Breads | Parsley, Sage and Sweet

Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah: A Guest Post for ‘Baking with Heritage’ at Food Wanderings

April 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Breads, Yeastspotting | 37 Comments
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A few months ago, Shulie, from the beautiful blog, Food Wanderings, asked me to write a post for her Baking with Heritage series.  I couldn’t have been more flattered, not to mention excited, since this would allow me to journey back to my childhood in my grandmother’s kitchen, where she taught me to make challah from an old family recipe.  This recipe was taught to her by her mother, who in turn learned it from her mother in Russia, who learned it from her mother in Russia. and so on and so forth  - a precious family heirloom that is dear to my heart, and to me, the most perfect challah.

I rarely sway from this recipe, but in this case, my creative side overruled my traditional side, so this round, Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah Twist was born.

Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah

Before I link you to my post, along with the recipe, a few things I need to touch on, totally unrelated to challah, but I wanted to update you and failed to do so in my last post.

Continue Reading Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Cinnamon Swirl Challah: A Guest Post for ‘Baking with Heritage’ at Food Wanderings…

These Rolls are for the Birds – Six-Seed Garlic Onion Poolish Rolls and a Mardi Gras #Giveaway! GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

January 28, 2013 at 9:08 am | Posted in BBD, Breads, Twelve Loaves, Yeastspotting | 264 Comments
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I had the strangest thought the other day.  Actually, it’s not too strange, it’s something I’m sure a lot of people think about, but I put a virtual spin on it.  Wouldn’t it be great if our lives were equipped with system restore?  I know, I know..many wouldn’t change a thing, they’re happy with their lives, lessons learned etc etc etc, but personally, I wouldn’t mind a few ‘safe points” to go back to.  I have three in mind and those are three where I would take a tight left, instead of a swooping right, at that proverbial fork in the road.

6 seed Garlic and Onion Poolish Rolls

Two of these ‘safe points’, as you would imagine,  are very poignant, but one is kind of trivial and you’re probably going to laugh.  I wish I could go back to early 2009 and save Herbie, my super-duper, high-octane sourdough starter ‘who’ (it’s alive!) was a little over 2 years old when I started to neglect him.

Continue Reading These Rolls are for the Birds – Six-Seed Garlic Onion Poolish Rolls and a Mardi Gras #Giveaway! GIVEAWAY CLOSED….

Maple Brined Ancho-Scallion Boneless Turkey Breast with Apple-Butter Pecan Stuffing

November 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Breads, Daring Cooks, Dinner, Holiday, Poultry, Vegetables | 54 Comments
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Damn, I thought Thanksgiving was the 29th because Thanksgiving is usually the last Thursday in November.  Oh, boy, this is the trick of the trick or treat for real – the ultimate “Ha ha…you better get your ass in gear!” moment.  I think Hurricane Sandy left me a little off-kilter, but I’ll get to that later.

You see, for this month’s Daring Cook’s challenge, which is all about brining meat and/or vegetables, then roasting, which  I’m late to as usual, I decided to brine a whole turkey breast, then layer it with more flavors – like a compound butter rub, then stuff, roll, and tie it for a lovely Thanksgiving treat for those who don’t want to roast a whole turkey.

Continue Reading Maple Brined Ancho-Scallion Boneless Turkey Breast with Apple-Butter Pecan Stuffing…

Oatmeal Walnut Bread with Poppy Seeds and the Best Egg Salad You Will Ever Eat!

October 18, 2012 at 5:25 am | Posted in Breads, Lunch, Salads, Sandwiches/Wraps, Twelve Loaves, Yeastspotting | 60 Comments
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OK, OK…the best egg salad you will ever eat IF you like medium soft-boiled eggs and Asian hot sauce!

So World Bread Day was two days ago.  Does it count since I put my post up two days late? Of course not, but for those who participated, know I was there with you in spirit while this bread sat in a photo program for a week.  I actually made this bread for this months (October) Twelve Loaves theme, seeds and grains, hosted by Lora of Cake Duchess, Jamie of Life’s a Feast and Barbara of Creative Culinary – but there’s a reason for the that little gem ‘Breaking Bread’ – bread and food in general, is meant to be shared and enjoyed with and by all.

I love baking bread..I always did.  The first time I ever worked with yeast was in the second grade.  My elementary school set aside one morning each year to teach all second grade classes how to prepare a breakfast from scratch, including the bread for the toast.  There was an egg station, a bacon station (That would never go over today.  Jamie Oliver would cry), a freshly squeezed orange juice station and a homemade bread station.

I was assigned to the bread station.  My partner in bread was a tough, little kid named Vinny with suspicious blue eyes and lightly tousled blonde hair.  He liked to beat up other kids for fun..and the exhilaration in his eyes when he stomped on insects was a little more than disturbing.  He also liked to throw rocks at anything that moved, including people.  Thankfully, he had terrible aim.

Naturally, I was afraid of him and didn’t want to bake bread with him..until he started dipping his fingers in the bubbling cake yeast and smelling them, over and over, his normally cold, cagey eyes suddenly sparkling .  He really took to baking bread from scratch and kneaded the dough like a little pro.  I was in awe.

For the remainder of second grade, the perpetually silent Vinny, in a barely audible, monotone voice, would ask the same question almost every day;

“Are we gonna bake bread today?”

To this day..the smell of foaming cake yeast reminds me of Vinny.   I’m convinced he’s now a bread baker with his own little bakery..or baking for his fellow inmates via kitchen duty.

Initially I was going to make the third yeast bread I ever baked, which was an Onion Lover’s Twist with poppy and sesame seeds from a Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbook that was given to me at the age of 13.  I changed my mind because I wanted a hearty, healthy sandwich bread for a wicked egg salad I’ve made since I was a kid, albeit, without the wicked part.  That came later, when my palate could suddenly tolerate it.

I didn’t bake my second yeast bread or any yeast bread from the book until I was 18..and let’s just say it was a little ambitious for a second yeast bread, especially with no teacher or yeast-loving future bread baker and/or mobster, to help ..choosing a pizza rustica, loaded with meats and cheeses, the yeast dough lining and covering all the filling in a springform pan.  The recipe said it needed to rise in a warm place, so I put it in front of the super hot radiator on the floor of the den where I was watching TV, staring at it..willing it to rise.

I was making this yeasted pizza rustica to impress Dreamboat.  It had to be perfect.

When I was finally satisfied that it might be starting to rise..I focused my attention on a movie that was on, forgetting about it for the hour it needed.

Well, rise it did, quickly and over the top of the springform pan, knocking off the plastic wrap, oozing down the sides of the pan, and crawling across the floor, dangerously close to an expensive area rug, like The Blob, The Blob who hadn’t blobbed in days and was starving for a victim to digest in its gelatinous core.

The proper consistency of the yolk for this egg salad is the soft-medium, circled and arrowed in red.  However, I find 6 to 7 minutes gives me that consistency, not 5.5 minutes. Photo courtesy of since my egg photos had a bluish tint I couldn’t get rid of.

I jumped up to get to it before it hit the rug and threw those blobs out, but truthfully, I was more concerned about the pizza rustica loaf turning out.  I quickly gathered up the dough crawling down the sides of the pan..some of it already dry from a good 20 minutes exposed to the air, and tried to smush it back on top.  I had to do this twice..ripping off so much dough that had hit the floor that there was barely enough dough to sufficiently cover the top.  After another hour, there was little rise..the radiator, and my ripping and scrunching had annihilated it, but I baked it anyway.  Surprisingly, it turned out beautiful.

Not so surprising, Dreamboat almost broke a tooth at first bite.  Beauty is only skin deep. The top crust was as hard as a rock.  We pulled the cheese and meats out, ate those..and that was that.  I’m sure he thought I’d never excel at bread baking.  I kind of felt the same way.

Once I learned, the hard way, that there was no need to let bread rise next to a steaming, hot radiator, I had much success thereafter.

With that all know I’ve been pinning food like a maniac, right?  Naturally, you pin recipes because you want to try them and/or it makes your creative juices bubble like hydrogen peroxide on a brand new boo-boo.  So, I follow Red Star Yeast, and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve repinned their bread, sweet and savory.. and sandwich pins.  When I came across a pin for their Oatmeal Walnut bread..I had to try it.  I couldn’t find their Platinum Yeast anywhere near me, which was a shock..but I did find it miles and miles away at another market when visiting a friend.

The loaf, which contains 1 cup of whole wheat flour, didn’t rise very high over the top of the bread pan, but I expected that since most bread doughs with whole wheat or other whole grain flours are heavy.  BUT, was I in for a surprise..major oven spring!  I guess the platinum yeast is sort of like bread kryptonite!  Oh, did I mention that this bread is delicious and the texture wonderfully dense, but soft with the slight crunch of walnuts and poppy seeds (which I added to the recipe)?  Perfect for a my egg salad…or just ripping off pieces and enjoying as is..since the light molasses flavor is lovely.

Finally, my egg salad.  My mother, who hated cooking and baking, actually had a skill or two up her sleeve, like hard boiling eggs.  All of my friends loved her egg salad.  Her secret?  Miracle Whip.  Their mothers used Hellmans, which I preferred once I tasted it.  I never looked back at the whip again.

That said, I prefer my eggs soft or medium soft-boiled aka kind of yolky.  I was never able to find egg salad that way – anywher..  The eggs were always I took it upon myself to make it the way I liked it.

When I developed a palate that begged for hot and spicy, in my late 20′s..I started adding sriracha or chili garlic sauce to my semi-soft boiled egg salad. Both make it even more amazing than it already is.,.IF you like hot and spicy. You can leave out the hot sauce if you prefer, because this egg salad is the my opinion..with or without it.  You can also hard boil your eggs, but that would eliminate the oozing part of the yolk which becomes part of the dressing – the true twist and secret to its greatness.

Finally..I like my egg salad chunky..chunky to the point where you need lots of napkins because pieces of egg usually fall out as you bite into it, but how small or large you cut your egg up is entirely up to you.  As you can see in the photos, I just about quarter each egg, and as you can also see in the photos, I piled the entire recipe for this egg salad on one sandwich.  Yes..I have prepared it this way for myself many times, but most of the time I put half of it on a sandwich and eat the rest out of the bowl.  My cholesterol was normal the last time I gave blood..well over a year ago.  This is why I don’t make this as often as I’d like to.  It’s too good not to eat it all in one sitting.

           Why not add more cholesterol – like BACON?  The lettuce makes it healthy, right?

Recipe for Oatmeal Walnut Bread – I toasted the walnuts and added poppy seeds on top along with the oats.

Semi-Soft Boiled Chunky Sriracha Egg Salad
Makes enough for one monster-sized sandwich or two human-sized sandwiches
4 large eggs, medium-soft boiled, peeled under cold running water, dried and cut into chunks or chopped
1 small red, or orange or roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1 to 2 scallions, green and white parts, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise OR Greek Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (If I have a head of roasted garlic on hand, I mash in a clove of that instead of the powder)
2 to 3 tablespoons sriracha or chili garlic sauce depending on how much heat you like.  Omit this if you don’t like heat and add another tablespoon of mayonnaise or try BBQ sauce!
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Place the chopped eggs, diced roasted pepper and chopped scallions in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise or yogurt with the garlic powder and sriracha or chili garlic sauce until uniform.  Mix this dressing with the chopped egg and scallions. Season to taste.

2.  You can eat immediately, but I like to cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the flavors perform magic in the fridge for a few hours.  I also let it sit for about 20 minutes after I take it out of the fridge so it’s not really cold when served.  You want to taste every layer of flavor. Serve as sandwiches, on a salad platter, or just eat as is.

I’m also submitting this bread to the BYOB bread baking event hosted by Heather from Girlichef, Michelle from Delectable Musings and Connie from My Discovery of Bread, plus Yeastspotting hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.

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Homemade Chevre, Cheeseballs and Cheese filled Turkish Flatbread for Cheesepalooza, plus Part 17

September 30, 2012 at 7:04 am | Posted in Appetizers, Breads, Middle Eastern, Twelve Loaves, Vegetarian, Yeastspotting | 43 Comments
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So..I’m making cheese, goat cheese – chevre to be exact.  Valerie from A Canadian Foodie has challenged a bunch of us to start making cheese from scratch with her Cheesepalooza challenge.  I was extremely excited when she announced this challenge because I’ve always wanted to dabble a little in artisan cheese making.

No, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will not be performing, but they will be making an appearance in my cheese!

I’ve made cheese from scratch before..Ricotta and Macarpone.  I’ve also made Paneer, but I didn’t blog it, so I do have some cheese making’ experience under my too tiht belt. However, all three were made with cow’s milk.  This time I’m working with goat’s milk and as mentioned above,  making chevre.  I love, love, love chevre, but the first recipe provided, from the book Artisan Cheese Making At Home by Mary Karlin , contains something called  C20G Powdered Mesophilic Starter.  Although I’m 99.9% sure it’s perfectly fine and won’t result in a tree growing out of my ear 20 years down the road, I just didn’t like the sound of it.

C20G Powdered Mesophilic Starter.  Mesophilic disease comes to mind.  Can’t they call it something like..Me So Making Yummy Cheese from Scratch Stuff?

I emailed Valerie about this and she linked me to a recipe for chevre on her blog that uses buttermilk in lieu of the bacteria/organism laden Mesophilic Disease, umm..Mesophilic stuff.

I prefer to keep my food as natural and chemical-free as possible, even in my artery-clogging desserts, SO, as long as I know exactly what’s going into the food I’m making and it doesn’t have numbers attached to’s all cool.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This is how I cook and bake.  I eat my fair share of foods that contain ingredients with numbers attached to them.  Golden Oreo, anyone?  Yep, I take care of other people but occasionally shove Golden Oreos down my gullet at warp speed, not to mention Rice Krispie Treats, Cool Ranch Doritos, well, you get the gist. .

Look, I love ALL cheese, so I’m sure my body is saturated with C20G Powdered Mesophilic Starter, but since I have a choice in this chevre matter..I’m choosing not to use it.

Now, rennet is a different story because I read the Little House on the Prairie series and in Little House in the Big Woods, Ma used rennet to make cheese…and they used the rennet directly from the animal’s stomach lining back then…

Ma added the previous night’s skimmed milk to the cooled milk from the morning milking and put it on the stove to heat.  A bit of rennet inside a cloth is soaked in warm water.  Once the milk is warm, she squeezes all of the water out of the rennet in the cloth. She adds the rennet water to the milk and stirs it well.  The milk mixture is left in a warm place by the stove until it thickens to a quivering mass.  

The mass was cut with a long knife into cubes.  The cubes were allowed to sit until the curb separated from the whey.  The curds and whey were placed in a cloth and allowed to drain.  When all of the whey was drained, the curds were placed in a pan and salted.  The curds were then placed in the cheese hoop to be pressed.

Once all the whey had been pressed out, Ma trimmed the cheese, put a tight cloth around it, and buttered it.  Each day, she wiped the cheese with a wet cloth and rubbed it with butter until the cheese was ripe and had a hard rind on it. – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Well..that’s how you make cheese to this day, albeit with a lot more convenience, electricity and modern appliances.

So I made the cheese using goat’s milk, buttermilk (which actually contains the Mesophilic stuff, a little fact alerted to me by a reader, but I just felt better using buttermilk – it’s a mind issue) and a rennet tablet crushed with some water.  It turned out fantastic.  I wanted to blow this whole post off and eat it all with a spoon.

But I didn’t.  Thankfully.

It was so fresh that it had some subtle sweet tones to it along with a slightly salty tang.  The texture was extremely creamy, as it should be.  I think everyone should make their own chevre because it’s too damn easy not to.  The rennet and buttermilk gel the goat’s milk after sitting for 12 hours or until it’s similar to the texture of yogurt.

Have you ever made yogurt cheese?  Well, essentially, once the goat’s milk has formed into a jelly like mass, you do the same thing you’d do when making yogurt cheese – wrap up the milk jelly (I cut mine into pieces) in cheesecloth, tie it up tight, and let the whey drain over a strainer into a bowl overnight.

The next morning I had creamy, dreamy chevre!  I got about 16 ounces of cheese, so, after eating a few spoonfuls (uhh….4 ounces), I added crushed red-hot chili pepper flakes, herbs, garlic and lemon zest to the rest of it..rolling them into cheeseballs (I love cheeseballs as one word because it tickles the kid inside of me) and packing them into ball jars with a light olive oil.  I used the other half of my spicy chevre as a filling for a Turkish bread called Pide.  Pide – Pizza – know..flatbread, in any language.

The only difference is, you fold the dough on each side partially over the filling in the middle, so you kind of have an oval slipper with some of the filling showing, which you can see in my bad photos.

If you have a moment, head on over to Valerie’s blog to see the chevre round-up, HERE. You’ll be amazed and inspired and hopefully it will inspire you enough make some yourself and/or take part in some of the Cheesepalooza challenges!

Homemade Chevre Recipe Without C20G Powdered Mesophilic Starter

Spicy Garlic Herb Chevre Filled Turkish Flatbread (Pide)
Yields two flatbreads
Inspired by Fine Dining Lovers

Spicy Garlic Herb Chevre
12- ounces fresh chevre
2 garlic cloves, minced, then mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small lemon, zested
2 tablespoons red hot pepper chili flakes (you can add more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
1 cup of chopped herbs of your choice.  I used parsley, chives and basil
freshly ground black pepper

Flatbread Dough
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon neutral oil,, such as vegetable
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 1/4 to 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1.  In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients thoroughly.  Set aside, covered at room temperature, to let the flavors blend while you make the dough.  If you just want to make the goat cheese balls in olive oil, refrigerate the goat cheese mixture until firm, about an hour, then roll into balls, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter and pack into jars with olive oil. Tap sealed jars on counter to remove any air bubbles.  I used 8 ounce ball jars.  The cheese balls in olive oil will keep for a month in the refrigerator.

1.  Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in 1/4 cup lukewarm water until foamy, then mix with the flour, salt, oil , yogurt, and remaining 1/2 cup water.  Knead to a smooth dough, adding more flour or water, if needed.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour or until doubled.

2. Gently punch down dough by folding it over itself. On a floured board, divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Cover with a tea towel and let rest for a few minutes to relax the gluten.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F – Remove the top rack.  You will be using the rack on the middle shelf.

3. While working with one piece of dough, keep other covered.  Roll the piece nto an oval..about 14 inches by 10 inches. Place dough on a parchment lines baking sheet. Alternatively, you can use a pizza peel and baking stone, which will give you a slightly crisper bread, but either way is fine. Spread half the goat cheese mixture (6 ounces) down the center, leaving about 2 to 3 inches on each side.  Fold each side of the dough toward the middle, sealing and tapering the ends so you have a slipper looking flatbread with some of the filling showing down the center (see photos above).

4. Bake flatbread about 20 – 30 minutes, until golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and slightly brown (I drizzled a little olive oil over the top before baking which made it brown a little more than it should have). Quickly remove bread from baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before slicing. Repeat all the above with second ball of dough and remaining 6 ounces of cheese.

I’m submitting this Turkish Pide with Goat Cheese to this month’s  #TwelveLoaves theme – cheese, hosted by Lora of Cake Duchessand to Yeastspotting hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.

Now to Bad Boy First Love Part 17.  I thought this part would be the end, but it isn’t. Will it ever end?  I don’t know at this point.

If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, Part 12 is HERE, Part 13A is HERE, Part 13B is HERE, Part 14A is HERE,  Part 14B is HERE , Part 15 is HERE, and Part 16 is HERE.

He continued to hug me, whispering in my ear something I’d dreamed of hearing from him for so long, especially during my starry-eyed teenage moments.

“Lisa, I want to spend my life with you, I want to marry you.”

Talk about bad timing.  It kind of made me sick.

“You didn’t answer my questions!” I sobbed to him

His answer was quick and to the point.  “No, No, No and absolutely NOT!”

I believed he didn’t love her, but I wasn’t sure about the three ‘No’s’ before it. Regardless, I still had to think about him with another girl.

I continued asking questions.  Is she pretty?  Where did you take her out?  Did you kis….I stopped short.  I knew what the answer would be.  I had no doubt in my mind that he kissed her and I didn’t want to hear it.

You see, kissing, to women, is the most intimate thing you can do with someone.  Some of us would rather find out our guy boinked the chick in a drunken stupor, rather than just kissed her – as crazy as it sounds.  Kissing is emotional.  That is all.

Of course he told me she was nowhere near as beautiful as me.  Whatever. They all say that, don’t they?  He was grasping at invisible straws all over the place.

He said he took her to the movies.  Oh, great, he probably held her hand, rubbing her index finger with his thumb or kept his hand on her knee or thigh throughout the movie like he always did with me.  Suddenly, I didn’t want to know anymore.  I put my hand up, which I could barely see through my tears, to signal him to stop.

The Mazda RX7 had morphed into a confessional booth and I wanted out of it – PRONTO.  I opened the car door and started to walk, breathing in the warm, night air – feeling it dry my tears.  Numbness was setting in.  He came after me and took my hand in his.  We walked in silence for a long while.  Now I really wanted to get back to school.  I needed to escape this pain desperately.

He finally spoke.  “You were never there when I called and when you did call me back, you seemed so happy there without me.  I was convinced you were seeing someone else – it hurt pretty bad.”

He waited.  I knew what he wanted, maybe to somehow absolve what he’d done.  I wasn’t going to give it to him and not because I was hiding it, but because I didn’t want him to feel the same pain he had just inflicted on me.  This was why we made the promise of not telling each other unless we actually fell in love with someone else, which of course would be the end of us.

SO, no hockey guy confessions from me.  “I was just having a good time with my new friends, enjoying Boston and studying my ass off well into morning – I barely slept.” I responded coldly.

He took me in his arms, rubbing my back to melt the ice and rigidity in my limbs.  Once he buried his face in my neck, and I felt tears again, it worked.  I relaxed and gave it all back.  I knew he loved me, maybe now more than ever.

I stared at the Empire State Building over his shoulder – the top was lit up in blue that night.  I wondered what it stood for?  I was mesmerized, so much so that I almost had a coronary when he turned me around and hoisted me up on the ledge of the stone wall that separated the street from the long, steep hill down to the Hudson River.  I thought I was going over for a split-second.

Yeah..just kill me so you never have to see the pain in my eyes and feel the guilt.

He stood between my legs so we were face to face – his arms around my waist.

“Babe…I don’t want anyone but you. I won’t date anyone else ever again if you don’t want me to.  Just because you’re away at school doesn’t mean we have to see other people.” he said softly.

I froze. As crazy in love with him as I was..I couldn’t make that promise because once back in Boston, it was a whole new world he was not a part of, a new world where the ‘other’ Lisa would soon emerge, the one who was growing up – the one who had the ability to put him ‘away’ to dull the pain.  There was only one response I could come up with, one that drives men crazy nuts..


He seemed to accept that answer for the time being. I could tell he thought the ‘whatever’ was because I was still upset from his confession, and he didn’t want to push it.

The nick in our shiny apple was now a small hole..clearly visible to the eye,  He hugged me to him, burying his face in the crook of my neck again.  As I felt his tears run down my collarbone, my love for him exploded.  I kissed his head, inhaling the sweet, familiar scent of his hair..little darts of pain shooting through my heart at the thought of another girl smelling that.

He lifted his head and stared into my eyes.  Oh, wow..that stare with those intense blue eyes always slayed me.  I was always held hostage by those eyes.  I tried to return his gaze without toppling backwards over the wall.  It never went away..the feeling was as intense as the first time he stared into my eyes the night we met.  Then, the thought of him staring into another girl’s eyes like that made my stomach churn my dinner into bile.

SO, that’s how it was, every little look, every little touch, every little nuance that used to belong only to us, had now been shared with someone else,  and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  There wasn’t a thing he could do without my thinking ‘ I wonder if he did that with her?’

Spicy, Garlic, Herb Goat Cheese Turkish Flatbread (Pide)

It was all too overwhelming.  Leaving him was going to be harder now, but the distraction and separation was desperately needed.

Two days later, after one of the hardest goodbyes of my life with him, I drove back to school with my mother.  The first half of the drive, I had to keep wiping away tears.  By the second half the excitement started to build. I couldn’t wait to see my friends..I couldn’t wait to see our super modern dorm/apartment that we applied for winter of freshman year since there was a waiting list.

I was rooming with one of my friends from freshman year and two strangers in the other bedroom.  The other friend, the first girl I met who became my best friend freshman year, was supposed to room with us, but her Mother didn’t get the deposit in on time.  It was okay, though, since lots of other friends got in and she’d be practically living with any of us whenever she wanted.

By the time we hit the border of CT/MA..I was excited to see hockey guy. What was wrong with me?

We pulled up around 10 pm.  A few friends were outside waiting.  My excitement grew as I looked up at my new digs.  We were on the 9th floor with a sparkling view of downtown Boston and the Prudential Center, glittering with lights, smack dab in the middle of our expansive living room window.

After getting all of my stuff up to our apartment, bidding adieu to Mommy dearest, who refused to stay the night, even though I offered her my bed, I ran, well, practically sprinted, from apartment to apartment with my roommate saying hi to other friends - marveling at each other’s newly svelte bods..the freshman 15 dead and buried – big, fat eating disorders sprouting from the earth around its tombstone.

Spicy, Garlic, Herb Goat Cheese Turkish Flatbread (Pide)

I was giddy.  The sadness from Dreamboat’s confession and our teary goodbye was fading.  This was just what the doctor ordered.

Everyone was chattering about a huge ‘welcome back’  bash the next night at a well-known guy’s huge off-campus apartment.  I wondered if hockey guy would be there.  We were all going.

After first day class sign-up…socializing etc, it was party time.  I took extra special care in choosing an outfit without looking like I took extra special care in choosing an outfit.  Black jeans and a snug white, sweatery top to show off me minus 15 and more.

Homemade Goat Cheese (Chevre).  Just 4 Ingredients and a few minutes cooking time!

The party was in full swing when we got there..this huge apartment packed to the gills…loaded with familiar and some not so familiar faces, but I was looking for one face in particular.  I scanned the large living room, and then I saw him, in a corner with some of the hockey players.  Damn, he looked good.

I made my way toward him slowly, weaving through a narrow maze of bodies, but talking to people along the way so it wouldn’t seem obvious.  He finally saw me.  We exchanged glances, nibbling and lollipopping around who was going to approach who first, like two animals sniffing each other out from afar during mating season.

After about 20 minutes of this..I turned and started to walk away from the game.  What was I doing anyway?  I loved Dreamboat…there was no need to start this up again.  I ran into a girl from my freshman sociology class and she pulled me over to talk to her. After some light chat..I made my way to the bar in the living room to get a diet coke. He intercepted me, poking me in the stomach.

“Hey, you trying to avoid me?” he said with a grin

I laughed…nervous laughter.

“You look great” he said softly.  “I thought a lot about you this summer..are you married yet?” he teased with a twinkle in his eye., grabbing my left hand to check my ring finger.

My legs turned to jello and I blushed.  Woah..what the hell?

We talked for a bit, then decided to go for a walk once the cops came due to the noise.  We took a leisurely walk around the campus.  It was a beautiful night..warm but the scent of Fall was already starting to perfume the air.  We talked about our summer, we talked about his upcoming season..we talked about some new movies. The point is, we talked, about everything and anything – and I needed that.

When we got close to my dorm/apartment, he stopped and leaned down to kiss me.  I backed away.  I wasn’t that sleazy…I loved Dreamboat and I wasn’t going to just kiss hockey guy, especially so soon, to get back at him for telling me about his little rendezvous.  I didn’t know what I wanted anymore, but Dreamboat did.

When I came home for Thanksgiving night after a movie, as we sat in his car kissing, he stopped and pulled out a small, velvet black box., tickling my cheek with it playfully.

Part 18, coming soon.

Marinated Fresh Garlic-Herb Cheese Balls

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