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Reflections on the Boston Marathon & Recipe {brunch} Apple Braided Challah Bread

It’s the Saturday morning before the Boston Marathon, and while driving into the heart of the city this morning to “go to work” with B, many runners and their families were out and about before 9 am, bibs proudly pinned onto athletic gear, and carrying plastic drawstring bags filled with snacks, water bottles, shirts and jackets in bright highlighter orange-blue or blue-yellow combinations emblazoned with Boston Marathon 2014. I’m planning on doing a bit of writing and work, and hopefully enjoying some of the sunshine again later in the day.

It is really quite EXCITING and the atmosphere of energy and adrenaline was palpable as I walked over to Flour to pick up some breakfast. (Breakfast was health-IER today! Oatmeal…and a “try something new” cinnamon creme brioche) with an ICED coffee). Yes, it is warm enough outside to hold an iced coffee and not have purple fingers. Some of the runners did seem to be carb-loading, and if you’re familiar with the pastry menu at Flour, you’ll understand.  I can see big white tents shading vendors from the 60F sun and the many others who are here for the event. Are any of you visiting Boston this weekend and can weigh in on what it’s like to be here at this time?

Hotels in the area put up blue and yellow balloons outside their restaurants to celebrate the runners who come from all over to participate. I don’t know that much about the marathon itself, but I’ve been a spectator for a number of years since Boston has been home, and it has always been fun to see or know of friends, old or new, who are running for causes and running for themselves. This year, I have one friend running and know of 4 others from my undergraduate days. I think it is great, and I admire the runners who train for this event. I don’t have the aspiration to run the Boston Marathon, but the seed for training to run a half marathon sometime in the future has been planted already by friends who are running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC next weekend! Yay! Go get ’em! I’d say I’ve made much more of an effort to be fit in 2013 than any other year. I’m not getting any younger, and being in the healthcare-medical-nutrition research field is enough inoculation to take care of a long term lax attitude towards fitness and well-being.

A Reflection on the Boston Marathon

This week has been a hard one for reflections. I’ll keep mine brief, as I began this post merely wanting to share a fun experience of making Apple Braided Challah Bread in photos, but I do feel it is timely and important to reflect on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy last year. I’ve never been in a place rife with violence and terror, and Boston isn’t that kind of place. Yet, I am sure many readers can relate to the feeling when something terrible happens close enough to you to feel the tremors to your bone. I am not a quick one to react to anything, and those close to me will know that sometimes it can take months for me to really process, feel and comprehend something difficult that has happened. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Bombings. School shootings. Missing planes. All these devastating things happen. They are a part of modern history, and a reality that is difficult to face. This reality spawns a variety of complex emotions and reactions in many people who attempt to heal, and who we hope are able to succeed in it with adequate support to meet their needs.

Whenever I read about those disasters, first a weariness and shock come over me, then a deep sense of sadness, then fear. How can the world be this way? If nothing else causes me to pray for the world, events like this do. Last year, I was with a group cheering on friends who were running the Marathon, a little over a mile from where the bombs went off. My husband was a city block and a bit away. I remember seeing a flurry of posts on Facebook – concerned friends tagged people, including myself, wondering if people were ok? Ok? What happened? Once I realized what had happened, then the fear set in. My city, Boston, went on lockdown soon after, just after I set foot at an international conference I had been preparing for, the police locked up the convention center  and I couldn’t leave. I watched B drive away, ushered out onto streets that were quickly emptying of traffic and becoming quiet. It was scary because it was odd. This kind of thing doesn’t happen here. I could hear the strangeness of that kind of thinking, yet somehow I think many people share the same view. One of the victims of the bombings last year, Lu Lingzi  is a graduate student like myself, at my institution, in fact. Someone with big dreams, too. That perhaps has brought it more home. This week when I was at work, I saw the memorial events, speeches, large canvas banners that people were signing in her memory. I am impressed so much with the team running in her memory from our institution, and the scholarship that has been formed in her name as well. This is just one part of history I’ve experienced. I believe that this year’s Boston Marathon 2014, more than others, is particularly significant than others preceding it because of the camaraderie and sense of community that people all over the world experience in living through this together, and growing because of it.

A Recipe for Apple Braided Challah Bread

On that note, a couple of religious holidays are ongoing or just around the corner (Passover from April 14-22, and Easter tomorrow) which bring a sense of togetherness and community. Even Flour had a special menu of Easter pastries, including homemade peeps and hot cross buns. One aspect of Easter that people celebrate is resurrection, which I think fits fairly well with the spirit of overcoming the more difficult experiences and history of last year. If you are still looking for brunch ideas this weekend, whether for a regular gathering, or a special celebration, this Challah bread is really awesome. It’s only the second bread I’ve ever tried making from scratch, yeast rising and all! I used whole wheat flour (for the health benefits of whole grains), but other than that, I followed the recipe. It was truly terrific – it makes TWO loaves, so if you don’t need two right now, you can slice and freeze the second loaf and take it out to toast with some nice jam and butter later.

We had a couple of our friends over for brunch last Saturday, and I wanted to make something hearty, not too sweet, and special. I found this excellent and detailed recipe online (Thank you, the Shiksa in the Kitchen!), and here are photos of me completing it. I hope that this post has caused you to consider or remember some things. I would love to hear any responses to the Reflection portion of this post, as well as the Recipe portion!

oil the bowl first, to help the dough rise unfettered

oil the bowl first, to help the dough rise unfettered

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in a oven (OFF position), cover dough in mixing bowl with a damp towel. Place a boiling hot pot of water on the shelf below the dough for one hour, then punch dough down to remove air pockets. Replace dough and put a fresh pot of water inside for second hour of dough rising to be completed.

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shape dough and divide into sections

shape dough and divide into sections

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systematically twist and tuck loose ends under

systematically twist and tuck loose ends under

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Don’t forget to let it rise again before you bake it. put it on parchment paper. I put it in a pie dish to bake – perfect size. Into the oven it goes!

Gorgeous loaf.

Gorgeous loaf.

Twin Loaves

Twin Loaves

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bread cool down & cheery tulips

bread cool down & cheery tulips

 

the table is set

the table is set

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Have a WONDERFUL weekend, everyone!

xo,

BlueBoots

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One thought on “Reflections on the Boston Marathon & Recipe {brunch} Apple Braided Challah Bread

  1. Pingback: NIKE MARATHON TRAINING SCHEDULE 2014

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