Baking bread less often than I'd like. Though there's been more success since learning that pizza tiles placed on the bottom of our teeny, tiny 20-inch electric stove would hold the oven temperature even. An ongoing challenge is to limit the number of loaves produced. There are, after all, only two of us. We need a program for passing along what's produced.
This year I said goodbye to, poured down the drain, the rye starter created last year from the original 100 year old white flour starter from a neighbor. It had moved in a questionable direction: smelled very vinegary. Was I too ambitious to keep up with a second starter? Have I moved from "old lady" to "elderly"?
But, in a burst of January energy, I adapted my white sourdough starter to a variation on a vintage recipe for Sour Pumpernickel (Dworkins' 1972, "Make Your Own Bread" now out of print). That worked with soaked flax, caraway and poppy seeds additions.
Mid-March, I reduced a 4-loaf recipe to two in a Sourdough Graham recipe from 1966--Dolores Casella's "A World of Breads." [Link goes to another baking grandma's blog, great photos].
Used only starter (not cake of yeast called for) + one TBSP gluten flour for second rise overnight. I am always amazed when only-starter works; this amuses Ron who has more confidence in the workings of the natural world.
I do not like to freeze my bread, so it was perfect we could share the second loaf with 15 others at the second session of the Public Social University. Went well with the soup someone had prepared. Most participants had not been at the first one the week before.
We sat in a circle; our first hour conversation centered around race. (This was the week before we'd learned about the murder of Trayvon Martin.) The presence of out-of-towners from Texas brought the topic up. Rozzell Medina, leader of event, had invited a group of social work students attending a conference in Portland, along with his cousin, their programs's professor. These students, ranging in age from 19 to late 30s-- were in shock about their experiences over a couple of days in downtown Portland, near Pioneer Place. If your knowledge of PDX is shaped by the New York Times or Portlandia, the TV program, this reality may not fit expectations.
Ruth Ann Barrett, whom we met late last year at an Independent Lens screening, was with us. She moved here a couple of years ago from San Francisco to develop her work in sustainability through her website, Earthsayers.tv. Often we exchange links to local events that will stretch our thinking. Two days earlier we'd gone to "Race Talks: Opportunities for Dialogue."
We went to "Race Talks" because we're hopeful about this engaging place, Portland, and wanted to hear about local initiatives to get various communities talking across boundaries--maybe including Asians and Hispanics along with African Americans, the smallest in number of the three. Looked promising at the start: very large meeting room filled with round tables for ten and many, many white people, a few black women.
We found a place to sit, introduced ourselves to two black and one white middle-aged women, three college students, a young woman new to Portland. They all returned to their conversations. On the stage at the front were the organizers of the meeting, one of whom was an African American woman who has a TV program/presence. Contrary to our expectations of an interactive exchange, we were talked at by those onstage. Heard about all the remarkable things each had done to cross barriers, how we needed to become like them, "White allies, friends to people of color."
About 90 minutes into being hectored, we were told it was time to talk with those at our table. Two of the middle-aged women had left. It was our turn to do the same. I write about this to reinforce the power of what Rozzell is doing. The scale is right, the autheniticity too. He asks us to listen to one another, present ourselves as people who have much to learn.
To begin, here's my post about bread where I've include events/ideas that might have been their own posts. In the future more images will be posted to reflect the difference I'd like to see in my immediate world.
LeRoy Patton appears in a video on Earthsayers.tv. Ruth Ann introduced us at a sustainability meeting. He has many years of working in the Portland school system. "Community partnerships challenge each of us to understand our own relationships and experience, to come to grips with your own day to day living..."
He is "speaking to your subsconscious...what you think about and do is what matters." I invite you to listen, at least, to the first few minutes. Can we talk here about the possibilty of personal acts that would move you and me forward? Even if elderly.