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Love In Bloom

Sometimes two sad situations can converge to create a third, happier one. In our case: Situation 1. Our Kitty Cleo died at age 19 two years ago and we miss her. Situation 2. It’s looking as if Covid is going to keep us shut in for possibly the rest of the year and we need some joy to get us through. This led to Situation 3. We got an eight-week-old kitten.


She’s a tuxedo cat that we named Magpie—Maggie for short. She was named for her coloring and also for her propensity for theft.


I’ve already written about the resident cat, Downtown Evil Eddy, who belongs to the kids downstairs and has the run of the house. With his curmudgeonly ways, he was just not fulfilling the kitty bill for us as we had hoped when he came, so we decided to get a kitty who might like us better.


Needless to say, Ed is horrified at this small interloper who is now the recipient of what he considered to be his tuna juice. For which he was never grateful, I might add. He has only himself to blame.

Maggie, however, finds Eddy the Grump madly attractive. You know how some girls can be fatally attracted to a Wrong Dude. I’ve been trying to give motherly advice about this, but you know how it is with kids. They never listen.


At this point the romance is pretty one-sided, as he hisses at the sight of her. She is oblivious to that, and prances seductively around him while he pretends not to notice.


In true Magpie fashion, she has stolen several toys from him—possibly to get his attention and lure him upstairs to retrieve them. So far It hasn’t worked, so she plays with them herself until she invariably loses them. But I think she believes that time is on her side and she will eventually win him over.


Since it is pretty certain our lockdown is going to last late into the year and we can’t go to in-person classes or sing in a chorus, it may be that watching love develop is the next best thing.

In the meantime, I discovered something else to give us joy as shut ins. I have solved the bread problem.


I earlier confessed that I am a lousy baker, but that may have changed. I know several people who have baked No-Knead Dutch-Oven bread so I gave it a try and voila! Great bread. It’s so easy, too so I’m going to share the recipe with you.


You do have to get hold of a Dutch Oven if you don’t have one. I bought one online and I’m not sure it’s right for me. It must weigh 20 pounds and is kind of tricky to get out of a 450 degree oven without scorching yourself. But it makes lovely bread.

LOVE IN BLOOM DUTCH-OVEN BREAD

3 level cups flour. (The store was out of whole wheat the first time I made It, so I did white, but whole wheat is better.

2 tsps dry yeast

1 ½ tsps salt

1 Tbs honey (this wasn’t in the original recipe, but I added it and it is tastier without being sweet)

1 ½ cups water 105 degrees. (I used a thermometer to test it)


Whisk the 3 dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the honey to the water and microwave it for about a minute. Check the thermometer. 105 is the magic number. Add the honeyed water to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. It will be sort of sticky.


Leave it in the bowl and put a sheet of plastic that you have sprayed with Pam over the bowl. ( I do this religiously, although the bread doesn’t rise to the top so I don’t know why I have to spray, but I do just in case). Put a damp tea towel over the bowl and set somewhere reasonably warm. Leave it for 24 hours or so.


Next day haul out that Dutch Oven and consider that you’ve done your weight-lifting for the day. Turn the oven on to 450 and place the D. O. inside while you attend to the dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface. Flour your hands and gently shape it into a loaf. Bring the D. O. out of the oven and set on a heat-proof surface. Spray it with Pam and glop the dough in. Put the lid on and put in the oven for 30 minutes.


Reach into the oven and take the lid off. Use a hot pad. That sucker will be HOT! Continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Be careful taking that hot, heavy pot out and set on the heat-proof surface. Turn the bread out onto a rack and leave it to cool for a bit before you cut into it. It will have the kind of crispy crust that you get with artisan bread made in a fancy bakery.


When it’s cool enough, I suggest a slathering of unsalted, whipped butter. It will get you through a stay-at-home winter, even if you don’t get a kitten.

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