From Sea to Shining Sea

Happy Birthday America!


Every journey away teaches me that I love being an American.  Every return reminds me of why I love calling it my home.

While the news has been full of the rantings of political opponents for too long, it is a privilege to have a say in how our country is run.  We get to choose our paths in life and are allowed to pivot in favor of happiness.

Eight years ago the wife of one party's candidate said she was "ashamed to be American." Today another party is rallying around the slogan "Make America great again."

I acknowledge hunger, inequality and violence plague our shores, but blue skies, clean air and opportunity also abound.  I hope you will take a moment this holiday to remember why our country is still great and why millions around the world would eagerly accept the privilege of being part of this brotherhood.

However you spend the next few days, we hope you will take time to rest, relax and reflect.



Here are some of my favorite, perfect for celebrating our nation's birthday

Cherry Pecan Bread

Sliced Cherry Pecan Bread

I love making bread.  On ordinary days I experiment.  On special days I pull out tried and tested recipes.  Certain meals and special occassions call for specific recipes.  This one is my go to loaf for a Sunday brunch. 

The combination of Chinese 5 Spice, pecans and sweet/tart cherries is outstanding. A subtle combination of sweet and spice. You can serve it with eggs, a cheese plate, platter of cured meats or on it's own.

Honey drizzled Cherry Pecan Bread

Thoroughly combine flour, salt and yeast.  Add the whey or water and 1 tbsp honey.  When mixed the dough will be sticky.  Cover loosely and allow to rise in a warm environment for 12 to 18 hours.

Dust a piece of parchment with flour and remove dough from the bowl.  Stretch the dough and spread 1 tbsp honey over it.  Dust with Chinese 5 Spice and sprinkle on Pecans and Dried Cherries.  Roll up dough, then fold it back together, leaving the crease resting on the paper.  Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hours.  You can either bake it in this form or twist it in to a circle and place in your cast iron pot. 

Rolled Cherry Pecan Bread

After 90 minutes of the rising time place your pot or baking stone in an oven that has been preheated to 475 f.  When the dough finishes rising, sprinkle with salt and carefully slide it into the hot pot or onto the stone.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Check to see if the internal temperature is 200 f.  If it is and the bread has browned to your liking it is finished.  Should you want a darker crust put it back in the oven uncovered for 15 minutes.

Finished loaf of Cherry Pecan Bread

You can make it with traditional all purpose flour instead of the sprouted spelt.  I adapted it from the basic recipe in Jim Lahey's, My Bread.  Honey was added because it helps the spelt to rise better, you do not need it when using traditional wheat flour. 

Berry nice additions to a Sunday Brunch:


Photo Credit: Julie Cecchini