Haven’t the past few weeks/months been weird? I’m not sure what to think any longer, but I do know that this Pandemic was intensely fascinating and a little scary at first, but now it’s just getting tiresome. I’m 100% sure that I’m not the only one who is just ready for everything to be normal again.
I’ll admit that my heart has changed during this time, too. It has not been time wasted, in that regard. The day I saw shelves like those above at my local Wal-mart, my heart sunk to my boots and I just stood there staring. I just couldn’t believe it. My initial reaction was panic, fear, and then annoyance:
- The world must be ending! There is no dishwashing liquid! This is America, darn it! Where we have freedom, justice, and plenty of dishwashing liquid for all!!
- What am I gonna do? (visions of teetering mountains of dirty dishes in my kitchen . . I mean, worse than usual)
- Why on earth are people hoarding dishwashing liquid??? Do they know something I don’t know??
But as I said, my heart grew two sizes that day. I turned from the dishwashing liquid shelves and studied the other emptied shelves in the vicinity. Many shelves were cleared of cleaning supplies, hand wipes, and of course all paper products had been gone for weeks. I realized:
- I’m in my fifties and in my life I’ve never seen a shelf empty of supplies like this. I’m blessed.
- We live in an incredibly rich and fruitful nation, with abundant resources, thank God.
- People are scared and I will be compassionate to them.
- I still need to find dishwashing liquid, though, darn it.
I’m hoping that you, Gentle Reader, are staying healthy, staying positive, and staying patient. I’ve been thinking aboutcha and wondering how you’ve been faring. I am positive that you are doing better than I am, with the daily Bad News, the forced isolation, the difficulties in finding stuff, the worries about the future.
Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that Mack and I were watching videos of mask-clad folks, walking around Wuhan China? That was the week before our melodrama and I shook my head sadly at the time, feeling sorry for those people, so far away. I was glad the new mysterious virus was there on the other side of the globe, and not here.
Call me naïve. Not for a minute would I think at that time that in just a few weeks I’d be living with this new reality: the restaurants that I have been selling edible flowers and specialty veg to for the past several years are all but closed. I’ve seen my grandies that live close by, but because their parents are being very very cautious to avoid the virus, I could only wave from a polite distance and remind them–in mid-flight toward me!–not to hug Amma this time.
That was the hardest. Harder, even, then not being able to find toilet paper and dishwashing liquid!
Businesses that are still open around here have taken extreme measures to ensure that everybody observes “social distancing” (a new phrase that has become a household word/phrase). One farm store has put up plexiglass sheets at the check-out counters. Another store has large posters at the check-out: “Stay back 6 feet please!” (I tossed my money at the counter from a distance, while the checker and I laughed at each other.)
It’s just the weirdest thing. Folks on social media argue whether it’s overkill or not enough caution. I’ve stopped reading this stuff. All that negativity just fuels the worst attitudes, and hurts relationships. And this post is not going to be about that.
What I can do
What can I do to make my little corner of the world a better place, while staying at arms-length (at least) from those I love? Simple: I can make something special for my housemates.
I can learn how to make kolaches. These pastries have always been at the top of my “food projects” list.
I’ve eaten kolaches that I really, really liked once. I think. Maybe twice. Most kolaches–to me–are too chewy or something . . . and the filling is often . . . to put it nicely . . . gluey and cloyingly sweet. Though I see kolaches at farmer’s markets and bakeries quite often, I have stopped buying them.
I decided awhile back that if I wanted a really good, fresh kolache, that I was going to have to figure out how to make them myself. But where to find the best recipe, I’ve pondered this.
And then. Serendipity! One of my readers (Thank you, Karen) sent me a very nice comment about this recipe, and a great suggestion of how to make it even better. Which I loved, of course. She also sent me, of all things, a kolache recipe. I tried it one day, even though (forgive me, Karen) I had my doubts. Dashed, as my hopes have been, by one mediocre kolache after another.
I had misgivings: perhaps, after all, kolache-making is such a tricky process that an amateur baker like myself can’t simply make them well? Or: maybe the essence of kolache-ness is not something I like? What if–*gasp*–I could only make mediocre kolaches, myself?? Such were the thoughts that went through my mind as I took the time one afternoon to make these.
When the kolaches came out of the oven, Mack was still doing schoolwork. I poured us both a glass of milk, and we sat down to have a snack. They were hot. They were . . . dare I say so . . . delicious.
Gentle. Readers. Newsflash: Kolaches are not necessarily mediocre. Gosh–!! I did make a couple of little changes (I didn’t have any instant potatoes, so I substituted the real thing, mashed, and adjusted the moisture content a little, and I added a bit of white whole wheat flour, as is my wont) but otherwise, this is Karen’s recipe. I also made my own filling, from sour cherries that we froze from our orchard last summer. This is the recipe I used.
Yum, yum and yum.
If you a. need a lift today, and b. have a little more time than usual at home this week (*siiiigh*), and especially c. if you’ve been disappointed by mediocre kolaches in your life . . . well! Try this recipe out for size.
Kolaches for Weird Times
2 pkg dry yeast (or 4.5 tsp yeast)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm (not hot) water
2 cups scalded and slightly cooled milk
1.5 cups leftover mashed potatoes (cooled, natch’)
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
Mix well, cover and let rest 1/2 hour (don’t skip this)
3 beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
9 Tb melted butter
Mix well. Again. We’re all about the mixing here. Mix, mix, mix.
Next add :
4 cups of flour
You know the drill: Mix well.
Gently knead on floured surface until smooth, then place in greased bowl and cover. Smile smugly. You’re almost there. Let rise until double, 1-2 hours (depending on how warm your kitchen is). Grease cookie sheets. Place 1/3 of dough on lightly floured surface and roll to 1/2 inch thick (or thicker, obs, if you like a bigger kolache). Cut into circles with glass or biscuit cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise. Again. Repeat with remaining dough. Let rise about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Gently make an indentation in the center of each roll, and fill with your favorite filling: cherry, apricot, prune, poppy seed, lemon etc. Bake 9-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, lightly brush with melted butter, and cool on rack. Makes 3-4 dozen.
(A note from Gentle Reader Karen: The secret to these yummy rolls are the potatoes and the rising times. My grandkids like me to drizzle thin powdered sugar frosting on them. YUM!!)
Two requests: A note to my Gentle Readers Who Also Make Stellar Kolaches: share, folks! Share how you make your kolaches and why they are so wonderful and I want to hear it all!
And secondly, tell me how you are doing! You make my days better with your comments, questions, yes, even your kolache tips and tricks.
*hugs from afar*
- Lillian Grace: a Christmas baby
- Quarantine Coloring Pages freebies & The Sunken Dungeon Kickstarter!