other words, cover the bowl with a towel and let sit for 30 minute. So complicated, I know.

    After thirty minutes is up, the dough should be ragged and poofy. Add the salt and mix for 4-6 minutes. The dough will be quite soft and slightly sticky, so, if mixing by hand, you’ll get a workout. (If kneading by hand, be extremely sparing with the flour.) Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise until double, about 30-60 minutes.

    Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into two parts. Shape into loaves and place into greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled. 

    Bake the loaves at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, rotating the loaves partway through. Remove the loaves from the pans and let cool before slicing. Make sandwiches!

    This same time, years previous: nanny sitting, the college conundrum, in my kitchen: 6:44 p.m., sushi!!!, cinnamon raisin bread, the quotidian (12.3.12), baked ziti, 17 needles and 4 children, the quotidian (12.5.11), red lentil coconut curry, and wild.