Returned home to Fuchsia and Lime this morning to find a chocolate cake sweetly plugging a husband-sized hole. The cake will probably only hold the gap for another 24 hours, and then we’re in trouble. I need you far more badly than Portland does, KP. Meanwhile, I am enjoying Izzy’s tail wagging and face licking while I grind the sand that is still stuck between my toes deep into the fibers of this Minnesota living room carpet—a small attempt to bring Jacksonville into the frozen north.
Last night, we danced. We ran along the dark shore and kicked at the black frothy tongue of the sea like something of a last laugh. It is strange to stand in the thin strip of sand between the wild ocean and the coiffured gardens of beachfront properties all glowing warm from inside. To stand still in this space on the moonlit sand in such a way, one feels the suffocation of choice. The angle of lean away from what is, for most, the easy answer– security. Sometimes I think I fear entropy as though it were a disease–a problem needing a fix–rather than what it simply is: the bare and tumbling way of things. There are times, like when I take in the ocean, that it seduces me.
What I most love about surgery is the exploratory laparotomy—because laparotomy, as a state of mind, is also why I love writing. Incisive words are incisions for thoughts. The necessary approach to good writing involves removing layer after layer of fat and fascia to expose what lies beneath, to see what really needs knowing. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. So ex-lap everything. Writers, take the page to the OR everytime.
Whole Wheat Bread with Crystallized Pecans
1 1/2 cups warm buttermilk (105°F to 115°F)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped crystallized pecan (or you could use ginger if you have it, would taste bomb—to see how to crystallize pecans look here)
Combine buttermilk, butter and sugar in large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 8 minutes. Mix in whole wheat flour and salt, then 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir until soft dough forms. Continue adding all purpose flour 1/4 cup at a time if dough is very sticky. Mix in crystallized pecans or ginger. Lightly flour work surface with 1/2 cup flour. Turn dough out onto work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Meditate on a sonnet. Do NOT use kneading time to work out your To Do list. That is a waste of Zen.
Butter large bowl; add dough and turn to coat with butter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down; turn out onto work surface. Roll dough into a boule. Make an incision from the xiphoid process to the umbilicus, spare the umbilicus, and proceed along the linea alba to the pubic symphysis of the loaf.
Cover with damp towel. Let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake bread until golden, about 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on rack. Remove from pan; cool.
Goodbye palm trees.
Goodbye Casa Marina.
Goodbye fond swimsuit.
Goodbye, Jacksonville sun and sand. Goodbye sea shells in my hand.