"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sometimes it's okay to use white flour

Our Santa Lucia, or as Peach calls her, Santa Chulia


I love bread. That's the main reason I could never do a paleo or Arkins diet. I grew up in a family for whom a meal wasn't a meal without bread. Oh Argentine caserito and mignones, how much I miss you! There's nothing like you where I live! My favorite part of going To Puerto Rico? Pan sobao. The best of Barcelona and Paris? No, it's not cream Catalana or macaroons. It's the bread, of course. 

Bread and butter. There's nothing more delicious. 

When my third child developed a gluten intolerance, I had no choice but to go gluten free too. The whole family did.  It's easier to avoid an allergen if it's not in the house, right? But I missed my carbs-rich comfort food! I experimented with all kinds of grains, and little by little, I did get used to eating a variety of grains. Teff, quinoa, spelt. We all became friends. 

When my son's sensitivities decreased, I introduced wheat in our diet again. I continued using the grains I had discovered though, and most of the time, I make bread or cookies with whole wheat I grind in my beloved Nutrimill. 

Christmas is not Christmas without the baking and kneading, right? Especially in the northern hemisphere, where we are reaching the darkest day of the year. Today is the feat St Lucia. Sweden celebrates its midwinter Festival of Lights by honoring St Lucia. When I started introducing the Waldorf approach of raising a family, I found a lot of celebrations and traditions from all over the world that we adopted. St Lucia is one of them. My Princess Peach still calls it St Chulia's day (instead of Lucia) and I don't correct her because her mispronunciation is so darn cute! Well, according to tradition, a girl with a crown of candles wakes up the family, bringing the light with her. I'm usually the one waking up the family in the morning, and since I don't want to walk around with a crown of candles on my head, I make sure I at least bake saffron St Lucia buns every year. Yesterday my Princess Peach was home and she wanted to help make the buns. I was happy to have her help. I set out all the ingredients. Instead of white flour though, I used whole wheat. Well, the first time I scalded the yeast and had to start all over. I almost cried over the wasted saffron. I had used my very last envelope of powdered saffron I brought from Barcelona last February. I started again, taking care not to waste any more of the precious spice. By then I was very pressed for time. My writers group was meeting that night and I had just received a text from a friend reminding me that Princess Swan had Irish dance rehearsals--an hour away from home. I tried to hurry as much as I could. But in cooking there's no rushing the process. The dough was crumbly and heavy as a brick. The dough would not rise. I let it rest for HOURS, to Princess Peach's agony and despair. After writers group, and after I put the kids in bed, I rolled up the dough and baked it. The rolls smelled wonderful but they were super heavy. I remembered last year's rolls with such longing! 

This morning, determined to win the battle against whatever it was that was blocking my St Lucia's buns baking ability, I mixed the dough again. I took care not to scald the yeast. I used some more precious saffron, and ... White flour. They turned out okay this time. Because sometimes, even though white flour is basically a nonfood, it's still delicious and wonderful and comforting and light. 
Sometimes it's okay to use white flour. That's the lesson I learned today. 

Here's a picture of the wonderful white flour, sugar dusted buns and a sad looking, burned whole wheat bun. 

And here's a link that tells a little about St Lucia's festival:



Interested in making the rolls? Maybe you'll have better luck than me. Here's a link to the recipe. Saffron rolls are delicious! Even without raisins. 

What holiday traditions does your family have in preparation for Christmas? Share away! 

Friday, December 06, 2013

No half marathon but it's okay

Something that went well? PrincessSwan's comp in Cali
I always plan my blog posts, and sometimes, I follow the outline in my thoughts and I write an okay post. Other times, I just go with the wind, Argentine style, and end up with a stream of consciousness spew that when I read it later, I'm like, "who wrote this?"

This one is a combination of the two. I wanted to write a blog post the day after Thanksgiving and tell the world that although this year was brutal, I still did great things.

I did finish NaNoWriMo. And I did it in record time. 16 days of writing frenzy. Jeff was in Nepal and I had so much time to write! I don't really know why I had time. As I type this, I have a super clingy 17-month-old baby semi-asleep in my arms. He's even holding a strand of my long hair to make sure I NEVER put him down. And by never, I mean, NEVER. So I don't really know how I was able to write this book--which remains untitled. I'm thrilled about it. It's loosely based on Persuasion and it follows the story of a young, single mother and the boy whose heart she broke six years ago and who is now a world famous soccer player.

I'm putting that book away for now to finish edits on my Middle Grade book about a Latina Irish dancer who wants to go to the World Cup in spite of her anxiety problems.

I know. All my stories are so sad. They have good endings though :-)

What I didn't accomplish was the half marathon I trained all year for. I got sick the day before Thanksgiving, and although I wanted to run it, I couldn't even get up to cook Thanksgiving dinner, which we had to reschedule.

So 2013, I didn't reach all of my goals, but I will. The year isn't over yet. I might have to run it in the snow, with this clingy boy holding on to my hair, but I'll still do it. I'll even post a picture; I promise. It could have been worse, right? I could be RSL. *tears*