Sunday, September 21, 2008

A big Thank you to Seth,

Officially a great way to brighten your day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chain Letter Bread, Kermit the Man, and Something All Girls Do

This past week was my first-ever experience making Amish Friendship bread. While the end product is delicious and the idea behind it is rather warm and fuzzy, I couldn't walk away from it without feeling a lot of pressure. I like to bake whenever I feel like it. I don't really like to have a schedule. This bread is definitely on a schedule. Here's how it works in case you've never encountered it before:

Day 1, someone gives you a starter bag. The secrets of this bag are held by the Amish so in order to begin the process of friendship bread you have to either be Amish or get a bag from someone. For the next five days you mush the bag once a day and make sure you evacuate any air that accumulates in the bag. Day 6 you add milk, sugar and flour to the starter bag and mush it together. Then for the next four days you mush and evacuate as in the beginning. On the 10th day, you add more milk, sugar and flour, put some of the mixture in four bags to give away, and then what you are left with is the base for the bread you bake that day. You have to add other stuff to it and it ends up making two good-sized loaves.

The pressure part of it for me was that you need to pass the bread along so others can make it and keep spreading the chain. You can keep one of the bags for yourself and if you do you have to make bread every 10 days and give three bags away. When discussing this with others, it seemed eerily similar to that most hated of all forms of mail, the chain letter. I didn't want to have to put people I know on the same schedule I had been on for the last week and a half. It seemed like I was giving them a chore.

Then I tasted the bread. Utterly delicious. I had had it before and it had been a long time but it's so moist and cinnamon-y and dense. It also has a slight crunch to it because you coat the pan and the top with a cinnamon sugar mixture. It's just great. Worth the 10 day wait and it truly is a gift to anyone willing to take the time to make it. I sort of regretted giving all my bags away. But it will be easy enough to get one back from one of my small group girls. I gave two away at work and two away to my small group. I really do like the idea of Friendship bread and I love the taste, however it does seem like more pressure than should be associated with baking.

I had my first small group of the year Sunday night which was not as well-attended as I would have hoped. I always have core girls who show up and we're having it at someone's house now which is pretty fun. Different vibe than we've ever had before. One of the girls who always comes has had sort of a crisis of faith summer and she had a lot to say. In the midst of one of her stories she was telling how a boy she liked had been doing a lot of things that annoyed her. Basically because he was paying more attention to another girl right in front of her. And she said that one day she just snapped and lashed out at him over something really small. I was completely struck by how common a reaction that is for women. And this is predominantly in romantic situations with guys. Why is it that we keep things hidden inside? We don't say anything when someone does something that makes us really mad, and we think they SHOULD know that it's bothering us. Then one day they do something like offer us a tissue at just the wrong moment and BAM! we just explode on them for no reason and we yell for a long time until it's all out of our system. They are left bewildered and with a shredded, unused tissue thrown in their face. I always try and do things that are rational and be calm about those kinds of situations. I try to bring it up when I'm angry with someone about something. It's not confrontational, it's clearing the air because I'm not attacking them, I just want them to know. But I know that I've done that before, just lashed out because I couldn't take it anymore. I want to consciously try and improve on that point. Be more upfront with people if something is really bothering me. I think for me it's more a fear of rocking the boat or messing up the status quo. But I've found that it's much more important to be vocal about the things you don't like and figure them out earlier rather than later. It can lead to a lot of unpleasantness when problems go undiscussed. And that's true in a lot of other areas besides just relationships.

Another fun thing happened yesterday. I actually met someone named Kermit. In his defense he was named Kermit before the frog was popularized and he tells me his namesake is actually Teddy Roosevelt's second son. Had sort of a sad life but one full of adventure. Anyway, when the guest told me his name he immediately said with a smile "and don't you say a word!" which of course made me laugh. He has obviously developed a good sense of humor about his name and has heard every single possible joke about his name. I wasn't going to attempt one but his preemptive strike was pretty funny.

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