Tag Archives: mochi

Cinders, saints, and a pillow.

Before I returned home from my travels,
a little rain had washed the ashes off much of my garden.

lemon balm with echeveria (hens & chicks)

I had turned off the fountain before my departure, and the rainwater that was left in the bowl had cinders at the bottom. It occurred to me that they might be bits of my goddaughter’s house that burned to the ground and released some of itself into the wind during the incineration.

Thank God, almost all of the northern California fires are contained. We no longer have smoke burning our eyes and lungs, and roads and neighborhoods have opened up daily, but thousands of people lost their homes and/or jobs and businesses and many are still looking for a place to live.

When we talk to our friends or even strangers, we start by finding out how they were affected. Everyone has stories of that morning of October 9th, and every day still I think of someone new that I need to check on with an email or text message.

 

dwarf pomegranate fruit

 

 

In the whole of California, a thousand firefighters are still on task, and at the peak of the season 11,000 were fighting. They came from as far away as New York, Florida and Australia, bless their souls. We’ve had 6400 fires in the state this season, which burned 556,000 acres, much more than last year.

But my neighborhood did not burn, and I haven’t seen the destruction close-up yet. I’m walking my creek paths as before.

I’ve also jumped back into parish life:

Last weekend I cooked our Sunday Agape Meal for 100 people. You might remember that I did this twice before as a memorial for my husband; this time it was not for any special occasion. It consisted of 10 gallons of meaty chili with lots of vegetables, served over squares of creamy polenta, with tossed green salad on the side; sour cream and fresh cilantro for garnish.

I had a few helpers to do prep work for me on Saturday, and a few others to help me serve Sunday after the service. This combination was a hit, so maybe I will do it again. Each time I’ve cooked like this has been a little easier, so maybe I can start doing it more often.

Sunday evening we held a Celebration of the Saints party for which children could dress up and tell the stories of the saint they were representing. We had crafts and a soup dinner and it was so low-key and relaxing, with none of the hype and over-stimulation that always makes me wince on behalf of the little ones. I was privileged to help a little boy named Marcus work out his idea for a needle-felted pumpkin with fried-egg eyes that morphed into even thicker stars.

When we communion bread bakers showed up for duty on Tuesday morning we soon realized it was the feast day of our patron saints! Saints Spryidon and Nikodim are communion bread bakers from way back who watch over our baking from their icon each week, but I don’t think I’ve ever had the honor of baking prosphora, the bread of offering, on their day. It was very special, and we arranged an informal photo-shoot for the occasion.

Icons and saints graced my day today, also, thanks to my housemate Kit. I think I told you she is moving back to Oregon from where she came two years ago to live with me and be a blessing. Before she takes her final load of stuff north in a few days she wanted to visit San Francisco once more, and invited me.

St. John

We visited Holy Virgin Cathedral and the relics of St. John Maximovitch, and also walked to the chapel and house where he lived, where one can sit in a little room with the icons and desk and chair that were his own, where he prayed. That my young friend and I could share this last holy experience together is just one more cord that binds us in the Holy Spirit.

We enjoyed just being in the city and not trying to accomplish too much. Visited the Wells Fargo History Museum which is wonderfully free and fascinating. Craned our necks to see the sky when walking downtown; and ate dim sum for the first time, with exquisite fried mochi sesame buns.

Driving in traffic to and in San Francisco is normally a trial, but today’s outing was relaxing and soul-nourishing. I drove and Kit navigated, and we were compatible sight-seers in every way. The next week will be just as busy as the last one has been, so I’ll be glad to sleep soon on the pillow of peace.

Biscuits and Buns

In this post I will share two recipes I’ve had waiting in my Recipes-to-Try folder, and recently did get around to. I loved them both.

I found Brazilian Cheese Bread here at The Traveler’s Lunchbox. The Portuguese name is Pão de Queijo. These little buns are said to be very popular with coffee for breakfast in Brazil. (The picture at right is not of these rolls. I was afraid that if I didn’t put a colorful picture there you might not keep reading. That picture is of the biscuits I tell about further down.)

There are many recipes for the cheese buns around, with different ingredients and techniques (This one at the San Francisco Examiner looks plausible), but I will tend to stick with the Lunchbox version, as mine came out so good. One thing non-traditional in that recipe is the use of butter rather than oil. And I do love butter. I did cut down on the salt in my recipe, by 50%.

They are quite unusual, in that they are made with tapioca starch rather than flour, and therefore are gluten-free, and chewy.

The first picture I took was of the sticky dough that one puts little globs of on parchment paper. This is the unappetizing stage. But just be patient.

The rolls puff up as they bake, and while mine did come out with some “horns” and such like, they were oh-so-tender and light, while at the same time moist and tasty. I noticed that the Examiner recipe does have you make balls of the dough, which would reduce the prickly nature of the crust somewhat. But my dough was not firm enough for that.

The thin crispy crust broke open to reveal an interior that was not doughy at all, but very cheesy, with a stretchy “crumb.” No need for extra butter or anything. One eater said they were “intense.”

We all noticed the likeness to mochi, the Japanese term for food that is chewy like this and often made with a highly-refined rice flour called mochiko. I think if you like mochi-anything, you would love these buns. I’ll tell you more about mochi in another post.

Mr. Glad doesn’t like mochi, and he didn’t like the Brazilian Cheese Breads. Too bad.

I put the leftovers in the freezer, even though the original recipes say to only bake as many as you need and to freeze the balls instead, etc. This morning we put them in the microwave for a few seconds and they came out quite delicious.

The other recipe I tried last week was Sweet Potato Biscuits. I would be happy to live off sweet potatoes, and because they are almost nutritious enough for that, I like to use them in as many ways as possible.

I was a bit skeptical about how flaky a biscuit could be with the addition of vegetables, but they passed that test. Buttermilk biscuits have been my standby, so these were sweet by comparison, but not overly so. They were enjoyed by all. [lost the recipe somehow while trying to edit it at a later date. Sorry.]