Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ignore this if you want

Hey friends,
I'm not usually too political, but this is a ballot measure I'd love to get a chance to vote on. And the oneballot people are making it easy to sign the petition. So if you like the idea of this open primary system (very similar to to the one being contested in WA), here's a chance to get it on the ballot in November. If you don't like the idea, don't read this post. There's my pitch. I'll never bother you again.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Unconventional Passover

Tonight I lost the toss and drove out to pick up fried chicken for a lazy Friday dinner. On the way, I caught a glimpse of the full moon and it snatched my breath away. How can this night--the night we remember the death of our Lord--be this heavy, dripping with such beauty?

When I got home, the girls had cleared the table and were waiting for dinner. So we ate. It was late and we were all hungry, and the chicken was so greasy and crispy and good.

But after we ate, I took a biscuit, and broke it and said "This is his body, broken for you." And I passed the fragments to Hannah, to Bryan and Meira. And I poured a glass of juice (apple-cranberry, I think) and we talked (in between nibbles of french fries) about what a new covenant means in our lives today. And we each sipped some juice.

And there, with a take-out boxes on the table and failings in our hearts, God met us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fall From Grace

There's a disaster in the kitchen. No I'm not talking about the piles of dirty dishes, although they might qualify us for FEMA relief; we've gotten good at ignoring those.

No, this new catastrophe struck this afternoon when one of the girls, helpful as always, failed to transfer the new sourdough starter from counter to fridge smoothly. Her cry of alarm was followed by the sound of breaking crockery and then ominous silence. Sure enough, when I came to look, there on the floor were pieces of my favorite pottery dish--a gift from my husband and a macaroni and cheese tradition--glued together with strings of sticky, stretchy starter. I salvaged some clean starter off the biggest pot shard. I'm pretty sure I can save it. Then I scraped the rest off the floor and, along with the rest of the broken pieces, threw it away. I tried not to let her see me cry.

I hate the sadness of broken things. Replacing them brings none of the usual delight in something new, just a sense of waste and loss. And I know things are just things, but this one had such memories and such cute little handles.

I'm resisting the urge to rush out and replace it; you can't mend broken memories, just make new ones. Besides, I don't just want any old pot, I want that one. Or barring that possibility, I want one that comes with its own story and redeems this sadness. I'll wait for a serendipitous crockery.

I need your help

Last weekend I helped lead the NFC women's retreat at Twin Rocks Friends Camp. It was a lot of fun, but by the time I got back, I had started to feel sick. I spent most of last week moving from bed to couch and back again. Any time I tried to accomplish something, I ended up horizontal again after just a few minutes. So I was less excited than I had expected when I got a package from King Arthur Flour. A few weeks ago, KAF came to town. I went to the bread-baking classes they offered and gladly jumped through the hoops attached to the gift cards they passed out at the end of the day to order a few things I'd been drooling over from their catalog. I got some specialty flour and yeast and a couple of flavorings. But the big treat was a 250 year old sourdough starter.

Turns out, this was the perfect time for it to come. I had just enough energy to feed it before I adjourned to the couch to re-read all the neglected sourdough information in my favorite baking cookbooks. It needed several feedings of flour and water to expand and refresh its rising power, but by the next day, it was ready to be mixed into a batch of dough. After a night of rising on the front porch (I really will clean out my fridge when I get to feeling better) and a morning of rising out in the garage, I baked up my very first loaves of sourdough.

Oh, but they were delicious. But to make more, you have to keep the starter alive. This means feeding the starter at least once a week and using the excess in bread or pancakes or crumpets or any of the myriad other tasty sourdough options. I've divided it in two and converted one half into a stiff starter (they are supposed to be slightly less sour and last longer between feedings). In the next few weeks, I plan to dry some as an emergency backup and share some of the fresh starter with anyone who wants some—anybody? anybody? The girls are already addicted to sourdough pancakes and I'm looking forward to experimenting with new bread recipes. If this sounds like a lot of work, you're right. I'm sure once I work it into my schedule, it won't take up as much space in my brain. But right now, it feels like a new pet.

So I need your help. I think if I name the pile of goop—the only thing in my refrigerator I am trying to keep growing—I'll be more likely to remember to feed it. Any suggestions?