last fall, i remember thinking..."oh my gosh, what did i do with this past year!?" it wasn't a a question of curiosity, it was a question stained with judgement about how i spent my time. so i responded by making a list of everything i experienced in 2014 and categorized them. (ahh, i love organization!)
but this list isn't about saying, "hey, look at me!" it's about reflecting on a full year and feeling deep gratitude. it's about remembering that although i had a lot of fun experiences, it was in the loneliness of living in rural montana that i began to truly treasure community. it's about looking back in order to shape how i move forward.
this is our second year as a married couple to partake in a couple hours of reflection on the last day of the year. i think we'll make this a family tradition. :) last year, there were a few too many questions, so i trimmed it down a bit and made it simpler.
I have come to believe that the true mystics are not those who contemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who manage to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self…. If they are wise, they treasure the rare moments of solitude and silence that come their way, and use them not to escape, to distract themselves with television and the like. Instead, they listen for a sign of God’s presence and they open their hearts toward prayer. Kathleen Norris
the chewy, denseness of a bagel drives me insane. and the cream cheese. jesus christ! i won't even get into that...
unnaturally, i needed to make some for myself ever since my obsession began earlier this year during our bike tour. since we are guided by zero waste living, i haven't been able to get myself to buy bagels because they usually come in a plastic (non-recyclable) bag. so months ago, i said i would make my own and i've finally gotten around to it.
i looked around briefly for a recipe and found chow's and trusted it rather immediately for one reason: because they did the work by "baking nearly 100 bagels"... and they're "confident that [their] recipe produces the best in the west." awesome! i love their confidence.
the first time i tried the recipe, i rushed the process. the bagels came out a little...how do you say...small and overcooked. the flavor was nice, but the experience of biting into a chewy bagel was lost. and that's at least 50% of the experience. below is chow's recipe, but structured and written in a way that made a little more sense to me.
ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of water (100°F-105°F); 2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast
place water in measuring cup and dissolve yeast, put aside.
ingredients: 4 cups of bread flour; 2 tbsp malt syrup; 2 tsp of salt; 4 tsp granulated sugar
combine and mix these ingredients together. then add the yeast mixture until the dough is "stiff, smooth, and elastic." since i do this all by hand, it takes about 8 minutes or so, to incorporate everything. i found the dough will be dry and somewhat stiff when it's ready for the next step.
shape the dough into a ball, place it into a large oiled bowl (i drizzle a little canola oil into a stainless steel bowl), and roll it around to coat the dough ball. cover the bowl with a damp flour sack and let it rise for about 20 minutes (i put the damp cloth right on the dough). place the bowl in a warm place in your home. after this first rise, it should be "noticeably puffy and spring back when you poke it."
prepping your station
heat oven to 425°F (or 400°F in a convection oven) and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
get something (a pot or shallow pan) that will hold about 2-3" of water and bring it to a boil. reduce it to a simmer and cover until the bagels are ready for their hot bath.
use a silicone liner (to reduce waste) and place on a baking sheet
set a metal cooling rack on another baking sheet, near the simmering water (you'll put your bagels on it after you fish them out)
get a small bowl of water ready for making bagels
get the risen dough on a clean and dry surface. divide it into 12 equal pieces. (i cut mine with a serrated knife.) place the dough pieces under that same damp cloth to keep it from drying out.
get one dough chunk and roll it out to about 9 inches. moisten the two ends, overlap them, and press to join. (i found i needed to shape the ends so they form one cohesive uniformed circle.) widen the hole the size of a quarter. place it back under the damp cloth and let it rise for about 10 minutes. it won't get a ton bigger. repeat to the rest of the dough chunks.
by the time you're done with the 12th one, your first few will probably be ready to go in for their bath. stretch out the dough to maintain a hole (the size of a quarter). then place 3-4 into the simmering water. (you will likely need to raise the temperature of the water to maintain a simmer.) let them bob around for 30 seconds on each side. fish them out and place on the cooling rack. i used my iphone timer to help keep track of time.
(ps. the oil in the pic below is remnant of the oil from the first rise.)
ingredients: 1 tbsp water; 1 egg white; toppings of your choice
whisk together the water and egg white and brush the egg wash all over the bagel. then, (the fun part), sprinkle with toppings of your choice. i used coarse sea salt and sesame seeds.
place bagels on the lined baking sheet about an inch apart and bake for ~20-30 minutes. but rotate the pan after 15 minutes. (if you have a convection oven, you do not need to do this because the heat is even.) i highly recommend keeping an eye on your bagels to determine when it's time for them to come out. when it's a beautiful caramel color, it's ready!
cool down for ~30 minutes. i guess this is for letting the bagel continue cooking internally and for the outside to form a chewy crust. then EAT!
(ps. i forgot to widen the hole the second time, before boiling, so the holes....disappeared. oops!)
i never thought i'd make my own bagels, but they're pretty easy, fun, and tasty. definitely worth a try. thanks to chow.com for all their experimentation, so we don't have to. time for a bagel!!
I want to beg you as much as you can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within yourself the possibility of shaping and forming as a particularly happy and pure way of living; train yourself to it—but take whatever comes with great trust, and if only it comes out of your own will, out of some need of your innermost being, take it upon yourself and hate nothing.
Change of one sort or another is the essence of life, so there will always be the loneliness and insecurity that come with change. When we refuse to accept that loneliness and insecurity are part of life, when we refuse to accept that they are the price of change, we close the door on many possibilities for ourselves; our lives become lessened…. Life evolves; change is constant.
When I was young, I longed to be a saint. What was I longing for? I think it was for certainty that my life had been, in the most profound sense, a ‘success’—that great and glorious success that is sanctity. We revere the saints, we imitate them, theirs is the true and lasting glory. Very clearly, this desire is, unconsciously, as worldly as that of the writer who wants to write a masterpiece or the politician who yearns to be prime minister or president. None of these ambitions has the least to do with what Jesus preached—that lowliness, that love for last place, that readiness to die and be forgotten…. To be concerned with oneself in any way, to watch one’s growth in ‘holiness’ or ‘prayer’, to be spiritually ambitious, all this Jesus earnestly sets his face against.