Monday, December 19, 2011

life revisited

Once upon a time, in a haze of living the so-called simple life, I shaped the dough and baked all of our bread.
That was back east at sea level. Since moving to Taos two decades ago and living at an extraordinary altitude of 7500 feet, I have rarely produced a decent loaf and, consequently, the desire left long ago. However, I am shockingly influenced by outside elements and, since I'm rereading Bonnie Lee Black's book,  I got stalled at the bread backing chapter (with recipe) and had a sudden urge to bake bread on this gray, cold, windy, snow-threatening day. Bonnie teaches English and writing classes at UNM, but she also teaches culinary skills (aka: bread baking). I decided to give it a whirl, using her recipe. I asked if there were any modifications for altitude (her recipe is based on bread she baked on the equator!). She suggested adding more yeast and a full ten minutes of kneading.

ta daa!
beautiful! delicious! 
And why not? Bonnie just won three Gourmand International Awards for her book "How to Cook a Crocodile: A Memoir with Recipes" based on her years in the Peace Corps in Gabon, central Africa. The awards are for: Food Literature, African Cuisine, Charity & Community. They will be presented in Paris in March and she plans to be there. The book is great, the recipes (if the bread is any indication) are healthy and delicious (she was, after all, a caterer in Manhattan for ten years; her job in the Peace Corps was all about health, nutrition, cooking). If you like interesting memoirs, read this one.

but beware...
If you are easily sensitized (like me), you will be drawing up plans for an herb garden next spring (he wants to add veggies), a plethora of soups and stews all winter long, and a return to a life that started out as simple, but has become much more complicated and stressful than the dreams I dreamed back east about my little house deep in the desert mountains.

Maybe tomorrow I'll try the West African Beef Stew recipe or the blueberry muffins for breakfast...

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