Rosemary Country Bread

Baking bread, for me, is a meditative process.  The repetition of mixing and kneading the dough helps me relax and collect my thoughts after a long day.  When I first became a mother, I read somewhere that the best way to soothe a crying baby was to rock him to the same rhythm as your heartbeat.  It’s true – it worked every time.  I’ve thought about that principle often, and find that any repetitive motion, especially kneading bread dough, is always the most soothing when done to the tempo of a heartbeat.  Speaking of that, do you remember playing with PlayDoh as a child? Perhaps not.  But if you’re a parent then maybe you remember getting out the dough for your children.  Showing them how to roll it and shape it, it’s almost impossible not to join in on the fun, and in doing so it brings you right back to your own childhood.  Even the smell is transportive.  For me, baking bread at home is the same.  The smell of wildflower honey and the warm yeast working its magic, fill the kitchen with that slightly earthy and ultra comforting aroma.  The feel of the dough as it comes together into a ball beneath my palms is so calming.  Baking bread is one of the most relaxing and satisfying experiences, and I love to repeat the process almost weekly. Continue reading “Rosemary Country Bread”

Cinnamon Orange Star Bread – A Christmas Tradition

A Christmas tradition

Of all my Christmas memories, the ones that involve food are the most vivid, timeless and magical.  There are certain scents and flavours that epitomize the holidays, of which, mine were an eclectic mix.  Every year my mother made caramel pecan rolls on Christmas morning and the aroma of toasted nuts and sugar would float through the house as we opened our Christmas presents.  In my stocking I would find a little bag of pistachios, a tin of marrons glacés and a chocolate covered orange.  Treats that only ever showed up around the holidays.  We often spent Christmas in New Mexico, where piñon smoke perfumed the dessert air and my grandmother would make biscochitos, a traditional New Mexican Christmas cookie, filling the house with rich notes of anise and cinnamon.  In my mind, this melange of flavours and aromas is woven into a Christmas tapestry that hangs squarely on the wall of my memories.   These are the flavours that say Christmas to me. Continue reading “Cinnamon Orange Star Bread – A Christmas Tradition”

Zucchini pain d’épices

Pain d’épices is a traditional French quick bread, rich with honey and warm spices. It’s often served around the holidays but, since it bears such a noticeable resemblance to American banana bread and zucchini bread, I love to serve a variation of it in late summer when the garden is overflowing with zucchini. Continue reading “Zucchini pain d’épices”

Yogurt Pancakes

We have our milk delivered from a local dairy – one gallon every Wednesday morning.  It’s just a little touch of nostalgia that makes my kitschy housewife alter-ego so very happy.  I love getting up in the morning, in my robe and slippers, and opening the milk box on the front porch to find that last week’s old, empty jar has been replaced with a new one.   It reminds me of simpler times, of days when the milk delivery was possibly the highlight of the week.  (At least in my case I would have been!)  Maybe you had used the last bit of milk a few days earlier and were craving pudding or pancakes but had to make do with whatever you had until the milkman came around again.  People were certainly more creative in the kitchen back before you could type the words “pancakes without milk” into Google.  “Necessity is the mother of invention,” or so they say. Continue reading “Yogurt Pancakes”

A French-Inspired Fall Feast

We live just on the edge of a forested wetland comprised of several little lakes and ponds that extend out from the main river like leaves from a branch.  I like to start my day there in that quiet oasis, walking among the trees and along the shores of the lakes.  For me it’s a form of “Forest Bathing” which, if you’re not familiar with traditional Japanese medicine, is a therapy based on the principle that the beneficial organic compounds released by the trees and vegetation are absorbed into our bodies when we walk through the forest.  The benefits of literally “taking in the forest” include Continue reading “A French-Inspired Fall Feast”