Saturday, October 30, 2010

POETRY: Autumn Sunrise

As I in morning stillness stood
Face pressed against the window sash
To watch an endless feathered flock
Dark silhouettes with dart and dash
Flood across the opalescent sky
Dimly on the glass I saw
Inspired Mystery made plain
My breath inscribed a spectral heart
Upon the frigid windowpane

(c)2010 Kay Pere~Effusive Muse Publishing

[Photo taken at sunrise at Gove Hill Retreat Center, Thetford, VT.
Poem written this morning 10/30/2010 from life lived joyfully. I only wish I had taken a picture of the foggy heart that appeared on my window as I gazed out at birds and sunrise, breathing deeply of beauty.]

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Spent the entire day yesterday working at the community center's pottery studio, 10:30 AM- 7:00 PM. As the day went by I took pictures of my work and the materials used.

This morning while downloading and organizing recent photos from my digital camera I found several older pictures I'd intended to post and write about on my Sacred Shards Pottery blog. They'd been neatly filed on the computer several months ago, then forgotten in the onrush of life.

I need a system for keeping track multiple creative idea streams over time amid the continual shift and resurgence of various priorities. Sometimes the Quiet Little Life isn't so quiet.

Here are links to two of these photos with recent posts on my Sacred Shards Pottery blog:
They describe the process of making a pottery piece that came about through accident and happenstance. The piece turned out well though entirely differently from what I'd first envisioned. Despite obstacles, I set out to SEIZE THE DAY.

(c)2010 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Sunday, July 18, 2010

RECIPE: Lemon Cranberry Scones

This morning I had a little extra uninterrupted time, so to celebrate I decided to bake something. For me, baking is recreation. The time it requires, not to mention the butter and sugar, makes it feel like a decadent luxury.

Since I was planning to go to church this morning, I could indulge in baking without eating the results all by myself. These lemony cranberry scones were shared at coffee hour after the service, though the ones in the picture above were set aside to enjoy here at home over the next few days.

Heavy cream the recipe calls for is not something I usually keep in the house. I did a search online and found a heavy cream substitute recipe that worked just fine, made from 3/4 cup milk and 2/3 c melted butter stirred together. I just added enough extra milk to make the 1 1/4 cup called for in the recipe below.

If you've never made scones before, you can watch the method in a video on, the only remnant of dear departed magazine, shut down last fall by Conde Naste Publishing, much to the disappointment of many. [I'm still sad about this loss. It was my only magazine subscription, always a delight to look through each month when it arrived. They tried sending me a few issues of Bon Appetit magazine in its place, but it just wasn't the same.] The original recipe for Dried Fruit Cream Scones, which I modified to create this recipe, is available on the Gourmet Magazine website. Both of these are now only accessible to registered users, but sign up is free, worthwhile, and doesn't require a divulgence of personal information in exchange.

I've listed quantities for this recipe that usually work. This morning, though, high humidity made the dough extra sticky. I stirred in extra handfuls of flour until the proper texture was reached. The resulting batch was not as fluffy and tender as they are under other circumstances. Even so, they were all eaten by friends conversing in summer sunshine on the church's freshly painted front steps or in the cool shade of the entryway.

  • 2 c all-purpose flour, plus additional for processing cranberries & dusting kneading board
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 c dried cranberries
  • 1 1/4 c heavy cream (or milk/melted butter substitute cooled to room temperature)
  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 3 Tbs sugar
1) Preheat even to 425F. Use an ungreased baking sheet or line it with baker's parchment.

2) Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir in lemon zest and set aside for at least 15 minutes to infuse dry ingredients with lemon flavor.

3) Chop cranberries tossed with 1 Tbs flour in food processor to desired size. Flour prevents dried fruit from sticking.

4) Stir heavy cream into dry ingredients to combine, until a rough, sticky mass begins to form. Do not over stir or scones will be tougher.

5) Flour a board and transfer the dough to it. Knead the dough 8-9 times, then pat into a square or rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

6) For the glaze, still working on the board, brush top of dough with melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with sugar.

7) Cut the rectangle horizontally and vertically to make a 4x4 grid of 16 pieces. Cut these diagonally to form 32 small wedges. Alternately, pat the dough into a 10 inch circle, glaze and cut into 12 larger wedges.

8) Place wedges on baking sheet(s), allowing about 1/2 inch between small wedges. For larger wedges, allow up to 1 inch. Bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

(c)2010 Kay Pere~Effusive Muse Publishing

Saturday, June 05, 2010

BOOKS: Library Used Book Sale 2010

Today was the first day of our local library's used book sale, something I look forward to all year long. I brought home an armload to fill mind and heart in the coming months. They're stacking up my red reading chair where I'll spend this evening browsing through them, building anticipation for future evenings spent absorbed in their contents.

My most treasured purchase this year? (Pictured R, above)
Other fun and interesting finds (stack, above, top to bottom):
I still have a stack of reading material remaining from last year's sale, so I considered not going this year as a way to economize. Then convinced myself it would be good to find gift books for others, for birthdays and Christmas.

Did that.

But also brought home these additional "gifts" for myself. Averaging less than $2 each, they really weren't such an extravagance. Each is an affordable source of hours of entertainment and education.

I can think of worse weaknesses.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Salute to All Who Nurture

A Salute to All Who Nurture

A salute to all who nurture on this day we set apart!
To every step-mom and meta-mom, every giving mom-at-heart,
To all the mystic mothers of music, dance & art,
To each green-thumbed earth mother who gently does her part,
To the soul & body's healers, beside us from the start,

Happy Mothers' Day!

You are remembered and loved.

(c)2010 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Friday, April 09, 2010

THREE PROJECTS: Laying the Groundwork

About a month ago, I found myself at a crossroads.

The people attending our songwriting retreat back in March asked me where they could find recordings of the songs I’d sung for them and when my Creative Compass book would be available for purchase. I realized that I needed to find an answer for myself to the same question they'd asked over and over during our workshops: “How do I find time in my busy schedule for my songwriting?” (or writing a book, or learning to paint, or starting a band, or building a website, or planting a garden, or exercising…)

Their questions and interest motivated me to search for a workable answer.

Right in the middle of one of the busiest periods I’ve been through in many years—six weeks straight teaching lessons, performing concerts, presenting at conferences and retreats, selling pottery at shows, and hosting family gatherings, all without a single day off—I knew I was overdue for a change. I hoped to find a solution that would work for me, while offering tools and ideas that others could adapt to their own lives.

My creative work is piled up like a logjam in side me. It’s fully realized but not in a form that exists without my physical presence. If I’m not on hand to perform the songs, present the workshops, or sell my pottery on the spot they might as well not exist.

A month ago, on Monday, March 29, 2010 I began by making conscious effort to change comfortable old habits that were obviously stealing time and energy. I needed to remove the virtual drug that had been lulling me into complacency about the work I really wanted to be doing.

I’ve waited this long to post this because I didn’t want to try out these changes in public, only to fall back into old habits and have to confess to my backsliding just as publicly.

Four weeks into this change I feel much more comfortable passing along the specific things that have allowed me to start making tangible progress again toward three creative goals that had previously languished for months, even years, until now:

  • Recording my "Dolphin's Daughters" CD project
  • Writing my "Creative Compass" book
  • Spending time making pottery for the joy of it (and to sell online and at artisan shows)

The change has come primarily by reclaiming time dissipated online, time I was numb to having wasted each day. And a change in attitude.


Recording a CD and writing a book are computer intensive activities. Though my capacity for being glued to a computer screen for hours on end is fairly high, there’s still a limit to how much time I can put in each day, both in terms of endurance and availability. Wasting capacity on mindless internet exploration leaves little for recording a CD or writing a book.

In other words, I can only sit at my desk for so many hours straight before I my backside begins to hurt and I'm overpowered by an urge to run out front door into the sunshine shouting, "I'm free! I'm free!"

I realized that the time I was spending online reading news stories and blogs, skimming Facebook status updates, and watching funny videos must have been meeting some need otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. What I had to figure out was what purpose they were serving so I could find a more satisfying way to meet those needs and free up my computer capacity for work on my projects.

The conclusion I drew was that time online was serving as a poor substitute for real world random exploration and discovery, enrichment, entertainment, and personal connection with others. If I could make a place for more of these things away from the computer screen, then the changes wouldn’t feel so much like deprivation during the crucial early stages.


Four weeks ago I set out first to quantify the minutes and hours slipping past in mindlessly screen staring while I read Facebook status updates and browsed internet news, caught up on artists’ and eco blogs, searched for recipes, listened to music or watched the latest viral Youtube video.

I set a digital timer counting as soon as I went online that first day. I needed cumulative total. Each time I went off to do something goal related or respond to a client email I stopped it. As soon as I returned to the internet in an unfocused way I started it again.

At the end of the first day, I was astounded by what the timer showed. And too embarrassed now tell you what it said, though you can read the fine print in the picture of my journal, below. Had I really squandered the entire morning after breakfast morning, and several wedges of precious time between teaching lessons, then another hour just before bed on that first day? Talking with other people, I soon realized that I wasn't alone, only difference was the time of day I was going online, morning vs. evening for most people.

For the next two days, I continued tracking my time online without changing habits. I had to convince myself of the magnitude of the problem. Was this really the way I'd been living? I made little chart and totaled up different kinds of internet use for several days.

Each day yielded the same results: several hours irretrievably lost with nothing to show for them but a nondescript sensation that I had done something vaguely useful.

How had I become delusional enough to sincerely believe that the majority of my internet time was being used for writing and responding to business correspondence or goal related reading, writing, watching, and listening online? The hard data I’d collected on myself showed a completely different story.

Fully convinced by the middle of that first week, I switched the timer from stopwatch to countdown mode, allotting myself only 1 hour, total, each day for online entertainment and curiosity.

My previous pattern had been to check email, read news, and browse Facebook over a bowl of generic cheerios or oatmeal, then loose track of time until mid-morning or even lunch time if I got up late. I work for myself teaching voice and piano to student scheduled to arrive afternoon through evening. I rationalized that my morning was the equivalent of everyone else’s evening, when other people relax and blew off steam after a hard day of work. This sort of daily schedule would be fine, except that there are other things I want to be doing.

The change felt more than a little awkward at first. I went through withdrawals on Thursday and Friday of that first week. It was like giving up a drug. Symptoms included a nagging sensation that something important was missing, restlessness, and irritability followed by the intense urge to return to my old ways.

More than a few of times, as I worked on other things at the computer, I lost focus and mindlessly clicked on the browser icon only to return to awareness 10-15 minutes later while skimming news headlines and articles on, or browsing friends and family members status updates on Facebook.

So I started rationing the hour in 15-20 minute increments throughout the day, using it to take breaks from other work. When the time ran out I planned to shut down the browser and return to other activities, but on several occasions the time expired, the timer beeped, and many minutes went by before I returned to awareness.

The next morning unplugged the Ethernet cable before powering on the computer. I didn’t plug it back in until lunchtime and got a lot more done.


I could see that if I simply reined in my old habits, while offered nothing as a replacement to meet the needs they were fulfilling, this experiment would fail. If I planned to impose additional structure on an already busy schedule, I would need to offer myself some other form of release of the sort that inspires rather than numbs.

The next step was to begin replacing cyber randomness with real world spontaneous exploration and online social networking with face-to-face interaction.

To fill the need for random, spontaneous exploration, that first week I started taking my new digital camera out for a walks capturing anything and everything that caught my eye.

I spent sunny hours working in the garden for fun, allowing myself to be drawn by whichever task called to me next—picking up leaves, digging holes to transplant rhubarb, picking pieces of antique pottery from the sandy soil like an archeologist, pruning the blueberry bushes.

I spent quiet moments sitting on the grass in the sunshine watching a pair of crows circle high over bare branched early spring woods.

Or by the sea as cloud shadows, wind ripples, and lobster boats pass.

I’ve browsed through the local public library, picking books off of shelves and bringing home CDs to discover new ideas and new music. Sometimes I’ve stayed to write there in a big comfortable chair for a change of scenery.

For human connection, I’ve been more open to conversation with people I encounter when I’m out in the community, choosing activities that will give me opportunities for interaction. It’s amazing what listening and thoughtful sharing will open in another, and in yourself.

This past weekend I struck up a conversation with a woman outside of the hardware store. We’d come out of the store a the same time and I’d noticed that she had a pick-up truck full of bamboo plants. I asked where she’d gotten them, then whether she was selling them, and eventually arrangements to get some for our yard. Not only that but learned a little about her family’s farm, it’s history, and why they're having to sell it. It’s a place I’ve driven by nearly every day and admired, lamenting the 55 acres that will soon be opened to development just a half-mile from our home.

Unlike the hours squandered on the internet, random explorations in the real world and time reclaimed for projects yielded memorable, tangible results.

The vividness of hours spent walking around town with a camera—capturing the shapes, colors and textures of ordinary objects—lingers even a week-and-a-half later. As does the satisfaction I feel each time I look back at those images. The experience of that day is burned into the retina of my heart.


My projects have progressed and I’m feeling more alive!

The payoff can be found in small, tangible accomplishments and memorable experiences. These have replaced the emptiness I felt during the first few days after changing my old routine.

No, the CD is not recorded, not in four weeks, nor will it be finished in the next month or even two, but I now know exactly what I’ve already accomplished and what needs to be done next to keep things moving forward.

A unified awareness of accomplishments and next steps was difficult to holding in my mind before, when the virtual world ruled my attention.

I began a new pottery vessel titled Carpe Diem, which can be seen here, among other things. The scraps from forming this will become labyrinth necklaces to add to my Sacred Shards inventory.

And the Creative Compass book?

I’ve begun again to add 3x5 cards with ideas, quotes, etc. to my pocket chart outline as I happen upon them. I’m open again to uncovering insights and capturing them so they are beginning to appear nearly everywhere I look, as if by magic.

Although more dedicated time is needed to make real progress on the book, many ideas and topics are beginning to take shape in my daily writing.

During the coming month, I plan to commit certain hours each week to work on the book and my blogs. This will be another step forward.

The average non-fiction paperback book contains 40,00-50,00 words. The word count for this little essay has run more 2200 with an investment of about 12 hours total. I started it back at week two, but came back to rewrite and edit several times before it seemed ready to find it’s form.

Though this article won’t be used beyond this blog without further editing, it shows that writing a book is not such a distant, unachievable goal. A simple calculation reveals that 25 essays of this length could well be woven together to create a book of marketable length. [55,000 / 2200 = 25] This is totally doable!

I’m learning in a concrete way that moving these big projects toward completion is just a matter of accumulating incremental progress.

It’s a cliché of the creative world that you can do anything 15 minutes at a time. Well, it’s true.

My threshold of measurable accomplishment seems to be found after 1-3 hours of continuous work. Obviously the hours I’ve reclaimed from useless internet wanderings, and soulless TV watching before that, more than allow for this.


I found the time in my busy schedule to begin to record my songs, make more pottery, and write the book by turning away from the virtual, toward the real world were songs and pottery and books must come exist apart from my presence, were the need for random exploration and human connection can truly find their fulfillment.

As a wonderfully affirming bit of ironic serendipity, in the midst of all this change an old friend posted a link of perfect relevance on Facebook. Unaware that I’d been working to make these very alterations in my life, she shared the following article, “Time Lost and Found” by inspirational author, Anne Lamott.

After reading it I knew I was absolutely doing the right thing.

A month has passed since I began instituting these changes and tailoring them to accommodate my best way of being and working.

I write today with new habits firmly in place: the ethernet cable is unplugged from my computer. It’s nearly lunchtime and I have not yet gone online today. In a few minutes, I’ll power down the computer, plug the cable back in, then go online to finally post this little article on my “Quiet Little Life” blog for you to read.

When I do, the timer will be close at hand, already set to count down from 1 hour as soon as the day’s browsing begins.

Though I still expect to lose track of time spent online occasionally, I know I’m more awake than before and more aware of the time passed there. Always, I’m eager to return to the real world were more satisfying work and exploration and human connection await.

©2010 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Monday, March 29, 2010

REFLECTION: a sigh of relief...

March has been one of the busiest months I've experienced in many years. All of it good busy. Just too much constant activity on top of activity for my quiet temperament.

Too much of a good thing is still too much.

The past two months have been an uninterrupted stream of concerts to perform, retreats to lead, conference mentoring to offer, workshops to present, and pottery shows to manage. All satisfying and valuable, but requiring a steady take-charge alertness and responsiveness to others that is draining when sustained over a long haul.

Today marks a conscious shift toward silence and solitude.

Today I return my gaze toward the projects closest to my heart, projects that can only progress if granted the uninterrupted time, energy, and focus they require.
  • recording the next CD, one song at a time
  • writing the Creative Compass book, one essay at a time
  • pottery making, for artistic discovery and for sale, one lump of clay at a time.
One of my favorite quotes is from the dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, here she is speaking to Agnes De Milne:
[pictured above in a photograph by Barbara Morgan, "Letter to the World (kick), Martha Graham" 1940]

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is on a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

When I'm suspended too much from myself--from my need for stillness and solitude--a sadness, a deep feeling of neglect creeps in. There is only one cure.

I wrote in my journal this morning:

"My tasks first. Others later or they will set the tone for the day.
My tasks first.
Not email.
Not phone calls.
My solitude.
My body. [meaning exercise and healthy eating]
My vision.

"Relationships don't need constant tending. They will be stronger if I am more whole."

"If I am angry and sad and feeling neglected within, no matter how much recreation and togetherness is poured on top it will never be healed. The healing is in my own inward attentiveness, my own setting of protective boundaries around the needs of this center self, my own making of space for its expression and discovery."

"There is always discovery in solitary being and doing. That is what I long for. I will carve out space for that discovery through Soulful doing. Starting today. Starting now."

Less mindless surfing of the internet to read news, or watch videos, or catch up on Facebook. Less shuffling through newspapers and magazines to kill time.

Much more direct engagement in the projects that matter to me.

Starting today. Starting now.

I'll be writing here and on my other, related blogs more regularly, though briefly, to map daily progress.
But I'm shutting down my browser now.
And getting to work.

Starting today. Starting now.

(c)Kay Pere~Effusive Muse Publishing

Thursday, February 18, 2010

BAKING: 1st Cake from Scratch!

Yesterday's Creative Output:
1 Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Mocha Whipped Cream Frosting
2 8-inch round layers

Life can be home schooling for grown-ups.

That's how I see it. I've turned off the TV, where I'd just be watching other people do things, and I've tuned in to learning and doing things myself instead, using my unscheduled time to following my curiosity.

It has been a goal of mine for a long time to bake a cake from scratch. Why? I'm not entirely sure. Sense of accomplishment? Potentially delicious results? Happy husband?

It's one of those urges you don't question. You just go with it. But where to start?

For my first scratch-baked cake, I meticulously went through all my cookbooks and compared all the chocolate cake recipes (no exaggeration). If I was going to put in the effort to bake a cake this way, I wanted to understand what I was doing and what the options were. I wanted to maximize the chances of success. Nothing is more discouraging to a novice baker that an unpalatable result the first time out.

At the risk of revealing the level my enjoyment of detail and depth, and looking a little crazy in the process, here is a picture of the table I created and filled in with ingredient quantities from 18 different chocolate cake recipes (not including the flourless or chiffon varieties).
Earlier this week, when the number of choices and amount of information was feeling overwhelming, I put this chart together so I could look for patterns. I enjoyed imagining each one as I looked over the recipes.

That's probably why I have so many recipes collected and organized into binders on a shelf in our kitchen. I read recipes the way some people read trashy novels.
Though the cake in the picture above wasn't from the recipe I ultimately used, the photo supplied inspiration for the finished result.

Some recipes used powdered unsweetened cocoa, some solid, some Dutch-process, some non-Dutch-process (wasn't even sure what this meant when I started). Some specified butter or shortening or vegetable oil, or milk or water or buttermilk or yoghurt or sour cream, white sugar or light brown sugar, baking powder and/or baking powder and/or salt. And so on. A lot to understand.

Got a wide variety of reactions when I told people I was planning to bake my first cake from scratch this week--everything from "Why would you want to do that?" to "You've got to try this great frosting recipe!"

Ultimately, I took a friend's advice and chose a recipe with buttermilk for my first attempt. She said it would be more moist. For the frosting, I decided on a flavored whipped cream for simplicity's sake--I already knew how to whip cream and add things to it. Other frostings required unfamiliar steps. One can only take on so many unfamiliar steps at one time.

Mixing the cake ended up not being a big deal. Creaming butter and sugar together on a stand mixer? I knew how to do that. Easy! Measuring and sifting together dry ingredients? I could do that. Again, easy! Breaking eggs? Mixing it all together? Putting the batter into the greased and floured pans? All easy!

Why had it seemed to overwhelming to begin with? Too many choices. Multiple steps examined as a whole. The print began to swim on the page. Until I took it all a little at a time.

Choose and do! That's it.

This is an approach that applies to any other undertakings. Face down the feelings of being overwhelmed by choices and the worry about making the best one. Take the time you need to understand what you're about to do, as much as you can without having done it, then choose and do! Or just jump in and try stuff, see what works and what doesn't. Either approach works.

Many kinds of knowledge only come from the doing.

Three years ago I decided I wanted to learn to bake my own bread. Now I'm very comfortable with the process and enjoying experimenting with methods, inventing my own recipes. I would love to get to this point with other areas of cooking.

Cooking is just another thing to know, useful knowledge with edible results. It's a way of relating to the things that us bring sustenance. It's the raw material for an enjoyable experience, sitting down with others to converse.

So many of the other creative things I'm involved in are what I would call "long cycle" activities.

From concept and clay to finished piece to gallery or market is a relatively long cycle, on the scale of weeks or months, sometimes years. From concept to song to performance to recording to distribution is another long cycle of months or years.

Baking is a creative activity with a "short cycle" from beginning to end, just a matter of minutes or hours. The recipe I chose said "2 1/2 Hours Total, including cooling, 25 minutes active." A small investment when I know we will enjoy this cake all week.

Besides, what else was I going to do? Watch TV?

[I have chosen not to include the recipes I used, leaving the fun for you to choose your own. Both cake and frosting recipes came from "A Piece of Cake", by Susan C. Purdy, which has 380 recipes for all varieties of cakes and frostings--purchased used for $3 at last spring's library book sale.]

Friday, February 12, 2010

SACRED SHARDS: New Blog, Vessel Shown & Sold

Sacred Shards Pottery, new blog, new post:

I recently imported all the posts I've made on this blog to a new blog that will focus specifically on "Sacred Shards Pottery." I will continue to update this "Quiet Little Life" blog with links over to my other topic-specific blogs so those who wish to can follow those areas in more depth.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


When I saw this morning that Colin Beavan had mentioned sprouting on his No Impact Man blog as an easy way to start growing your own food, I just had to join the fun.

This quart jar of sprouts was started last Wednesday with 1 Tbs each organic radish, red clover, and alfalfa seeds, rinsed and drained twice a day morning and evening each day since.

In this picture are the sprouts remaining, and continuing to grow, after I've already enjoyed several servings atop salads and on sandwiches.

Growing my own sprouts is a two-fold environmental act.

First, I'm avoiding the environmental costs associated with grocery store packaging, storage and transportation.

At the same time, I'm returning the means of production to the hands of the people (well, this one person) while becoming more engaged with and aware of where my food comes from--actual living, growing things. This, for me, has value for both body and spirit.

If I were to buy sprouts at the grocery store they would be packaged in a one-time-use plastic carton which required energy to make and would require additional energy to recycle. My glass jar may have been more energy intensive to produce, but it is essentially infinitely reusable. Grocery store sprouts are started off site, transported to the store, refrigerated and misted until purchase, transported home, then must be refrigerated until they're used up. Because they're sold at peak growth, they have a shorter useful life for the consumer. When I've bought grocery store sprouts I rarely use them up before they start to get slimy.

Today, this tiny forest in a jar is sitting on an old wooden trunk by a south-facing window in our kitchen, while heavy snow falls outside.

It is a reminder that spring is just around the corner, a reminder of the force to grow contained within all living things, including myself.

(c)2010 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

Monday, February 01, 2010

BREAD: Project Sourdough~Basic Recipe

Some people have plants in their offices. In my studio, today, I have a living ball of sourdough on a slow rise to keep me company.

2 c active sourdough starter* (wild yeasts, all purpose flour, water)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 c bread flour.

That's it! Following usual bread making methods: stir, knead, rise, punch down, rest, form, rise, bake, EAT.

This little ball-o-dough will be 6-8 oval sourdough sandwich rolls before the day is done.

No matter how much I have to do during the day, the slow rising of dough is a calming ostinato played in mellow tones on a double bass. The smell of the yeast and flour says "home" and "sustenance" to my soul. The whole process is a sort of working meditation.

The picture above was not staged, except to pull back the damp towel from the top of the bowl. This is what the work surface just inside my studio door often looks like. That is, when it's not covered with piles of papers.

CHALLENGE: In the picture, see if you can find [clockwise from L]: a computer speaker, a Kleenex box (my students don't use handkerchiefs like I do), a paintbrush, a pottery bowl, a sumi-e board, a box of 96 crayons, a pink pearl eraser, an unfolded paper clip, a few remaining Hard Rock Cafe promo stickers, a 4x normal size larynx model, hand sanitizer, a pile of 3x5 cards, a 3-hole punch, a file cabinet, 3 packets of tiny star & smilie stickers, a zip-lock bag full of misc stuff & pile of papers to be sorted.

In the hour since I took the picture, the dough has nearly risen to the top of the bowl. Soon, I'll form the rolls and leave them to rise while I lessons. Baked in time for dinner.

*My sourdough starter has been in our family for 60-70 years, when it was passed along to my father's brother by an very old man, one of the original homesteaders in Idaho. Follow the link to directions for making your own.