Winter in Michigan is very gray. It is cold. It is long. It is dark when I leave for work and when I get home. I spend a lot of time in comfy clothes, hiding under blankets and waiting for spring.
I’m not trying to wish spring away but also would really like to go on long walks in my neighborhood, tend my garden, and not curse everytime I leave my house in the morning when I feel the cold air.
I try to find ways to occupy my time that are more than Netflix or making very tasty pastries. New Year’s Resolutions are real. Here at the Woodring Estate we are making an effort to eat healthier, consume less sugar, and to be more active.
I am also making an effort to read more. Not that my 70 books in 2019 was anything to sneeze at, but I find that when it is cold and dark all I want to do is watch something very mediocre and nap. Focusing on books can be hard, but also it is the best time for me to dive into the tomes on my shelf.
The rest of my year is a little crazy. My boyfriend and I like to travel. We have a ton of other obligations. No matter how often we say “things will slow down soon” they do not, in fact, slow down.
Except in January. January we take time to recover. We sleep more. Do less. Complain about the amount of produce in the house that demands to be eaten before it goes bad.
In January there is time. So in January, despite all of my internal instincts, I pick up large books. This year I am still making my way through the Outlander series. In years past I have done American Gods, Anna Karenina, and a variety of other large classics. I have a lot of good memories about reading large books in bed, snug and warm.
My favorite of these memories center around 1Q84. Several years ago, when Murakami was just a name on countless must read lists I had no idea what I would be getting myself into. I also didn’t know that I could finish a book so long without losing steam, without losing joy or interest or investment. Usually when I slog through Tolstoy or Hugo there is a bit of determination. It is a pride factor that only exists for me with classic titles. They make me feel more legit in my career. It is weird. Ignore my complexes.
1Q84 was different. It was long, about 1200 pages. It was complex. It was new. It had some buzz, but was like the blogosphere darlings you see today. I picked it up because I wanted to prove I could read something long. To this day my experience with 1Q84 has had zero impact on my ability to provide readers advisory, to talk to friends about books, to do anything other than smile kindly at a memory.
So while I sit down with another tome I hope I will have a similar experience. But big books are a lot of work. Holding a 800 pager can be a bit of an arm work out. I am pretty sure I’m going to need some carbs.
Carbs in the form of beer bread. A soft treat sweetened with honey, very buttery, with just a taste of my favorite beer. The recipe is simple. It is good underbaked, overbaked, right out of the oven, two days later, or really any time. Top with a little extra honey, jam, or butter and enjoy as you drop crumbs on your latest literary white whale.
3 cups flour
½ cup honey
1 tbsp baking powder
1 bottle beer, your choice
½ cup salted butter, cut into tablespoons
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9 inch loaf pan.
Mix together first 4 ingredients until a sticky dough forms. Place dough into loaf plan and use a spatula to even. Top with the pads of butter. Bake for 45 minutes.
Let cool for as long as your carb craving stomach can handle. Enjoy