Not-So-Irish Soda Bread Buns, with Orange Zest and Cranberries

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Roo turned down the car radio. “Do rappers realize that some of their lyrics make no sense?”

“You mean when Chingy raps that he likes, ‘black, white, Puerto Rican or Haitian, like Japanese, Chinese or even Asian?”

“Even Asian?”

I opened my purse and pulled out a ziploc bag. “But that’s not even close to Mase rapping, ‘Young, black and famous, with money hanging out the anus.”

“No. The best is Dre’s ‘Never let me slip, cause if I slip, then I’m slippin.'”

I laughed, tearing the soda bread bun in two and handing a half to Roo. “What does that even mean?!”

Roo grabbed the bun and shrugged, “At least they’re direct, even if it doesn’t make sense. Like Chris Brown singing, ‘I’m gonna make you wet the bed.’ Class act.”

“Ugh, who says stuff like that!?” I groaned, “I still can’t believe Rihanna’s back with He Who Must Not Be Named.”

“Did you just compare Chris Brown to Voldemort?”

“I’m convinced he appears like Beetlejuice if you say his name three times.”

“That’s how I feel about Kesha.”

“You mean you don’t like to feel ‘like a sabertooth tiger, sipping on a warm Budweiser?'”

Roo turned the radio back up. “I want my ring back.”

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Chocolate Chunk Bread

I tend to do things despite knowing they’ll have a bad outcome.

For one, I have to listen to a song I love, loud. In the car, on my iPod, even at our apartment, it has to be turned all the way up. Never mind that some are ballads that make Roo question our relationship.

It may have to do with my yelling, “Oh my God! So much feels!” when they come on.

And they’re all by Rihanna.

Texting while drinking is another; sending messages to people I haven’t talked to in years.

Do you think they want to read ‘Let’s catch up!!!!!’ at 1 a.m with five exclamation points? If they do, well, that’s why I haven’t talked to them for so long. Weirdos.

But the worst is watching reruns of Gossip Girl during my lunch break. (Um, I watch it for the music and fashion.)

Sometimes, I get caught and am forced to bribe my coworkers with baked goods. It’s the only way to keep them from telling me who Gossip Girl is.

Please don’t tell me who Gossip Girl is.

Wait, is it Little J?

No no! Don’t tell me!

Here, have some bread.

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Skillet Cornbread

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and talk some sense into YesterLys.

Who?

YesterLys is me, 12 hours ago.  And she doesn’t realize that her bad decisions screw me every time.

I’m not doing laundry over the weekend!

Come Monday morning I’m taking the T in damp socks I had to hand wash before work. Curse you, YesterLys.

I’ll shave my legs tomorrow.

With the pants, silk sleeveless shirt, jacket and the building’s broken air conditioner I sweat like Robert Hays on Airplane.

At a job interview.

I couldn’t even take my jacket off because I hadn’t shaved my underarms either.  I did try to blot the sweat with a copy of my CV.

I didn’t get the job. Thanks a lot YesterLys.

Just one more slice. No one’s going to notice.

“Where did all the cornbread go?”

“Um…I ate it all?”

“In a day?”

“Damn you YesterLys.”

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Basil Pesto Bread

Roo walked into the kitchen. “How long have you been in here?”

I looked up from the cutting board. “I don’t know,” I replied, “I’m kneading.”

“Why aren’t you using the stand mixer?”

I picked up the ball of dough and pressed it down against the cutting board. “Because I needed to clear my head.”

“This is how you clear your head?”

“Some people have moments of clarity in the shower-”

“My best ideas come from there.”

“I knead.”

Roo pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and sat. “Does this have anything to do with dinner at your parents’?”

I reopened the bag of flour sitting on the island and coated my hands.

“It’s 10 at night. And you just decided after an hour’s drive from your parents’ house to start making bread?”

“Nipples,” I muttered.

“Um, what?”

“There were so many nipples.”

“I don’t follow.”

“My mother,” I said, taking a breath, “she asked me edit a Powerpoint presentation for her breastfeeding class. And there were all these photos-”

“Of nipples?”

“Endless images of nipples. How to properly breastfeed – which is fine – but then there was a part about what could go wrong.”

“With your nipples?”

“Horrifying,” I said, leaning my weight onto the dough again.

“So -”

“I think I’m done obsessing about having children….those images set me back a good year or two.”

Roo pushed his chair out from the table and walked out of the kitchen.

“Where are you going?” I called.

“To see your mother,” Roo replied, “I need to give her a high-five.”

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Brown Soda Bread

Relationships are full of compromise.

“Can you turn off the light?”

Roo rolled over. “Why do I have to turn off the light?”

I shut my book and placed it on the floor by the bed. “Because you won’t let me buy a Clapper.”

“Because we’re not 90 years old.”

I clapped twice. “See, if we had the Clapper right now, we’d be sleeping.”

“We’re not getting a Clapper. But I’ll turn off the light.”

Sometimes there’s bargaining.

“Big Dave wants to play Halo.”

“Does Big Dave know that Halo makes my eyes bleed?”

Roo laughed. “Big Dave only plays Halo and he just texted to see if I’d play.”

I pursed my lips. I did not want to spend the evening hearing the game announce phrases like, ‘Yoink,’ ‘Swat’ and ‘Infected,’ repeatedly. “I’ll play Minecraft with you if you don’t play Halo.”

Roo set down his controller. “You never want to play Minecraft.”

“I do. Right now.”

“So I won’t play Halo?”

“I’ve been meaning to get into an 8-bit world where you can, you know, mine things.”

“One hour.”

“What?”

“One hour. I don’t want you to play for sixty seconds and say you’re done.”

“You know me too well. Ten minutes.”

“An hour. I know you’ll like it.”

“Thirty minutes, and I get to keep all the cool stuff we find.”

“This coming from the girl who never wanted to play Minecraft.”

But more often than not there are unexpected moments of thoughtfulness.

“I spent my last hour at work talking to a PhD who thinks he’s God,” I said, walking in to our apartment.

“I’m making us a snack,” Roo called out from the kitchen.

“You’re what?” I kicked off my shoes, closed the door and walked over to the stove.  “Oh, you made toast! Is there peanut butter?”

“It’s in the cupboard.” Roo said, handing me a slice of deeply browned soda bread.  “Careful, it’s still hot.”

I grabbed the tub of peanut butter out of the cupboard and popped off its lid. “How did you know this is exactly what I wanted?”

“When you texted me, ‘I just pictured his face melting off,’ I figured this would be a better solution.”

“Of course. Less mess.”

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Rosemary and Thyme Bread

Sometimes I wonder if the library has a wall mounted with photos of their most notorious card holders.  Members who have been caught repeatedly doing things “against the rules,” like eating, drinking or talking. (Clearly one of the greatest institutions must be worse than prison.)

If there were such a wall, I’m almost positive my photo would be up there for “most fines accrued.”  When I check out a book it’s pretty much guaranteed it’ll be returned overdue.

I don’t know why laziness I can’t get books back to the public library on time, but as of late the circulation desk staff have started asking, “Another one?” when they spot me rounding the corner.  It’s kind of like when the baristas at Starbucks see you coming through the door and start making your drink.

But with shame.

This bread however

is something to be proud of.

This bread would bring back books to the library on time.  This bread wouldn’t be recognized by the staff at the circulation desk because of fees.  This bread is good.  Quite good.

Studded with woodsy herbs, a lovely salted crust that it pulls apart with ease, it just begs to be dipped into a bowl of hearty soup. And when you come back from the library after paying your shame fees, you can find some comfort by tucking into some of that savory warmth.

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Pumpkin, Molasses, Cranberry and Golden Raisin No Knead Toasting Bread

“I can’t believe you said that! Now I’m going to have to eat my feelings in peanut butter.”

“Sometimes I think you try to find things I say offensive, just so you can find an excuse to eat peanut butter.”

“……I can’t believe you said that! Now I’m going to have to eat my feelings in peanut butter!”

“Like I said.”

Roo may have a point, but I’ll never admit it.

Would you?

…Don’t answer that.

One of my favorite ways of eating peanut butter is standing by the kitchen cupboard and eating it out of the jar with a spoon.  I swear it tastes 10 times better this way.

I also love it on classics like toast.  Practically burnt toast with a dollop of peanut butter has been my breakfast for the majority of these bitterly cold mornings  (it’s 24F as I type).  This sticky, crunchy, lip smacking treat makes waking before sunrise almost bearable when paired with a hot cup of tea.

I said almost.

This past weekend I made a couple loaves of a recent favorite: pumpkin and molasses with dried cranberries and golden raisins.  It’s a great toasting bread, where the natural sugars from the pumpkin and molasses have this wonderful crunch; almost caramelized with an ever so slight, sticky chew.  It’s chock full of raisins and cranberries, but I love that the pumpkin still shines through.  Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger enhance the pumpkin’s warmth, but notes of caramel that can be tasted in the squash naturally make it a perfect partner to deep, lush molasses.

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