“Only The Beginning”

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And, it’s all over.

Done. Fini. The best contract job I’ve ever had is in the books.

Strangely enough, I’m fine with that. Okay, I won’t have a regular paycheck for a while but I’m looking forward to a new challenge. And no, brain surgery doesn’t count.

Saying goodbye to the place that became my second home for seven months wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. I was leaving work a few weeks ago and I really thought I was going to be a blubbering, sloppy mess on my last day. I pictured myself sobbing and driving home with mascara streaming down my face because I wasn’t going to ever see these people ever again.

I’ll see one of my former managers at a professional event next week and a few of my co-workers and I connected on LinkedIn and Facebook. Man, I love social media.

Besides, I’ve got a really sneaky feeling that I’ll be back there. It’s a nagging feeling that I just can’t explain, but I can’t shake the hunch that I’ll be seeing everyone again. It may be wishful thinking on my part, too. Time will tell.

But for now, I’ve got a little over two weeks before it’ll be time to get up at quarter to dark and take the drive up to Temple University Hospital in North Philly to get my brain clipped. I’ve got things to do before then and I’m a little alarmed at how quickly my dance card is filling up. I was thinking and hoping (and wishing and praying) that I’d have a couple of days where I could just mooch around, you know? A used bookstore, my friend Lisa’s yarn shop. Christmas shopping, for goddess’ sake.

This week it’s the event that my former manager is hosting and before I can go there, I need business networking cards, a new suit because the old one doesn’t fit my post-cancer body and a trip to have something done to this hair. I have to get a couple of quick holiday gifts for my mom and her boyfriend since we’re going up there next weekend to celebrate Christmas three weeks early. I also said I’d bring up dessert, so somewhere along the line I have to bake a coffee cake.

I have to get my transcripts sent to Villanova University so I can start the evaluation process, finish up my last problem set for my accounting class and figure out when I’m going to take the final. And that’s just this week.

That sound you just heard was my DayRunner exploding.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of the things that I absolutely, positively, must do before I have this brain thing done is stock up the freezer with things that just need to be warmed up on top of the stove or in the oven. To me, that means soups, stews and casseroles. I’ve already got a head (ha!) start, too. There’s some eggplant lasagna in there, veggie stew and some cream of tomato soup. I’m going to make a pot of lentil soup, so a freezer bag of that will be a welcome sight when I’m recovering and no one’s in the mood to cook and we’re both sick of pizza.

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Hello, gorgeous.

I’m also going to make a loaf or two of this bread. It comes from the same cookbook that the Three Grain Bread For Roy comes from and it follows the same wet-dough-no-knead method that recipe does. It’s a softer, sweeter loaf from the white flour, oats and molasses in it. It also keeps a little longer than the three grain bread does. 


 

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

  • ¾ cup of hot water
  • ¾ cup of whole milk
  • ¼ cup of dark molasses
  • 4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled (not quick and definitely not instant) oats, plus more for top of the loaf
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal, plus more for the baking pan
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil (I like sunflower)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the water, milk, molasses, yeast and salt. Whisk it all together and let it sit until it’s nice and frothy. If it doesn’t get all frothy in about 15 minutes, toss it and start over.
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine the flours, oats and cornmeal. Run a whisk through it to combine it and get rid of the lumps.
  3. Add half of the dry ingredients to the milk mixture and whisk it together. Add the oil and mix well. Now add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix the dough together with a heavy spoon. Make sure everything’s combined well.
  4. Place a towel over the bowl and let it rise and collapse upon itself. This is going to take a couple of hours, so be patient.
  5. When it’s ready to be shaped, preheat your oven to 375°. Sprinkle some cornmeal on a baking sheet; this will create a crunchy bottom crust and keep the bread from sticking. Wet your hands with cold water and scoop the dough out of the bowl. Quickly shape it into a ball and place it on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of the ball with some oats and lightly press it into the dough. Cover it again and let it rise until it’s about doubled in size, about half an hour or so.
  6. At this point, you can put a pan of water in the oven to create some steam so the bread gets a crisper crust. I don’t bother since I prefer a softer, chewier crust, so it’s entirely up to you.
  7. Let it bake for about 55 minutes. You can check it with the old toothpick test (stick it in the top of the loaf and if it comes out clean, it’s done) or tap the bottom of the loaf to see if it sounds hollow (if it does, it’s done).
  8. Let it cool on a rack. This is great for sandwiches, especially grilled cheese. Yum.
  9. Enjoy!
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