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Friendship, Facebook, and Bread

“Once you label me, you negate me….”

Soren Kierkegaard

Friendship Bread, Tejas Style

Friendship Bread, Tejas Style

The above quotes is one of my favorite ever, and I use it often.  Which in a way is pretty funny, because I only know it from having watched Wayne’s World, the movie, repeatedly, and if you don’t take the time to read subtitles, you would have missed it, unless you speak Cantonese.

But I use it when someone makes a snap judgment of someone based on his or her attire, or the kind of music he listens to, or some other random thing.  The point being, that if you form a summary judgment of someone based on one small facet of them, you lose the opportunity to really know them. Pre-judgment robs YOU of the benefit of truly knowing someone.

Historically, this has happened at schools (“oh, she’s a skank—she is one of the Whore Corps”), or at work (“don’t hire him—his pants are saggin’—he’s obviously got gang connections”), or any other place where we encounter strangers.

We used to really only put our friends into two different buckets—female or male.  And of course, who doesn’t have a BFF (best friend forever)?

But in today’s world of high tech, and social networking, people are now taking to labeling their friends in much more judgmental ways as well.

“My friend Amy—well, she’s really just a Facebook friend—told me about this really great deal on Circulon Dutch ovens…”

“Well, he’s not REALLY my friend—I just know him through my Google+ group…”

I’ve had people ask me some funny things about my friends, such as: “is it really a friend? Have you ever met her in person?”

OKAY…On one hand, I get it.

You have to be careful with “virtual” friendships, because you never know who is posing as something they aren’t…Like perverted old men posing as 16 year old boys to meet young girls.

Like the weird Facebook messages and friend requests from people who have only been on Facebook for a day or two, have no friends, and start off by coming in hot:

“My name is Alyssa…I saw your profile, and was intrigued…I want to get to know you, my dearest one…..write back to me please…”

Uh, right.

“Dear Alyssa, if you read my profile, you’d know that I was a happily married, heterosexual woman. F-off. ”

But you know what?  There are freaks at your church and at the grocery store too.  You have to be careful of weirdos EVERYWHERE you may meet people.

And the counter is also true: you can meet true friends ANYWHERE, including on Facebook, or Google+ or any other place in cyberspace.

Let’s look at the traditional definition of friend, shall we?

friend  (fr nd)

n.

1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.

2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.

3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.

4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement

I don’t read anywhere there where it says you have to have met them in person, or in certain places for the definition to apply.  To me, Facebook friends are today what penpals were back in the day.  And some of those were real, long term friendships that were formed.

I’ve spoken about my BFF and my childhood friends many times, but I haven’t had as much opportunity to talk about my “other” friends. My “cyber” friends. My “virtual” friends.  My “Facebook” friends. But you know what?  They are just as real to me as the others.  It should surprise nobody that all of them are either: chefs, food writers, bloggers, or food-writing-blogging-chefs.

Justice Stewart, chef and writer at of Gourmet Deconstructed  was my first food blogging friend.  Justice does amazing things with surf and turf, and his wild game offerings are OFF THE CHAIN. Since meeting him via comments on my own blog two years ago, we quickly struck up a friendship, which although virtual, is very much real.  We talk to each other about our goals and dreams in the culinary world, and offer each other encouragement and support.  How much more real can you get?  Next time I’m in the New York City area, Justice is at the top of my list of friends to visit.

And since shared interests in and similar tastes are what draws people together, meet my BFBF (best food blogging friend) is Adam Holland, of Unorthodox Epicure . He writes about his hilarious learnings in life, punctuated with delicious and accessible food. Again, we met as readers and commenters on each-others blogs, but became fast friends.  We are both Texan, both a little snide and sarcastic, and both appreciate the same things in life.  We also would give the shirts off our backs to help a friend in need, and unlike most food bloggers, we don’t really care if people share our recipes and pictures—that’s what we make them for!  In the end, it doesn’t matter how we met, and that thus far we haven’t met in person. Adam. Is.  My.  Friend.

Jen Martinez, of Juanita’s Cocina, is another Texas Food Blogger friend. I met her through Adam.  She and her wife Linda are Disney fanatics (I mean, like, certifiably CRAY-CRAY for Disney).  Her food, being so near and dear to this Texan’s heart, is some of the best home-style southern food around. I am particularly smitten with her pasta in meyer lemon cream sauce.

Then there’s Kayle Blogna, from The Cooking Actress.  What drew me to Kayle was her recipes, The girl can make a mean cookie—and she focuses much of her work on just that.  But she is also a real sweetheart.  She recently became engaged to her beau, Michael, and my joy at her news was real.  Because, even though I may never meet her in person, I am her friend.

Anita Schecter, from Hungry Couple New York, is a hilarious, smack-talking New Yorker with a heart of gold.  She and her husband have the cutest little fur-baby, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Hadley.  She creates all sorts of recipes, but for some reason I can only seem to focus on her most over-the-top, delicious adult beverages known to man.

Consider the following:

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Martini—who knew the quintessential duo could be made better?

S’Mores Martini—get warm WITHOUT a fire.

Lime In The Coconut Martini—like a Caribbean beach party. In your mouth.

Lemon Meringue Martni—cool. Refreshing. Boozy.

Apple Pie Martini—because sometimes, you just have to drink your pie.

DO go over and peruse her recipe index.  Your liver will hate you for it.

And the other thing about social networking is this: it makes it so much easier, and therefore likely, for you to keep in touch with friends and distant family.  I am such better friends NOW with people I went to school with than I ever was then—sometimes people I barely knew then.

But I do now, and the next reunion will be a ruckus, let me tell you!

You people better show up this time. You KNOW who you are!

And what better way to celebrate Friends—all types—than with a Friendship bread?  And since Texas is from the Caddo Indian word ‘tejas”, or friends, and because I like to call my style of cooking Texas Fusion (where I Texanize other recipes), you won’t find these recipes for friendship bread anywhere else!

The basis for this recipe is sweet sourdough bread, and that calls for a starter.  There are two types of starters traditionally used for friendship breads, and I am using the one called “Herman”. I don’t know. Don’t ask.

Anywho, Herman, unlike other sourdough starters, is sweet.  Because you have to make the starter a week in advance, and feed it a few times, the recipe READS long, but really isn’t that complicated.  And the whole point of friendship bread is to share a prepared loaf, along with some extra starter, to a friend, and the whole friendship chain continues.

HINT: if you start your starter on Sunday, you will have lovely bread the following Sunday. The timing works out perfectly for Sunday dinner…

Make your starter:

In a 1 quart Jar, with lid, add:

  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp. instant potato flakes
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 tsp. active yeast

Shake vigorously to mix.

Allow to sit out in a warm area (countertop or pantry shelf) for about three days.  At the end of the 3rd day, add ¾ cup sugar, 3 tablespoons potato flakes, and 1 cup lukewarm water and ¼ teaspoon yeast.

Repeat again in three days, omitting the yeast this time.

The next morning, shake your jar or jars well.  Pour one cup of starter into each of two clean quart sized jars, if you wish to give your friends some starter. (You’ll want to give them this recipe also, so they know how to feed Herman, and make the final product).

Save one cup of starter for yourself, and keep up the three day feedings, if you wish to make bread again in 3 or 6 days.

You have enough starter left over to make 9 loaves of bread—three loaves each of the three below.  Each recipe below is for THREE loaves, so you’ll need to triple it if you want to make all 9 loaves of one flavor. If you ONLY want to make three loaves, you can refrigerate the rest of your starter, but remember, you are supposed to be giving some to your friends. Because that’s how friends roll.

This first recipe is the one I set out to develop.  I was trying to come up with a copy-cat recipe for the best sweet sourdough hamburger buns and sausage kolaches I have ever had.  And I must say, I think I might have accidentally created an exact replica.  I am pleased.  BUT, not near as pleased as I was with happened later.  I had planned making the jalapeno cheddar, a whole wheat version, and a cinnamon swirl version.  Since it is Citrus Fest at my Central Market, and since I have many leftover Meyer lemons, I thought a Meyer lemon cream cheese swirl sounded interesting. Holy Lord.  It is the best bread I have ever put in my mouth.  It’s like eating those decadent little cream cheese kolaches—but ever so much softer.  If you make ANY of these, THIS is the one.

Jalapeno Cheddar...

Jalapeno Cheddar…

Tejas Friendship Bread, Jalapeno and Cheddar

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 cups bread flour**
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup starter
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. yeast
  • 1-2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

**(use half whole wheat pastry flour and half bread flour if you want whole wheat bread)

Place all ingredients in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, and mix until they come together as a clean ball, and most of the residue is gone from the sides of the bowl.  Place in a large oiled bowl (glass or plastic only—do not use metal in this recipe), and turn the dough to coat it with oil.  The bowl MUST be large—this dough will rise significantly. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel, or plastic wrap, and set in a warm place for 8-12 hours. The oven with the light on, is a great choice. (If you are making all the bread flavors at once, you can mix the other doughs together now and start them proofing also)

Remove the dough from the warm place, and remove the tea towel or plastic wrap.  Punch the dough down, and turn out into a lightly floured surface.  Knead two or three times—just enough to push out the air bubbles.  Divide the dough into three equal parts.  Place each ball into an oiled 9×4 loaf pan. Brush the tops with oil.  Again, you can do the same with the other flavors now, if you are making multiple batches at once.

Cover again with damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Place back in the warm spot, and let rise for at least 6 hours.  All day or overnight is best.

Preheat oven to 350*

Set racks in lowest position in oven.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden, and the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped.  Brush liberally with melted butter, and allow to cool completely before wrapping in plastic to store.  This bread is very moist, and will keep for a week or so without drying out.

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Swirl. Holy Gawd.

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Swirl. Holy Gawd.

image

Meyer Lemon and Cream Cheese Swirl

Prepare exactly as the recipe above, OMITTING the jalapeno and cheddar cheese.  When you have proofed the dough, and are ready to place it in the individual loaf pans, do this:

Beat:

  • one block soft cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • juice and zest of one meyer lemon
  • ½ cup sugar

in a small mixing bowl.  The mixture will be runny.  On a lightly floured surface—after kneading the dough a few times and dividing it into three pieces, roll each piece of dough out into a rectangle, about 8×6 inches.  Spread one third of the cream cheese mixture over the surface, leaving a 2 inch border all around.  This may be messy, but that’s okay.  Have your loaf pans oiled and ready to go.

Roll the dough up jelly roll style—cream cheese may drip and run—and then fold over to make the length half what it is, and place the dough in the loaf pan.  Repeat with the remaining dough and cream cheese mixture. Brush with oil, and proof and bake as directed in the above recipe. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired.

Cinnamon Swirl

Cinnamon Swirl

Cinnamon Swirl Herman

Prepare exactly as the recipe above, OMITTING the jalapeno and cheddar cheese.  When you have proofed the dough, and are ready to place it in the individual loaf pans, do this:

Beat:

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

in a small mixing bowl.

On a lightly floured surface—after kneading the dough a few times and dividing it into three pieces, roll each piece of dough out into a rectangle, about 8×6 inches.  Spread one third of the cinnamon mixture on the surface, leaving a 2 inch border all around.  Have your loaf pans oiled and ready to go.

Roll the dough up jelly roll style and then fold over to make the length half what it is, and place the dough in the loaf pan.  Repeat with the remaining dough and cinnamon mixture. Brush with oil, and proof and bake as directed in the above recipe. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired.

Whole Wheat version

Whole Wheat version

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Categories: BAKING, dessert, Family, Food, humor, recipes, Texas, writing

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24 Comments on “Friendship, Facebook, and Bread”

  1. Jueseppi B.
    2014/01/26 at 2:59 am #

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

  2. Freshly baked bread is so good for breakfast. Personally I’d have whole grain, since it’s a whole lot healthier!

  3. 2014/01/26 at 4:04 am #

    Love this post, the sentiment, the message, the pictures – I read you every time – I think we need to be friends :). I just started baking bread (making challah) last year and I am fascinated every week when the yeast proofs and then the smell, oh the smell of fresh bread!!! Can’t wait to try these – thanks!!

  4. 2014/01/26 at 4:27 am #

    A truly thought-provoking post – but then many of your posts are! I just love the way you merge wise comments about life with tasty recipes.

  5. 2014/01/26 at 6:15 am #

    Enjoyed reading this, especially the part about friends. When I saw the quote, I thought of the late Leo Buscaglia who said that labeling others was a distancing phenomenon. As soon as we say she’s a skunk, he’s a punk, or they’re losers, we immediately put them in a category and often limit our chances for getting to know them…and vice versa.
    Quick story. I was once in an automobile dealership waiting to get my car serviced, and I noticed this woman about my age with long gray hair, no make up, bummy clothes, and an ornate gold iPhone case. We looked at each other and went back to our respective pastimes–checking Facebook and reading email. Sooner or later, we began talking, and it turned out that she’s the author of a well-known series of children’s books.

    • 2014/01/26 at 9:47 am #

      Perfect illustration! One of our friends is a guy that I used to work with, and I would never have expected it. If I’d seen him coming towards me in a dark alley, I’d of run. Looked like a gang member. But he is the salt of the earth, and an awesome human being.

  6. 2014/01/26 at 8:21 am #

    I come to your blog to read the BEFORE the recipe. Sorry, I hate cooking. But I love your witty and sarcastic sense of humor. I would like to add my support to your post here about what a friendship is. I have several online friends in my crafting groups that are dear friends to me. Sometimes it feels like we are having a coffee klatche around a kitchen table.

    I have enjoyed another of your postings.

    Leslie

    • 2014/01/26 at 9:48 am #

      That’s right! Shared interests. That’s what makes the best friends, anytime, anyplace.

  7. 2014/01/26 at 8:48 am #

    I had a conversation about this very subject with gal on facebook just the other day. She posted a very judgemental status about how the way people dress control what she thinks of them, and how would never befriend anyone who dresses in a certain way. When I pointed out the errors in this, she was bit annoyed. Sigh..!

  8. 2014/01/26 at 10:03 am #

    Awwwww!!!! YOU ARE TOO SWEET!!! I have made so many amazing “virtual” friends through food blogging and they are some of the best I’ve ever had. Whether I’ve metcha or not 😛 <3!!!

  9. 2014/01/26 at 10:03 am #

    EXACTLY

  10. 2014/01/26 at 10:26 am #

    Great article & recipe! Good job and thanks for the shout out Christine!

  11. 2014/01/26 at 10:33 am #

    Wonderful post! I met you through Adam, by the way. 🙂

  12. 2014/01/26 at 10:59 am #

    You are awesome, Christine. I appreciate that you like me — despite that my pants sag each and every time I squat down to get into my Prius. I want you to know that I’m going to wear my Birkenstocks to Wal-Mart today in your honor. — Seriously though, thank you! And, likewise! — I’m going to be spending a few days in Austin in February. I would love to meet you and the man who caught you from that speaker. 😉

  13. 2014/01/26 at 12:39 pm #

    Yummy!

  14. 2014/01/27 at 8:11 am #

    Great post. Great bread!

  15. 2014/01/27 at 12:57 pm #

    Awe, you’re so sweet! When I started blogging I had no idea how important some of my “virtual” friends would become to me. I love catching up with them every day through social media. Now, send me that bread! 🙂

  16. 2014/01/27 at 11:11 pm #

    You have excellent taste in bloggers because (save for Justice Stewart, thanks for introducing me to his awesome blog) i know and love every single person you listed in this post. Love this! Some of my best friends are bloggers I’ve met online. I probably communicate with them more than my “real life friends!”. And your bread looks incredible, especially the meyer lemon with cream cheese swirl version. Wowza!

  17. 2014/02/06 at 10:39 pm #

    Glad to see you still posting. 🙂 I’m back with a new blog in case you’re interested. iamkeybored.wordpress.com

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