Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bribery, Blackmail, and Physical Threats

Let me begin with an apology for the delay in posting the winners of the essay/rap/poetry/short story/memoir contest for a copy of Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers. Susan kept saying, "Tell them how hard it was, tell them it was really tough." Pshaw! None of us had any problem picking a winner. Picking a single winner, though… Most of our compromises in this blog are a matter of allowing the other two to do any stupid thing they want and then explaining, when it's our turn, how wrong the others are. The United Nations it's not — or, on second thought, maybe it is. Consequently our negotiations with each other regarding the winner threatened to devolve into blackmail, bribery, and threats of physical violence. (Fortunately the contestants were much better behaved.)

At any rate we lucked out. We ended up with two extra copies of the book, giving us a total of three copies, so we're sending a copy to each of our winners. Still not easy though, only one of the copies is autographed and so we had to decide who got that. I'm happy to report, though, that we chose that singularly lucky individual with a minimum of bribery, blackmail, and outright threats of physical violence. And so, below, are the winners of essay/rap/poetry/short story/memoir.

Zach's entry was originally captured and held captive in the Google Mail version of Guantanomo Bay (the spam filter). Zach, however, hired a good lawyer (named, oddly enough, "Beth") and had habeus corpus invoked and got a hearing, uh, reading. Smart move, he won the autographed copy:

Two weeks before my wedding, I made sourdough starter — my second attempt ever. I wanted to bake communion bread for the wedding service to be held on my family’s farm. My fiancée, Kira, and I were excited about using wild yeast as leaven — some of it from the very air of the farm on which we would marry, but I was nervous that it wouldn’t be ready in time.

I mixed water and flour, and refreshed it daily, putting the starter in the basement of the farmhouse to keep it safe from the July heat. I made frequent trips down the worn, wooden steps to check on it, hoping the yeast were happy with what I had given them. After about a week, it was bubbling with life and ready to make bread!

Two days before my wedding, I made a firm starter. The next day, I mixed up the dough, fermented it, shaped it into boules, and put it in the refrigerator. I woke up on my wedding day with two thoughts in my head: Today I will marry the woman I love and I need to get the bread in the oven! The sourdough baked into some of the best loaves I've ever made. It was so special to carry it down the aisle alongside some homemade wine from Kira’s grandfather. I know I will often think of that feeling as I am baking bread, and the smell fills up the kitchen like it did on my wedding day.
Zach won the autographed copy, because women are romantic and Susan and Beth ganged up on me (I think I mentioned physical threats above). But I certainly can't argue he didn't deserve to win, it's a nice story.

But Susan, in particular, fell in love with Darby's Rap song. This may be because she's going to turn 40 next year and so is attempting to recapture the youth she lost to drugs, bread, rock n roll, and raising sheep. Well, bread and sheep, anyway.

Making Bread, A Rap: "Rollin' (In the Dough)"

YO! I make bread cuz I like to knead
The dough in my hands doesn’t make them bleed
I got a bunch of active yeast in the freezer
I got a bin of flour, a real crowd pleaser

Don’t got much money, just a wad of tens
Don’t need a Cadillac don’t need a Benz
I got a secret weapon to make my endz

I be rollin’ (rollin’) Rollin’ (rollin) Rollin’ in the dough…
It be risin’ in my kitchen mighty high and mighty slow
Don’t need no BLING to reprezent
Just my bowl, my hands and ingredienz

YO My husband likes to call me honey
But he’d rather squeeze it on his bun-ies
My kids reprezent making little dough snakes
The bread they eat, the crust they hate

I prefer my slice with jam and butter
My serrated knife is a superior cutter
Adding too much wheat germ will make you sputter

I be rollin’ (rollin’) Rollin’ (rollin) Rollin’ in the dough…
It be risin’ in my kitchen mighty high and mighty slow
Don’t need no BLING to reprezent
Just my bowl, my hands and ingredienz

PROOF OUT, Homies!
Ya gotta admit, it's clever. I even found my toes tapping and fingers snapping — albeit not at the same time — but I suspect that's my lack as an old, cranky, white male with a fondness for Bach and Diana Krall. Darby gets an honorable mention and a copy of the book sans autograph. Which leads us to the other honorable mention and book.

Speaking as an old, cranky, white male with a fondness for Bach and Diana Krall, cute is not something I have much use for. So, although this story may seem cute, it's not. Instead it is my favorite because there's nothing I admire more than a four-year old boy with both gumption and bread-making ability. Carla posted this story on her blog and garnered the last book:

My brother and his wife live in an Amish community, and have largely adopted a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity. Not long ago both parents and several older siblings were called away from the farm for the day, and their youngest son was left in the care of his elder brother. Four-year-old M. was his big brother’s right hand man for a few hours, but eventually he lost interest in the shop work and wandered back up to the house where he decided to make bread. He tried to call his sisters for some advice, but finding their cell phones out of range, he launched in on his own. He had watched the process many times, and was sure he could do it by himself. (Click here to read the rest of the story and a photo.)
So, despite the delays, we have our winners. And Susan, Beth, and I had a great time reading all the entries. And each, in it's own way, was a treat as special and particular to the baker as a loaf of bread. Thank all of you so much. And would Zach, Darby, and Carla please e-mail us their addresses.

Click on the links below to see the rest of the stories:
We Have One Winner
The Lost Stories
Breadtime Stories
Being the Heartland
Tales & Travails
Prizes! Awards! Gimmicks!

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Blogger kitchenmage said...

I am soooo glad you had to write this. I have been wishing we had more books to give away to a number of additional people. What I really like, though, is that you can't see the damage to those loaves of bread in the picture even after we bashed each other's heads with them.

Congratulations to Zach, Darby, and the littlest winner, M.

10/18/2007 1:55 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

With you standing there brandishing a fresh (and over-cooked) baguette I didn't feel like I had much choice. I mean, Sure, glad to do it!{pained smile}

10/18/2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Ahem, overcooked? It was just a good deep brown European-style baking. The better to thwack you with, err, I mean, crispier crust! Yeah, better crust. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

10/18/2007 2:45 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

And I suppose it was only an accident that one end was narrow enough for you to get a secure grip on it?

10/18/2007 2:52 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Hey, I made it! Whose hand do you expect it to fit? Sheesh...

10/18/2007 3:28 PM  
Blogger Kansas A said...

Congratulations to all the winners!

10/18/2007 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

I really enjoyed reading all the entries and you picked some wonderful winners.

10/18/2007 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job, and you are all still alive! The ones you chose were my favorites also. Great minds think alike. Ha, just thought I would throw that in. Now don't be throwing that baguette at me. lol

Congratulations to all the winners!!!


10/19/2007 12:01 PM  
Blogger BC said...

They were geat stories and it was a pleasure to read them.

10/19/2007 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Darby said...

I WON!!! I'm so excited!!!! All the teasing I got when I showed anyone my bread rap was worth it! I will email my address. :)

10/25/2007 9:53 AM  
Blogger lucette said...

I'm a romantic, too--so I'm with S and B. But all 3 are so well done.

10/25/2007 3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, enjoyed all the entries. And I'm tickled as can be to have won a book! I look forward to sharing it with M. and his sisters. Thanks for a fun challenge.

- House Wren (Carla)

10/29/2007 10:10 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...


10/30/2007 8:52 AM  

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