October 16, 2010

Horse(ing around) | World Bread Day

Some time ago, I watched this lovely video, and it brought back a couple of indelible horse memories. I haven't had much experience with horses, actually, these may be the only two, but they were both unforgettable. One was years ago during a trip to England when we detoured from our route to visit the edge of a moor; I had read about the wild ponies of Dartmoor, and was hoping to see them. Plus, Wuthering Heights was one of my favorite books, and although it took place in Yorkshire in a different location on a completely different moor, the romance and mystery of the moors was in my mind. Honestly, I figured I was more likely to see Heathcliff stumbling across the landscape than the ponies. But in a truly magical moment, I DID see them. They appeared out of nowhere, I looked into their eyes, and they looked into mine, and then they were gone.

The second memory is more down to earth, so to speak, and comes from a high school escapade. I attended an all girls, all-academic magnet school in a large urban city. As a whole, the girls at my school behaved well and did not cause trouble — me included. Every so often, though, one or two of us might get a subversive idea or two.

One gorgeous spring day, my friend Ricki and I decided to cut school and go horseback riding. I believe this was Ricki's idea, as I'd never been horseback riding, and it wasn't something I thought about doing. She knew a stable in Fairmount Park, and we went there to ride, in a group, with a guide. Up close to the horse assigned to me, I was shocked. He was about three times the size I was imagining, and once up in the saddle, I could see it was a long, long way to the ground. The guide assured me he was a gentle, obedient horse, and we headed off on a trail. We'd gotten some distance into the park when suddenly, without warning, my horse took off at a full gallop. I was stunned and horrified. Our guide took off after me, and for a few brief moments I imagined myself as "the heroine" on a runaway horse in a western, with the hero (red bandanna around his neck and cowboy hat on his head) chasing after me in rescue. Yeah, right.

We were in a huge urban greenway, with many trees and other obstacles, and my horse was dodging them at full speed. Then we headed towards a low, open building that would have cut the horse (and me) off at the neck. I figured this was it, but at the last second the horse swerved, and continued its mad run. I truly believed I was going to die, and I actually saw my entire life flashing before my eyes. It was pretty incredible — like a movie reel where each frame was a different event. I mean, I could literally SEE the movie film, frame by frame, in slow motion. It was brilliantly clear, and I was stunned at all the things I'd forgotten. I saw my life with new understanding, and some things that had been confusing were revealed with clarity. (Sounds a little like Lost.) Seeing all these scenes was amazing and uplifting, and I suddenly realized I didn't want to die. I told myself it was stupid and unnecessary to die because of this horse, in this park. (Remember, all this is taking place on horseback at about a million miles an hour, at super-human brain-speed!) I felt myself losing my balance, and decided the thing to do was to land softly. (I'm laughing here at the memory so it's OK if you laugh, too.) I didn't know exactly how to do this, but as I was headed over the side of the horse I did my best. Land softly, I thought ... land softly. Just land softly and everything will be OK.

Over the horse I went, landing on my back in the gravel. As I lay there afraid to move, the guide who'd been chasing after me without success (no bandanna, no cowboy hat), walked over to where I lay and said, "here's your shoe." I thought he should have been slightly more solicitous and asked if I was all right or if anything was broken. Perhaps I was slightly in shock. Eventually I got up and brushed the dirt and gravel from my clothes. Here my memory fades, and I can't remember why I wasn't escorted back to the stable and my friend. I wandered out of the park, clueless as to where I was, and eventually found a bus stop and made my way back home. By the time I arrived home, hours later, I was dizzy and my head hurt, so I confessed all to my mother and she called the doctor. I really had terrible luck whenever I cut school. Sheesh.

Had I been a little more creative, I'm sure I could have come up with a holiday to celebrate instead of just cutting school to go horseback riding. For example, I could have cut school to celebrate World Bread Day, and baked a bread instead of galloping off to the park. It would have been a lot simpler. But I didn't learn about World Bread Day until today, thanks to Hannah, who posted a spectacular celebratory bread on Bittersweet blog.

To celebrate, I made an easy bread (of course) but spectacular in its own way, with a crackly, crispy crust and tender crumb filled with olives and roasted garlic. I'm going to use World Bread Day to encourage everyone who "doesn't have time to bake" to consider trying the breads from Artisan bread in Five Minutes a Day or Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Once you get the hang of it, it really is easy to bake delicious breads with very little effort. You store the dough in the refrigerator and take it out to bake as needed. It becomes more and more sour as it stores, baking up into a sourdough-like bread. Yes, it really takes more than five minutes to let the dough rise and bake it of course, but it takes no time at all to shape a loaf if you have the dough on hand.

Before I made the olive and garlic bread, I had to use up the last of my refrigerated dough so I rolled it out and baked it into a flatbread on a cast iron skillet. We used it for lunch, filled with hummus and roasted peppers.

At the top of the post is a bread made from the basic HBin5 recipe and enhanced with caraway seeds. Happy World Bread Day!

15 comments:

  1. I only went horseback riding once, too. My sister was crazy about horses. Me? Not so much. I loved to watch them, stroke them, or feed them. But I didn't want to sit on them. I didn't fall, but I let the horse do what it wanted (ha, that must have been the vegan lurking in me)and so I came back with bugs all over me because the horse loved to run into bushes.
    That bread looks really extraordinary. I wouldn't complain to have a slice of that right now.

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  2. I can't say I'm into horses, but what fun memories. The bread looks amazing and if it's as easy as you say, I really should give it a try. I've always been afraid of the whole yeast thing with the rising and all that. :-)

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  3. Great post. Your life flashing before your eyes...so it's not just a figure of speech. Your bread looks fantastic, especially, to my eyes, the flatbread. If I had one cubic inch free in the fridge right now I'd put some dough into it; I love bread dough made this way and have to get that book!

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  4. I used to love horses growing up, and took riding lessons, but it has been years and years since I have been on a horse. Your story of the runaway horse sounds terrifying! You poor thing...it is a wonder you even cared about seeing the wild ponies after that.

    It seems like there is a day for just about anything and everything now, lol. Happy World Bread Day :-) Your flat bread looks sooooo good!

    Courtney

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  5. Wow, you are one motivated bread baker! I can barely organize myself to put together recipes I've planned out for a few days, and here you can just whip up a gorgeous loaf in the blink of an eye. Bravo- and Happy World Bread Day!

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  6. Mihl,
    I came back with bruises all over me, but that doesn't seem better than bugs. :D

    Chow Vegan,
    I think making bread is not too hard, but like many things, it gets even easier with practice.

    Zoa,
    I was pretty surprised by the frame-by-frame flashback, and I wish I could experience it again — without actually dying, of course. (It would take a lot longer to view at this stage of my life; I'm not 16 anymore.) The crazy thing was once it was over, I couldn't remember all the scenes that had been so clearly illuminated. They just faded back where they came from. Wouldn't it be cool if we could access the full extent of our memories? (Selectively, of course.)

    Courtney,
    Yes, it was terrifying at the time, but it's not a bad memory. Now I find it kind of amusing.

    Hannah,
    I had a powerful motivator! And, remember, I made an EASY bread. :D

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  7. That horse "ride" must have been scary. I can relate; I had a similar experience as a 'wanna-be' horse rider, and instead ended up getting bit in the stomach by one very disgruntled horse...and, she was right too.

    Seeing the wild ponies in Yorkshire sounds magical!

    Thanks for the link to the video...very enjoyable. I love the chubby ground hog towards the end.

    And the bread? Go away! It looks fantastic; a perfect tribute to World Bread Day.

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  8. "Here's your shoe"! How funny now, but how you weren't trampled in the melee I don't know.

    Your breads look incredible! The idea of it is always so daunting, but you really do feel like you've accomplished something spectacular when it's done, don't you? And without an endless list of ingredients as with the store-bought kind :-(

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  9. Tsk, tsk, that's what a good girl gets when she cuts school! Did your friend know that you took the bus, or did she think you ditched her? By the way, the bread looks gorgeous - how did you bake it with hummus inside?

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  10. Rose,
    Ouch. You actually got bitten by a horse? That sounds as bad as being thrown.

    Someone should make a list of all the world food holidays so we can celebrate all of them!

    Abby,
    I agree that seeing a freshly made bread is a thrill. Not to mention the amazing way the house smells.

    Blessedmama,
    My friend knew I didn't ditch her as she was witness to the event. She was quite worried and tried to find me, as I tried to find her. It's a huge park. Alas, no cell phones back then...

    I baked the flatbread, then split it so I could put hummus and peppers inside. Yum.

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  11. I was going to tell you that the link doesn't work, and then I realized that it was a Crafty Kook link! Sorry about the confusion, yesterday blogger asked me if I wanted to renew my craftykook.com domain and I respectfully declined, so now all the content has been eaten by blogger. Luckily I had already transferred all the posts over to Wing-It, and the horse video you mentioned can be found here:

    http://wingitvegan.blogspot.com/2010/06/eat-world-germany-and-update-on-our.html

    So sorry about the confusion! :)

    Here's your shoe? What a doofus! You could have been quite injured! That will show kids not to cut school! :D

    What a delicious way to celebrate World Bread Day!

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  12. River,
    Thanks for the link update! I was looking for a way to search your new blog to find the clip but I was in a hurry and didn't see one so I linked to the old one.

    I was always a good example of how not to cut school. But this may have been my best effort.:D

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  13. Oh, my goodness, I've never been on a horse (or even really close to one), but what an exciting story! I've heard about "your life flashing before your eyes," of course, but didn't realize it ACTUALLY HAPPENS! Thankfully, you landed all right--that guide should have been fired for just leaving you to go home on your own! And how strange to see my name in print in your post. I've never met another Ricki even close to my age--most are much, much younger (like Ricki Lake). ;) Cool!

    Glad you survived the racing horse, and glad you learned to bake bread. . . this loaf looks incredible. :)

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  14. My sister was the horse rider in our family. I have always been too much of a coward for that sort of thing! Interesting to know that it's really true that your life flashes before your eyes! Wow!
    I was just thinking the other day that I should try some more interesting breads, so this is good timing for me!

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  15. Ricki,
    I haven't seen Ricki since high school — she's never come back to a reunion — but someone who's still in contact with her mentioned to me Ricki still remembers the day we cut school!

    I didn't know that life flashing before your eyes was real, either. Yikes!

    Penny,
    Great to hear from you, again! I think I'm going to google the "life flashing before your eyes" thing and see if there are other accounts of it happening. It was amazing.

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