28 October 2008

Simple Pleasures

Often in the midst of enjoying the relatively new-found - OK, so it's now been 6 months already! - pleasure of making soap completely from scratch, it's easy to forget the simple pleasure of a well-poured tray of handcasted soaps. This week I've been trying to get my Christmas shaped soaps restocked. One such soap is my Gingerbread guest soap, which I color with a pretty brown spice. There's a simple pleasure in seeing the soap from the bottom of the mould and noting that it's so well mixed that the colorant didn't settle to the bottom, giving me pretty, uniform speckles.

Today was one of those chilly, blustery Fall days that make you pull out the winter coat and dream of hot drinks in the evening. I poured my soaps, did some dishes and paid some bills. In fact, it was such a quiet day that I had time to enjoy a good book and take a power nap before running my afternoon errands. When I woke up from my nap, I looked out the back door and saw this plethora of bright colors. It's like all the leaves had changed when I wasn't looking, transforming our back wooded area into a kaleidoscope of brilliant yellows, reds, oranges and greens. Seeing all those lovely Fall leaves was a nice, simple pleasure.

Finally my daughter and I came home, and the starter for Amish Friendship Bread that my friend Cookie gave me was ready to become bread. Amish Friendship Bread takes 10 days and about half an hour of prep time to make, then another hour to bake. It's active. You get to mush it up in a bag every day, and seven days into the process, you add sugar, flour and milk to it. Then you mush it some more. The fun part to watch is, after adding the sugar, it reacts with the yeast and releases carbon dioxide, which causes bubbles and makes the bag puff up. Sunday morning, we discovered that the expanding bag will also push stuff off the counter if it's in its way.

Anyway, my daughter and I donned aprons and got to work on our bread. We also sectioned out some starter to share with our friends, and I'm trying to decide if I want to keep the fourth bag of starter (you're supposed to, according to the directions), or give it away, too. I think it can be frozen, which will be a good idea, as I can save it for closer to the holidays. The mixture makes 2 full-size loaves, and our first one is in the oven as I type this and smelling awesome! Besides the very long prep time for this bread in our "gotta have it now" society, the instructions say that you can't use metal in the mixing at all. This means using a plastic bowl (melamine in our case, but I use them for mixing all the time, anyway) and mixing it with a spoon by hand. I don't even mix my soap by hand! Sometimes the simplest ways bring the most pleasure.

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