Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thank You and Goodnight

For all intents and purposes, Dough, Dirt & Dye is defunct.  However, you can still find me at my food and recipe blog, An Unrefined Vegan.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Scaling Back

It started a couple of years ago with an ill-conceived idea of launching a hand-painted greeting card store on Etsy - how hard could that be? - and progressed slowly from there: blogging (not one, but two sites), opening another virtual store on Zibbet, providing cards to a small boutique near Tulsa and signing on to do my first craft show.  I took online courses to learn HTML, XHTML and Dreamweaver with the goal of creating my own website.  Then added a class to learn ways to promote that website - a website as yet unrealized, I might add.  I started spending a lot of time promoting my blogs, commenting everywhere I could, following like-minded bloggers and generally spending way too much time clicking away on a keyboard.  Since I didn't do all of these things at once, I didn't appreciate the time that these all of these "little" projects would take - until I was juggling all of them.  One of the reasons Kel and I moved from Washington, DC was to get away from our computer screens.

My time outside, my time in the garden dwindled; my enjoyment of being in the kitchen messing with the mixing bowls lessened because it always felt like I needed to do everything really fast and I stopped relishing the process.  My once-daily yoga practice turned into once a week, if I was lucky.

So after a good talking-to with myself, I'm scaling back.  Dough, Dirt & Dye will get the short-shrift while I focus most of my blogging energy on An Unrefined Vegan - where my heart and stomach really lie.  Triple D will remain the home of my BESTeam features, and any pretentious literary-minded musings that crop up.  Empty on the Inside will not be stowed away in mothballs, but I won't be devoting much time to it.  Perhaps in the future I'll get back into it and give it the attention it requires/deserves.  In the meantime, I hope you'll keep up with me at An Unrefined Vegan

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Back to My Plow

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road
- Elton John, Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

Every once in a while I get the itch to be in a city.  When I get tired of wearing work boots, dog-hair-covered shirts and dirty jeans.  When I just need some time in a store that isn't Walmart - one that's heard of tempeh and fennel and miso.  When a thin layer of lipstick makes me feel made up like a beauty pageant contestant.

I got my big city fix last week in one of the country's most beautiful cities: San Francisco.  There is no doubt there is something exhilarating about being in a large metropolitan area - the streets and highways like pumping arteries, the overwhelming amount of goods and services - anything that one's heart desires - the flow of people from every walk of life and culture making their way along sidewalks and through city parks; new vistas, unfamiliar sounds.  I enjoy it all and sometimes feel like a country bumpkin fresh off of the turnip truck, constantly swiveling my head to take in the colors and sights.  

The urge to be surrounded by cement, however, and block after block of buildings and endless streams of cars passes quickly and I'm always relieved to get back to the quiet days and dark nights of the country.  My mind inevitably strays, just as it did as I was crossing over the San Mateo Bridge one late afternoon, the sun sparkling on the water and the rise and fall of blue mountains far off in the distance: This must've been really something before humans got here.  That's when I know it's time to head home and assuage my jaded eyes with the fields and trees of home.  Time to pull my crummy jeans back on and to head out with Ike into the sound of the clean wind.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Goin' to California

Triple D will be quiet for a few days while I journey to northern California to spend time with two of my best and dearest friends (whom forthwith shall be dubbed L and K) - women I've known for (gasp) 28 years - ever since our first nervous days as freshmen art students at Miami University (that's the one in Ohio, folks).  The richness of my college experience is owed in large part to these two beautiful women.  I've trusted them with some of my most intimate secrets, and they've never betrayed my faith in them.  They've been both support and comfort during difficult times.  They've been my partners in shopping crime.  And they've never failed to make me laugh until it hurt.

Over the years we've kept in weekly, sometimes daily touch by email and every few years we manage to slow down our busy lives enough to see each other in person.  The photos below are from our last trip to California where the three of us completed the 2009 Nike Women's Half Marathon.  (Incidentally, an incredible if painful way to see San Francisco.).  L was down with the flu, my left knee was shot and my right foot gave out somewhere around mile 15; K ran it ably while intermittently texting me to see where I was - and thus in our own fashions, we crossed the finish line.
This trip is extra special.  We are celebrating L's wedding.  I'm so happy to be able to be part of this special occasion in her life and to add to the treasure of memories that we share.  It will be a time to reconnect, to remember, to laugh, and if we can squeeze it in, do a little shopping.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Today's Dough: "Buttermilk" Rolls with Flaxseed & Wheat Germ

Making your own dinner rolls is almost as easy as buying the frozen ones from the grocery store - and it's a lot healthier and certainly more satisfying.  This is a relatively quick dough as it requires only one rise.  The resulting rolls are soft, flavorful and beautiful.

I adapted this from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites and you can give these a try yourself by visiting An Unrefined Vegan.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Out of Nowhere: He Looked Like Jesus

Most of my "out of nowhere" memories - the ones that stick like glue for years and years - originated at night.  It's when perception is strongest. When ears and eyes strain to catch the slightest disturbances and the shadows are thick with mystery. 

There have been a few times in my life when I have needed help.  When my own resources and ingenuity had failed; when I was in a strange place.  Each time this has happened to me, a person has appeared out of nowhere to help.  Call them Good Samaritans.  Call them Godsends. Call it complete coincidence. I don't know.  Perhaps the scared and the lost give off vibrations that attract both the well-intentioned and the nefarious - and I've just lucked out and attracted the benevolent variety. 

Wendover, NV, September 2011
Wendover, Nevada.  Dry and brown and sparsely populated.  At least back in the 1980s.  Hardly a destination town unless you were from Utah and you were looking to get a beer stronger than 3.2.  Or you wanted to lose some money.

The four of us sat in the sky-blue Pontiac Bonneville in the parking lot of the casino in Wendover.  The engine refusing to turn over.  Refusing even to make that sad *click* when the battery is nearly dead.  It was very late.  The plan had been to spend a few hours in the casino and then head back across the Bonneville Salt Flats, back to Salt Lake and to sleep.  It didn't look like that was going to happen.

My brothers had poked around under the hood and determined that the alternator was shot.  There had been no hint of trouble when we'd left Salt Lake late on a bright, sunny afternoon.  Where to get an alternator at two in the morning in a deserted border town?

It didn't occur to any of us to pool together our meager funds (credit cards? we didn't have those then) and get a couple of hotel rooms - leave the problem-solving for the sunlight hours - and so we sat, thinking of what to do next.  We didn't see the man come up to the car.  All of a sudden he was peering into the driver's side window, tapping his finger on the glass.  Startled, my brother's head reared back.  The lights in the parking lot had turned the stranger's face yellow, his hair into a bright halo.  The man spoke through the glass, "Do you need some help?"

The man looked like Jesus.  Or like the classic depictions of Jesus: tall and thin with long brown hair, a long beard.  My brother replied and the man said, again through the glass, "I know where you can get one."  It seemed utterly preposterous, but they were the words my brother needed to hear, and so he opened the door of the car.  The man's voice was clear now, loud, since glass was no longer separating us.  "I can take you there right now if you want."  Without so much as a glance into the back seat - where my other brother and I were sitting - Jesus and my brother walked away and disappeared into the dark.

I was certain that I had just seen the last of him.  No good could come of a stranger tapping on a car window during the darkest, the most unsettled hours of the night.  Yet we all sat completely immobile.  It seemed to me we could have sat there, unmoving, throughout the night, into the next morning and deep into the next day.  I'm sure the three of us remaining in the car spoke, but I can't remember what was said.

It seemed as if hours had gone by, yet the sky was still black when again, out of nowhere, a person walked up to the car.  My brother.  Alone.  He opened the driver's side door.  Cradled in his hand, like a surgeon gingerly carrying an organ meant for transplant, he held an alternator.  The boys got out of the car and went to work under the hood.  Then they were finished and my brother turned the key.  The engine sounded weak, the patient slowly coming back to life after surgery.  The dash lights flickered and died.  But the engine eventually turned over and we rolled cautiously out of the parking lot and headed east, back into Utah.  We discovered that to keep the car running there could be no dash lights, no radio, no rolling the windows up and down.  The Salt Flats stretched out on either side of the road, eerily bone white even in the dark.

As we drove, my brother told us what had happened. I will leave the details for those of us in the car that night.  And to Jesus, of course.  Suffice to say that after they found the part that was needed, my brother gave him a few bucks and Jesus walked back into the night and disappeared.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Today's Dough: Anadama Bread

In his bread baking tome, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Peter Reinhart relates the apocryphal story behind the origin of Anadama bread: an angry fisherman finds that his the wife has flown the coop - leaving behind only a pot of cornmeal mush and molasses.  To make a more substantial meal, he adds yeast and flour and curses her by saying, "Anna, damn 'er!"  Over time the oath was allegedly shortened to Anadama.  Whatever the true origin of the name, the bread is generally agreed to hail from Rockport, Maine - possibly via Finnish immigrants.

It is a hearty, slightly sweet whole grain bread that bakes up with a nice, crunchy crust and soft crumb.  It works well as a sandwich bread whether the fillings are sweet or savory.  The version I'm sharing on An Unrefined Vegan is a big batch of the no-knead variety so it can be made up, stored in the refrigerator and baked as needed - as loaves or rolls.
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