March 17, 2014

Birthday Boys

It's not every boy that shares a birthday with two cousins, but my Elliott does. Tymon's sister laid claim to March 13th first. Then Elliott snuck in on the action. And just a couple of years ago my brother's son joined the throng.

We went out to dinner to celebrate for Elliott. He wanted chicken wings and knew I could make them at home (as in heat a package of frozen ones up in the oven). At times, if I forget about the rivalry between him and Graeden, he is such a loving boy and so easy to please. We told him there was a restaurant that we could go to that makes them, too. And his ears perked up.

After dinner, we came home to cake and ice cream. I made him a bear cake - the only real requirement he cared about. Tymon suggested a popcorn cake like his mom used to make. Mine, too, for that matter. If you haven't had one of those, you should. They're fantastic. Think rice crispy treats except put in popcorn instead of cereal. And add in candy for good measure.


This was the second popcorn cake I've ever made. The first time, I put the candy in when the marshmallow was too hot and the colors melted and it looked like a mess. Lesson learned. This cake was a lot better looking. And tasted great. I'm curious to know if any of my other kids will request a popcorn cake in the future. I hope so. Especially since both of their grandmothers liked to make them for us.

My nephew celebrated his second birthday at Chuck E Cheese's on Saturday. That place has really got the birthday party gig down to a science. From the games to the shared party room and the oversized mouse who makes a rock star appearance. My kids, like most every kid (except my other nephew who Chuck E scared one afternoon by popping out next to him) love it there. Watching my nephew dance with Chuck E was one of the cutest things I've ever seen. He was so happy and innocent.

Moments like this don't happen everyday. 
I made a mental note to remember 
The smile on his face 
And light in his eyes.

In that noisy room 
Full of energy 
And boisterous children,

I say happy, 
You say birthday. 
Happy!
Birthday!
Happy!
Birthday!

When it wouldn't seem possible 
To be anywhere but in the present, 
My mind raced to another birthday boy 
I made a mental note never to forget,
A boy who only got one very memorable party. 
Evan didn't blow out his candle. 
He put it in his mouth. 
Lit. 
Yes, it was awesome. 
And we got it on video
So we can watch it 
Again and again
In real time.


I'm at peace with having lost a son. 
Most days I see his picture on the wall 
And think of him
With no change 
In my emotions. 
Just a smile of remembering
A time long ago.

I come across other children 
The same age I remember Evan
Or sharing his same name 
And I can appreciate them
For who they are.

I see people who came into my life
During that traumatic period
When Evan died
And my heart fills with love.

I go to places we went with Evan
And remember him 
With a smile.

It wasn't always like that,
But it is now. 

So when Grief
Sneaks up
Demanding
To steal the show
He catches me off guard.

I didn't cry at the party. 
The tears welled up 
Sitting at the surface.
But they didn't fall. 

I've learned
How to ignore Grief
Especially when it's socially awkward
To be a blubbering mess.

But Grief is selfish
Not content to be left hanging.
 He comes back
Eating at my subconscious
Robbing me of sleep
Until I face Him
With tear stained cheeks
And give way to
The other part of me.

The me who is 
Wishing, 
Longing, 
Hoping 
For another reality,
One that isn't 
Mine.

And yet I wouldn't trade
My life
Or who I've become.
I love Evan.
As for Grief?
It's complicated.

March 5, 2014

Flour, Water, Salt - It's Really That Simple

So, my fermentation exploits have branched out. I've done 3 batches of sauerkraut now, one of pickles, and now I'm into sourdough. I've been thinking about it for a while, but have never really associated sourdough with fermentation. Uh yeah. It is. So what you see below is my first attempt at sourdough bread. I made my starter with rye flour. After about ten days with daily feeding, I used my starter to make sandwich bread.


The only set back was that it took 12 hours to rise. Two days later, I made my second loaf. After about 26 hours, it still hadn't risen so into the oven it went. So check out this loaf below. All of the rise came from the baking. Weird, huh? I didn't do the sponge waiting period that I did for the first loaf, but still I thought it'd behave somewhat similar.


Ahhhh, there's so much to learn about bread. I do like capturing my own wild yeasts, though. To think I can make a loaf of bread with just flour, water and salt is pretty amazing to me. And a bonus is the kids like it. Or rather, they didn't whine about it like one of the boys in my cub scout den this evening (we did a nutrition requirement and talked about healthy snacks). Another boy absolutely loved it. I gave him the hunk I had left over.

When I've perfected a recipe (that hopefully doesn't have an overnight rise) I'll post a recipe. Also, I used white flour (besides the rye flour starter) so I would know how much it should rise. I want my final recipe to be whole grain, so I'll continue experimenting until I can replicate a recipe I like.
 
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