this used to be our family blog entitled "British Royalty versus the Ramsey Clan" (since i'm descended from King Edward II and jon is a descendant from the Ramsay Clan) but since jon never participated, and my mom is the only one who reads this, it is now a format for writing her letters. I mean, for writing you letters, mom.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dear Mom...

Well, my last batch of bread - a few weeks ago - the one that i split into two loaves, still was good, even though it was half the size.  one of my favorite things to eat is broccoli-grilled-cheese sandwiches with lots of cayenne pepper in the middle:

i almost accidentally called this cat Noble.  on one of my walks, i found some wild-growing catnip and picked some for Phineas.  He doesn't go crazy over it, like some cats do, but he does love it.  when i walk in the door from a walk and yell, "Kiiiittyyyy!" he comes running and meaowing, and i sprinkle it on the floor and he sniffs it and eats it.  here he is lying in the first handful i got for him:

my african violets are still doing exceptionally well.  they must like the indirect sunlight.  hopefully i can keep water off of those leaves and keep it alive:

when i worked at the group home, some of my African coworkers taught me how to make some west african food.  then, last week, and african family from church needed some meals, so i got the chance to put my skills to use.  jon said it smelled so good he begged for some before we gave it away.  i made them some "meat pies" as well (ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, seasonings inside a bisquick pastry), but below is the "African Gravy" (the tomatoey veggie-packed sauce) that you put over meats and rice:

here was another try at making some homemade bread... on the left is jon's white crusty soup and salad dipping bread, and on the right is my whole wheat bread.  I learned that, even if the recipe doesn't call for it, to add some superfine sugar (i ground up my granulated sugar just a bit to make it superfine), it makes the bread taste better and the loaf rise better:

here's the finished product - very tasty:

i like making my own bread and cutting whatever thickness i want for that moment.  it seems much more nutritious; i don't know if it really is.  one night i had a dream that you made me huge loaves of Grandma Heath's oatmeal bread.  mmmm, that is so good.  didn't we used to have summer sausage & cheddar sandwiches on that bread?

soon, i'm going to get into making baguettes and croissants.  Isn't bread a good metaphor for life?

John Muir said, "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."

"For it is we who must pray for our daily bread, and if He grants it to us, it is only through our labour, our skill and preparation."  -Paracelsus

And, MFK Fisher said, "[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."

I have to be careful when kneading the dough, because it becomes so meditative.  At first it is hard, makes me sweat, and makes my arms and back tired.  But then the the hypnotic rhythm comes and lulls me into another world of calm.  And i have to be careful not to over-knead.  

I wish i could have been that dedicated in ceramics class when i had to knead my clay.  It never turned out right because i got tired and gave up before i let the rhythmic trance come.