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yoga

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Waffles

This week has been …. fitful. Busy. And a bit overbooked. A last minute job took away what free time I had in-between the 8 classes I had scheduled. BUT alas, it’s nearing it’s end and I’m taking some much needed moments to look forward to the weekend by reminiscing about last week’s waffles. While I generally don’t like to look back, sometimes we must to gain the strength to move forward. And sometimes…it just takes waffles. 

On a side note, super happy about how my Warrior 3 is progressing. I hyperextend my knees something serious so this pose is extremely hard to keep stable while keeping my leg from locking back. Here's to progress!  

And now for the waffles...

J’s cousins gave us the Two in the Kitchen (Williams Sonoma): A Cookbook for Newlyweds as an engagement gift along with a nice gift card that allowed us to purchase a much needed breadbox. It’s a really lovely book where there are actual recipes for just two people which never happens. Waffles were great. There is yeast in them so they have a barely noticeable yeasty flavor that melds nicely with our bourbon maple syrup from Trader Joe's. They would have been even better if we had a decent waffle maker and could learn to fill it up instead of constantly being worried that it would overflow. Next time…. otherwise it’s perfect as is.

The original recipe comes with a warm strawberry rhubarb compote. We never really get that far...Enjoy!!

For the waffles:

1 package (2 1/2 tsp.) active dry yeast

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) warm water (105-115 degrees F/40-46 degrees C)

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) whole milk

2 Tbs. butter

1 cup (5 oz./155 g.) all-purpose flour

2 Tbs. firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

Canola oil for brushing

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 tsp. baking soda

To make the waffles, in a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the milk and butter and heat to warm (about 115 degrees F/46 degrees C).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt. Stir the warm milk mixture into the bowl with the dissolved yeast. Add the flour mixture and stir until blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. The batter will thicken slightly.

To cook the waffles, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C). Preheat a waffle iron for 5 minutes, then brush with oil. Add the egg and baking soda to the chilled batter and stir until blended. Ladle enough batter for 1 waffle into the center of the waffle iron (usually about 1/2 cup/4 fl. oz./125 ml.), and spread with a small spatula. Close the waffle iron and cook until the waffle is browned and crisp, according to the manufacturer’s directions (usually 4-5 minutes). Transfer the waffle to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter. 

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If at first you don’t succeed…..

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If at first you don’t succeed…..

A Story of Baking Bread...

I have been addicted to the Jim Lahey no knead method of bread baking for several years now. It’s an excellent method that consistently produces a great, tasty loaf. Food52 has an excellent version with a shorter rise that gets made into a sandwich loaf. I make it every two weeks without fail. With that being said, I crave to have a better loaf in my repertoire to whip out that is just... EXTRA.  Most of all I want to prove to myself that I can make BREAD. Not to overdo it with the yoga metaphors but as I pulled my rested (flat) dough out the fridge this morning, I realized how similar this is to me attempting to get into handstand.

Handstand is my white whale, my nemesis, my (what seems to be) always out of reach pose. At the beginning of the year I made a vow that over the next twelve months I would work at it consistently with the goal to be freestanding by December. But instead of just working to fling myself upside down, giving myself whip lash in the end, I’ve been taking time to strength my arms. To actually work my core. And LO AND BEHOLD IT’S WORKING. Now I can get there BUT often, when in a room with teachers, I still try too hard and end up never even making it to the wall. Every day is different. Our body varies with what we put into it and the environment we surround it with. Sometimes we just fall. And sometimes, as was my case on Friday, we just try to hard. Expectations abound, they end up being the one thing that get in our way. 

My attempt at this three day bread process from Bon Appetite turned out to be a flat, raw dud. A flat, raw dud of trying so hard and cartwheeling over flat on my face. I thought I took my time with each step and tuned into the needs of this beast. But alas, it didn't matter. Ignorance, expectations and lack of know-how took over. No matter how much I tried to trust the process, the environment was against me and my knowledge wasn't enough. Maybe it was too cold. Maybe I was wrong and it wasn't ready. Reading the instructions when bread baking is often not enough. 

Either way, I was hopefully that this pita look-a-like would at least be tasty but after cutting in, it proved to be half cooked. Cest la vie. 

Ahhhh.... but throughout it, I got to spend some much needed time with myself, play with dough and try something new. I’ll wait for the weather to get warmer before trying again…. You can see the full recipe here at Bon Appetite. There’s a much longer version that is naturally fermented by Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Enjoy! And for those of us who need a good standing pose after arm balancing, give the no-knead method a try. 


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A Practice in Patience

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A Practice in Patience

Persimmons, much like our yoga practice, can take what seems to be forever to ripen. If we push too soon, our bodies, our minds (and yes, our permissions) are hard and inflexible. Our movements - not easily digestible mentally or physically and (in the case that a persimmon is thrown at you) injury causing.

It takes time to ripen. It takes time to tune in, draw our awareness inwards, deepen our attentions to our subtler senses. Our goals always seem to be just that. GOALS. If I can just nail that pose, I will be done. But that’s never it. The beautiful thing about yoga, is that one can practice for forever. There is always and consistently something to learn in each pose. You can always move deeper into Virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2) even after the front leg is properly externally rotated and your torso is straight as a board. Where can you soften to explore more? What can you give up so you can gain strength somewhere else? 

The yoga sutras tell us at the asana, our physical practice, is at once steady yet full of ease. Strong yet soft. Comfortable but concentrated. What can you let go of?

In making this cake, I had to let go of the expectation that fruit should ripen at least within a week. I purchased a case of persimmons at Costco a few weeks before Christmas when they are most frequently in the store. I figured they would ripen in a week, I would let them get extremely soft and make an exceptionally sweet fruit cake for Christmas. 

Unfortunately for me, that was not the case. These suckers took SIX WEEKS to ripen. (Yes, I realize this post is extremely dated.) These things happen when one doesn’t buy local I suppose. But consider this a forewarning to those of you who hear next hear the siren call of this bright orange fleshy fruit. Much like achieving handstand, in waiting for a permission to ripen we must practice our patience for a long time, without break and in all earnestness. And just when you think it’s ripe with a touch of give, wait longer. We want them mushy and what we would consider overripe. This is when the sugars are at it’s sweetest.

This recipe is from Beard on Bread by James Beard. It’s an excellent book to have in your repertoire. My big brother gave it to me over 10 years ago and I still take the time to flip through it. You can also see the recipe here at David Leibowitz. It makes two 9-inch loaves. You can also make a round cake or muffins with the batter. I used a scant two cups of sugar because my fruit was so ripe it was basically crystalized. Enjoy!

  • 3½ cups sifted flour

  • 1½ teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 2 to 2½ cups sugar

  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

  • 2/3 cup Cognac, bourbon or whiskey

  • 2 cups persimmon puree (from about 4 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)

  • 2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

  • 2 cups raisins, or diced dried fruits (such as apricots, cranberries, or dates

1. Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.

2. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) degrees.

3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins (optional).

5. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Storage: Wrap in foil after cooling. They will keep 1-2 weeks. Wrap firmly in foil and plastic wrap to freeze. 


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