Tuesday, March 24, 2015

And Little Peepers Singing

 If March really comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, then send help because I'm still deep in the lion's den.

 It is by this time that I am well used to shortened school weeks, between the blizzards and Little Mister's with the colds and cough that never seem to completely go away. Muddy floors and cold nights, this is the winter that dragged on.

And on.

And on.

Let me just say that when the first crocus bloomed, I refused to believe it. Surely it was a fake or a fluke, or a blatant hallucination. Yes, I really thought all of these things for a few seconds.


It is the sounds of spring that bring back a cherished memory of one of my favorite childhood books. It had a line in it that I've retained in my heart for always. It is a verse that asks God to take care of all nature, animals, and "little peepers singing." Through my childhood I reflected on what exactly a peeper was; some sort of bird? A cricket? Something small, and vulnerable, in need of God's protection. Something with a mighty song.

I dug the book out, and reinforced the binding with tape, to survive a new generation. In the evening now I'm listening for those little peeping sounds as the snow melts and nature comes alive, having been protected by the Lord's hand through a brutal winter. 

Lately I've developed a fondness for my favorite childhood books, now that there is a child to share and appreciate them with me. There was one I recall about a penguin who hated the cold. He persevered and sailed off on an iceberg in search of a warmer climate. In the end, he finds it. You have to admire his tenacity.  Although it's been out of print for years, I was thrilled to find a copy in very good condition at a reasonable price. It's as much for my own enjoyment as for Little Mister.

One evening, it was after bath and before bed and sometime around sunset when Little Mister spotted his dad's worn Bible on a table and exclaimed, as only he could, that dad forgot his book. He extended his arm at the empty driveway to indicate that dad went to work and forgot his "dad book". He says it in the same matter of fact way that he calls a cup of coffee "mom cup." 

"Dat for you," he says, pointing at my mug.

Well yes, but someone has to caffeinated enough to stay up listening for those peepers, tucking them in with an old nostalgic book, and a prayer for protection over all of us who declare our fragility as we make a joyful noise.

Do you have a special book from your childhood that has never left your heart? I'd love to hear about it.

Rosemary & Olive Oil Focaccia 

 

This is a recipe that I adapted from a homemaking magazine. In some ways, it's my winter swan song since the cold killed my small rosemary bush. The good news is, in another month or so I'll be able to buy a new one and try again. It's well worth it if you enjoy rosemary as much as we like it.

1 Tablespoon yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. sugar

Mix and let sit until foamy.

3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
Rosemary, as needed

Mix and combine the yeast mixture with salt, flour, and and some finely chopped rosemary. Knead until it forms a ball. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let it rest for an hour. After one hour, place the dough on a floured surface and flatten with your hand to remove air pockets. Grease a 9x13 pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and press the dough to fit the pan. (Note: I actually used parchment paper on top of the pan, with a light spray of olive oil.) Brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary. Let rise for 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 400 and bake for 15 minutes.

This is an easy bread that goes great with a bowl of soup. I combined some olive oil with more rosemary for dipping. Also, I tested several flours and like occident (white bread flour) the best. 



19 comments:

  1. You must've been reading my mind (for the zillionth time) because I've been at the library and online finding old and new favorites from childhood. I've always loved Mother Goose books but they are so varied, and some are adorable and some are just weird-ish. I remember going to the library when I was little and knowing right where the Peter Rabbit and Berenstain Bears books were, but Peter Rabbit was my favorite. Thanks for sharing the recipe, by the way, looks delicious!

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    1. That's funny because I also started searching for the perfect Mother Goose book a few years ago, and don't think I ever found it. If only we could perfectly preserve all of those books we grew up with, and nothing would ever go out of print!

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  2. Mmm Focaccia, have been looking for a recipe! thanks for posting :)

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  3. Great post, as always. I was not read to as a child. So my favorite books are the ones I read when I was old enough to. The Laura Ingalls Wilder series, "Paula the Waldensian" "Heidi" and "Anne of Green Gables."

    But I have oh so many favorites from the time I read them to my boys. You reminded me of "Tacky the Penguin." It'll get you to laugh out loud! That was an all-time favorite of the boys' and mine. Then there was "Heggedy Peg" and "The Seal Mother." And there was a teddy bear series that was great. Paul had memorized (word for word) the book called "Teddy Bears Cure a Cold." Then there is a scary book that had no words, only pictures. It was called "The Strawberry Snatcher." My boys were Dr. Suess deprived. I never liked those books. They were just too nonsensical to me. I know! I know! I'm in the minority on this one.

    There was a book about two mean brothers, Hector and Heathfern, and their meaner-still mother. I used to animate a witch voice for her after mussing up my hair when I read that book, and it used to scare the boys. "Heathfern, why can't you be more like Hector!" They loved it!

    Then there were the Barbara Berger books that were really good... such as "Grandfather Twilight." The illustrations are really beautifully done.

    You did have to ask. I'll stop there.

    Many blessings to you and your family, Monica.

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    1. Saloma, you brought back so many memories! Laura, Heidi, and Anne were definitely friends of mine. Although I'm fuzzy on Paula, I would bet she was around too.

      My husband grew up on Dr Seuss, but I only had one or two of those books as a child and never developed the explicit fondness for them that so many people seem to have. They're okay, I guess. My son enjoys a few of them, but he might get them on a level that I do not as an adult.

      One of the great pleasures of reading to children is doing the voices and impressions, isn't it? You never know how much of a stage actor you really are until you long to hold a child captive through a story. It's so much fun.

      I never heard of Barbara Berger, but have to agree that the illustrations appear to be exceptional. Now I want to get that Grandfather Twilight book you mentioned. See, I'm so glad I asked! Thanks for your wonderful memories.

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  4. Mmmm... the focaccia looks yummy! I love the sound of peepers. It's a true sign of spring 'round here. In fact we get so excited that I call the girls or they call me the first we hear them. I usually get to call because we have lots of standing water around here and they don't have so much, though they are at a lower altitude so it's just a tad warmer where they live... two towns away. We still have about 8 inches of standing snow still, but the sap is running and I will probably be boiling this weekend.
    Happy Spring!!!

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    1. Bless you for taking on the task of making syrup. I know that's a lot of work. I'm still mystified as to what exactly a pepper is, but I do think I have heard them. It will be a happy spring once we can go for a week without snow or freezing rain. You should see the daffodils struggling to bloom.

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  5. Wish I could edit after sending :(

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  6. Hmm...I don't know if my comment disappeared, or is awaiting moderation.

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  7. Oops. It must have disappeared. Here's what I think I said:

    Oh, don't even get me started on all of our favorite books! Love these sweet stories about the goings on in your household, and I love the Valentine in the window! I can smell that rosemary focaccia all the way to the West Coast!

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    1. Oh, I think I know some of your favorites! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm telling you BAT Mom, if there was an app that would allow you to smell a recipe, thousands would be camped out right here.

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  8. Hi! I'm curious about how much rosemary, fresh and dried, a person who is not familiar with the herb should put in....?�� Approximately? (in the bread and the oil) Thanks!!:) Hope Spring comes soon!

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    1. This kind of depends on taste, but if you're not familiar with it I would say 1/2 Tablespoon in the dough, 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling on top, and maybe a teaspoon in the oil if you are using fresh rosemary. For dried, 1 Tablespoon of fresh= 1 teaspoon of dried. Good luck!

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  9. Billy makes my focaccia :-) But now I have a recipe of my very own!!!!!! My favorite book as a child is the first I remember: Out of My Window, a Little Golden Book. I had it memorized and still remember most of it. There was another about a dog named Cleo and a 3rd about a bunch of cats named: Buzz, Fuzz, Suzz and Agamemnon. Haven't thought of that one in years! Looking forward to the peepers "peeping" up here... sure sign of the beginning of spring! We're over due....

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    1. Thanks Peggy, I need to find that book. We are big fans of classic Little Golden Books!

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    2. Here is the one I remember... you don't want to pay that price, though... There must be another copy, somewhere.

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    3. Where's the link, Peggy?

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  10. "...and a prayer for protection over all of us who declare our fragility..." This falls sweet on my writer's ear. Love this snippet.

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