The domestic quotient is running high these days with baking and dinner guests; very rare for me.
I was volunteered for the Easter bread baking job this year, and it’s a sacrifice for me, I mean, how can I knit if I’m baking during my knitting time? That’s okay, it’s a gift to be able to send the freshly baked bread to people who don’t know how to make it and who will enjoy eating it. I’ve sent three loaves of Armenian Easter bread to family in the northeastern U.S; it cost $40 to send the three loaves via 2nd day air. Ouch. I’ve baked a total of 8 loaves (2½” high x 4″ wide x 20″ long) total, well sort of: I ended-up splitting some of the loaves into half-loaves for those who want just a little, but it all evens out to 8 big loaves. Aside from the 3 loaves to family back East, we’ll keep a couple, and the remainder go to family and friends here.
Armenian Easter bread is rather unlike any other bread I’ve come across, mainly because of two key ingredients: nigella seeds and ground mahleb. Without these ingredients, it would just be some sort of sweet bread. It also has a nice meaty density to it that I’ve yet to find in any other bread, and it’s great warm with some butter melted on a slice and topped with a thin slice of feta cheese and maybe a few Greek olives on the side. The trick is to get fresh mahleb, and around here, that’s a tall order. What usually happens is I’ll go to a store that claims to sell fresh mahleb, only to bring it home and find it stale, and the one place that probably sells it fresh also usually sells out of it before I can get there. So far, I’ve had excellent luck buying it online from The Spice House. [Update: The loaves pictured have nigella and white sesame seeds on top, as well as the nigella seeds in them. Nigella has a bitter flavor that nicely off-sets the light sweetness of the bread.]
As for knitting, I’ve just received the pattern for Brenda Patipa’s Twist & Lace scarf from Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks, and I’ve just started the stitch gauge using my recently acquired Koigu. Meanwhile, I’m definitely “in the groove” with Bird’s Eye shawl and enjoying it very much. I’ve found the repetition of the pattern rather instructive, giving me the opportunity to get more familiar with lace construction than ever before.