When life is unsteady and a sudden thrust of unsettling news unexpectedly hits I am faced with the uncomfortable reality that life is fragile. A smile from my sweet baby becomes more precious, the happy shrieks from the boys makes me joyful rather than annoyed, and the popcorn kernels littering my floor continue to reside there as I’d rather enjoy a prolonged snuggle than interrupt that time with the roar of the vacuum.
The poignancy of those moments fade more quickly than I care to admit. The monotony of everyday life returns as does the ability to take it for granted. The screams become as offensive as chewing on egg shells and the baby’s smile fades as she becomes bored playing alone while her mother tries to retain some sort of order and sanity in the house.
An image pops up on the computer – victims of the tragic devastation in Japan. Their is a terror in their eyes that I have never known. With water raging behind them they cling to a slumped body of a child who is tired and afraid. Their faces are stained with mud and confusion seemingly asking what’s next? where do we go? what the hell just happened?
The gift of such catastrophic events is an appreciation of simplicity and a awakening to the reality that life is fleeting. But the harsh truth is in this moment thousands of lives are wrecked. My mind can not comprehend the fear, pain, and destruction that abounds in Japan at this very moment. My heart breaks for everyone involved and I continue to pray for all those affected. If you feel so inclined and are financially able to give the CHC organization is a great way to take action and there are so many other ways to help.
I’m a once again devastated with grief and overcome with joy for the gifts that I have today. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but today I will savor the smiles, the rowdiness of young boys and the comfort of homemade bread.
I can not think of a more comforting combination than fresh baked bread and tomato sauce. In one bite you are faced with sweet, salty, acid, and chew. The familiar feel of warm dough worked between your finger tips and knowing that the very thing your are coaxing into a supple round is alive and well.
The dough rises and falls gaining elasticity and flavor. With simple ingredients and a safe environment the bread thrives rewarding you with a dinner that reminds you to slow down and appreciate today. In the heat of the oven the brightness of the tomato sauce subtly invades the baking bread creating a taste reminiscent of my mom’s homemade pizza that I lovingly remember from my childhood. The pillow-like crust pleasantly took center stage then as it does now. Sometimes all you need is red sauce and bread.
Foccacia with Red Sauce
inspired by Tessa Kiros, Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook – a delightful book, I highly recommend.
This dish is made even simpler with the addition of store bought marinara. I know, I know. It’s so simple to make your own but there are days when even making marinara seems an impossible task. For those days I recommend using Newman’s Own. I like it best.
1¾ cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 tsp honey
1 tbl olive oil
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tsp salt
1 (24 oz) jar Newman’s Own Marinara (or homemade red sauce)
Pre-heat oven to 375º. Put the water, yeast, honey,
oil and 1½ cups of flour in a bowl and mix. Whisk together. On top of that add the rest of the flour, salt and garlic but do not stir. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes. Mix the dough together and knead the dough for 4-5 minutes.
The dough will feel soft and slightly sticky. Cover and leave for 1½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size. Lightly oil a
9″x13″ pan. Punch down the dough and spread evenly over the base of the pan. Cover and leave to rise for 45 minutes or until puffy. Carefully dimple the dough with your fingers and gently spread Newman’s Own Marinara. A few torn up leaves of fresh Basil makes a great addition.
Bake in a 375º oven until edges are golden, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly then serve.
*This post was part of an ad campaign in association with Newman’s Own. But the words are mine. I wouldn’t write about it if I didn’t love it. I think you’ll agree.