It is with immense pleasure that I partner with Bob’s Red Mill to promote some of their wonderful products. Do you know why I say wonderful? Because I love their package sizes. Not too much…not too little.
Another reason why? Because I’ve been wanting to try out their various flours for a long time now. As I peruse their selections, I am curious to try out flours like spelt and brown rice, for example. I often pick up the packages to peer at the milled grains inside, but am not quiet sure what to go home and make from the products. So now I’m joining with Bob’s Red Mill to have fun creating recipes using some of these new-to-me ingredients.
First variety that I picked to try out is coconut flour. I know many people who need to be gluten free with their diets need to find alternatives to wheat flour in their baking. I’m not gluten intolerant but I have tasted products with various other milled flours and find them delicious. Coconut flour, rice flour, millet flour…are some of the options now being used regularly for baked goods.
I plucked open a package of coconut flour, found a delicious sounding recipe for a Summertime Lemon Tea Loaf, and thought about a day of creative cooking in the kitchen. Everything was set. All ingredients were on hand, hours of gardening to be accomplished and then an afternoon break with a nice slice of frosted lemon loaf wafting its aroma through the kitchen window.
So, I turned on the radio to hear different stories from around the world.
And there my cooking reverie was interrupted by shocking news that began filling the radio. I almost never watch T.V. anymore. The sensationalism of it is so damaging. Much of my news comes across the radio that I often have turned on in the kitchen.
My mind wanted to stay on all things lemon and flowers and baking related. But, once again, life and all of its normalcy was interrupted and the world as we know it continues to force change, reflection, and action.
I would love to come here to Thyme and just write about the beautiful flowers I am growing, the delicious fresh ingredients I am gathering, and the pictures of pretty New Hampshire that I have fun sharing on this site.
But life, in all its beautiful normalcy, keeps getting halted by a reality that is demanding action from every one of us everyday citizens at this point. Dreamy summer days keep getting eclipsed with horrific images coming more and more often into our lives. Unimaginable horrors unravel right before our eyes and as a country, we are again plunged into that surreal state of normalcy and abnormalcy.
The day before I prepared this Lemon Loaf, I was running around NYC getting my daughter settled into her graduate program. I fretted a little bit over her safety living in the big apple but I was more focused on being happy for the adventures that lay ahead of her at this point in her life. I spent wonderful years living in NYC at her age and hoped she would have the same. I left the city too late in the day and struggled to make the drive all the way back to NH. After a fun filled fast paced day, I wearily booked into a hotel somewhere in Massachusetts for the night and fell into a wonderfully deep sleep in my room.
But, by the morning, as I was enjoying a slow breakfast in the hotel before getting back on the road, the news from the breakfast room T.V. bombarded me with the events in Orlando, Florida at the LGBT bar called The Pulse. It was the most surreal of breakfasts. I kept looking at the other families and travelers digesting this news. Everyone seemed too normal as they went about toasting bagels and pouring coffee. I was frozen with disbelief as images of the atrocity flickered one after the other in the breakfast room. But people ate breakfast, stared at the T.V. and then went about their day and faded out of the room. Why wasn’t everyone standing in front of the T.V. in shock? What is happening with us as a culture I thought? Why are we all so blasé about what we are watching?
Our family has been celebrating so much happiness this month. The summer here in New Hampshire has been supremely beautiful. My garden is growing, flowers are blooming, and sweet floral scented air flows all over the house from early morning until late evening. How can we be so happy in one moment and in parallel moments these horrific events are happening all around us? Life as it exists outside our little bubble here in NH can no longer be ignored. I feel rather helpless as I search for what I can do that would affect change…however big or small.
But this news during breakfast in the hotel. This news is so horrible. Again and again the news delivers such surreal information…it is so horrible. I feel like I am living in a parallel universe. I’m happily choosing and planting pretty colorful flowers for my garden one moment, patting down soft cool dirt, and carefully labeling wooden sticks with plant names.
And then comes the political talking points. The finger pointing. The arguments about the need for change or no change. The cultural blaming and shaming seems to me at a fever pitch. As a family, we discuss the need for tolerance of diversity, understanding all sides of issues, and the need to be politically more active at this point in our history. Our children are beginning to see these mass shooting events as normal. The next generation doesn’t understand…this is not normal.
I think of WWII and how slowly from one day to the next…slowly… small changes were happening politically that led to a global war that transformed the future of so many people, countries, and cultures. Are my comparisons to what is being witnessed in our country today being hyperbolical? Is this what common people during the 1930’s questioned to themselves as hate speech filled the airways and life took on surreal proportions? After all, history shows us plain and clear how low we humans can go to inflict pain and suffering on one another.
In another moment, out in the garden listening to the radio or when I come in for a cooling glass of lemon flavored water, I am overwhelmed with story after story on the radio about the people who were enjoying a fun evening out in Florida and whose lives are now ruined. The reality of it all leaves me staring out the window wondering and puzzling over this evil that recycles itself in our humanity every century…every generation…every decade…and now every few months.
How will these people whose families are now shattered cope?
Is there a good that comes from killings like this one, that one, and all of the other ones? Do these events have to occur before that good can transform itself into reality?
How do we take so many points of view about the topic of gun control and come to some middle ground that will work to create change?
I have always been fascinated by the unbelievable circumstances of World War II. My kids know that when we reached this point in history during high school, I lined up documentary after documentary detailing the horrors of what comes from leaders who inspire attitudes of bigotry, encourage opinions of prejudice, and display egomaniacal personalities.
With difficulty, my scattered and heavy thoughts move back to the beautiful Lemon Tea Loaf that I am creating. I open the package of Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour. It smells fresh and light. I move slowly through the actions of shaking in the coconut flour. I crack open the fragile eggs but my thoughts are so filled with the sounds of the devastating human accounts of tragedy coming into my quiet kitchen through the radio waves. I whisk in the butter. I pour the heavy batter into the buttered loaf pan and slide it into the warm oven.
I ask myself, “Where do the normal routines of life end and the need to become an activist in today’s world begin? Are we at that point now?” What can I do to tap in my brief little dent in this big beautiful and at the same time ugly world? Can I continue on from one day to the next on relying on hope for change? Should I become a part of that change?”
I remember when we lived in Houston. We had Muslim families living to the right and to the left of our home who had moved there from the Middle East in this generation. We became friendly with the family to the left of us. Their two little girls were so cheerful and sweet we began exchanging waves and smiles with them. But the family stayed to themselves for the most part. I wanted to reach out more and get to know them.
One day I had baked a cake for Riley’s birthday. We looked at the other half of the cake and decided to bring it over the neighbors with the 2 little girls. When they opened the door and we had the cake in hand, they were shocked at this neighborly gesture and then a few seconds later their faces gave way to delight. This small gesture of a baked cake changed our worlds living next to each other. This small gesture was just that…such a small moment of love and kindness. We moved away here to NH and they moved away shortly before us to Saudi Arabia. I wondered if I left them with good and sweet memories to take with them. Would a small gesture make any difference in the grand scheme of things?
As I slid the delicious lemon loaf out of the oven to rest in front of the open kitchen window, the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who won the award for Best Score for the Broadway show Hamilton, reached me. He stood up at the award ceremony and in a shaky voice and spoke these words:
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised. Not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
we live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.
We rise and fall and light from dying embers.
Remembrances that hope and love last longer.
And love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I say that as symphony. Eliza tells her story. Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.
Thank you so much for this.
I truly believe the world can be changed with one small gesture after another. When I wearily checked into the hotel that night, I must have looked pretty haggard. It was 10:00pm. Before getting my room key, the woman at the check-in desk saw how tired I was and said, “Open your hands.” I chuckled because she had a sweet twinkle in her eyes. She emptied a handful of dark chocolates in my hands much to my surprise and utter delight.
Simple…right? Simple gestures that show to one another that we all seek love and we are all capable of loving one another regardless of differences. We’re all capable of baking cakes and giving out handfuls of chocolates.
A simple Summertime Teatime Lemon Loaf perhaps that you end up bringing to a neighbor, a pay it forward when going through a toll booth, an unexpected handful of chocolates that lights up a smile.
Love is love is love is love. A silly simple phrase that makes one stop and think hard. Apparently, as a nation, we need to remind ourselves of this message over and over again. Apparently, as a nation, we have forgotten chapters of history once again. Unmistakably, the consequences of forgetting history means the next generation is accepting a new normal.
Links of Love to Share:
- 6 eggs
- ¼ cup butter (or coconut oil...but I find the loaf is too oily)
- Zest from 2 lemons
- Juice from 2 lemons plus enough milk (I used 2% dairy milk) of choice (coconut milk from can or box, dairy milk, almond milk, etc.) to equal 1 cup
- ⅓ cup pure honey
- ⅔ cup Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour (do NOT substitute another type of flour – it will not work!
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Frosting for Loaf (makes a nice smooth layer went spread on the warm loaf like the Lemon Loaf at Starbuck's):
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 to 6 tablespoons hot water
- Preheat oven to 350˚F .
- Combine all the lemon bread ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
- Pour into a greased bread pan and bake for 35- 40 minutes (mine needed closer to 45 min)
- or until golden on top and middle is cooked through. (If the top starts to get too brown towards the end of the cooking time, put some foil over the top.)
- Make the frosting while the lemon loaf is in the oven.
- mix butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches desired consistency.
- Take loaf out of oven and let sit just for 5-7 minutes. The loaf needs to be warm for the frosting for melt all over it and form a coating.
- Place warm loaf on a rack with a baking sheet underneath to catch the frosting drippings.
- Spread frosting all over the top of the loaf and let the heat from the loaf naturally slowly melt it over the sides.
- When it looks how you like, put the entire loaf in the freezer for 5 minutes to stop the frosting from melting and it will firm up. Then put the loaf in the refrigerator so everything will thicken up nice and firm. Enjoy with a wonderful cup of hot tea!