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.

Rustic Olive Loaf

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

Instructions

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.

Comments

  1. Kasey

    I am SO happy for you Megan. What a beautiful post; an honest, heartfelt exclamation of love. Don't you just want to yell it from the rooftops?? xoxo.

  2. Anna

    So glad for your happiness. I think the things that you can't plan and didn't expect are often the best.

  3. sk

    wow!!! great post. I can't wait to hear and see more. Congrats on feeling GREAT!

  4. Eli Van Zoeren

    Sam seemed so happy when I saw him last weekend. I'm excited for you two, and can't wait to meet you!

    Also, that bread looks amazing.

    1. megang

      I can't wait to meet you too, Eli! I've heard so much...

  5. Chez Us

    WOWZA! Chills running up & down my arms. Happy for you. I mean, really happy. For you. For sam.

    Now, I cannot wait for Lenny to get home so I can stick my hand down the back of his pants; oops I meant into the pocket on the back of his pants. ;)

    By the way, the feeling is always there, you just need to rekindle it a little every so often. As long as the heart, and mind are still loving, the lust is always there to enjoy.

    xo

  6. Danielle

    "it" will last. Probably (quite likely) longer than a rustic olive loaf :)

    That quote is so powerful isn't it? I still get chills when reading it, and it always makes me think of you, of saying yes to life. So so happy for you my dear friend!! xo

  7. Danielle

    Also? This post has reinforced my conviction that you need to write a book!! Stat!!

  8. Steph @Lick My Spoon

    Took my breath away, Megan. My heart brims for you, so many exciting, breathtaking beginnings. "That spark, that light, that inability to look away"...I know exactly what you mean. And have faith girl, geographic distance changes with the wind, but that kind of love, THAT lasts much longer. (Take it from someone who stretched her heart from NY to SF for a year and a half. Fairytales do come true.)

  9. sara

    yayyyy!!! SO fun. I made long distance work for 3 years, and now I wake up to him every morning. Soak it up.

  10. Amanda

    Congratulations Megan! Your happiness is evident in your words. And yes, it can last. And it will.

    Best wishes,
    Amanda

  11. tracy

    also- I agree with Danielle! WRITE A BOOK so I can devour it every night before bed.

  12. eM

    Falling in love is such a wonderful and special time - no matter what the future brings. I'm relieved to see you write that you won't blog about it again for a very long time. My perspective is that some things in life are special and private and blogs are very public. I guess it's old fashioned, but I feel that there is quite a bit over oversharing in the blogosphere to the point that they become tabloid like. Of course, this is your space and it's about you and you can do whatever you want, but I love that you don't show his face. xox

  13. Allison

    Such beautiful words! Distance in a relationship is always an obstacle - reading your account of saying goodbye at the airport instantly brought tears to my eyes, thinking about how many tearful goodbyes I said to my love. But it really will make you and the relationship stronger and somehow, that playfulness never disappears when you can recall a time not so long ago that you were apart.

    Hoping the days pass quickly until your next visit and wishing you both the very best!

  14. Dana

    Oh honey. I'm so happy for you. I'm going to find that Sam and together we will start a "get Megan to move to Seattle" campaign. Marge would be most welcome here! Really truly, I am so very happy for you. You are one of the loveliest people I have met through this blog adventure and you deserve untold happiness.

  15. Carra

    Happy Happy Happy! Beautiful story, girl! Relish in it, but not because it doesn't last (I'm here to tell you that it does!) but because it's wonderfully amazing and you deserve every last drop of it! Xoxo.

  16. Jacqui

    All smiles for you and Sam, Megan. And I'll grab onto that hand today. :)

  17. jennifer

    What if all I have is stainless steel pot (with a copper bottom)? Should I risk it or wait until I can buy a dutch oven?

    I really want to make this bread for Easter Supper.

    1. megang

      Hi Jennifer-
      Hmmm...you know, I probably wouldn't. You want it to be non-reactive and I'd feel nervous about a stainless steel pot. Borrow one from a neighbor?? Happy (early) Easter!

  18. Stella

    Oh, so wonderful! If you know it, you know it. On my third date with John, I knew he was the one. We said I love you & got engaged that night. Everyone thought we were bonkers, but we've been married just shy of six years now and still obnoxiously happy. Never forget the complete magic of your time together in the beginning. It's a treasure.

  19. CC

    Yeah, I knew something was up, glad to hear it's good news! Cheers to you and Sam. Enjoy.

  20. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    I'm with Dana. You are truly one of the most beautiful souls I have met through blogging and I couldn't wish this happiness on a more deserving person. Megan, I was just about in tears on the way home reading this on the bus. So, so, happy for you XOXO

  21. momgordon

    Mothers tend to watch from the sidelines. We hold our breath, we cross our fingers, we push a little here and pull a little there. We hope we said enough. We hope we didn't say too much. But when we hear, "Just because I know it can", we smile and think to ourselves, "Good!"
    I'm smiling.

  22. Mary

    Last nite at City Arts, Tina Fey said someone once told her: "The fun is what comes after the yes." XO to you and Sam.

    ps. Your mom's comments are gorgeous.

  23. Lori

    This is so beautiful. I hope you and Sam turn that spark into a full blown flame that only grows brighter as your lives move on.

  24. Heidi

    What wonderful news and what a wonderful beautiful post!

    And, *it* absolutely does last. I just married my boyfriend after 18 years together and we are still giddy in love with each other.

    Yay for love!!

  25. Staci Shultz

    B and I send you and Sam congrats and love. You *can* do it, and it *will* last. XoXo

  26. Kimberly Taylor

    Miss Megan,
    I am SO happy for you - this really is ONE of the best times in a relationship - the new exciting part. But - there are so many others - equally as wonderful, not necessarily as giddy, but so. incredibly. solidifying. Listen to no one who shares anything negative - bliss out in the joy - the hellos at the airport, the phone calls, the gazing. Handle the goodbyes with grace, whether there is a tear or two or not.
    And, if you decide you need to visit Seattle, it is lovely - especially in the summer. We love it here~
    xx

  27. RM

    Oh! Wonderful! What a fantastic post - I paused in the bedlam of my kitchen and read it start to finish. Twice over.

    Then I stalked Sam, checked out his website and read what he wrote about his new client (you):

    Couldn't have been more excited to work with Megan Gordon on the envisioning & launch of Marge Bakery's inaugural website. Marge is both as instantly classic & revivifyingly fresh as the day is long. This is one of those really good ones.

  28. dafna

    xoxo. so sweet.

  29. merry jennifer

    How lovely! I'm so happy for you and Sam. Your post made me smile and think of my own dear Sam.

  30. Aunt Kim

    I can really feel your happiness. It jumps out at me from every sentence. May it never stop!

  31. El

    Okay, now I'm crying. This is beautiful. I am incredibly happy for you. Don't listen to people who say it can't last. They let other things get in the way. It can last if you make it your priority. My husband and I were long distance for a year. It will work if you both are committed to making it work. Enjoy, have fun and feed him some of those cinnamon pop tarts. I can't think of anything more bonding than those ;>)

  32. megang

    Thank you all so, so much for your sweet, generous comments. I have the best readers in the world and it means so much that you not only take the time to check in with A Sweet Spoonful, but that you take the time to leave a comment as well.

    It sounds like the post struck a chord for many, and I'm encouraged by those of you who've made a long-distance relationship work. Of course it can! And it will. xox.

  33. Aunt Jill

    My heart is full. You... are such a love and talent!

  34. Jill B

    Thank you for sharing. it's so nice to hear on the heels of stumbling across my own Sam (who lives 1 1/2 hours away, rather than a plane ride).

  35. Stephanie @ LiveCookLove

    What a beautiful post! It can last, so don't listen to those people who act like it won't!! I am so happy for you :)

  36. Joy

    I could barely keep my tears of joy -- so happy for you, dear Megan! Happy for you and Sam. Blindly, patiently...your lives are filled with love, and trust, and sweet moments.

    I've held a LD relationship for many years now, so I know exactly that airport feeling, that oh-no-it's-his-last-whole-day-in-my-arms, and you just have to treasure them and relish them as they come. :)

    Love from Canada. <3

  37. Molly

    Absolutely elated for you two! They don't come any better than Sam, do they? I love that you found each other.

    See you soon, I hope.

    1. megang

      Look forward to seeing you soon too, Molly. And you do know that most of how we found each other has to do with you/Delancey website, don't you?!

  38. kickpleat

    Oh my goodness, this pulled at my heart! I'm completely smitten with love and hearing about how others have fallen hard makes me just light up. Hooray for you both and I can't wait to hear more, if you care to share. Hugs to you!!

  39. Megan

    I totally believe in you two! I'm excited for you guys. :)

  40. Katie

    Wow! New-found love is so exciting. Savor every moment.

  41. Jun Belen

    Beautifully written. So happy for you and Sam.

  42. Molly de Vries

    I am lucky to have seen this with my own eyes, beautiful.

  43. Winnie

    What a beautiful story. Wishing you and Sam all the best :)

  44. Shannalee

    Aw, Meg! I am so freaking happy for you! Reading your story reminds me of all the beauty of falling in love, the excitement and the newness and the breathlessness of it all. Having been following your blog for a loooong time now, I have to say, this thrills me. You are exploding with good news these days, my friend. Here's to it.

  45. Row

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

  46. Andrea

    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.

  47. megan @ whatmegansmaking

    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! :)

  48. Sasa

    How lovely! Congratulations.

  49. Sandy

    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.

  50. Cheekyweemonkey

    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!

    1. megang

      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.

  51. nicole

    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-

  52. Anita / married... with dinner

    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. :D

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

  53. sam

    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.

  54. kelly

    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.

    1. megang

      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!

  55. Maiah

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

  56. Ashley

    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.

  57. Jess

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

    1. megang

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

  58. Adriana

    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.

  59. Mario

    This is a lovely post. All the best.

  60. Denise @ Creative Kitchen

    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

  61. Jamie

    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?

    1. megang

      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

  62. Jamie

    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!

    1. megang

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

  63. Google

    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!!

    1. megang

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

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Returning Home

Returning Home

And suddenly, it's fall. I find that realization always comes not so much with the dates on the calendar as it does the leaves on the ground, the first crank of the heat in the morning, the dusky light on the way home from an evening run. Because we were gone on the train for nearly a week, I feel like fall happened here in Seattle during that very time. I left town eating tomatoes and corn and returned to find squashes and pumpkins in the market. It was that quick. And so, it only seemed fitting that I make this soup, one that has graced the fall table of each and every apartment (and now house) I've ever lived. In fact, I'm surprised that I hadn't yet made it for you here, and delighted to share it with you today. 

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