Monday, February 22, 2010

something from nothing

Last year I was effusive about the coming of spring. This year, my heart is as warm and fuzzy as it's ever been as I celebrate its arrival. Hey, I enjoy the wintry bleakness of day and darkness of night as much as the next person (except not really), so spring. Gosh. I've been waiting since October for you. Thanks for coming!

There is just something so wonderful about the markers of spring. Sure, I know about the science behind it all and how the earth tilts at 23.5 degrees and the sun hitting the hemispheres and all of that. But every time I see a daffodil head peeking out of what was only a patch of brown earth the day before...

a blossom on a formerly bare tree...

and this, my most favorite, I call it the "flower tree" but I'm sure it has a real name...


Soon the flowers' pink petals will unfurl, revealing their snowy white insides...

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a 20th century Jewish theologian and mystic, wrote this:
I did not ask for success (in this life).
I asked for wonder.
And You gave it to me.

Seeing something come from essentially nothing is quite the life-giving, snap-you-out-of-winter-doldrums experience. With each passing day of this new season, I see as an opportunity for re-creation, re-birth, a limitless process of re-doing and re-being where everything old is new again.

A sweet older woman I've known for quite some time recently clued me into an excellent way to bake bready goodness from (almost) nothing. (Alternately known as lazy baking, or How do I use up all of this leftover Heineken in the fridge?) Yes, this bread left me in almost as much wonder as the first almond tree blossom of spring. 4 ingredients! (6, if you don't have self-rising flour, but it's really not a big deal.) Any way you cut it, jaw-to-the-floor-inspiring.

Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising flour               or          3 cups all-purpose flour
                                                                   4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
                                                                   1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 12 oz. can/bottle of beer
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350. Butter or spray a 9x5 loaf pan.

Sift the flour and sugar together in a large bowl. Mix in the beer until well blended. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven, pour the butter that you just melted in the microwave over the top and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

I will now set the scene for you. Your kitchen is filled with the dreamy, yeasty scent of baked Heineken, the butter has dispersed across the bread to form this incredibly crispy and textured crust, and you are burning your fingertips as you tear into the oven-hot loaf. Welcome, spring, indeed!

What brings you wonder?


  1. "Sure, I know about the science behind it all and how the earth tilts at 23.5 degrees and the sun hitting the hemispheres and all of that." --> Yeah, okay, I did not know that.

    And the answer to your question is sunshine.

  2. I've now made 6 loaves of Beer bread in the last 3 days... I might have a problem. :) (and I've given the recipe out approx 21 million times!)

    wonder: the endlessness of the ocean and the vibrant palette of a New Mexican sunset!


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