Of course, there are also lighthouses and boats, waves and crabs, cities and busy highways. But I think of bright red and deep blue when I hear talk of the Pine Tree State.
Ryan and I are summering in Maine right now. We’re splashing in the cold Atlantic water, we’re waking up with my niece and nephews, we’re sitting on piers and eating lobster rolls. We’re feeling more than content.
But on the days leading up to our trip, we both worked long hours. We took Cricket to the vet (twice). We tried our best to resist the urge to eat out. I purposefully drove on the frontage road to avoid Lamar (and my wallet’s arch nemesis: Anthropologie). Last night, we stayed up late washing clothes, drying sheets and scrubbing our shower. We immersed ourselves in all the mundane tasks that would make our vacation seem even brighter.
And as I folded my last pair of underwear, I thought, “Good things are bound to come”.
But if I’ve learned anything this year it’s this: Life can’t be separated into easily defined compartments. I can’t say that 2011 was a rotten year because amidst the death and tragedy, there was also so much life. Just as a vacation is ALWAYS full of both pain and pleasure, so too the larger seasons of life contain both joy and sorrow.
So even though Ryan and I are sitting on piers, filing our bellies with crustaceans and buttery bread, I know we’ll have hours when our heads hurt, when we snap at each other, when the line at airport security seems atrociously long. But the trick to staying happy is simple. During those moments of distress, I remind myself that it passes, even the darkest days have to end, and I think about lobsters and blueberries, the way my 8 year old niece sings with my husband, how baby Ryan laughs when I kiss his nose…and I’m more than content.
I shared a recipe a few weeks ago for Peter Reinhart's Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. Just recently, I purchased one of his new books, Artisan Breads Every Day, and found an even easier way to make these beloved holey eats. These blueberry bagels are an adaptation of Peter's classic bagel recipe. If you don't have the book, I'd recommend buying it. The recipes are the easiest I've seen, and they produce some of the most flavorful yeast raised breads I've made. Well worth the 30 dollars.
I bought a small bag of dried blueberries, which I worked into the bagel dough during the last two minutes of mixing. After removing these berry-studded bagels from the oven, I brushed them with a thin layer of melted butter and sprinkled a few teaspoons of blueberry cane sugar on top. The result was heavenly...a preview of Maine in the midst of the humid heat of Austin.
1 TBSP honey
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup + 2 TBSP lukewarm water
3 1/2 unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup dried blueberries (rinsed in water)
1 TBSP melted butter
2 quarts water
1 TBSP baking soda
1 TBSP honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1. In a small bowl, stir the honey, the yeast and the salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into the bowl of a standing mixer (or any large bowl) and pour in the yeast mixture. Using a dough hook, or a large wooden spoon, and mix on low speed for 3 minutes. The dough should form a stiff, course ball and the flour should be fully hydrated.
2. Resume mixing on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, or knead dough on a lightly floured surface so that the gluten can begin to develop. The dough should be stiff and slightly tacky. It should have a smooth, satiny feel. If needed add more flour or water to achieve the desired consistency. Add the rinsed blueberries during the last two minutes of kneading.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise at room temperature, for 60-90 minutes. After initial rise, divide the dough into 6 (4 1/2 ounce) pieces. Form the pieces into rolls.
4. Line 1 large sheet pan with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter for a large bagel, two inches for a regular one or just slightly more than one inch for a miniature. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible.
5. Place each of the shaped pieces two inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator and allow to retard over night.
6. In the morning, remove your bagels from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours. After an hour, check to see if your bagels are ready for boiling. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be boiled when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. If they don't float, let them sit at room temperature for 30 more minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 500°F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil, and add the baking soda and honey. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.
8. Gently drop the bagels into the water, boiling only a few at a time. After one minute, flip them over and boil for another minute. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. Remove the boiled bagels to a wire rack while finishing the remaining bagels.
11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately five minutes, then rotate the pans. After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450°F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown.
12. Remove the pans from the oven and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle the bagels with cane sugar and remove to a wire rack. Allow the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores