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Living in Season Newsletter

Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 2, Number 13
July 31, 2004 Eve of Lughnasa


  • Welcome
  • My Season: Obon & Dog Days
  • Living in Season: Panmarino, Rosemary Bread
  • In My Library: Books on Bread
  • On the Web: Wheat Weaving Links
  • Flower of the Month: Dallying with Dahlias
  • Holiday Packet: Harvest
  • Autumn Correspondence Course
  • Signs of Autumn
  • Copyright
  • Subscribe - Unsubscribe

Welcome to my periodical newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward it.

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My Season: Obon and Dog Days
I was thrilled when my friend Susan invited me to the Obon festival sponsored by her Buddhist temple. After years of writing about Obon and the “gliding circle dances” to which the ancestors are invited, I was able to watch and participate in these beautiful dances, under lanterns strung along each side of the street in front of the temple which had been closed to traffic for this holiday. Some of the dances are exquisite and obviously sacred, like the Buddha’s heart opening dance. Others are playful, like the baseball dance in which we did the “Ichiro move,” whatever that is.

We’ve really been experiencing the Dog Days here in Seattle. I spend most of my time indoors with all the blinds closed, in a sort of twilight, trying to keep out the sun.

I’m happy to announce that Belliefnet is currently featuring my article on Lughnasa on their web site. Read it here.

Living in Season: Rosemary Diamante Bread
It's hard to imagine cooking bread in this kind of heat but Lammas is the Loaf Mass, the holiday celebrating the first harvest of grain, when loaves of bread are brought to the church to be blessed, so I'm providing a copy of my favorite bread recipe. It's from Carol Field's The Italian Baker. I first found it in Field's book years ago; now I see it in stores all the time. It is so simple that I can make it without any problem, yet the bread is stunning and flavorful.

This recipe comes from a baker from Ferrara named Luciano Pancalde who invented this bread while trying to reproduce a bread served years ago to the d'Este family, rulers of Ferrara, which was described as a rosemary bread with a crust sparkling like diamonds. In his recipe, the top of the bread is slashed into a star and sprinkled with sea salt to create the sparkling effect.

Makes two round loaves. I've adapted the recipe slightly to make the portions work better with the sizes of packaged yeast available to me. If it's too hot to make bread for Lammas, save this recipe and try it for autumn equinox.

21 grams dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk at room temperature
1/4 cup olive oil
3 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 T salt
About 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 t coarse sea salt

By Hand: Stir the yeast into the water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and oil. Combine the rosemary, salt and flour and stir into the yeast mixture in 3 or 4 additions. Stir until the dough comes together. Knead on a floured surface until velvety, elastic and smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. It should be somewhat moist and blistered.

By Mixer: This recipe is slightly large for the mixer (perhaps not as I've pared down the ingredients--you tell me if this is a problem — I always do it by hand) so you'll have to stop and push the dough down frequently while the mixer is kneading it. Stir the yeast into the water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and oil with the paddle. Combine the rosemary, salt and flour and add to the yeast mixture. Mix until the flour is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until velvety, elastic, smooth and somewhat moist, about 3 minutes. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface.

By Processor: Make sure your processor can handle the volume of this dough. Even when done in 2 batches, there will be about 2 cups of flour plus liquid to be processed. If you have a large-capacity machine, use a dough blade. Stir the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Place the rosemary, salt and flour in a food processor fitted with the dough or steel blade and process briefly to mix and chop the rosemary. Stir the oil into the dissolved yeast. With the machine running, pour the yeast mixture, cold milk and 3/4 cup cold water in a steady stream through the feed tube and process until the dough gathers into a ball. Process 45 seconds longer to knead. Finish kneading by hand on a lightly floured surface until smooth, velvety, elastic and slightly moist, 2 to 3 minutes.

First Rise: Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Shaping and Second Rise: Gently punch the dough down on a lightly-floured surface but don't knead it. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into a round ball. Place the loaves on a lightly floured peel or a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let rise 45 to 55 minutes (but not until truly doubled).

Baking: Heat the over to 450 F. If you are using a baking stone, turn the oven on 30 minutes before baking and sprinkle the stone with cornmeal just before sliding the loaves onto it. Just before you put the loaves in the oven, slash the top of each loaf in an asterisk with a razor blade (I use a sharp knife but the lines aren't as crisp as they could be). (This is also a good time to bless the loaf—I say something along the lines of "By north and south, by east and west, this loaf is blessed.".) Sprinkle half the sea salt into the cuts on each loaf. Bake 10 minutes, spraying 3 times with water. Reduce the heat to 400 F and bake 30 to 35 minutes longer. Cool completely on racks.

Field, Carol, The Italian Baker, Harper Collins 1985

In the Library: Books on Bread
Bread for All Seasons, Beth Hensperger, Chronicle 1995
Although I haven't tried any of the recipes in this book, I love to feast on the gorgeous color pictures and I appreciate the way Hensperger incorporates other fruits of the season into the bread, along with history and folklore about the way bread is featured in seasonal celebrations.

The Italian Baker, Carol Field, Harper Collins 1985
Carol Field is one of my favorite cookbook writers, particularly because she’s as knowledgeable about folklore as she about cooking. I’ve found her recipes (except for the one above) intimidating and complex, but the folklore is outstanding. This book is dense with recipes and with information about the role bread has played in Italian culture over time.

On the Web: Wheat Weaving
A wheat weaving is traditionally done at the time of harvest by interlacing wheat stalks in intricate patterns. It represents the spirit of the grain, and can be hung on the wall as a blessing on the house or a protection charm. Sometimes it is plowed into the ground when the first furrow is cut or sowed in early spring. Wheat weavings are also known as corn dollies, from the word corn (which means simply grain) and dolly (for its shape). Certain patterns are characteristic of certain parts of the world, for instance, the tall spiral comes from Greece, while a certain heart-shaped design is known as Mordiford for the English town of its origin.

While looking for examples of how to do wheat weaving to incorporate into my Lammas and Harvest packets, I found a number of interesting websites that feature wheat weaving.

There are several commercial web sites which sell wheat weavings. The Many Hands gallery features the work of Kathy Reid-Ready who lives in Trinidad, California. I particularly liked the pieces displayed in the Wheat Weaving Gallery 2 including traditional North African "cage" designs and a Welsh fan.

I also enjoyed browsing the wheat weavings created by Cora Hendershot, who organizes her pieces by country of origin.

I had only one quibble: it wasn't always clear which designs were traditional and which had been created by Cora. My two favorites at this site:

The eye of the Moon, a protection charm for women

and the Welsh Twirl

Cora bought her wheat-weaving business from Morgyn Owens-Celli who is now the curator of the American Museum of Straw Art. If you only look at one site, go to this one and take the virtual tour of woven straw art.

It's just like walking through a museum. Great photos and interesting and informative captions. I came away with a new appreciation of the marvelous capabilities of woven grain and its spiritual dimension.

*9/30/04 - WARNING: We have since received a complaint about this website accepting orders but not responding to email requests when the item was not received.

Flower of the Month: Dallying with Dahlias
The Flower of August is the dahlia. Click here to read more about the dahlia's connection with the Aztec hummingbird-war god, Huitzilopochtli.

If you'd rather read my grumblings about the sorry state of flower folklore scholarship and ideas on creating your own floral calendar go to this page first.

Holiday Packet: Harvest
My Harvest holiday packet contains over 50 pages of ideas on how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox, including the:

• Ancient celebrations of Harvest and Michealmas
• The meaning of the Harvest Moon
• The September Full Moon holidays of Mid-Autumn Moon and Sukkoth
• Transformation mysteries of beer and wine
• Recipes for gingerbread, ginger beer and other traditional Harvest foods
• Instructions for creating wheat weavings, a corn dolly and a basket to
honor Demeter
• And much more.

$9 plus $2 shipping and handling. Please allow ten days for delivery.
An email version is also available for $7. It will be sent as an attached
Word file within 24 hours of receiving your order.

To order go to our Store!

Signs of Autumn
Lammas is the time of the first harvest. The Irish dig up The first new potatoes at this time (and it’s unlucky to harvest them earlier). What are you harvesting at this time of the year where you live?

I love getting a glimpse of the season in so many different places.
Send me the signs of summer where you live, and I will post them on my website.

Autumn Correspondence Course
By the old British and Celtic reckoning of the seasons, Lammas is the End of Summer which means that Autumn is about to begin. Although most people are happy to start Spring at February 1st and Summer at May Day, starting Autumn on August 1st, often the hottest part of the year in Seattle, just seems wrong. Until you shift your understanding of the season so that Autumn is the time of harvest (rather than the time the leaves fall-that's November 1st and the start of Winter). Then you can recognize the role the warmth & sunshine play in ripening the tomatoes and basil and beans, the wheat and the corn, the dahlias and chrysanthemums.

The Autumn correspondence course is now available. (Of course, you can also order any season out of season, if you like). For a list of topics and the subjects covered, click here.

Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2004.
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.

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