Circling the wagons

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” Linda Grayson, author

In just a week, the people within our circle of wagons have experienced everything from a carbon-monoxide poisoning to major surgery. This, of course, has caused women in the group to launch an organizational effort worthy of Gen. Patton. Phone calls and e-mails have flowed. Prayers have been fervently made. Food has been prepared.

“She feels loved,” the husband of one of those who is facing trouble told me yesterday. And, I knew he had hit upon the essence of friendship, particularly friendship among women. It isn’t really the casserole, the delivery-pizza gift card or the picking up of one’s children from a practice of some kind that matters — although each is greatly appreciated. It’s the love.

That is what I remember the most. When it was our family’s turn to experience a tempest of illness and injury a few years ago, we were overwhelmed by how wonderful our circle was. One friend went so far as to simply sit with me. Nearly immobilized by leg breaks caused by a combination of ice and dog walking, my cast and I took up the whole couch. I sewed. She sat on a nearby chair knitting. We didn’t even talk much. We just sat. And, it was wonderful.

In keeping with today’s quote, however, I can’t resist sharing a recipe so delightful it is a tangible expression of love. It’s worth making, even if only to show some toasty-kitchen love for yourself given the cold spring so many of us are facing. Happy baking!

Circle-the-Wagons Bread

In large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups white flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 packages dry yeast.

On the stove, heat 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk slowly, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy. Add the liquids and 4 eggs to the flour mixture and stir well.

Gradually add another 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups white flour and stir until dough becomes too stiff to stir anymore. In the bowl or on a floured board, knead the dough, adding flour as needed to prevent stickiness, for 8-10 minutes. Dough will be golden and springy when it is sufficiently kneaded.

Oil the dough, place in clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise one hour in a warm place. When dough is doubled, punch it down and split into two pieces. Shape each piece into a rectangle and brush the top with melted butter, dust with cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle with raisins. Roll the rectangle into a tube and place in a buttered loaf pan. Cover and let rise for another hour, until nearly double in size.

Bake the loaves in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on racks. Slices well while warm. Or, wait for loaves to cool and enjoy as toast.






2 thoughts on “Circling the wagons”

  1. Yum…I will have to try that. When our second daughter was born I belonged to a “moms’ group” and they delivered meals every other day for 2 weeks. To this day, I still proclaim that as the best gift I’ve ever received. As for the quote, I talk about chocolate a lot in class. Chocolate can be used in many math examples! One of my students brought me a poster with that particular quote on it and taped it to me desk. 🙂


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