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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

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A couple of weeks ago I read about a grandmother who, when covering her rising bread dough to hold in moisture, called it ‘veiling the bowl.’ And this is where it gets bizarre. From then on, I kept seeing veils everywhere.

A reader posted a photo of blue-veiled Indian women. I saw more veil references in my reading. One described illusion as a type of veil. Another called tears a veil. Still others discussed the role of veils throughout history. A woman in a veil is often a woman in transition—in mourning, in travel, about to be wed. She is in a liminal state, poised in a soulful world of her own, all the while walking in the topside world. There’s a certain power held by a woman who wears a veil; she stands among us, but is to a great extent untouchable. Everyone who beholds a veiled woman senses this power. It’s a silent warning that she is not to be disturbed, much like dough rising. She has work to do. And it can be mesmerizing to behold.

I spent a good portion of the winter under the throw that I mention often, writing, snoozing, thinking, and generally being soothed. It’s a fleecy sanctuary…and another veil. There’s more: I’ve felt most comfortable with my hair almost entirely down. (Another.) I’ve felt compelled to stand at the ocean’s edge and dip my fingers in the salt water, much like my own tears, and run them across my cheeks. (Yep.)

But then, it’s been a long and tough winter. From old to new thinking, from cold to warmth, from illusion to the not-always-comfy chair of reality, I’ve been incubating. For good, I hope.

There’s a Puritanical and misguided rule among many women (and men) that to allow time and peace to incubate is wasted time, or even more damning—frivolous and self-indulgent time. No. It’s in these moments that we can discern what works in our lives and what doesn’t, dispel truth from illusion, administer medicine to the hurt places, and cultivate strength for what’s ahead. The topside world can and will dry you out. Don’t ever apologize for going under the veil.

Last Friday I baked Easter bread, a three-generation tradition. There it is incubating, above and just below. This was one of my more successful years, despite my own liminal state. With a veil (a well-used cotton cloth), some warmth, some moisture, and some peace, the bread became just what it was meant to be: tender and spicy and resilient—quite the revelation, if I say so myself.

And there I am, incubating far below. Shooting for the same result.

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About a week ago at the farm I bought the last of the freshly-dug carrots. And instead of just snacking on them bunny-rabbit style as always, I got curious (as bunny rabbits are also wont to do) and wondered how they would taste grated up inside a carrot muffin. I’ve always been a nut for carrot cake,* with extra cream cheese frosting (priorities first), and of morning glories and basic carrot muffins, but have never tried making them with anything other than store bought carrots.

At the farm I pulled off most of the carrot tops and brought them out to the goats, who predictably acted like goats with them. If you ever find carrots with the tops still attached and don’t know an obliging goat, chop the tops off as soon as you get home. Keeping them on sucks the life out of the carrots and makes them limp and wibbly-wobbly.**

I found a recipe online that called for yogurt in the batter, which delivers tenderness, and no raisins. I love them, but didn’t want anything to distract from the flavor of the carrots. Baked up the muffins. Verdict: just as you’re imagining. The fresh carrots packed more intense flavor, noticeably different from those that were picked in Iowa and have been sitting on a shelf playing the harmonica for two weeks until purchase. And I was lucky to find small ones, which were really wonderfully sweet. No dryness or bitterness at all, which can often happen in store bought carrots. The muffins pulled apart like the softest ever angel food cake.

It’s so much easier to make the transition from summer to fall when it can taste as good as this.

*Course there was a pun intended.

**For all of you Dr. Who fans.

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