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Blindly, Patiently.

olive bread
What I’m about to tell you doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s one of those rare things that happens to you and that’s so much bigger than you — it’s difficult to put it into words. And the reason I have waited to tell you is because I haven’t really known the right way to go about it. But this space has always been as much about my life as it is about food, and if we never talked about any of this I probably wouldn’t blog again for a very, very long time. Because this is, now, my focus. My attention, my daydreams, my real dreams, my heart, and a glimpse into the future. This is it. Meet Sam.

sam
Sam lives in Seattle. I live in Oakland. We met in August or September over coffee to talk about designing the website for my baking business, Marge. We sat outside, talked websites, ideas, and business. I’m sure Seattle weather came up (as it does) and I remember Sam commenting on the weight of the letters in the typeface of the bakery sign. I kind of loved that. There was something about him, even then, that captivated me in a certain way. Right when I thought about beginning a baking business, I knew I should take notes along the way so I could look back and remember the whole thing. These notes are filled with everything ranging from lists to sketches to fully fleshed out paragraphs. A few weeks ago, I reread them and found an entry from the day after I met Sam that very first time.

A bakery, looking for a man I’d only spoken with over email and wasn’t too sure what to expect. A smart man, I knew. A man that was excited about Marge and that excitement and passion for his work assured me we’d get along just fine. A notebook of ideas. A fine hat. A long talk sitting outside with glints of afternoon sun. And breezes. Smiles and laughter and a strange and sudden trust. And a lot of “Get this’s” — I’d never sat down and thought about Marge in this way, and it was nice. There was possibility and assuredness there, and when I looked at Sam talking about it all, I know this somehow. Echoing somewhere is the Rilke quote: “Dig into your self for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even down to its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.” The impulse about Marge, yes. To create something. The impulse, I think, to know Sam better: yes, too.

Now fast forward months and months and you’ll find a Megan that routinely spends hours upon hours on the phone with Seattle Sam. A Megan who forgets where she parks, walks to yoga without her yoga mat, buys sorbet and leaves it in her car overnight, finds music and food to sound and taste infinitely more amazing. A Megan who finds herself smiling throughout the day. For no discernable reason. A Megan that hasn’t seen this much light in a very long time. Actually, ever. And if you fast-forward just a bit further you’ll find a Megan that just dropped Sam off at the airport last week after an amazing two-week visit.

sam bag
A visit that, in many ways, is hard to explain to people who want to know everything we did and saw. Truthfully, there were dozens upon dozens of moments but so many of them were deliciously quotidian: holding hands and strolling through Point Reyes Station, beers at Magnolia on Haight,  riding around on Sam’s back (across streets, over bridges, from room to room), shopping for records, early morning farmer’s markets together with double thermoses, hiking Tennessee Valley and running from waves, Chez Panisse and Zuni Cafe, afternoon coffees at  Cafe Zoetrope, Sam making bacon and eggs in the morning, a few new books, listening to old Bruce Sprinsteen, Friday Night Lights together on the couch, port, finger-crossing for parking spaces, whirlwind trip up to Lake Tahoe to nap by the fire and work in each others’ company,  sunny Dolores Park.

So you see, Sam and I have fallen in love. This, by the way, doesn’t work wonderfully well for people who like to plan, manage, and control their lives (yours truly).  If I’d been able to choose, I certainly would’ve chosen a man who lived closer. Sure, saying goodbye on the curb at the airport is no fun. But I’m telling myself not to try to make perfect sense of it all or figure out all of the logistics this second. Because it’s not that kind of thing. Rather, this falls more in the ‘blindly and patiently’ camp. The ‘take deep breaths’ camp and the ‘don’t scare Sam away by making a spreadsheet of your future life together’ camp. Yes, one of those.

And so, in the spirit of ‘blindly and patiently’, I’m leaving you with two things today. First, an encouragement to grab onto the hand of the one you love (or the nape of their neck or their kneecap or shove your hand down the back pocket of their jeans. You get it). Quite a few people I know who saw Sam and I happily with one another encouraged us to enjoy it while it lasts with the underlying assumption that it won’t. That it never does. With it being that spark, that light, that inability to look away. So I want you to grab onto the hand of your love this afternoon. Just because. Just because I know it can last. And second, I’m leaving you with a wonderful recipe for a  rustic olive loaf–a bread that takes a little time, nurturing, and patience. And with all three, it comes out perfectly every time. As I know it will with my Sam.

olive bread

Rustic Olive Loaf
Although it seems like a long first rise, the recipe is pretty accurate here. Plan out the following day to allow for enough time. Before baking, I brushed the loaf with infused rosemary olive oil and a little sea salt. Use your favorite olive oil — or nothing at all.

Slightly adapted from: Jim Lahey’s My Bread via The Splendid Table

Ingredients:
3 cups bread flour (400 grams)
About 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pitted olives (200 grams)
3/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast (3 grams)
1 1/2 cups cool (55 to 65 degrees F) water (300 grams)
wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting
Infused rosemary oil, to brush on top
sea salt, to top

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, olives, and yeast. Add the water and, with your hands,  mix until the dough is wet and sticky, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

When the first rise is complete, dust a work surface with flour. Gently scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece–can use a dough scraper or spatula here.  Lift the edges of the dough in toward the center and nudge and tuck them in to make it round.

Place a tea towel on your counter and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place a covered 4 1/2 – to 5 1/2 -quart heavy pot in the center of the rack. Remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. *** (see note)

Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to gently lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

***If using Le Creuset or similar pot, remember to screw off the knob on top of the lid — it’s not meant to withstand quite that much heat.

 

 

  1. Row
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Love this! All the best to you and your Sam. :)

  2. Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Yay that’s so exciting!! It can last. My boyfriend and I did long distance for two years and I can happily say it just made our relationship better. It gets easier, too, I promise.

  3. Posted April 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    What a beautiful post. This is my first time to your blog, but I got this post sent to me on Stumble Upon. I’m so glad and this post makes me so happy! :)

  4. Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:58 am

    How lovely! Congratulations.

  5. Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Megan thank you so much for sharing this sweet story-it’s magical and the way you told the story made me feel all is right with the world.I’m so very happy for you.

  6. Cheekyweemonkey
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I read this today – April 26th- but you wrote it on my birthday! My 30th birthday to be precise. And this may seem silly or strange or even selfish, but to read about pure happiness, pure ecstasy on my birthday makes me smile. And as such I want to give you more encouragement. I met my (we’ll call him N) I met my N almost 4 and 1/2 years ago. and like so many guys I dated before, I wondered where it was going. My Bestest Friend said “just enjoy it! Who cares where it goes or if it goes, just have fun” and 4.5 years later, we are very much in love! Ok granted he did live within the city limits but that’s besides the point. If it’s meant to be, it will be. The people in the relationship decide how much effort they want to put into it. We make it fail or succeed. If two people really love each other, you find a way and you make it work. You just do- one breathe one moment at a time. So much luck and love to you both. And thank you to you for putting more love into the world and for becoming a new “must read” blog of mine! Cheers!

  7. Posted April 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

    so, so lovely — congrats to you both! long-distance is hard, but it’s so worth it anyway. and you’re right: ‘it’ can definitely last and last. best to you-

  8. Posted April 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I am so happy for you! When you told Kate that your new love was in Seattle, I remembered that Sam had designed your site, and wondered. It’s fun to have guessed right. 😀

    And: “It” can last. C and I are at Year 15. :)

  9. Posted April 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I just came here from Jen M’s tweet. Somebody calls me “my Sam” – so I know how wonderful that sounds to a Sam’s ears. Wishing you both all the very best.

  10. Posted April 27, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I’m not a young woman any longer, but had to comment on your lovely writing and your story. That feeling you’ve described so well — the one that can completely change one’s life and perspective — can and does last. I just spent the weekend in SF with the one I changed my life for almost 25 years ago, and yes, we still hold hands. Best to you.

  11. Posted April 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I am completely in love with this beautiful post about love. Incredibly written. I wish you all the best. xo

  12. Ashley
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Stunningly beautiful made even more exciting because I know that Sam, not well, but well enough to think he is a mighty fine catch. Congrats on love. It is a wondrous thing. And it does last – you just have to work on it.

  13. Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Well. This is just the best. I’m so, so happy for you, Megan. It just gets better and better, so hold on tight!

  14. megang
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Thank you, thank you Jess. That’s what I’m hoping/thinking, too!

  15. megang
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Ohhh…thanks so much for the sweet comment, Kelly. I’m so glad hear that after twenty-five years, you’re still holding hands. Fantastic!

  16. megang
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Ohhh, my. What a sweet, sweet comment. And it doesn’t seem strange or silly or selfish. I’m so glad the post touched you in some way and that you found your way to the blog. Cheers to being very much in love after almost five years…Congrats to you and N.

  17. Posted May 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    wow. so… my eyes are wet after reading this. maybe i’m just emotional today. maybe i really appreciate a love story. all i can say is that i’m really really glad for you. don’t listen to those who don’t have faith. distance is not the most important thing in the world. let’s quote marvin gaye and think about how there’s no mountain high enough. i bet there’s no road long enough to separate you and sam.

  18. Posted May 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    This is a lovely post. All the best.

  19. Posted May 21, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Megan,

    So happy to have literally “stumbled” onto your site. Of course I had to favorite this one!! I love your pictures and writing style so I’ll definitely be back.

    This post brought a smile from ear to ear because my hubby and I just celebrated our 14 year wedding anniversary. We too started out long distance after only a brief 4 months together in Great Lakes, Illinois during Navy training….we met in the Navy of all places and were destined to duty stations halfway around the world from each other….for 3 1/2 years!!

    I wrote about it on my blog in case you’re interested in another “happy ever after.”

    http://creativekitchenadventures.com/2011/05/05/celebrating-a-special-day-with-chocolate-mousse/

    Your newest follower, Denise

  20. Jamie
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 7:42 am

    This bread looks amazing! But I have a question. I’ve just come into some fresh yeast and I’m very excited to use it. Would it be possible to sub my fresh yeast for the dry active yeast you’ve used here?

  21. megang
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Such a good question and to be honest, I have yet to use fresh yeast in any of my baking so I’m not quite sure. Here’s some information from the Baking School I attended; it sounds like the proportions will just be a bit different: http://www.sfbi.com/fresh_yeast_vs_instant_yeast.html

  22. Jamie
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:20 am

    So it looks like I would need to use 7.5 grams of fresh yeast, and dissolve it in 1 1/2 cups of warm water and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then add the yeast/water mixture to the flour and olives and continue as written from there. I’m coming to try it this week and I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for your help and quick response!

  23. megang
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Yes, please do let me know, Jamie! Good luck.

  24. Posted July 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you, However I am having difficulties with your RSS.
    I don’t understand why I can’t subscribe to it. Is there anybody having similar
    RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond?
    Thanks!!

  25. megang
    Posted July 11, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Thanks, Clarence. I’m looking into this. ~Megan

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