Here's a heads-up so you won't be caught empty handed on Mother's Day. Look at this loaf!
I made it Easter morning with very little time and effort, and I promise you can whip it out, too. Yeast breads are much easier than they look.
Step 1--You will need to take some initiative and find a sweet bread recipe. If you don't have a basic cookbook, google "sweet bread recipe". Make sure it calls for butter, eggs and sugar or honey. If it doesn't, google again.
Step 2--Follow the recipe, doubling the amount of yeast, and make the dough the night before Mother's Day. [I'm giving you this extra weekend, in case you feel the need to practice. You won't regret having a loaf to eat yourself.] Put the dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight. Have on hand, a jar of raspberry jam, a can of almond paste and a cup of fresh or frozen raspberries.
Step 3--Mother's Day morning you need to get up and take the dough out of the fridge at 6AM, then go back to sleep for a couple hours. Then, get up about two hours before you want to serve the bread hot from the oven.
Dump the dough onto a flat clean surface and roll or press into a rectangle about 9 X 13 inches. With a knife point, draw two lines marking the dough into three long, even sections. Spread a layer of jam down the center section. Slice the almond paste into flat pieces and lay along the top of the jam. Sprinkle the raspberries evenly on top the almond paste.
With scissors or knife, cut 1/2 inch horizontal strips in both outer sections of dough, running from the edge almost to the jam.
Fold one end up slightly so the filling won't run out, and begin crossing the strips over one another until you reach and seal the opposite end.
Lift the braid carefully onto a baking pan and let raise in a warm place (70-90 degrees) for one hour. During this time you can relax, drink coffee, read the paper or mop the kitchen floor. After about 45-50 minutes pre-heat the over to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating take one egg white and mix it with two tablespoons of water. Then in a separate bowl, mix half a cup of powered sugar with a tablespoon of milk or cream to make icing.
When the bread has risen for one hour, very, very gently brush the egg white mixture over the top of the loaf with the corner of a paper towel. Bake the braid on the middle rack for 30 minutes.You can tell it's done when it's nicely browned on top and sounds hollow when you knock it with your knuckle. Take it out of the oven and drizzle it with icing. Serve immediately. I guarantee your mother and/or mother-in-law will be impressed.
Now wasn't that easy?
Great visit with the students of Onion Creek School. Wrote stories with the 6-8th graders. Impressive young people.
The younger students enjoyed my historical mining artifacts.
And on the way home--I saw two moose.
I know it looks like one moose twice. But, honest...it's two unique moose!
At a recent gathering of writers from around the country, I talked to more than a few bemoaning the difficulty in selling non-fiction on historical topics. One reported being told by an editor, "Well, we have Russell Freedman."
Another editorial comment, "It's so labor intensive. We just can't take on very many projects."
Biographer Brandon Marie Miller believes we're in a golden age of history books for kids. She says, "Books are more inclusive of peoples and cultures. They have lovely illustrations, photographs and prints. Many have maps, sidebars and helpful back matter—time lines, glossaries, places to visit, bibliographies and source notes."
Brandon writes for Chicago Review Press. "I’ve proposed my own ideas for all my books—although I’ve had an “in” with editors I’ve already worked with and I was able to bounce ideas off of them before submitting a written proposal or outline for the selection process."
I'd be interested in hearing from others writing history for kids. How do you see the market? What factors most influence the whether an book proposal on a historical subject will sell?
To write from the heart, one must feel a connection to the whole of life. Yet the writing life itself offers so many enticements toward separateness and disconnection. When six weeks have passed with no word from my agent about my most recent manuscript, acceptance of the whole of life is difficult. When months have passed, it can become almost impossible.
To continue working, writing the next story, a way must be found to accept disappointment and rejection. Not simply to resign oneself to it, but to embrace it as a given part of the process, no less important than its opposite. For me, the first step is recognition that I am running away as fast as I can from these painful feelings. I need something to stop me in my tracks and make me pay attention. Often it’s OHM.
OHM is the most often chanted sound of all sacred chants on earth. It is the sound of connectedness with all of life. I’ve noticed sometimes when I begin meditation I feel a resistance to chanting the OHM. I feel a draw to maintaining my separateness.
Tara Brach explains this tendency to separateness by telling a funny story.
My first inclination is to judge this tendency toward separateness as petty and self-absorbed.
Looking more closely, I can find compassion for myself . This pulling away is a natural human reaction to pain, and has been an important part of the evolution of humankind. In past generations, it was necessary to flee from pain in order to survive. In the present, survival depends upon connection. Turning away from the perception of separation to write from the heart is my small contribution.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known history, stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
I also post here about my books and feature other authors and their books on compelling and important historical topics.
Occasionally, I share what makes me happy, pictures of my garden, recipes I've made, events I've attended, people I've met. I'm always happy to hear from readers in the blog comments, by email or social media.