Sunday, November 2, 2014

And the Darkness Creeps In


Mourning the Light; Savoring the Warmth

Slowly it happens. Each morning, as I begin to stir, slowly stretching out my legs, and peering out through one barely open eye, I notice that the light is changing. It is quite drastically different from that of even the past months. Heavier, with warmer autumn tones, and it just hangs in the canopy of leaves which shade my bedroom windows. And then, I look out one morning and the leaves have begun to fall, the light no longer teases me each morning, as my alarm nags me to extend a leg into the coldness that is beyond my down comfort. I go through a number of emotions, denial, anger, rebellion, but they all lead me to the same conclusion, winter is knocking at the door, creeping in through the unsealed windows, beneath the doorjamb and into my still bronzed skin and my chilled  bones.  Every morning it reminds me, as I stand there, dumbfounded as to how this is my fifth winter in Maine and still I somehow have nothing to put on to combat this cold, these fifty degree mornings, which inevitably will drop another forty, if not fifty or even sixty degrees before its over. My skin crawls, the stubbles of hair on my legs stand on edge, as if they have experienced a ghost, and they have, the ghost of winter past. 


Today we turned back the clocks, now not only will darkness enwrap us in the morning when we rise, but it will meld with the charcoal smear of pavement,  the road that leads us home at the end of each day. And what better way for mother nature to greet that manmade time shift, but a snowstorm. Yes there is beauty in those flakes, white frozen crystals falling from the sky, contrasted by the fiery yellow maple leaves dancing behind them, but it seems incredulous, taunting us with what's to come. 

The end of October and beginning of November is a time of death, dormancy, reflection and remembrance. A time when the harvest has been reaped, when the Earth begins to slow down. It is a time when Catholics, Romans, Celts, and Aztec cultures celebrate the link between this world and that which lies beyond the living. Celebrated in many different ways, it is always a time of honoring deceased loved ones and ancestors. I can't help but feel that these practices tied so closely with the Earth's cycles and with the otherworldly have been present in my week, adding a veil of mystery, darkness and uncertainty to each day. 

So what better way to warm up and find comfort than with baking and eating comfort foods
from my childhood, all rooted in New England cuisine. The Anadama bread is a delicious, slightly sweet light cornmeal and molasses bread. I used the recipe I got years ago, from my dear friend Mary's mom, Shirley. I've got nothing on her, when it came to my final product today, I have some practice to do. There is nothing like walking into Shirley's farmhouse kitchen and smelling her candy , pies, and breads cooking and permeating the air heated by the antique cookstove in November and December. The Christmas season is usually spent, gorging on her homemade candies and other goodies. The Anadama rolls she makes are just out of this world. That accompanied with a good old bowl of Corn Chowder, warmed my soul and my chilled bones today. 

In trying to keep this post simple, as my dedication has diminished since returning to work in September, and focused as much on the writing as the recipe, I am just posting a photo of the Anadama Bread recipe. Mine, as you can tell from the pictures, turned out very dense and a little gooey. My failure was, not letting the cornmeal, molasses, butter and water mixture fully cool. I think this killed the yeast and didn't allow the bread to rise. I also substituted 2 cups of whole wheat flour, using 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white in total.  So enjoy the warmth and comfort of this recipe and please share your stories of the season and any alterations you make to the recipe. 


Ingredients:                                                                     

The coffee is not needed for the bread, just nice to sip in the process
1/2 Cup Cornmeal
1 Tsp. Salt
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup Molasses (use blackstrap for higher iron)
2 Packages of Yeast
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Cups White Flour
1 3/4 Cups water

Follow recipe on the card below. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.




Step 1: 
Cornmeal, molasses, butter, salt, water mixture cooked. 






















Dough getting ready to rise. 
Final loaf. Again, if you do the yeast correctly, which I forgot about, you will have a much lighter, fluffier loaf of bread or great rolls.