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Do I Knead a Bread Machine?

Bread.

The staple of life.

Now that I’ve gotten used to making my own fresh vegetable juice, I’m thinking of bread. I recall reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few months ago and coming across a passage by the author’s husband (Steven Hopp) who makes a fresh loaf practically everyday.

He says, “I know you’ve got one around somewhere: maybe in the closet. Or on the kitchen counter, so dusty nobody remembers it’s there. A bread machine.”

A bread machine? Nope, don’t have one in the closet or on the counter or anywhere. I’m lucky if I can find a spatula in our kitchen. During a party this spring, I was talking with the host’s mother. She’s in her late 80s and makes her own bread. I told her I wanted to learn so I could make homemade pizza dough, whole wheat, pumpernickel, etc.

“But I don’t have a bread machine,” I said.

She practically fell out of her chair laughing. I guess if you really know how to make bread the old fashioned way, you knead the dough. By hand. For a long time.

“You have to feel the dough to make sure it’s right,” she said.

Call me crazy, but kneading dough by hand actually sounds fun. I think I’ll try it (although I have no idea what it’s supposed to “feel” like, so I’ll have to wing that part). In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye out at garage sales for someone else’s barely-used, dusty bread machine.

Secret Ingredient

Does anyone know the secret ingredient that goes into making the perfect Smoothie? I can’t figure it out. My blender and I have been bonding lately as I try out different recipes. In addition to ice and some frozen strawberries and blueberries, I try:

Smoothies with frozen banana.

Smoothies with frozen banana and whey protein powder.

Smoothies without either.

Smoothies with honey. Smoothies with Stevia. Smoothies with an egg. Smoothies with soy milk.

No matter what I do, they simply don’t taste as good as the kind I buy. It’s not that they taste bad, but after a few sips I kinda forget about them. When I find the abandoned half-empty glass later on, I feel like I’ve wasted food. One does not forget about a really good Smoothie.

At first I thought maybe it was because when I buy Smoothies they’re probably full of sugar and ice cream or something. But no, I thoroughly enjoyed the Smoothies I drank every afternoon at a yoga retreat in Mexico last February – everything that kitchen prepared was of the healthy, no-sugar variety. I fondly recall sitting under a shade tree at the beach in the afternoons (after a morning of working out) and looking forward to seeing the resort’s chef saunter over with his latest concoction. Wait a sec…the secret ingredient I’m missing? I think it might be the beach. That is, after all, the only place I really ever drink Smoothies. There’s something about the white sand and the turquoise waters and reading a good book that makes a Smoothie taste so perfectly good.

I live far, far away from the beach.

Well, shoot.Š

Child’s Pose

Alone in a cabin in the mountains, I put the kettle on the stove. My husband left yesterday to return to the city, and I have a few days to myself before more relatives arrive. I want to take this time to better develop my “home” yoga practice.

After hot oatmeal, tea, and a refreshing shower, I’m ready. In the past, I would quickly find myself intimidated or overwhelmed at the thought of practicing yoga without a teacher and other students, but I recently read an article that put me at ease. It suggested starting with one pose – just one – and building from there.

One pose?

Well. In that case, Child’s Pose.

So that is what’s on my agenda as I walk over to the blue mat rolled out on the floor. It seems appropriate to “open” my practice, so I sit with my legs crossed and chant three Oms (can you believe it – no other voices to drown out mine).

Then I got on my hands and knees and folded back into Child’s Pose. I stayed in the active position instead of the passive position.

I’ve always loved this pose. A wonderful stretch. Also – and I’m not sure if the yoga experts would agree here – but to me it feels like a gratitude pose, bowing down and saying Thanks. Finally, it’s a relaxation pose – not just for the body, but for the mind.

I try to let go of my worries. I can hear the fire crackle in the woodstove behind me. I feel it’s warmth on my back. I sink into the Earth as the tops of my feet and the palms of my hands press into the ground. After a few minutes I lift my head. For awhile I turn around and gaze at the yellow flames through the woodstove’s glass door.

Not bad for my first day, I think. Tomorrow I’ll really shake things up with Child’s Pose and Tadasana. Š

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