As everyone well knows by now, the Portland area got some snow last week. Not a snow storm, not “snowpocalypse,” not snowed-in. Just snow. A good bit, too. I’m usually a snow-humbug, growing up in a place where it was much less of a novelty and much more of a reality November through March. But even my rain-loving heart was a little overjoyed to see the flaky white stuff make it’s appearance last week.
You see, it’s February. And February is not my favorite month ever. It’s gray, cold and not a whole lot happens usually, except a silly little holiday that I’ve only ever been excited about one year that I can remember. But with the arrival of the snow, an impending trip to the desert and a post-Valentines brunch planned with my love, this crummy month was looking up!
I won’t tell you that my snow days were filled with rosy-cheeked sledding trips or hours spent frolicking with friends and building snow men. They weren’t. I was alone the majority of the time. And for two of the three days, I didn’t even cross the threshold of my apartment. I spent most of the time inside my own head while I cleaned, organized, cooked and baked.
Often, a few days in a row of forced relaxation and the opportunity to get ahead, would be a blessing from above. But for some reason, this forced solace was less than relaxing. I’m a person who needs regular time alone to sort things out for myself. Too much time however, often results in me analyzing everything over and over, and usually becoming discouraged and overwhelmed by all of my shortcomings. It’s a blessing and a curse to see the potential in things and in yourself, because you’re never totally satisfied. Trapped in my head, I fell quickly out of love with our frosty little flurry.
I thought about all of the things I want and need to do with Bird is the Word. I thought about all the places I’d like to explore. Things I’d like to work on personally. Books I’d like to read. Things I’d like to learn. Ways I want to be a better wife, cook, sister, daughter, friend, business owner, house cleaner, and the list goes on and on.
When my husband, who had to work through all the snow days, finally got a day off Sunday, I’m afraid I came uncorked and drowned him in three days of non-stop thinking. And despite being totally exhausted himself, he managed to help me gain a little perspective just like he always does.
It’s great to take stock of where you are. To think clearly and concisely about where you’d like to be, and how you’d like to get there. But it’s also great to look at where you are, how far you’ve come and be content with the idea that everything, including yourself, is in progress. I may not always be where I think that I should, but I’m on my way, and that is more than good enough. I’ve read 1,256 quotes about how it’s the journey, not the destination, but it seems a few more wouldn’t hurt.
The other thing he helped me see, is that while I need time alone, I was created for relationship. In talking to one of my best friends yesterday, I confessed that I often feel that it’s easier to see the good in hard things rather than admit the hard stuff in good things. My new schedule, running a business from home, being self-employed, all of the above- are amazing good things that I’ve wanted for a long time. But just because they are good and I wanted them, doesn’t mean they haven’t come with their own set of challenges that shouldn’t just be glossed over. She told me that the first three months of motherhood have been so much harder than she expected, and even though she loves her sweet babe to pieces, she fights a daily battle for those good things. Hard is hard, even when it’s a good hard. It’s not complaining to admit that things aren’t easy, and it’s not failing to make mistakes and change directions.
The melting snow, a husband who listens and the sight of three of my best friends’ faces yesterday were enough to snap me out of my selfish, self-pitying frame of mind. Today I’m feeling extraordinarily grateful for the people in my life, who, if I’m smart enough to reach out to them, are there loving me for the very in-progress version of myself that I am right at this moment. Thanks you guys. From the bottom of my snow-hating heart.
And if you’ve made it this far, I swear there’s a recipe here eventually. My victories during the snow’s stay included: 1) cleaning my apartment from top to bottom, 2) not having to go to the grocery store amidst the crowds of panicking Oregonians and 3) baking homemade bread.
This bread was absolute heaven, and I’m not making any promises, but I’m hoping to go all Caroline Ingalls and bake a big, fat loaf of this every Saturday. With our bread, I couldn’t resist making a little Snowstorm Soup. Aka, grab whatever is in the cupboards and fridge, chop and simmer. Throw in a little turmeric for immunity and vivacious color, and dip huge chunks of hot bread to your heart’s delight. Good riddance snow! Bring on the rain!
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rising yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- In a large bowl mix together your flour, instant yeast and salt. Next add your water and mix until it forms your dough. You can use a wooden spoon.
- Mix until all the dry ingredients are combined. You don’t need to over mix. Next cover your bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 12-18 hours. If the dough sits for longer that’s okay.
- Heavily flour your work surface. Place your dough in the center of the flour and form a big ball, heavily floured.
- Cover with plastic wrap again on the surface, and let sit an additional 30 minutes. After you cover your dough, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees and place your french oven or clay baker inside to heat up. If you do not have a french oven, a stainless steel pot with a lid or even an oven-safe bowl with aluminum foil should work just fine. I used a 5.5 qt stainless stockpot with a glass lid.
- After 30 minutes, carefully take your very hot pot out of the oven and place your dough inside. Do not grease the bottom of your pot. It will smoke. You can line the pot with parchment, but it is not necessary. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid and let bake an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered.
- Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy hot. Keeps well, loosely covered on the counter for a few days.
- 3 pieces of bacon, cut into lardons
- 3 carrots, peeled & diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 cup cabbage, diced in short strips
- 1/4 cup short-grain brown rice
- 1 can Cannelini Beans, drained & rinsed
- 1/2 bunch kale, julienned
- 48 oz Chicken or veggie stock
- olive oil
- Slice and render bacon in stockpot on the stove with 1 Tbsp olive oil, on medium heat.
- Chop veggies and add onion, carrot and celery to bacon fat. Once translucent, add garlic and turmeric.
- Add cabbage, rice and beans, and cover with stock.
- Bring to a boil and lower to simmer. Cook until rice is still slightly al dente, about 30-35 minutes. Season with s&p.