3.26.2023 – baking bread for the

baking bread for the
romance, the smell, the texture,
that crunch of the crust

On a rainy weekend in the low country what do you think about besides thinking about what can some one do on a rainy weekend in the low country.

Sure we could go shopping.

Shopping in a resort town where prices reflect an income that doesn’t reflect mine.

There is always the library and that gets penciled in for later in the afternoon and more on that visit later this week.

My thoughts turned to baking bread.

Years ago I thought that a fine epitaph for my gravestone, back when I imagined having gravestone, would be, “He Baked Good Bread.”

And I went to work to learn.

I tried many recipes from Julia Child to a favorite Aunt.

I read a lot of books.

I watched a lot of video.

The best book on the subject for reading is Outlaw Cook, by John Thorne who chronicles his efforts to bake bread.

The type of bread someone would bake when bread made up 90% of some ones diet.

John Thorne is a great cooking writer.

He won me over when he wrote about how he published a newsletter with a photo of his kitchen.

So many of his subscribers (this was way before the world wide web and blogs and posts and such) responded in disbelief as it was a photo of a typical apartment kitchen with little counter space and tiny stove, that Mr. Thorne was moved to respond with the timeless phrase, “It is the cook … not the kitchen.”

(I think of that line a lot when I watch these magic chefs with their mega ‘kitchens’ on TV. Mise en place? Somehow I always thought it meant Mess In Place and stood for … you clean up your own mess )

It is a great cook book to read.

But it will break your heart to try and repeat.

He ends up with a wood fired concrete oven in the backyard.

I can say that I have arrived at a recipe that is my ‘go to’ recipe for baking bread.

It is the best.

It is simple.

It is simply, the best recipe for baking bread at home.

I can say that as it is my blog – my rules.

Sorry to say you do need two special pieces of equipment.

One is a cast iron loaf pan, but a small cast iron frying pan also works.

Why cast iron?

The only reason I got is that it works for me and that works for me.

The other piece of equipment is one of those stand mixers or mix-masters.

An expensive piece of kitchen equipment and I have to admit I inherited mine from my sister-in-law, Carla.

So take your mix-master if you got one and use your dough hook attachment.

In the mixing bowl dump 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, a package of yeast, 3 and 1/2 cups of flour and 1 and 1/2 cups of warm water.

Just dump it all in there.

All at once.

Then run that mix master with the dough hook for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, take the bowl off and cover with a cloth for 1 hour so the dough can rise.

At some point, pre heat your over to 425.

After the dough has sat for an hour, get some flour on your counter and scrap the dough out onto the flour and knead into a ball.

Drop the dough into the cast iron pan and shove the pan into the hot 425 oven until brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).

Take the pan out and (if you got a nicely seasoned cast iron pan) dump the bread out onto a cooling rack and you are done.


I let the bread sit for a few minutes then cut off some thick slices.

I ate the heal part of the loaf, covered with butter, right away as I love the crust.

Then I made up two plates with a warm slice of bread with cheese and some fruit for me and the Mrs. to have for lunch.

This morning I cut another thick slice and put it in toaster.

I watched.

The surface of my slice bread was rough, not smooth like a bakery loaf.

The tips of little fragments of bread started to brown first.

Almost like watching a sun rise and the golden toasted colors spread across the surface of the bread.

On the plate, the butter melted into the bread.

The kitchen smelled of warm bread and coffee.

Rough and crunchy.

Soft and chewy from the butter.

Simple touches to start a rainy weekend in the low country.

The romance of home baked bread.

But in the back of my mind, is a warning.

A voice reminding me, that a lot of romance was the luxury of choosing to bake some bread.

A voice reminding me, that a lot of romance was the luxury having the option to bake some bread.

I might not like it so much … if I had to do it.

3.25.2023 – prognosticators

I expect, to pick us fifth
in the final four

Florida Atlantic University is making just their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, won the East Region at Madison Square Garden and will head to Houston to play the winner of Sunday’s South Region final between Creighton and San Diego State.

After beating Kansas State and advancing to the final four, their coach, Dusty May said, “I expect the prognosticators to pick us fifth in the Final Four.”

Points for unexpectedly winning and advancing this far in the Tournement.

AND BIGGER POINTS for Coach May using the word, prognosticators!

OKAY, Coach May!

(Which is a tribute to Groucho Marx in Horsefeathers. I hope I need not elaborate.)

3.24.2023 –

nearest humans are
in a space station when it
passes overhead

Intrigued to read in the article, The science of sailing: inside the race across the world’s most remote ocean, by Yvonne Gordon, that:

The Southern Ocean is not somewhere most people choose to spend an hour, let alone a month.

Circling the icy continent of Antarctica, it is the planet’s wildest and most remote ocean.

Point Nemo – just to the north in the South Pacific – is the farthest location from land on Earth, 1,670 miles (2,688km) away from the closest shore.

The nearest humans are generally those in the International Space Station when it passes overhead.

I looked it up.

The international Space Station is about 250 miles away.

So you need a circle with a radius of 250 miles or a diameter of 500 miles or an area of around 196,350 square miles which is bigger than California but smaller than Texas and in the circle, there can be no other people.

If you are at the center of that space and the International Space Station flies over you head, those people on the Space Station are closer to you than anyone else on earth.

3.23.2023 – there are pleasures in

there are pleasures in
madness, in being mad, known
only to madmen

I have a source that attributes the saying, There are pleasures in madness known only to madmen, to Dr, Johnson (also known as Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709- 1784), who was, according to Wikipedia, an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography calls him “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”.)

As I was working on words to bring together walking on the beach in March and March Madness, the quote popped out of my brain and I hammered out a haiku.

Then I put back into the google to see if I could find some context for the quote and what I found was, There is a pleasure sure, In being mad which none but madmen know.” from John Dryden in Act II, scene 1 of The Spanish Friar (1681).

Dr. Johnson.

John Dryden.



March Madness and the Beach.

On the Beach in March.

I grew up in a place where March was mean.

I grew up where, as Garrison Keillor wrote of the Great Lakes/Upper Midwest, God invented March so that none drinkers would know what a hangover was like.

Now I don’t.

Now I live where March is kind of nice.

March is still a month of for Madness but for me, that doesn’t include the weather.

And this led into my search for a haiku.

I was trying to find the words to express that while my team was no longer playing this March, I was able to compensate as I was able to walk on the beach in March on my lunch break.

Such madness.

Such in madness.

Suffice it to say, there are pleasures in walking in the waves on the beach at lunchtime, but you have to work near the beach to know that.

Which asks the question, am I only trying to rub it in on folks who don’t work near the beach?

Am I only trying to rub it on folks, friends and family who live up North where it is 44 degrees and overcast?

Surely, it would be a sign, sure, of some sort of madness to be so mean.

There are pleasures in madness, known only to madmen.

Which begs, the question, would I enjoy my lunch time walk on the beach as much if I couldn’t brag about in social media.




After all, there are pleasures in walking in the waves on the beach at lunchtime, but you have to work near the beach to know that.

3.22.2023 – imagine having a

imagine having a
city full of things that no
other city had

That’s the way of the world, of course.

Possessions get discarded.

Life moves on.

But I often think what a shame it is that we didn’t keep the things that made us different and special and attractive in the fifties.

Imagine those palatial downtown movie theaters with their vast screens and Egyptian decor, but thrillingly enlivened with Dolby sound and slick computer graphics.

Now that would be magic.

Imagine having all of public life — offices, stores, restaurants, entertainments — conveniently clustered in the heart of the city and experiencing fresh air and daylight each time you moved from one to another.

Imagine having a cafeteria with atomic toilets, a celebrated tea room that gave away gifts to young customers, a clothing store with a grand staircase and a mezzanine, a Kiddie Corral where you could read comics to your heart’s content.

Imagine having a city full of things that no other city had.

From The life and times of the thunderbolt kid : a Memoir by Bill Bryson, New York, Broadway Books (2006).

To punch away once more at Mr. Bryson’s words, that’s the way of the world, of course.

Possessions get discarded.

Life moves on.

But I often think what a shame it is that we didn’t keep the things that made us different and special and attractive.

3.21.2023 – step by step by step

step by step by step
bach by bach by note by note
each placed, nothing missed

Last Sunday found us at the the Grace Coastal Church of Okatie, South Carolina.

There was one of those Church moments when the pianist stopped during an intro to a hymn and announced that her piano was out of tune.

It’s one of those digital piano’s,” she said, “I know I just have to press a button to reset it … but I don’t know where that button is.”

And she got up and walked across the platform to the old grand piano and the picked up where she had left off.

One of those moments of natural comic relief that make church chuch.

The service was old fashioned to the point that all the lights were on and everyone, and I mean everyone sang.

And in this time of post covid, they even took up an offering by passing things hand to hand.

For an old church veteran like me, an offering meant an offertory.

The musical interlude before the sermon.

For a small Presbyterian low county church, I did not expect much.

For a small Presbyterian low county church, I wasn’t ready for what happened next.

That pianist, who already admitted she couldn’t tune a digital piano, sat down at the keyboard and pulled off a minor miracle by effortlessly pulling notes out of that old grand piano in a charming rendition of Bach’s Arioso from Cantata 156 “Ich steh’mit Fuss in Grabe” (yes I looked the official name up).

She played it slow, so slowly but on the beat.

Each note sounding alone but part of the chain.

The magic of Bach, the progression of the notes, each one, like one step following the next and never a misstep.

Each step following the next in a way that, to me, I have to say HOW and at the same time, HOW COULD IT BE ANYTHING ELSE.

I was sitting in a small, small Presbyterian low county church.

But the music took me far away.

I don’t know.

It’s been so long that I have had opportunity to hear live music.

This was so unexpected.

This was so charming.

I am sure I am making way more of this than anyone else there, or that anyone should, but it was, for a me, the truest moment of prayer and of grace with the gift of these notes, in this arrangement played in this way, that I have had in a long time.

Folks, let me tell, if God lets the odd moment like this happen, and believe, not really by chance, what can happen when he really puts his mind too it?


So much is given.

Boy, Howdy, but much is going to be expected!

They say Mr. Bach could set back and let these musical progressions pour out of his fingers without a thought.

All I can think of is how?

So I don’t think.

I just let the moment be that moment.

And I thanked God for it.

BTW, with the magic that is the internet, I was able to find a video of the church service and rip the audio of this simple musical moment and you can click here to hear it.

It isn’t a quality recording, but it is great at the same time and you close your eyes and imagine a small sunlight church with morning coming in the windows and nothing else to do for a minute but listen and as they say, know that God is God.

Yes, there is baby crying at the start … live music, what can you say.

3.20.2023 – for the modern world

for the modern world
stakes raised to infinity
win or lose it all

For the modern world is one in which all stakes are raised to infinity; win it all or lose it all, in this or the next generation.

Man’s problem is that he has at last become master of his own fate, and he may not have had the proper training; which is to say that he has arranged things so that he has no one but himself to rely upon.

Instead of looking beyond the skies, he is obliged to look into his own heart.

If he looks earnestly enough, he may find there the thing he needs most of all — the secret of the art of associating together.

From Michigan : a History by Bruce Catton, (1899-1978) New York : Norton, 1984

3.19.2023 – just once in six months

just once in six months
or a year, a call serves to
keep up acquaintance

From The Home Cook Book, by Ladies of Toronto and Other Cities and Towns, Toronto, Belford Brothers, Publishers, MDCCCLXXVII.

The Title page states:




Under SOCIAL OBSERVANCES – Cards and Calling, we read:

The simplest society duty is, that of making calls. A new comer should return each call within two weeks after it is made. After this, a call once in six months, or a year, serves to keep up acquaintance. Calls are due to a hostess two days after a dinner party, and two days after a ball, and a week after a small party, though these are amply fulfilled by leaving one’s card in the case of a gentleman, a personal call being polite from a lady who has more time.

In town, leaving a card with the corner bent signifies that it was left by its owner in person, not sent by a servant. Bending the edges of a card, means that the visit was designed for the young ladies of the house, as well as the mistress of it. If there is a visitor with the family whom you wished to see, a separate card should be left for that person, naming him or her to the servant. A card should also be left for the host, if the call was designed as a family matter, but more than three are not left at one house.

For some reason I must now immediately read each text or message on any electronic device as if it were a message from the Principal of my High School.

And if I don’t respond immediately, somehow, I am RUDE.

I want to pay calls.

Once every six months or a year.

And if you aren’t home, I want to leave my card.

Somehow, afterwards, we are both satisfied that we have done all that is necessary.

All that is required.

The telephone was seen as an intrusion in the home.

Now it sits in my hand constantly … in case someone wants to tell me something that I didn’t need to know in the first place.

Oh well.

Devil will have his details.

3.18.2023 – the times are changing

the times are changing
or, tempora mutantur
… and we change in them

Or Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, which can be translated as:

Times are changed; we also are changed with them


Times are changed; we, too, are changed within them.

We change WITH the changes?

We are changed BY the changes.

In the first, we change to meet the challenges brought by change.

In the second, we are changed by those challenges brought by change.

I have to say that things have changed in the world of politics in the time that I have been around.

Not to mention any names, but there was a time when, if a candidate for ANY OFFICE, from dog catcher to President of the United States, was named in headline, just NAMED, about an encounter of any kind, from a cup of coffee, to the beast with two backs, with anyone, let alone with a porn star, that candidate would be FINISHED.

Can anyone remember Gary Hart?

But Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.

Times change and we changed with or we were changed by the times.

The current news cycle has a story about a candidate for Public Office who had a ‘tryst’ with a porn star.

No one denies that this happened.

No one denies that the candidate was married at the time.

No one denies that the candidate arranged for hush money to be paid to the porn star to keep the story quiet.

(UPDATE: truth be told, rereading the accounts, the candidate in question DOES deny the tryst took place 3/18/2023)

What is at question here is whether or not the candidate paid the porn star off with funds diverted from political contributions.

Because using money to pay off a porn star so the porn star would keep quiet about their ‘tryst’ would be WRONG if the money used to pay off the porn star so the porn star would keep quiet about their ‘tryst’ came from political contributions.

There is a tragedy here.

And it is not about the candidate.

That old wise man changed with the changes, watched and learned, and built a house on the rock with a firm foundation.

That old foolish man was changed by the changes and saw his house on the sand go splat.

3.17.2023 – piling on problems

piling on problems
persistence of poverty
in life should shame us

Poverty is measured at different income levels, but it is experienced as an exhausting piling on of problems.

Poverty is chronic pain, on top of tooth rot, on top of debt collector harassment, on top of the nauseating fear of eviction. It is the suffocation of your talents and your dreams.

It is death come early and often.

From 2001 to 2014, the richest women in America gained almost three years of life while the poorest gained just 15 days.

Far from a line, poverty is a tight knot of humiliations and agonies, and its persistence in American life should shame us.

All the more so because we clearly have the resources and know-how to effectively end it.

From the Guest Opinion piece, America Is in a Disgraced Class of Its Own by Matthew Desmond, a sociologist at Princeton, where he is the director of the Eviction Lab.

Mr. Desmond continues:

Most Americans — liberals and conservatives alike — now believe people are poor because “they have faced more obstacles in life,” not because of a moral failing.

Long overdue, however, is a reckoning with the fact that many of us help to create and uphold those obstacles through the collective moral failing of enriching ourselves by impoverishing others.

Poverty isn’t just a failure of public policy.

It’s a failure of public virtue.

I am not so sure that most Americans don’t think that the poor are poor because they deserve to be poor due to some moral failing.

And I don’t care why poor people are poor.

The fact that they are are poor should be enough.

Truly I think we cannot do anything about the poor in the long run, as the poor will always be with us, but what do we do, what did we do in the short run?

Jesus himself said that “The poor you will always have with you.

Myself, I think if that as being a bit of test for us.

And Jesus also said, “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.

I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Is there another way to express that last line?

The line that says, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me?

A failure of public virtue seems to fit nicely.

Tts persistence, both poverty and the failure in public virtue in American life should shame us.

But those words, virtue and shame.

Lets just say when the State of Florida gets around to releasing their approved dictionary, I doubt either word will be in there.