Tag Archives: prosphora

This chock-full week in June…

In church, we will soon be celebrating Pentecost, on the 23rd of June. Last night was the Leavetaking of Pascha service that I love, the last time we would sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death!” in the services until next Pascha. Tonight the Feast of Ascension began; until Pentecost we greet once another with “Christ is ascended!” and the response is, “From earth to heaven!”

loaves proofing

Between now and October 1st our parish has many feast days, so our team of communion bread bakers has a busy season ahead. Yesterday three of us worked at making the large loaves used in the altar, and the photos show some of my efforts.

just after sprinkling on some curry spices

At home I’m reveling in glorious vegetables. In the last few days I’ve juiced lots of vegetables raw, and also made big batches of kale and Turkish Green Beans and stir-fried Asian vegetables.

My recent favorite way to cook sweet potatoes or yams is to roast them at 450° or 500° with coconut oil and curry powder. I don’t measure anything, and have used varying amounts of all the ingredients — also different blends of curry spices, plus a little salt. It doesn’t seem to matter if I stir the spices in at the beginning or partway through the baking. I bake them till they are tender. And then I eat them like candy.

Pippin sent me a link to this photo journal of grandmas around the world and the food they cook. I am considering what dish I might pose with were I asked to participate, and what clothes I could wear that would make me look half as cute as the Bolivian grandma in the collection….you’re right, it would take more than clothes. I love the way the women arrange the ingredients so artfully in the “before” photos. An example is below.

The Egyptian grandma looks pleased.

From our son Soldier we got a link for a short film you can watch online (less than 15 minutes), about a man in the mountains of Ecuador who is The Last Ice Merchant. It’s always a joy to see footage of a human soul taking satisfaction from hard work well done.

But progress means that people can get factory ice cheaply and the old-style ice he sells has become a specialty item. It’s not likely anyone will want to take up the cause of nostalgia once he is gone. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the ice he hauls down the mountain is sweeter than the cheap and more convenient blocks.

The last ice merchant

Another man whose character inspired me this week by way of the movie “Searching for Sugarman” is Sixto Rodriguez, a singer whose music never took off in the U.S. His two records failed to sell, and he lived simply and humbly for decades after, not knowing that his music was hugely popular and motivating and successful in South Africa. When his fans there discovered that he wasn’t dead as rumored, they brought him to that country to do several concerts.


Suddenly he is famous — but he didn’t lose his endearing simplicity and generosity. I was impressed at how he seemed to have passed his gentle spirit on to his daughters who are also introduced in the film. I liked all but one person in this documentary, and I liked Rodriguez’s voice very much, and a couple of his songs.

There you have my happy hodgepodge. Oh, and here is what my Mother’s Day lily looked like when we got back from Oregon.

I like the oatmeal bread better.

A week ago I put some sourdough sponges to ferment, and on Monday and Tuesday I finished the bread from them. First was the batch made with Manuel’s Rye Sour starter. I made it with whole grain flours and lots of seeds: sesame, black sesame, poppy, sunflower, and pumpkin. Did I leave anything out? I had a vision of a nourishing lenten bread.

Seeded Sourdough

The next day I was on the Communion bread team at church, and that morning we produced the most gorgeous “lambs,” but I didn’t have my camera, so I will show you a photo of one from the past. Ours this week were much browner and more evenly browned, having baked in the new convection oven.

It was at church I took these photos of wisteria later in the week. It surrounds the courtyard where the fountain was actually working that day.

As soon as I got home Tuesday I began to finish up the other dough, made with the pineapple starter. (Of course it has no pineapple flavor remaining.) I had decided to make that batch heavy on oatmeal and had added several cups of rolled oats to the sponge the day before.

Both the breads came out pretty well — but I have decided to end my Sourdough Experiments. I think the natural yeasts in the air of our town just don’t make a sour flavor that I like. The odd thing is, they are very active and powerful yeasts, compared to the ones where we used to live, which had a more agreeable flavor.  They work nearly as fast as commercial yeast.

The pineapple starter is a bit nicer, so I didn’t throw it out yet, but I keep thinking that I prefer the smell of regular bread in the oven, and out of the toaster. (Perhaps I should try biscuits or pancakes with that starter.) And I like oatmeal bread a lot better with butter in it as well as on it, so considering the small amount of bread we two eat, I may as well just not bother during Lent. I have learned a lot from my experiments. And I think all the bread I’ve been squirreling away in the freezer will do nicely to make grilled cheese sandwiches a few weeks from now.

Sourdough Oatmeal Bread

Addendum: In the old days either Pippin or I would bake 5-loaf batches of un-sour oatmeal bread once or twice a week as our household’s basic bread. It was a more traditional shape of loaf; these loaves are flattish because I haven’t yet worked out how much dough fills my new extra-large loaf pan and it came out a bit short.

A Few June Days

It’s been a busy week so far, too busy to philosophize about and too busy for much picture-taking. A couple of the days were primarily taken up with not being busy, actually.

This June has been cool, so far. But it was warm enough to go to the beach with a friend for her birthday on Monday. First we went down this steep switchbacked trail…



…then settled against a log and drank some hot cocoa, ate our snacks, and shed layers of clothing as the sun got higher and broke through the mist. Lack of wind makes for a relaxing time on the sand.



A Japanese family was so photogenic, I tried to sneak photos of the children. This is the best I could do.




When I got home from the beach,

Mr. Glad was reading on the patio and being struck by the miniature roses in a pot nearby. He grabbed the camera and took this photo, which I am humbly posting black spot and all.

The next day was my turn to help make Communion bread at church. In the Orthodox Church it is called prosphora, which means offering, from the ancient tradition of the people bringing bread to offer for the service.

I’d like to write and show more photos sometime about the different breads we make, but for now I’ll just show you this one I accomplished, called a Lamb.

When the bread was done, just outside there were garden plots to be weeded and watered, and flowers to be deadheaded. Always something new is blooming or changed from my last visit, and I have to take a picture or two.

This morning I made it over to visit a bookworm friend who’s always giving or lending me books. This stack shows:

1) on top, the video we watched together, of poet Richard Wilbur reading some poems and being interviewed at University of Southern California in 1990,

2) Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer; D. said that when she read it she thought of me.

3) Three books by or about M.F.K. Fisher, which D. is lending me. Friend K. has been wanting me to read Fisher for some time, but I never dreamed the books could be small paperbacks I might read in bed!

4) A Gentle Madness, a book about book lovers and collectors, which I ordered online, not dreaming how big it is, and

5) The Outline of Sanity, a Life of G.K. Chesterton, also bought online recently.

I know it looks a bit ambitious, considering the other stacks of books around here. But I’m hopeful of having more reading time soon, while recuperating from foot surgery and in the car on several trips we have planned.

But I’m ending with one more picture from church, of hollyhocks and a gladiolas, because I couldn’t get the photo to go into the right spot above!

Oh! Addendum: Just before the close of this third blessed day of this week, Dear Daughter sent me this howling link for any of you/us who don’t just love to shop.