New Wrinkles…and A Tasty disappointment

Gentle Reader, While I’m closeted writing a novel I hope you’ll enjoy reading, it’s been suggested I post pieces from earlier years…years when I was freshly widowed, living in or near L.A. with my dog, waiting for Bill to appear. Do please bear with me!

A View from 15 years ago: Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Wanting to make sourdough whole wheat bread.

Starting again with Nancy Silverton’s starter born of organic grapes (which I’ve nurtured from infancy, no small achievement).

Trying to make whole wheat bread (using Trader Joe’s white whole wheat flour, a cheat) as good as the demi-miche I buy at TJ’s.

After three days of feeding the starter (Silverton is demanding), the dough is rising … I didn’t follow her recipe meticulously (there’s never enough time for that), just added flour and salt to the starter. I’ve been baking bread for, um, over fifty years, and up till now have best liked Silverton’s bread and Poilane’s Peasant Bread from my friend Bernard Clayton’s book on French breads.

We shall see!

Midnight, Saturday/Sunday. At 1:30 yesterday afternoon, I punched down the dough — it had doubled in size, no yeast! It was very sticky — very — and I turned it onto a board with some flour, kneaded it a bit to get control over the stickiness, then turned it into one of my wonderful very deep very heavy blue Vermont (Bennington Potters) bowls. Brushed the top lightly with oil (olive), covered the bowl with film and a dampish cloth, and set it in the fridge. Went off to take a couple of granddaughters to the new Harry Potter movie.

One thing led to another and it was midnight by the time I got home. The dough had risen about 2/3 — 3/4 of doubleness. I poured myself a glass of wine and checked what was going on with “Saturday Night Live.” Nothing to my interest. So I decided to punch down the chilled dough, form it into a loaf, let it rise while I slept.

I floured my round basket — banneton — with the white whole wheat flour, punched down the dough, shaped the loaf, and turned it into the basket. Covered it with film, a dampish cloth, left it on the counter, and Cakes and I went to bed.

Cakes is my boon companion, a bichon frise/poodle mix that I rescued four months ago — I rescued her and she rescued me.

More of the bread when I wake up.

Watching the new Harry Potter movie, I was struck again — remembered what I felt last time — by Maggie Smith’s marvelous face. All those wrinkles! Rivulets. No face lift job for our Maggie. Do we all remember the gorgeous young redhead in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? And now Dame Maggie —she’s been knighted, right? — presents her beautiful self to the world as the forces of nature and her own inner being have shaped her. I bless her for that.

I have friends who have had their faces tucked, bucked up, lifted (probably more than I realize!). I understand and empathize with their reasons for wanting/needing to look younger. I looked younger once. When my husband of  forty-six years died eight years ago, I was still relatively unwrinkled. But time and flesh seem to have caught up with me and for a wonder — especially since I lost thirteen pounds (The Flat Belly Diet) — the extra globules in the interstices melted away and up popped a purer me … molto wrinkled (what’s the Italian word for “wrinkled?” I’ll bet it’s prettier).

I hadn’t seen my wrinkles for the most part. Didn’t ignore them, just hadn’t noticed. But then for a photography class a couple of years ago, I had to take a self-portrait. Whoa. Wake up call! Big shock.

Too, from my father’s side of the family, I inherited bags under the eyes. Not attractive. But there they are. I remember so well Betty Friedan’s face. Heaven help us, that was a real face, a true face, an honest face. In this world, in this society, one is well advised to look as young as is credible. Still the writer in me wants to say to the world, Look. I’m not a movie star. My face is not my fortune. What is the wonderful line, something about, The face you have is the face you’ve earned.

Dame Maggie is a movie star. And she lets her face be her face.

She has given the rest of us the courage to be our own true selves.

Huzzah for Maggie Smith!

And, yes, I loved the movie.

Oh. The sourdough wheat bread. Didn’t work. Pity. It came out flat, slices resembling biscotti. Crunchy on both sides, nice spread with cream cheese and ajvar. Which is a notion for my next entry….

1 Comment. Leave new

  • I love this. Huzzah indeed for Maggie Smith. She is an absolute treasure. Yes, we should embrace our wrinkles, our age. Nothing in our environment, other than Maggie Smith and a few others, tells us that. But the heck with all of them. Now, do you still have your sourdough starter?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Previous Post
Dazzling News from Out of the Blue
Next Post
The Romeo-and-Juliets of Flavor