I am at the beach this week. Sunset Beach, NC where my family has been coming for 30+ years for vacation. Sitting on the beach for hours gives me plenty of time to think and reflect. And there is a lot to reflect upon right now. Our world has turned upside down. And some of it rightly so. (I plan to devote my next post to racism and white fragility.)
The last time I was away from home was the weekend of March 14. My trip to France had been cancelled, giving me the chance to attend a very important wedding – the marriage of my BFF’s oldest son. It was in Wilmington, NC and it was a lovely weekend. The last “normal” weekend. What’s not to love about a wedding, right?
Then it was shelter-in-place/lockdown/confinement/quarantine. Distance learning. Distance teaching. Meetings in Microsoft Teams. Google Hangouts with Son #2 and Girlfriend. Seeing Son #1 and la Princesse from afar. Making masks for friends and family. Never leaving the house without one but rarely leaving the house. Pandemic time. Coronavirus. COVID-19. I sincerely hope that I never ever hear “this unprecedented time” again in my lifetime. I hate that expression. With a passion. I have baked more than most people bake in a lifetime. It’s a miracle my oven hasn’t quit on me. Bread. Cookies. Cakes. Brownies. Muffins. The Ex-Ex never says a word when Mildred the Mixer is pulled up out of the cabinet and onto the counter. Even if the noise interferes with Gunsmoke and Festus’ latest crisis. I have put some of the baked goodies in the freezer, made deliveries, and some friends have come by for pick-up service. All from a distance. We made it through the final quarter of school. Lessons were learned. I learned a lot about how not to teach online and how to better use some of the technology pieces we already had in place. It is summer and I have already completed two online courses for teachers to prepare us for the 2020-21 school year even though none of us know what that will look like. And I have two more courses to go. And the pandemic is no where near over although there are many citizens in the great state of North Carolina who act as if it is. Europe is on the brink of banning visitors from the United States and I do not blame them one bit. I would ban us. Where has good common sense gone? When did people decide not to listen to science and listen to the so-called leader of this country?
And through all of this, I sometimes have to tell myself to keep breathing. Not that my body needs that reminder, of course. I know that breathing is an involuntary action. However, it feels as if I have to do it in a certain way, mindfully, counting to 5 as I breath in, hold for 2 counts, breath out for 7. That helps. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer helps. Sometimes several times in a row. I have a lot on my proverbial plate right now, most of it totally out of my control. Keep breathing.
The picture at the top of the blog is of the holes that little sand critters make so that they can burrow down into the sand but still breathe. I spent a good part of today looking at these holes. Each one is different. But the basics are the same. All creatures need to keep breathing.
Even when you get stepped on.
And these critters don’t even know or care that there is a pandemic above the sand. They are just trying to survive. And keep breathing.
Merci to Judy C for today’s recipe. Well, and to Fleischmann’s as well, I guess. She made a loaf and brought it over and I have been addicted ever since. Seth at Bull City Burger and Brewery has kept me supplied with yeast. Merci, Seth. I haven’t experimented with adding in other flavorings. I did just bring up the Fleischmann’s website, though, and there are variations. The updated recipe also calls for only 4-1/2 to 5 cups of flour instead of 6 and 4 teaspoons of sugar instead of 1 tablespoon.
English Muffins in a Loaf
makes 2 loaves
2 packages Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast (or the equivalent measure)
6 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and soda in a large bowl. Heat milk and water until very about 120˚-130˚F. Do not overheat because it will kill the yeast. Add the liquids to the dry mixture and beat well. Stir in rest of flour to make a stiff batter. Divide evenly into two portions. Place in two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch pans that have been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle tops with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in warm place for at least an hour. Depending on your kitchen temperature, it may take longer for the dough to rise. I warm up my microwave a bit and then put the loaves in there to rise. Preheat oven to 400˚F and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool. Slice and toast. Makes approximately 16 slices per loaf.
Bon appétit to all. I haven’t written much over the past few months although I thought that I would. My laptop became my frenemy. Please know that I love you all. No matter what life hits you with, keep breathing and I promise to do the same.